Sunday, May 1, 2011

What not to do when talking to an Athiest....

May 1st - I was hoping to write more in April, but alas, I was distracted by other things - not sleeping being one of them - and red eye flights back from Los Angeles being another one - but at least I will start off the month with a bang.

I suppose I should give the rights to this photo to the AP journalist who took it. There you go, I stole this photo from the web.

So today, they are digging up a dead guy who dressed in robes and calling him a saint - what about the dead cop or the dead soldier who actually contributed to the world as we know it - the more I see any church take action to make someone a saint, the more I am reminded of the number of churches that have had to shut their doors because they covered up sex with children, or decided to throw someone else's holy book into the flames, or better yet, have shown a higher rate of suicide, a lower rate of higher education, and still refuse to admit that man never saddled up a dinosaur and went strolling off into the sunset...really, I am sorry if that offends you, but millions of people spent their weekends watching a prince get married and a pope get dug up - monarchy and monarchy hand in hand - and I question whether either case made our lives a little easier, or just filled the news with more crap.

So Cadence forwards me this link, that was forwarded to her by her nephew or cousin, or some relative that apparently wants to arm the rest of the Christian world against us harmful Athiests who are out to takeover the world (or at least be first in line at all of the rated PG movies, seeing how we don't have to rush home from church on Sundays) - and you know, normally I am not too bothered by this sort of stuff, but this time, it is almost an afront to my somewhat tolerant sensibilities - I don't care where you go to church - I don't care what you place your faith in, in fact, I want you to be content and happy with whatever it is you choose to do - just don't harm me and mine, don't ask my taxes to pay for it, and don't hang out at soldiers funerals with signs that proclaim "God Hates Fags" or decide to get the rest of your inbred congregation together to burn classic rock albums or burn a Koran. Pretty simple shit from my point of view - you see, the reason I am an athiest is because I grew up around Christians - and I can assure you that just because you are in church everytime the doors are open, or you ask for forgiveness every day, or whatever - it does not make you a better person - but that's just my opinion - but I did think it was prudent to share this little list, so just in case you ever have to sit down and discuss your religious beliefs with me whilst we are drinking, please use these five important tips (I quote and paraphrase and digress throughout - so please be prepared)anyway, here it is - in it's entirety with my thoughts posted throughout...

Labeling Atheists
1.Some Christians have labeled atheists as stupid or morally void. Though there may be some atheists who fit these categories (as would many in the general population), atheists are not categorically stupid, degenerates with no morals. Many of them are fine citizens, honest, caring, loving, and patient. For a Christian to start off with such a blanket statement can backfire. First, ask questions. Find out what their presuppositions are.

Okay, so good point. I am stupid and morally void. I am all things at all times - that's the beauty of being an athiest - I can accept that I am human and have two major life events that pretty much sum things up - I was born, and I will die. I would think Christians could agree on that with me, but I am wrong. I am a sinner, born short of some sort of glory, and need to repent. I want a Christian to ask me my presuppositions, and I will tell them that it is wrong to steal the neighbors water, and that taxes are a bitch, and growing old is hell. What more really matters?

2.Ignoring Atheists' Questions 1.If you were standing on a railroad track and a train was heading your way, closing your eyes and ignoring the locomotive will not make it go away. If an atheist asks a question and you ignore it repeatedly, it would be fair for him to conclude you were incapable of answering the objection. Of course, this does not mean you always have to answer everything, because dialogue flows both ways. But, it is important that you face issues. If you don't have an answer, admit it. That's okay. It doesn't mean you are wrong, it means you don't have an answer. Go study, get an answer, and get back to him.

Okay - so standing on a railroad track is probably some sort of penance or something, but I don't get it. Standing on a railroad track will get you killed. Blindly following and claiming faith might get you killed as well. Hell, it may do you some good, but for the most part, it pretty much has proven that it will probably get you killed. Here's an even better part - how do you study to answer an athiest's question - do you go study the bible? What does the bible say that Epicureus or Hemingway or Vonnegurt or other authors have addressed a million times - they all give you hope and a new outlook - they just don't ask for 10% of your paycheck. Go study, and when you find the answer, save it for the next athiest.

3.Stating that Atheism is a religion 1.Atheists will repeatedly tell you that they are not in a religion. A religion is usually defined to include belief in a deity of some sort. Atheism is non-belief in a deity. It isn't necessarily a "belief that there is no God" (though it can be), but is "not believing either way." To label an atheist as a religious person is to put up a roadblock to effective communication. It would be like someone saying to a Christian, "You believe in a mean, tyrannical being who likes to torture people." The Christian would simply roll his eyes and think that the person doesn't know what he's talking about. So, how much effective conversation could there be in either instance? Not much.

I like this point. The reason you don't see churches for Athiests is because we don't hang out in those places. Typically, we are keeping the bars busy while we wait for good Christians to get out of church. Then, we have rituals and dress in finery and spread incense around, eat a few crackers made by child laborers in third world countries, and speak in tongues. I stated it earlier, that most of us don't really care what you believe in, not that we are self-absorbed, but we do respect your ability to believe in whatever you want. Just don't knock on my door at eight thirty on Saturday morning, leave shit posted to my windshield, or ask me to come see a guy hang from a cross as a sign of respect. If you like, you can pray for me, pray for me to hit the Powerball.

4.Stating unsupportable facts 1.No one has all documentation for everything they say. It is not reasonable to require proof from an atheist on everything said. Nevertheless, if you are going to state a fact or two, it is good to have the documentation at the tip of your tongue -- at least occasionally, or have access to it. It adds to your credibility. Of course, you don't have to document everything, but if you have some illustrious fact to use, try and have it documented.

Where do you get these facts from - most athiests get their facts from things called Science Books, or History Books, or Math Books... What holy book is the right holy book - do you go to the teachings of Buddha, do you go to the Torah - or is there some secret society of scientific christian books that actually proves that there are things out there that can prove without a shadow of a doubt that evoloution is wrong, that the King James version was a poorly concieved translation (proven wrong in many cases), and that tomorrow Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the king of kings are going to break bread with me. It is best not to state facts to an athiest - better yet, just invite them to dinner, and avoid the subject all together.

5.Never admitting when you are wrong 1.Pride is a harmful thing. It caused the fall. It ruins marriages. It leads to anger and self-righteousness. It has no place in the Christian's life. Never admitting you are wrong is being prideful. If an atheist, or anyone, proves you wrong in something, be kind and courteous. Admit you made a mistake and go on. Everyone makes mistakes, even atheists. There is nothing wrong with admitting an error. That doesn't mean you are wrong about Christianity any more than being wrong about the color of a boat means boats don't exist. On the other hand, if you never admit when you are wrong, you will not be able to convince anyone of your position when in a discussion. You will simply lose the respect of the one with whom you are debating.

Pride is a harmful thing. Not just because it is un-christianlike. It is just because it will make you come across as a prick. I am proud of my family, their accomplishments, my accomplishments - but not too proud to know that it took a whole hell of alot of human beings pushing, pulling, lifting, and helping to get those people and myself where we are. I don't give that credit to an unseen everpresent being - I give that credit to the people who have made it happen. What's funny is that Pride is bad for Christians, but crank up your television any given day, and flip through the channels, and they damn sure are not afraid to boast of their rewards being reaped ten-fold.

See - this athiest does not want to discuss Christianity with you. I don't want to discuss any religion with you. I want to enjoy your company, ask how your family is doing, know if there is anything I can do to help. That's what I want to know - I don't want the offer of eternal greatness and streets paved with gold - what is gold if it flows like water? I don't want to think of myself being a pawn to a greater good - I have enough of that already - I go to work every day, I pay taxes, I follow the laws - so that is enough for me -

I am happy, for the most part, that folks are able to find some peace and serenity in those places - for me, and for many others, the damage that those places do will never overcome a need to prove what is right and wrong - so that's where I choose to leave it - have yours, I will have mind, and in the end, perhaps they will be digging up the dead guy they buried next to me, and calling him a saint.

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