This question has actually bugged me for a while but here it is precipitated by the question on God’s moral authority. But for background, I enjoy web cruising and whether on Yahoo answers, CNN comments, or here, I always find atheists commenting on religious stuff. And of course there’s always the rude comments and such and the whole “imaginary” “fairy” “spaghetti monster” descriptives. I always assume these people are just the usual “bad” actors, which are found everywhere, including in christians, who enjoy hurting others and calling them names for some reason that will never make sense to me.
But in any case, I am puzzled. I don’t believe in many things but for this purpose let’s say I don’t believe in Allah. I don’t discuss Allah. I don’t discuss imaginary things. I know people believe in Allah, I am married to one. We don’t talk about Allah. he believes Allah exists, i don’t. I don’t feel the need to discuss things I don’t believe exist. I’ve never even told him i don’t believe your Allah exists, it would be for me like saying i don’t believe a red purple blue human exists. Like what’s the point? Why am I talking about something that does not exist seriously with someone who believes it does exist?
So I don’t understand the heated discussions atheists get into with christians about the existence of god or about the Bible. Like seriously, why are you wasting your time on something that does not even exist? I totally understand fantasy, imagination, and fun. But that is never the roots of the discussion. When someone states christians are this and that, I totally get it. Christians did something to piss you off and you’re mad. I get that. That is real. But the heated discussions, the name calling, the theological musings, I really don’t understand. The christians I kinda get they’re thinking if they discuss it they might get a convert and to them they’re talking about a real thing. but the ones who think the christians are imagining things, why are you having a conversation with someone you think is delusional?
Some people insist others think as they themselves do, because if you don’t believe what they believe (or don’t disbelieve what they disbelieve) you are in effect saying they are wrong.
I am a Pagan and am always willing to discuss my beliefs with anyone who wants to discuss it in real life, but I do not discuss my beliefs on here. I will also never tell another person I think their beliefs are wrong. Each person has their own path to walk.
In addition to the Law, Christianity has had (and continues to have) a profound influence on philosophy, morality, art, and even science in the development of Western society. I think that it’s worth exploring and discussing, even passionately, the ins and outs of the various Christian beliefs insofar as they help to shape the people who shape our world.
Same reason Christians proselytize: because we think we hold the Truth.
This is not arrogance, or bloody mindedness, or spite, or anything like that - it’s actually trying to do the right thing. Just as (some of) Jesus’ cohorts are aghast at the thought that some of us sinners might die unsaved and are prepared to do their utmost and sacrifice themselves if it means one of us ditches materialism and sings Hosannas for his own safety ; so do we try to bring back these deluded, self righteous idjits back into the muck of “nothing matters but what we do down here”, because then they might actually do something that helps.
If I get one zealous Christ botherer to rethink what he’s doing, I feel happy. If they get an atheist to worship, they’re happy.
So yeah, we’ll never be happy together.
It’s rare for an atheist to initiate a religious conversation…it’s less rare for a Christian to do so. I’ve never heard an atheist ask a Christian where they go to church. I’ve heard plenty of Christians ask atheist (unknowingly) ask Atheists where they go and if they reply that they don’t go to church they Christian suddenly feels like it’s their duty to save them.
IOW, as an Atheist, I’m not usually ‘debating’ Christians, but trying to get out of debates with them (for lack of a better way of explaining it) that I got into by accident.
Why is it when I try to change the subject it’s the Christian that can’t seem to drop it, why is it that when I say “Can we just talk about something else?” it’s the Christian that says “Joe, you have no idea how wonderful it is to just accept God into your heart, blah blah blah?”. I don’t attempt to change their beliefs, why do they attempt to change mine?
@lobohan you actually engage in conversation with such christians? I dunno but I’m under the impression that Bachmann and her like are not on forums and comment posts discussing their beliefs with you.
@Marley thanks, that explains it. but I don’t talk to people who disagree with me on the existence of an unreal thing, I talk to people of different beliefs about real things, like real topics (war, abortion, etc.) but I cant imagine having a serious convo with say Warren Jeffs regarding theological issues.
First of all, atheists have had to keep silent for most of history and in most cultures. In certain places it is still a capital offence to deny a particular religion. Even now, in the US few politicians would admit to being atheist because it is just not tolerated by that culture.
So, just like the gay pride movement, it’s important that atheists find their voice and end this intolerance.
Secondly, religious belief is a unique psychological phenomenon.
It isn’t just wrong in itself; it encourages people to stop thinking or being objective about lots of other subjects.
I really believe the saying that to get good people to do bad things, you need religion. It’s a very bad thing for the human race IMO.
Christianity is part of our culture… Debate is educational… Debate is fun! And religion has a real effect on our lives when it is enforced via legislation, which happens a lot more often than the First Amendment suggests it should…
Also, the Flying Spaghetti Monster isn’t really a rude concept: it’s a reductio ad absurdam. It’s a rhetorical tool by which we ask, “Why do you accept X but reject Y?” Yes, certainly, it has some parodical properties, but the fundamental issue is valid.
Is a religion’s validity correlated with its age? Are the old religions more likely to be true than the new ones?
Is a religion’s validity correlated with its formality? Are dignified and stately religions more likely to be true than goofy ones?
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a way of asking such questions, and, by being a bit silly, is intended to take the sting away from the questions, rather than to be painful or insulting.
Why do you accept one holy book, one set of miracles, one narration of origins, one set of divine personages…and reject others?
Thank you everyone for your answers, very insightful. So would I be right in saying that it is because Christians engage with you or have control over some aspect of your life that is bothersome?
I understand those of you that say you do not engage. but clearly many do, you only have to look at the ‘spirituality’ section of many websites to see my point.
But may I make an observation for those who feel besieged by christians, I have tea party evangelical friends who feel besieged by unbelievers (atheists or muslims). And I don’t get it. I’m sorry, I don’t believe either of you that the other is trying to take over and control you. Am I the naive one?
I should rephrase that. I don’t think the fear is founded. i do think the reaction to that fear has now caused the foundation of that fear to be realized. For instance, my tp friends felt that atheists were out to get them so they joined the tp and are now out to get atheists b4 the atheists get them. So now more atheists are going to be under direct attack and attack back in self defense.
I apologize if I seem insensitive but I’m a christian married to a muslim and we both have our people telling us that we are out to hurt one another and to fight back when it is clearly not true.
In the US at least, the only religion that is pursuing theologically-based legislation and laws is Christian, and with the aim of reducing rights and privileges of the rest of the religions and non-religious in this melting pot. One of our two major political parties is, if not exclusively Christian-theologically driven, caters to and courts the extreme theological portion of the populace.
As an atheist, I don’t have any desire to debate religion except as it applies to public policy, where I will debate it just as freely as any other policy topic that falls within my sphere of rights and privileges.
That’s an element of it. It is behind much of my political activism.
But I engage in debates for the other reasons given: to educate myself, perhaps to teach others, and mostly for the joy of the discussion. It is a wide and rich field of thought, and I don’t have to be an active participant in it (a believer) to enjoy exploring it.
(I’m interested in military history…but have never been a soldier!)
I started the moral authority thread, and despite the fact that it is in Great Debates, it was not my intention that it be a debate; I placed it there because any post that honestly sought to answer the question in the OP would functionally be witnessing. I began the thread because I am curious about – well, almost everything in the world other than football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, really. But I am particularly interested in the way people think about things they feel passionate about, such as religion.
As for the debate in that thread; certain posters here are incapable of passing up certain threads, even if the questions asked by the OP are clearly not aimed at them. This is especially true of certain atheist posters. I would submit that the discussion of Adam & Eve and theodicy and sin in that thread is a hijack, as annoying as if someone had started a thread about football and I came in to make comparisons to* Lord of the Rings*.
The technical term for the assertions in the second paragraph is bullshit, methinks. I prefer to think that Christians have had different life experiences than I have which have led them to different conclusions. Some of them are delusional; some of them are just different than me. Likewise, some aspects of Christianity make the world better, and some worse.