In Peter Boghossian's, A Manual for Creating Atheists, he makes reference to a new-age breed of rationalists which he refers to as Street Epistemologists (something like Knowledge Hooligans I suppose).
Although I didn't find the book as a whole particularly profound, I was captivated during fleeting moments of nostalgic recollection. I want to explore one such moment and posit a possibility that seems utterly unimaginable to any devout theist.
It was a calm afternoon at one of countless hostels (right) in one of countless Costa Rican villages (Quepos perhaps) where I entered into my first heavyweight bout as an atheist. Ok, my opponent was actually a great friend then and arguably an even greater one today, but that's what makes the discussion we had so memorable and authentic. It was positively perpetually perplexing to him that I could be kind, caring and embody moral values, yet be without faith in a higher order divine deity or decided demigod. Everything he knew to define who he was/is as a man was linked inseparably to his faith. We carried on in an endless cycle of empty explanations for the better part of an hour before both coming to an exhaustive acceptance that this belief (or disbelief) had no bearing on our friendship. One, because we found ourselves continually reassuring the other that this would categorically be the case, and two, because a tropical storm moved in and put a kabash on our party like only the tropic rains can. Ironically enough, he was convinced that the sudden deluge was a sign from above while I discussed the science behind the combination of low-pressure and the warm waters of the Pacific.
I can't help but believe that this microcosm we explored has the potential to be extrapolated to larger groups, to states, to countries, or to any other factions whose sole purpose and tireless existence is in promoting whatever it is they believe. State your case, find the good in people and move on! Religion (of which there are thousands, somehow all contending to be the one) is emphatically a product of your culture and past and I've accepted that letting go of something so foundational isn't always easy; certainly not as easy as atheism has been for me. Reason, truth, science? Yeah, I can roll with that. But I also know that there are amazing people who, to no fault of their own, have embraced theology in one form or another, and my time in that Tico tub seen above taught me a timeless lesson in the typically theistic endeavor towards explicit empathy.