This post originally appeared on Medium.com.
The Internet is full of people fighting about God, at least when it’s not full of people fighting about what brand of smartphone is the best, or what football team is the best, or even if cats or dogs are the better pets. Some of these fights get really vicious.
Humans tend to organize into little communities who believe and like the same things. Because humans have a bias toward tribalism, they are generally not familiar with people who hold different beliefs and likes. Have you ever heard someone remark with deep conviction about the way people who like a different football team drive? It’s crazy, but I hear it all the time.
Something in us has a powerful nostalgia for the days when we roamed the plains in little tribes, and we knew who we were because of that. Life’s decisions are a lot easier if you know anyone who isn’t in your tribe gets the spear.
But we don’t need tribes anymore. Both Apple and Samsung make really nice smartphones. Any real differences in the behaviors of the different groups of football fans are attributable to socioeconomic factors, not team affiliation. In an age of scarce food and water, tribes were a really good way to survive. Today, we have enough food and water for everyone, at least we do if we share.
I just can’t get worked up when people believe different things than I do anymore. I believe in God, but I can’t prove anything meaningful about my beliefs–the movement of God in my life is deeply personal. So, I’m not going to tell anyone they should conform to my understanding of God. It’s wasted effort. That doesn’t mean I’m ashamed to be a Christian, or that I don’t prefer iPhones. Both of those things are part of who I am. Still, we all need to acknowledge a simple truth: no matter what we believe, we may be wrong. The vast sum of human knowledge, and the even more vast sum of things that humanity does not know should compel us all to a profound humility. Fighting about who is right is a waste of time.
I’d rather just be someone’s friend. I don’t want to fight about God, football teams, smartphones, or even the timeless debate of dogs vs. cats. I want to apply my energies to helping other people, and I’ve found that helping other people makes me way happier than winning arguments. I think we can all agree that the world is full of people who are hungry or hurting. I bet you are sitting within 100 feet of someone who is hungry or hurting right now.
You can argue all you want, but nothing speaks louder for your beliefs than what you do with your life. What if Evangelicals and athiests were most known for the work they do for others? How would people respond to them? Don’t tell me what you believe, show me.
The story of Jesus compels me to act and address suffering. But, I don’t care if your motivation is humanism, Allah, or simple empathy. I’m just happy to work alongside you.