Born and raised in a typically atheistic Chinese family and community, my early understanding of religion rested on the impression that Muslim people did not consume pork as the rest of us did, and they were very serious about it. The schools I went in China did not teach us religion either. Instead, we were taught Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has formed the foundation of my knowledge of the world and perceptions of human history and society. In China, many people share a common opinion: religion, as a synonym of superstition, was therefore the antonym of science, and only those with vulnerable minds would believe in supernatural power.
While in China, people with religion are usually judged and discriminated by the majority of atheists, it could be a totally opposite situation in the U.S.
With ninety percent of the populations (2005) claims a preference to some religious group and 60% of Americans believe that religion can answer all or most of today’s problems, atheists are minorities in the U.S. and somewhat become an equivalent to immorality! Some published articles criticized China for being lack of religion, thus lack of morality and social conscience, which caused all sort of today’s social problems. Personally, I have confronted the sense of superiority from churchgoers and questions like “Do you know where you are going when you are dead?”
Is being religious or not the only criterion to define people as good or bad? Of course NO! Can I still be a good person without any religious affiliation? Of course YES! All through my life, I learned the same values and virtues as those religious: love, care, honesty, sympathy, hard-working, responsible, humble, supportive, etc. The only difference is: I am self-administrated. I am capable for making decisions and responsible for my actions, as well as taking all the consequences. I do not worship any God, but it won’t prevent me from being a decent person!
I respect all religions, as much as I wish to be respected as an atheist. I celebrate Christmas, because in my eyes, it is the most exciting AMERICAN holiday!