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?
My sentiments, exactly.
Some theist do respond negatively when questioned about their beliefs, but then many do not. I had two Mormon boys stop by to spread the good news and we had a long (several hour) conversation in my living room where I seriously challenged their beliefs. I saw them become a little upset but this is understandable for someone who has seriously listened to my line of thinking. I hope that just a little bit of doubt crept into their minds. To accomplish this, I was very careful not to make light of their ideas, but instead offer up alternative ways of seeing things. One of them told me how it made perfect sense that god would contact someone in the new world to be his "prophet" (Little Joey Smith) and spread the word. I had a hard time not laughing. Instead I pointed out that Smith already had a record of being a scam artist before he was contacted by god, if he really was. I pointed out how convenient it was that only he was allowed to see the golden tablets or could read them. I pointed out how other religions prior to Christianity had similar stories about virgin births etc. I pointed out how it made no sense that an omnipotent god would need to resort to some of the things the bible says.
I also listened to what they had to say. I took the time to let them talk and was ready to offer up alternative ways of seeing these things. In the end, they left with a handshake and asked if they could return to discuss things further. They came back a couple of weeks later as I was walking out the door and I could not speak with them. I hope they come back again because they seemed to have listened, even if they come only to set me on the path to god. At least I have the opportunity to affect these to young men's ideas and maybe the things I said will make some difference in the future.
I was very careful to not be offensive talking to these young men and gathered all the patience I could muster. Had it been a Pentecostal Holiness member who opened with "You are going to hell if you don't see the way", I may have not been so polite, but I challenge myself to always start out being open minded enough to think they may listen to my side. That is not an easy thing to do.
As you said, many if not most of the Christians who go to church, do so for community and do not really even understand much of what is said in the service. I saw that when I was a boy going to my parents Lutheran church. They pledged their lives to living in a way that was commendable really if they followed it, but not a one seemed to remember a thing they had pledged as soon as they left the church. But maybe we should look that these kinds of Christians a little differently than we seem to. These are the people who claim themselves religious, but are reachable with the right message. Offered an alternative, at least some of these moderate Christians could end up abandoning their ideas for more secular view if they are shown a positive example. The only way to do this is by being positive and not assuming that they will respond in the way you said. Otherwise you have assured that the outcome will be as you suggested. Even if nine out of ten of your christian friends do respond to your ideas badly, the one that does listen and is persuaded, is a win for secularism. The other nine...who knows, they might spit at your now, but if you treat them with at least civility and do not attack them, one day they may remember this and let some better ideas in.
Then again, one might just catch you in an ally and beat the crap out of you in the name of the almighty.
If people are offended by reality and reason... well... good-luck to them. People need to grow out of this babyish hypersensitive business of offence and grow up. Sometimes I think theists (and even wishy-washy agnostic appeasing types) are going to have a mental breakdown when I mention even basic facts. Sigh. We really are blinded by our emotions in seeing the facts of reality.
Matt, what I do originates from needs I feel.
If I say or imply "They are hypocrites" I'm expressing a need I have.
What was your need when you remarked on the hypocritical nature of the followers of xianity?
BTW Matt, when the x in xmas replaces a name, why do you write xtian and not xian?
He writes x-tian because he reads x-mas aloud/internally as "Chris-mas," since we do not pronounce the 't' in Christmas. Yes, x=Christ but it sounds like x=Chris. Chris + ian = Chrisian. So, he's adding a 't' to keep his inner narrorator from saying Chrisian and making him cringe when he types xian.
When I read x-mas, I hear "Ecks-mas." Reading xian makes me hear "Zee-an." But I'm just silly like that.
Thanx, Kairan. I hear ecks-ian the way you hear ecks-mas.
Tain't silly; I say Xerox as Zerox. Down with consistency!
You're running up against a cultural taboo by asking people to defend their beliefs. Giving religion a pass is like the compulsion to be politically correct or mindless reverance toward all cultural traditions. In theory, it's good to build a polite social atmoshpere when a society is made up of people from diverse backgrounds. However, this everything-goes-attitude can hold back our intellectual and moral development by allowing falsehoods and barbaric behavior to flourish. Religion should not be immune to criticism.
You're seeking intellectual honesty and moral transparency. That's not always valued as it should be, especially by those entrenched in a world view so very dependent on its adherents' blind faith and their rejection of critical evaluation. Given that we all know what a world run by the faithful was/is like, I think you're being rather too sensitive!
Kairan, I don't know if you addressed your post to me.
I don't ask people to defend religious beliefs. My everything-goes attitude is me cooperating with natural selection -- the fittest survive. I see religion as a kind of medication -- an addicting drug -- for people who are not fit. If they want to kick the habit, I will do what I can to help.
If they don't want to kick the habit, I don't let them lay it on me. I start by saying religion is the biggest fraud that has ever been perpetrated on humankind. I'm an activist; I start with words and follow up with political action.
If it sounds hard-hearted, it's self-interest at work. The more people who look for happiness in a future life, the fewer people I have to share this life's happiness with.
My post is in reply to the OP.
Also, I think it is in your self-interest to promote a secular society.