I ask that you read the piece about atheism first only because Connor Allen and Cameron Simek laid out an extremely eloquent and simple-to-understand explanation of their beliefs. And make no bones about it, atheism is, without a doubt, a very defined and rigid ideology. Many would have you believe they are spiritual anarchists of sorts, but their beliefs are based on the life experiences and feelings they have accumulated just as much as any person of faith’s beliefs are built upon.
To understand the differences fully, you have to first know what is held in common. All people have that little voice in their head that tells them if something is wrong or questionable. With few exceptions, we all feel compassion toward other people and experience the highs and lows that life has to offer.
No matter your ideology, you have to put food on the table and provide for your family. We all long for love and seek to find a connection with other people. And we all need to feel that we are needed in the work place, in our community or even just within the walls of our own homes. Life is not unique to one set of people, only to each of us individually.
I could not tell you exactly why Hindus believe what they believe, why Muslims practice their religion the way they do, the reason the Jews have some of the rituals they do or even why some Christians believe what they believe. As a Mormon, I can’t even tell you why some Mormons do what they do. I can only explain what I personally believe and why I choose to live my life the way I do.
The saying goes “the Devil is in the details.” For me, that could not be more false. And I don’t mean the cliché answer that I see God in a tree or a flower, even though I do. I am talking about the connections I feel with those around me, be it a family member, a friend, a classmate or a coworker. There is something in the relationships that I build with other people that makes me feel there has to be more to it all than this. Why would we become so close with so many around us if it all just faded to black when this life ended?
The understanding of life can very easily get lost in the explanation. I don’t understand a lot of science, but I know a lot can be explained through learning its methods. I don’t understand a lot of mathematical equations, but I know it explains the interactions we encounter every day. I cannot give a logical explanation of how I know there is a God, or explain why I know what I believe about my faith to be true—I only know that I understand it. Faith gives me an understanding to know what can’t be proved.
Believing in God does not make me any better than anyone else, and I understand that because I know my weaknesses and limitations. I choose to believe in God because I feel strengthened in those weaknesses and limitations and feel a confidence that comes from knowing that with God’s help I won’t remain weak and limited.
Atheism is not anything to be looked down upon, but on the same token, neither is being a person of faith. Having a belief in a power greater than yourself is something that even a lot of believers need to remember is key to truly living the values and principles you believe in.