How can we really differentiate between atheists and faithful of any religion today?

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Written by

Deolu Akinyemi

Many professed faithful don’t act or operate better than atheists. The atheist denies that God exists and is happy to live a life based on that assumption. A religious person, however, says he believes that God exists but leaves us with no other proof outside his rituals and routines.

In the realm of belief systems, one might expect atheists and religious individuals to stand diametrically opposed. After all, atheism rejects the existence of God, while religious faith embraces the concept of a divine entity. However, upon closer examination, intriguing parallels emerge, challenging our preconceived notions and inviting us to explore the nuanced relationship between belief and action. This article delves into the shared characteristics and experiences of atheists and many religious people, shedding light on the intricate tapestry of human conviction.

1. The Duality of Belief: While religious individuals explicitly profess their belief in a higher power, it is essential to recognize that belief extends beyond mere verbal affirmation. Action, as proponents argue, is the true testament to belief. Paradoxically, both atheists and religious individuals can display similarities in their actions, hinting at an underlying duality of belief.

2. The Role of Morality and Ethics: One notable similarity between atheists and religious individuals lies in their moral and ethical frameworks. Contrary to popular belief, atheists often adhere to a strong sense of morality, not anchored in religious doctrines but derived from philosophical principles, societal norms, and empathy. Simultaneously, religious individuals might proclaim their devotion to a higher power but display actions inconsistent with the ethical teachings of their faith. Thus, morality can be shared by both groups, revealing that ethical conduct transcends religious belief.

3. Rituals and Communal Practices: Rituals and communal practices are often seen as exclusively religious phenomena. However, atheists also engage in rituals and form communities centred around shared values, common interests, and intellectual pursuits. These gatherings provide a sense of belonging, foster a supportive environment, and fulfil the innate human desire for social interaction, regardless of religious affiliation.

4. The Quest for Transcendence: Human beings possess an innate longing for transcendence, seeking experiences that surpass the confines of the mundane. While atheists may reject the notion of a transcendent deity, they often find awe, wonder, and spiritual fulfilment in various forms. Immersion in nature, artistic endeavours, philosophical contemplation, or even scientific exploration can elicit a sense of profound connection and wonder. Similarly, religious individuals, in their pursuit of divine communion, strive to transcend the limits of human existence and establish a deeper connection with the divine. Both paths manifest a shared yearning for transcendence, albeit through divergent avenues.

The boundaries that separate atheists and many religious individuals may appear substantial at first glance. However, a deeper exploration reveals the inherent similarities that underpin their respective journeys. The intricate tapestry of belief intertwines atheists and religious individuals in unexpected ways. While they may differ in their explicit adherence to religious dogma, their actions, moral frameworks, existential reflections, doubts, and social interactions often converge.

How then can we really distinguish ourselves? The answer to this question is rolled up in one sentence, uttered by the wisest person that ever lived – “by their fruits, you shall know them”. Let’s not merely hear about your faith, let us see your faith in the love you have to give, in the service to those in need, and in your discipline hinged on your understanding that God exists.

Kind Regards,

Adeolu Akinyemi.

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