Social Question

Jude's avatar

Even if you don't believe, why do you have to mock or put down religion? Or, why do you have to have a go at atheists?

Asked by Jude (31993 points ) September 14th, 2011

I see this a lot on Fluther and frankly, it chaps my ass. I get that you’re an atheist, or that you believe in a higher power, but, why go at each other? Be respectful. Is that so hard?

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485 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I think it comes out of frustration and distrust.

tom_g's avatar

I’ll take a stab at this. I’m an atheist (technically an agnostic atheist). The question of religious belief means more than just an interesting discussion one might have late at night during college. There are real-world implications to religious belief that I find terrifying and immoral.

I love the idea of being respectful and all that. However, when there are Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin, and abortion is murder, etc. it is very difficult to.
There are aspects of Islam – with regards to women for example – that are just incompatible with a healthy modern society.

Overall, however, I have a problem with unjustified belief. For some reason we are supposed to respect unjustified irrational belief when it comes to religion, as though the beliefs of an individual do not inform their actions. In no other area are we expected to respect the irrational or unjustified.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I couldn’t care less what someone believes either way and I don’t need to be convinced of anything either.I know what I think and why I think as I do,so I just pass by the threads regarding those things.
It’s just not that entertaining ;)

JLeslie's avatar

Clarification: I hope I don’t come across as mocking, my answer above was to explain why people do it. I try not to be one of those who are mean, dismissive, or condescending about someone else’s beliefs. I was just explaining why I think people do it.

zensky's avatar

I, personally, have only questions.

smilingheart1's avatar

@Jude, could you give an example of what you mean?

Jude's avatar

@smilingheart1 I’d rather not. Not wanting to name names.

JLeslie's avatar

@zensky I think some people feel put on the defensive when questioned. I, like you, see asking questions as being interested.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m sorry, but it’s just so damn ridiculous I can’t take it seriously. I just can’t, I’m really sorry. I really try to refrain from actual mockery, but I still do it, although some religious people will feel they are being mocked by simply being asked questions, too.

I went to a baptism a few weeks ago and almost got a damn headache…...I just don’t get it…....

Jude's avatar

@Blackberry Why not just try to shut up and say nothing?

smilingheart1's avatar

@Jude, not to name names of course but maybe paraphrase an example of what you find offensive, I certainly don’t want to be offending you and I certainly want to respect everybody right where they are at.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Jude When you tests someone’s personal belief by having the opposite view it seems to drive some people nuts and they just have to go off on the other person.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe You’ve got that right! LOL!

Blackberry's avatar

@Jude I think I’ve done pretty well in general lol. I’ve had too many opportunities, but I always said “It’s not going to matter, it will only seem immature and divisive”, but once in awhile one slips out :(

chyna's avatar

@Jude Great Question! I don’t understand why people are so mean and rude to those of us that believe. I mainly stay off of religious questions because you can’t get a good answer other than “Because there is no God you idiot.” If people can’t contribute to the question, then they need to move on.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@chyna You’ve been called an idiot because you believe? That’s terrible. People need to get a life.

chyna's avatar

Yep. I actually made up a name so I could ask a religious question on here knowing people would act the way they always do when a religious question is asked. When someone asks an athiest question, I don’t call them names, or even get on the thread as I usually can’t add anything helpful.

Blackberry's avatar

Well, I know I’ve typed out some pretty bad quips, so this is my formal apology and my statement that I will honestly try to refrain from actual insults, although I will still criticise religion. I wouldn’t want to intentionally offend Fluther :)

gailcalled's avatar

@Jude: Why aren’t you reading that enormous text book?

Jude's avatar

@gailcalled Adult ADD.

chyna's avatar

@Blackberry If it is a religious question and you can’t answer it, why even come on it to criticize religion? Why not move on?

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna That actually surprises in that I don’t think of atheists as saying that particular sentence, “because thereis no God you idiot,” although I completely believe you. I think of atheists who might “call names” which I hate calling names in general, as being dismissive about certain beliefs within a religion because science and logic seem to completely contradict the belief. What I mean is, I admittedly have in my mind in some discussion on religion the word ridiculous, which I try not to write down. I do not feel believing in God is ridiculous, never have. But, I do have a problem with various beliefs and I think even if I never call names, just my questioning or presenting an argument against it, some religious people feel it is mocking. Do they?

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna Ah, I just read your response to @Blackberry. I agree with you in that circumstance, but sometimes the discussion is a religious discussion, which invites atheists. You are talking about a question only asking religious people for an answer. I do a lot of those. I ask Christians a lot of questions. On those Q’s I don’t want atheists saying how they disagree.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Blackberry Two things. I think religion has been a very good thing for some people, maybe even a lifesaver. Second, I won’t criticize someone else’s belief out of repect for that person. I think the world would be a lot better place with more respect and consideration for others.

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie I went back to the thread I was talking about and out of 35 answers 9 were modded, so I’m sure that one was in there. How ridiculous that someone can’t ask an authentic religious question and get jeered and mocked. And I’m not talking about give and take answers. I’m talking about mocking answers. The “there is no God, why are you asking this”, etc.

chyna's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I agree, it is disrespectful to mock someone’s religion. I don’t mock atheists, nor do I try to get them to believe as I believe.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna Yeah, that’s rude. As you said it was modded, so obviously the consensus is it is unacceptable. Why let it bother you so?. They are the idiots.

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie It doesn’t bother me, it pisses me off that I can’t come on here and ask a religious question, under my own name, without feeling I’ll get all kinds of hate.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna Or, maybe you don’t let it bother you, I made an assumption there. What I don’t understand is why do some Christians shut down and not want to answer religious questions, because a couple people are horrible. Most of us ask questions because we are interested in the answers. Meaning I am interested in the religious point of view even if I disagree with it.

Note: Didn’t see your answer immediately before this one.

syz's avatar

I just had a discussion with an associate on Facebook, I invited him to vote “no” to a referendum to amend the state constitution to make gay marriage illegal in my state. He’s a Christian moderate, and he thinks it’s a narrow-minded and bigoted idea. I’m happy to respect his views and his life choices because he respects mine.

But most of what I hear are hypocritical voices telling me that there’s something wrong with the way I, an upstanding, moral, taxpaying citizen, live my life. Gay marriage is already illegal in NC. But some group of homophobic bigots are using religion as a crutch to attack me by taking the entirely unnecessary step of having a referendum in an attempt to amend the state constitution.

You show me a Christian that actually lives the life he or she purports to believe in, and I’ll show respect to that person. Or any other religion – I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Jewish, or Muslim. I truly don’t, and I think you should be able to pray to whomever you want. But for each one, I’ll show you ten that cheat on their wives, cheat on their taxes, beat their children, don’t let blacks in their churches, have only hate for immigrants or anyone else that isn’t exactly like them. That’s what I see day in and day out – religion as an excuse for hate, for exclusion, for an excuse to look down on all “others”.

Jude's avatar

@syz I’m gay and I believe in a higher power.

Jude's avatar

I’m heading off to school. I’ll check in later.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jude But you don’t live in the American south.

syz's avatar

@Jude And that’s fine with me. I don’t care. Just don’t decide that because you believe in a higher power, you somehow have the right to tell me that I’m evil, that I don’t deserve that same rights as everyone else, that I’m somehow less than you.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I’ll just leave this here
To any Christian who is offended by my remarks, well, then forgive me. But seriously, I used to be a militant atheist, and now I’ll only attack those asking for it (e.g. someone spouting creationist bullshit or someone trying to convince me the “evils” of homosexuality). You are welcome to believe whatever the fuck you want to believe, but don’t push that shit on me. And don’t tell me Atheism is an organized religion.

Blackberry's avatar

@chyna I have started to refrain from answering questions that are labeled “Christians:....”, because I know my answer won’t be of any help. But I honestly don’t know why I don’t pass some up. I’ve been trying to think of a reason why, but my best answer is that sometimes I really feel my answer is “good enough”?

@Adirondackwannabe I definitely have more of a connection with Fluther than some guy handing me a religious pamphlet at the grocery store, so that’s why I make an effort to be considerate.

Jude's avatar

“Just don’t decide that because you believe in a higher power, you somehow have the right to tell me that I’m evil, I don’t deserve that same rights as everyone else, that I’m somehow less than you”

I get it.

Jude's avatar

@Michael_Huntington When someone asks a question about religion on Fluther, they’re not necessarily pushing their shit on you. Why go at them?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Let’s review: I am all about people doing whatever they want and believing in whatever they want AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T BRING HARM TO OTHERS. In many MORE ways than atheism, religion is used as an excuse (not by ALL people, but by some) for actions that are inexcusable: child marriage, execution due to being gay, etc. I will NOT support infringment on other people’s human rights because of someone else’s belief in a higher power. If religion was TRULY separate from state in this country, you’d hear a lot less out of me in the direction of organized religion.

Jude's avatar

I’m gonna be late, late, late for an important date. Gotta go.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Jude I just wish you’d ask questions that stir up more debate.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@Jude I don’t believe that simply asking a question about religion is the same as trying to convert you. Also, it depends on the question, something like “Why don’t you guys realize homosexuality is wrong because God says so?”. That warrants a response.

KatawaGrey's avatar

What about those of us who are believers but who aren’t members of organized religions? Why do we get shat on because of what fundamentalist Muslims and Christians have said or done?

tom_g's avatar

Listen, I am not in favor of just calling people stupid because they believe in a god. I don’t believe the god question is a question of intelligence. Plenty of really smart people believe in god.

However, when discussing a belief in public (or here on fluther), nobody would suggest that we treat all beliefs with equal respect. Let’s try…

I believe that women are sub-human.

Are we going to say, “Well, that’s his belief. We should respect beliefs.”? No, we’re going to require that I justify my claims with evidence. Why? Why should we care? Because our beliefs inform our actions. If I believe this, it is likely that I would support legislation to give women 75% of the rights of men.

From my perspective, once you bring your beliefs into the public, there should be no expectation that those beliefs are somehow immune from the same demands of justification. You might be a good person despite your religious belief. That’s fine. You may have been able to compartmentalize your belief and cherry-picked the bible for the decent stuff. Great. I have very little problem with that, other than I still believe that beliefs of any flavor should not be immune to criticism if they are unjustified.

I know I’m not going to get any love on this one, and I’ve probably just created a few enemies. Some might say that I am being self-righteous and hypocritical. To them, I say this – please call me out when I state something for which there is no evidence or good reason to believe. My beliefs are not static, and I welcome any challenges because I don’t have a little box that I keep as “off limits”.

marinelife's avatar

I think that we all need to put ourselves in the other person’s place.

To stop being hypersensitive to criticism.

To have compassion and acceptance for the beliefs of others as if they were our own.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@KatawaGrey I like the different religious views. They’re extremely interesting. Reminds me of the MASH episode with the shaman.

SuperMouse's avatar

First let me say that I have never felt disrespected on Fluther for being a theist. I tend to jump into theological questions and, even when folks have debated with me it has always been in the spirit of discourse. I have seen others of faith (Chritians most commonly) treated rudely for sharing their opinions. I have always wondered if that is because I am active in a faith that is not one of the big three.

That being said, I have come across many atheists who seem somehow arrogant about their belief (or lack thereof) and treat thiests in a mocking, disrespectful and sometimes patronizing way. I get the feeling that many who do not believe in God feel like they are
enlightened and are privy to some insight that us poor believers just don’t get. I agree 100% with @syz that bigotry is unwelcome in any circles and under any guise but sometimes I think atheists use that as an excuse for their own bias against people of faith.

Jude's avatar

“Why don’t you guys realize homosexuality is wrong because God says so?” I don’t often see questions like that here on Fluther. When I do see stuff like that, I speak up.

What I do see is, say, a statement about one’s personal beliefs, for example, “because of my religion, this is what we believe about the afterlife”, and to that we get responses about “flying spaghetti monsters” and hurtful words. Necessary?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey What about you? It’s not fair to get lumped into groups. You maintain that you are you and aren’t part of the group that believes idiotic things about women and gays. Sadly, there are many people who religious that do believe those things and it’s tough to be associated with them. So you educate others. Many of us have to, anyway.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jude Why, do you think the Church of the Flying Spaghette Monster is somehow inherently less legitimate as a church?

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes I feel like atheists are more likely to enjoy debate than Christians. I am generalizing here. That Christianity sort of teaches to not question, and atheists are usually big time questioners. But, this is different than calling names or being rude. However, I tend to think many Christians see questioning in and of itself as offensive. I could be wrong. Also, the point @Simone_De_Beauvoir made, and some others carries a lot of weight. I think sometimes religious people do not realize the hate many perceive within some of their beliefs and stands, and so then they get hate back.

YoBob's avatar

I’ve always been puzzled by people who react so violently to any mention that somebody might (gasp) believe in something greater than themselves.

I run into this in scouting quite a bit. It’s almost as if they are worried that even a mere conversation about spiritual beliefs might somehow result in them becoming infected with faith, and lord knows we don’t want any good atheists getting God all over them. Heck, they might even begin to wonder if it is worth pondering whether or not there is a component to life beyond the known physical world that we don’t understand. :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie There is something to be said for it being easier to discuss religion when you don’t think one is necessary. To me, as a person and a sociologist, it’s just another subject, another way I see people organize themselves, another way I see people creating meaning and symbols and interaction. I question it like I question constructions of race, gender, class, etc. However, when people who feel their belief is very important to them hear my thoughts, it cuts them deeper than it does me because, for them, it’s not ‘just another subject’. I get that so I soften my words. I do that with my students now who are all quite religious. I don’t change what I say and I don’t hold back but I do take into consideration that for many of them this is a topic of importance even if it isn’t for me.

@YoBob Tired of saying this but atheists DO wonder that all the time – our fascinatation with people, planets, the universe, things ‘greater than ourselves’ exists independently of this one organizing principle people use called religion and certainly independently of created beings. Actually, we spend more time wondering (in some cases). Maybe, that’s just me though. I find many people, atheists or theists, don’t wonder enough.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Jude It’s chaps my ass, as well.

Let’s see: I believe in fairy tales and imaginary beings according to some in Fluther because I am a Christian.

In my 3 years here, I’ve tried to back away from threads where I know my beliefs won’t be respected. In the beginning I tried to defend my beliefs. I quickly learned that wasn’t healthy. For a while because of the blatant rudeness shown to others, I left and only read threads.

Now, I read them, I will occasionally answer…like here…then will walk away if/when things become heated or the thread turns into a debate between 2 to 3 jellies.

mazingerz88's avatar

I try to put down people, atheist or not, who are mean and dangerous no matter what. I criticize religious people who in the name of religion, would manipulate and even kill. My most favorite people are atheists, agnostics and believers who are not die-hard fanatics and hate the act of hating.

YoBob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Perhaps you have more faith than you realize.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YoBob I don’t consider it a matter of faith. I have been told I’m more christian than some christians by christians. Fine, whatever helps them understand me better.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I don’t think the impetus should be on me to open people’s minds. As soon as an atheist on fluther says to me, “I have some thoughts about religion, Katawa, but first, let me hear what you believe so I can determine if my thoughts are relevant to this conversation,” I will be happy to teach. You cannot fill a cup which is already full.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think that is what I do as well, but I had not really thought about it. I was raised by an atheist sociologist, and a lot of it rubbed off on me. I am not sure how well I go about it, but I do recognize that for the religious their beliefs are very important to them, and their view of the world, making sense of the world.

bob_'s avatar

Mocking people is fun.

You know, to some.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey I feel the same way about teaching people about gender and sexuality, especially my own.

syz's avatar

@Jude You’re right, unsolicited hostility is never a good thing. But I think (or at least in my own case), many of my interactions are influenced by frustration. How do you have a functional debate when one side attempts to use logic and the other doesn’t? And I’m going to use the topic of homosexuality as a specific topic, here.

For example, how do I ever win the argument that I deserve that same exact rights as my exact match – female, white, 47, college educated, employed, tax payer, volunteer who differs only in the gender of her long-term monogamous partner?

I make rational arguments, the opposing party says “Because God says so”. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe in God, do you have a second argument? No? Then perhaps you’d like to prove to me that God exists, therefore your argument becomes valid. No? You can’t prove it? That sounds to me like you lost the debate. In any other matter, everyone else would say that you lost the debate, too

But because it’s a matter of “faith”, I do not have the right to make end of life decisions for my partner. Hell, I can’t even visit her in the hospital if her family doesn’t want me to. I can’t have my 7 year relationship recognized by state and federal government, I can’t put her on my health insurance, I can’t get her Social Security benefits, I have to pay estate taxes, we can’t live together in a nursing home, and 1,100 other federal benefits and protections of marriage.

There’s no balance of power. I say “Live how you want, practice whatever religion you want”. Religion says “You are an abomination and we’re going to everything we can to suppress you”.

Jude's avatar

@bob_ Right. When you have nothing better say, huh? ~

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@KatawaGrey @Simone_De_Beauvoir But you can change the mix in the cup. Sometimes you can educate a little at a time and make a difference.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@syz I agree. The argument ‘because of God or Bible’ should not be used if the people involved in said argument disagree fundamentally as to whether god exists or is relevant. It’s not even a matter of anger with me. If you say that’s your reason, it’s a non-reason for me. I don’t qualify it as something that can logically exist in my world. Clearly, homophobes (who come of all religions or not) don’t think homosexuality can logically exist in theirs. However, since there is more proof that I, a queer person, exist than there is of God, I win. For now. Let God tell me otherwise, not you.

blueiiznh's avatar

GQ!!! I don’t get it either. What a person believes in is for them. I simply do not understand the persecution either. War’s are fought over this stuff….

DominicX's avatar

I don’t have to mock or put it down, but I can criticize and question it all I want. And if it can’t stand up to criticism and questioning, then that says more about it than it does about me.

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh As long as they understand it is for them.

SuperMouse's avatar

@syz here is where I see the problem; not every person of faith sees you as an abomination. It seems that many atheists tend to judge all of those who believe based on the skewed beliefs of a very vocal few. I don’t judge all atheists on the ones that call me stupid for believing and I ask that you don’t judge all thiests based on the ignorance of some. I can honestly say that although I try to make choices based on a moral code that is at least in part on the belief system on my faith, I don’t believe anything just because someone told me to and I would never, will never judge someone because “God says” I should. The God I worship is much bigger on grace than He is on condemnation anyway.

syz's avatar

@SuperMouse Of course, you’re right. And I don’t ‘punish’ or attack Christians, generally. I will argue against bigotry. I will fight for my rights. And by the way, I’ll fight for the rights of all people to practice whatever religion they’d like to, even though I don’t participate. Because that’s a freedom that I believe in.

But the drive to amend NC’s state constitution is entirely funded and empowered by certain religious groups, in the name of religion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SuperMouse And this is why, in all honesty, many atheists and theists are friends, lovers, etc. etc. I have many friends who are queer and religious, as well. I have friends who are very private about their god-related beliefs and that’s their thing. I have atheist friends but more theist friends. In reality, we can interact and do so well and do so in a fulfilling manner. I don’t walk around everyday looking for a religion to be rude about but it comes up. Sometimes, when I’m rude about religion, it’s because I’ve just seen something that I can’t register as okay, it’s not okay and rather than lash out and be angry, I am rude about the institution of religion, not the people involved in it necessarily. Unless, I’m discussing the Pope. I hold him personally responsible for many evils. And if hell exists, he’s going there.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes, with regards to your response to @KatawaGrey and @Simone_De_Beauvoir, I also think having a calm conversation with someone who could actually engage in such could open new doors. Whether it’s atheist or agnostic to faith and vice versa. I just had an enjoyable civil discussion with a longtime friend and she gave me the time to express myself as to why I’ve become agnostic. She’s always been a smart, gentle and a faithful person since we’ve been friends in high-school, and she did not criticize at all. I on the other hand, talked about history and human behaviour and how her and my former religion could not be what explains everything in this world and beyond.

DominicX's avatar

If someone tells me “I’m Christian” I’m not going to say “Okay, here’s the problem with that…” but if someone says “homosexuality is wrong” and I ask “why?” and they say “because God condemns it” then I might say “Okay, here’s the problem with that…”

I don’t need to debate and criticize someone just for having different beliefs than me, but if they propose debatable and controversial statements then they shouldn’t be shocked if I criticize and question those…

syz's avatar

^ Nicely stated.

blueiiznh's avatar

@DominicX questioning and debating is one thing, criticizing is completely different.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

It is in man’s nature to want to be king of all he sees, even though he knows that he is not, to believe there ii s plausibility that he is not, gives many the heebie jeebies.

syz's avatar

@blueiiznh Depends on your point of view, sometimes. Is to argue against something that you find morally repugnant criticism? If you argue against something that you believe to be ethically wrong, is that criticism? What else is a debate?

Blackberry's avatar

once you bring your beliefs into the public, there should be no expectation that those beliefs are somehow immune from the same demands of justification.

I think @tom_g pretty much summed that up. :)

blueiiznh's avatar

@syz criticizing is implying fault and judging a person

DominicX's avatar

@blueiiznh

There’s a difference between criticizing the person and criticizing the beliefs themselves.

AdamF's avatar

“Even if you don’t believe, why do you have to mock or put down religion?”

Because sometimes it is an effective way to highlight the vacuous nature of a belief which causes great harm to real human beings. In short, why shouldn’t unjustified bad ideas be attacked?

Does this mean that the attacks should be personal? No. Does this mean that every religious conversation has to be challenged? No.

But religious ideas, are just that, ideas. Some of these ideas are relatively harmless, some are good, some are silly, some are bloody dangerous.

And sometimes mockery isn’t the best approach to challenging the validity of an idea.

But in those cases where mockery may be effective at pointing out the silliness of a dangerous idea (if not to the believer, but perhaps to others), then by all means use it.

SuperMouse's avatar

@DominicX and I believe you would be totally right to do that. As far as I am concerned as soon as I have put out there that I am a person of faith I am to be held to account for my beliefs. Saying is something is right or wrong because God says so is a cop out – even for a believer.

blueiiznh's avatar

@DominicX and who are you to imply fault or judge a person

chyna's avatar

@Blackberry So you are just looking for a reason that justifies your behavior?

wundayatta's avatar

Would you mock someone who believes the earth is flat? Do you mock people who believe in Leprechauns? Ghosts? Magic? Astrology?

Do you mock people who are willfully ignorant? Do you mock people who do not use the scientific method to generate knowledge?

Well, it’s hard not to mock people who don’t seem to have a basic knowledge of science. Yet religious beliefs are full of magical thinking. How can that be respected?

Well, I hold my tongue because I know they are brainwashed and it’s probably not their fault that they are ignorant. If I like the person, I just don’t think about it. I don’t want to lose respect for them. So I tend to compartmentalize it, and generally avoid the topic.

For the most part, I don’t think religious beliefs hurt too much on a scientific level. Culturally, they can hurt people badly, but that is true of many things that are not driven by religious thinking.

My wife often gets annoyed because she thinks I have great disdain for her when she expresses her magical views of religion. It’s a big problem because she can’t even talk about it since she doesn’t feel respected. It is hard for me to respect such thinking, but if someone is not scientifically educated, then I think it isn’t really their fault. They just don’t know enough to understand how that kind of thinking isn’t helpful. Or can be destructive.

Sometimes it seems best not to talk about these things because when I care deeply about a person, I don’t want to mock them. Hell, I don’t really want to mock people I don’t know, but sometimes it’s hard to keep the disdain off my face. It seems to me that religious people are often deliberately choosing to remain uneducated, and that’s hard to respect.

I guess I figure if you have access to a college education, you should know better. So if you’re college educated and you still believe in the tooth fairy (or a god of some kind), then I have no idea what to think about you. The scientific method has been around since the time of Archemedes (300 BC) and Democritis and the other fathers of science. This stuff is not new. Why anyone in this day and age would not know how knowledge creation works is beyond me. So I have to wonder if they deliberately remain ignorant. If so, then it seems mocking is justified. But I don’t mock. It’s not kind nor helpful. But I can see what others do.

DominicX's avatar

@DominicX

I am talking about criticizing beliefs, NOT criticizing the people themselves. For example, I am very critical of the belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. I find it very faulty.

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse I actually think most atheists don’t overgeneralize about religious people but when we write or talk about a topic we write in general terms, and don’t in every sentence qualify by saying, some Christians, or I know it is not all Christians, and so Christians feel they are being generalized or stereotyped. I try to be careful to add those qualifiers, but it is tiresome. If someone writes, atheist are always…I might come back and say, well I as an athiests don’t. Anyway, I don’t feel pissed off or offended a generalization was made, especially if there is some truth in the generalization.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe @chyna You’ve been called an idiot because you believe? That’s terrible. People need to get a life. Sometimes it is done in very sly ways, like equating one’s belief to a child’s belief in the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, or unicorns, the intent is quite clear. ”You can’t think higher than an 8yr old”.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Yep. That’s happened to me here as well…And @wundy is doing it here…now religion is “magical”...Funny, my husband is in he science realm and knows there are many theories not facts

chyna's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Yes, I noticed that was done in this thread.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DominicX Although… (and not to throw a rench up in there, lol)...why is that particular distincition most often made when it comes to religious beliefs? Generally speaking (though one can argue this isn’t so) when people judge people’s beliefs, the judgment includes the person. It’s not like when someone says ‘I believe killing infants is okay’, you think ‘oh, I shouldn’t judge the person, just their belief’. Beliefs and how we are read as people are usually one, though. To put myself even more out there…when someone I’m having a conversation with refuses to even entertain my ideas (or beliefs, if you will) because ‘these are my beliefs, that’s what I was told, that’s what I read and even though I like you and see your point a little bit, I know what the Bible tells me more’, I can’t but not judge. I judge them not because of their religious beliefs, per se, but because they sound illogical. I know this argument of mine is kind of contradictory to what I’ve said above when I separate judging the person vs judging the institution.

DominicX's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

That is also true. Sometimes you can’t help but judge the person. I guess I’m referring to criticizing beliefs of the religion itself, such as the things that caused me to abandon religion in the first place. These things didn’t involve me judging other people; it didn’t have to do with other people, it had to do with the religion itself.

syz's avatar

@blueiiznh “who are you to imply fault or judge a person”

You’re splitting hairs, but okay. You’re absolutely right. If someone says to me “You are a bad person and you’re going to burn in hell because you love a woman rather than a man”, then yes, I’m going to criticize them. They are judging me. At that point, I consider them to have a faulty premise, and I judge them to be lacking. Happy?

AdamF's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central & @SpatzieLover & @chyna

Okay, so if someone highlights a perceived similarity between some aspect of your religious beliefs with some childhood belief (eg. Santa, Toothfairy, etc.), why not just point out the flaws in that comparison as you see them?

tom_g's avatar

@SpatzieLover – You’re one of my favorite contributors, so please don’t take this the wrong way. I think you are being slightly oversensitive to terms like “magical”. In a way, I think many (I won’t assume to know yours) religious claims are by definition magical or supernatural. This doesn’t have to mean that they’re bad. I know theists who embrace this and claim that this is why we can’t apply science to religion.
Also, I am not sure you’re referring to scientific theory when you are mention it.

Blackberry's avatar

@chyna Well, if you say it like that it sounds bad, but I could also say I’m very glad I live in a country where it’s ok for me to sometimes get caught up in my emotions and harshly criticise the actions of my politicians or the beliefs of people that voted Yes on prop 8 as well…...

Everyone throws a few jabs that come from frustration (remember that thread with the pedophiles?). It’s totally human. And like @tom_g stated, I fully expect people to challenge my beliefs. I’ve been criticised by people on Fluther and I either defended myself or corrected myself.

And I completely understand being grouped in with a demographic because of some streotype. We all do. It sucks, but all we can do is try to correct people when they make generalizations.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie However, I tend to think many Christians see questioning in and of itself as offensive. I could be wrong. I have never been one to say anyone cannot question the Christian faith if cone so respectfully. If you want to have a civil debate on the merits etc, I can do that all day. Many atheists could not fathom that man is not top dog in everything. They say they can believe in the science because their instruments told them this was so far away, there is a black hole here, etc. Can they fathom that what they see or read could be as looking through a big lens so wide and tall they cannot see the edges, therefore, they don’t even know they are looking through a lens? That lens can have many properties, it might be distorted like a fun house window, maybe it is slightly opaque so not all the colors and light is getting through cleanly, and perhaps it is tented. Anything you think you see, is not what you really see. I have never got an atheist to even come close to realizing that could be a plausibility, no matter how remote.

DominicX's avatar

@Blackberry

Same. When someone criticizes my beliefs, I don’t cry “persecution”, I plan to defend them. I have an arsenal of defense here that I’ve built up over the years through my many debates.

And if I asked a question about classical music and someone responded with “classical music is stupid, listen to rock instead” then I would just ignore it because that comment is completely irrelevant and adds nothing to the discussion.

chyna's avatar

@Adam F Because his comment is completely irrelevant to me.

JLeslie's avatar

And, what about the religious who are obnoxious to people of other religions? I can’t tell you how many of my Christian friends say dismissive things about Mormon beliefs. Then they realize I as an atheist give the Mormons as much value in their beliefs as other Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and they seem somehow disgusted with me. It’s not like it is just the atheists against the Christians.

Jude's avatar

” It’s not like it is just the atheists against the Christians”

I agree. All of it’s wrong, in my opinion.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie And when that happens IRL, I address it as I hear people say things. I don’t see that type of thing happen often in Fluther.

chyna's avatar

@Jude did you just skip your class?

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie “However, I tend to think many Christians see questioning in and of itself as offensive. I could be wrong.”

I’d amend that to say “many PEOPLE see questioning in and of itself as offensive.” That seems to just be human nature. Too many people see a questioning of their beliefs/ideas/arguments as an ATTACK against their beliefs/ideas/arguments. And it isn’t just about religion.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I don’t understand this either. I would like to point out no offense intended to anyone in particular but it seems like our Fluther atheists are far more likely to raise a stink and be assholes about religion than the Fluther religious are to be assholes to the atheists.

I see this here a LOT. Frankly, I think it’s ridiculous when a believer is attacked simply because they made a straightforward comment on a question about religion. If a “known” believer comments on a question here, they almost always are immediately questioned/attacked and/or flat out insulted.

I also think it’s ridiculous that just because a person claims a spiritual belief, they are almost always thought to be dumb/stupid/unintelligent/retarded. There are a few not naming names atheists on this site that have been so outspoken about the massive lack of intelligence of believers, that I’d love to challenge them to an IQ test and prove them wrong.

The strange thing is, republicans are treated the same exact way here, and it’s ludicrous.

I’ve almost stopped commenting on religious questions altogether for this very reason. Usually, to avoid being sucked in to the neverending “I’m right, you’re wrong and you’re stupid” argument, if I leave a comment on a question about religion, I immediately stop following it, just so I don’t have to deal with this problem.

Edit: @wundayatta I take great offense at being called “brainwashed” or “ignorant”. Asinine comments like yours are the exact reason that I can’t stand atheists like you.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@DominicX It’s not the questioning that gets to me personally, it’s the condescension.

DominicX's avatar

@SpatzieLover

A good question shouldn’t be condescending. The condescending ones are bad questions or are asked badly.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@DominicX Usually I answer good questions, but the thread takes a condescending tone.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, that. I get really stupid angry when a religious group bitches about another religious group as if it’s not all the same, anyway. How can people be so arrogant and think theirs is true, others are false? It’s beyond me. Therefore, even though I’m an atheist, I find myself defending religions within paganism, Islam and Judaism to many Christians who think those are ‘wrong’.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Religion is the bringer of perpetual idiocy.

Just how should I react, when someone tells me, that the creator of the universe has a personal vendeta against me for not acknowledging his totally undetectable yet somehow omnipresent existence, and that he is going to wait until I die, so he can fuck me over forever as punishment. Don’t jerk off, or the absolute master of everything will get pissed off, and don’t eat lobster or be gay, otherwise the same power and force that is responsible for supernovas and the creation of galaxies will develop a grudge personally against you.

Words like madness and insanity don’t even being to describe the kind of ideas we are dealing with.

Ask on fluther in the general section “would the price of eggs go up if chickens started to perform abortions” and you will get moderated, but ask something just as stupid but to do with religion, and it will be ok simply because so many other people also have a similar form of madness.

Oh… a religion question… serious face time, yes this is a very serious and rational topic, don’t say anything that would cause the maker of the universe to dislike you. Cause you know… he pays attention to this kind of thing.

tinyfaery's avatar

Someone posting on this thread has said they had no beliefs and now writes that they do. The FSM was even mentioned. I am very confused.

Sometimes I just can’t let things go. If someone says something extremely ridiculous I have to say something. Mostly it’s in the form of questions, but sometimes laughing and mockery is just my gut reaction. I used to do this with my mother all the time. Ridiculousness is often the only response to the same.

If I offend someone, so be it. It happens.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover As we should. We should call it out.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna Can you show me where you were called an idiot because of your faith in this thread? Saying a belief that women are below men or that gays should die is idiotic is different than calling you an idiot. Do you see that difference?

blueiiznh's avatar

@syz I would still rather focus my energy on the one thing I can change which is me. I simply don’t waste my time judging another person or criticizing any of their beliefs. Unless you can walk in their shoes you simply don’t know why. And even then, they are the ones that have a choice to do something about it or not.

disclaimer….I don’t critize or judge anyone in this thread either. Nor will I mock anyone because I have different beliefs.

Jude's avatar

@chyna on break.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery Just to clarify..not all beliefs are religious beliefs. That word doesn’t belong to religion. And I don’t know about other people but I don’t believe in any religion including FSM.

chyna's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir No, not in this thread. It was in another one that has since been modded as I said above. Saying any of those things is reprehensible to me.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Simone My comment was not directed at you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna Indeed. @tinyfaery Oh. Thought it was

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’d also like to say that it’s pretty fucking ridiculous for some of the religious jellies to be afraid to leave comments, for fear of being treated exactly how they have been by some of the non-religious jellies on this very thread. A few of the comments on this thread make me shake my head with disgust and contempt for the human race.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate This thread is what makes you disgusted and contemptuous?!!! Not that people are okay with killing people because of religion? Let’s re-prioritize here.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir C’mon, one of the reasons I follow your answers is that you are college educated, that is not what she meant, I didn’t read into it what you read into it.

tom_g's avatar

Theists, do you feel that religious belief should be left unquestioned? Should we be required to provide justification for all beliefs except religious beliefs? If so, could this be the reason some theists feel particularly disrespected, etc?

Related question: If you do feel that religious belief does not require justification, do you feel that religious belief does not inform our actions? In other words, do you feel that religious belief is off limits because there are no implications in reality?

And finally, are there arguments that you involve yourself in where a person who holds a position different from you bases their opinion on unjustified claims? How do you handle such situations? Do you merely shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, that’s his opinion.”?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir No, this thread disgusts me because the OP is basically asking “why can’t we all just get along and stop insulting each other over religious beliefs” and people are still leaving insulting comments about believers. It’s fucking ridiculous and truthfully, makes me ashamed to call myself a jelly right now.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@poisonedantidote: You are assuming that all religious and spiritual beliefs are ridiculous because some people hold the beliefs you described. Why would I want to listen to what you have to say when you make these kinds of assumptions about me simply because I believe in god?

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: So, is it less disgusting if an atheist kills just for the hell of it?

JLeslie's avatar

@DominicX Except in this instance I meant Christians. It is true that many people are offended when questioned, but I was specifically referring to Christians compared to Jews or atheists, possibly other relgions, but I do not know enough about other ones to generalize. Recently on another Q a jelly, who I had thought was Jewish, wrote that in her family children were to be seen and not heard. Not to speak unless spoken to, etc. I couldn’t help myself, I had to say to her that I was very confused, and that I am assuming she is not Jewish as I had thought. Indeed she is a WASP from New England. Jewish culture generally is to question, to argue, to seek knowledge by questioning our own assumptions. Of course these again are generalizations, but they are valid to some extent.

I was discussing the politics of our local airport on Facebook with someone from my zumba class about a month ago. The conversation involved some of our own thoughts on capitalism, government, we agreed in some places disagreed in others. Later that week in class he said to me something about hoping the discussion didn’t put me off, and I relied, “no, I don’t mind a good argument,” and before I could finish my sentence a women also standing with us looked at me like I was nuts. She does not understand why anyone would enjoy arguing. She wants to be surrounded by people who agree with her. I have to admit I just sock her into the passive, obedient, Christian, Bible Belt stereotype. But, that is what she is. But, I do not think all Christians are like her, this other guy in my class isn’t obviously and either are most Christians in our collective.

I guess it is kind of like we could say there are people against gay marriage. Let’s say 25% of Christians are against it (totally made up statistic) but 95% of those against it are Christians. should we bother being politically correct, or go ahead and realize we are addressing Christians when we are talking about those who are against legalizing gay marriage?

I actually have thought about this very thing quite a bit lately. Is it better to always use people, never point out a specific group, never generalize. I am not sure where I stand on it, I do question if I want to change how I think or how I communicate about things like this. Coming from a sociology background by virtue of being raised my dad, I tend to group people, look at stats, observe similarities in cultures.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Let’s keep it mellow guys. This has mostly been a great discussion so far.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

^^ Seriously, if this shit gets anymore ridiculous and insulting, I’m gonna start talking about food.

tom_g's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate – I can identify only one arguably insensitive comment on this thread. I really don’t think things are that bad here.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’m non-denominational for all intents and purposes so whatever the rest of you believe – religious, anti-religious, or otherwise, I hope you all find peace and happiness in whatever you follow.

@WillWorkForChocolate. I had great Prime Rib last night at Texas Roadhouse.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tom_g Clearly your beliefs haven’t come under attack often here in Fluther then

Jude's avatar

Please don’t start talking about food here. If it becomes too much for you to stick with the thread, bow out.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Perhaps people should start saying what they mean, then. To use a word like contempt is quite hyperbolic, in my opinion, @WillWorkForChocolate. If this thread is triggering you, fine, I can see where some comments are insulting. But to say that this makes you hate people or humanity, I don’t get it. How easily do you hate humanity? Or how easy is it to rile you up to the point of contempt?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey No. It’s not less disgusting. But, then you equate nonsensesical reasons like rage with religion. So we agree, see?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@tom_g Funny, because I see more than 10. I’m assuming that’s because, since you apparently dislike believers from the get go, you and I have much different opinions on what constitutes “insensitive”.

tom_g's avatar

@SpatzieLover – I was talking about this thread in particular. Regarding my beliefs – I am an atheist in the United States. If you think that’s a picnic, you are incorrect. I’m a socialist anti-consumer in the US. I hold very unpopular opinions about many things and have been called every name imaginable. However, I don’t find that it’s a problem. I can either justify my beliefs, or I shed them.

Jude's avatar

Stop going at each other and just answer the damn question. ;)

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie

Alright, fair enough. I understand what you’re saying. I was just pointing out that it does seem to apply to all people in some way or another, but I wasn’t trying to discredit what you said (as you illustrated, it seems to be true in many ways).

poisonedantidote's avatar

@KatawaGrey Sorry if you got that impression, I was just using christianity in my examples as it is such a common religion. People with religious beliefs are not reidiculous because of the beliefs I mentioned, they are ridiculous because of whatever ridicullous beliefs they have. e.g. believing there is a god to begin with.

EDIT: each religious belief is ridiculous for its own reasons.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate That is key. Sometimes people feel insulted when the other person had no intention of being insulting.

JLeslie's avatar

@DominicX I did not feel at all you were trying to discredit me.

Blackberry's avatar

@poisonedantidote Lol….wtf? You’re not helping…..lol. A belief in god is not ridiculous at all.

@WillWorkForChocolate 10 insults? I see 1, maybe 2. An example would really clear things up.

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie I thought maybe you didn’t, but I was kind of doing what I sometimes speak against: “rewriting” what someone said. :P

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tom_g If being an atheist is no picnic for you then I’d think you’d be more emapthetic to those that have been persecuted or treated unfairly for their beliefs. I was also talking about this thread.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Okay… let me give a little more detail about why this thread disgusts me: Read the actual question. Then read the responses from people who can’t fucking leave a comment without being a jackass. It’s a question all about “WHY” do you have to do this, not “come on in and have a go at religious people like always”. Not ONE of the theists got pissy on this thread (until me), yet more than a handful of atheists did. It’s a Fluther religious debate as usual, even though the OP clearly wanted to avoid a pissing match. This kind of crap is the precise reason I’ve stopped commenting on religious questions.

With that being said, I’m ditching this thread because it’s the same old thing with the same old people who like to be jerks and butt heads just to get a reaction. And I’m supposed to be the “childish” one. Right.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@SpatzieLover I think he said theists.

JLeslie's avatar

@DominicX I prefer you say something and let me defend my choice, or maybe change my mind, rather than you sitting back and saying nothing when you have a disagreement with my word choice or thought process. I was glad you said something.

tom_g's avatar

@SpatzieLover – If you read my posts above you’ll see that I don’t believe people are being unfairly treated for their beliefs. For the most part, I see beliefs as informing actions, therefore any discussion can’t merely be ended by calling the religion card. Some theists feel that religion is off-limits, so when discussing gay rights, the conversation must end when the theist claims, “well, that’s just my religion”.

I’m not proposing being a jerk. Rather, I am proposing that there should not be one standard for judging religious claims, and a different standard for judging all other claims. I am arguing for the elimination of religion as an area that deserves special protection specifically because people’s actions are affected.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: No, we don’t agree because I don’t equate rage with religion. I don’t think religion is inherently nonsensical. I think there are some people who are nonsensical who are religious.

@poisonedantidote: You know, I had this great response written out to you, but then I read your answer more closely. Dismissing an entire group of people because of a personal belief that’s right, I said “personal” is ridiculous. You are a perfect example as to why I tend to judge atheists harshly right from the get-go.

DominicX's avatar

@KatawaGrey

I think she was saying killing because of religion is nonsensical the way killing for rage is, not that religion is inherently nonsensical.

DominicX's avatar

@KatawaGrey

You are a perfect example as to why I tend to judge atheists harshly right from the get-go.

And so you use one extreme example as a reason for judgment of others? Would that be any different than me saying a radical Christian/theist is the reason I judge Christians/theists harshly?

Keep in mind these are questions. I am not accusing you of something, I am trying to get an answer and I may be asking the wrong questions. Correct me if I am wrong.

jonsblond's avatar

Even if you don’t believe, why do you have to mock or put down religion?

It’s the internet. The internet gives cowards a chance to be a dick because they can hide behind a computer screen.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@jonsblond, I agree.

IRL, I’ve had many athiest friends. None of them have ever condescended me for choosing to live with religion. We’ve discussed religious issues without it turning into a debate Here in Fluther, that does not hold true. I don’t know if it’s because of the anonymity or???

My husband & I have discussed all of our childhood friends: Hindis, mormons, theists, athiests…we couldn’t think of one time that our religious differences ever got in the way of our friendships.

DominicX's avatar

I also find it interesting that people are so quick to let the bad atheists give all atheists a bad name. Some of us can have a religious debate without the “lol you believe in God moron”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate No way did the OP think that it would actually NOT devolve into the usual back and forth. Some of us were able to have a good discussion, though. I can’t answer for everyone. @KatawaGrey I don’t think rage is inherently nonsensical either, I suppose. Point is, can you prove to me that more people murder because they’re atheists than people who murder because of religion? Let me save you time, you won’t find such data. It’s reality. I wish it wasn’t so. It’s not like I’m doing the jig here in my desk ‘cause that’s how it is. It’s sad when people use religion as a motivation for negative things. I don’t know what the solution is.

mazingerz88's avatar

Why exactly would a religious and faithful person be insulted if people call their religion magical or ridiculous? It reeks of insecurity and doubt. Could this be one of the reasons why in some periods of history, religious people killed and tortured those who did not subscribe to their religion? If you are insulted, that’s human, sure. But if you feel insulted because your religion is being mocked, something must be wrong with your religion since it can’t stand against this seemingly powerful institution called mocking?

Heh, ok, let the flaming arrows fly…

SpatzieLover's avatar

It’s condescending @mazingerz88.

mazingerz88's avatar

@SpatzieLover I don’t think so. When I was a Catholic, I heard a lot of criticism and mocking from other Christian sects. I hated them at first but soon realized that even in my own religion, including me, there are those who mock others too. We are all mockers, at some point in our lives we feel and say things and think things.

This is a natural result when people allow themselves to be encapsulated in a belief system that is quite imperfect.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@DominicX: If I am going to be judged harshly because I believe in God by several people, then I find no reason not to do the same. It’s not right, and I know that, but it’s the same logic. Should I change that? Yes, absolutely, I should, and I am trying to. It is especially difficult for me to get the motivation to change when I am constantly told, by good friends and strangers alike, that one of the core parts of my being is ridiculous.

@mazingerz88: Your logic is ridiculous. By your logic, if I call someone an asshole, then if they get mad, they actually are an asshole. Saying that my beliefs aren’t strong because I don’t like to be mocked shouldn’t excuse you being rude.

@Simone: Nobody kills because of religion. They kill because there is something wrong with them this is obviously excluding such situations as self-defense and, yes, the military and they have convinced themselves that it is because of their religion. A murderer who kills someone because of religion is like the murdered who kills someone because they look at him funny. It’s just a reason that they have internalized.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mazingerz88 I have never been mocked face to face IRL as I have here by atheists.

I have IRL, had comments about my faith thrown at me. (from a few people of other Christian sects) I have always handled myself in a composed manner.

tom_g's avatar

Could a single theist please answer this question? I was tempted to start a new thread, but I really don’t think this is off-topic. Answering this question might go a long way in explaining why there is a huge difference in opinion about how respectful or disrespectful things have been so far in this thread. Thanks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tom_g Nonbeliever here, but I think all beliefs should be respected. It’s not my place to question what someone else believes.

Jude's avatar

“Nonbeliever here, but I think all beliefs should be respected. It’s not my place to question what someone else believes

Yup.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@tom_g: No, I don’t think it shouldn’t be questioned, but it’s all about how it’s questioned. “Can you explain to me why you believe what you believe because I think it’s patently ridiculous?” is a terrible way to go about asking about someone’s beliefs. Also, not really listening and spending the whole time someone is talking thinking of ways to refute what they say is disrespectful and gloating when someone cannot rise to your expectations is also disrespectful. As my momma likes to say, “Sometimes it’s okay to have an unexpressed thought.” I have an unexpressed thought about why people become atheists but I know that it would be wildly disrespectful so I am leaving it unexpressed because saying it would not change anything except to make people angry at me and feel resentful. I expect the same. If you think what I believe is ridiculous, you don’t need to tell it to me, because it’s not going to change anything. If you can tell me why you disagree with me in a respectful manner, even if it’s as simple as, “I disagree because I have my own set of beliefs,” then that’s great.

DominicX's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m not trying to start a flame-war here and feel free to not answer this, but what if such beliefs are things like racism? I can’t respect a belief in the truth of racism, for example. That’s why I think the idea of respecting all beliefs looks good on the surface but becomes problematic when those beliefs affect others…

Disclaimer: I am not putting a million disclaimers on this. You know what I am and am not saying/implying.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@mazingerz88 Why exactly would a religious and faithful person be insulted if people call their religion magical or ridiculous? It reeks of insecurity and doubt. Why would a person who don’t believe in the Bible or God get bent if a believer says they will burn in Hell? Why would a gay person get bent, if they do not believe, if told their lifestyle is sinful? Ask yourself that, and I bet you will be miles close to having the answer yourself.

Jude's avatar

@KatawaGrey Best answer, yet.

tom_g's avatar

@KatawaGrey – I understand what you are saying, but you didn’t even come close to answering my question. I’m trying to find some common ground here. I suppose I’ll have to move it to its own question.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DominicX I was referring to religious beliefs. I guess the person is free to be a racist, I’m just going to avoid that person as much as I can.

Blackberry's avatar

@Hypocrisy_CentralWhy would a gay person get bent, if they do not believe, if told their lifestyle is sinful?

There are physical implications to these beliefs…....Read @syz‘s answer about not being able to get married.

tom_g's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe – This is specifically what I am asking. Why do you make exception for beliefs labeled “religious”?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@DominicX: You are talking bout something different, though. Unless someone has a belief that racism is inherently connected to their religion, okay, put that on the table. But a belief that some people are inferior because of racial background is not at all the same as a belief in God. And don’t quibble semantics with me since you know that we are talking about spiritual beliefs here and not all beliefs everywhere held by everybody.

@tom_g: How did I not answer “Theists, do you feel that religious belief should be left unquestioned?”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey I think perhaps what you mean is that nobody should kill because of religion. But they do, whether it’s internalized or not. Aren’t all things internalized in a negative way when people use them to murder? Clearly, people murder for many reasons. But they advocate (literally and financially) for murder (of gays, let’s say or sinful women) due to religious beliefs. I can’t say it isn’t so when it is. People in America do this. I have to run to school but you can yourself look up information on how much money has been pushed by religious people into ‘initiatives’ in ‘undeveloped countries’ to support ‘eradicating the gay’.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tom_g As long as the person is not seeking to harm anyone else, just practicing their faith, why should I care?

DominicX's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe

Understood. I can respect any belief that doesn’t try to harm anyone else.

However, and this is just me I don’t consider questioning a belief to be disrespectful UNLESS the question is worded in a disrespectful way.

@KatawaGrey That’s why I put the comment about the disclaimers because I was waiting for someone to say “so theism is racism now?” when that is not what I was implying at all. @Adirondackwannabe said “beliefs”, not “religious beliefs”. I understand now that he was referring to personal religious beliefs, but when I posted that response, I took it to mean any kind of belief.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I can only imagine what other non-believers might feel but personally I would just chuckle if someone says I’m going to hell. I’m agnostic so they could be right. But they can knock themselves out mocking me, just don’t shoot me or anything. I’m good.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Blackberry There are physical implications to these beliefs….... Such as? If they do not believe, then whoever you have sex with, NO MATTER WHO, is perfectly OK so long as they know they are having sex. Marriage, as many allude to, is just about tradition, law, and protocol, little more.

tom_g's avatar

@KatawaGrey – Do you think religious beliefs should be handled like any other belief (political, social, etc)? If you feel that religious belief is the exception, then I think we may be able to point to that as the reason you and others feel so offended.

NOTE: You answered part 1 of my question.

DominicX's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

If someone tells me that my homosexuality is sinful, it’s meaningless to me, as an atheist. However, I might try and debate it if they claim they get that knowledge from the book of Leviticus…

Blackberry's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Dude…..People have been killed because they were gay…...And this isn’t 14th century stuff, this is the 21st century we’re talking about…..

And the benefits of marriage still have physical effects.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: Oh, okay, I think I get what you’re saying. You’re saying that people who claim to kill because of religion wouldn’t do it if they were atheists. Got it.

@tom_g: I think all those beliefs should be handled the same way too. Telling me my political or social beliefs are ridiculous isn’t going to change my mind nor is it going to lead to anything aside from anger and resentment.

Jude's avatar

@tom_g Are you just looking for reasons to justify the attacks?

tom_g's avatar

@KatawaGrey – I’ll take you at your word that you do not expect your religious beliefs to be treated with more respect than your political beliefs or your acceptance of anthropogenic global climate change. I think this is a respectable position.

Joker94's avatar

GQ. I never really have a go at atheists, but I would if it were warranted. On Fluther, I tend to see more people criticizing religion than I do atheism, but I would certainly defend anyone being unjustly attacked. But, man, I can’t deny that people take a lot of potshots at religion. Sometimes it’s warranted, in cases of complete bigotry, but other times, it’s straight up annoying.

tom_g's avatar

@Jude – Are you kidding? No! I am trying to get the theists to understand that for me and many other atheists, ideas and beliefs that are put into the public are all fair game. They require justification – especially if they are really informing our actions. If I was a theist and felt that every belief is fair game except religion, then I would imagine feeling quite offended.

SpatzieLover's avatar

There is no harm in questioning what another person believes in @tom_g. I agree with @KatawaGrey. The way in which another’s beliefs are questioned, is the key to either creating an open dialogue or a closed-minded debate/debacle.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@DominicX If someone tells me that my homosexuality is sinful, it’s meaningless to me, as an atheist. However, I might try and debate it if they claim they get that knowledge from the book of Leviticus… Why? If you do not believe Leviticus is no more relevant than The Iliad. It would have as much umph if I were trying to label you a confederate, if you believe there is a confederation, me calling you a confederate has no sting.

@Blackberry Dude…..People have been killed because they were gay…... And taking the account of the 20th century you know nearly all the gays that have been killed died at the hands of other non-believers and imitation Christians, not the God-fearing, devout ones right?

tom_g's avatar

@Jude – Also, this means that I am not acting any different when it comes to religious belief when I arguing with a theist who brings up a religious argument. It’s as though they made a claim about taxation. I submit that (other than @KatawaGrey) there are many theists who have had their religious belief exempt from public debate, and feel that it is “different” in some way, and shouldn’t be questioned.

If atheists don’t think there’s anything special about religious belief (it’s just a belief like any other), then it would follow that we’re not being mean (ok, well some of us are maybe). We’re involved in healthy public debate and doing the important work of making sure our beliefs (which inform our actions) are justifiable.

DominicX's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

Because it’s not about how it makes me feel personally, it’s not about a “sting”, it’s about how I can understand what they’re saying. I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for more knowledge. I might not agree that being gay is sinful but if I can understand that this belief has a solid backing, that’s a good thing, in my mind. It’s not about convincing me that it’s true or right, it’s about more understanding as to why people have this belief and whether or not the religious texts truly support it. I’m an atheist but I’m fascinated by religion and am thinking of double majoring in religious studies.

mazingerz88's avatar

Ok, excluding the religious mockings in this board, can someone post a link where atheists mocked, as in really mocked a religious person here in Fluther unjustifiably? I was looking for it and so far can’t locate one. Thanks.

And I’m starting to feel that my question about “bawls” is being left out. This board has almost 200 responses already and my “bawl” question has only 74 so far so please don’t hesitate to post there as well. Thank you. : )

whitenoise's avatar

I think that since religious people love (a) God, it hurts them when atheists frown upon God and His claimed existence.

Most atheists will have been told they go to hell for their lack of believe, or that they are disrespectful to others for questioning their beliefs.

Religion, or a lack thereof is so much part of our identity that questioning the ‘rightness’ of one’s beliefs (or lack thereof) is like questioning the ‘rightness’ of one’s identity. This makes it for many impossible to disagree on religious issues without being deemed disrespectful by the ones they discuss with.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@tom_g: Let’s compare religion to gun control, another hot button issue here on fluther, and a political one at that though one could argue that it is also social, which I do believe to some extent. Instead of saying, “You’re an idiot for wanting to own a gun because they are dangerous,” I think someone should say, “I think guns are too dangerous for people to own.” A disrespectful or fanatical gun advocate would say something like, “I have a right to own guns and if you try to take that away, you’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead fingers!” but a respectful gun advocate would say something like, “It’s true that guns are dangerous, but I have the proper training and safety measures to own guns. I am a responsible gun owner.” Interestingly enough, I actually used to be pretty vehemently anti-gun until I had a number of intelligent, respectful conversations with gun-owners both here on fluther and out in the real world. I do not think that having respectful discussions with a spiritual person will necessarily “convert” an atheist, but I think if everyone is respectful, then knowledge will be gained and perceptions can be changed.

Jude's avatar

@mazingerz88 There was one, today. I’ll pm you.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Jude Ok, thanks.

tom_g's avatar

@KatawaGrey – I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I also think we have a completely different understanding of what is being said, which is what I was trying to get at.

Before I answer your question, I must stress that I have not experienced the “You’re an idiot for believing in god” argument. First of all, it’s not an argument, so it’s crap. I hope you’re not taking this as some kind of argument atheists use when discussing religious issues.

Like I have stated many times, including in this thread, belief in god has nothing to do with intelligence. There are plenty of really smart theists, and plenty of moron atheists.

I am attempting to get across that I am not treating religious claims any different than non-religious claims. That said, let me get to your question….

I completely agree with your assessment that the conversation would be useless if people made asinine claims without evidence. An argument goes like this. Someone makes a claim. Either the person accepts the claim or requests the person to provide evidence for that claim. This can go for gun control, taxes, abortion, or religion.

I don’t think we’re in much disagreement here.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@tom_g: I think you’re right, I think I don’t understand what you’re saying. I thought you were asking if religious beliefs should be exempt from the same kind of debate and discussion that surround other kinds of beliefs. I guess not?

SuperMouse's avatar

@tom_g, in answer to your question, I believe that all beliefs should be questioned, religious beliefs above all. I believe I stated in this very thread that to me an unexamined faith is not a faith worth having. I grew up with Catholocism shoved down my throat. I went to mass every Sunday and holy day, received six of the seven sacraments, could pray an entire rosary in 10 minutes flat, and believed I was going straight to hell the day I died (or at least spending a good amount of time in purgatory). Those beliefs were not mine, they were a lovely gift from my parents through Father O’Ryan. As I matured I began to question those beliefs and spent the better part of the last 30 years doing so. Until I was able to find a faith that makes perfect sense to me, It wasn’t real in me or in my life. If anyone asks me to explain or justify why I believe in God I will do it to the best of my ability and not be the least bit offended by the question. I belong to a faith that is not of the mainstream and nearly every time anyone, theist, atheist, or agnostic finds out that I am Bahá’í I have to explain what it is and why I belong. So I say bring on the questions, just keep the judgement to yourself.

@wundayatta I haven’t graduated from college yet, but I am working on it and I do work in a college library surrounded by scholars and scholarly journals. I’m wondering, did I miss the journal article explaining that science has effectively disproved the existence of God? With all due respect to one of my favorite jellies, your answer is condescending to the point of being offensive. Comparing a set of religious beliefs to believing in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy can be seen as nothing but trolling. For the record, about 85% of the members of my community of faith have college degrees and at least half have graduate degrees or above. Come on now, you are better than that response.

@Hypocrisy_Central, “If they do not believe, then whoever you have sex with, NO MATTER WHO, is perfectly OK so long as they know they are having sex. Marriage, as many allude to, is just about tradition, law, and protocol, little more.” Dude! How can you insinuate that anyone who is not Christian has no moral compass then get pissed when people judge your beliefs? Comments like that don’t help the cause one single bit, all they do is contribute to the mistaken belief that all theists are judgmental jerks!

tom_g's avatar

@KatawaGrey – No, you got it. If I understand your position correctly….

- There should be no special protection for religious claims. All claims, religious and non-religious, are to be justified if they are used in an argument as a claim or a premise.
– All arguments (religious and non-religious) should be more civil and focus on the actual claims and evidence.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Where we differ is that you too often you feel that an atheist has opted for name-calling rather than engage you in a legitimate discussion. I haven’t seen this here.

Jude's avatar

This had better get question of the day, dammit. ;)

Hibernate's avatar

People mock the things they don’t understand or those that make them feel scared. Might sounds strange but it’s true [at least with some people].

Hibernate's avatar

@Jude do you want to get question of the day? Will it make your day? We can vote it and you can get that award if you lust for it ^^

tom_g's avatar

@SuperMouse: “just keep the judgement to yourself.”

You’ll get no judgement from me unless we were in a discussion having to do with gay marriage or gay rights, which I understand as being forbidden in the Bahá’í Faith. You might even reject that part of your religion, which of course I would applaud you for.

Many of my family are New England Catholics. They pick and choose the stuff they feel is good from the religion and bible, and reject the rest. Do I walk up to them and call them idiots for their beliefs? No. Do we ever really discuss it? No. Why? Because their actions are not influenced by a strict adherence to Catholicism. They are pro-choice, etc.

Jude's avatar

@Hibernate I’m just playin’ around. :) I don’t want no stinkin’ award. ;)

SuperMouse's avatar

@tom_g one of the beautiful things of an “independent investigation of the truth” is that I feel as though it empowers to me to question even my own faith. There are a couple of things that the Bahá’í Faith believes that I disagree with and I never hesitate to share that with fellow Bahá’í‘s.

JLeslie's avatar

Is it possible that many theists see questioning their beliefs as knocking their beliefs? That they want a religious discussion to only be everyone’s separate viewpoint on a topic, sans anyone challenging the opinions put forth?

I realize the OP was really trying to ask about blatantly rude, dismissive comments, but it seems like a lot of atheists think all comments upset many thiests, and that some of the discussion here seems to reinforce that idea. @tom_g seems to really be trying to figure it out and understand and still his intention seems to be questioned. It got me thinking that I am back to my very first answer. Frustration and distrust.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tom_g you just said You’ll get no judgement from me
Yet ^up there, you stated I think you are being slightly oversensitive to terms like “magical”.

I doubt in any other thread but a religious one my beliefs would be compared to magic or fairy tales.

I’m not fond of being patronized. I don’t know anyone that is.

lloydbird's avatar

There is only one one, and we are all part of it.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@DominicX It’s not about convincing me that it’s true or right, it’s about more understanding as to why people have this belief and whether or not the religious texts truly support it. There is where we are in concert. I can hardly see how people can not believe, or get into the minds of gay people, but I am always open to take a peek if we can talk about it civilly.

@SuperMouse Dude! How can you insinuate that anyone who is not Christian has no moral compass then get pissed when people judge your beliefs? Where did you see my write, ”they are immoral”, ”they are heathens full of sin”? Where are you drawing the line at morality? Whose morality? Who is to say that morality is ”tee morality”? Someone might say sex should be only between married man and a woman. Others will say sex should be those you love dearly married or not, so long as it is opposite sex. Another will say sex is OK if male and female but only between certain ages or under certain age differences. Other would say sex between relatives is OK and other say absolutely not. There will be some that will say OK but not father/daughter, mother/son, brother/sister, and maybe not even aunt/nephew, uncle/niece, etc. You have those who say so long as you are in love no matter what sex, and some would say the same sex is OK if they are married. Which on is right, or not? Who gets to up one and thumbs down the other from a pure secular outlook, the group with the most numbers? The group who has the most guns get to make law and set policy? If you are going to speak on morality, which group of humans get to set it and who gave them authority to do so?

wundayatta's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I was not addressing my comments to you.

Let me ask you something, though. I assume you don’t believe in the tooth fairy. Would you mock someone who said they believed in the tooth fairy? Would you consider them ignorant? If they said a religion told them the tooth fairy was real and they believed it, would you think they were brainwashed?

It’s probably not nice to mock people who believe in the tooth fairy, but I think it’s fair to think they are ignorant.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Gosh, I was going to post here after I got back from lunch, but I guess I ate too much, no way I’m stepping in this now. I left when there were around 10 answetrs…

tom_g's avatar

@Spatzie – (I am on iPhone)
I will drop you a message later. I am upset that you felt I was patronizing. That was not my intention.

Yikes people. What is going on here?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central, your quip says ”“If they do not believe, then whoever you have sex with, NO MATTER WHO, is perfectly OK…” If you aren’t insinuating that no religion equals no moral compass, what are you insinuating? You can complicate the hell out of what I said by naming as many different couples who can copulate as come into your head, but the fact remains that you insinuated that unless a person is religious – and judging by the rest of your posts, specifically Christian – that person is amoral.

@Jillthetooth, jump in, the water’s fine!

syz's avatar

I don’t understand the cries of “Oh, the humanity!”. Except for a few comments that seem to have been designed to be offensive and a few that are just ignorant, I’ve found this entire thread to be a thoughtful discussion of a potentially contentious issue.

Keeping in mind that this is a public forum, in an anonymous format, I think we’ve done pretty well.

Overly sensitive, anyone?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@SuperMouse : I’m afraid I haven’t enough eloquence for this crew, and most of what I feel has been very well said by others (well, mostly my kid, actually, we talk about this stuff a lot) but thanks for the invite! I am enjoying following it…

Well, OK, just briefly. My strictly personal experience has been, as a deist/theist, that most of the atheists I have dealt with tend to lump me in with mainstream religious people, mostly Christian probably because of my ethnicity, and will include me in their vilification of some fanatic Christian fundamentalists. This I find deeply offensive, and therefore my hackles are already up when the subject is raised. I may react in a snappish manner because of past experience, and I’m sure that is not called for every single time, but unfortunately it is very often not inappropriate.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think @JLeslie nailed it in the very first post. I’m bitter toward religion. I have been told that I’m a bad person, that I’m going to hell, that I can’t possibly have any morals, that I’m stupid.. and so on and so forth.
And that wasn’t on the internet.
That is in real life.
It is far more widely acceptable to be a believer than it is to be a non-believer, and I am thrilled that there are people working to change that. However, growing up as an atheist in a religious world, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to be honest about my beliefs. And that has left a bad taste in my mouth.
Now, I try really hard not to be blatantly offensive. I try not to go around stepping on peoples’ toes, or stomping on beliefs that I know are near and dear to them. However, if they say something offensive, I’m far more likely to get my guard up and start fighting dirty. I do like to believe that’s rare for me.

There are certain things that I can’t say or be honest about, without offending people. That’s been shown here, in the past. The most popular example of this, for me, is that I think it is absurd to believe in god(s), and that isn’t a potshot, it’s the truth. I’d like to see someone with a religious or spiritual background hear me say that and not think I’m throwing shit. I can’t help it that what I believe to be the truth is offensive, and when combined with my enjoyment in discussing religious topics, it’s difficult for it not to be an oil & water situation. Sure, I hate religion. I don’t pretend that I don’t, and I shouldn’t have to. That seems to be okay, in most cases. It’s “okay” to cite things like homosexuality, abortion, women’s rights, and a gazillion things from Leviticus as reasons to hate and distrust religion (and they’re pretty valid points), but socially it’s still a step up from saying that I think the concept of god(s) is total nonsense.

How do you say that without offending people? Even if it is how you truly feel? You don’t. That has been made clear here, and elsewhere. I think there are few people on Fluther who actually take the potshots, who actually fling mud just for the sake of doing it. What I really think, is that you have two viewpoints that are so far from each other that it is nearly impossible not to offend each other.

syz's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf There is a basic rift that makes these discussion nigh on impossible. Atheists want to understand, and theists want to believe. Two wildly divergent philosophies.

It’s like trying to communicate without a common language.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@syz : I appreciate the point that you’re trying to make but I think it could be worded differently. I know a number of scientists who are theists. There is a whole school of thought that goes with the idea that we have free will and intellectual curiosity in order to try to unravel the mysteries of a deity created universe. They also want to understand. They already believe.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Yes, there are a whole bunch of thiests who believe in evolution for example, and then there are a whole bunch unwilling to combine the two. The resistant ones, the fundamentalist Christians, hell I don’t even know what to call them to be able to not offend them, “the Christians who don’t believe in evolution,” I guess, not to be confused with those Christians who do believe. Even our politicians are asked about evolution and creationism, which I find quite odd. I don’t think most athiests care if someone believes in God, they care if some is so, ugh, I don’t have a word I feel confident saying, so glued to the bible being the true word, every single little word, that they will not listening to anything else. There is no reason why God and evolution have to be mutually exclusive. My point with this little rant is, how does it harm anyone if someone believes in God, it doesn’t from what I can tell. What harms some people is some of the specific religious beliefs in a religion, and the need for those people to impose their beliefs on others through legislation and other means.

tom_g's avatar

Just wanted to throw this out there. My hope is that you will understand that I am being completely sincere when I say that I am sorry if I have offended anyone. It is not my intention to go around doing that. If I have one favor to ask of all theists and nontheists who seem to think that some of us atheists are being unfair to theists – please consider that it is the fairness itself which may be the cause of this offense….

I treat all claims the same. Show me the evidence. No exceptions for religious belief. No special treatment.

The US is a very religious society, Religion is often considered something special that is exempt from the rigorous standards we hold other beliefs to. Is it possible that some of the perceived offensive behavior by atheists is merely the elimination of this special exemption? Is it possible that treating religious beliefs fairly and just like any other belief comes across as offensive to some theists?

I don’t know. I really don’t know where else to go with this thread. It’s very frustrating.

I have so much respect for so many of you here – even when we disagree. The last thing I want to do is create a huge divide that is nearly impossible to bridge. I will make an attempt to be slightly more sensitive in this area, and I hope my theist friends will try to be less offended.
Dig?

FutureMemory's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf There are certain things that I can’t say or be honest about, without offending people. That’s been shown here, in the past. The most popular example of this, for me, is that I think it is absurd to believe in god(s), and that isn’t a potshot, it’s the truth. I’d like to see someone with a religious or spiritual background hear me say that and not think I’m throwing shit. I can’t help it that what I believe to be the truth is offensive, and when combined with my enjoyment in discussing religious topics, it’s difficult for it not to be an oil & water situation. Sure, I hate religion. I don’t pretend that I don’t, and I shouldn’t have to. That seems to be okay, in most cases. It’s “okay” to cite things like homosexuality, abortion, women’s rights, and a gazillion things from Leviticus as reasons to hate and distrust religion (and they’re pretty valid points), but socially it’s still a step up from saying that I think the concept of god(s) is total nonsense.

How do you say that without offending people? Even if it is how you truly feel? You don’t. That has been made clear here, and elsewhere. I think there are few people on Fluther who actually take the potshots, who actually fling mud just for the sake of doing it. What I really think, is that you have two viewpoints that are so far from each other that it is nearly impossible not to offend each other.

Get out of my brain, omg!

Seriously, well said :)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I also think that it should be pointed out, that from an atheist’s perspective, often being firm is confused with being aggressive. Most atheists have dealt with a reasonable number of people trying to change our minds. Even those who do so with the best of intentions, are still stepping on our toes. I think that leads many of us to feel like we have to really dig our heels into the dirt, even when no one is doing that. I believe it is a learned behavior. And, I think that sometimes it comes off as aggression, when it is really a defensive thing. That could be that it is perceived as aggression, or that the person is actually coming off as aggressive, but I do think this is very true.
ETA: Just after I posted this, I saw a status update on my Facebook feed from a user expressing their frustration over people trying to change their mind about atheism. Mind you, this person had no knowledge of the discussion we’re having here. So if anyone doubts that this shit happens all the time, there you go.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Hibernate's avatar

@Jude well you got it ^^

SuperMouse's avatar

@tom_g I for one have not been the least bit offended by how you have handled yourself in this thread. I see your logic very clearly and I think you make a valid point. I also think that some theists who are offended by questions about their belief are offended for the very reason you state. I tend to believe that, as you mention, this is because they believe merely because they have always been told they have to rather than coming to this belief on their own. I am not a huge fan of being treated as if I am lacking intelligence because I believe in God, but of course I am always willing to explain why I believe. I don’t do so feeling like I need to defend God (He doesn’t really need me to do His bidding), I do so in hopes of articulating the role God and my faith play in my life.

@ANef_is_Enuf it doesn’t seem ok to me to tell anyone that something they believe is absurd. I especially think one is bound to be taken as offensive when speaking to someone about something as intensely personal as their religious beliefs. I understand fully and support your choice to be an atheist. That being said, to me it makes about as much sense as my being a theist makes to you. No matter what though I would not step off on someone and call their belief – or lack thereof – absurd. Even if I was atheist I have spent quite a bit of the last 30 years as an agnostic and heard a fellow non-believer tell a person of faith they are nonsensical and their beliefs are absurd, I would be inclined to think there is shit being thrown. It’s like my husband says to our kids when they don’t like something I’ve cooked: it is always more appropriate to say “I don’t prefer this” than it is to say “ewww Mom this is gross!” Of those two comments, the former is much less likely to be perceived as throwing shit.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SuperMouse exactly my point.

SuperMouse's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I’m not sure what you mean by “exactly my point.” My point is that there are ways to share your atheism with people without being offensive, telling them you think believing in God is absurd is not really one of them.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SuperMouse I’ve already argued this into the ground on Fluther, and I have no desire to do so again.
There is a huge difference between “I don’t prefer this” and “I think it’s crazy that anyone can believe that.” Is that what I think? Yep. Am I trying to be offensive? Nope. There’s just no nice way to say it.

SuperMouse's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I don’t remember ever having discussed or argued this with you, but my main question would be why do you think it is necessary to tell people you think their beliefs are crazy? If you know people are going to take offense to you putting it that way then why do it? I don’t see anything wrong with saying “I don’t prefer this” and leaving it at that. This thread alone is all the proof I need to know that people take their beliefs very seriously and are bound to take serious offense to having them described as crazy or nonsensical.

Disclaimer: If someone is up in your facing condemning you to hell because you don’t believe what they do then of course you have every right to take the gloves off and do what you have to do to stop the assault. Verbally I mean, saving punching them in the face for a last resort.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SuperMouse I don’t go around telling “people” that I think they are crazy. But, I do feel like I should be able to honestly express what I believe when it suits the discussion. That is completely different from “mocking” or “putting down” people of faith. I recognize that my view is extreme, but does that mean that I shouldn’t be allowed to say what I believe out loud?
This question is about making a mockery or throwing potshots, and what I said does neither of those things. What I believe may be offensive to people, but that is not the same as going around picking fights. And that is the point that I made above. Our beliefs are so different that it is nearly impossible not to offend one another.
I didn’t discuss this with you. I discussed it here,

cockswain's avatar

Interesting discussion. I read about half of it, and my personal sentiments have been echoed in various ways by multiple posters.

I used to be Catholic, and gradually became an atheist or agnostic or whatever you want to call it over about 10 years. As I pushed the last dregs of religious thinking out of my head, I became sort of adamant about “spreading the word,” which I realize is ironic. Basically I felt so much better and clearer not feeling that I was always being watched by dead relatives when I jerked off and all other associated illusions that I wanted others to see things the way I did.

So after plenty of atheist vs. religious arguments and/or discussions, I got it out of my system. For the most part. Now I just explain how I think if asked or it seems relevant and don’t worry so much about what others wish to believe. But I’m willing to fight real hard if religious thinking is going to impinge on my freedom.

EDIT: By the way, I’m a huge fan of this quote ”......it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain When you say spreading the word, do you mean you brought it up out of the blue? Felt compelled to tell people, and bring them over to the athiests side?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SuperMouse also, you are approaching this as if I just go around telling people this sort of thing on a whim. It only comes up if it is appropriate for the discussion. For example, in the discussion that I linked, where I was being asked about my personal beliefs. Even then I am not allowed to honestly express what I believe. And I call bullshit.

everephebe's avatar

When something is sacred, the merest sign of irreverence is blasphemy. One can respect a person but not their beliefs. And if you disagree it doesn’t mean there is disrespect.

If I like a different sports team than you, it doesn’t mean that we are enemies even if we shout disrespectful things about the other team at each other. We all should have thicker skin when it come to these sorts of things. I think religion is one of the most poisonous awful horrendous things on the planet. That’s me, that’s what I think, I respect y’all enough to tell you the truth of how I feel and what I think… And if you disagree, I’m a big enough boy to handle it.

mazingerz88's avatar

@tom_g Seriously, see no reason why there would be a need for you to say sorry on this board.

SuperMouse's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I don’t think you should have to hide what you believe from anyone. Of course you have the right to share your opinion on religion. I just can’t understand why you can’t share your opinion without putting theirs down. We are going to have to agree to disagree here because I think that by throwing around words like “crazy” and “nonsense” under the guise of being able to share your opinion you are bound to offend people. I also cling to the belief that there are ways to share your passionate opinion about religion without offending people. @everephebe‘s answer reminded me of something my human relations professor said, it is important to be able to disagree without being disagreeable, that is my point here. Edited to add: Just so you know, I never pictured you walking up to random theists on the street and challenging them to a war of words about their religion. Also, if you were invited to share you opinion on something and someone calls you out for holding that opinion I would call bull shit too. Another disclaimer though, there are some people that are going to be offended no matter what you say. Even if you smile politely and say “I don’t prefer it” they are going to freak out and take it as a personal affront. Ironically enough they will probably be the ones most likely to constantly evangelize.

As an aside, the folks I know with the strongest, most real faiths, don’t have to talk about it all. They don’t try to recruit people nor do they spend their time spouting their beliefs. The most faithful among us let the way they live their lives do the talking for them.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Agreed. I’m done.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Holy crap, 239 responses. I’m afraid to look up.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t think most atheists[sic] care if someone believes in God, they care if some is so, ugh, I don’t have a word I feel confident saying, so glued to the bible being the true word, every single little word, that they will not listening to anything else. I have encountered too many who seem to think that. They seem to be annoyed because I believe God even though I am not trying to get them to believe God. I say with the same brush take note that science is not the end to all. People say proof, the proof is only as far as you can detect it. If you were viewing a mirage but had no science to explain it, you might swear there was a ghost or something appearing and vanishing on the road before you. Looking out in space, where no one except Capt. Kirk and a few other fictional media personalities have been, there could be all manner of things between here and the object observed distorting the view. Because you are not out there, and you can detect it because it is something not encountered here, there is a plausible chance in the future it would be rendered as real as the vast forest of 600ft redwood trees that were suppose to be on Mars to explain the bands of green seen from Earth by telescope. Even the ”proof seekers” do not have a 100% lock on what the truth is, so I wish they don’t try to equate that as way better than believing off faith. If I question the science don’t get bent and say ”well, the test did by NASA in so-in-so proves its right, no exceptions”.

@ANef_is_Enuf It’s “okay” to cite things like homosexuality, abortion, women’s rights, and a gazillion things from Leviticus as reasons to hate and distrust religion (and they’re pretty valid points), but socially it’s still a step up from saying that I think the concept of god(s) is total nonsense. It would be impossible to say everything someone wanted to say, and please all. You would have to be so generically PC to be little more than a cliché of a mouthpiece. If there is a premise to say that, like quoting a political system, a religion etc, that would be something different. To simply say with no premise, ”women do not need to be educated, they should get husbands and raise children”, if it came from the point of a religion that adheres to that, then it did. If you said “I think THAT ASPECT of religion is ridiculous”, goes mile further than saying ”your religion is ridiculous to believe that”. I know there are parts of the Christian religion that non-believers will see as chauvinistic, but Christians don’t corner the market on that, or take it as far as other religions. Those who are not Christians would not understand how that fits into the greater scheme of things anymore than understanding why a mechanic would do certain things rebuilding an engine.

I can’t see atheism, if someone was sitting across the park on a bench I would not tell who they were. You resent religion because they told you that you were a bad person, bound for hell etc, you would not know that until they opened their mouth, you would not be bothered until then.

@SuperMouse If you aren’t insinuating that no religion equals no moral compass, what are you insinuating? What I am saying if one view morals or morality in a general sense, what criteria is that morality built on, and on whose authority was it sanctioned by? If it was a body of humans, who said that body of humans was right and any others wrong? If somewhere in the world it was moral and expected to put a promiscuous woman to death, that is what they decided was proper for them, so who is to tell them they are wrong, if they can’t tell you that you are wrong not doing it?

augustlan's avatar

I do think there are ways to call beliefs (religious or otherwise) into question without attacking the person holding those beliefs (even though sometimes that may be warranted.. extreme beliefs that harm others when put into practice sometimes call for extreme criticism).

To my mind, it’s perfectly ok to say something like “I don’t understand how you can believe in X, without evidence.” It’s really not ok to say something like “You are insane/a moron to believe in X, without evidence.”

SuperMouse's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central newflash, the Bible was written by humans. Even if we take that fact out of the mix, it is humans who are interpreting the words in the Bible which is why religions that are based on the exact same book vary so widely. Seriously how many secular societies put a woman to death for promiscuity? The societies that do those types of things are almost always basing those choices on man’s interpretation of the word of God.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Hafta throw this in to add to @SuperMouse‘s point… How many different translations have there been? And who here can read the original, or has access to to a copy of the original?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I didn’t single Christians out in my response, so I’m not sure why you did. Those also aren’t the only reasons that I’m bitter toward religion. Also, with many religions, it isn’t typical for them not to “open their mouths.” Many religions preach about spreading the word, and that would be pretty hard to do if they never talked to anyone about it. So, am I misunderstanding what you said in that it is okay for religious people to preach if that is part of their religion, but that atheists should be quiet since no one can “see” atheism?
As for the rest of what you said… that isn’t unlike what I said at all. I think the “god” aspect of religion is ridiculous. It is really that far fetched, in my mind, that I find it shocking that anyone believes it. God and religion are not one in the same, so my feelings toward religion and my feelings toward the belief in god(s) are not one in the same. Nor do they necessarily stem from the same place.
However, saying that this is what I believe, and going around telling people that I think they’re crazy or throwing potshots… are different things. There is no polite way to express what I believe, because, as you said, anything I say could be received as offensive by someone. Is there a difference between thinking that an idea is crazy and thinking a person is crazy? There’s a damn big difference.

6rant6's avatar

OMG what a thread!

Has this point been made: as an atheist, I feel to be an oppressed minority. Where I live (the US) people in power tend to be religious (Christian) and tend to promote the futures of like-minded people. Overtly or covertly, they undermine those who do not go to church (or even to the right church).

I am among the more strident atheists here. But even so, I wouldn’t think it right, responsible or helpful to say to someone they were stupid because they believed in God. I would, on the other hand, have a strong reaction to some who uses tautological arguments to argue their case, cites a religious source as an excuse for hatred or oppression, or denies that there is an attack on the rights of those who are not theists. This last one is what I think creates a lot of the attitude you theists ascribe to unsubstantiated snarkiness.

cockswain's avatar

@JLeslie No, I didn’t bring it up out of the blue. If the subject came up for whatever reason I used it as on opportunity to explain the fallacies of religious thinking and the harm it has done to civilization. I probably would have used this thread for a similar thing. But although I still have these strong anti-religion sentiments, I’m less vocal now. I think I’m getting that way about politics too, but at least there’s something more tangible to discuss there.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I don’t. I respect both.

cockswain's avatar

@6rant6 Great answer.

Symbeline's avatar

Sometimes I mock religion. Not much, but sometimes. I’m not entirely sure why, but I do try to be constructive and discuss things maturely, usually. Maybe some people get to me, and I react to it in a retarded way. Happens often, with any subject. But I mock a hell of a lot of stuff though, so religion shouldn’t feel singled out by me. I’ve seen people way worse than I.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tom_g I understand what point you were attempting to make. I appreciate the PM and apologize for taking what you said in a malicious manner. You meant well and explained yourself well.

I try to empathize with atheists here and IRL. I guess I am at a loss as to why we can’t bridge some sort of understanding.

I for one, am uncomfortable with being lumped in with other Christians. I’m open-minded and try to treat everyone I come across with respect. If I have offended anyone here, I apologize.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey I don’t know if they wouldn’t kill just because they’re now atheists. It’s not so black and white. I read somewhere that it’s not even about religion or non-religion, sometimes, but certain people are stupider than others, more susceptible to doing shit to others and they will be more likely to use things like religion as an excuse. But that’s neither here nor there.

JLeslie's avatar

So many Christians on Fluther are willing to stand up to other Christians and call them out for being narrow minded and hateful. They understand that when we generalize about Christians we are not talking about them, but about the vocal Christians (I am speaking from an American point of view) who want to make laws that practically amount to wanting a theocracy in the US. The part of the group who does want to convert people. The part of the group who judge non-Christians. I feel like we, atheists, and I will even include being Jewish also, are reacting to their actions. But, I know Christians seem to feel the same way ironically. I know this question started as theists and atheists and somehow moved to Christianity, I guess that happens because in the US they are the most prominent religious group, and have significant power.

@Hypocrisy_Central I question science all the time. That is never a problem. I have a problem with someone questioning science based on what the bible says. I think the bible has all sorts of good things in it, like most religious texts. But, people over 2,000 years ago, or over 5,000 if you want to go back to the old testament, lived very different lives than we do now, and their knowledge of the world and the universe was rather limited. Why would we rely on them for science? Observations they made should and can be considered, but I think we have to be willing to throw out an assertion by the authors of the bible or an interpretation made by the men who wrote the bible if science has proof to the contrary. Science and religion should be separate. People should not feel their religion is being assaulted because science is studying something contrary to what clergy have preached. Religion and God are not about that to me. To me religion is a philosophy of life. How we as people can live together. Guidance for building a productive society.

AstroChuck's avatar

Can’t we all just get along?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Sure @AstroChuck! Wanna hold hands ‘round the fire and sing Kumbaya with me?~

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I just read your post a few above. Do you often feel lumped in with other Christians? Here on Fluther? Or, in the real world outside of Fluther?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie IRL, as a Catholic I am rarely lumped in w/other Christians. Many people don’t even consider Catholics to be Christians. In Fluther, it happens a lot.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Do you mean on Fluther people lump Catholics in with Christians? I knew you were Catholic, so I was surprised you might feel lumped in with some of the generalizations made about Christians. I consider Catholics to be Christians, but when I generalize about Christians I never mean Catholics. When I use the term Christian I never mean Catholic. It’s so confusing really. I think so many of the misunderstandings are simple miscommunication.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I refer to anyone that follows the teachings of Christ as a “Christian.”

Jude's avatar

Not that it really matters, I just wanted to share. I grew up Catholic. I don’t go to church as an adult.

I believe that there something more… Let us just say that I am spiritual.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie @Hypocrisy_Central I question science all the time. That is never a problem. I have a problem with someone questioning science based on what the bible says. When it comes to science, I look at it for the most part separate from the Bible. However, in ways I believe the Bible explains the science. I don’t believe in the literal seven days. The earth was not even made so the “Earth day” was not even in play. When you have a finite, immortal being as God, a day can be 1,000, 10,000, 50,000 earth years, etc. When the book of Genesis spoke of great creatures I can see dinosaurs in that time period. No the Bible didn’t spell it out or lead the bread crumbs right to the door, but I don’t think it was that important anyhow.

cockswain's avatar

I personally don’t make distinctions between Catholics and other Christian denominations. I’m not really aware that people do make that distinction. What’s the distinction, that Catholics believe the Pope is holy?

Jude's avatar

This shit! (Party of Jesus Representative Kern ) is ridiculous.

I like this fellow’s response.

Blackberry's avatar

@AstroChuck Can Fluther get along? Righteous, dude. Can everyone else get along? No way, man.

cockswain's avatar

@Jude Is that in response to what I said or unrelated? If it is, I’m not clear. Are you saying Kern is Catholic or something or what? If unrelated, never mind.

AdamF's avatar

@Jude “This shit! (Party of Jesus Representative Kern ) is ridiculous.”

Is that mockery of someone’s sincerely held beliefs that I hear??

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Jude She’s a Baptist.

Jude's avatar

@AdamF Have alook:

“Why don’t you guys realize homosexuality is wrong because God says so?”

I don’t often see questions like that here on Fluther. When I do see stuff like that, I speak up.
What I do see is, say, a statement about one’s personal beliefs, for example, “because of my religion, this is what we believe about the afterlife”, and to that we get responses about “flying spaghetti monsters” and hurtful words. Necessary?

“.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain Here is one discussion about Catholics and Christians. There have been others. So, are you saying when someone uses the word Christian when discussing politics and religion you are including Catholics in your head?

@Hypocrisy_Central See, I am fine with that. But, I know Christians who won’t, or don’t think it through like that. The same ones who think the earth is only 4,000 years old. What should we call those Christians? I go back to an example I made above while responding to @Dominicx let’s say only 25% of Christians are against gay marriage, but 90% of the people against gay marriage are Christian. Can I just say Christians are pissing me off for voting that way? Or, should I just say people? Or should I say, the Christians voting that way or pissing me off? Or, do I have to say, I know it is not all Christians, but those voting that way or pissing me off. Wouldn’t the Christians who are just fine with gay marriage agree that indeed it is Christians who are holding up gay marriage? I really do completely understand why some Christians don’t like how the generalization sounds. The same as we don’t like when people say Muslims blew up the twin towers on 9/11. Although, again it is hard to compare, because indeed it is a very very large group of the Christians who affect our lives politically.

@Jude I think it matters. That is why I generally am not including Catholics when I say Christian. But, I think it matters in the US maybe more than other countries because of the Evangelic Southern voting block. I don’t have any Catholic friends, and I have some very religious Catholic friends, who want to prevent gay marriage, but I certainly know a lot of Southern Baptists and other Christians who want to prevent it. There are of course people in each group who don’t fit my generalization, but as a voting block of people that is how it works out. The Catholics are a minority in America, and so they get it. They get that if there was prayer in school, and bibles allowed, it would not be their version of the bible in America. 25% of Americans are Catholics while around 50% are Protestant (something like that, my stats could be off by a few percentage points.) In Canada I think it is 45% are Catholics and 35% are Protestant. Canada is more like our Midwestern states.

@AdamF LOL.

Jude's avatar

Didn’t say that I believe in God. Just feel as though there is something more.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jude That could go into a whole discussion of how people define God. But, let’s not.

Jude's avatar

I disagree with how some of these zealots view gays and lesbians, is all that I am saying.

I am not going to into personally why I believe what I believe. That was not the reason for the question.

cockswain's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks. I particularly liked this response. All the sects are similar enough in my opinion to not warrant hostility towards one another. But I suppose that statement could be heavily generalized to a wide variety of topics.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain I had not remembered that one :). A recent Q about the definition of cults was an eye opener too. It seems some Christians call a group a cult if they claim to be Christians, but aren’t. Well, aren’t according to the Christian judging the particular sect. Even if they do not exhibit cult like behavior. I would think only the Evangelical, most likely southern, type Christians define it this way, and not all of them at that. Still, it goes to how easy it is to miscommunicate, because they seem to have their own definitions, that the mainstream doesn’t use. Just the question itself explains it better than I did here, even if you don’t bother to read all the answers.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

This is a long, but great blog post about atheists and anger, and is relevant to what I said above, if anyone is interested. (Oh, and, warning: potentially offensive to some.)
Oh, man, it made me cry.

And, if you don’t read the whole thing, at least read this: “So when you tell an atheist (or for that matter, a woman or a queer or a person of color or whatever) not to be so angry, you are, in essence, telling us to disempower ourselves. You’re telling us to lay down one of the single most powerful tools we have at our disposal. You’re telling us to lay down a tool that no social change movement has ever been able to do without. You’re telling us to be polite and diplomatic, when history shows that polite diplomacy in a social change movement works far, far better when it’s coupled with passionate anger.”

Mariah's avatar

I have not read this very long thread, but my answer to your question, @Jude, is that I don’t. At least, I really think I don’t. Do please call me out on it if you ever catch me mocking anybody’s beliefs. I agree that respect for others’ beliefs is important.

Polite debate, however, should not be discouraged. I truly think we should be able to talk about these important concepts without anyone getting offended. If we could keep the rudeness out of our debates it would be ideal.

6rant6's avatar

After growing up wondering why “negroes” were so hostile about how things were, I came to understand that the alternative to acting out was to accept inequality. So I don’t always agree with what people do to overturn systemic racial inequality. But I give them more slack than I might otherwise. When people won’t rectify injustice, you have to raise your voice.

In the 70’s, I thought that the women’s movement was way over the top. Too much complaining in the midst of what seemed like ongoing progress. Then I met some women whom I respected who had stories to tell about how their work products were stolen by male superiors and how they were told flat out that they couldn’t advance because they didn’t have management experience, but men with the same (or lessor) experience got the promotions. I learned that just because things seemed to me to be progressing didn’t erase the fact that many women were being help back by a sexist status quo. And although I didn’t always agree with what they were doing, I understood that nothing would change if they went gentle into that good night.

Now I find myself a member of an oppressed group. And I have learned that just “getting along” is the same thing as giving up. The status quo has all the leverage. If there is to be change it’s up to people of conviction – including me – to make a stand.

I’d like to make nice with all you theists out there. But until they can see how wrong your group, the people you promote and vote for, treats my group, I’m afraid I’m going to keep shouting.

@ANef_is_Enuf My own fairly militant atheism comes from the understanding that it’s not my right to be strident just because I believe something strongly, because I seek justice for all, because I detest mistreatment of people – war, torture, isolation, imprisonment – based on ancient fables. It is my responsibility.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@6rant6 : And once again, someone (that’s you this time) lumps all theists together in a negative way. “I’d like to make nice with all you theists out there. But until they can see how wrong your group, the people you promote and vote for, treats my group, I’m afraid I’m going to keep shouting.” Learn the difference, when you make such broad unspecific umbrella statements you sound like a nincompoop. It’s like telling a pointless blond joke. And if that is offensive to you, think about it and maybe next time target a more limited and distinct grouping to accuse. You’d probably be surprised at who I promote and vote for. A Theist is not necessarily affiliated with any religion.

6rant6's avatar

@JilltheTooth Another difference between me and you – I didn’t call anyone a name.

I believe there are a lot of theists out there – probably including you – who consider themselves nice, thoughtful __enlightened__ people. You don’t want to me included with others who hold __similar__ beliefs to you? Too bad. I don’t care that your religion is all your own. That doesn’t make it better. It makes it more ridiculous. It’s not even faith based! It’s based on personal preference!!! We can’t talk seriously about what mankind should do if in the back of your head, you’re thinking, “Well, that’s not what GOD wants, and I know because I have this religion I made up.”

So yeah. You’re lumped in.

And in any case this is such an obvious smokescreen. The same one used by friends of the Klan, “Oh yeah, I’m white, but I treat my negroes real nice.” And, “Sure I’m a man and the president of the company and all the VP’s are men. I’d certainly promote a woman to VP if one ever comes along who isn’t distracted by family stuff, and has the same swagger as a man.”

You think you’re not part of the problem. I say you are. That is the issue in essence. No one things change is about them.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@6rant6: Are you serious? We’re part of the problem because we don’t belong to any organized religion? We’re a problem because we’re sitting over here with our own beliefs, not bothering anyone not trying to convert anyone, not talking about our beliefs unless people want to hear them, not hurting anyone in the name of anything, and you say we’re a problem? What is the matter with you? I am appalled and ashamed of fluther that that answer got multiple GA’s. Apparently, it’s okay to be close-minded and ignorant, as long as you’re the same kind of close-minded and ignorant as everyone else.

Edit to add: Then again, you seem to have a history of lumping people in together you know, those “negroes” and women you were talking about so I guess you’re determined to hate us all until enough of us change your mind. Well, quite frankly, you are not worth my time to try and change your mind. If you want to hate me because of something I do that does not affect you or anyone else, then so be it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Ah, @6rant6 , so everyone that doesn’t think like you is the enemy? I got it now. I didn’t call you names, I addressed directly what you said. You are escalating this, and your basic assumptions are simply wrong. I’m sorry that you can’t see a bigger picture. It limits you.

And on that note, I’m done, as continuing in this vein is pointless.

DominicX's avatar

I’m just curious, @6rant6, what exactly do you want? You keep identifying “the problem”, then what exactly is the solution?

FutureMemory's avatar

I am appalled and ashamed of fluther that that answer got multiple GA’s.

I felt that way many times while reading this thread yesterday, heh.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

This is why. ^
We are all too sensitive. We all hold these beliefs close to our hearts. The beliefs, themselves, are so incredibly different that it is almost impossible for it not to explode into ugliness.

DominicX's avatar

Ooh, now the GAs are all evened out! The plot thickens!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@AstroChuck Apparently Not. :(

6rant6's avatar

@KatawaGrey It’s not enough to sit on your hands when injustice is around, saying, “I get a long with everyone!” Yes, you need to take a stand.

@JilltheTooth “you sound like a nincompoop” is not calling names? Bullshit.

@dominicx Since you asked:

I want people to stand up and say religion does not belong in our schools, our board of education meetings, or our legislative bodies.

I want our leaders to say that they have checked with the best people they could find before making a decision, not that they have prayed about it.

I want people to recognize that their peculiar and particular revulsion to what someone else does may in fact be their problem, not the problem of other people. There is no gray-haired man out there in the ether who invisibly cues them on what is “right and wrong.”

I want people to stop confiding in me on their half-witted analysis of world events based on the premise that their __personal__ religion is God-given, and therefore whatever they think, say, or do is righteous.

I never again want to see anyone holding a gun who invokes “God’s will” or “God’s cause” or “our sacred promise,” or “in Jesus’ name.”

I never want to see a fighter who’s bloodied another man half to death credit God with his “success.”

I had a friend who got pregnant without being married. __Christian__ Members of her family cut her out of their lives. I never want to see that kind of buffoonery again.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Just to clarify, @6rant6 , since you didn’t read closely enough to make the distinction, I said and you quoted correctly, but not in full context when you make such broad unspecific umbrella statements you sound like a nincompoop. I did not say “you are a nincompoop”. There is a difference. When you make impassioned statements in response to something, reading that something carefully is important to maintain credibility.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@6rant6: So what specifically am I doing nothing about, since apparently believing in god means I do nothing.?

6rant6's avatar

@KatawaGrey To quote you: “we’re sitting over here with our own beliefs, not bothering anyone not trying to convert anyone,”

If I’m wrong, tell me and I’ll sing a different tune. Do you say to people, “No, a prayer is not appropriate to open the meeting?” Do you say, “It’s inappropriate to post ‘God saved this little girl’ stories in the workplace break room?” Do you vote against politicians who make a big deal about their religious affiliation or (even worse) condemn someone else for their lack of (or alien) religion? Do you write on Fluther, “to give God credit for everything good that happens, and blame __sin__ for everything bad, is moronic?”

Or do just smile and say, “Ok?”

Can’t you see how you contribute to the problem if you don’t take an active stand against it?

This trip down vitriol lane started when I remarked that part of my stridency as an athiest is caused by people thinking there is no injustice happening.Is that your belief?

Or are you part of the camp that says, “Something bad is happening, but I doesn’t seem that important, so I’m just going to sit over here not bothering anyone. If something needs to be done, I’ll just wait until someone makes that point and then get offended that they state their case too strongly.”

6rant6's avatar

@JilltheTooth Nothing but sophistry. I’m not interested in that game. I think there are serious issues afoot.

Look, it’s this simple. I think there is a division in society between those who rely on reference to God for moral authority and those who don’t. I believe that the ceding of judgement to God makes progress difficult. Having a thousand different versions of “God’s will,” being taught or dreamed up does not simply things, it complicates them. And not taking a stand is the same thing as taking a stand with the status quo.

If you still disagree with me, please tell me what you disagree with instead of telling me I’m “one of those people who…”

JilltheTooth's avatar

I still disagree with you @6rant6 , but as I said above I’m not going to engage anymore as I’ve never seen you reconsider your position no matter what anyone says and this thread is not about your beliefs or mine, it’s about getting along or not. Since we are part of the “not” group I see no reason to continue.

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6, I find your responses incredibly disheartening. Here are some truths from a theist who does subscribe to an organized religion.

I believe whole heartedly that there is no place for religion in public schools. If I found out any of my children was forced to pray or read bible verses at their schools I would be the first one in the principal’s office and at the school board meetings fighting it.

I research the candidates prior to casting my ballot. I tend to vote a pretty liberal ticket with politicians who support women’s rights, help for the poor and disenfranchised, equal rights for everyone, pro-choice, against the death penalty, pro gay marriage, etc.

I hold the very strong opinion that the only person whose behavior I have control over is me and I never presume to tell someone else how to live their life. I don’t judge folks based on their sexual preference, religious beliefs, or any other random characteristic, behavior, or belief. Even if they are atheist

I don’t do anything out loud in the name of Jesus or any other manifestation of God for that matter and I would not be interested in any religion that kills in the name of God or any other prophet. I try to live my life in a way that reflects my beliefs, quietly without preaching to anyone.

FYI, you are wrong. If I was told it is appropriate to open a secular business meeting with a prayer I would speak up and say it is not. Are religious fables appropriate in the breakroom of a secular workplace? Absolutely not and you bet I would point that out to the powers that be. I do not consider a politician’s religious affiliation when deciding how I want to vote.

It is incredibly frustrating that someone would be so willing to paint every single theist in the entire United States (I didn’t go with world because you talked politics in your answers) with your incredibly wide and woefully uninformed brush. The faith I belong to believes that science and religion are in complete agreement, that war is wrong, that hurting anyone in the name of religion is wrong, that war is wrong, the current extremes of wealth and utter destitution are wrong, and whether one makes the cut in the afterlife has nothing to do with their accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. Do I agree with everything in my faith? No. Am I willing to speak out and question the things I do not believe? Absolutely.

I am shocked to see how many atheists think it is perfectly fine to spew hatred and insults at anyone who says they believe in a power higher than themselves. You don’t believe. Awesome. Great for you. Now please stop putting me down because I do.

The irony of this thread does not escape me. The number of people who jump into a thread asking why atheists bash theists just to bash theists is astounding, and like @KatawaGrey says upthread, I am disappointed in the Collective.

6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse I have not spewed hatred, not called names. I’m not sure why you thought that was happening. I will try to turn it down a notch so as to avoid that perception from you.

My point in writing on this thread is to convince people that staying out of the debate is not okay. That claiming to be enlightened without taking a stand against the darkness is insufficient.

I believe religion is harmful, religion harms. I do not believe that __you__ are bad or immoral because you believe. I am heartened at many of the things you say you would do. If someone before you had not been upset enough to make a stink about each of those things, you would not be saying them here. Someone’s got to be obnoxious to get things changed.

I am sure you are aware that the influence of religion is schools is much subtler than forcing your child to pray. I know of a public school where religion comes up by chance in most teacher job interviews. And a majority of the principal’s hires coincidentally come from his church. It’s insidious and backward, and just opposing the most egregious or obvious acts will not stop the overwhelming number of them. Theists (or at least a majority of them) believe their religiously-motivated actions righteous, despite any and all evidence of the harm they do.

As far as painting all theists with a single brush, I don’t think you are all alike. But I do think when you identify yourself with a group you accept the consequences of their actions. I know for myself, I sometimes want to distance myself from rabid hateful atheists, but in the end, many more of my beliefs coincide with theirs than with yours.

Maybe it will help for me to write that although I am trying to convince others to oppose religion that I do not believe I hold all the answers. I think that there are always difficult issues confronting society. And it takes hard work to solve them. There’s no guarantee we will make good decisions even if we are concerned, respectful, and don’t come into every discussion holding a rule book we claim is from God. But let’s try.

I don’t always do the responsible, civic-minded thing. I am uncertain how to proceed more often than not. I need improving, too. I’ll even say that if we laid out all of our intentions and activities I would likely deem you a better person than me. It’s not about hating anyone. It’s just about this one thing, the ceding of personal responsibility to the supernatural, that I’m being so rigid about.

I would like to see us work together to figure out what comes next. Just seems to me that religion is in the way more often than not.

Hibernate's avatar

I like this question. Not because it tries to prove truth from fiction but because people are open and discuss about some things.

Excuse me but I did not read all the replies because they are many and my time is limited these days. But from what I read I saw people were nice to each other.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@6rant6: I’m a little confused here. Because I don’t condemn all public displays of religion, all of my good works in the community are negated? Does it matter that I spent the better part of my high school years volunteering at my old elementary school to help kids with reading disabilities? Does the fact that I spend my energy on giving money, food and clothing to the homeless rather than condemning fundamentalist Christianity mean I’m apathetic? Do food bank donations mean nothing if I offer up a prayer that more people will donate? Am I bad person if I donate my O negative blood and pray that I save someone’s life because of it?

For the record, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for someone to say, “God saved this little girl” and, as I have said before, I am not Christian, so I don’t blame sin for anything nor do I say that something happened because of god.

And my cousin, who is an atheist, btw, just said that, “You probably think that you can never discuss things with a spiritual person because they are intolerant pricks. How does it feel to whistle that tune rather than listen to it?”

KatawaGrey's avatar

Damn, missed the editing period.

@6rant6: I just read your response to @SuperMouse. Not all theists are the same. You cannot put us all in one group because we are not even close to being all one group. The only thing all theists have in common is the basic belief in a divine power, and that’s it. Saying we’re all in the same group because of this is like saying that all college students are in the same group because they all went to college, or that all English speakers are the same because they all happen to speak the same language. Religion is not wrong or harmful.. Spirituality is not wrong or harmful. Individuals and, at times, groups are harmful and, unfortunately, many of these individuals and groups hide behind religion or spirituality. That doesn’t mean religion and spirituality are bad any more than cars are bad because people sometimes use them to kill people. If you’ll notice which I’m guessing you haven’t most people who believe in a divinity don’t harm others or commit atrocious acts. Most don’t even force their beliefs on others, but, again, that’s less noticeable because the people you do notice are the loud, obnoxious ones. You know, just like the only atheists I notice are the ones who tell me I’m ruining the world because I believe in a divinity.

Although, to be fair, since so many of these questions have been popping up on fluther, I have broached this subject with many more of my atheist friends and have been finding a lot of atheists willing to listen, including my dear sweet cousin who I had previously thought was Christian. So, I guess the overwhelming good coming out of being shat on on fluther is that my real life friends have been alleviating my anger and distress.

6rant6's avatar

@KatawaGrey Who is shitting on you?

The fundamental disagreement we have is that you think your belief does no harm and I think it does. No where have I said anything that can be construed to mean you have to defend your life.

Look, if a person you know, a friend held racist views, would you just let it go, or would you try to change her mind? (I know, theism does not equate to racism in your mind (yet) but it does in mine and other people’s – clear thinking, sober, moral people.) I think you should try to change her mind. We can disagree on that, too, but I’m at least being clear on what underlying beliefs on pursuing. I’m not shitting on anyone. And I’d rather regard you as a friend with an incredibly bad idea, than as an enemy. I talk tough to my friends, yes, I do.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@6rant6: Wow. Just wow. My belief in god does not prevent you, as an atheist, from getting a job. It does not prevent you from marrying someone who is not an atheist. It does not keep you from going to the same schools as I do or shopping at the same stores or going to the same public events. When I say I believe in god, it does not mean that an atheist makes less money than I do. When I attend a spiritual service or hold one in my home, it doesn’t mean that an atheist ends up hurt or dead. I don’t think you are inferior because you are an atheist although you clearly think I am inferior because I have spiritual beliefs. You are allowed to vote, same as me, and you will not get beaten up by people like me if you walk out of your home after dark.

Oh, and just for future reference, telling me that a basic, important part of my being is stupid, wrong, idiotic and dangerous is shitting on me. My belief does no harm. If I had never told you what I believed, your life would be unchanged. My belief does not affect your life at all. In fact, I invite you tell me how my beliefs not the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians, because I am not one have harmed you. Please, enlighten me. I would be very interested to hear how my belief in god has made your life worse.

jonsblond's avatar

someone just took a big ol’ shit, and it wasn’t @KatawaGrey. damn

JLeslie's avatar

@6rant6 So you have a problem with all theists? Even if they don’t bother anyone else with their beliefs?

6rant6's avatar

@KatawaGrey Repeating that your belief does no harm does not make it so.

The OP wanted to know what get’s atheists so amped? That’s it.

6rant6's avatar

@JLeslie What I have a problem with are these two things:

1. A belief that reference to a superbeing, or to an internal (God-given) compass of right and wrong is superior to actually talking it out with other people.

2. The practice of denying that, in most places in the world, power resides in the hands of the religious majority and it is used to do harm to other folks.

I understand that the rhetoric is upsetting to you. I really do appreciate that. I don’t know how to get over the hurdle. I believe that thoughtful people such as yourself can and likely will see that religion does harm. Whether you do harm in religion’s name is not the issue. Seriously, would you condone holding racist views on the basis that one doesn’t act out in a racist way? I wouldn’t. I would say those views are dangerous, hurtful and wrong. And I would oppose them.

I feel this theist issue is exactly analogous.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@6rant6: You still have not told me how my belief in god causes harm. You don’t even know what my beliefs are but you are attributing certain ones to me and telling me I’m dangerous because of it. So, please, without knowing anything about my beliefs, please tell me how my beliefs are causing harm. Enlighten me.

JLeslie's avatar

@6rant6 I really have to think about what you have said here. What I have always wanted was for people of all religions to live together peacefully. Where I grew up my friends were all different religions, some were athiests, some thiests, and none of it mattered. It was so diverse we were just one of the many. Religion was no big deal. I didn’t even know prayer in school was an issue until I was in my mid 20’s. I barely remember hearing the word God, except at Passover reading from the Haggadah, and later in High School I dated a Catholic, and even then religion was not discussed much at all. I remember learning Jesus was the big difference between the Jews and the Christians when I was in my late teens, before that I didn’t even know Christians believed Jesus was the son of God, and use Jesus and God synonymously. Yet, I had religious people and thiests all around me. But, my family was athiest. Jewish athiests.

Then I moved to the south in my 30’s.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: Clearly, you were raised in a poisonous environment.~

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 I am appalled to see you compare theism to racism. How exactly have you suffered at the hand of thiests? How exactly does my belief in God hurt and oppress you?

JLeslie's avatar

@6rant6 I think I disagree with the analogy because not all theists are trying to convert people. Maybe if you picked on the Evangelical Christians, I would be more in line with your generalizations. Jews don’t want to convert anyone. They believe all good people can go to heaven. They want to be left alone, and they happily will leave others alone. Of late it seems the Catholics are not our converting much either. Pope John Paul II frequently spoke about peace, and I always felt he wanted everyone to live in peace, the many religions around the world. I don’t know this new Pope well. So, I think I take issue with you putting all thiests in one group.

However, I do see your point that being associated with a group that is hateful, even if the individual isn’t, still gives power to that group by supporting it so to speak. Like being in the KKK because your neighbors are, but not wanting to harm any black people, or even actually of the person is not racist at all. I have to think about it more.

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KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: I actually do agree with the idea that being part of a hateful group, even if you yourself are not hateful, can have nasty repercussions, but lumping all people who believe in a divinity together and saying they are all hateful because some groups are is erroneous. For example, the Westboro Baptists are an extremely hateful group. Most other Christians vehemently dissociate themselves with the Westboro Baptists because they are an extremely hateful group that is at odds with most Christians.

@chyna: Kudos to you for reading that whole thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I agree with your example. But, how about that Christianity just simply is not ok with people who are not Christians, in that they think everyone else still needs to be saved. I have to say knowing that underlying theme in Christianity is offensive to me. It implies I am less worthy. Less than.

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JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse Why does anyone even care what I believe? I live a decent life, try my hardest to make good choices, and have never hurt anyone That’s what I say.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: I don’t even know what to say to that. Not all Christians are hateful. In fact, most aren’t. I bet if you got to know some like, say, @chyna, for example you’d learn that even Christianity can be split up into different groups, most not hateful. Please please please don’t decide that all theists are awful people like @6rant6 has. Please take some time to get to know a few of us before deciding that we’re dangerous because we believe one similar thing.

Blondesjon's avatar

The irony here is that pretty much every atheist in this thread has done exactly what they are so keen to accuse theists of doing – attacking people bases on what they believe. Hey theists why do you think it is that we have bent over backwards to prove our point without calling anyone ignorant, uneducated, or just plain dumb?

wish i had said that ^^ first and i’m a hellbound atheist

@wundayatta . . . Self-righteousness comes in all kinds of flavors. Yours happens to be atheist.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey My husband believes in God. His family is Catholic, and if we had children, and they decided to be Catholic, I would be fine with it. I am not siding with @6rant6. I am not saying all Christians are hateful. I am only trying to think through his analogy and points that he made.

If you look back at my answers you will see I specifically stated I can’t see any problem with people believing in God. I do find wrong with those who follow doctrine or clergy who are hateful or who think every single word written in the bible is exactly the word of God to be followed to the letter.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I reread what you wrote. Are you equating being hateful with people thinking non-Christians won’t go to heaven? I spoke of Christians feeling I need to be saved, and you came back with hateful.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know, @chyna. What are you trying to say about the people who are replying to me. Or are you saying their replies aren’t serious?

@Blondesjon I’m a bit slow today I guess. Can you show me where I’ve been self-righteous?

@SuperMouse This is not about beliefs; at least, not for me. I have no beliefs. I only have a method for gathering knowledge. If it doesn’t work well, I’ll change it. I really don’t care what you believe. I care about what you know and how you know it. If you won’t tell me what you know and how you know it—indeed if you refuse to tell me—then how can we move forward? How can we have a conversation? To me, it seems like you are refusing to have a conversation.

You don’t believe science can explain everything. Honestly, I don’t know what to say. Every scientist knows science can’t explain everything. Science actually can explain nothing. Science is a method, not a belief. It helps us create knowledge. But I’ve said this many times before and people hear what they want to hear.

I never said I was oppressed. I don’t know why you keep on throwing out these unjustified comments. Or rather, I have a theory, because it fits in perfectly with the concept of “believing” things with no evidence. WIth that kind of thinking, you can throw up any idea against a wall to see if it sticks.

What is wrong with attacking people based on what they believe? Beliefs seem to be part and parcel of people. I can’t attack the belief without attacking the person, it seems. I’ve tried. People keep taking everything personally. Do you want to have a conversation? Because if you do, then you have to allow me to discuss your beliefs and tell you the things that make no sense to me.

As to calling people who “believe in God” ignorant, I will grant that is an inflammatory word. Would uneducated work? Superstitious? Unscientific? Unknowledgeable? What? What is an acceptable way of telling someone they don’t know something? Are we no longer allowed to do this? Are we supposed to say that everyone is of equal intelligence no matter what their thinking capabilities are? Tell me what to do.

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KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: With all due respect, many atheists believe that if a Christian thinks someone isn’t going to heaven, then they’re being hateful. And I believe @chyna‘s point was that @wundayatta implied that people who believe in god shouldn;t be taken seriously. I believe it was a counterpoint that was equally ridiculous. :)

SuperMouse's avatar

@wundayatta seriously? What should you do? You should stop calling people ignorant because they don’t think the same way you think. For you it isn’t about beliefs. Awesome. For me it is. You say in your response that everyone knows science can’t explain everything so why does its inability to prove the existence of God mean those who believe are ignorant?

Your conundrum about how to tell people they are mistaken to believe in God is based on
the misguided assumption that because you think it is wrong to believe everyone else
should think the same thing. Quit holding the incredibly arrogant belief that yours is the final
say on the matter and the problem of trying to nicely tell people their beliefs are wrong and a waste of time goes away.

With apologies for having offended you, when I mentioned oppression I was speaking of comments by @6rant6.

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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Maybe it’s just me, but I look at a discussion like this and see the fury and emotion flying around, and I have to step back and really think about where I stand. I agree and disagree with both sides. However, the actual points being made are so much less important to me than the intent behind the words. Having this conversation without anyone ever being offended is never going to happen.
That is why intent is very important to me. The intentions behind the words are what people should be looking at, because realistically there is no way that you can take two viewpoints that are in such stark contrast of one another, and not piss someone off. I don’t think it hurts to take a second to check the intent behind our own words, either.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@chyna, @Jude, other strong believers…

If I have said anything to make you feel disrespected, I sincerely apologize. There is no obvious justification.

Please let me know immediately via PM or in the thread so that I can apologize.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I have never heard hateful being used regarding going to heaven or not. But it is probably just semantics. When I use hateful I am talking about gay rights, giving Muslims a hard time, stuff like that.

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JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Going back to what you said, take time to get to know some of us. I live in the United States of America. Theists are everywhere. Christians are everywhere. The majority of the people I know believe in God, I would say 95% of my closest dearest friends believe in God.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please take a step back, folks. There is no need to make this personal.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Okay, my buzz is gone and the puppy is in her crate. There is now nothing between me and total annihilation now, so I’m bowing out. It’s been fun, folks.

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AdamF's avatar

Just thought it was worth saying that I would vote for, be happy to work with, be happy to have my kids interact with, a theist like @SuperMouse far more than some of the libertarian atheists I have encountered.

whitenoise's avatar

To all of the non-atheist people that wonder why atheists can become so aggressively defensive, every now and then: please realize that atheists are a minority in most parts of the world. A minority that in general is not treated with much respect by the rest of society.

It is interesting that atheists seem to be capable of simply insulting believers by pointing at the phalacy they see in believing in a higher entity. Many react as if atheists create a lot of hurt by saying what they think.

Keep in mind that if you think that atheists in return don’t get mistreated because of their stance, then you are blatantly wrong. All over the world atheists will run into situations where they are mistreated, discriminated against, or even persecuted. I don’t know of a single atheist that has not yet been confronted with people that think that one needs a believe in (a) god to be a moral person.

I live in a country where 99% of the people would believe that atheism equates to evil. I wouldn’t dare to admit to atheism over here.

If you feel part of a group that is a minority and mistreated and sometimes even threatened by the majority, then it becomes quite tempting to be vocal and hard to be nuanced
.
With that in mind, I look at this thread and am impressed with the nuance displayed on it, by those being atheists, so far.

AdamF's avatar

not to mention the poor little puppy who’s now in a crate for some reason…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Well I guess this did turn out about as I expected. Guys, you really leave me shaking my head sometimes. Can we show a little maturity and open mindedness?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@AdamF : Just FYI, crate training a puppy is a good thing. See all the dog training threads. :-)

AdamF's avatar

@JilltheTooth Thanks for the clarification! Otherwise I might have been up all night worrying….. :-)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’d like to add respct to that, too. I knew things would devolve…but seriously this turned ugly

Blackberry's avatar

So, to summarize:

I think it’s obvious the religious/spiritual people on Fluther are those “good” or “normal” ones that keep their beliefs “in house” and do not bother anyone, and I also think these types of people are the ones that aren’t in the spotlight, so no one sees them.

This minority is grouped in with the loud, oppressive group of religious people that are politicians, world leaders, people that would only vote for a christian president, and just generally shitty human beings that happen to be religious, or use their religion to do all kinds of messed up stuff.

Although, when atheists harshly criticise religion or religious people, it is safe to say we’re not including the normal and moderate people. It’s obviously people like Jude and Katawa that aren’t the religious people we all come in contact with in the media or in life that say or do the most psychotic things I’ve ever heard a human say or do.

We are only focusing on the fact that some religion, religious people, and beliefs in a particular religious doctrine and/or god are causing serious damage to a progressive society.

Some atheists may not present their frustrations with these ills of the planet very tactfully, and that is what some of us should work on. But our anger and frustration is quite justified (I believe, see Anefs blog answer).

tom_g's avatar

@Blackberry – I would agree with this summary.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Don’t be picking on Jude or Katawa. They are some of my favorite jellies ever.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry They are not grouped in by most athiests. That’s where I feel completely misunderstood on this damn Q. How many times do I need to state, “I have no problem with thiests. I do not think all Christians are alike. My Christian friends never try to convert me. My husband is a theist. Christian right as a political voting block, not all religious Christians.” And, on and on. Is it really our fault as athiests how we word things? If it is I am open. The thiests need to tell me exactly how they want these things worded so I do not offend when discussing. Or, maybe I am being sensitive and I am not lumped in with the most abrasive of the atheists on here?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Does anyone here other than one very obvious exception not object to gross generalizations? It’s been my experience not only on Fluther, but in this thread to a degree that most of us don’t tolerate generalizations. Which is why I feel free to step into threads like this and have my say. However, when I am grossly attacked, yes, I get pissed off. But most here honestly tried to have a productive conversation, which is why I stay on Fluther.

Mariah's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe If you’re talking to @Blackberry, I believe he was saying they are examples of non-extreme religious people….not picking on them.

First let me say that I really hate the tone of a lot of this thread because I agree with @Jude‘s original premise that people need to be more respectful of others’ beliefs.

That said, I am an atheist-leaning agnostic, and I understand where the frustration is coming from. It is frustrating to be part of a minority, and it is absolutely enraging to know that, despite the fact that America is not supposed to have an official religion, some people believe that America is a “Christian nation.” And despite the fact that we are supposed to keep religion out of our politics, a president that shares my views will probably not get elected within my lifetime because so many people believe that athiesm is so entirely unacceptable that they couldn’t possibly vote for one. And that extremist politicians who, if elected, will use a moral code based on a religion I do not share to lead our country, are somehow becoming more acceptable. That is scary to me.

So I absolutely understand the view that change is needed, and that change doesn’t happen by sitting on one’s hands, and so a certain amount of outspokenness is necessary. But I think it is absolutely erroneous to believe that every religious person is part of the problem. The only ones who are part of the problem are the ones who put religion where it doesn’t belong, the ones who believe America is a Christian nation, the ones who will never consider voting for an athiest, and the ones who think that extremism in our government is okay.

And I also understand the frustration of being lumped with extreme athiests who do think that every religious person is part of the problem, because I do not agree with that view one tiny bit, but I also don’t think many, or any, people in this thread do lump moderate athiests and militant athiests together in that way.

I agree with @ANef_is_Enuf also, that this is such a personal and passionate issue that many people have trouble talking about it without feeling attacked by statements that aren’t truly attacks, but I truly wish, and I think this was @Jude‘s point in the first place, that everyone could have discussions about this topic without having it devolve into flame wars. That would help our country a lot, I think, if more polite discussion was going on everywhere.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Blackberry @Mariah I misread his comment and I’m a little too quick to react sometimes. My bad.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Is talking about The Christian base of the Republican party in general terms a gross generalization? I am trying to figure this out. I am not trying to be obnoxious or dismissive. I know when I am on Q’s about politics, Christians like Filmfann and Judi get that I am not lumping them in with what is a very real influential voting block. When someone talks about the Jewish vote, I know there is a general way Jewish people vote in this country, but of course that is not all Jews, and in cases where I do not fit in with the generalization I simply state how I look at the political issue in question as an individual. I am not pissed about the generalization being made if it is true. Even if it isn’t true, I just do my best to correct it with the information I am aware of.

Blackberry's avatar

@JLeslie Do you mean on Fluther or in general? Because there’s always a minority that is affected by a negative stereotype. But there’s also people that know who they’re targeting specifically. Of course some people use harsh words to either target a group or a part of the group. Poisonedantidote did this in the thread. When we were being civil, he came out of nowhere in one answer and made a patent offensive generalization.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie

“I’d like to make nice with all you theists out there. But until they can see how wrong your group, the people you promote and vote for, treats my group, I’m afraid I’m going to keep shouting.” is the gross generalization to which I referred.

“So yeah. You’re lumped in.
And in any case this is such an obvious smokescreen. The same one used by friends of the Klan. ” is the gross attack to which I referred.
My post didn’t name you in any way. When I direct something at you I’ll be sure to let you know.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah The only ones who are part of the problem are the ones who put religion where it doesn’t belong, the ones who believe America is a Christian nation, the ones who will never consider voting for an athiest, and the ones who think that extremism in our government is okay. What percentage of Christians do you think that is? How many millions of people? I am seriously curious. I think depending where someone lives they feel this more or less as a reality. It’s like the US is around 2% Jewish, more or less. About 7 million people. But, if you live in NYC or Boca Raton, FL it feels like everyone is (the actual is about 25% in those cities). So, is it really just a few loud voices among the Christians who want prayer in school, feel we are a Christian nation, won’t vote for an athiest? Is it because I am living in the bible belt right now that I am more terrified and reactive? I do think that has something to do with it.

I ask because I have empathy for the Christians who feel under attack in America, their perception is liberals and athiests are trying to take their right to practice their religion. And, the majority of athiests are not looking to do that at all, it is not their intent at all. It’s like both sides are worried and feeling the same things. But, then the question of intent is the key factor. Why do some Christians want prayer in school, and need to believe we are a Christian nation, and why won’t they vote for an athiest? Why does the atheist not want prayer in school, or to hear America called a Christian nation?

6rant6's avatar

Funniest thing I’ve read in a week: “most of us don’t tolerate generalizations.”

6rant6's avatar

In the dim hope that someone is still reading, there has been so much attributed to me that I feel the need to restate my position:

There are good and bad people in all groups. Not all theists are bad, and I haven’t used the word “hateful,” at all. That was @katawagray’s idea.

It is my position that a view of the universe that includes reference to an all powerful being as the source of good an evil is fallacious and obstructs social progress.

I believe that people use membership in religious groups to justify their actions, in particular actions which benefit them and harm others. I believe that people who claim memberships in these organizations contribute to the harm being done whether they support [such actions] or “keep to themselves.” Membership creates authority and power and therefore the ability to do harm.

That’s it. That’s all there is.

Mariah's avatar

@JLeslie Hey, I never said it’s just a few. I have no idea what the percentage is, but I don’t think it’s a tiny number of people at all. Otherwise it wouldn’t be such an issue. I just don’t think anyone here in this thread shares that view, so I don’t think anyone here in this thread deserves to be attacked (by that I don’t mean to imply that you’re attacking anyone. I think your responses in this thread have been very reasonable).

I know you’re living in a place where it’s all around you, and I am too. I live in New York, and few people realize because New York is a blue state, but upstate New York is extremely conservative. New York City is liberal and large enough to overpower the rest of the state in the polls, but where I live, a huge majority is right wing Christian. I just kind of close myself off to it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry I meant in general about athiests. But specifically this Q about feeling misunderstood. But, I think I am misunderstood by many Christians out in the real world also who hang onto a generalization I make during a conversation instead of knowing or listening to the multiple multiple times I have clarified myself in the past or during an active conversation. None of my Christian/Catholic friends do it, but acquaintances.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth I didn’t feel you were directing at me. I am seriously just trying to figure out if all generalization are offensive. I agree with your examples.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah I know you know it is not just a few, and of course you would have no idea the percentages. My point was not only for you, but those who are also reading. It kind of makes sense atheists might be likely to generalize about Christians, because the numbers are so huge. When I say generalize, I mean speak in general terms. The Republican party itself talks about it’s base. That is a generalization about the Christian Right. I guess maybe they can say it, but we can’t? Like I can complain about my dad, but don’t you say anything bad about him. What do you think? It’s actually an interesting question the more I think about it. Makes me think moderate Christians should get out there and have a stronger voice, we have asked that of moderate Muslims too.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JLeslie It’s the extremists on any side of the issue that usually seem to be the source of the most problems. The preacher in Florida isn’t much different than the Muslim extremist in the Middle East.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Exactly. But, there are a lot of Christians, as I was pointing out in my direct to Mariah, who do think a certain way. A lot. I am not saying they are the majority. What do we call them so other Christians know we are not lumping them in.

And, I am not saying a lot are nuts like the Florida guy, I am just talking about generalizations that are statistically true for a certain percentage of Christians, and the percentage is significant enough to affect policy.

SpatzieLover's avatar

What do we call them so other Christians know we are not lumping them in. I don’t know but if we coin it here can we get a cut if the media picks it up?

I despise people equating what I believe in with what haters believe. I am a far left Catholic. Being lumped in with far right Christians makes me ill.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I don’t see how anyone could lump you in with the far right haters. When do you feel like that is happening? I understand the examples of jellies on here who basically admitted to hating all theists, but when someone generalizes about the Christian right, are you afraid you are being assumed to think like them because you are a Catholic?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

The truth of the matter is, it has to be gauged on an individual basis. Not just on a belief system. Of course I have had the most issues, personally, with more conservative and/or more devout or fundamentalists – but I’ve had people that affiliate with no religion, who refer to themselves as “spiritual” try to cram their spirituality down my throat.
And this isn’t like one fluke thing.
“Maybe you’re not religious, but you are spiritual. I can feel it.” Seriously?

I judge people on an individual basis. Religion and spirituality, however, start off on a negative foot right out of the gate. For me, personally. Just how it is, because that’s how I’ve learned it should be, in my experiences.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie Unfortunately, @6rant6‘s replies on here did not help. The atheists and/or possibilians I know do not lump me in.

Here, more than one person on more than one thread has equated any member of Christianity with hate-mongering, lack of intelligence or “craziness”.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Are you sure they were including Catholics and all Christians? I really think a lot of the time we, atheists, even Jews, or liberals who are not Christian, say Christian when we mean Christian right, and are not talking about moderate Christians.

However, I will say this thread was an eye opener for me, in that there are athiests out there with seemingly no tolerance or filter for anyone of faith. That I found a little surprising.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

What I could never figure out is how the extremists think harm/hating others fits in with their religion. Shouldn’t very religious views lead you to not harming others? Same thing with atheists. If you don’t believe in anything why harm someone that does believe?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t find it surprising. I’ve felt it here from early on. IRL, the atheists I’ve known have been open-minded individuals…most were born into “free thinking” homes.

It appears there is no distinction between Christianity here at all. That does not hold true IRL for me. As a matter of fact, the atheist friends/families I know are theologically literate. They know the distinctions well.

@Adirondackwannabe I cannot understand anyone that lives in hate or fear. It is oppposite of how I think. Priests that kill?! Insane. The priests that have had any influence on my thinking have been more or less socialists in their thinking.

I cannot fathom following anyone that suggests book burning, protesting at an abortion clinic or voting a certain way. I do not attend a church that does that.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie more than once in this thread (most notably in a quip that has since been modded) I and the other theists who have spoken up here have been either implicitly or explicitly referred to as ignorant, uneducated, or absurd for holding the beliefs we hold. So for the purposes of this thread I think they are not only referring to all Catholics and all Christians (I am neither) but theists of any stripe. @JilltheTooth and @KatawaGrey who both clearly state they do not subscribe to any organized religion but a belief in a power greater then themselves, faced the same scrutiny and judgement as @SpatzieLover and myself.

@ANef_is_Enuf IRL if we spoke, unless we got to know each other well or you inquired about my religious affiliation, you would hear nothing of it from me. My faith is intensely personal to me and as I have said before, I prefer to represent with my actions rather than my mouth. Near as I can tell there would be no reason for us to get off on the wrong foot with regard to this topic.

I don’t know, maybe this thread was an opportunity for atheists who don’t seem to be able to express their feelings out loud in every day life figured they could let off a little steam.

@AdamF , thank you!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SuperMouse that’s what I mean, really. I don’t think that we wouldn’t get along. I don’t even think that it would be an issue, and it isn’t with most people. That’s why you have to judge people on an individual basis, not based on their beliefs. But as for the beliefs themselves, yes, I start off with a bad taste in my mouth. Does that make sense?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Supermouse: My faith is intensely personal to me and as I have said before, I prefer to represent with my actions rather than my mouth. Near as I can tell there would be no reason for us to get off on the wrong foot with regard to this topic. I Completely 100% Agree. I live with my faith. I don’t spread it. Nor do I use it to judge others by.

SuperMouse's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf yes that makes complete sense to me.

I’ll tell you what, I was incredibly damaged by the indoctrination I received throughout my childhood so it isn’t difficult to understand that perspective. It was a long hard road with lots of searching, research, investigation, experimentation, and time to get to the place I am now with what I believe. I think that is one of the reasons I take offense when someone accuses me of ignorance because of the fact that I believe at all, because I have put in the time, I have done the reasoning, I have done the investigation. My beliefs were not spoon fed to me and ignorance or lack of knowledge of science or the scientific process are not afflictions I suffer. At least with regard to my faith.

cockswain's avatar

Just some random thoughts:

It’s really difficult to discuss this subject without unintentionally using inflammatory language. Like many people have echoed, we all personally know people with whom our personal beliefs don’t interfere with our friendships.

But it is so hard to talk about this without making generalizations, and it is frustrating to have to throw several caveats before every generalization to prevent anyone from misinterpreting or taking offense. Even if one peppers several of their posts with caveats saying things like ”Now I don’t mean all atheists/theists when I say this” or ”I’m only referring to the bigots and those that push their beliefs on others when I say this”, it gets tiresome to read and write that constantly. Eventually one stops writing that, and someone only sees a more recent post without the caveats, takes offense, and the thread goes awry for a bit.

So my question is how do we discuss this and target the bigots without making non-bigots feel they are being lumped in? Personally, I get what an atheist is driving at when they say “Evangelical” or “Mormon”, yet that message isn’t conveyed simply by use of those descriptions. When I drop the word “Evangelical,” I’m usually only meaning the negative connotation of “young earth creationist that speaks in tongues and pushes an ultra-conservative political agenda that doesn’t tolerate homosexual behavior” and stuff of that ilk. When I say “Mormon” in a negative context, I’m thinking of how the Mormon church pumped millions into defeating Prop (8? 9?) in CA in the 2008 election to prevent gay rights.

But I know Evangelical is too broad a category, and it does have plenty of people that don’t fit my negative description. Same with Mormon. But how do I succinctly continue to discuss that without needing someone to constantly remind me that not all Mormons or Evangelicals are awful people?

Honestly, when I use the word “Christian”, I usually am picturing a gentle, kind, tolerant person as the typical practitioner. Usually. I think the lesson of this thread is we all have to carefully read everything the poster has previously said to understand his/her definitions before attacking, and we all have to be very careful how we narrowly define our words.

Final thought: how do I call out the people that are wonderful people in all respects with the exception of just a couple terrible religiously driven beliefs? Like, imagine if you have a neighbor that is the nicest guy. You can trust him to watch your house and water your plants when you’re gone, your children get along with his, he’ll loan you his tools and help you with your work, and he donates money to the Red Cross. But he just thinks Obama is a Muslim and Muslims should not be a US President. Or he just thinks homosexuality is an abominable sin, and allowing it will destroy the fabric of the nation. How do we discuss “those” Christians that are otherwise wonderful people?

wundayatta's avatar

The reason why I hate these kinds of conversations is that it is kind of useless talking to someone who thinks they can make up any piece of “knowledge” whatsoever and have people take it seriously. It is not sufficient reason to think any piece of “knowledge” has any use in life just because a billion people believe in it. People have believed in many many things over the generations, and most of it has turned out to be a useless fabrication.

There is no reason any particular belief should be respected simply because someone believes in it. Nonsense is nonsense no matter how many people believe in it. Sure, you can create knowledge by thinking something up. But that isn’t really useful knowledge. Knowledge only becomes useful when it allows you to make reliable predictions about the behavior of the universe.

I don’t understand why I should take idea seriously when a person offers no evidence to support that idea. I have many theories myself, and I am careful to admit when something is just a theory with no evidence to support it. I don’t expect anyone to take it seriously, unless they think it is a reasonable idea. It doesn’t bother me one bit if someone thinks it is nonsense. I have no evidence to support it, yet.

But if I don’t have a theory, I can’t find evidence. I’m at sea.

People who expect me to take them seriously simply because they have a belief have another think coming. It is even harder to take them seriously when they have a belief that has been held for thousands of years and no one has found any evidence to support that belief. There is no talking to people with such beliefs. We have no basis for communication. We don’t use words the same way. We don’t know what we’re talking about because no one stops to define the words, and we don’t even agree about where knowledge comes from.

That’s why I don’t like these kinds of “discussions.”

There is something useful we can do, but no one ever asks questions that help us do useful things like this. What is useful is to find out people’s experiences that led them to believe what they believe. @SuperMouse mentions above that she has searched, researched, investigated, experimented and so on to arrive at her beliefs. It would be interesting and useful to hear her story. What kind of research has she done. What has she experienced? What experiments has she run? What rules of evidence does she apply? What controls has she had on her experiments.

If I learn all these things, I can tell how much credibility I should put in her beliefs and in her understanding what she believes. I can also come to an emotional understanding of her process, something I can be sympathetic to, even if I thought her process was full of logical inconsistencies and errors.

To me, that is much more useful that calling each other names. It’s even interesting. But I have no interest in discussing standards of evidence with someone who doesn’t understand what standards are available, nor with history of how scientific method came to existence. We simply can’t have a conversation. We can only call each other names.

There are serious implications to someone being damaged in childhood, especially to certain kinds of damage. Some kinds of damage lead to a very unpredictable world. People who experience the world as unpredictable, I would think, have a hard time believing that it is possible to predict the future in any way. If you can’t predict the future and you can’t affect the future, then what use would you have for science? You might, on the other hand, have a use for something that offers you comfort in unpredictable and dangerous surroundings.

That’s a very different conversation. It’s about life, not method. It’s what people usually want to talk about when they get suckered into conversations about method. This conversation was about personal habits of thought, but then people took these thinking habits as personal attacks, making it unsafe to talk about one’s own way of thinking. Thus it became unsafe to answer the question.

Too bad.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@cockswain agreed.
@SuperMouse I relate very much to what you said, just perhaps from the opposite side of the spectrum. However, my journey in coming to the conclusions that I have was very personal one, and one that I poured so much of myself into for years. Much like everyone else in this thread, the threat of someone tampering with that peace that it took me so long, and so much searching, to find… is upsetting. It pisses me off when someone tries to take a jab at it, and I am positive that is how most of us (people, not believers vs non-believers) feel.
That is why I feel intent is the most important aspect of this. Not semantics, not even beliefs. Some things will strike a chord, and some more than others, but I am willing to bet that 99.9% of the time if I say something “offensive,” that couldn’t be further from my intent. Do I want to offend people? Hell no. Do I think I’m going to? Most likely. I’m not out to hurt anyone… and I don’t think most of us are.
In regards to the original topic, I think that’s what it all boils down to. This is touchy stuff, and people are going to say what they believe and it’s going to be uncomfortable. But we all need to pay more attention our own intentions, and the intentions of others, when we’re reading what they’re saying. No matter how ugly the words are. Just my opinion, but I do think that it is an important aspect when it comes to these discussions being more peaceful than they typically are.

cockswain's avatar

I am willing to bet that 99.9% of the time if I say something “offensive,” that couldn’t be further from my intent.

Well said. If something is ambiguously written, it can be interpreted more than one way. Why not interpret it the positive way to begin? If subsequent conversation reveals it was originally intended negatively, that can then be addressed. But this whole “whoops, you’ve said something that can be possibly be interpreted to mean something bad, that’s the way I’m taking it” thing sucks.

SuperMouse's avatar

@cockswain you make a great point about dealing with your (fictional?) neighbor with the set of beliefs that do not square up with your moral code. Do you call him out? Ignore the fact that he feels this way? Just avoid him all together? I think that could grow into a thread as long as this one were we to ask and answer that question reflectively.

@wundayatta I honestly could not care less whether you take my faith seriously. But whatever you feel about my faith, it is wrong to put me down because I subscribe to it. I would be willing to discuss all the things that brought me to where I am today with my faith. Would it fit into your scientific method box? Probably not. But yes, I am going here for the first time in this thread that is where the idea of faith comes in. As much as my parents and upbringing tried to beat it out of me with their ideas about Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, I still have faith that there is something bigger than me out there. I can and do believe without science to back me up. Faith, that is faith.

tom_g's avatar

@wundayatta – Of course I enjoy many of your comments, and I really can’t disagree with any of the things you said. However, I think you might be confused about something…

The theists in this conversation that are taking offense have not made any claims about their beliefs. They do not appear to be trying to convince anyone of their claims. They do not seem to be saying anything other than that they have some beliefs that are personal and have no intention of discussing them.

So when you say, “There is no reason any particular belief should be respected simply because someone believes in it.” I don’t think there are any beliefs that you need to respect or disrespect. The way some of these theists have presented (or did not present) their beliefs, they are indistinguishable from personal tastes. I can neither respect nor disrespect someone’s preference for chocolate over strawberry ice cream.

That said, I think some atheists assume that because someone has a personal belief in a some kind of god or gods, that they are necessarily providing a safe environment for the more extreme religious beliefs because they may support the exemption of religious belief to the rigorous methods we use to analyze any other beliefs. I get this, and to some extent I hold this position. However, again here we may have some exceptions. It seems that some of the theists here who hold some kind of personal belief do not seem unwilling to call out extreme religious belief.

Anyway, this conversation has been cringe-worthy, and I have been trying to resist coming back in. People talking over each other and each expressing how much more offended they are. While I sympathize with some of the offended’s points, I don’t think being offended has any place in a discussion like this. With few exceptions, I have seen frustrated people trying to find ways of communicating without having every word dissected and thrown back at them, with the actual point or argument they were trying to make just washed away and ignored. In fact, there has been an increasing theme throughout this thread that we should not judge beliefs, or we should never generalize. Three minutes after such a statement was made, all of us were on a new question here on fluther that had multiple instances of the gross generalizations.

Please, people. We’re (almost) all adults here. Try to be “nice”. Try to investigate what it means when you are offended.
And if you’re an atheist – I know what it’s like living in this country. It is fucking tough. But try to look past that to see if some of the theists on here are really making any claims that even require your opinion.
Theists (some of you) – Please try to remember that you are in the majority. Issues of race and such are not too far-fetched. If a black man discusses race with me, I may forgive the relative lack of parenthetical speech full of caveats.

Remember, there is no use discussing anything unless we feel safe to be able to express ourselves. Fluther does feel relatively-safe, compared to other places. Let’s keep it that way.
And finally, I like to remember that I have much more in common with many of you than we have disagreements. Pressing someone I respect on issues we disagree is something I do because I feel it is worthwhile. I trust that the person may have something to teach me.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Uh, @tom_g : Paragraph 2, sentence 2, do you mean to say ”...do not appear…”? Not trying to nit-pick, but it would rather change the tone…

tom_g's avatar

@JilltheTooth – damn typos! thanks!

whitenoise's avatar

@wundayatta
You said “There is no reason any particular belief should be respected simply because someone believes in it.”

I think you are missing an important point when you take that position. There is a good reason. The reason is that you may hurt people if you don’t.

If you would say that the mere fact that people hold certain beliefs is in itself no reason to agree to these beliefs, or credit them with any validity or credibility, then you may be right.

The notion that religious beliefs are an important part of people’s identities, however, makes that we need to handle these beliefs with a form of respect, regardless of how silly these beliefs may strike you.

From my point of view, you should feel free to disagree or even to combat such beliefs, but show respect to them nevertheless, as part of showing respect to the people that hold them.

tom_g's avatar

@whitenoise – With all due “respect”, I think this post is rather inflammatory and is risking fueling this entire conversation all over again. You are merely asserting what @wundayatta should respect.

You don’t “respect” @wundayatta‘s position concerning the issue, then demand – without any good reason – that “religious belief” should be respected. We could get back into reasons of why this is probably not a supportable position in 2011, or we could end this in a relatively-nice way.

Please be aware that your post is very antagonistic to some people’s – including mine – entire world view. That is fine, because I can spar with the best of them. Just don’t be under an illusion that it’s a neutral position, or a claim itself which has yet to be justified.

tom_g's avatar

And to be clear – if you read my previous post, you will see that I am asking @wundayatta to consider that he doesn’t even need to take a position (respect or disrespect) because some of the theists have made no claims and have not gone into any detail at all about their belief.

whitenoise's avatar

@tom_g sorry to see you read my post that way. It wasn’t intended that way at all.

(In all sincerity, I don’t understand how you can explain my post the way you did, but would like to invite you to elaborate in a PM?)

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g I don’t get why what @whitenoise wrote is inflammatory either? I am not in 100% agreement with what he wrote in that I don’t think the only reason we show respect for other people’s beliefs is because it might hurt them. I think we need to respect that every one of us have a construct of the world that works for us. We all have our own reality. What gives us order in the chaos, peace, happiness, coping, all those things are organized in our brains and have validity in my opinion. For some of us those things are wrapped with a bow in religion, for others of us it isn’t. So much of it is semantics I think. Faith is hope. Prayer is mediatation or deep thought. Blessings are gifts.

whitenoise's avatar

@JLeslie thank you for giving me the chance to clarify… I meant to say at least one reason instead of a reason.

The chance of disrespect being hurtful, was just one that stood out to me.

tom_g's avatar

I tried to clarify in a pm to @whitenoise.

@JLeslie – The first post after my “chill out” post was a post that seemed to ignore the entire argument that many of us atheists had been making, and just asserted again that religious belief deserved respect merely because it was religious.

“The notion that religious beliefs are an important part of people’s identities, however, makes that we need to handle these beliefs with a form of respect, regardless of how silly these beliefs may strike you.”

This goes back to the heart of what many of us were arguing about in the middle here when things were getting all heated. Again, I don’t want anyone to respect any belief I have presented publicly unless I have provided sufficient evidence. I was trying to re-focus this discussion because there were some atheists who felt that some of the theists had made any public claims about their belief. There is no need for respect or disrespect because there are no claims being made.

I don’t know. Maybe we can just get this whole thing rolling again….

whitenoise's avatar

@tom_g as so often…. It boils down to semantics.

In my book, respect doesn’t equate to having to agree or having to accept things.

A good soldier will respect his enemy. That respect, will not stop him from fighting hat enemy, though. But maybe, I’m too romantic.

tom_g's avatar

@whitenoise – Great. You want the “approach” to be respectful. I can understand approaching people in a respectful way. I can and do respect many people even though I have no respect for one or more of their beliefs. Respect for a unjustified belief is dangerous.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g Haha. How about we argue between us athiests. What I am saying, and I do understand what you are saying I think, is I argue we all have beliefs. I know many athiests say they do not have a belief system, but I say we do. We still have a system by which we live by, rules on how to conduct ourselves, ideas that answer the big questions, even if the answer is I don’t know.

@whitenoise Nice way of explaining it. :) I like it.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g Give me an example of an unjustified belief.

tom_g's avatar

@JLeslie – Exactly my point. Make me justify my public claims and beliefs. Do not respect anything I say until I have provided sufficient evidence or good reason.

tom_g's avatar

@JLeslie: “Give me an example of an unjustified belief?”

You don’t really want to go there, do you?

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g You don’t have to give an example. What I would say is any really radical harmful belief a whole bunch of people are going to condemn the idea, even religious people. Usually. For the most part. Eventually. :)

As far as beliefs that do hurt people, like racism and ideas that hurt gay people, women, etc, in some ways it seems people use religion to justify their hatred, not the other way around. Those people would probably still be hateful even if it was proven tomorrow that God does not exist and everyone agreed. It is not the scripture that binds those people together in my opinion, it is fear, ignorance, wanting to maintain power, and hate, which they would have regardless.

tom_g's avatar

@JLeslie – I think we are in agreement.

I also have a 3-year-old sitting on my lap right now. Have some playing to do…

cockswain's avatar

I’ve got a question that hopefully isn’t inflammatory. This relates to @JLeslie asking for an example of an unjustified belief. Do theists believe they are being watched and judged, in thought and action, at all times or some times, by the deity as well as dead relatives? If so, what impact do you think this has on your sexual behavior?

I swear I mean this as a serious, non-offensive question. If I piss people off, give me the opportunity to discuss it before attacking me.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@cockswain No. I don’t believe even my guardian angel cares what I do with my physical self. I think they “watch over and guide” my spiritual self. I am speaking for myself here

cockswain's avatar

Thanks for not getting mad. I got worried after posting that maybe I should take it down. Personally, it caused some anxiety when I used to think things like “damn, my grandma just saw that” some kinky encounter. Not very relaxing, and I don’t think I was the only one on the planet that had such paranoia.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@cockswain I’d rather have this type of open communication. It’s the type of thing my friends have asked. It’s how we’ll learn best what each of us are thinking of the other, and what each of us ponders over but might be wary to ask IRL of a friend or neighbor.

cockswain's avatar

Cool. Also it’s worth contemplating the negative effects such thoughts have on our sexuality and freedom of thought. I recall being fearful of entertaining certain “sacriligeous” thoughts once upon a time, and therefore would endeavor to not think on certain things if they popped into my head. I’m convinced this sort of thinking stunts a person’s mental growth, as it did mine.

JLeslie's avatar

I would have never ever even have thought of something like that @cockswain. Do you think you were told such things to control your behavior so you would worry about it? Or, the adults who told you such things just never bothered to explain what @SpatzieLover just did.

Joker94's avatar

@cockswain Personally, I don’t think God is constantly judging me. Do I think he’s able to look down and watch my actions? Sure, but as long as I’m being not being an a-hole, I doubt he’d really give a hoot.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@cockswain : I am more of a deist than a pure theist here, so I mostly believe in a creative deity concept, something along the lines of what’s at the bottom of all the turtles. I don’t believe in a being that watches over us, my idea of deity is more of an explanation of wonder.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@cockswain just for the record, the same thoughts used to plague me, as well. And I grew up in a pretty relaxed family atmosphere.. especially regarding my body and sex. Not really much point in this, except to let you know that you’re not the only one that had a little twinge of “oh my gosh, did my grandfather just see that?

SuperMouse's avatar

@cockswain every time the thought of my dead mother watching over me during an intimate moment crossed my mind, I always figured she would avert her eyes. She wouldn’t want to see that if she was still on earth and I can’t imagine she would want to after leaving this plane.

augustlan's avatar

I just want to say how impressed I am by the way this conversation has gotten back on a positive, helpful track. Bravo, jellies!

cockswain's avatar

@JLeslie No one ever told me that, I just concluded it from being taught that spirits of dead people are watching over me. I figured when someone died, they now had full view of all my thoughts and actions. I felt like my grandparents must have thought I was pretty creepy now that they are dead. I actually pictured it sort of like how Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda could still guide Luke after dying. I’m not kidding. I really thought it was like that.

I also used to pray at night, which on reflection was just talking to myself. Thinking I needed to apologize for certain things throughout the day, ask for different things to happen. I don’t think that is a rational way to think.

Also whenever I’d say “goddamnit” or “Jesus Christ!” I’d mutter a quick apology to God under my breath. Just because this is the way I thought the universe worked.

Stuff like that have a strong effect on a person’s personality. I personally very strongly feel these are very negative and detrimental ways to think.

@JilltheTooth What do you mean by theist vs. deist? I don’t get what you mean by “creative deity” or “bottom of turtles.”

@ANef_is_Enuf Creepy, isn’t it? My wife and I talked about this today, and she used to feel the same way. She grew up in a super religious environment, and thought the same things as I did tenfold. In her case, her parents prevented her from going to college since she is a woman. She had full scholarships to Princeton and Brown and had to turn them down. Yet her parents are those nice people that give to charity and help their neighbors. How do we condemn the ideology that spawns such actions without offending the entire group? All that bullshit happened solely because of religion.

@SuperMouse Eventually I just stopped believing they were ever watching me to begin with. Kind of bleak for a while as it hit me that death truly is the end, but what I see as a fact of life puts things in a new perspective.

gailcalled's avatar

I now read the additions to this thread in the morning with my start-up mug of tea, before I check out the NYT.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled LMFAO!

@cockswain I have to ask my husband about this. His parents are very religious, he went to Catholic schools in the younger years, and I have no feeling that he thought these things. I do have friends raised religiously who talk about how they hated being threatened with going to hell all of the time, but my husband never says anythng like that either. But, I really don’t know. His father was raised Jewish, might have had some influence? But, my husband was still around the nuns all the time in school. His sister has more horror stories about the Catholic schools, and growing up in general.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@cockswain : Deist, Theist, and those turtles. In a nutshell, the deists believe that the creation of the universe is ascribable to something divine, just very bare-bones. Theists are more leaning to the miraculous and the trappings, and the turtles are best explained by the link up there. Maybe I could be called a Yertlist. ;-)

bkcunningham's avatar

@cockswain, if this is too personal, please, just say so and I’ll not be offended or think one way or the other. I’m just interested in what you said. Your comments seem so honest and sincere I just wonder if you’d elaborate a little bit for me. I’m not trying to psychoanalyze you or anything or come back with some mind bending analysis; I’m just curious where people get things beliefs from when they were younger.

The discription you give of when you were younger, when you prayed and your thoughts of your dead relatives watching over you and seeing your every move; where did you get those notions? Did your family attend a church that taught you that or is it just something you were taught by your parents without any church involved? Do you know what I mean by asking? I just wonder where that came from in your life.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@bkcunningham I can tell you I thought the same thing as a kid. It was as a teen/adult that I was able to figure out my dearly departed probably had something better to do than watch me on the toilet or etc.

I think for me it came from thinking Saints were “watching over me”. And the fact that as a Catholic I believe every soul has a Guardian Angel.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Yeah, I wonder if this pattern of thought is more common among Catholics. No one taught me to worry about who was watching me do stuff that made me feel guilty, but I thought about it a lot. A LOT. I was also raised Catholic.

tom_g's avatar

I distinctly remember finding a nudie magazine when I was young, and suddenly wondering if I was going to go to hell for staring at nude breasts. I quickly determined that it was probably worth it, but then got all freaked out when I thought about the possibility that my great grandparents and dead people were watching me. Note: I determined that it was still worth it.

SuperMouse's avatar

I’ll chime in with a vote for it possibly being a Catholic thing. Maybe it is because at Mass we always had to remember all of our dead relatives and pray for them. I remember always having the feeling that dear Aunt Dorothy (she was the only dead person I knew of as a young child) had her eye on me. I don’t remember ever being directly taught that the eyes of all in heaven were upon me, but man I know I thought it was true.

JLeslie's avatar

I actually do think it is likely a Catholic thing, however I did ask my husband and he said he was never worried about any dead people watching him. Not in general and not while having sex.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Please don’t attack me over this, but Catholicism does have a reputation for its guilt.

JLeslie's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Why would anyone attack for that? So do the Jews.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t know. These threads can be intimidating, sometimes I’m afraid to say anything at all.

blueiiznh's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I agree with you on your last comment. I whisper to help

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@augustlan Is there a question of the year category?

JLeslie's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Yeah, actually, many posts up thread I was trying to figure out what is offensive and what is a gross generalization, so I guess I am one to talk. Just we always joke about Catholic and Jewish guilt, but I am sure there are people out there who don’t consider it a joke I guess.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I definitely wouldn’t usually be reluctant to make a comment like that, because it is a common joke. But, the tone of this thread forces you to reel it in a little. I really, really don’t want to be the one to get everyone all riled up again. hah.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m waiting on my brother frrom a different mother, my friend @cockswain. I appreciate ya’lls input though. I’m not Catholic, but I suppose I have guilt for other reasons. Who doesn’t have guilt? My shit is more intimate, personal stories of shee-at…not collective religious stuff…by the time I sincerely sought out God, I wasn’t going to take some idiotic, sophomoric shit. I didn’t have a long religious upbringing. I was pretty much a heathren, at least one of my very scholoarly religious older brothers with a better memory thinks so. So when I found God, I was worse than the worse. That might sound pretty bad or sad; but I don’t think so. I’m pretty grateful to be honest.

SuperMouse's avatar

Oh yeah, near as I can figure the two biggest tools of the Catholic church I grew up in were guilt and fear. It is my understanding that the teachings are much different now than they were in the 70“s.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham It always seemed to me the guilt is different. The Jewish and Catholics have a way of guilting their children with a sarcastic edge, and letting their children know they are driving their mothers crazy. LOL.

bkcunningham's avatar

Not just Jewish mothers, God bless them, @JLeslie. Most mothers. That is part of their job. Don’t you ever forget it either. I call it the “Another thing coming,” curse. You know that dreaded threat mothers used to shut us down? ” If you think you are going to… (insert most teenage desires) well, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Guilt is one of the “another things coming.” We usually did what we wanted anyway. I did. Didn’t you? Still do for that matter. I guess I’ve still got alot of another things coming in my life. LOL

I feared my mother more than God most times in my life to be honest. She was close and personal friends with God and He taught her some good persausive tricks.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I don’t relate another thing coming as guilt.

JilltheTooth's avatar

My mom, neither Jewish nor Catholic but very guilt inducing, said ”...you’ve got another THINK coming.” Which I always thought was very clever wordplay, if a bit intimidating.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth So you see another thing coming as a guilt related thing too?

JilltheTooth's avatar

I just saw it as a threat. I was little, my parents were scary when they were mad. I was also afraid of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Me too, I saw it as a threat.

cockswain's avatar

@bkcunningham I basically addressed that in my response to @JLeslie, but I’m guessing that isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. I had to think for a bit to try tot find more specific origins of that thinking, and I guess it was originally my parents. I had an older brother that died when I was 3, and my parents told me his spirit was always with us, watching us. That, in conjunction with the idea God was all around and in me, led me to grow up thinking I was just always being watched. For better or for worse. I also went to Catholic Sunday School from about 2nd through 8th grade, and everybody seemed to sort of corroborate such thinking. So basically I just thought it was the way it was, talked about it some, but since I just accepted it like I accept that water is wet, I just didn’t talk about it too much.

Another thing I found to be unnerving as I shed the illusions of religion from my mind was questioning the existence of God and everything related to religion itself. When I first started having such thoughts, I would drive them out of my head for fear that intentionally entertaining such notions would land me a sure ticket to Hell. It took lots of conversations with “free” thinkers (I’m using “free thinker” to indicate one who isn’t afraid to think anything he/she damn well pleases, without fear of spiritual consequences) and careful deliberation on my own to safely conclude it was okay to abandon religious thinking.

Of more interest to me these days are the psychological journey one goes through undoing these illusions and the conclusions one draws about the universe in a post-religious consciousness. Going from thinking that my soul would eternally endure and that the afterlife would be some cool exciting new adventure, to thinking I’m going to fade into total oblivion was unsettling. While happy to not have false thoughts about reality, I found it particularly bleak the day it dawned on me that Hitler and Gandhi had no reward nor consequences for their actions. So why be good? Plus it’s puzzling to contemplate our existence in this light. When I thought I had a soul and could control it’s eternal destiny through behavior, it seemed I had more meaning. But I’m nothing but a glorified ape, which is only a bunch of degrees removed from other lower mammals and then self-replicating RNA. We’re floating through an inexplicable solar system in a huge galaxy on a tiny blue rock with an iron core.

The greatest benefit I’ve found to thinking this way is having less illusions about human nature and behavior. There’s a huge difference between how people think they should act, and how and why they actually do. Fancy apes. Not perfect nor will we ever be.

Eh. I’m rambling now. It’s a bit sad this thread is losing steam. It’s one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain There was a story in FL many years ago of a very young girl who told her sisters she wanted to be with mommy, and then ran in front of a train right in front of her siblings. That whole heaven afterlife thing can backfire.

cockswain's avatar

That’s terrible. Plus I think trying to hang onto the notion that you will one day be reunited with loved ones is probably not as healthy as properly grieving. I don’t know this for sure, but it seems you aren’t letting someone go as you should if you think they still exist somewhere. I’m not saying not to hold onto memories of a loved one, but I think it’s important to know they are gone for real. And not to feel guilty one is being watched by a dead spouse if one is thinking of starting a new relationship.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain I remember thinking I was surprised the young girl put together how to kill herself, that getting hit by a train would kill her, and she fit that together with the information peoplemtold her about her mom who had died recently at a tragically young age also. I know young children attempt suicide, but still. And, of course the story made me very sad for her and the family.

You know, I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I hope there is one so my grandma who lost her dad when she was 5 can be with him again. I think she missed him her entire life. Her stories of the funeral and other events near the time of his death, I can only imagine how awful it was for her, and how it changed the course of her life.

cockswain's avatar

Sure, I hope there’s an afterlife too. And there might be. But I’ve just never seen any evidence there is. So I can’t believe there is one, so I shouldn’t hope too much for it.

I always thought it would be cool if Beethoven would get a chance to hear his 9th Symphony.

comicalmayhem's avatar

Say Michelle Bachman becomes popular and everyones raving about how awesome and smart she is (obviously not the case), yet to you she’s f’n stupid.
You feel a need to correct it. Just as some Atheists feel about theists because believing in something, to them, is ignorant.
I simply question theists, without attack. I think they’re ignorant, but I am probably equally ignorant for thinking they’re ignorant, so I want to see why they’re not ignorant.
Yes, that is actually how I feel about theists. Censor me.

Mariah's avatar

Not that I want to be the one to stir up anything in this thread again, but can I respectfully point out some flaws I perceive in your argument, @comicalmayhem?

Yes, I would feel a desire to change someone’s mind about Michele Bachmann, but this is because if they and many other people vote for Michele Bachmann, and she becomes president, and she is able to pass the bills she wants to pass in Congress, these actions will have direct and harmful consequences on my life.

However, when somebody holds religious beliefs, unless that person is an extremist who believes that the non-religious should be persecuted, or that person votes for legislators who will persecute the non-religious directly or indirectly, that person’s beliefs really don’t have the potential to hurt you in any way.

It’s different.

That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with discussing these matters, quite the opposite; I think it’s great to exchange points of view. But doing so disrespectfully serves no purpose except to make people angry; people will not respond favorably to being called ignorant.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Mariah I know Michelle Bachman being raved about and praised wouldn’t effect anyone as long as she doesn’t get elected which is why I didn’t state she gets elected.
Same with religion: it doesn’t actually effect you, but you hate to see ignorance around you.
And I’m not saying it’s the same with all Atheists.

The difference between the political issue and the religious issue is that people are generally more flexible when it comes to politics because changing your opinions won’t make you believe you’re going to hell. So it’s more logical to try to persuade Bachman supporters than to persuade theists.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll tell you why some athiests are sometimes intolerant, because on another Q of mine someone is stating they are fine with going after children to convert them, going around the parents is ok. Please remember I do not think all Christians feel the same as this particular individual. The Q is about bibles being passed out in public schools.

Here is the quote, “Consider the viewpoint of the Christian: these kids are doomed to an eternity in Hell if they aren’t saved. This is about saving lives, and only faith in Jesus Christ can do that; all other religions are diabolical traps laid by a spiteful enemy. Passing out Bibles in school becomes akin to passing out food and clean water to the starving kids in Africa, and not giving equal time to other faiths is keeping some horrible person from poisoning that aid.

So it’s not really all that outrageous, though bypassing the parents is not ideal.
You are an atheist, so this all seems ridiculous to you. But this is how things are.”

My question is how many Christians do think like this? I don’t think it is the majority, but how many? Do we, the people who are afraid of this type of thought, really blow it out of proportion? Or, is there a significant, real, movement? If it is truly a tiny minority, why don’t the other Christians speak up more? Is it because the medie doesn’t cover those people? Or, is it because Christians worry about criticism from the people in their community?

My question to thiests is, when are athiests or Muslims or Buddhists or Jews ever threatening to pass out materials to your young children behind your back?

I just want everyone to show respect for each other, but I find it very disrespectful to ignore what I want to teach my children about religion (if I had children).

6rant6's avatar

@Mariah You assert that “that person’s beliefs really don’t have the potential to hurt you in any way.”

I (and I believe many other atheists) disagree with that. In the “fox hole moment” when push comes to shove, you may wish to put our collective fates in the hands of God or someone who claims to speak on his behalf. That will not be the time for rational debate.

I’m sorry that the word “ignorant” has so much baggage that comes with it. But if you are mistaken in your beliefs, particularly if you are mistaken because you cling to primitive constructs then I can’t find a word that fits better.

It’s not the same as saying you are stupid or uneducated. But if you just don’t know, you just don’t know.

Mariah's avatar

@6rant6 You misunderstand. I am not a theist.

I was merely pointing out that I don’t believe it is productive to call anybody ignorant, even if that’s how you honestly feel about theists. How do you expect people to respond to that? “Oh, golly, you’re right, I am ignorant!” If you want to make convincing arguments, don’t include insults in your arguments. That will immediately close up the “opposition’s” ears to anything else you might have to say.

Maybe I was erroneous to insist that somebody’s private religious beliefs are innocuous. I guess might be some situations in which they could potentially harm others. I just tend to believe that if people aren’t actively oppressing, or agreeing with the oppression of, nonbelievers, they’re really not doing any harm. Just my opinion

Now since I reeeeeally don’t want to stir up a shit storm I’m going to retreat into my shell now.

comicalmayhem's avatar

A wise man once said, “If you can’t think of an argument against your side or for the opposing, then your points are all bias and do not deserve to argue.”

Unless an atheist can think of an argument against atheism or for the theist to see the opposing’s POV, the atheist shouldn’t be arguing. And it’s the same for the theist.
That’s just a moral I go by in any argument or debate, not just religious ones. You don’t have to accept it.

JLeslie's avatar

@6rant6 Are you saying in the fox hole moment a theist is going to just sit there and pray? Do nothing to help himself?

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 are you really insinuating that anyone who believes in God or any other higher power will do nothing but sit with their hands folded in prayer in an emergency? Believing that my friend might be the very definition of ignorance.

My mother was one of the most devout believers I have ever known. When that woman was dying – leaving behind six children ages 15 to 2, she prayed daily. She prayed, she went on a pilgrimage to the Catholic faith’s most holy sites, she was blessed by the Pope and bathed in miracle water from Lourdes. Until she was too ill to leave the house she attended mass daily. She received the last rites. During that entire time she also received chemo therapy. She tried to get into trials for any experimental drug that might help cure her cancer. She saw the best doctors in the state and received treatments right up to the end.

Sure there are those who when faced with adversity assume a prayerful pose and hope for the best, but in my experience those people are the exception – not the rule – that’s why they tend to make headlines. The vast majority of believers (again in my experience) also believe “the Lord helps those who help themselves.”

blueiiznh's avatar

I agree with @SuperMouse 110%. When people are at their toughest points in life, they use this belief to help them through. It is not a sit on your hands in the “fox Hole” moment. It is turning to something to help you get through and soldier on in the battle.
Yes, there are people that when faced with adversity will become paralyzed by it. The point is that each and everyone of us deal with these things differently and use different things to create strength.
Mocking others to gain strength is a person I would not want in my corner during a “fox Hole” moment.

comicalmayhem's avatar

So you’re arguing that being a theist is kinda like a crutch; it helps you get through hard times because of your mentality from the praying?

SuperMouse's avatar

@comicalmayhem, why are you so intent on fitting other people’s faiths into your little boxes?

comicalmayhem's avatar

@SuperMouse I’m not intent about it, I’m just pointing it out.
From my question, the main question was: Are theists being irrational by making such a bold claim?

But I asked it in survey form to the theists instead of getting biased answers from atheists. I made 10 examples – all that I could think of without repeating them in any shape or form. And there could be 11 or maybe 226, but I could only think of 10. And so far, they’ve held true to every theist whether they admit it or not, unless they’re one of the theists that just believe for no reason because they wanna believe. Which could be #11 – “people will only believe what they wanna believe and sometimes without question because to them, that’s not what belief is about. Questions are for logic, not faith.”

SuperMouse's avatar

@comicalmayhem you’re not about categorizing why people believe in your own little categories, yet you created another category for the ones that don’t fit into the first ten. Huh…

blueiiznh's avatar

@comicalmayhem I agree with @SuperMouse that you appear and show you are intent on fitting other peoples faith into your boxes (belief)

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh I don’t think the possibility of becoming paralyzed in a difficult situation has anything to do with faith.

I do think prayer psychologically helps people when they feel helpless, because then it feels like they are doing something. I think it is more than that, why people pray to God, but in terms of the fox hole scenerio, well that scenerio I absolutely don’t think someone is just going to sit there and pray God gets them out there, which is why I question @6rant6, because I couldn’t believe that might be his implication. But, say someone is very ill, God forbid, a family member and you are not a doctor; prayer helps people feel like they are doing something to help. I realize people believe it actually does help, all I am saying is the impact it can have psychologically on the family member who is praying for the relative, I am not commenting on whether the prayer actually helps the patient or not.

blueiiznh's avatar

@JLeslie I agree, I never stated it did. I agree with your analogy. If what I typed gave some some implied tied, it was not my intent. I too was trying to make a similar point as you in response to @6rant6.

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh Ok, sorry I misunderstood.

wundayatta's avatar

I haven’t been here in a few days, so I have had a chance to reflect on things, and I have to admit that I am a little ashamed at my willingness to “mock” people on occasion. Actually, I don’t think mocking is at all kind and I probably wouldn’t have even spoken about it or fallen into doing it except for the inflammatory nature of this question. Sometimes I am just itching for controversy and maybe even a fight. Sorry about that. Not saying I won’t do it again, but I usually don’t like to hurt people except when I am very frustrated.

These issues are terribly fraught, I think. I believe that the only way to understand someone’s religious beliefs is to understand their life experiences. Yet a question like this does not encourage us to take time to understand each other. It is an inflammatory question because is makes the assumption that we mock and then asks us to explain it. “When did you stop cheating on your spouse?”

My emphasis on the method of creating knowledge is very important because I believe there are two main kinds of ways that people create knowledge, but I don’t think people tend to appreciate the differences between them. There is the process of creating theories and testing them with evidence and then there is “received” or experienced knowledge. They are not the same, and yet people often seem to think they are equally valid in terms of explaining the physical universe.

I think there is the physical universe and the metaphysical universe. Science is the only appropriate method for creating knowledge about the physical universe. Received knowledge is suspect even if it agrees with scientific knowledge (which it rarely does).

However received knowledge (or that created in our own consciousnesses) is entirely appropriate for understanding the metaphysical universe. The only problem is when people use that knowledge in order to influence the physical world as if the received knowledge was objective truth.

Personally, I find it very frustrating when people do this. I don’t understand how they can equate the two methods as having equal utility in both universes (physical and metaphysical). My theory is that they do it because they don’t understand the scientific method. Then I wonder how they can not understand the scientific method. And since knowledge about the method is all over the place, I theorize that they must deliberately ignore the information.

So, of course, this is where I insult people. In any case, as a scientist, it’s a theory, and I should look for evidence to support or disconfirm the theory. I think normally I would have, but in an atmosphere like this one, it seems like there is little patience for scientific investigation. Let’s just get on with the argument.

@SuperMouse ”@wundayatta I honestly could not care less whether you take my faith seriously. But whatever you feel about my faith, it is wrong to put me down because I subscribe to it. I would be willing to discuss all the things that brought me to where I am today with my faith. Would it fit into your scientific method box? Probably not. But yes, I am going here for the first time in this thread that is where the idea of faith comes in. As much as my parents and upbringing tried to beat it out of me with their ideas about Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, I still have faith that there is something bigger than me out there. I can and do believe without science to back me up. Faith, that is faith.”

Actually, I think the only useful thing to do is to discuss what brought you to your faith. It’s the only thing I’m really interested in. Sometimes I like to argue just because… maybe I’m feeling annoyed that day. Maybe I don’t care that day. I don’t know. It happens from time to time. I apologize for hurting people, but I still give myself permission to lose it when I lose it. Sometimes I don’t have it in me to stop. Forgive me or don’t.

You know what, though? I often feel connected to something larger than myself. I just would never call it God. In fact, I would never name it at all. I don’t think naming it is helpful. Your beliefs part us, I think. If we talked about experience, I am 95% certain, we would find commonality and much similarity. At least, that’s what I’ve found in the past.

The problem is that some people seem to feel a name to label things, and I don’t understand why. Why should we explain things that we can’t explain? Why not wait? Wait for more data? Wait for alternative hypotheses?

I have a number of hypotheses that are alternate explanations for the experiences that other people label as “god.” Sometimes others can go along, and other times people seem to think these theories diminish the experience. Ok. That’s interesting to talk about.

But if we never talk about the underlying experience (and as far as I can tell, in theist-atheist discussions, people tend to try to use logic rather than experience), where will we get? We have no idea, really, why a person thinks what they do.

Ok. So that’s what I think. Sometimes I get anarchical, I guess. I like a little blood on occasion. But not often.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse You obviously think that going to see the Pope is a great thing. I don’t. I don’t think it’s meritorious at all. I think it’s sad.

I was actually making a reference to the Pat Tillman story. He was the NFL player who was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire. Tillman was with a green soldier when the shooting started. The younger man began to pray. Tillman said that it was no time to pray, it was time to try to stay alive. The young man credited Tillman’s approach with saving his life. Had they both prayed, there would have been no one alive to tell the story.

So yeah, I don’t want you compromising our collective welfare with mysticism when the chips are down.

Mariah's avatar

@6rant6 Do you also dislike people who panic under pressure?

6rant6's avatar

@Mariah I’m not sure how you mean, “also” so I will clarify and answer.

If you are assuming I don’t like people who are religious, and are asking in addition if I don’t like people who panic under pressure, then I will say your assumption is incorrect. I do not dislike people who are religious. I think they are mistaken. I think we are all mistaken about some things, and the best approach is to have an open mind and accept new evidence.

If you are asking if, in addition to not wanting to be a victim of fox-hole-syndrome I also __dislike people_ who pray, then the answer is no, prayer is much too small a thing to make a decision on the whole over.

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 um no I don’t have an opinion one way or another about going to see the Pope. I was saying that it meant a lot to my mother and was part of the strength she sought from her faith when she was dying.

6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse regarding this: “I don’t have an opinion one way or another about going to see the Pope.” I am surprised. That’s nothing you would ever do, then. I stand corrected.

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 what? I said I don’t have an opinion one way or another about folks going to see the Pope. I didn’t say it was something I would never do. Seeing or being blessed by the Pope means absolutely nothing to me and I certainly don’t feel passionately enough about it one way or another say it is something I would never do.

I think my approach to tough times is a combination of Mr. Tillman and his green soldier’s approach. I pray for strength but I act at the same time. Have you heard the old joke about the fellow whose house was flooding? This guy was sitting at home watching the water rise as when someone knocked on the door and offered him a ride out. He responded that he had faith that his Lord would save him. Time passes, the water rises the man is forced to the second floor of his house. Along comes a guy in a boat and tells him to hop in, that he is going to save him. The fellow turns him down saying he will continue to pray and he has faith God will save him. The water keeps rising and the guy is finally on the roof of his house. A helicopter flies overhead, drops a rope ladder and the pilot shouts to the guy to climb in. The fellow says he will just keep praying and he will be saved by God. Not long after he drowns in the flood waters. He gets to heaven and asks God what happened. He explains how he had faith and kept praying and believing and wondered why God had let him down that way. God tells the guy “I sent a car, a boat, and helicopter.”

So yeah, just because I believe in God doesn’t mean that I react to challenges by doing nothing but dropping to my knees to pray.

Mariah's avatar

@6rant6 Sorry, I wrote that in a rush and my phrasing was poor. I didn’t mean to imply that you dislike all religious people. But the reason you brought up the “fox hole moment” in the first place was to counter my argument that people’s private religions don’t harm anybody. Your argument was that religious folks might choose to pray in a dangerous situation instead of taking action. I’m no theist, but in a perilous situation I’m a lot more likely to flail around than do anything useful. Should we really be judging people based on their behavior in extreme situations? How often does that even come up in your average person’s life?

6rant6's avatar

@Mariah I believe there are many day-to-day, subtler situations where the influence of religion opposes social progress. The fox hole example is just so clear that any thinking person can see the problem – you don’t have to be atheist.

6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse I think you’re not being honest with one of us. You say you might do something which you say you believe has no merit. How does that make sense?

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 can you clarify what you believe I am being dishonest about? Are you saying that I believe prayer has no merit? Are you saying I believe that acting in challenging situations has no merit?

6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse My reference was regarding what seems to be to be equivocation regarding visiting the Pope.

I don’t believe people are open to doing things in which they see no merit. I believe you see merit in being “blessed” by the Pope. It’s one of those things that I see as divisive and wasteful.

But please hear this: I don’t think you’re a bad person, I don’t dislike you, and I don’t write you off because we have this difference of opinion. I actively oppose religion because I feel that __on balance__ it is hugely harmful. I believe that association with such a force contributes to the harm it does. This is not a personal attack on you or on your personal beliefs.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Not to be rude… and to be completely honest… SOME certain religious people can be real A-Holes.

and if you can’t take the heat… Get out of the discussion.

In my many years of experience on these forums, I have witnessed far more bull$hit from the Religious than I ever have atheists, religious people can sometimes speak in such a way that is offensive to those who have a right not to believe without having to be made afraid of some eternal hellfire burning and damnation.

God doesn’t do that… People do that on His behalf.

If I were God, I would seriously take out a restraining order from His own followers at times.

NOT ALL… But some, and that being said you know perfectly well what and what types I mean that usually set off the crowd to screaming.

everephebe's avatar

Sometimes, mocking religious people is all you can do because slaying the shit out of them may be Biblical but it is certainly illegal.
gggrrrrr
< is having a bad night.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@everephebe That was seriously awesome… Although I am sorry you are having a bad night, unless it was in some way catastrophic, that comment was absolutely important!

POINTS!

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 please hear this… I don’t care whether or not you think I am a good or a bad person. Your opinion of me matters about as much as whether or not I am blessed by the Pope. I don’t see any merit in you liking me but I am perfectly fine if you do. I don’t see any merit in being blessed by the Pope, but if I happened to be in Vatican Square while he was standing at his window doing his thing, I wouldn’t run screaming to avoid the blessing. How about you actively oppose religion that does damage and leave the rest of us alone.

@Gabrielslamb, have you read this actual thread?

6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse

You don’t care what I think of you, huh? I don’t believe that either.

If I thought your belief did no harm, I wouldn’t pursue it. As I think it does cause harm, I’m not likely to drop it because (apparently) it ruffles your feathers.

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 thanks for calling me a liar – how many times has it been? Why exactly would the opinion of a library hater on the Internet matter one whit to me?

6rant6's avatar

@supermouse apparently it does, apparently it does.

augustlan's avatar

@6rant6 Give it a rest, please.

6rant6's avatar

@augustlan What’s with that crap? You have no dog in this fight. You are jut trying to impose your imperious ways. Save it.

augustlan's avatar

Um, @6rant6, that wasn’t a request from the manager, it was a request from a jelly. This thread has been very contentious, has settled down, and it really seems like you’re itching to kick up the dust again by picking a fight with @SuperMouse for no good reason. Dude, just let it go.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@augustlan Everyone needs to hug the mod and call it a night! ♥

6rant6's avatar

[redacted]

augustlan's avatar

When did “library hater” become a “name”? Anyway, I’m not interested in fighting with you either. I’ll just take my imperious ways elsewhere and leave you to yours.

blueiiznh's avatar

I think this thread has proven that some people just can’t respect others for who or what they are.
Reading it all is a perfect paragon to what the OP asked.

blueiiznh's avatar

@augustlan I think the “library hater” term came from this quip

comicalmayhem's avatar

@SuperMouse You seem to only be mad because I can fit your reasons in a box that makes you sound illogical. Whether or not I’m intent on fitting reasons into boxes does not matter. But don’t think of them as boxes, just think of them as arguments I have against each reason – why I don’t think it’s logical.

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