Imagine for a second that you have a child that becomes religious. If you care for a second about them as a independent being, you'll let them make their own choices about faith. If they end up a religious person, you might find it disrespectful if they were to approach you with the intent to convert you. Yet, all too often, we see support for Atheists doing just that to family members. You'll find excitement at the idea of converting someone. The hivemind circles around bolsters this behavior with sources of information and no thought as to why this behavior is wrong. Is being factually right the measure of this as an acceptable behavior?

We've all seen this. So why is it cool for an Atheist to Evangelize to religionists but not the other way around? It's one thing to respond to specific points made, but it's another to seek people out. I've witnessed an atheist attempt to chase down a religionist before and I personally find it disturbing. Are you someone who thinks that it's alright to seek out people to debate? Why do you do it? How is it different from someone asking if you "know Jesus"? 

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When a religious person evangelizes and tries to convert another, the religious person is perpetuating a lie, or at best, a belief that has no basis in fact. An atheist doesn't "evangelize". An atheist says, there is no evidence for your belief in god, and it probably isn't a good idea to tell other people that your mythology is fact. When people take mythology as true fact, people die.


If a scientist came out with a pill and he claimed that it cured a disease, but really all the pill did was kill people, there would be no question as to whether one should tell everyone that that scientists pill is dangerous and should not be swallowed.



Evangelism has greater meaning than simply the sharing of beliefs. Wiki has its Greek etymology listed as bringing a message. You could remove the word if you like, but it doesn't change the point that we ten change to be a group telling people what to believe.

The difference between the scientist coming out with a pill and a religion harming people would certainly be the rate of harm. A pill that causes harm, such as Dianabol in pill form, causes harm with near certainty. Religion kills very few people, especially considering the number of people practicing it. By comparison, we don't go after people for being fat, yet they cause far more harm to society than religion. Healthcare costs more for all of us. Healthy food choices are limited to the point where buying groceries without corn syrup is not only difficult but expensive. If people ate healthy, this wouldn't be true. The point is that more people die due to weight, speeding cars, guns, alcohol, etc yet we don't confront those people until they affect us. So why is it different with religion? Why is it ok to seek them out when they aren't affecting us? Clearly, most religious people don't affect us. It's the Ted Haggard's of the world that I find dangerous. 

I prefer to say that religious people spread falsehoods rather than lies. Lying requires that the person knows that they are telling an untruth and are deliberately aiming to deceive.  Most religionists are sincerely deluded into believing that falsehoods are truth.  That makes them niave, uncritical and under-educated, not blatant liars.

When we get to professional apologists for religion the story is a little different.  Many of these people do lie, although they justify it as a means to an end that, for the most part, they are sincerely deluded into thinking is both justified and true. 


I think Ravi Zacharius is a good case in point.


He self-promotes himself and his ministry in such a way that he either comes close or actually qualifies as a narcissistic personality disorder. He sets up groups that arrange to have him "invited" to speak on the campuses of prestigious universities and then writes blurbs that insidiously suggest that he is either on the faculty at these universities or was invited to be a guest lecturer there by the tenured staff. 

He implies that he is a either a Cambridge graduate or someone who is considered to be senior to someone with this level of academic training.  He fails to explain that he was "invited" to be a "visiting scholar" as a conservative theological seminary that is loosely attached to the university and that he would not qualify for entry as a regular student to any first year level studies at that university.  He also fails to inform people that the religious college that he visited has a sorry and recent record of in-fighting and academic fraud. 

He claims to be primarily concerned with converting atheists and that his books, talks and radio shows are all projected at this group. The truth is that his audience is almost entirely converted Christians who are there to be lulled into a nice sense of superiority that they have The Truth and all these wicked atheists are just fools.  He makes his money selling his supposedly atheist-targeted books to Christians.  He does not give away his books to atheists in an effort to convert them.  {They are hardly likely to convert any self-identified atheist as he insults them all and cannot even define the term correctly.)


Now THAT is lying.  Or should we just call it devious marketing - theist style?

Religion was invented by our earliest ancestors to provide answers to the things that they did not understand.  They did not have the means or resources to answer these questions any other way. Our knowledge, like our species, has evolved to the point at which we now reside.

We now have the resources and knowledge, built over centuries and centuries of trial and error, to begin finding the real answers to our origins and to why the known universe is the way it is an operates the way it does. Religion is the largest road block that our species faces. Not only do religions have enough political clout to make researching certain things, such as stem cell research, harder than necessary, but they have 2000+ years of 'tradition' (however false and grotesque it may be) to back them up. They have millions of followers who would rather believe blatent lies then have to accept the fact that the things they have been taught since childhood are false.

I simply cannot condone or abide this.

It is intellectual suicide. It is lazy.

I do not, as a rule, go around trying to convert anyone. Ever. You cannot argue reason and logic against mass delusion and faith. You could spend three hours giving evidence of evolution to a Christian and when you get all done they will tell you is that "Satan wanted to fool us into false beliefs about the universe/world/humanity so he planted phony evidence all about us in order to lead us astray..." (LOL) or (even better)  "God wanted to test our faith in him so he planted false evidence for us to find...blah blah..." (LMAO). These are things that people have actually said to me upon finding out that I am an Atheist and who had the gumption to ask me 'why'. It is, in any case, usually a giant waste of time for you to go about trying to convince religous folks to be Atheists.

However, I believe that ALL religions are lies. Huge, massive, 2000 year old lies. Religion is a tool used by those who want power, who want an excuse to justify wrong behavior, a reason to hate, what have you. I cannot condone or abide this, either.

Therefore, while you will not find me out on my Atheist pulpit spouting the REAL truth about the world, I take my hat off to those of use who have the patience and drive to do so.

So, to answer your many-layered question in paragraph form:

"We've all seen this. So why is it cool for an Atheist to Evangelize to religionists but not the other way around? It's one thing to respond to specific points made, but it's another to seek people out. I've witnessed an atheist attempt to chase down a religionist before and I personally find it disturbing. Are you someone who thinks that it's alright to seek out people to debate? Why do you do it? How is it different from someone asking if you "know Jesus"?"

Because there is a HUGE difference between helping to perpetuating a big, giant LIE that has condemned millions of people for no reason, caused the bloodshed of even more millions of people, and put a giant road block up in front of any progress that we try to make, and educating people about the true ways of the universe. Yeah, yeah, I know that the religiots see it the exact opposite way. But they are just. . . wrong!

You haven't taken the behavior of a minority of the religion and blamed the masses? When James Dobson shows his face in the political arena, he becomes fair game. If his grandchild is simply walking down the street, his being wrong isn't cause for an intellectual attack.

People are simply wrong about many things. People believe that the Laffer Curve still is effectual yet when it was used in 2001 no increase in revenue was found. People believe that holding their dogs leash tight it the proper way to tell their aggressive dog to not attack yet this behavior tells the dog that they have cause to be afraid. Do you stop to explain to those people how they are doing it wrong? I have a sister that spends every vacation going to sand dunes to ride ATV's. What a waste of life. Every year is like Groundhog Day and she doesn't even know it. Should I convince her that there is more to see and she's missing it? What kind of relationships with people could you have if we just sat and sought out areas where we disagree to debate each point because others are wrong? 

Until people's being wrong harms you, they have no cause to address or hear your concerns. You may even cause them positive harm by forcing the issue. Not everyone is ready to live in what we see as reality. They know what we hold to be true. They will come and ask when they are ready. 

Religion harms everybody wether they are believers or atheists. The things that you mentioned, such as the person walking their dog incorrectly, are only affecting that person and that dog. Your sister may be wasting her own time by riding ATVs all the time, but this is only affecting her. No greater evil is going to result in this behavior. However, a religious zealot spouting lies to anyone who will listen can do a great deal of dammage to the people who actually buy in to their way of thinking. They are spreading their poison all over the world.

Religion is a global problem that affects everyone. It breeds hate. This world will never know true peace and harmony as long as we have religion. We will never be able live up to our full potential as a race as long as religion is holding us back. So I consider anyone who is trying to spread irrational religious ideas a problem we all need to worry about. They are, if you will, harming me. They are harming us all.

No, we can't go around constantly seeking out areas where we disagree with other people just so that we can debate our point with them. I know a couple of people who do just that and it is annoying, at best. But that is hardly what I was getting at.

Fine, take on the religious zealot. They are few and far between. I hope that someone writing "Praise Jesus" on their Facebood page isn't a religious zealot in need of a full debate about their faith.

I can't really compare them. I mean, Atheists who are attempting to convert typically don't care whether the person becomes atheist. We get along fine with Deists, who are reasonable people who believe in God. Typically the only 'conversion' I see going on is conversion to the belief in evolution, something that's hard scientific fact that religious people like to say is a faith question-- it isn't. To say 'Evolution didn't happen' is as stupid as saying 'there isn't gravity.'


The other reason I can't compare is that Atheism or agnostic Atheism are positions arrived at through reason and evidence; it's not a matter of FAITH and converting FAITHS, it's a matter of a person admitting 'I'm not sure whether God exists at all, so I'm probably actually agnostic, I'm just slightly more inclined to believe'.


Atheists typically are not anti-God, they're anti-religion. They're two different things.

Atheist is not the same as Anti-theist. An atheist simply lacks belief in god(s). This is an important distinction to make as the myth of atheists all being against religion is a common one extolled by fundamentalists who fear atheism.


I am both atheist and anti-theistic. I think religion poisons the mind and impedes progress on a world-wide level. But I do believe in personal freedoms... I am still figuring out how far I think it is ok for religion to intrude in the public sphere.


For me, this comes down to survival of the fittest and whether our lives help to perpetuate contributors to our genetic fitness.  Atheism is a direct contributor to our genetic fitness and according to natural selection, given enough time, theism will have to make room for atheism in the minds of humans.  I'm not doing any ground work here but, just in case I'm losing you, consider Memetics (the study of self-replicating units of culture) the new evolutionary frontier that Genetics once was and you can start to see why I am optimistic.  When applying Darwinian Natural Selection to Atheism it becomes obvious that freethinkers are on the winning side in this competition for existence.


So what?


So, this means it's our responsibly to make choices that contribute to the spread of good ideas.  If we challenge ourselves to become experts in tact and affective communication, we will not have to second guess being outspoken proponents of truth.  


The real question seems to be about Effectiveness.  Is the comment you are about to make going to bring the listener closer to knowing truth?  Is the question you are about to ask going to guide your audience toward insightful truths or stir-up an argument?  It's very helpful to remember we are dealing with high-jacked intellects, affective communication is not easy to come by in this situation.


I think we are right to be hesitant to raise loaded questions with those who have opposing views.  A forum like this is a great place to bounce ideas off of a group of like-minded individuals when we want to start a conversation with a faith-head but are not sure as how or where to get started.  


"You'll find excitement at the idea of converting someone."

This should be the case because when our efforts lead to the spread of truth we know we are living a life that is conforming to nature, rather than contributing to our extinction.


"Is being factually right the measure of this as an acceptable behavior?"

If the behavior turns people away from the truth being factually right is no longer the issue.  Right or wrong, are we being affective proponents of truth?


"So why is it cool for an Atheist to Evangelize to religionists but not the other way around?"

Obviously we don't want to see lies spread and gain momentum in the minds of our fellow humans, so by that same token we do want to see truth prevail and take root.  It is cool to effectively communicate in a way that helps a high-jacked mind to free itself and know truth.  It is very cool actually!


"Are you someone who thinks that it's alright to seek out people to debate?"

It is alright to be in a problem fixing stance and to be in a place where you are sensitive to those you are interacting with, some of which may be open to hearing new information from time to time.  It is most definitely alright to know when there is an open door and when you have an audience that will be receptive to learning things that contradict their current beliefs.  It is intellectual high treason to ignore such opportunities, just as it is to push a mind further from the truth with ineffective, argumentative/combative exchanges. I am someone who thinks that it's alright to seek effective positioning and opportunities to effectively share truth.


"How is it different from someone asking if you "know Jesus"?"

It's good to remember that the fundamentals atheist function from require that we are open to being proven wrong, while theist fundamentals prohibit even the most glaring evidence from dispelling a belief.  A genuine desire to share and learn truth separates my attempts to engage in philosophical debate from someone who is convinced that any view which opposes their own or is derived from any source other than the one source they believe to be true is evil.


Again, I think the real question here is how can we become effective communicators and consciousness raisers...



I'm lost in the beginning. You are talking about evolutionary principles which are biologic in nature. You seem to be saying that we can argue our way into biologic dominance. For that to be true, there would have to be biologic component to be passed on. If that were the case, then there would be no arguing people out of religious beliefs just as you can't argue someone out of being gay. If I missed the point, please accept my apology. 

My apologies, that was most certainly not my point.  I'll try another tact here.  Natural selection applies to Memetics just as it applies to Genetics.  So in this population of Memes, atheistic Memes are better for our genetic fitness than theistic Memes and, there by, will eventually win in this competition for existence.  I love Richard Dawkins' application of the "Prisoner's Dilemma" to paint a frightening at times but beautiful picture of how natural selection applies to Memes in nature.  If you haven't read "The Selfish Gene" I recommend it.  The optimism I have for our future and the possibilities available to us, as an atheistic freethinker, is grounded in the compelling evidence, so eloquently articulated in the chapter "Nice guys finish first". 

So I'll attempt to summarize my point here:

1) Nature and the laws of physics do not prohibit us from spreading Memes and, in fact, nature selects for Memes best suited for our genetic fitness to survive.

2) The only thing prohibiting us from getting through to our loved ones and fellow humans is the knowledge and skill required to do so.  We do not know how, in many cases, but we can get better. Especially by cooperating together in discussions like this.


I am very optimistic.  I'll go as far as saying we may be on the verge of discovering new ways of effectively communicating necessary atheistic concepts at any moment.  Perhaps one conversation away from stumbling on to an effective method of getting through to the last person I expect. How can I go through life knowing that and not try to become the most effective consciousness raiser I can become?  If we are not working toward the best possibility, what are we working toward?


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