Author Topic: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend  (Read 1791 times)

Online Cavebear

Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« on: March 26, 2018, 10:33:41 PM »
I was trading flower seeds with someone on another site, and she got rather religious about her "And the Lord God Bless You and stuff like that.  I probably should have just ignored it, but that is hard.  So I mentioned I was an atheist.

She suddenly asked a lot of questions.  Which is a good opportunity to explain how atheists are also good peole, etc.  But she is somewhere between "a simple soul" and "dumb as a box of rocks".  It took me an hour to construct 3 paragraphs of informative yet not too challenging reply that she would understand but yet not also telling her she was an absolute twit. 

I mean, she offered "equations" to prove her point like "God=good, Devil=evil therefore "Heaven and Earth".  I don't want to start a debate (amazingly) on a site with a different focus. 

So, what do YOU do when you come across situations like that?  Do you not speak?  Do you apologize and drop the subject?  Do you reply in detail or briefly?  Are you kind or direct?  Do you consider the apparent intelligence of the other person?

And I think I did a good job of it.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2018, 01:33:56 AM »
Generally when the topic of religion comes up, I ask myself a few questions.

1. Is this the time and place for this discussion?

2. Is this person going to be receptive to what I have to say?

3. Do I trust this person not to use this information to make my life harder?

The situation where the answer to all three of these questions is yes is exceptionally rare. Working as a cashier, the topic of religion would come up surprisingly often, with customers asking if I go to church, coworkers asking if I'm a Christian, people handing me booklets that I throw in the trash as soon as they're gone. But every time they asked, I gave the same response. "I don't like to discuss religion or politics at work." I just think it is in my best interests to remain neutral in that situation.

With my family, they don't ask me what I believe, but only because they expect me to agree with them and don't value my opinions. They do occasionally ask if I go to church, and I let that topic die ASAP. Some of them, particularly my sister, probably already suspect that I'm no longer a believer, but they don't push that subject. It's best not to speak of my beliefs (or lack thereof) with them as it would only make things harder for me.

There is a small circle of friends who I trust with this information. It doesn't come up often, but it does on occasion. With them, I know that my opinions will not make them think less of me, so there is little to no risk. Even still, I wouldn't talk about it if their families were within earshot. I can tell a lot of their families (at least the ones I've seen) are a lot more...vocal about what they think. If you walk into a house and you see a cross or religious decoration on every wall, you know they're going to take any once of dissension as a personal attack on themselves.
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Offline Mr.Obvious

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2018, 03:16:34 AM »
In the line of my work, I keep silent and don't give my opinion at all. I work for the government, and as such it wouldn't be right.

Outside of work, as long as someone keeps claims or experiences personal, I let it slide. If they feel they can be good people because they feel the strength of God; fine. I don't care where you get your morals from, as long as they are decent enough.
But if someone makes claims beyond themselves, saying the catholic church is a force for good or how people need religion... Then I'll counter.
"If we have to go down, we go down together!"
- Your mum, requesting 69 last night.

Online Cavebear

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2018, 04:00:29 AM »
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In the line of my work, I keep silent and don't give my opinion at all. I work for the government, and as such it wouldn't be right.

Outside of work, as long as someone keeps claims or experiences personal, I let it slide. If they feel they can be good people because they feel the strength of God; fine. I don't care where you get your morals from, as long as they are decent enough.
But if someone makes claims beyond themselves, saying the catholic church is a force for good or how people need religion... Then I'll counter.

Well, my tolerence level is less, but if I understand your POV.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Online Baruch

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2018, 05:56:00 AM »
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I was trading flower seeds with someone on another site, and she got rather religious about her "And the Lord God Bless You and stuff like that.  I probably should have just ignored it, but that is hard.  So I mentioned I was an atheist.

She suddenly asked a lot of questions.  Which is a good opportunity to explain how atheists are also good peole, etc.  But she is somewhere between "a simple soul" and "dumb as a box of rocks".  It took me an hour to construct 3 paragraphs of informative yet not too challenging reply that she would understand but yet not also telling her she was an absolute twit. 

I mean, she offered "equations" to prove her point like "God=good, Devil=evil therefore "Heaven and Earth".  I don't want to start a debate (amazingly) on a site with a different focus. 

So, what do YOU do when you come across situations like that?  Do you not speak?  Do you apologize and drop the subject?  Do you reply in detail or briefly?  Are you kind or direct?  Do you consider the apparent intelligence of the other person?

And I think I did a good job of it.

Thanks for trying.  Did you tell her you don't do dogmatic metaphysics either?  That is what she was doing.
שלום

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2018, 11:46:07 AM »
Well, Cavebear, it depends upon what I am feeling like.  Each case is separate.  If I have time/energy, I'll tackle it.  But in this county, I just basically keep my mouth shut; I live in 'Little Alabama' part of CA.  One could cut out this part of CA, move it to Alabama, and they would fit in quite well.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Online Munch

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2018, 12:00:23 PM »
Its situational when confronted with someone of a religious belief is different, I've worked with people who have varying levels of beliefs, some casually believe in something, some believe it firmly but don't talk about it, and sometimes your find someone overt with it. Likewise with customers, I've served people who would out and out bless me for helping them, which I thank them kindly for.

If someone who has religious belief is just going about their own thing and doesn't push it or use it with malicious intent then it doesn't bother me one way or another, in your case, if all she said was 'the lord god bless you' i'd just thank her, but if she started to ask what I believe in I'd just tell her I'm atheist the same.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 12:57:59 PM by Munch »

Online aitm

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2018, 12:17:38 PM »
I simply match their attitude. Just nice and sweet I let it go. Start in with an attitude and here we go.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2018, 12:32:55 PM »
I don't mind telling people I'm an atheist but I don't discuss religion with many people simply because the topic doesn't come up. I tend to mind my own business and honestly feel that if people want to pursue some faith or religion more power to them as long as it doesn't harm people. One thing I have learned over the years is what works for me doesn't work for everyone and people need to find their own way in the world.

A couple of days ago a coworker and I were discussing our recent vacations. She asked about my trip to Los Angeles and wanted to hear details of the talk I attended with Sam Harris and Steven Pinker. She is very religious and just returned from a trip to Israel where she attended counseling training in religious faith and diversity. She had seen Sam Harris online and said she didn't expect to like him because of his views on religion but thought he made a lot of sense and wouldn't ever want to debate him. I enjoyed hearing about her training and adventures in Israel. She and I have completely different beliefs but we have more commonalities than differences. Neither is trying to change the other's mind.

I had another coworker who is a pastor, family therapist and politically conservative and he enjoyed getting my perspective on various topics. We had some fairly in-depth discussions and I think it was educational on both our parts. There were some topics we agreed on and some we couldn't because we have differing values. One reason I could discuss challenging topics with him is because he knows how to listen to understand and not listen to defend a position.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2018, 01:32:11 PM »
I don't mention it, usually, unless someone tries to preach at me. I don't really want to shake anyone's faith, because if their morals are tied to that faith then they may lose their morals when they lose their faith.

I don't keep it secret, though, so a few people know I'm an unbeliever, but mostly no one seems to care what I believe or don't, which is fine by me. Sometimes, if someone does get pushy about it, I just ask them if they've ever read the whole Bible, which, invariably, they have not. So I tell them to read it all the way through and then I'll be willing to discuss it. No one so far ever has come back after reading the whole Bible to talk more about it, so the method seems to work.
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"Which do I prefer? Sex or chess? It depends on the position."
Boris Spassky

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2018, 01:49:50 PM »
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I don't mention it, usually, unless someone tries to preach at me.

My reaction to someone preaching at me is similar to someone throwing me a sales pitch. I'm sure your product is amazing but no thanks, I don't need it.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 06:24:06 PM by GSOgymrat »
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Online aitm

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2018, 06:20:04 PM »
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I'm sure your product is amazing but no thank, I don't need it.

Perfect..."yeah, I tried your product...didn't live up to the billing."
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2018, 06:43:36 PM »
You know when how vegans always have to tell you that they're a vegan? That's kinda' what you did with your atheism.

If, in response to, "god bless you" you not only get a strong urge to tell someone that you're an atheist, but find it impossible to quell said urge, then you need to find some fulfillment.

What I would do, personally, would depend on who I'm talking to. If I don't like the person, I would play the role of jester, and respond with a, "hail satan." I'm an edgy faggot, for sure.

Online Munch

Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2018, 06:55:14 PM »
I've never really been in a situation where telling someone I don't know that i'm atheist, except when theres been jehovahs witnesses at the door.

I've told workmates but only after getting to know them if it comes up in conversation.


Re: Talking To Theists You Don't Want To Offend
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2018, 07:35:35 PM »
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I've never really been in a situation where telling someone I don't know that i'm atheist, except when theres been jehovahs witnesses at the door.

Do you get many proselytizers at your door? I'm curious how it is in various countries.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

 

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