One thing that that really get's to me is theist who think they have the right to not be offended and all people who enable this behaviour.
I find it hard to find a theist who will have an open discussion about why they believe in a personal god at all or why they think their god is real and all the other ones aren't. Yesterday I remarked on the hypocritical nature of the followers of xtianity and was met with no argument as to why what I said was wrong but that it was rude. When I asked why it was considered rude I was told that I should have respect for peoples religion. I disagree, I'll respect your right to have religion, by all means believe whatever crackpot fairy tales you like but if you are not willing to be offended and stand up for what you believe in then you need to take a serious look into why that is.
Most of the theists I know don't argue because they do not even care weather or not their god exists, they go to church on Sunday and go about their lives as if they were Atheists. But I know there are theists out there who might care but are too afraid of being offended by talking to an evil non believer so they just tell you that you are rude.
Are people just being too polite or am i really too insensitive?
They do not have support for the things they believe.... and they know it. If you question a scientist or even a science enthusiast about the things they believe they are always happy to explain everything in the tiniest of details. If you ask a theist for the same they are offended and don't want to talk about it. The few that do will jump to conclusions, use every illogical argument they can find and misrepresent the opponents arguments... all at the virtual worship of those people who find it rude to even ask.
It's a mistake to worry about offending people when talking about religion. I don't bring it up but if someone asks they are going to get the truth. I'm fine with people believing what they want but not when they just cannot seem to keep their beliefs out of government policy and public schools.
I call it the three monkey behaviour, "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". In the regard that religious folks don't want to see dissent, don't want to hear dissent and don't want to speak of dissent of religion. It keeps them in their protective bubble.
It also works in favour for them because we politely do not want to see wrong with that they may do, wrong that we may hear and we will not speak wrong of them. Protective bubble both ways. Winning in either case. A great strategy to keep their position in society sheltered and protected.
If you break this rule however you are being offensive of their sheltered position and there for you will be parried with a defence calling on most peoples weakness, namely politeness. Politeness is supposed to be a strength that is weakness at the same time.
If you want to pop the religion bubble then you will have to put this so called politeness aside and come rudely barging in. Only over time, when atheism becomes the accepted main stream, it may be considered to be polite to point out that fooling people in to believing falsehoods is just as wrong as stealing from people.
The likelihood however of atheism becoming mainstream seems to me, for the time being, rather remote. Leaving people in their illusion is, as currently accepted mainstream, polite. Religion will be discussed and erode with certainty, but to me it feels as timeless as the sea working to shape a rock.
Offence is taken, not given.
Agreed but with one exception: if the offence is intentional.
If a person is offended when you tell him you're an atheist, that's on him.
If a person is offended when you tell him to go fuck his mother, that's on you.
The distinction is especially annoying when I've got a smiling Jehovah's Witness at my door. I invited the last two inside for lemonade and a dose of the former.
Even if someone tells you to go fuck your mother, you don't actually have to take offense. I mean you can be perfectly aware that the other person is trying to offend you, without helping them do it.
I will acknowledge a good skillful insult, but in a kind of admiring way. But otherwise, I don't really care if someone wants to offend me. So what? And a stranger? Even less of a damn do I give, on this fine day.
I feel if I take offense, I am owning their issues. No thanks :)
I agree, howevver my comment was only in the context of religion. I to invite the JW's in for a chat. I let them leave after two hours so they are usually to worn out and confused to knock on other doors. lol.
Tell them you'd like to come over to their house at around 11pm after the pubs close, with a case of beer, to share your religion of the Great Beer God, and ask for their home address.
"respect" for each others religion is a get-out-of-jail-free card that the religious use among themselves. If they claim to respect each other's beliefs, they do not have to defend them in any way. As atheists we need to call them out on this. They need to know that they do not have this get out of jail free card with us.
I have this argument all the time with one of my buddhist friends who says I need to not give my opinion because I will just upset people.
In the words of Stephen Fry, "if anyone tells you they are offended, well so fucking what!".
A priest visits an AIDS clinic in Africa and says
"Blessed are the sick and dying for they do not use condoms"
When I hear "As a christian.......blah blah...."
now I hear "As a hypocrite.......blah blah...."
and yeah..now I do aim to offend ignorance.
Nathan really has it right here. Laughing at people for their silly beliefs or calling them or their ideas stupid rarely courts anyone into the world of rationalism. If anything, it makes Atheists seem like ritious dicks. Unsolicited challenging of other peoples beliefs is almost always extremely dick-ish and is even less likely to win over someone. Patience of steel. One open ear at a time. Does anyone notice how patient the four horsemen can be (minus Hitchens a lot of the time).
What is the most efficient way to get people to listen? Bicker about what is offensive or not or approaching believers in a less dickish and I would argue, far more results driven way?
Don't confuse unsolicited attacks with challenging religious based advocacy (like action against use of condoms, blasphemy laws, gay rights etc...) They are totally not the same no matter what shaped bed one tries to fit them in.
Fight against barbaric advocacy, but at least think twice before ripping to shreds someone who happens to be Christian whose just trying to have a nice time at a cocktail party.