“So non-believers actually do know, at some level, that God is really there. They’re just throwing up an intellectual smokescreen so that they can pretend he doesn’t exist — which is why the Spirit doesn’t even get a look in.”
(From this brilliant post)
It is incredibly hurtful to be regarded as in denial, loving the darkness, arrogant, and so forth, simply for not being able to believe.
But I suppose when your religion tells you that belief in it is a requirement for going to heaven, then you have to think this way about unbelievers. You have to think that it is their choice not to believe. Because otherwise God would be unfair and unjust.
Belief is not a choice, though.
Sure, you can try very hard to believe a particular thing, as I did, and you might even succeed. But assuming you are open-minded enough to take in information and consider different ideas, what ends up seeming to be “the truth” to you is actually out of your control. It just happens.
I think some unbelievers are arrogant. They cannot empathise with belief and dismiss it as stupid rather than try to understand it. But then, many believers are guilty of the very same thing.
Some unbelievers are working through their break-up with religion, and the effects of that can perhaps make it look like angry and willful rejection of God rather than just an inability to believe.
But I think the biggest reason unbelief is made to feel like leprosy at times is because a faith position is inherently less solid than a non-faith position. Faith means believing in something uncertain, which is difficult. Yet this is something a lot of people feel the need to keep doing, and someone who has given up – or concluded it to be impossible – is frightening to them. It might be very contagious.
I can understand that. But I still have feelings. Must I hide who I am in order to stay friends with you? Be nice to me. 🙂