When I tell people I am an atheist it is extremly hard to bring the words out of my mouth because it comes with so much criticism. In most responses I get "Oh, no" or "thats not right", something along those lines. I feel like I have to have a long drawn out discuss with people when faced with the question of religion because there are so many believers out there. So I'm wondering how does everyone also handle situations like this? Do you have to always defend yourself, your nonbelief? How should I handle, or what should I say the next time someone questions me about this and tries to belittle me for not believing in God? I'm sick of explaining myself to people who are religious!
It's always hard for me to explain. Lets try this... I'm thinking something bad about you right now...
Now I'm thinking something good about you... Can you tell the difference... You are letting people put the question in your court so to speak, you let them make you make you hurt yourself. Only YOU can let people make you feel uncomfortable. Just smile and ignor them. It's not them... You are hurting yourself
I love it when people ask, "Aren't you worried about going to hell?"
I say, "Not at all, but I'm a little worried that the zombie jesus is going to eat my brain." That usually ends the conversation.
What I have learned over the years about religion is that people who believe in GOD are...absolutely gone! There is no helping them they are god monsters lol. But seriously the only reason why criticism bothers atheists is because most times in day to day life we are outnumbered by the religious and they attack you and tell you numerous reasons why you are wrong, evil and going to burn in hell for all eternity. Its ridiculous that they get to feel so rightous like their above you when they arent-if anything they need to start sizing up straight jackets:) So I try not to let it get to me. Im a drak person and I get pleasure out of other peoples discomfort especially the stupid people so when someone asks my religion I just say "Im A Satanist" The reaction is priceless and so worth it. HAIL SATAN!! JK
Well, there are different types of theists. You're right that some can't be helped. They lack the education and basic critical-thinking skills that would enable you to reach them through any sort of discussion or argumentation. They would need several years of education to teach them how to think, before you could even have a chance.
Others are perfectly intelligent and educated, but they don't apply their critical thinking skills to their religion. They compartmentalize. Many things keep them from looking at their religion critically, such as the fear of hell. Organized religion has been developing tools for emotional manipulation of the masses for millennia.
You can reach people like that, but it can take years. That's one of the things that 'The Atheist Experience' is good for. They hear in from lots of people who talk about how 3 or 4 years ago, they were one of the mindless theist callers who would call in and make absolutely silly arguments. Several years of watching and exposure to rational argumentation eventually made them really examine their beliefs and come out an atheist. It just takes a lot of argumentation to break down the emotional blocks that some people have built up over their lifetime. That's not the specific goal of 'The Atheist Experience', but they don't seem to be disappointed that they're having that effect.
Now, you certainly don't want to have any emotional investment in someone specific making that sort of de-conversion, which is why you're better off not dating a theist. The best you can do is try to have a small influence on everyone you meet and hope to make a difference in the population at large.
There's a third group that seems to be actively deceptive, both to themselves and others. Ray Comfort is one of my favorite examples. His arguments are so batshit insane, based completely upon lies about what Evolution says. He may honestly not understand the truth about what evolution says, because every time he comes up against someone who knows their stuff, he turns off his ears while they're talking and waits for his turn to rebut with his made-up bullshit. You can go a long time like that, by making use of willful ignorance of anything that contradicts your dogma.
That's why he and Kirk Cameron got their asses handed to them so horribly, in their debate with the Rational Response Squad. Their sort of emotional manipulation and spreading of pure bullshit works well on uneducated people, but anyone who actually knows much about biology and Evolution can see right through all of their lies.
Fortunately, you're just about never going to encounter someone like this in person. They're rare. Most of the believers you'll run into are either those in the second category, who are still suffering under the emotional indoctrination of their youth, or you'll run into the uneducated dogmatic types, not Ray Comfort's sort.
I disagree that it isn't our job to "convert" other people. Irrationality, belief without good reason, and the poor evaluation of evidence--and the view that it's perfectly OK to believe something exists without good reason--is a societal bane we can ill afford to perpetuate. And people teach their children similarly poor epistemic processes. We should be trying to build a society of rational human beings. *Not* trying to "convert" believers just delays us from achieving such a society.
It's not as though we were trying to get them to *believe* something; rather, we are trying to get them *not to believe* when nonbelief is appropriate. We are trying to get them to understand the burden of proof and the proper evaluation of evidence. These are issues the citizens--and lawmakers!--of a technological, scientific society need to understand, and who will teach them if not we?
Of course, I am assuming that we are nontheists because we (a) require good reason--evidentiary or inferential--for belief that God exists and (b) understand that the various arguments adduced for God's existence fail--and that there are arguments against the most traditional sort of God's existence. If one is a nontheist just because he doesn't care to be a theist, that's different.
Amen. I want to have a positive impact on our society, and helping decrease the effect of religion on the human race is one of the most beneficial effects I think I can have.
That said, working on a 1 to 1 basis is a pretty inefficient way to go about it. Certainly, Diane, when you're dealing with a client, you want to avoid mentioning anything that could jeopardize that relationship. If your atheism could have any serious repercussions on your professional life, you should stay the hell in the closet. There are plenty of others who can carry the torch, and there are plenty of silent ways to support them.
Damn shame is it not? Here's a comeback to any Hitler sympathizers:
"I respect your decision(s) in life, (awkward silence usually)
so respect my authori'tigh!!" ...
but seriously your looking at one way of coping, this network.
I usually take this route. It's funny when they are really dedicated to the subject matter and then you just brush it off. It gets them incredibly flustered.
If they persist, you can always point out that they are spending too much effort and time on their skewed priorities...ha.