Nobody enjoys a good argument more than I do, especially when I’m right.  As a counselor though, I am very much aware that most of the time heated arguments only serve to solidify the position one has already taken.  Consider the debates we see on the news.  Democrats and Republicans regularly skewer
each other.  We never see a Republican say “Gosh!  You’re right!  What was I thinking all this time?” Likewise, Democrats in debate generally don’t suddenly say “Wow!  Reaganomics really makes sense to me now!”

Usually, such exchanges cause us to hold onto our position even more tightly.  We become more defensive, and, in many cases, resort to ad hominem attacks.  No matter how solid the opponent’s position,we will not concede the argument because we do not want to be wrong. Being wrong, for most of us, means that we are weak.  Nobody wants to perceive themselves as weak.

And so goes the cycle of debate.  We atheists assert our logic and display evidence that the Bible is no more valid than the Bahagavad-Gita or the Koran.  Our logic is airtight and we have the powerful tool of scientific reasoning behind us.  In the end, though, the theist remains unconvinced, choosing to ignore reason in favor superstition.  In fact, history is replete with examples of people willing to die for a religious position rather than recant and save their lives. 

We atheists are right to defend our rights . . . to seek relief when theists try to take control of our educational system and deny our children access to scientific knowledge . . . to share our ideas in various public venues . . . to post billboards speaking to the closeted atheist who thinks that he or she is alone in their lack of belief.  Free speech is a constitutional right that we ought to exercise to help ensure that our voice is heard.

That said, most of us have been verbally assaulted by well-meaning family members and friends who attempt to warn us of the fires of hell.  “Repent!” we are admonished “or face damnation!”  Some of these people seem incapable of carrying on a conversation without “preaching” to us.  Isn’t it fun to share a long car ride with this type of person?

I wonder, though, how many of us are guilty of the same thing?  We find ourselves taking pot shots at religion almost obsessively. People stop wanting to be around the “angry” atheist. 

Theists already see us as enemies.  With that in mind, in our daily life we should consider putting the rhetoric on the back burner.  How many atheists do your coworkers really know personally?  If they can see that we are people, and not horned characters from their favorite book, we will gain credibility.  This means that we respect their right to their belief system even though we know it is wrong.  By demonstrating respect we gain a hearing and a way to start true dialog. 

Should we speak up to defend our rights in the workplace? Absolutely.  Should we bombard
our coworkers with questions about contradictory bible passages?  Probably not.

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Comment by Brad on November 29, 2011 at 11:46am

I normally would not even bring the topic up at a place such as work, unless asked or sufficiently provoked, much less "bombard coworkers with questions about contradictory bible passages."


HOWEVER, even so, I STILL get a cold shoulder from many herd minded theists who think I am the devil incarnate simply because my beliefs are so different from theirs. For example, I am somewhat a fan of Nietzschean philosophies and find a lot of the Christian belief to be unnatural. (though on the other hand, I'm a fan of dissecting religious and mythological texts for some mere philosophical tidbits of inspiration.) I'm sure my beliefs do tick off many Christians and it's this kind of judgment that makes me have absolutely not a BIT of respect for the actual belief itself. If asked my opinion, I will be blunt and not care who it offends because......hey you asked.


I guess it just annoys me even moreso because MOST Christians in this Christian dominant nation have never even bothered reading their own book in it's entirety, much less those of OTHER worldly religions or science and anything that would oppose their beliefs. They just mindlessly repeat hearsay like sheep and listen to their stupid Ipods and play with their gadgets. I try to be respectful, but I do get annoyed as fuck in certain company, and at times, my cynicism WILL show. I cannot really help it when provoked by certain types of people unless I am just a total mute. Anyways, there's my two cents

Comment by Kevin Benbow on November 28, 2011 at 10:02am

I'm not sure that there is a proper way to do it.  I think that by showing respect and having honest, friendly dialog when a chance presents itself that we will accomplish both goals.

Comment by matthew greenberg on November 28, 2011 at 9:26am

great post, and it's becoming a real question for our group.  how should we handle ourselves?  we seek credibility, we seek equal rights, we seek to bring others into our group.  how do we do this 'properly'? 



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