I read this brief post titled “How do we engage believers?” on Freethought Now by James Haught. The idea is for ‘well-meaning’ believers and freethinkers to have calm discussions, presumably about the existence of any god or the efficacy of any religion. It’s not a long article.
I cannot recall ever having such a discussion as either a believer or an atheist. That is unless you consider comments like, “well, there must be something” to be a discussion.
Today it might begin something like this. I’m atheist. Your religion is (pointless, dangerous, destructive, or silly) to me. Or I am convinced that no god exists. Why are you so certain that there is one?
Many folks still don’t know I’m atheist, much less what that means. While I’m willing to have that talk, I don’t want to. Some folks would be immediately offended simply to know that I don’t believe in Jesus, Allah, or Brahman (Hindu god). However, if sincerely asked why I don’t believe in any gods, I’m willing to explain. I’m just not up to debates or arguments.
I once had a Christian friend/acquaintance who would bait folks into such discussions or arguments, only to later play the victim (like she was accosted rather than the accoster). She would later criticize the other person behind their back or on her blog. I never walked into her trap even though she tried, but I did call her out on her “unchristian” behavior before distancing myself.
I witnessed one brief chat she had where the other person simply said, “I don’t see how you people can believe that stuff.” She said nothing to the person who made the comment. Later, she claimed to be shocked, offended, and angry. She soon posted the experience on her blog, seeking sympathy from fellow Christians.
Believers often charge persecution when they hear terms like freedom from religion, fiction, fairy tale, nonsense, delusions, lies, or deception. Recently, some god-believing folks commented on this blog, which is fine. They are welcome to do so. However, they eventually left claiming insult or injury (hurt feelings). One guy even said his claim to injury was his call since he was the ‘injured’ party. This after making odd and ridiculous claims which I, and some of you, pointed out for what they were: nonsense.
Apparently, when one claims the ability to prove a god’s existence, my pointing out that as evidence of a delusional crack pot is taken as an insult when it is merely describing their claim in the same terms even many of their fellow believers would do.
If anyone claims belief in a spiritual world, a belief in ghosts of dead people, or in other things unseen such as a parallel universe, that’s for them to do. Generally, they don’t ask me to share in their vision.
Religious believers are different. They get their panties in a wad when I request logic, science, proof, justice, human rights, and freedom. Sometimes the only way to remain civil is to talk about the weather (if we don’t have to pray for rain). Yet, even with weather, politics loom.
Here are more brief ponderings.
- I am not interested in educating anyone about their religion. They needn’t ask. That’s their job. All religion is pointless to me because there is no god.
- If others want to have religious discussions, good for them.
- People who do not believe in any god are called agnostics or atheists. It’s that simple.
- I call people who believe or claim to believe in some god, believers. Equally simple.
- I try to keep Gods and associated religions as separate topics.
- On this blog I post my thoughts (ponderings) as simple, up front, easy stuff.
- If I read about people saying or doing something dumb regarding some god or religion, I will have my say on this blog. I rarely block comments, so if folks want to weigh in, be my guest. However, #1 above still applies.
- If someone prays to their god asking him, her, or it to make me a believer like them; I claim equal opportunity to pray to that same god to make them skeptics like me. Fair is fair.
I like to listen to some religious debates. I enjoy learning about why some people believe in a god and why others don’t. It is better when they play nice. However, finding something new in any of that is rare.
Like everyone else, my days are numbered. I do not plan to use many of them arguing politics or religion. But one final point.
I was a believer for many years. While my doubts waxed and waned over the years, I’ve finally decided about most things spiritual. I’m clear on the heaven or hell hypothesis; I’ve read the complete bible, most of it multiple times. I’ve studied it and taught it along with other religious subjects. That gives me some street cred.
Consequently, when people insist on educating me about the Christian religion or its God(s), I can lose patience with them. I may even grow a bit testy. However, I sometimes play along. I want to see how ridiculous they can get. I’m human.
Have a wonderful weekend,