Knowledgeable about religion
I’ve had similar experiences when encountering other religions or really just looking at all of the various different forms of Christianity. Really theres always been an incredibly diverse number of interpretations of the bible. It was actually worse at the beginning of Christianity before the orthodox church.
I can’t say I’ve had too many experiences with questioning the bible and not getting answers from people. My dad has a masters in divinity and could have been a pastor but decided he had some questions about Christianity that a pastor shouldn’t have (he along with the rest of my family is still Christian). For the most part I’ve always been able to get some sort of answer concerning the text of the bible. Although I’m not surprised concerning your experience, I don’t really have a problem with Christianity. I just have a problem with people that haven’t put any amount of time into studying the religion they follow. A friend of mine who was an atheist and then found her faith in catholicism again was telling me about it so I was like oh so your christian again, her response which if we hadn’t been on aim she would have seen my jaw drop was “nope catholic”. I understand that I’ve studied Christianity more then most Christians ever will due to my parents having shoved a lot of stuff on me and some research that I’ve just done on my own.
One other thing I’d sort of like to know is what sort of response you’ve had when you tell people your an atheist. Like some people don’t really care, but other people tend to freak out a little bit and fire off a few questions to rationalize why I’m an atheist. Did someone in your family die? No.. Is your whole family atheist? They’re all christian… Do you hate god? I don’t think god exists.. I usually find those types of questions somewhat entertaining whats annoying is when people start the whole conversation thing, to which I have to meet with sarcasm. You know jesus loves you. Isn’t he dead? Although that typically does get people to determine I’m a lost cause. I’ve always felt trying to convert people to your religion is one of the most arrogant and pretentious things you can do. To say that your beliefs are absolutely right and other people’s are wrong and that they should follow them, well its just arrogant. Personally I’ve never tried to convince one of my friends to become an atheist. Its one of those things people should find on their own. But I’m rambling, to my main point what do you find happening when you tell people your an atheist. I bring this up because I typically incorporate my atheism into my jokes something amazing happens and I say there is god wait nope nvm, but when I’m around a group of people I don’t know I don’t want to unwittingly get drawn into a huge debate.
I completely agree that people often don’t put enough time into studying their own religion. I’ve always been puzzled by people who say that they think the Bible is literally the word of God but who haven’t read it — it seems like reading a book God wrote would be pretty high on your list of priorities. I also have found many people who seem to not even know the basic tenants of their own religion (Catholics who talk about the rapture or protestants who pray to Catholic saints, for example).
And I believe that nine out of ten times a well informed and thoughtful theist is better than an uninformed, inconsistent atheist.
I’ve had all sorts of reactions to my atheism. Generally, these days, they aren’t too bad because I let people get to know me before I start talking religion with them. But I’ve had my share of more extreme reaction: “But I thought you were such a nice person,” “So you worship Satan?”, “Why do you reject God?”, “You must have had a bad childhood,” You’re going to hell” — no big surprises.
I don’t have trouble avoiding sarcasm when I meet with “Jesus loves you” and such statements. But I’ve been doing this for decades, so it’s second nature at this point.
I disagree with you when you say that trying to convert people to your religion is “arrogant and pretentious.” In fact, I’d say that a Christian who sincerely believes in their religion is morally obligated to try and convert anyone they care about (and, ideally, they care about everyone). If you knew that a friend was going to do something that would end in tragedy, you’d be morally obligated to try and change their course of action, and a sincere Christian thinks that non-Christians are headed for tragedy.
Where arrogance and pretention comes in is in the manner of attempted conversion. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about such things. Unfortunately, far too many people seem to choose the wrong way and end up being annoying instead of convincing, and I think that much of this is due to the fact that these people often don’t know much about the beliefs that they are attempting to spread.
I don’t try and convince people to become atheists. However, I do try and convince them to take a good, hard look at their own beliefs. In my opinion, that’s certainly a push in the direction of atheism, but even if it doesn’t lead there, at least it might make the person a more thoughtful theist.