Should Atheists and believers date?by Don Lacey on Sep. 22, 2012, under Arizona Families, Art & Culture, Atheism, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Freethought, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, Logic, Question of the Day!, Reason, Religion, That's Life!
Mark and Cindy have been a couple for years. They are seemingly made for each other. Though they have many have numerous political and philosophical differences, these do not seem to be a problem in their relationship. Rather, they focus on their common interests and years of common experience together. They knew each other for years before becoming romantically involved and are in many ways best friends despite their differences. They know how to accommodate each other’s differences and make things work. For them differences of religious opinion are not likely to sway years of affection and shared experience.
Other couples are not able to accommodate philosophical differences as easily. I have heard multiple stories of relationships that have been devastated when one couple has an unexpected change in religious beliefs. A conversion from Christian to Atheist can shock one’s significant other and in some cases convince them that their partner has betrayed them to work for the devil or at the very least are now going to hell. When I was single, I was always concerned about dating Christian women even the more moderate one’s because they could at anytime convert to a more extreme form of Christianity. Such conversions can come with huge attitude and behavior changes as well as complete reworking of one’s values.
Many Atheists tell me that they cannot date religious people of any kind but Christians are often specifically mentioned as non-starters. Though I know many nice, intelligent Christians, this attitude is understandable. I can see why my fellow Atheists do not want to have relationship with someone who values faith over reason, believes wild tales of talking snakes, or thinks they and their friends deserve to be tortured forever. I have to admit that these are real turn-offs for me. I would not like sharing my affection with someone who already believes themselves to be in a relationship with a being that is, as best I can tell, imaginary.
Many religious people cannot stomach the idea of dating an Atheist. Many religious people just can’t stand the idea of dating someone who does not share their beliefs. After all, they don’t want some guy who is going to drag them down Satan’s path and lead them to hell. Multiple Christians have told me that they cannot be in a relationship with anyone who is not “saved.” I don’t have much problem with this. It would probably be very hard for many Christians if their significant other was not only an Atheist but the type of outspoken Atheist who contributes to a blasphemous blog like this.
For many people their religion is not just one aspect of their lives but a whole lifestyle. This is in fact what most religions command. God has a tendency to be extremely totalitarian. As such, someone whose life revolves around going to church and staying spiritually pure is not going to do well with someone who enjoys provocative films and music or the occasional visits to the pub. Christianity specifically has a nasty habit of demonizing the world humans live in and things that are of this world rather than God.
At the same time, there are a lot of religious Americans who keep their faith as just one aspect of their lives. After church they can still have a beer or two and watch the football game. They can enjoy secular rock concerts and even acknowledge that the Life of Brian was pretty funny. These more moderate sorts make up most people I know. While they often make good friends and are fun to be around, I would still be hesitant to date one. For one thing moderate Christianity is often less logically consistent than it’s fundamentalist counterpart. At least the fundies have the consistency not to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they believe. Furthermore, moderate believers are often likely to convert to a more fundamentalist version of their religion and in the process change into a whole different person. Many Atheists see this as to much trouble.
Of course, there are many non-believers who are able to have long stable relationships with moderate believers and there are even some who make it work with fundamentalists. If you can make it work for you that’s great. You have my salute. I however prefer to have someone who shares my values, rejects mythology, and embraces critical thinking and a scientific view of the universe. Superstitions and dogma just are not cute to me. I am happy to say, I am lucky enough to have such a someone who shares my values and helps keep me on my toes. I hope all our readers are able to do the same, or at least make their situation work for them.