Can Christians and Atheists Co-exist?
Recently, an old friend commented on my blog – we haven’t been in touch for years, but I am thankful for the reconnect. He commented that “Ken and I were always so kind and gracious, even to an unrepentant atheist like me.” I haven’t seen Jim in years, but my memory of him is as one of the nicest guys on the planet – I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to be kind and gracious to him. So, this brings me to the topic of this post. Is it possible for Atheists and Christians to be friends, I mean REALLY be friends? No hidden agenda, no critical spirit (on either side), and no forced relationship in the hopes of conversion.
I’ve had some mixed experiences – one Atheist friend from college was very anti-Christian and condescending toward me. He really enjoyed arguing with me and other Christians and tried hard to show me the error of my ways. We remained friends for a while, after all I was living with his best friend, but before long our differences strained the relationship. Though we shared a friend, we didn’t share much else.
Then there’s my friend Matt, I met him at work a few years back. He’s a really fun guy to hang out with, super smart, and genuinely funny. We occasionally have conversations about our different beliefs about God, but there is never this sense that he is trying to convince me and I hope he doesn’t feel as if I am trying to convince him. Surely, I have a hope that God will reveal Himself to my friend, but that is not the basis of our relationship. My friend, who believes I am deluded since he has no evidence for the existence of God, surely hopes that someday I will think as he does – but this too is not the basis or goal of our relationship.
I have also made a new friend through a website called, Conversation at the Edge. I am currently enrolled in Seminary at George Fox in Portland and am required to talk about my faith with a not-Christian conversation partner for the duration of the class. And, yes, I will be graded on this. I have plenty of not-Christian friends whom I could have chosen as conversation partners, but some of my classmates posted their need for conversation partners and were overwhelmed with the response. So, I agreed to start conversing with one of the respondents and it has been delightful. I always enjoy making new friends – and I really like my new friend. We have already discovered we have a few things in common and she is a great conversationalist. You can read about our conversations on her blog. You can also read more about this idea of Christians and Atheists conversing at Off the Map’s eBay Atheist site.
In light of all these relationships, I am wondering if there is some way we can learn to co-exist with our fellow human beings without worrying about what they believe about the nature of the universe. I’m not sure we can totally remove this from our thinking, but perhaps we can stop trying to prove ourselves right about this one thing within our relationships and allow the realities of the universe to make themselves manifest to all.
What do you think?
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