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judochop's avatar

Why do atheists think it's okay to shove their non-belief down my throat?

Asked by judochop (16109points) January 13th, 2012

Why do atheists think it is okay to tell me I am wrong, yet I as a believer do not tell them that they are wrong? You can’t prove that the Bible is a lie anymore than I can prove you are telling lies of deception so why the need to shove it in my face?

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206 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Yeah, it’s almost like this site is a place for discussion.

P.S. Maybe it’s just bad wording, but you appear to be skating awfully close to this.

HungryGuy's avatar

Maybe it’s because so many religious people try to impose their religious rules on everyone through force of law, re: censorship, regulation of sexual activity between consenting adults, etc., etc….

judochop's avatar

@SavoirFaire what I am referring to was a discussion that happened tonight at work in the locker room. Someone was watching a sports game and when their team scored, he said, “God Bless it.” Two people at once, almost at the same time made a smart ass comment. One about Tebow and another about how God had nothing to do with that, thus kicking off a discussion about the Bible. I also see it on Fluther, quite often. It makes me wonder, why is it okay for atheists to open their mouths and throw it around but when Christians do it they are considered full of shit and or shoving their belief upon others…I did not want to involve my personal life in the question but there ya go. I am not aiming my question at anyone specifically here on fluther like you seem to be suggesting but opening a conversation between atheists and christians and whoever else wants to get in on it because, you know…We are on a site for discussion.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@judochop Ah, I see. Personally, I have no problem with anyone telling me I’m wrong if they are willing to have a reasoned debate about the matter. Presenting an alternative viewpoint is not “belief shoving,” in my opinion, regardless of who is doing the presenting. As such, I deny that the case you mention is intrusive. What is intrusive is what @HungryGuy mentions: trying to impose religious rules on everyone through force of law.

judochop's avatar

@SavoirFaire I agree with you. Just as I would back any Atheist in telling a Christian to piss off if he or she was throwing their viewpoint around and viseversa. How egotistical does one have to be to take aim and flat out tell someone that they are wrong when the only proof us Christians have is faith and the only proof atheists have is….well no proof? I get it but lately, all around me there seems to be this up rise that atheists seem to think it is okay to tell us that we are wrong…Why am I wrong? Why is it wrong to have faith? Is the atheist truly concerned that I will be let down when I die? If this is true then won’t I just be dead and not really even know it? I can see where this could get really pissy but I hope that us as a collective can have a nice discussion about it. Maybe the question I should have asked is for advice from an atheist on how to handle other atheists that feel the need to voice their opinion so strongly. I hope to stir the pot a little but also that we can all be brought a little closer with better understanding through this. Thank you for your answer.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

you forgot to include alchemy in your tags

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t.
However, (I’m not saying this is the case with you, though it may be) very often simply discussing or being open about my atheism is perceived as “ramming it down” someone’s throat. Simply, not true. As an atheist, and as an American, I believe in the movement that encourages atheists to “come out of the closet.” That we need to have a voice, and we need to make ourselves heard… because there are issues that affect us that are far worse than than prosthelytizing. Trying to censor the teaching of evolution in schools, for example. As a minority, we have no choice but to be loud, or we will never stand a chance in defending ourselves. We are the most distrusted group of people in the United States. I’m not forcing my ideas down anyone’s throat, I am making myself heard.
I never try to force my beliefs on anyone. Will I defend myself in a debate? Yep. Am I going to knock on your door in an attempt to save you? No, definitely not. Has that been done to me? You better believe it… and they weren’t atheists.
Many religions are founded on the very idea that they must be spread. That is actually part of their belief system. Atheists don’t have a belief system. There is nothing to spread. I don’t give two shits what anyone else believes, because I’m not trying to save their soul. On the other hand, I do care when those beliefs interfere with my life… and I’m going to speak up.

King_Pariah's avatar

Some people get too caught up in the whole “I’m right, you’re wrong, and you need to see things my way.” It’s quite pathetic and unbecoming, though thoroughly amusing.

jrpowell's avatar

Stay out of my bedroom and I will stay out of your church.

FutureMemory's avatar

OK, the line to shake Neffie’s hand and thank her profusely for joining Fluther forms behind me, no pushing…

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Sunny2's avatar

Both theism and atheism are believed by faith since no there’s no proof of either. Faith is, by definition, believing something for which there is no proof. I firmly believe that man created God in his own image in order to answer unanswerable questions. That’s probably considered blasphemy by theists, but that’s what I believe. Is stating that, throwing something in someone’s face? I’ve been told that faith is a gift and it’s there for the taking, but my sense of reason won’t let me take it.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@judochop why is “God bless it” any more acceptable than “this has nothing to do with God?”
Is it because you disagree with one of those statements? Is it because one of those statements is taboo?
I don’t think that having to hear that some people don’t believe in god(s) is the same as people knocking on your door, showing up in your driveway and pretending to know you so that they can give a Bible, telling you that you’re going to Hell, or sneaking religious tracts into your science book at school.
When I sneeze, and someone says “God bless you,” I say “thank you.”
Some people, on the other hand, find that to be just as pushy as “this has nothing to do with God.”

If you just want everyone to sit down, and shutup… well, I’d be happy to agree. Except, the people who tend to be the loudest on the other side of the fence, from me… make up a rather large portion of the voters in this country. Their religious beliefs affect who I can marry, whether or not I can make my own decisions about my uterus and what my children will learn in science class. So, until I am assured that my rights will not be affected by the people pushing from the other side, I refuse to sit down and shutup.

Pandora's avatar

@judochop I know what you mean. I remember when I was able to say, Bless You if someone sneezed and not be looked upon as if you just spit in the persons eye. It gets all a bit tiresome.
After all if I meant to spit in their eye, then I would have.

faye's avatar

I don’t shove my reincarnation beliefs down anyone’s throat, nor do I knock on an anyone’s door on Sunday mornings trying to give them pamphlets…

ratboy's avatar

Jesus gave me permission.

Pandora's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I get what your saying but I think its more about the hostility following after saying something that a person means no harm.
Its like when you say to someone who is getting married Good Luck and they get defensive and say luck has nothing to do with it. When all you were doing is wishing them well in their marriage. Hard work is really what makes a marriage work but a little bit of luck in knowing what to say or do to make a relationship work like a fine oiled machine is needed sometimes too. You don’t have to believe that you will need good luck but there is no need in being confrontational about when someone only means someone or something well for others. Thats just being a jerk.

ragingloli's avatar

Churches on every street corner. Millions of street preachers. Televangelists. Door knockers. Celebrities flaunting their religiosity in front of millions. Religious extremists running for office and trying to turn the country into a theocracy.
That is all fine. But god forbid an atheist opens his mouth. That is shoving it down throats.

whitenoise's avatar

I beg to disagree.

Saying that since one cannot proof a negative, all atheism is a belief is too simplistic.

Acquiring knowledge isn’t a simple yes or no.

Children believe all they think to know is true. All there is is what they ‘see’ and what they ‘see’ is all there is.

Then people learn that things may be different and that there is more than what one can see by oneself. They will still believe in a single truth, however.

Next, people will realize there is often no single truth and start to think there is no truth, so one can have no knowledge.

And in the end people will realize that there is knowledge still.
One sees, hears, reads and makes assumptions and chooses one’s interpretation and shares that with others. However… over time… with more thought and with more input, better clues and other people’s interpretations as a result from one’s interaction with the world and others, one evaluates one’s interpretations and beliefs and re-adjusts.

Atheists, as far as I know them, have looked at the world and found little to no evidence to belief in a god. They therefore choose to hold the position that ‘there is no God.”

The atheists I know are more than willing, if a good indication of (a specific, or any) God’s existence arises, to change there views.

To say that atheism is a belief is ignoring the fact that there is so much evidence of a lack of a god, that the position of atheism is a logical conclusion based on observation, for most atheists.

whitenoise's avatar

maybe it is because in the US atheists are treated in so many negative ways that they react as such. Where I am originally from, atheism is quite accepted and I feel atheists in general consider it to be very impolite to criticize other people’s faiths, unless these people invite a discussion.

On the other hand when in Holland people would say “thank god” for winning a football match, in general there will be a couple of religious people that will point out it is offensive to them to thank God for such a earthbound, selfish thing as winning a football match.

everephebe's avatar

Well actually there is quite a bit of evidence that the Bible contains contradictions, errors, backwardness and so forth… that said… Whatever gets you through the night, right?

“Someone was watching a sports game and when their team scored, he said, ‘God Bless it.’ Two people at once, almost at the same time made a smart ass comment.”

Why is it ok for religious people to shove their belief in God down the throats of non-believers? You see, the religious person started the belief shoving in this situation, and what the smartasses did was respond. I see far far far far far far far more religious folks initiating the shoving. And non-believers aren’t allowed to voice their opinion back? Isn’t that kinda a massive double standard? You can still be executed in various countries for not believing. Atheists are one of the most hated minorities in the states. Yet, it is still legal to indoctrinate innocent children into dangerous cults.

I don’t have to respect everything you believe in order to respect you, and likewise you don’t have to respect everything I non-believe. I prefer polite open disquisition to dispute/vile rhetoric myself. Cheers and with respect. :D

everephebe's avatar

Talk about a burning Bush.

Berserker's avatar

People don’t need religions, or lack thereof, to wage war. Just seems it’s what we do. There barely ever even needs to be a reason. For how many asshole atheists there are out there, there are just as many Christians assholes, too. Someone prove me wrong.

Just claiming that you’re something or other is grounds enough for some other fucker to go all Viking style on you. There is no common denominator. I mean, check out Planet of the Apes. XD If it wasn’t God or lack thereof, it would just be something else.
In short, I guess, human nature? You exemplify atheists, but Christians are guilty of the same thing. Hell, every time someone says something bad about zombies, I feel like murdering them. And I don’t even believe in zombies.
As an atheist, I don’t feel it okay, nor do I feel it my job to teach anyone anything. But I do get tired of people trying to do it to me. I’d feel just the same if I were a Christian. Sorry, ain’t got an answer lol. Just seems some natural human thing to me, and that whatever color of the rainbow you take, it all still leads to the same shitty pot of gold.

@everephebe mentions that in some places, you get your head lopped off for saying you’re an atheist. True. But you also get your head lopped off for not being in the proper Christan faith branch. I’m not trying to act all biased or nothing, but it seems I can’t find any heavier weigh to drop down the balance of man’s need to hate, criticize and punish when it comes to the need to buttfuck shit up. It could be ANYTHING and we’d still do it. Look at everything. Religion, lack thereof, politics, sociology, trends, how much money you make…same damn pot of gold, as far as I’m concerned. It’s all bullshit if you ask me lol. Haters gotta hate I guess, whatever they subscribe to. When someone feels threatened, they act. Fight or flee, whatever its level and wtv transition it may or may not have went through, is something natural. Ideology is secondary. Just an excuse to club someone over the head with a bone. At least, that’s as much sense I can make of it.
Give me another 90 years, and my answer won’t be any better. XD

SavoirFaire's avatar

@judochop @Sunny2 Unfortunately, the whole “no proof” argument against atheism doesn’t pass muster. Certainty is not required for knowledge, so the lack of absolute proof is not an argument against atheism or for agnosticism. Indeed, you don’t have absolute proof that your feet exist, yet I suspect you would find it absurd if I pestered you about why you ever buy shoes.

If you wish to say that your reason for holding onto your religious beliefs is faith, that is fine with me. I would not impose that reason upon anyone else, however, and I do not think that atheists typically believe what they do out of faith (or some appropriate analogue thereof). Atheists that I know tend to base their views on things like argument to the best explanation (abductive reasoning), preponderance of the evidence (inductive reasoning), and the perceived failures of arguments in favor of theism (deductive reasoning).

There are also arguments along these lines for theism. I am not in any way trying to deny that. I am merely suggesting that however you might choose to characterize your own reasons for believing as you do, it is uncharitable to describe atheism as something that is believed by faith—especially if done via an argument from ignorance (i.e., “there’s no absolute proof; therefore, no view is epistemically better off than any other”).

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t see how one can infer that it’s “okay” to do anything just because two people did it. Two people held up a gas station. Two people torched a school. Two people mugged an old lady. Who’s saying that anyone thinks that means it’s “okay”? The actions of any two people—atheists, Christians, Muslims, Republicans. Democrats, whatever—can hardly be taken as a policy statement for all members of the group. Maybe the important dimension is not that they were atheists but that they were jerks.

talljasperman's avatar

He said, “God Bless it.” ... Why did he need to say it out loud? It looks like it is a power struggle between both side of who can say what in public (or who owns the public). Perhaps both sides can keep one’s comments to themselves. Part of communication is who is listening to the message. If one can say “God Bless it.” in public then another can say an opposite viewpoint. It’s a matter of freedom to Vs. freedom from… If you like the freedom to say what one likes in public then one must accept that others have that freedom to…If you don’t like that freedom to say what you like then you must be silent when in the presence of people who don’t want to hear what you have to say. If a person can say whatever one likes , in public, then one can wear whatever they like, in public; Even if offensive… we need a happy middle ground and clear rules of behavior in public or else people are going to be offended eventually.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m sorry that I have not read any of the comments on this thread. I just don’t have it it me right now, but anyone shoving any belief system down anyone’s throat needs to back off of that kind of shit, in my opinion. Believe what you want. Someone gets in your face about it, whatever it is, take them on, certainly. Someone is just wandering around the planet, believing what they want? Leave them the fuck alone.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

If I ever come across that way, it’s most likely as a result of being taught that I would go to Hell and suffer forever in eternity if God did not save me when I was a child. I used to believe that strongly, I did… but now I don’t. There have been times when I’ve voiced my frustration and I can understand if doing that came across as attempting to shove my non-beliefs down people’s throats. That has more to do with me than those people, though. I do still feel that everybody should believe whatever feels right in accordance with their own consciences, regardless of how strong my opinions are and may seem.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The same reason theists think it’s fine to do the same.

ratboy's avatar

Perhaps it’s because we envy the Christian’s infinite compassion.

JLeslie's avatar

I haven’t read all of the answers already posted, but my answer is on fouther, depending on the question and discussion it might be ok to challenge someones idea about God, but no one should really be shoving their idea. In real life, it isn’t ok for theists or atheists to do it, but certainly if there is a discussion about God going on, again that is different. Stating ones case about their belief and questioning yours is not shoving if both people are participating in a religious discussion that is not attempting to change the other persons opinion. Christians tend to be easily offended when their faith in God is challenged, and atheists tend to be very put off when Christians go on some tangent about God, because we all know Christianity asks for it’s followers to bring more people into the fold. I know many many Christians do not go around trying to convert people, in my experience the majority don’t, but if a theist out of no where starts babbling about God, it feels like they expect everyone is or should be a theist. I guess from a the theist’s point of view if an atheist starts mumbling stuff about how God doesn’t exist, it sounds just as harsh to the theist standing nearby.

Also, in your example of watching a sports game, isn’t it possible a theist would also think God had nothing to do with a player catching a football or not? Not a direct hand in it? I have to say I find it odd for music stars to thank God when they accept an award on stage, and to pray for a touch down in a public way. The whole public demonstration of these things is shoving it in our atheist faces. I have no problem at all with prayer and wanting to be thankful to God, but it can be done in a more personal private way. The opposite/same of thanking God when receiving an award is not saying nothing about God, but actually saying I don’t thank God. Because, we who don’t want God shoved in our faces every minute of the day simply don’t want to hear it constantly; just like theists don’t want to hear He does not exist.

poisonedantidote's avatar

You say you can’t prove the bible is a lie, and you are mistaken. It is true that you can’t disprove the existence of a god or gods, but you most certainly can prove the bible is a lie. You don’t even need to go past genesis to do so. The moon is not made of light, the sky is not a solid object, the planet does not have corners, etc.

As for your question, it’s ok for anyone to say whatever they want to anyone at any time. You can tell me I’m going to hell, and I can tell you I’m not because there is no hell, and so on.

Keep_on_running's avatar

It’s not so much shoving it down your throat as it is just debating some of the damaging beliefs that go along with being a religious person. Of course no one can say god does or doesn’t definitively exist, but the religion that often comes along side being a theist really is just full of non-truths and they are the subjects I think we have an obligation to refute for the sake of a progressive society. We’re not debating you, we’re debating thousands of years of what can be an unfair and cruel belief system. Believing in god itself is not wrong. It’s the side dish of religion that shouldn’t be served up with it.

whitenoise's avatar


To be honest, what you are saying is not true. One cannot proof the bible is a lie. One may proof that its content is far-most untrue, but not that it is a lie. (At least so far.)

A lie is more than just an untruth and calling it a lie is unnecessarily offensive. After all, a lie is “a statement known by its maker to be untrue and made in order to deceive.” (according to webster)

I would feel most people touting the bible neither know it to be untrue, nor do they use it to deceive. All in all, you will have an extremely hard case, trying to proof the bible is a lie and, therefore, I feel you could have expressed yourself a bit more elegant.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@whitenoise No sleep in the last 30 or so hours, brain failing. However, I could mount a very strong case for the bible being designed to manipulate and decieve. Prove? no, but I would have a very strong case for it being a “lie” so to speak.

I am actually working on a “book” / “collection of documents” at the moment, no doubt I will link it on my profile or something once it is ready. (free of charge obv)

whitenoise's avatar

@poisonedantidote That would be interesting.

janbb's avatar

Well, that was waving a red flag, wasn’t it?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@judochop : I have found that the atheists never shove their views down my throat. I have found that it’s the anti-theists who do that, while often calling themselves “atheists”, I guess as some sort of camouflage.

@Lightlyseared : BTW, the only theists that I have ever seen do the same are affiliated with specific religions. There are many many more theists than there are religious people.

OpryLeigh's avatar

There will always be debates about whether God exists or not, it’s not like it only happens here. Since joining Fluther I have learnt that a: both sides are as bad as each other and b: no one is going to change their mind so you can argue your point until you are blue in the face. I often answer religious questions but I try to stick to just answering the question and not get too involved in heated debate about why I believe in God. I have never felt attacked here because of my religious beliefs but that may be because I don’t claim to know that God exists it’s just something I feel. I try not to shove my beliefs down others throats and others don’t (often) shove their differing beliefs down mine.

bongo's avatar

Change “athiest” for any other religion and it still happens, many people like to think they are right and need reassurance from others to think in the same way. I have had many a religious person try and change my beliefs to make me join a religion. Not for me. There are many christians etc out in the streets handing out flyers and telling me that god will save me. Jehovah witness’ come and knock on my door questioning me about which religion I follow and why and how I should follow the path of god. WHY? I feel people do this for reassurance from others that their belief if the right one. Many people want others to think the same way they do and a healthy debate about religion etc. is always interesting as long as people dont get offended with they are not agreed with. People think differently. But please do not generalize all atheists will try and shove their religion down your throat. Of all the advertised religions with people actively trying to recruit non-believers, in my opinion atheists are some of the least intrusive. I would never say Christians continually put down my beliefs and try to change me. Many many do but not all by any means, I would never try and change someone’s beliefs. A good debate on the reasoning behind my beliefs with someone of a religious background is something different though. I do enjoy hearing why people believe what they do and the debates I have had have generally ended on the fact that we agree to disagree but (at least on my side) I would never get worked up or offended if someone critically questioned what I believed. In my opinion that is just a method of expressing interest in what I believe.

mangeons's avatar

Not all atheists try to shove their non-belief down your throat. Just like not all religious people will try to shove their beliefs down your throat. There are always gonna be some super annoying people from both sides that are gonna do it, but one side doesn’t do it any more or any less than the other.

I guess the reason people do it is because people like to be right. They want to prove that what they think is the correct way to think. However, there are people that can keep those thoughts to themselves, and then there are people that can’t. The people that can’t are the people that give atheists or religious people a bad name.

Also, as several people have stated above, many people view someone stating their beliefs is the same thing as “shoving them down their throat” or “telling them they’re wrong.” There’s a big difference between disagreeing with someone and saying that their beliefs are completely wrong and stupid.

rebbel's avatar

I miss Islam in the tags.

Coloma's avatar

Bottom line, anyone that is truly secure in their belief system does not feel the need to convert others.
Certain religious affiliations may practice attempts to convert others, and with this I disagree, although I can understand that “saving” the masses is part of the philosophy they promote.
However, from a purely psychological position, secure people don’t need others to agree with them, don’t need to change them, don’t feel the pull of ego to digress into right/wrong polarities.
This is what I find so amusing about many fundamentalist zealots, they supposedly align themselves with scripture, and yet, practice the antithesis of such, arrogance, judgment, condescending pious self righteousness. Can you spell H-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e?

tinyfaery's avatar

Because it’s fun.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Same reason hipsters will tell you had bad your music without invitation.

Sunny2's avatar

@whitenoise You lose me at “make assumptions”. We all do it, but assumptions are not necessarily true and faith fills that little gap of what is not known for sure. We do that to make us feel we really know something for which there is no, and can not be, absolute assurance of truth. That makes us uncomfortable. People don’t like to live with uncertainty, so they fill in the blanks with faith like the “fact” they will wake up tomorrow morning.

digitalimpression's avatar

Can’t we all just get along?

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ No, no. We can’t. The last time I suggested Atheists and religious people get along in a post on this site, some dude decided to attack my argument and rip it to pieces in the best way he knew how because he felt like what I said was stupid.

(I agree with you, @digitalimpression).

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Response moderated (Off-Topic)
RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf “Atheists don’t have a belief system. There is nothing to spread.”

Tell that to these guys

linguaphile's avatar

I don’t like any throat-shoving from atheists, anti-theists, or theists.

It is my belief that people who feel threatened by others’ belief systems are not fully secure in their own belief system. It’s like, “if I can force you to my belief system, I’ll be more justified in believing what I believe,” ...or… “I feel so sorry for you that you’re not of my belief system, so I’ll gently twist your arm to my belief system, so I can feel good about myself within my belief system.”

Any throat-shoving, in my opinion, is just a way for the throat-shover to reinforce his/her own beliefs and really has nothing to do with their targets.

I also believe that sometimes, someone is simply sharing their belief system, it’s not looked at carefully but lumped together with other throat-shoving. That’s one of the challenges of discussing religion or belief systems— others often just take the short cut—fasf-forwarding from assumption to reaction without stopping at “listening, processing and analyzing” first.

I don’t agree with many belief systems, I have my own and am very strong in what I believe, but I don’t care to have to defend it nor do I have any investment in what others believe until they come after me! Once they cross the line to prying my jaws open, any interest in a discussion is gone.

john65pennington's avatar

As a smoker, I have the same problem with people that do not smoke. Most always have to make a comment about my smoking. I realize this and know it, but I do not need their comments.

I just tell them to mind their own business.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
everephebe's avatar

@AnonymousGirl That is a textbook example of a complex or loaded question.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@john65pennington “tell them to mind their own business”

Here’s the problem…
Mark 16:15 He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

So Christians believe that it is their business to shove their beliefs down your troat. It’s known as The Great Commission
“The great commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology…”

And so…

In response, some Atheists naturally defend their position (notice I didn’t say beliefs). As in any group of people, there are some fanatics who defend by going on the offensive, with things like the quarter million pages of Atheist billboards I linked to above. But that’s a small cry compared to the over one million pages of Christian billboards we find with a similar search.

I still believe the problem is with the Christian… not the teachings, not the Atheist, but the Christian who misunderstands what “the good news” really is. Many Christians think that means legislating morality, casting judgement, enforcing dogma, and exhibiting all forms of self righteous behaviors. Nothing could be further from “the good news”.

What The Good News is, is that we as humans, are spiritually dead if we live our lives by the standards of deception. We are spiritually awakened and alive if we live our lives by the standards of truth. Accept the way of truth and live… spiritually live. That’s all the good news tells us… nothing more.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

@linguaphile and @everephebe Thanks. I wasn’t expecting that at all!

Blackberry's avatar

That sucks, I wouldn’t ruin a sports game like that, although I would be thinking it :P

linguaphile's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies …their position (notice I didn’t say beliefs)...

Since you made the distinction, what’s the difference between a position and a belief?

everephebe's avatar

@AnonymousGirl It’s ok – I’m somewhat familiar with logical fallacies, and that post gave me some pause. :D

digitalimpression's avatar

@AnonymousGirl You see what happened right? An innocent question turned into the old fashioned fallacy game. It’s really like beating your head into a steel grate or punching yourself with iron knuckles repeatedly. Maddening.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

@everephebe Well, thanks for educating me about them. :)

@digitalimpression Yes.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@linguaphile ”...what’s the difference between a position and a belief..?”

Well, my first intention was to be polite to my Atheist friends who insist the word “beliefs” is inappropriate to describe their… their… um… errrr…. uh… position?

OK, let’s see me weasel my way out of this one.

A “position” is liquid, adjusting naturally purely on the basis of becoming uncomfortable by remaining in the same “position” for too long. Modifying it doesn’t require a full rejection of the previous position. It can be built upon and/or made pliable with experience.

A “belief” requires an act of God to change. For anything less than an act of God is viewed as an attack upon our ego. And as humans, we’ll often defend our ego unto death, even at the expense of rejecting truth set before us.

how’d I do getting out of that one?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar


Wait, I thought you were an atheist…this is a joke, isn’t it?

Joker94's avatar

Not all atheists are that way, I think. I have a few atheist and agnostic friends who are very respectful. I think faith, or lack thereof, is a very personal topic for some people, and tends to bring out the worst in people on both sides.
@Simone_De_Beauvoir Not that this is at all relevant, but is that Baba Yaga’s house I spy in your avatar?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Joker94 Yes, I have it tattooed on me, as well. As does my partner.

mangeons's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I don’t think “beliefs” is an inappropriate term to describe what atheists think. Sure, atheists don’t believe in God or religion, but they do believe that there isn’t a God and believe that religion is an unnecessary thing, The word “belief” isn’t exclusive to religion.

judochop's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I could not agree more with what you first said. I think I often over look some of what you said when I am listening to an atheist speak strongly at me or to someone else.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

That’s why I said “position” rather than “belief”… out of politeness.

saint's avatar

The only reason I can imagine would be if you took your belief and sent it off to Washington DC in the hopes of making it public policy. Until then, I don’t see why anybody would bother you.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies A different way of weaseling out of it: what @ANef_is_Enuf said is that atheists don’t have a belief system, not that that they do not have a (shared) belief. Atheists do share a belief: they believe that God does not exist. That single belief, however, does not entail any particular belief system comparable to a religion. Jainism is an atheistic religion, but Jains have a much different worldview than the non-religious metaphysical naturalist that many people have in mind when using the term “atheist.” Thus atheists can share a belief without sharing a belief system.

@digitalimpression Is there some reason you have assumed that @wundayatta‘s post was directed at you rather than the OP?

rooeytoo's avatar

To me religion (or lack thereof) is like sex, totally weird. If you want to believe your great great grandfather was an ape, that is your privilege. If another wants to believe Adam and Eve were your parents, so be it. I personally prefer it to be a haunting mystery and in the meantime just try to follow the golden rule. If there is a heaven that should get me in it and if there isn’t, I can croak knowing I gave it my best shot. Trying to figure out the meaning of life, gives me a headache.

wundayatta's avatar

@digitalimpression A question that is based on a logical fallacy is not an innocent question, a fact that the OP almost certainly knows.

choreplay's avatar

@judochop There are those that want to discredit you, those that want to convert you and those that want to understand you. Don’t concern yourself with anyone but the third group. This is true for both end of beliefs.

It is your freedom to be a witness of your faith and theirs to comment about it, it is no ones right to supress the other. I have hung around fluther long enough to know nothing can be proved either way and anyone who says they know the truth and can prove their side of the debate has discredited themself. Either side.

lloydbird's avatar

@judochop I don’t believe that you have a ” throat ”.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Because we’re right?

Honestly, I think way fewer atheists “shove” than do theists. In fact, the majority of religious people I know will refer to their religion often, sometimes just saying “God gave us this beautiful day,” but sometimes as far as suggesting that God intended for a teenager to die during childbirth, for example. This kind of comment is bound to piss off atheists.

I don’t know atheists who say, “Wow, what a great day God didn’t give us!” in normal conversation, nor “Sorry to hear your news. It’s too bad there’s no God to look over you! Neener neener.” Do you?

There are “flamers” who will give people a hard time about anything, but I really think it’s the theists that do the everyday shoving.


YARNLADY's avatar

Whoever brings up religion first is the shove down your throat person, and any answer after that is a response. In the above example, the believer started it.

SuperMouse's avatar

To be fair to @judochop, there may be a hypersensitivity to this type of thing due to time spent on Fluther discussing religion. The reality, at least here, is that regularly when the subject of theism comes up here, atheists, or as @JilltheTooth so aptly refers to them, anti-theists jump right in and start explaining why no one should believe. Hats off and lurve to @ANef_is_Enuf and of course @Jeruba for avoiding doing that and answering the question.

I think the reality is that most people who hold strongly to a belief, whether it be related to God, politics, or their favorite color, are willing to share that belief in an attempt to get others on their side. When we have found something that has a positive impact on our lives, be it an overwhelming belief that there is something greater than ourselves, or an enormous relief at being free from religion, we want to share it in hopes of making others feel as good as we do.

I also feel compelled to point out again that there are theists who do not believe the Bible is the literal word of God. Not all theists are Christian, or even Jewish, or Muslim.

digitalimpression's avatar

Look, I’m just not a fan of the fallacy game. Pointing out fallacies is fine and dandy if you’re in an official debate at Harvard .. but in a conversation with your every day joe, it’s just annoying. Does anyone call out fallacies with their friends? If so, I’m 100% certain that I don’t know you.

saint's avatar

@digitalimpression The Western World is the Western World because of the existence of Aristotelian logic. It is a method of using the human capacity for reason. Without recognizing fallacies, there is no logic. Without logic there is no Western Civilization. Your position makes you agnostic at best, and anti Western at worst, which means all of the accomplishments of the Western Civilizations. They include, the abolition of slavery, women’s sufferage, the secularization of government, the protection of free markets, and an on going evolution of the respect for the nature of Man, which includes his empathy. Shame on you. :)

wundayatta's avatar

@digitalimpression the fact that you don’t call your friends out when they use logical fallacies and the fact that you are a theist are not unrelated.

Those kinds of beliefs often occur in the same people and they make it very difficult for atheists who use logic and scientific method to establish effective communication with most theists. There are theists who are scientists, and these people confuse me mightily. It seems they must have some kind of cognitive dissonance it seems to me.

Either that, or God is a spiritual thing for them, and not susceptible to scientific verification. Therefore, for a scientist, it seems to me, God can not be said to be “real.”

There are many things that we can know that are not real. As long as we don’t claim anything for them in an objective way, I have no problem. I have no problem with the idea of a God and that God having a big role in someone’s life so long as they don’t claim objective reality for that God.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There seems to be suggestion here that no logicians, scientists, philosophers would ever be a theist purely on the grounds of logic. As far as I know, there are countless brainiacs throughout history that use logic to support their theism. But I’m just a dumb ole’ illogical theist… don’t lisn’ ta’ me.

Mariah's avatar

I have not read the thread so I apologize preemptively for what is sure to be a repetitive comment.

I think saying that athiests think it’s okay to shove their beliefs down your throat is like saying theists think it’s okay to shove their beliefs down your throat: it’s just not universally true. Of course there are members of both groups who do think it’s okay; lots from both groups don’t though.

It may be true that athiests tend to be more vocal, but I’d guess that it’s because we’re very much a minority, and not a particularly well-liked one at that. Being in that position has a way of making you defensive.

I don’t think it’s okay to shove my non-belief down your throat but I do think it’s okay to attempt to convince someone to at least respect my non-belief and acknowledge its validity as a position, in the proper forums, of course. I wouldn’t bring it up at all outside of a religion-related discussion. Even in that setting, I won’t try and convert anybody. My goal is to clear up any misconceptions people may have about atheism. For instance, if I see somebody talking about how evolution makes no sense while holding some obvious misunderstandings of how it works, I may jump in and attempt to explain it so they can see that it does in fact make sense. They don’t have to be convinced that evolution truly is the origin of man – I just hope they will acknowledge that it is a logical position to hold. All I want in a religious debate is respect for my position – not conversion to my position. Does that fall under the kind of behavior you’re talking about?

MilkyWay's avatar

I ask this question to you.
Why do theists think it is okay to shove their believing down my throat?
Keep it to yourselves people.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@digitalimpression If an official debate is the only place for good reasoning, we’re doomed. This is a discussion site where people debate things. Logical fallacies are highly relevant to that kind of discussion.

SuperMouse's avatar

It seems that some atheists in this thread are making the point that because in this experience here on earth we cannot (literally) see, touch, feel, or taste God, believing is a logical fallacy. I think that In order to be a theist, one has to believe there is more to this existence then merely what can be perceived by our senses and explained by science. What one person calls a logical fallacy, another person calls faith.

@MilkyWay, I don’t see anyone in this thread attempting to convert you, including @judochop. Personally when people are attempting to shove any of their beliefs down my throat, theistic, atheistic, whatever, as long as they are doing so politely I smile, say thank you, and get on with my business.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@SuperMouse A careful reading would show that no one is saying that at all.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


@wundayatta “There are theists who are scientists, and these people confuse me mightily.”

MilkyWay's avatar

@SuperMouse I wasn’t directing the shoving to anyone on this thread in particular, I was talking about theists in general. When you go through it every day of your life, smiling and getting on with business isn’t exactly very do-able.

SuperMouse's avatar

@SavoirFaire have you read @wundayatta‘s post? Are you saying that you don’t think a belief in God is a logical fallacy?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.”
Charles Darwin

Notable Philosophical Theists

Nobel Laureates and Scientists who believe in God

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Just for the record, I am an atheist, and I detest religion… but I don’t go out of my way to be an asshole. In day to day life, I do assert myself as an atheist, but for reasons mentioned above. I want to expose people. I want to make it less taboo. I want people to see that being an atheist does not make a person immoral or inherently bad. That is something important to me, and I don’t think it can be achieved by trampling all over people and pissing all over some of their most cherished beliefs. I don’t forget that there are people behind the religion, behind the faith, behind the belief.
However, in a debate… the gloves come off. I’m going to tell you exactly what I think, and I’m not sugar coating. What I really believe is probably offensive. Not because I’m trying to offend people, but because the truth [the truth of what I believe] can be really ugly to some people. I think the circumstances are a huge factor.
I know more atheists that are afraid to even admit their atheism, than I know atheists who are vehemently anti-theist and chomping at the bit to upset the nearest theist. That’s only my personal experience, but, it should count for something.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@johnpowell “Stay out of my bedroom and I will stay out of your church.”

Careful… some Christians believe it is their God commanded commission to do anything to get you into their church. I hope they don’t visit your bedroom just to make that happen.

linguaphile's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Just for the record, I am a theist, and I detest religion… but I don’t go out of my way to be an asshole. :)

I’ve been forcibly healed too many times to have much tolerance for overenthusiastic converters who are trying to get brownie points with God. For some religions, it seems like you get double-bonus jackpot points for nabbing a deaf person. The Jehovah’s Witnesses 2 towns over actually have a list of where all the deaf people live within a 50 mile radius and have been systematically going to all our houses. Groan. But even if it totally pisses me off, I am still nice and polite to those proselytizers until they get too pushy. I have stories of being chased by converters that would make you wince

They have rights to their religion, as I have to my beliefs, and as all atheists have to their positions. Any one else’s rights end where mine begins—that’s how I see it.

SuperMouse's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I can honestly say that I do not find atheism the least bit offensive. I only begin having an issue when I am attacked because I am a theist. I am not going to try to convert anyone to my faith and like you, I am never going to keep my beliefs a secret. I can’t for the life of me figure out how my believing in God threatens anyone’s lack of belief any more than their lack of belief threatens my belief. I might even venture a guess that many atheists (if the very vocal atheists here on Fluther are any indication) are much more offended by theists then many theists are by atheists.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SuperMouse I think that’s a very difficult thing to judge, simply because of the numbers, alone. I have met plenty of theists that are unaffected by my stance, but, at the same time… I have met a lot of people that are angry, disgusted, even frightened. Hard to say, for sure.

everephebe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Yeah but the when has the judicial system ever got it right? :p

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Without religion, yet being a card carrying Theist, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m becoming an Anthroposophist.

say that three times fast

everephebe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I hear Waldorf education incorporates lessons on how to say Anthroposophist three times fast into their dynamic curriculum. I could be getting that wrong though…

I found out that because I adore this universe yet do not believe in the supernatural I am a naturalistic pantheist. I used to just call myself a mystic atheist, oh well.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Perhaps we’ll meet between heaven and earth one day as NaturAnthroPanPoSophTheists?

everephebe's avatar

It’s exceedingly much more likely, to use two damn adverbs in one damn sentence, that we meet on earth – since we live in the same area, if I do recall. :D

leopardgecko123's avatar

Because atheists are scared, they don’t know it and I bet some of them would call me a bunch of bad names for saying that, but they know it’s true.
Everybody knows God is real, but so many people think being the god of their own life is way better than giving their heart to somebody who would never, never, ever throw it away.
They’re scared of being rejected and are insecure and refuse to believe. I’m scared of being rejected, too, but I took a chance and wasn’t turned away.
Everyone spent 9 months alone with God and have hope buried deep inside them. They know God is real, but a lot of people just don’t see it.
It’s the same way as bullying. People scream at other people because they are screaming at themselves.
But you can never argue somebody out or into a belief. Even if you do, you’ve been deceived.

linguaphile's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Becoming? Nah, I think you’ve long been an Anthroposophist… you mean you didn’t see your name on that wiki? I was sure I saw it somewhere there…

SavoirFaire's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies @SuperMouse Yes, I have read all of @wundayatta‘s posts on this thread. None of them say that believing in God is a logical fallacy. The talk of fallacies did not arise until @wundayatta suggested that the question asked in the OP was loaded. Arguing against the wording of a question operates under the premise “we can’t get a good answer without having a good question.” It does not operate under the premise “your belief is fallacious.”

Moreover, I am sure that @wundayatta knows that a belief cannot itself be fallacious. Only an argument can be fallacious because logical fallacies are failures of reasoning. The most he can be charitably construed as saying, then, is that all arguments for the existence of God are fallacious. Not all failures of reasoning are logical fallacies, however, and so @wundayatta need not even go that far. Indeed, when expressing his confusion over how a scientist becomes (or remains) a theist, he posits not fallacious reasoning but cognitive dissonance.

It seems to me you’d be better off question the verificationist paradigm under which @wundayatta is operating than worrying about things he didn’t say.

P.S. @RealEyesRealizeRealLies I would distrust any list that claims Albert Einstein as a theist—especially on the grounds that he was Jewish. He went out of his way when still alive to say that he did not believe in God. The only God he believed in was Spinoza’s God, which was a way of saying “no God at all” (the predominant interpretation of Spinoza at the time being pantheistic, and the understanding of pantheism at the time being that it was really just atheism with a linguistic tic). Unfortunately, that point seems to have been lost on most people who have heard the quote out of context.

And while I realize that you were just trying to combat @wundayatta‘s confusion about theistic scientists, he has an obvious retort: his confusion is not about how a scientist ever could have been a theist, but how any scientist still could be a theist. He could say that past scientists—including Darwin, who did not realize how his discovery actually destroyed the teleological argument to which he appeals in the quote you cited—can be forgiven as much as Newton. Neither had access to the sort of information we have today. Furthermore, @wundayatta could point out that a list of scientists who are theists proves nothing as he never said that they didn’t exist. He’s just confused about how they exist.

SavoirFaire's avatar

By the way, I’ve just read through the court ruling referenced by @RealEyesRealizeRealLies above, and it is worth noting that the linked article is a bit misleading. The court did not decide that atheism is a religion, but rather that the religious protections of the First Amendment to the US Constitution apply to non-believers as well as believers. That is, it the ruling affirms that the right to freely exercise a religion includes the right to not exercise any religion at all. As the decision states:

whether atheism is a “religion” for First Amendment purposes is a somewhat different question than whether its adherents believe in a supreme being, or attend regular devotional services, or have a sacred Scripture.

So the decision is not so much about whether or not atheism is a religion as it is about whether or not atheists are a protected class under the First Amendment the way that members of other religious groups are. Note that I said “other religious groups” and not “other religions.” This is because atheism is not a religion—though it may be a component of some religions—but rather a belief within the arena of religious thought (that is, thought about religion).

The old analogy that says “atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair color” is actually quite informative here. If someone asks you about your hair color, it is quite relevant to tell them that you are bald despite the fact that bald is not a hair color. It still gives important information about your status with regard to hair. Similarly, if someone asks you about your religion, it is quite relevant to tell them you are an atheist (where “atheist” is understood colloquially, as I discussed above, rather than strictly) despite the fact that atheism is not a religion. It still gives important information about your beliefs with regard to religion.

Mariah's avatar

@leopardgecko123 That’s simply not true. And it is very arrogant to think you know what a whole group of people believes better than they themselves do. People can come to different conclusions on this matter via sound logic and reasoning not motivated in any way by fear or other emotions.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SavoirFaire “Neither (Darwin/Netwon) had access to the sort of information we have today.”

Do you suppose they would be Atheists if they did?

The fallacy of arguing for “the sort of information we have today” is that it presumes the one speaking it is in full grasp of all the “information we have today”, which, if one considers it, may actually support Theism over Atheism.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I’m not supposing anything. I was simply presenting the sort of response that @wundayatta might try to show that more needed to be said. Whether or not the totality of information supports atheism or theism is an issue for discussion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

This onion has many layers.

The problem with Atheist Proselytizing is that it does not always operate upon the foundation of its own merit. Rather it often supports itself purely upon the merit of rejecting something else, like a particular religious doctrine. There is the logical fallacy. For that method of rejecting a particular religion may be sound enough, but it in no way addresses Theism as a whole, sans religious dogma.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It is not a logical fallacy to focus first on the main element of the opposition and address others later. That’s just called “strategy.” One of the billboards that currently comes up early on in your search makes the point fairly well. It references the following well-known statement of Stephen F. Roberts:

I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

The atheist believes that there are reasons for rejecting all other viewpoints and for accepting his own, but the most effective argumentative strategy is to get a person to see the flaws with the belief they actually hold before addressing views that they do not actually hold. This is not fallacious. Arguing that someone is wrong because they have not presented their entire case to you, however, verges on argument from ignorance.

choreplay's avatar

@SavoirFaire , regarding Einstein you said, “He went out of his way when still alive to say that he did not believe in God.”

Can you site where or when he said that?

ragingloli's avatar

“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
– Einstein in a letter to J. Dispentiere

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.”
– Einstein in a letter to Eric Gutkind

mangeons's avatar

@leopardgecko123 You can think that all you want, but that’s not true. It’s rude, and as @Mariah said, arrogant to believe that anyone else’s position on this matter other than “God is real” is just people being “afraid” to believe in God. How can you believe that you know what people think better than they themselves do? There are many people who don’t believe in God for many different reasons, and it doesn’t mean that deep down inside they are afraid of being “rejected”. No matter how much you argue your point, it’s still a false assumption.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Mariah one of the biggest problems with discussions such as these on Fluther is that the atheist majority does exactly what you call @leopardgecko123 out for doing, thinking they “know what a whole group of people believes better than they themselves do.” No matter how many times I have said I am Bahá’í and don’t necessarily believe all that is written in the Bible, no matter how many times @Jillthetooth and @katawagray describe their beliefs as being simply in a power greater than themselves, we are consistently lumped in with Christians and others who use their religion as an excuse to hate and discriminate against others.

@SavoirFaire I am honestly not going to read all of the links and all the back and forth between you and @RealEyesRealizeRealLies regarding scientists who believe and such. I am merely going to say that in this thread, and many, many other threads here on Fluther, whether implicitly or explicitly, atheists consistently argue that belief in God is considered a logical fallacy.

It is frankly too late for many here on Fluther to pretend that they respect the beliefs of others when it is very clear to that they do not. Those who have consistently engaged in respectful debate, thank you, those who have not, take your judgement somewhere else, try to convert some other theist. I am secure in my belief that there is a God and that He works in my life every single day. For the record I do not participate in threads such as these because I believe God needs me to defend Him – He clearly does not. I participate because if I don’t have the nerve to stand up and say I believe then I am not much of a believer to begin with.

Mariah's avatar

@SuperMouse And I definitely don’t agree with that behavior, and I’m sorry that it happens.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@SuperMouse My response to you is contained entirely within that one post. The rest is a side-discussion as far as I am concerned. I do not think that the issue of which scientists do and do not believe in God is particularly relevant. As for the issue of belief in God being a logical fallacy, I don’t know what you think a logical fallacy is.

I have seen some extremely rude behavior towards theists and towards atheists on Fluther, including expressions that the other side is foolish, deceptive, lying, stupid, and so forth. None of this amounts to “your belief is a fallacy,” however, which makes sense because beliefs cannot be fallacies. It remains the case, however, that no one on this thread has said that belief in God is a logical fallacy.

I do understand what you mean about being lumped in with a particular contingent, though. I wonder how many people on this thread realize that I am not an atheist.

choreplay's avatar

@ragingloli, interesting, at what point in his life were these? I had heard he started as a theist, or is that not true?

ragingloli's avatar

1954, one year before his death.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SavoirFaire “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” and @ragingloli‘s comments…

Those are still arguments based upon rejecting religion. They stand only on the merit of rejecting something else. None of those comments reject the potential of a non religious deity that doesn’t fit within any particular religious dogma.

As a Theist, I join you in my disbelief of religious deity’s. The God I believe in is based upon scientific inquiry, interdisciplinary study, and personal experience… all valid mechanisms for pursuing scientific method in a logical fashion.

The argument against a God, based upon arguing against religious Gods, is fallacious. It’s not the same argument at all.

digitalimpression's avatar

@saint Um. What? Damn! You’re painting me to basically be a terrorist. A bit extreme…. I don’t think you even understand my statement.

@wundayatta Yes, they are unrelated. You’re just plain wrong with that statement. It seems as if everyone thinks I abandon logic because I’m annoyed by it… that isn’t what I said at all. Its nothing short of frustrating that ya’ll blow things out of proportion like that.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Great point.

@SavoirFaire See above. Welcome to the dig-bash.

@SuperMouse But that would be polite and reasonable. We can’t have that can we? (guffaw)

Here I was thinking this was just a Q&A site where we have pleasant conversations. Silly me. Turns out it actually is a Harvard debate in most people’s minds. Do me a favor (you know who you are), if I go out for coffee and conversation, don’t join me. =)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I was thinking… I don’t want to ask a new question, but for those of you who are still following this:
How often does this happen to you? Outside of Fluther, where we have a lot of religious discussions, how often does an atheist try to “turn” you?

digitalimpression's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf They don’t usually try to turn me. They usually just mock me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf “how often does an atheist try to “turn” you?”

There was a physicist on Coast to Coast AM last nigh speaking about how the universe could arise from nothing, with no need for a God as creator. Three hour program.

It’s just silly to me that his entire show was based around conversations we’ve had on fluther two years ago.

ragingloli's avatar

a physicist talking on a radioshow?!!! OUTRAGEOUS!!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Doctor Kraus… New book promo called something like “Something from Nothing” or something like that. He knew physics, but when it came to Information Theory, Chemistry, Genetics, he made the most outlandish assumptions I’ve ever heard… to support his physics theories.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies so… once on a show? I’m not sure that I understand how that answers my question. I mean, I can turn on my television every Sunday, and literally have nothing on but church. (I don’t have cable, so this is not an exaggeration.)
So, you’re saying that you once heard a program that tried to turn you? Or this happens often outside of Fluther? I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re saying, exactly.

HungryGuy's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf – I’m still following. I’m neither an atheist nor a bible-thumping fundie, which is why I’ve been laying low during most of this discussion and not taking sides. I said what I felt was needed to be said (see the 2nd answer) and then sat back to watch the religious war.

To answer your question, I’ve never seen an atheist just up and try to de-convert a religious person without the religious person first shoving his religion into the atheist’s face. OTOH, whilst waiting for the bus or train, I’m sometimes approached by religious people with the intent to “convert” me. I tell them that I believe in God, but there’s no way that the Christian Bible is the word of a kind and/or loving and/or just God. The fact that I believe in God, in and of itself, is usually sufficient to send them off to find another potential convert…

digitalimpression's avatar

It’s peculiar to me that people feel “victimized” by someone trying to convert them to Christianity. Those people believe in their hearts that you won’t be joining them in heaven if you don’t believe. What would you think of them if you found out there was a God and they never told you about it?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@digitalimpression I understand their intentions. I’ve said that many times, I think I even said it here in this thread.

ragingloli's avatar

How do you think a convertee would think of you once they found out after death that you converted them to the wrong god?

digitalimpression's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I guess I should have put @HungryGuy =)

@ragingloli I was speaking specifically about an atheist who is annoyed or victimized by Christians conversions attempts (see whole thread). In such a situation it doesn’t really apply does it?

HungryGuy's avatar

@digitalimpression – Oh? Were you talking to me? Sorry…didn’t mean to ignore you :-) But I do believe in God. I just have my doubts that the Bible is the word of said God. It may have been at one time, but if so, it has to have been mistranslated and corrupted through the centuries for it to depict all the horrors and injustices committed by God that it does.

Or are you saying that because I’m not a bible-thumping fundie, that I’m no different than an atheist to you?

digitalimpression's avatar

@HungryGuy I wasn’t questioning your position on the bible, rather commenting on your use of the word “victim”. =)

HungryGuy's avatar

@digitalimpression – Oh, I meant that kind’a tongue-in-cheek. I’ll redact “victim” :-)

digitalimpression's avatar

@HungryGuy No worries, you weren’t the first to refer to it in such a way.. just happened to punch me in the neurons that time. xD

SavoirFaire's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I recommend reading my comment again. It is not a fallacy to start by arguing against one set of theistic concepts and then move on to arguing against another set. That’s a strategy. There are arguments against other concepts of God—entire books of them—even if they haven’t come up yet on this particular thread.

Once again, you teeter into argument from ignorance territory.

@digitalimpression As JFK once said: “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” I see nothing unpleasant about a conversation that involves careful thinking, but there are plenty of threads to which you may confine yourself if you disagree. If you voluntarily join a thread that’s likely to involve debate, however, it hardly seems reasonable to then complain when people expect more than sound bite exchange.

digitalimpression's avatar

@SavoirFaire Every thread is likely to involve debate on fluther… that was my point….Nvm… you’re not understanding me. It’s cool.

“That’s the problem with philosophy students… they’re so concerned with how things are said that they hardly ever say anything themselves. ”

Thought you’d get a kick out of this quote. =)

Blackberry's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I’ve only met about 4 atheists in my lifetime lol. None of them tried to convert me. One of the guys, I just could tell he was, due to his interests: he would go off on tangents explaining random philosophers and various sciences.

Another just “confessed” he was, so it worked out for him because I agreed with him

Another just said it aloud while in a conversation about the universe, and no one batted an eye, so maybe the rest were too lol.

And others were just people I met on the internet.

SuperMouse's avatar

I have not had atheists try to convert me, and like just about everybody else in the US, I have consistently been approached by theists
attempting to save my soul. I
tend not to share my religious
beliefs unless I am asked
about them and typically I find
folks to be respectful when I
share. Honestly the only place
a have faced derision for my
beliefs is here on Fluther. Here and by my father who really thinks I should be a practicing Catholic and shakes his head at all the time I am facing in purgatory.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I haven’t had any one “shove it down my throat,” but it is SOOO annoying that some people feel the need to post disparaging remarks about Christianity every chance they get, and not to any one person, just to the world at large. It’s like, “Just shut up already.”

mangeons's avatar

@Dutchess_III But again, the same could be said for religious people who feel the need to post disparaging remarks about not believing in God. It’s not a one way street.

And I wouldn’t even say a majority of either side does that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf “I’m not sure that I understand how that answers my question.”

The program was on my mind and it resonated with me in light of your comments. Yes, I’ve heard other radio shows, and tv, specifically touting the benefits of Atheism. But it is a very very rare thing indeed, especially compared to religious programming.

@SavoirFaire ” teeter into argument from ignorance territory…”

About what? My belief in God?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@mangeons Oh, I agree, but I just don’t see that here much (there is a lot of it on Facebook tho.) I see a lot of taunting remarks made by atheists here for no good reason, just out of the blue! I don’t see random posts of people out of the blue saying, “If you don’t believe in God you’re going to hell.” If it is actually pertinent to the question, there is no problem in mentioning your belief or disbelief

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Dutchess_III “I see a lot of taunting remarks made by atheists here for no good reason”

And they are primarily based upon the premise that believing in God is just plain stupid. And that’s why they are considered “taunting”.

mangeons's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t see many remarks by atheists out of the blue on here, really only during arguments between theists vs. atheists. They could just be on threads that I’m not on, of course. You are right though, I see a lot more of it from both sides (mainly the theist side) on Facebook though, as well as in real life.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies. And they feel that people who do believe in God are idiots and feel the need to tell them so every chance they get, even when it’s not pertinent.

linguaphile's avatar

I have never had an atheist try to convert me—usually they’re more interested in having a discussion and explaining their point of views. I have seen adverts and brochures talking about how you can be good without religion—but straight out conversion attempts, no.

Christians, namely fundamentalists, have attempted, my entire life to save and convert me.

I can name at least 5 times in my life that people have come up to me in restaurants wanting to pray for me, telling me that if I believe hard enough, I’ll be able to hear again. I have had converters at my door at least 3 times a year over since I was in high school.

The most dramatic conversion attempt was—one day, I got a flat tire and ended up on the side of the road discussing what to do with a friend of mine. Within seconds, a guy pulled over, offered to help and had my tire changed in less than 5 minutes, but he was not satisfied with how much help he gave us. He said he really wanted to help us more and ran to his car, got a bible and a bottle of olive oil. I was completely clueless but he flung my hands up, opened the bible, put oil on my forehead, put his hands on my head, then screamed in gibberish, then literally cried. I was too stunned and shocked to do anything but watch and see what would happen next. My friend was curled up in our car laughing her ass off. Just for that, I sic him on her and said my friend wanted to be healed too.

And oh, it was rush hour on an interstate. Stop and go traffic.

My point is—he didn’t even ASK me if I wanted to be healed or converted. He assumed I wanted to hear again (and I absolutely, thoroughly don’t). My problem with anyone who proselytizes is that they do not understand that not everyone wants to hear their ‘good news.’

Atheists trying to market their cause seem to be more paralleled with “rights awareness” type of movements—educate the public, tell them who we are, come out, teach tolerance (like the gay rights movement in the 70s and 80s, or animal rights education, or land-mine victims education, etc). The problem is—there can be a gray area between educating and proselytizing.

Blackberry's avatar

So that’s why some say being religious is a mental illness. Good god…......

wundayatta's avatar

There’s too much going on here for me to keep track of, and it seems like there’s a lot of confusion as to what I am saying. As far as I can tell, though, @SavoirFaire seems to have a halfway decent grasp of what I am trying to say. I wouldn’t respond exactly the way he does, but it’s good enough.

What I really want to talk about is the nature of evidence. It is my hypthesis that theists and non-theists are willing to accept different kinds of evidence as proof of reality. I would like to be able to say the difference between theists and scientists, but there is that peculiar group of people who are scientists as an occupation, but theists as an avocation. The scientific way of interacting with the world does not seem adequate to them for everything they experience.

The big difference, as I see it, is the nature of evidence people are willing to accept. Scientists have certain rules for evidence. I can’t describe them all here, but the key points for me are that evidence must be measurable and reproducible. For that reason, scientists spend an awful lot of time paying close attention to methodology.

However there are a variety of experiences that people have that can not be verified by scientific standards. These are things that are experienced internally. For example, one could have a conversation with God. No one else would experience that, but the reality would be apparent to the person who experienced it.

I do not believe a scientist worth their salt would except someone’s word that something happened. It has to be verified using independent sources of information. Subjective reality is not sufficient to serve as evidence of scientific reality.

Many people, including scientists, I guess, are will to view subjective experience as real. I’m not sure what real means here, exactly. It probably has to do with it being useful for a person’s a life. It is useful as a way of making decisions about life. It is useful as a way of understanding experience.

I have no problem with people have subjective, unverifiable experience. My only problem happens when people take their personal subjective experience and use it to try to tell others this is the way it is.

Then we can’t talk because we have no shared basis of experience to talk. We only have words and words are not experience.

But others are perfectly comfortable sharing experience purely on the basis of words and stories that have no external validification. They form societies and religions and in most cases this is not a problem. Unfortunately, sometimes they claim their God sponsors some behaviors that are really bad for me or my friends or community or women, and then I can’t fight them on the basis of the sense in their idea, or on the basis of science and real world consequences.

Their ideas are not based on the real world, but on what they say their God wants. That’s when they get dangerous. They believe in the evidence in their minds. I can’t fight that with science. What they think in their heads is more valid than science to them.

I can’t fight it in any way other than to impeach their own thinking, which is nearly impossible. When you tell someone they are thinking wrong, it is like telling them they are crazy. If you tell someone they are crazy and they don’t think they are, then they think you are crazy. Communication becomes impossible. The possibility for violence grows immensely.

Theists and non-theists (and most scientists) see the world very differently. The difference is whether you believe your own experience implicitly or whether you are willing to question it. A scientist should be skeptical of all things, including their own experience. If you can’t be skeptical, then you can only see the world subjectively.

It is only possible for someone who only sees the world subjectively to shove their views down someone else’s throat. A true scientist couldn’t do that. They would be skeptical. Most atheists are probably scientists, I would think. Not sure of that. Hard to imagine being an atheist without employing the scientific method, but the world is weird. In any case, I think that any truly scientific atheist could never shove their views down someone else’s throat. They would show them the evidence and let the evidence speak for itself.

A theist, on the other hand, would have no problem asserting that their “knowledge” was true, even when there is no external way to verify what they know. That is a dangerous way to be in the world.

Of course, people are not all one way or another. We seem to have the curios capability of being many different things at once. So we can’t really divide people into two or four mutually exclusive categories, but it could be fun to try. I’m just kidding.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What happened to my post? I said, @linguaphile sorry but that was HILARIOUS!!!

linguaphile's avatar

@Dutchess_III I do find it hysterical too and hold no resentment for that guy… He went home happy, crying, feeling like he did something major. Am I the one who did him a favor and gave him a good day? Might be so. I got a good laugh out of it too XD

I might be desensitized to conversion attempts, but I look at their intent—if they meant well, then I just let them go. If they mean to hurt me through judgment or take time from me by invading my home, life or space (or even psyche), then that’s different.

digitalimpression's avatar

@wundayatta First of all, thank you for taking the time to write all that out. =)

Oftentimes there is an implied division between science and Christianity. That implication is incorrect. The practice of Science and its methods are clearly a wonderful thing. The problem becomes when we try to use (and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before) a system built inside the box to say that something outside the box doesn’t exist. It doesn’t make sense.

Christianity and science are not at odds by any means except when insisting that science must explain God. Something that “always was” and “always will be”.. something divine and powerful beyond our imagination.. something all-knowing, omnipotent, that created the world… is at odds with science from the jump.

Bringing science in as a reason to become an atheist is understandable (because we as a species have designed nothing better so far), but it is irrevocably and undeniably insufficient! This is hinted at, I believe, in 1st Corinthians 2:14 where the bible says “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.

In order to even approach a decision of whether or not to be an atheist it seems apparent to me that you have to take a walk on the outside of the box from the beginning. You have to commit to exploring spirituality with your “heart” and with an open mind.

Anytime science is brought into the discussion I already know that any attempts at productive discussion will be futile. And again, I understand the reason it is used, but I disagree with using it as the only tool from the toolbox.

Understanding something divine requires different “tools”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

But @wundayatta, you’re basing your comments about Scientific Theists as if they are believers based purely upon subjective experience, and somehow throw out their scientific mind when it comes to their personal beliefs.

Do you not understand there are, and have been throughout history, countless Scientists, Logicians, Philosophers who base their Theism upon what they consider as valid, testable, repeatable, predictable evidence? These are not stupid or misguided people. They do not base their belief in subjectivity.

They may be right… they may be wrong… but they certainly don’t make public proclamations about their beliefs without logic for doing so.

I have a suspicion that you may not be aware of all the science out there that does point to an intelligent creator of life.


Just as Atheists argue against a dogmatic religious deity, so will many scientists insist upon arguing against the god concept of their choosing. The oft asked, “But then who created god” is a prime example of one who’s argument only stands if allowed to confine a deity to the same physicality as human existence. The argument works if god is thought to be little more than a super human. But if the God is allowed to be outside our realm of physics, then all those arguments fail miserably. And to support that possibility, all one need do is support a hypothesis that there are realms of reality beyond our realm of physics… which ain’t so hard.

wundayatta's avatar

@digitalimpression I think there is a division. I think that Christians think their knowledge is somehow immune from scientific investigation or the rules of scientific evidence because this knowledge is outside the rest of the world. This demonstrates a lack of understanding of science. The rules are used for creation of knowledge.

There are other ways of creating knowledge that people use, and while they are subject to scientific methods, people want to say they are not, because there is no way to measure certain things. Since things can’t be measured, that does not mean they are unmeasurable because they are vaguely defined, the theists might argue; it’s because we have not yet come up with a way to measure it.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I don’t know of any scientific evidence for God. Seems to me it would be a really big deal if anyone had found evidence accepted by people who use the scientific method. I really think the difference is that people are using different ways of interacting with the world when they find “evidence” for God than when they find evidence for anything else about the universe.

But I don’t need to defend a theory. We just need to figure out a way of defining the terms and of measuring them. We’ll let t he real world determine the results.

digitalimpression's avatar

@wundayatta It isn’t “knowledge” so much as it’s “belief”. It has nothing to do with “immunity” rather “insufficiency” as you appear to agree with me on in the second part of your statement.

I would love for you to explain what you mean by this: ” I think that Christians think their knowledge is somehow immune from scientific investigation or the rules of scientific evidence because this knowledge is outside the rest of the world. This demonstrates a lack of understanding of science.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wundayatta “Seems to me it would be a really big deal if anyone had found evidence accepted by people who use the scientific method….”

It is a big deal. But that doesn’t mean that everyone accepts it. Just like everyone didn’t accept that Junk DNA wasn’t really Junk after all. Or that McClintock’s discovery of controlled mutations was real, and forced her research underground for twenty years before ultimately awarding her the Nobel Prize. Not all of science accepts the Merchison meteorite proves life on Mars. Not all of science accepts the Miller-Urey experiment proves life arose from a pool of mud. Not all of science agrees on how evolution works and not all of science accept Hadron evidence of Higgs Boson.

How much do physicists disagree about the nature of reality… is it observer dependent or not?

The science of origins doesn’t belong to any one discipline. Genetics don’t study Information Theory, Chemists don’t study Physics, Biologists don’t Linguistics, and Philosophers don’t study Communication Theory. The question of creation is much broader than any one discipline can answer for. But the one who ties interdisciplinary knowledge together will get much closer to discovering “evidence” than anyone could ever imagine.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@digitalimpression I disagree that every thread on Fluther is likely to involve debate. So yes, I understood the point you were trying to make; I just think it is mistaken. As for your quote, quite amusing. I have a few of them myself. Here’s one:

Why is philosophy less expensive than mathematics? To do math, you need a pencil, some paper, and a trash bin. To do philosophy, you just need a pencil and some paper.

That said, I think people would have a hard time coming up with a convincing argument that I’ve not said anything on this thread or elsewhere on Fluther. If I may be so bold, I would say that I contribute a fair share of useful content to the site. But whatever—it was just a joke. Here’s another one:

“A philosopher,” said the theologian, “is like a blind man in a darkened room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.”
“That’s right,” the philosopher replied, “and if he were a theologian, he’d find it.”

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I meant with regard to your argument against certain strategies. Just because the arguments aren’t presented here doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and the atheist’s conclusion wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect even if he didn’t have those arguments. His argument would certainly be incomplete, but it wouldn’t necessarily be fallacious. That’s what I’m saying. We believe a lot of things on incomplete evidence, after all, as it is the only alternative to Pyrrhonism.

digitalimpression's avatar

@SavoirFaire Good lord. It isn’t personal.. can we get back on topic?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@digitalimpression Who’s taking it personally? You sent a joke my way, and I sent two back. Stop taking things so seriously!

And I think we’re way past the topic at this point.

Berserker's avatar

This thread needs a fuckin toga party, and severely, at that. :)

SavoirFaire's avatar

Wait, you mean the rest of you aren’t wearing togas? Well, now… isn’t my face red.

Berserker's avatar

@SavoirFaire That’s just all the wine. And I was wearing a blanket the whole time.

Shit, I should just become a poet.

digitalimpression's avatar

@SavoirFaire Well, quite literally up until you got here a few minutes ago it was on topic. xD

Whatever, it’s dead. R.I.P. thread.

choreplay's avatar

@wundayatta what about Moody’s studies of life after death, or there are others (atheist) that have studied this being deliberate about maintaining scientific methodology. Even those studies have found a definable quantity of experiences that have factors independent of the subjects experience. For instance some subjects describing procedures or equipment in the operating room they would not have known about from their vantage point. Or the while in the experiences they have coming back with knowledge of others or things they should not have known about. Sure go ahead, give me a prefunctory, oh it was all just there in their mind, or give it serious consideration and see if those scientific studies fill the void you talking about (no credible scientific study beyond the physical world), at least to establish something beyond the physical world.

Paradox25's avatar

Well from my experience there are two types of atheists. One type of atheist keeps to their non-beliefs due to not being certain about the existence of a deity or the lack of personal experiences but remain open minded to the possibility. I rarely have a problem with these types of atheists. Then there are the atheists who call themselves sceptics and these are the dogmatic types. No matter what evidence you show them or what personal experiences you tell them about they are obsessed with debunking concepts that conflict with their default mindsets. They choose what they want to be sceptical about.

There is a difference between being sceptical (which I am myself) and classifying yourself as a sceptic. It is the sceptics who seem obsessed with trying to convert others to their way of thinking, not atheists in general.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SavoirFaire I like where you’re leading with the “argument from ignorance” as a “strategy”. Help me understand your thoughts better with this example.

I’m at a sports bar booing my home team the St. Louis Rams.

I shout in disgust
“Oh God they’re never gonna win!”

A stranger takes that opportunity to say
“Surely you don’t think there is a god who cares anything about it?”

Considering the bars get pretty quiet after a Rams loss, it’s easy to find post game conversation. We’ve got just enough alcohol in us to get things going.

So my question is, who is “arguing from ignorance”? Because inevitably, without knowing a thing about my Theism, the first “strategy/tactic” an Atheist will use is to assume I am a Christian and begin dismantling the bible in goal of disproving a god. Little does he know that I already reject Christianity as a religion. I accept the biblical message of The Way as great philosophy, but I reject Christianity as the mechanism to communicate that philosophy.

His argument seems to be against a ghost that I don’t see.

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox25 I would say there are not just two types. I am an atheist because I was raised an atheist, we never were taught to turn to God, I have no practice with it. Later, in my teens, when I learned how people define God and they pray, and then eventually I studied more about various religions, it seemed logical a lot of it is made up. I also think if there is a God he would not be a hating or a punishing God, so as long as I live well for myself and how I treat others, I think if there is a judging God he will be happy with me. I don’t understand why a God would care specifically what religion someone is. So, as an atheist myself, I don’t care at all whether someone is an atheist or theist, I care if they are idiots and assholes. I can’t help that the idiocy of some is taught or related to their particular brand of religion. I know plenty of theists who can separate their faith in God from science.

I guess I am a skeptic in that I like some proof before I believe something, but I see no harm in believing in God as a personal God, I just see harm in people who insist everyone believe the same way, or relying on a book 5,000 years old for scientific answers that we have new science to better explain why certain things came to be. So, I am a skeptic, but am not concerned with people believing as I believe.

The atheists who are insistent on debunking, as you put it, generally have personalities where they must be right, or they are scientists themselves and understand what scientific proof really means, or they are very very tired of hearing talk all around them that influences politics and laws. And, I do not mean all religious or theists are applying their religious beliefs to the laws they want, that is far from the case, but there is a bunch of loud voices out there who do.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Paradox25 “They choose what they want to be sceptical about.”

And boy that’s a tough one… from both sides actually. A religious Theist will always fall back on the idea that God works in mysterious ways, or that If that’s what science says, then that’s how God planned it.

But the Skeptic, I usually find we are talking past one another with no definition of terms. Now I understand that we must define our terms early on before any rational discussion can take place. Before ever discussing the potential of deity, words like thought and mind and information must be precisely addressed… otherwise mind may be considered synonymous with brain, and/or information synonymous with observation. I’m often surprised to discover how loosely words can be tossed around with the assumption that we’re all in agreement to what they mean, when some have never really looked hard at the definitions they stand for.

Last night, again on Coast to Coast AM, dude was claiming that plants are conscious agents with feelings… but gave no regard to how cognitive studies are actually applied to discover such things. He spewed his views over the airwaves, and it all sounded great to the “All is One, we’re all connected” crowd, who I’m sure accepted his preachings as fact of the matter, sans any scientific data to back up his BS. I’m often shocked at what people can sometimes state and accept as reality.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I guess I’m still not being clear. Argument from ignorance isn’t a strategy, it’s a fallacy. Atheists addressing the majority of believers before addressing less common variations of theistic belief isn’t a fallacy, it’s a strategy. The point, then, is this: you’ve been accusing atheists of arguing fallaciously for using the non-fallacious strategy of addressing the majority prior to addressing the minority—a tactic that itself verges on the territory of the argument from ignorance fallacy. In short: your argument that a particular atheistic strategy is fallacious is (a) mistaken, and (b) itself verging of fallaciousness. That’s what I’ve been saying.

The argument from ignorance fallacy is not about arguing from a position of ignorance, which is what your examples are about. In those situations, the two of you will merely be talking past one another until you clarify that you are not a Christian. At that point, your interlocutor has three options: shut up and change topics, ask about and address your actual view, or discuss mutual problems with a third view. I guess there could be other options. Those seem to me the main ones.

I understand your frustration here. I have experienced the same “you think this; therefore, you must also think that” presumption that you have. That is not the strategy I was talking about, however, and nor is it argument from ignorance. It’s just a mistaken assumption.

Anyway, my apologies for being as clear as thick mud here. I hope this has made things more understandable.

Paradox25's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I’m fully aware that both sides can choose what they want to be sceptical about. I’m also aware that the term sceptic is a relative term. For example, one can be a flu vaccination or a global warming sceptic. However, when one chooses to be a sceptic about something in particular it does show a bias towards what that person chooses to be sceptical about whether the sceptic is even consciously aware of this bias or not (I’ve done this myself).

Which type of scepticism is justifiable or not is fully up for debate and even many self-proclaimed freethinkers disagree with each other on many topics so I don’t feel like taking the thread off topic with that one. However there does seem to be a correlation with all types of divinity related issues (the OP didn’t mention any particular religion/belief system in this question) and their sceptics, and Michael Shermer’s “Why People Believe in Weird Things” is a good example of this. Even when one classifies themselves as a sceptic on fluther without mentioning what they’re sceptical about it is very obvious what they usually mean, as can be evidenced by their responses to different topics. There are also on and offline sceptical committees/organizations so to me this shows a dogma within itself when it comes to people who just classify themselves as sceptics.

To answer your other examples I think that I already have given you a decent idea from other threads what I believe mind, information, spirit and soul to be though my views are not firmly rigid related to these. I’m also sceptical about many things myself such as many alternative medicine protocols, most conspiracy theories and even many paranormal claims. I’ll admit that some people just want to believe in something or anything that seems unorthodox, which does not describe me at all and I’ve even criticized many New Age and paranormal website authors for mixing every damn off road topic out there together, making many of us paranormal enthusiasts look like ?!#$.

@JLeslie Yes, there are atheists (and even theists) who are sceptical about certain topics. Being sceptical about certain or most issues is one thing. When one just calls themselves a sceptic without being specific about what they’re sceptical about I’ve found usually comes with its own dogma which I’ve already mentioned above.

I’m sorry if most do not agree with me but these have been my own personal experiences with people who classify themselves as atheists compared to most people who classify themselves as just ‘sceptics’. I’m a sceptical person myself but when I am sceptical about a certain topic I specifically mention what I’m sceptical about. Also, when one classifies themselves as a sceptic of anything it does show a bias, whether the majority (or even myself) justifies this bias with good reason or not.

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox25 I just think atheists are more easily accused of being skeptics, because they ask theists why do you believe this or that during a religious conversation, or point out what does not make sense or what is illogical in some religious beliefs. I find most religious people generally do not want to be quizzed about their beliefs, they find it hateful. They assume those asking for explanation are attacking the religious beliefs.

AdamF's avatar

@Paradox25 Seems to me that one way to demonstrate bias in a person’s skepticism would be to find an example of a claim that the skeptic believes to be true which has less supportive evidence than a claim they are dismissing. Is that what you’re suggesting atheist skeptics are doing?

choreplay's avatar

@judochop, here is their anthem. I would be surprised if most of the posters on this page would be less than proud of this gentleman’s proclamations.

AdamF's avatar

Amazing that I (we) had an anthem I’d never ever heard before…

Regardless, seems to me he was primarily emphasizing two issues 1) the mendacious labelling of atheists “militant” who non-violently express a view that theists don’t like, and 2) that he only expresses his views after theists put their opinions on the table.

Do you think there’s something in the clip he should be ashamed of?

AdamF's avatar

@choreplay Oh, and I think this might be of interest with respect to NDE

choreplay's avatar

I think the video demonstrates and strikes to the heart of the question, “Why do atheists think it’s okay to shove their non-belief down my throat?”

Being here at fluther for a period of time I feel more rounded and understand a broader perspective. I have many more personal friends that are atheist now. I accept their position and I think they accept mine.

I no longer participate in the God debate, well because @AdamF, as I think you said so eloquently once I can’t prove it to you and you can’t prove it to me.

But, the last snag for me is this spoken and at times unspoken pressure that I should hide my faith and keep it out of site. Does that sound like religious freedom to you. Let me define my position on something. I think the courthouse steps should not have to be empty at Christmas but have a nativity scene, but also a spot for Muslim and Buddhist and whatever the atheist would like to put up. That’s religious freedom, but an empty courthouse lawn is one representative of an atheist position. My position on that is not one I have to have, just my opinion of how it should be done. I say it not to open a debate on the courthouse lawn but to demonstrate what I see as religious freedom. If the courthouse lawn is empty, fine, there are still plenty of places for me to celebrate my faith freely.

Where’s the balance? If militant atheist have their way religion would be oppressed and if militant Christians get there way, their religion would oppress all others. Again I ask where is the balance.

Two examples: I work with a girl that’s a vegan and she often offers her opinion about what I eat. I appreciate that she cares for me enough to suggest something to me that she believes will be better for me. I don’t always buy it, but I smile and say thanks for telling me that and I go on my way. The second example is when my wife and I had a friend of hers and her mother stay over night with us as they were passing through on a road trip. At dinner I said grace and asked prayed for safe passage on their trip, at which point the mother blurts out we don’t need Gods help. I smile and go on. If I’m a guest in a Buddhist home and they say a Buddhist blessing, I am going to smile and keep my mouth shut. What that lady did was rude.

So the balance for me is this, those atheist that respect me are probably not going to ask me to put my faith in a box in my closet, they are not going to try to discredit my or convert me and at times might discuss with me to understand my position in a respectful manner, and of supreme importance, I will treat them the same way.

So my opinion is the guy in the video is rude and faith-centric. Back to my original post in this thread, I will not longer bother with those that only want to engage me to try to discredit me. I have listened to those that would convert me and my faith in my God is only stronger, and I will gladly take time to those that would want to understand my positions.

One last point and this is something I have mostly had to use with other Christians, don’t rebuke or correct me if you’re not involved in my life in a loving or caring manner. I guess that applies to everyone from any vantage point. If you’re not trying to correct me out of a caring heart, you can say it but I’m not likely to consider it.

AdamF's avatar

Well then let me correct you out of a caring heart. This line “If militant atheist have their way religion would be oppressed”, highlights a fundamental misunderstanding.

Are there fruitcake anti-theists out there. Sure, atheists are human and we have our nuts. But as having read most of the works by all the commonly labelled leading “militant” atheists, I think its notable that I have never read a single line by any of them that calls for the oppression of religion.

Separation of church and state doesn’t restrict your religion, it just restricts any religion from restricting the rights of others. Frankly, that concept, one which I think is core to democracy, protects minority religions as much as it protects atheists.

To put it another way, which perhaps needs to be stated more often. If your church, mosque, synagogue, temple, etc. was under attack, I’d help defend it. As I’d defend your right to worship. Your right to run for office. Your right to democractically influence society. Not because I agree with theistic views, but because I believe that only tyranny can result from oppressing people’s right to believe as they will.

Theocracies are tyrannies, and your country has a proud history of ensuring that such tyranny is avoided via the first amendment. So while you seem to think that atheists and others are challenging your religious freedom by ensuring the separation of church and state doesn’t get watered down, they’re actually defending such freedoms.

I understand any potential hesitation, but I do highly recommend the following.

AdamF's avatar

I guess one more comment comes to mind…

You state the following; “But, the last snag for me is this spoken and at times unspoken pressure that I should hide my faith and keep it out of site. Does that sound like religious freedom to you.”

No, it doesn’t (i.e. I agree with you). You have every right to express your faith, with the caveat, once again, that it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. But the freedom to express yourself comes with a proviso, that if you bring your faith into the public space, then others have the right and freedom to criticise whatever views you bring there. Because that also is a freedom of expression.

JLeslie's avatar

@AdamF Great Answer.

JLeslie's avatar

@AdamF Trouble is the evangelical tends to not see it like that. I saw Reverend Graham say that a move towards secularism is a move towards destroying Christianity. Something like that. When I heard that I had an aha moment. So for him, and those who think like them, separation of church and state can feel like an attack on their faith, God, and religion. Where we have the perspective that seperation protects religion. There are religious people who see it our way also, I’m not trying to paint all theists, Christians, or religious people with on brush, but I think his statement explains why some people see the idea of an absence of religion in government, schools, etc., as the opposite of allowing religion to flourish, while I think the absence allows everyone to believe whatever they want.

Blackberry's avatar

@AdamF My reaction to your posts.

Also, it still looks like America’s religious freedom is quite intact, lol.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Exactly what he said.^

Hain_roo's avatar

I feel it’s quite the opposite here in the deep south :/

AdamF's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf & @Blackberry Thanks! LOL :)

@JLeslie Seems to me that when the most powerful religious denominations fight against secularism, they’re just advertising its importance.

A nice defense of a recent victory

Judi's avatar

@JLeslie , as a Christian with a different perspective, I see fear of secularism as a lack of faith. I really get sad when I see Christians acting scared. After all, one phrase Jesus said over and over again was, “Fear Not!”

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I know many many Christians, especially Catholics, who understand and agree strongly with the separation of church and state, but I never thought about it from the perspective of fear of secularism as a showing of a lack of faith. I have to think about that statement. I tend to think of the Christians who fear secularism as having a picture in their mind that there is a religious war going on of sorts.

Blackberry's avatar

@Judi I’m really confused, because doesn’t that essentially say that one should always stay the same? The universe is the epitome of fluidity, so it’s impossible for anything to stay the same.

Judi's avatar

@Blackberry , now I’m confused. Why does living in confidence rather than fear mean staying the same?
Heck, I’m not staying the same. You just convinced me to become an assassin, remember?~

Blackberry's avatar

@Judi Since fear is a normal part of being human, a lack of faith shouldn’t be seen as one being fearful per se, since ideology is fluid as well?

Judi's avatar

@Blackberry, I see how you’re confused now. I don’t see lack of faith as being fearful. I see someone claiming to be faithful to an omnipotent God, who runs around fear mongering and afraid of the dreaded secular world as someone who really doesn’t have a lot of faith or trust in the God they claim to worship.
The world could go to hell in a hand basket and it shouldn’t make any difference in my relationship to God. If I trust him, I know he has my back. I don’t have to be afraid.
Does that make sense now? I didn’t intend any judgment of people who are not theists.

Blackberry's avatar

@Judi Oh ok, gotcha.

Blackberry's avatar

@AdamF Oh yeah, and about that atheist teen: Some people tried to send her flowers, and multiple flower shops declined to send flowers to her. W.T.F.

AdamF's avatar

@Blackberry Blaaaaaaaah….

That said, the bland petty backdrop of their little lives will just make her shine that much more brightly.

lillycoyote's avatar

Unless someone has actually forcefully and physically “forced something down your throat” then you are free to disagree and decline. Ideas cannot be forced down your throat. Only objects can be forced down your throat. You are cannot be victim of ideas. Only tyrants and dictators are afraid of ideas. Are you a tyrant or a dictator? What little empire or banana republic are you in charge of that you need to be so afraid of ideas?:

desiree333's avatar

We’re just returning the favour to all the religious people trying to convert us.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I thought more about what you wrote to me. Some Jews believe atheism and interreligious marriage chips away at Judaism and harms the contuation of Judaism. I think maybe it is analogous to what some Christians might fear about atheism and secularism. Auggie wrote on a Q recently that when she was in southern MO she was kind of sucked up in the whole religious thing and even got baptised. I am not sure how long ago this was, and then she was back in DC and the religiousness wore off fast. People tend to become their environment. Sometimes things like this grow exponentially. So, let’s say 2% of the population is atheist, and they start talking about it, and then another 2% when they hear about either admit to always having questioned or being atheists. Next thing you know the number is up to 10%, then more and more. It isn’t completely unrealistic to fear atheism might chip away at the total theist number, but some of the number was not real to begin with. Like being gay, now it seems like there are gay people everywhere, but for the most part they were always there.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@desiree333…two wrongs don’t make a right.

desiree333's avatar

@Dutchess_III That was intended to be a humorous answer. No need to be offended.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Ok well firstly, its actually pretty easy to prove that a lot of the content in the bible is not accurate. For the most part atheists are not shoving anything towards you, but rather away from them. Most atheists don’t care what you believe as long as you’d don’t try to legislate it.

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