Talked to my Dad, a rare ex-atheist, now Xian (long story, basically lots of psych problems, decided to try spirituality to see if that might help, conscious choice of Xianity because it's the big one to be around here, followed by much self-delusion, years of wasted time studying the bible, and many arguments.)
Dad: You know, in my relationship with God...
Me: Dad, God doesn't exist, I don't want to hear about it. (Sound mean, but I know it's the prelude to an argument I'm trying unsuccessfully to avoid.)
Of course we didn't avoid it. This time it was the bible (which I should read, according to him). I say it makes no sense, it's contradictory, and full of horrible things like stoning people. He says I don't understand. I say, it's really not that complicated. I can pick up a book and if it's written in English, I can read the words and understand them, and that's what it says. No, I'm not doing it right somehow. It has to be a specific version, AND I have to have a certain dictionary to look up the words and get the right meanings. I need to start with John, learn what Jesus said. What about Leviticus, why can't start there? No, no, no, you can't take it out of context. But Xians quote scripture all the time, why can't I quote about killing witches and stoning bad kids and homosexuals? Those aren't REAL Xians! There are very few of those! Oh...I see...not.
OK then: What kind of idiot must god be to write a book that you can't start at the beginning to read, has so many versions that many of them are not the "right" one, is so complicated you have to be a historian and a scholar (and evidently a psychic genius too) to understand, can (arbitrarily) be taken out of context in some instances, but not in others. He must not have wanted me, or most people, including most people who call themselves Xians, except for Dad, and maybe a couple others, to understand! If that was his goal, he succeeded! Conclusion: He's the ultimate prick--giving coded messages that only a few people will understand, and the rest can burn in hell. Forever.
I continue: Try to explain why evolution may not necessarily have culminated in his happiness, but that doesn't prove it didn't happen. Little bit about how using humans can use reason to overcome the instincts that don't lead to happiness --you don't have to blame/give credit to imaginary beings and ask them for help. Little bit about how even if his god does exist, he's the ultimate jack-off mother-fucker and should be hated, not loved. No, no--I just don't understand. And we come full circle.
We've kind of gotten the argument down to short-hand, we say the same things, but he never acknowledges what I'm saying.
It's a problem in our relationship, and in some others. I have friends that the subject leads to bad feelings with too. If they are so sure, why are they so hurt and angered by me saying it's not true, pointing out the inconsistencies, absurdity, bad parts, etc.? I think the answer is obvious--that they don't really believe, deep down. I don't get mad if somebody denies science, I just think they're stupid. I know my Dad used to be rational, and it was his choice to give up reason for something that made him feel better. But how can there be so many people who do this, and so strenuously deny the obvious?
I have a problem with arguing and making people mad. Other atheists seem to be able to do it in a way that doesn't cause damage to the relationship. I have two choices: cut off all discussion about fairy tales as soon as they start (if I care about the emotions of the person towards me), which I tried and failed to do this morning, or learn how to discuss it in a way that doesn't make people mad. I don't think I'm capable of the latter.
Therefore, from now own, when the subject of God comes up with somebody I don't want to make mad, I shall simply state, as many times as necessary, "God doesn't exist, so what you're saying makes no sense to me. Please shut up about it." No elaboration into the infinite reasons why they are wrong. That has a time and place, but not when it's going to make me feel guilty when the conversation is over.
(Since I'm sure I'll fail, next argument chapter will be about one with a relativist who just doesn't like me saying that anybody at all is wrong.)