An interesting conversation opertunity has presented itself.  Before I respond I would like to see what you all think about this.


I was on facebook and saw a post by someone who has been proselytizing regularly.


"We should not let our bleiefs dehumanize people" - Facebook friend


To which I commented.....  "How so"


Here is the message I got from her after posting the above comment.  I am copying this directly from the source without any editing for spelling or grammar as I think it helps get the point across.


"What I meant by this comment was this, I love God very much and He has done a wonderful work in my life. I was a horrible person and made horrible discusting choices and God has redeemed me from this. I feel that I have seen the Truth for what I believe it is. I have learned to love people no matter where they are in their life OR what they believe.  Alot of the problem in the world is that people only want to perceive their version of the Truth which is ok for each individual until they cause strife with it.  Heres an example.. You have posted things that lead me to believe you are athiest. Ok fine, you can be that all day long if you want because its your life and your choice, I dont think this means that your in anyway demonic or evil or somebody I would refuse to leave my children alone with or atleats I hope not. I think that whether you except Christ or not, you are hopefully still equiped with the same things I am that make me want better for others and have a natural sense of protection that might make you save someone else from danger or even comfort someone you love when they cry. Your human and we must be careful not to dehumanize people just because they dont see how we see. Im sorry if my comment offended you because all im trying to say is how can we help people if all we do is critizise them for not thinking like we think. I hope that this letter cleared it up a little for you! Have a good day!"


Now, in my mind "dehumanizing" is exactly what religion does to people.  I'd like to see what this community thinks before I share my response. 

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I think she means well. And for someone who is obviously religious, she is placing humanism over christians general malaise toward atheists, which is better then most!

I'd reply nicely to this; don't make her regret reaching out.
Apart from the presumption that losing god is losing your humanity, yeah, it's not bad. She probably has good intentions. Though you may want to let her know that belief in god is not necessary to be a good person.
I was that kind of person when I believed. I held no grudges and I think really, the majority of believers are like that They are just not the vocal minority. Most people I knew believed what they believed and didn't have an issue with anyone believing something different. Its those who refuse to live and let live and more so, those who use it to lie and take advantage of others that make religion evil. I could and do live side by side with believers and am only mildly annoyed at their delusion but unless its hurting me or anybody else, I have no wish to bear them ill will. Obviously she feels the same way and that is a good thing for all of us.
I agree, Lisa, that the majority of believers are nice, if misguided, people and that it's the vocal minority that usually commandeer the agenda of organized religions. I think those nice people -- though they might be active in their local churches -- are too apathetic about their religion in general. It's the fanatics and fundamentalists who politicize religion and foster the problems (other than the sex scandals, of course) we see from them.
Is it possible that the author was always a good and well-behaved moral person, but that (s)he needed a higher authority to be able to acknowledge it? I'd call that scenario a de-humanising one.

But maybe the author was really bad before, and finding "God" did allow her/him to change for the better. As an atheist, I think that the reason for the change was based on a mistake, yet the outcome had some good aspects, (I'm obviously referring to the better behaviour of the author). As an atheist, I cannot take advantage of an imaginary being, to give the strength or courage to be a better person, (if that's what it takes).

As an atheist, I do care about how people behave, and I do subscribe to certain ethical and moral codes. But before that, I also subscribe to seeking the truth, and I find no reason to believe in the existence of the "God" to which the author of the piece subscribes. I derive my sense of good and morality from knowledge and logic in understanding how my behaviour affects other people.

I do not have any desire to de-humanise people who see themselves as theist. They are humans, with foibles and weaknesses, just as atheists have foibles and weaknesses. My hope is that a good analysis of the evidence and the reasonable application of logic, is what is needed to help people see that atheism makes sense.

I know that many theists seem inflexible in adhering to a belief in their higher authority, and seem impermeable to my observation of the evidence and my application of logic. I cannot see how ridiculing them is a way with utilitarian value, in getting any theist to see things my way, or to get them to be more tolerant to my position. Yet when the opportunity arises, I must oppose their standpoint, just as they feel the need to oppose mine.

If I am not up to the job of getting a theist to accept that I have a valid point of view, then so long as I have tried, that is about all that I can do. One might ask why I should want to do anything at all in this arena. The answer is that theists are convinced that we should ALL obey their god(s), and would like to bring about social and legal norms to ensure that we are all compelled to do so.

Since if I do nothing, I increase the chances that theists will succeed in imposing their will upon me, so I must actively oppose them, (via good analysis of the evidence and the rigorous application of logic). Should I be required to obey a being for which I do not hold any belief, then I would be de-humanised.

It is interesting that the author chose to use term "de-humanising" at all, because I would think that being human does not equate with believing in a supernatural god-being. We should not criticise others for "not thinking like we think", rather we should criticise the thoughts in their own right. In other words, I condone criticising arguments and points of view, but not condemning the holders of those arguments and points of view simply because they differ from mine. However, if an argument or point of view seems to me to be stupid, I see no problem with my saying so, and giving my reasons why - after all people may change their positions as a result, and that is humanist.
It's a mild comment compared to some of the religious (Christian and Muslim) comments I've seen by friends-of-friends on Facebook. I don't know what the rest of the person's proselytizing is, though. It's hard to argue with "we should not let our beliefs dehumanize people" (or "we should not dehumanize people for their beliefs") but it also reminds me of some vague, contradictory spirituality-talk.




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