I believe everyone should have a litmus test question. It’s useful for determining whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met. My litmus test question is, what do you know about the theory of evolution? I ask this because I only surround myself with people who have critical thinking skills and and interest in science. I have often felt bad about thinking this way but we all have a right to choose our friends. We all want to be around people we share interests with and don’t have to make such an effort not to judge. God, I sound like a horrible person when I say it like that. I have had friends who are creationist and I have found that it is very difficult for me to maintain the friendship. After awhile I can no longer fight the urge to engage with them and try to understand why they think the way they do. This always ends in an argument.
I want to be clear that it is not necessarily religion I have an issue with, although I am an atheist. I believe religion and the theory of evolution, or any part of science for that matter, are not mutually exclusive. I find that people who see science and the pursuit of knowledge as a threat to their spirituality to be very angry, controlling, and intolerant. They lack the ability to empathize with others and see different points of view. I really hate to sound so judgmental but this was a choice I had to make for myself. I have engaged with too many people who think science is a religion that is poisoning the minds of the children. I just can’t do it anymore.
For me the theory of evolution is beautiful in it’s simplicity. All of science is beautiful to me! I think purposefully denying yourself this beauty is sad. Willful ignorance is sad. I cannot surround myself with these kinds of people, I just can’t! I do have friends who are religious. In fact, the girl who I consider my closest friend is Catholic. The difference between her and the kinds I’m talking about is for one, she is open to learning new things, and two, she has a “live and let live” mentality. She never tries to convert anyone and she doesn’t believe her religion should be taught in schools. I love that about her and we often debate the particulars of her religion and she is ok with that. She explains to me why she believes what she does and I explain to her why I don’t believe what she believes.
I admit she might have failed my litmus test but only because of ignorance, which I might have been ok with. A person who truly fails the test would answer that they did know about the theory of evolution, then proceed to tell me why it was wrong in a way that sounded like science but wasn’t at all. This person would say things like “Evolution is only a theory, not a fact.” or “If humans come from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”. Responses like those are automatic fails!
This test has worked out well for me over the past few years. I no longer have to hide my atheism and I no longer have to hear someone spout ignorance and intolerance in social situations. All of the friends I have now love science and strive to learn more everyday. We teach each other new things everyday too. This is the way it should be, for me anyway.