More specifically I'm referring to when people tell you something like "God is punishing you" or "God loves you" when they know you're an atheist? The double standard in this is obvious when you reveal your view towards it and you're immediately labeled as arrogant or close-minded. I think this notion is asinine because the fact that they aren't receptive to your worldview is the very essence of being close-minded.
How do you "win" so to speak in these situations? What do you all do?
P.S. I'm thankful for atheist communities such as this because if I didn't have it to unwind I'd lose my mind.
It hasn't happened to me yet, but my knee-jerk response is to smile at them nicely and say in an equally nice tone, "Horse shit! You have no idea about who I am or what is going on in my life, yet you're all ready to judge how my life is going based on ONE PARAMETER: that I don't believe in any form of god. That kind of prejudice might be considered presumptuous or arrogant by some people; you might want to remember that the next time you encounter an atheist."
The fact is that I've had encounters with Jehovah's Witnesses, one of which I have documented here. I made no reference to equine fecal material in that encounter and in all respects, it was cordial and entirely without rancor. HOWEVER ... if someone wants to condescend to me or think they can lesson me about their god, I have no problem in taking the kid gloves off.
As with so many other things, it's situational.
Well done Loren!
For me it depends on who the person is and what mood I'm in, too. For example, I know someone who just suffered the loss of a sibling, her lifelong best friend is dying, her father-in-law died last year, and she herself recently went through major heart surgery. Inwardly I wince with her "the lord" this and "the lord" that, but I smile and let it go, or I politely change the subject. It gives her comfort, though it's a false comfort, but what do I gain by arguing with her? I will not change her mind, and even if I did, am I taking away the crutch she needs at this point in her life? AND, any disagreeing with her converts her from mild mannered to hostile and just plain nasty, including giving personal attacks. I know why, too. Deep in her mind, hidden from herself, is Reason and Doubt, and she doesn't want to see them ever because to have faith she has to ignore the fact the emperor truly isn't wearing any clothes...
Other times, if the person is younger, and especially if they're rude, I'll definitely speak up. There is a real double standard out there where the religious person, no matter which religion they follow, feels entitled to speak about their supernatural belief and make assumptions about other people based on those same unproven and ridiculous beliefs, while anyone who thinks rationally is supposed to keep it to themselves or stay hidden.
I always point out something that I know irritates the religious person, such as how my mother-in-law says similar things, and she's a practicing Mormon, or so-and-so "is trying to convert me to Islam. He also feels his supernatural beliefs are correct." Usually, that ends the discussion right then and there.
Anyway, I try not to become hostile in return or rude, though I once did as I was extremely irritated by the onslaught of bible speak. However, I try really hard to set an example that nonbelievers are not evil devil worshipers who have no empathy or decency, which is what most of them seem to think. They at least think nonbelievers are empty, materialistic, etc....
When a person says something like "God is punishing you" or "God loves you", there is a huge dollop of philosophy behind that. I might reply - "If you say so", and that leads nowhere.
Better yet I might say: "Prove it". Then they have to prove that "God" exists, before they can meaningfully say that "God is punishing", or that "God loves" me.
It's like morality. To expect me to obey "God's" law etc. they have to prove that "God" exists first, else what is it I'd be obeying?
Now, I ask you, who can prove that "God" exists? If people can't PROVE that "God" exists, then they are simply telling you, or asking you, to go along with their unprovable beliefs.
For me, I guess speaking out or remaining quiet depends on the situation. Last month I had a conversation with my manager at work. During our conversation, the subject of our company's ongoing restructuring and managerial cut-backs came up. She expressed her sincere fear of getting laid off and told me that she was already looking at other potential job prospects in case her job was eliminated. She was quite distressed and casually said, "Pray for me." I just sort of sat there and smiled in awkward silence. I didn't think it was appropriate of her to ask me to pray for her, nor did I think it was appropriate at that time for me to disclose my atheism and my opinion of prayer. She's a great person and she's been a wonderful manager; very supportive and compassionate whenever personal work issues arise. Well, fast forward to last week. The announcement came that she's been "let go." I guess I should have prayed. I really don't mean to make light of the situation. I'm sorry to see her gone.
It depends on the situation and how the person comes across. A few years ago two ladies form the Jehovah's Witness came knocking and was very concerned how I was dealing with the world situation of war's, global warming etc. and said that the bible could answer all my questions and put my fears to rest and could they come in and we could discuss it. I politely declined and told them I was an atheist but they continued and offered me a copy of The Watch Tower and ask if they could come back after I read it. Again I told them no and that I was an atheist. There was a pause and the older lady said I thought you said you were a dentist (go figure) the younger lady was already halfway to their car. I'm not sure if the look on her face was anger or befuddlement but they've never been back.
I haven't had a chance, but i think i'd pick a non xtian god and tell them that they will be punished by that god. Then, i'd ask them how they felt about it. Then, i'd say, "now, you know how i feel". Chances are it will not go that smoothly.
"Chances are it will not go that smoothly." LOL That's funny. I like that idea. :)
Actually, it has happened to me a couple of times. The most recent was a colleague I did a favor for, and who knows I'm an atheist. It was kind of funny, actually. In expressing his thanks, he started to say, "God bless yo....." and then stopped as he caught me looking over the rim of my glasses at him. He smiled and said, "I know. You think I'm just talking to myself." To which I responded, "Yep." We both knew it was almost an automatic reaction on his part. He said, "Seriously, thanks." And we parted friends.
The other was funny, but only to me. Another person with whom I used to work, upon learning I was an atheist, told me she would pray for me, in front of a group of people. In front of that same group, I told her if she was going to waste her time, at least do it "old school." She asked what I meant, and I told her to pile up a bunch of rocks, slit a goat's throat, and burn the carcass. "If the smoke rises to the sky, I'd say you're OK. But if it goes to the side, or towards the ground, my personal opinion is you're f#cked!" We rarely spoke after that.
I first ask them: "Which of the 4600+ gods are you referring to?" Then if the "god" they mentioned is not some new invention that I have not heard of before I inform them that: "Your god character is imaginary, as it only exist in your mind."
That usually annoys them as much as I think that were attempting to annoy me. :O)
I would be amused. I would entertain the thought and have a chat with them about what it would be like if there was a God. Use your imagination. Just because there isn't doesn't mean you can't imagine it. When they get the point, usually they won't pursue it any further. Like anything else, manners and tact is often more important than what is true. You're going to have a hell of a life if you feel the need to defend every single thing you believe in, like if someone says, "Good day, isn't it?" You reply, "Uh uh, no it isn't... I like the rain." -- okay, that's a farfetched example, but people presume things all the time, about religion or anything else. You'd be wasting your breath arguing about things that have no consequence whatsoever in the rest of your life.
I feel if you have to argue about it, and if the thought of it agitates you even a little microscopic bit, you've already lost. Even if you "win" your argument, you're worse off than the guy that just shrugs it off and didn't get offended. Let's break this down:
Argue and "lose": -15 pleasure for you, -5 pleasure for Christians
Argue and "win": -5 pleasure for you, -15 pleasure for Christians
Don't argue and brush it off: 0 pleasure for you, 5 pleasure for Christians
Let's say you don't give a damn what Christians feel, you'd still win and save time just by handling your feelings internally.