I remember the summer before my freshman year in college when I went to stay with a family friend for a few weeks. This family friend was incredibly kind, and I felt like part of the family almost instantly. During dinner one night, we were discussing our thoughts on religion and spirituality, which prompted everyone at the table to share their beliefs. As soon as I finished expressing my own views on pantheism and its connection to nature, this family friend started talking about her strong belief in atheism.
At first, it seemed awkward that our worldviews were so drastically different; however, I tried to remain open-minded as she further explained her beliefs. She argued that there is no scientific basis for any type of deity or higher power because all evidence points to there being no such thing as ‘God.’ Her words made me feel uncomfortable because despite trying to understand her perspective, much of what she said opposed my personal faith and values. With every point made by her side of the argument, it became increasingly difficult for me not only to relate but also maintain an open mind towards what she was saying.
Recall a time when you met someone with a different worldview than yours (e.g., pantheism, theism, atheism), and you had a difficult time relating. What challenges did you have relating to that person? How might an understanding of the other’s worldview have helped you in that situation?
In hindsight, if I had been more mindful of understanding this person’s worldview before entering into the conversation then things would have gone much smoother between us both. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and confused by how different our viewpoints were on such important matters related to spirituality and faith -which are two very sensitive topics- perhaps having knowledge ahead of time about atheism could have enabled me to better relate with this person during our discussion on religion that evening. A deeper understanding of another’s belief system can give insight into why they hold certain opinions even if those opinions conflict with your own.
Taking time out beforehand to learn more about someone else’s position can help bridge gaps between opposing sides during conversations regarding serious topics like identity or faith without compromising anyone’s values in the process . Ultimately , having a greater awareness surrounding different worldviews helps people connect with each other regardless of whether they agree or disagree on something in particular — which is precisely what happened after that conversation ended earlier than expected due largely in part by misaligned core beliefs between us both.