I just finished reading Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris.
“The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation (John 14:6), or he does not. We agree that to be a true Christian is to believe that all other faiths are mistaken, and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. Worse still, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God. They too will languish in ‘eternal fire’ (Matthew 25:41). If the basic doctrine of Christianity is correct, I have misused my life in the worst conceivable way. I admit this without a single caveat. The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.” -Sam Harris
Sam Harris succinctly states his position (and my own as well) right on the first page. I am sufficiently unconvinced of Christian doctrine to not lose any sleep with angst over eternal damnation. Moreover, my skepticism directly influenced my younger sister’s Christian deconversion years ago (she is now an Atheist) as well as that of a former significant other who is now a pantheist. My current offline friends whom also attended Catholic schools right up until their High School graduation, are now Atheists as well.
“If I were to turn into a deeply religious believer, my wife has threatened to leave me.” -Richard Dawkins
Hearing him say the above, gave me a chuckle.
He brings up an interesting point. How important is it for an Atheist that their romantic partner be Atheist/Agnostic?
My first significant other was a Mormon who had done missionary work in Africa. The missionary work had the opposite effect on their Faith. When we met, I was calling myself Agnostic and they confided that they had been having serious doubts about their Faith for several years since. We had many discussions about Religion and by the time our friendship turned to romance, they were defining themselves as Agnostic as well.
The sheer terror they felt at confessing their Agnosticism to their parents–much less that they were dating an Agnostic–greatly disturbed me. The fear was justified. I feared for their life as well. In the end, that former significant other died without the family knowing of their Agnosticism–or my existence for that matter. I could not even attend the funeral.
It is baffling that in many parts of the world, one can fear for one’s life for simply refusing to believe in absurdities. That people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali must live under armed guard for the crime of reason, is disgraceful.
In my case, I cannot respect and therefore accept an individual as a potential romantic partner if they see enough justification for belief in a personal God. That level of cognitive dissonance greatly diminishes their desirability. Even with the ex that was a Catholic, by the time we began dating, Christianity was out the window.
So, for Atheists, how important is lack of religious cognitive dissonance in a mate? Would you date a Theist? Would you marry a Theist? If the answers to the last two questions differ, why so? In the mate selection process, does extent of religiosity make a difference? Does the type of Religion make a difference? Let us exclude Buddhism from the list as it resembles a philosophy more than a Religion.