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Why is it either/or?

It seems to me that for the majority of people (in the US, anyway) seem to have a black/white dichotomy when it comes to religous belief: Either you believe in the god presented in the Abrahamic faiths *or* you're an atheist.

It completely misses the whole spectrum of possible beliefs, theologies, etc. I know that not everyone sees things this way, but I wam surprised at how much I hear things that indicate this way of looking at these matters. Christians often espouse the belief that anyone not Christian is by default an atheist, even if they don't realize it. Even atheists will sometimes say, "Well, I couldn't believe in that view of god..." as if that was the only alternative to atheism. It's just so ingrained in our society, I suppose, that either/or perspective.

What is your opinion?

 
Collinsky

Asked by Collinsky at 8:59 PM on Mar. 5, 2010 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 10 (376 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (19)
  • Two reasons: first, because a lot of people don't have a lot of knowledge of faiths outside their own.

    And secondly, because of the attitude that a poster above exemplified by stating 'If it's not Christ, it's crap.' Some religions in and of themselves teach and encourage either/or dualistic thinking, so if you view the world this way you are naturally going to divide everyone into two groups: 'right like me' and 'everyone else.' If you believe that your God only sees black and white, you naturally wouldn't care about the shades of grey.
    Freela

    Answer by Freela at 5:32 PM on Mar. 6, 2010

  • There is no either/or. There is also 'agnosticism' which is 'i don't know': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism
    And one of the greek phylosophers (Socrates) stated that "the only thing I know for sure is the fact of my ignorance".
    IMHO it is stupid to believe without clear proof, and it is amazing that religion as a form of mass-manipulation, still holds ground nowadays, when there are other forms of socializing (ie sports, internet).
    diael01

    Answer by diael01 at 9:12 PM on Mar. 5, 2010

  • Christians often espouse the belief that anyone not Christian is by default an atheist

    That or the old, Christian or being deceived by Satan. I wonder how people manage to get to adulthood without exposure to any other religion. I grew up in a very small town at the edge of the suburbs. Beyond us, it was nothing but corn. My graduating class was only 300 people. In elementary school, I knew kids who were Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist. The majority of the Christian kids were Catholics, with a few random JW, Mormon, Lutheran and Presbyterian. Baptists were the rare ones. By jr high I learned about other religions just as part of the standard social studies course. Where do these people grow up and live that they never meet anyone but other Christians?
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 9:17 PM on Mar. 5, 2010

  • Oh honey, you want to talk about small graduating classes? I had 23 in mine! Lucky for me I only spent the last two years of school there. I grew up north of Seattle, but even there I didn't really notice anyone that wasn't Christian. Although I never went to church and wasn't religous.

    I'm one of those 'under the umbrella' pagans, so for me there is no black and white but many, many shades of gray. But I do know people that think if you don't go to church every Sunday (and Wednesday for some) then you're damned to hell. I just want to ask them, how can I be sent to a place that I don't believe is real? Just because "you" (whoever they are) say so, or because it says in that book you're so fond of?

    Besides that little town I use to live in is in Montana, one thing I did learn there, if there is a "hell" to send Christians to for punishment? It's not hot...it's cold, icy, icy cold!!

    daisy521

    Answer by daisy521 at 9:44 PM on Mar. 5, 2010

  • Well, suppose one was open (and many are) to the possibility of a higher being/power. Whatever the reason, being open to such an idea should, in fact, leave one open both to the idea of many correct perspectives (such as you mentioned) AND the possibility of there being one true perspective on the matter. That would be the very definition of openness. It's a good question you ask, because many people have decided on one truth as opposed to many 'faces' of the truth. I encourage you to explore why that's the case. What better thing to have investigated during your lifetime? : ) I would highly recommend to you the book 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis. I enjoyed it very much. Also, 'The Case for Faith' by Lee Strobel. Some pretty amazing stuff. Have fun! Keep seeking answers to your questions - why not, right?
    katinthehat8914

    Answer by katinthehat8914 at 10:01 PM on Mar. 5, 2010

  • I disagree. Just because someone isn't a christian doesn't make them atheist. Atheist in belief in NO god(s) whatsoever. They could be muslim, hindu, JW, jewish, wiccan, etc. And I am a Christian.
    missbreezy214

    Answer by missbreezy214 at 11:10 PM on Mar. 5, 2010

  • I sometimes just type god rather than god(s)/esses or higher power, simple because it's faster, and my keys tend to stick. (it's what happens when you have a two year old). (i'm atheist). I also normally am debating a topic that is Christian based, because it's the typical topics that are debated. I have nothing against Paganism, but most of their posts aren't debate starters. Some of their beliefs I still follow, (I just happen to not believe in any deity). I hope that makes a little sense at least from my POV in my situation.
    xxhazeldovexx

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 12:19 AM on Mar. 6, 2010

  • With the God I serve, things are VERY black and white. There is no gray area with Him. Either you serve Him or you don't. It doesn't matter whether one is atheist, Pantheist, Buddhist, Wiccan.... if you do not serve Him, you are opposed to Him. The myriad belief forms mean nothing to the Eternal One. It's either Christ or it's crap. Sorry if this offends you,but there it is.

    I'm not completely ignorant of other belief systems, I even find most of them interesting. Most require more faith than what I believe! For all their variances, they all have one thing in common--denial of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Anything that teaches against Him is a lie. If I didn't believe this, I wouldn't be a Christian. :o)
    Lexylex

    Answer by Lexylex at 8:42 AM on Mar. 6, 2010

  • I agree with Lexylex!
    deedee3849

    Answer by deedee3849 at 8:54 AM on Mar. 6, 2010

  • I've never really had friends that would be that ignorant to say that anyone that isn't christian is "athiest". They have thier own God/Gods that they believe in.
    It's too bad they don't care enough to look into others' religions and find out, in every religion, there are simularities between beliefs and even between God(s).
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:55 AM on Mar. 6, 2010