Atheists and religious folks often clash, but do they have more in common than meets the eye? There are many ways in which both communities respect one another - from the music, to communities, to asking questions that provoke deep thought.
Anathoth1994 asked atheists of Reddit, what is one thing you admire about religion? Religious people of Reddit, what is one thing you admire about atheism?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
10. It's really not that hard.
As a devout Christian, I admire that you never see atheists who are only acting like decent people because they think it's the only way to get to heaven or avoid hell. They will just be good people.
9. God's music is really something.
A lot of religious music is absolutely, hauntingly beautiful. I will gladly sing along even though I don't believe in God.
8. Faith without evidence or reason is blind.
As a Christian, I admire Atheists' need for logical explanation.
As an atheist, I admire religious people's ability to have faith. I sometimes wonder what being able to have faith is like as I'm a person that needs a logical explanation for everything. Faith brings people (or at least it seems like it does to me) great comfort and ease of mind.
Having faith is essentially hope without regard for the outcome. A Christian mother and an Atheist mother both desperately want their stillborn to be birthed alive. An atheist mother might hope that doctors got it wrong and the baby is infact alive, while the Christian mother might have faith in god stepping in.
7. Architecture is quite breathtaking.
As an atheist I admire the passion and effort that went into the great religious buildings of the world.
Yep, as an atheist I was really sad to see what happened to Notre Dame - and was super relieved when I heard the damage to the rose windows and the organ were minimal.
6. Religion provides few real answers, though.
I appreciate atheists' willingness to ask questions and work through the things that challenge them about faith. I'm a believer so obviously we don't come to the same conclusions, but I think too many of my brothers and sisters bury the stuff about their faith that they struggle with. That can both hurt their walk and make them come off as sanctimonious. I say that because that was me, once upon a time. Some days, it still is. It's a work in progress.
Matthew 7:7 says "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Too often believers don't want to ask tough questions, but I think it's important to do so. If the Christian God is who He claims to be, I have to imagine He can handle honest questions from someone seeking to understand.
5. Doing good doesn't require faith.
Christian here. I really admire the fact that many athiests try to do good things for the community (like service projects, volunteerism, fundraisers) because they truly care and want to be a good person all on there own. To clarify further, many Christians are also like this, but I feel a good majority are like this because their church told them they should do it because it pleases God, or they want to go to Heaven, or their small group was doing it and they want to fit in. Granted some Athiests do good things to pat themselves on their back via social media, but many others do it because they feel its the right thing to do snd aren't trying to benefit themselves in some way. Thats the sign of a truly good person.
This. So much of this. I find that an atheist, that does what needs to be done to help the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and the sick, is far more of God than the people who show up to Church every Sunday and do nothing more than that. If God is just --and I believe Him to be-- He will let those Atheists in to heaven far before any self-righteous yet un-righteous Christians faster than I can say "Bob".
That people who believe the world to exist by happenstance and to mean nothing in the end still strive to do the Lord's work, well, that's beyond admirable.
4. There's still no *proof* of an afterlife, but hope can't hurt.
I'm atheist and my grandma was extremely religious. My uncle (her son) died a few years ago and it about killed her. She ended up getting diagnosed with leukemia and given a slim chance to survive. She was 100% fine with it because in her mind she was going to see her son and sisters in heaven. I wish I could have that.
The only time my lack of religion has bothered me is when my mom died. Suddenly I was jealous of those people who believe in an afterlife where they will see their loved ones again. I didn't have that luxury. And it was painful.
Thats absolutely beautiful, the peace some religious people can find as a result of their beliefs is something I actually admire.
3. End of life bonanzas.
Some religions have elaborate death/ funeral rites that last for about a month, followed by a prayer to mark the first year of death.
Close family, as well as members of the community are required to attend these.
This results in a situation where the grieving family is constantly surrounded for at least a month before they can resume their normal life.
I personally would rather have something like this, than have 1 memorial service and then be immediately be left alone.
On the other hand, coming from a religious family whilst not being religious makes funerals really hard. When everyone else is talking about heaven and singing songs and making prayers they all take pleasure and solace from while you're standing alone feeling worse than ever it's not great.
The arts resulting from religion.
This is a huge one. Also, the sheer preservation that came from it. People only learned to read so they could read the Bible, and since they were the only people who could read, they were the only people who could write, and so we have them to thank for a good amount of documented history from the middle ages.
1. Religions' senses of community.
As an atheist, I admire that religion can provide a source of strength, community, and hope for people. Through religion, people find the courage and hope to continue a mundane or excessively taxing existence. People also develop life-long friendships and support communities through church groups and other religious organizations.
I believe these aspects are important to have in one's life. If religion can provide that for some people, then I think that's a great thing.
That's the reason my aunt who was a lifelong atheist joined a church in her later years. She had moved to a small town and even though I recall she had always been an atheist during my growing-up years she joined a church in that town.
She never mentioned her atheism, and I suppose they never asked. I suppose they simply assumed she believed.
I think she joined purely for pragmatic, mental and emotional health, and social safety reasons. And by all accounts it was extremely good for her on all those fronts.