Also, my rejection of "God" is not based on the actions of people, but on my growing knowledge of the world. As I learned more, the more I could put my own beliefs into perspective and the more I began to see them as stories created by man to explain his situation. I know you don't agree with that conclusion, but that is the ultimate conclusion I continue to see more evidence of on an almost daily basis.
If that's why you're an atheist, then fine. Somehow, I don't see it that way. These words say you're an atheist because "you learned more," but your life seems to indicate another reason:
On a separate note, I've only become a "strident atheist" (although I don't care for the label), over the course of this past year. As I've mentioned before, for a long time I've been very ambivalent towards religion, even after I stopped being a believer myself (I'll still go to church with my mother occasionally). It's just this stuff like bans on gay marriage, bans on gay soldiers in the military and this situation for example with fundamentalists trying to screw with textbooks in Texas that has made me more belligerent towards religion. I could write off a lot of violence and discrimination in the world caused by religion as being the product of primitive extremists, but more and more I see discrimination and other forms of "violence" being propagated in our own society by people who also claim to be motivated by their religion. And when people say outright that my own way of seeing the world is based on ignorance, well, I just have a hard time letting things slide by unchallenged.
I'm not against gay marriage, or gay soldiers in the military. I am against it in a spiritual and moral manner, but I don't believe I should impose my morals on others, neither should I shun these people. You know my views on the textbooks, if I think I know what you're talking about. Certainly I abhor violence. But no, you base your disbelief off your own personal experience of people calling themselves religious.
I've met many honest atheists who said if it wasn't for their church's rejection of science, they'd probably still be believers. But once it's because they see the hypocrisy going on around them by religious people, they leave, and then when they leave, they learn more only to solidify their epistemology, so to speak.
Likewise, many who see the validity of Christianity embrace it, and then learn more only to solidify their faith.
Well, the main thing I think I need to reply to here is that I don't reject faith only "based on the people not practicing what they preach". The fact that I see people not practicing their religion...religiously, to me just reinforces the idea that religion, belief in god, faith, or whatever you want to call it, is meaningless. People will live however they want regardless. The main reason I've come to "reject faith" is because I've come to see "faith" as belief in stories created by man. Based on the knowledge I have and the more knowledge I gain, the more I see that those stories, however entangled with actual events they may be, are not real.
From what I can say of selfishness versus selflessness is that either one can lead people astray. While we tend to think of selflessness as always being noble, it sometimes becomes a detrimental quality. If a person doesn't take care of themselves, they will be powerless to help others. If they only look after themselves, then the community around them will suffer. So, as with all things people need to develop a proper sense of balance to maximize our ability to flourish and deal with adversity.
Well, stories can be hard to believe. But when I look at the Old Testament and the prophecies, and the stories it gives, which are sometimes prophetical, I don't have to believe these particular stories, but in fact, they affirm the story of Christ. Why specifically the story of Christ holds more weight? First because I believe he actually came and existed, and that he turned the world upside down through his followers who with sincerity and without aggression simply died for Him and His "story." This particular story of Christ I admire.
Hindus are generally peaceful people, and the more educated of them seems not necessarily believing literally in the stories. Muslims forced their stories by the sword. Jews merely have stories with no purpose at the moment.
Because we expect adversity in this world, people want to make it as if they need to be selfish a little. Certainly there's nothing wrong with protecting yourself. But I don't agree with the balance. The weight should tip more in the favor of selflessness. "Love your enemies, go good to those who hate, bless those who curse. If one strikes you in one cheek, offer the other. If one asks you to go one mile, go two with him." These sayings are derided by people as weaknesses. But which is easier, to hate your enemy or love your enemy? I think loving your enemy shows you're stronger, not weaker or vulnerable. If Christ, MLK, and Gandhi can do it, even though they suffered, but brought success to their own campaigns, then anyone can. Christ who brought forth unto us a way of life, which is Himself, helped those who are helpless, and while rebuking those who are self-righteous, continued to forgive and love them as well even on the Cross. A story like that moves me to become like Him. No greater story is there than the story of Christ, and this story people lived for and died for, with no aggression for those first couple of centuries, and through their deaths, they've grown. In Christ, we are truly free.
Yes, there will be suffering. But history shows the cries of suffering are much louder than the grunts of aggression.
But of course, this not easy for anyone. But at the very least, what should be easier is helping the helpless. Forget the love your enemies part. That's too hard for most people, even Christians, sadly enough. But at the very least, selflessness usually is very hard for those who reached an intellectual peak. Only when you renounce your own selfish desires to help others will your eyes start to open up towards Christianity.