Finding the common ground is the key to opening dialogue between people of faith and those who do not follow a religion. We do this with a simple observation. See how it works.
Everyone thinks they use common sense and logic, that what they believe is correct. And most people believe their thinking comes from common sense and logic. People who follow one of the 2,000 plus religions find reasons to substantiate their beliefs.
In general, religious people cannot relate to the positions they call Atheism (1) and Agnosticism (2). But we can use a straightforward observation to find agreement for believers and non-believers alike.
The Answer to Creating Dialogue
Before we discuss the common ground for dialogue, let’s start with some definitions concerning thinking and belief systems in general.
Logic and Reasoning
Common sense is the exercise of sound thinking and judgment, which comes from evidence.
Logic is a structured process of thinking. It means proven principles to guide your thinking which ensures valid and measurable results.
Theists believe in the existence of gods. And, the belief in God comes wrapped in religious mythology and superstition. To believe in a god or gods, one must accept all the particular religious trappings.
Some religions have several gods. Christianity has more than one God; they don’t like to admit it. It has the good gods (father, son, and spirit) and the evil God Satan. That means Christianity is a pantheistic belief system. However, they don’t see it that way. They use “apologetics” to explain away this and all the other inconsistencies of the system.
The term Atheist comes from Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning without God (s). The “A” is short for anti, meaning to oppose, but if you don’t believe in bigfoot, we don’t call you Abigfootest or Antibigfooter? No. We do not need to attach a harmful disclaimer for our disbelief in many other things. If you don’t believe in aliens or vampires, we say that person does not believe in them—no need to create a unique term. We don’t label people as “athe-aleien” or “athe-vampire.”
So the word Atheist is a derogatory term for someone who does not believe in gods. But, in reality, everyone is an Atheist to all the other religions.
Common sense and logic tell us we are born atheists. When we are born, we are absent from any beliefs. But, if you believe in one God, like Odin, you still reject the others, Mytha, Jesus, etc. So, that makes the believers in one God an Atheist in the eyes of all the other 2,000 plus Gods. See, that was easy. Here’s the common ground we can agree on, we are all going to hell in someone else’s religion, and we are all Atheists in someone else’s religion.
If you don’t believe in every God conceived, you are an Atheist to all the other Gods. Therefore, we are all Atheists. Most Atheists go one God further than those who follow one God. Atheists have none.
The Error of Asserting Atheism Is a Religion
Some people argue Atheism is a religion, but this is an attempt at a False Negative Association. A False Negative Association attempts to link something negatively to render it undesirable or cloud the issue. In this case, a distinction between people who ascribe to religious beliefs and those who do not.
The bottom line here is that Atheism is a conclusion or perspective based on disbelief in gods. Gods are the centerpiece of religion. Therefore, if someone does not believe in a god, they do not follow a religion. Ergo, Atheism is not a religion.
An Agnostic is a decision based on the lack of credible evidence. For this reason, everyone is also an agnostic. No one knows with absolute certainty whether a Supreme Being exists. There is no reasonable proof for the existence of gods.
Believers don’t know their God exists. Believers have faith that their God exists. If they had facts, they would not have to believe. Believers assert specific texts were the creation of divine inspiration. There is no proof of these assertions; that’s why believers need faith.
The same argument that proves your God exists is the same argument that demonstrates all the other gods exist. The first argument is the absence of evidence to refute the existence of your imaginary being. Sorry, but the lack of proof is not proof of absence. Absence is the exact proof for the existence of Zeus, Odin, Santa Claus, unicorns, and fairies.
The Answer is Finding The Common Ground
In the end, we are all going to hell in someone else’s religion. Some say, why not believe in them all? Sorry, you can’t believe in them all because all religions are mutually exclusive belief systems. There are thousands of Christian Sects. Each sect has a unique way of identifying with God. If you believe in one denomination, you must reject the others.
So, other Christians who don’t believe in your sect are going to hell. So, if you pick the wrong one, oh my god, you are still going to hell. Everyone is going to hell, except you. That is crazy logic, but that’s how they sell membership in their denomination. So, we are all going to hell In someone else’s religion.
The second argument is that believing in something makes something real. That’s a problem because if belief equaled fact, all Gods would be real again. The divine inspiration of a holy text is the third primary argument. This complete mess relies on circular logic. It starts with the assertion that God exists because there is no proof that it doesn’t and because they believe it is so.
Agnostic Atheism is the position encompassing both Atheism and agnosticism. A conclusion comes from the lack of evidence and logic to support the concept. No gods, no master.
Common Sense and Logic is the Path
We start with the common ground that we are going to hell in someone else’s religion. Next, we observe that there are 2,000 plus religions in the world. So, even if you follow one of these religions, you are still going to hell in the other 1,999 religions.
Next, let common sense and logic guide your thinking instead of mythology or superstition. You can keep your religion, just set it aside for a moment. Try a process we call comparative analysis. What is the process of comparative analysis? It’s a scientific model for comparative religious research. When you use this process, you can see the historical similarities between different beliefs and faiths.
The answer to a productive dialogue with others requires common sense and logic. We must go beyond ideological labels.
Those who don’t like Atheist’s label might be more comfortable with terms like a non-conformist, skeptic, rationalist, freethinker, or spiritual explorer. The term non-believer or unbelievers has a negative connotation.
Not being a part of a group of believers is a bad thing within the Western cultural narrative. Many people remain silent on the subject. Remaining silent is a strategy for avoiding conflict. It is safer. There are still many communities around the world that persecute freethinkers. Or as they call them, unbelievers, heretics, or infidels.
Still, people like to categorize things. As a result, some refer to this state of free-thinking as Atheism. It’s a perspective unencumbered by the belief in imaginary friends or enemies. It means they are free from religious, ethnic, and cultural prejudice and bias.
Many people don’t ascribe to any part of Western theology and still desire to follow the inner quest’s call. Does this resonate with you? You can fulfill this quest without religion. Spiritual exploration does not require the belief in religion, just the ability to follow a process.
Going to Hell in Someone Else’s Religion
We can use common sense and logic to find the common ground for the basis of open dialogue. When we do so, we help others use more of their critical thinking abilities. Once we establish the foundation for the open conversation, we can use processes like comparative analysis to delve further into the arena of religious belief.
A comparative analysis is a scientifically based process of comparative religious study whereby people can examine religious and philosophical concepts in a non-threatening way. The conclusions we reach with comparative analysis will help us better understand the positions we call Atheism and Agnosticism. The study and use of logic, reason, and common sense can illuminate our core beliefs.
This process is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, it exposes what is beneath. Illuminating facts does not always mean we end up agreeing. But, it’s a starting place, the common ground for future discussions.
The answer to finding common ground with others starts with agreeing that we are all going to hell in someone else’s religion. Once you decide on this point, you open the dialogue to other topics, such as morality, with or without religious dogma.
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(1) Atheist, Wikipedia
(2) Agnosticism, Wikipedia
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia