So lets dive into more deep thought.
I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine who is religious. He is very open about his beliefs and is constantly trying to understand religion and beliefs collectively (Truly, a search for knowledge). Anyways, he asked me about how I came to my beliefs, how I switched from religions and etc.
Abridged version: I was raised catholic, my parents didn't seem overtly religious, we only went to church so often, I went to bible school, as well as a Private High school. So I spent a lot of time around Christians, specifically.
I was one of those, you know, "thinkers" and never satisfied with a general answer about the universe. My teachers didn't like that. After about a year or so of studying the bible, I decided not to identify myself as christian. Went to atheism, but I still try to look at other religions and beliefs to know more about them.
This conversation with him went on about how beliefs gain popularity, and why more often than not, people are hostile to those who don't share at least "similar" beliefs.
Here's an example: We conducted a test group of 50 people whom we knew as fairly to extremely religious. We asked them a couple of simple questions.
1. How bothered are you by meeting, or being friends with someone who you find out is Atheist?
1a. Does that affect at all what you believe or how you treat them?
For question 1, 60% of them said that they were at least somewhat bothered by having an Atheist friend.
100% of them said that they would treat them differently by "bringing their heart to god" as most of them described. In other words you are more likely to be preached to, and more persistently just for being Atheist.
The next 2 questions were the same, except the word atheist was replaced with Non-religious on 25 applications and Agnostic on the other 25.
Here were the results:
On the 25 with the word non religious, the answers were almost exactly the same as Atheist with 21 of them saying they would not be comfortable knowing they were not religious.
On the ones with the word Agnostic, 17 of the responses said that they were not as bothered knowing someone was agnostic because they at least allow some possibility of a god. the other 8 said they did not know what Agnostic meant or understood very little about what it meant.
This lead to another conversation about the stigma that Christians apply to an Atheist. For most people in America, they see Atheist as meaning "Not Christian" when really it means the rejection of belief in ALL Deities, not just the one from the Christian bible.
I feel that the reason Christian are bothered by being friends with an Atheist, is because unlike an agnostic which may leave room for the belief in a God ( It actually states that it is impossible to know whether a god exists), Atheism says there is NO god. Which leaves no room for tolerance in religion. If god is the foundation of religion, and you reject god, how can you be religious. So just by knowing an Atheist, you are constantly reminded of the doubt. Religion is almost 99% faith, so to them it seems logical to avoid those who represent the possibility of that faith being wrong.
Phew, that was a long post. If you made it through that then, Bravo!
This post leads into Social networking but I think this post is a little long I'll spread it out into 2 parts and try to finish it up tomorrow.
Note: I know I tend to be a little bit of a hypocrite by saying that Christians believe Atheism means "Non christian", yet here I am perpetuating that same idea.