Perhaps you know of someone who is quietly religious and that person's religion seems to motivate and maintain him/her. And quite often these persons are genuinely good persons, as best as you can tell.

When I meet these persons, I really hesitate to challenge their faith. Their faith seems to be working for them. I feel that they are living with a mistaken belief, but again I hesitate to try to correct them.

I am all for the dissemination of information that raises skepticism about the various religious faiths, but on a person to person level, when I meet someone who is doing well by their faith, perhaps it is just out of politeness or perhaps out of a concern that I don't want to take responsibility for their religious breakdown - I usually won't challenge their beliefs.

I'm sure you know lots of these people. They're not the evangelizing-in-your-face types, but the quiet religious folks who seem genuinely good and who find much solace in their faith.

Again, I think these religious folks are living their lives with a mistaken central belief, and I feel sort of sad for them for that reason, but I usually won't try to correct them. I just hope that eventually they examine their faith and begin to doubt it and consider other possibilities.

Is this something that happens to you? Do you find yourself 'holding back' your atheism?

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Let sleeping dogs lie.

My religious position is of noone's concern and it isn't my duty to proselytize anyone out of their position. If someone asks, i'll tell. If wants to know more, i'll explained. If s/he has doubts him/herself, i'll share. If convert me is their intention, i'll shut myself and leave.

I don't care what people believe until their beliefs harm others or infringe upon good common sense.  I am not on any kind of mission to deconvert people, especially when their faith is helpful to them.  When they project that onto me and give me a hard time because I don't believe, then I might tend to push back. 

I have Mennonite and Seven Day Adventist neighbors who are low key and some of the best people in the world to have next door. They know me and my lifestyle well enough to avoid any attempts to proselytize. 

If you believe in an afterlife and that you will someday be with your dead spouse, parent, child,....who am I to destroy that hope? I think it is more important to challenge bad religious ideas: bigotry, anti-intellectualism, anti-science, denial of the future (JC's gonna Rapture us so who cares if we burn up all our resources and leave nothing for the great grand kids.) When we die, we enter oblivion, so nobody's going to be disappointed anyway. 

Is this something that happens to you? Do you find yourself 'holding back' your atheism?

I rarely volunteer the subject of atheism or religion unless someone else brings it up first. If they do, I generally don't hold back, unless it's a chance encounter in a public place that may be unsafe or isn't conducive to a long and deep conversation.

For instance, if I meet a religious crackpot on a subway train full of strangers at 10:30 PM on Friday night, it probably isn't a good time or place to tell him his God is baloney, but if we meet when I'm with friends at a bookstore coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon, I wouldn't hesitate.

Why? For the same reason I would tell a happy drunkard about alcoholism. False comfort is no comfort.

Living in a fool's paradise, he's not happy, he only thinks he's happy.  Works for me!

Where I live in the USA I get the "doG Bless You" salutation all the time.  I respond each and every time with "There are no doG's".

If no one brings up the doG's myths I offer no comments on the subject.

I seldom challenge believers to explain what they believe or why they believe it. I generally have no problems with them as long as they keep it to themselves. If they have a “personal relationship with Jesus” that’s fine with me. However knocking on my front door or stopping me in the street to tell me about their subjective beliefs is a different matter. They had better be prepared because I give no quarter. I will not be offensive or impolite, even if my challenge appears so to them. It is like a picture on TA a few days ago that said if they can “lover the sinner, not the sin” then I can “detest the belief, but not the believer”. I will be militant when it comes to standing up to religious intrusion into the secular world especially into education and politics.

I think that peer pressure and conversion are more problematic than constructive, or at least it's that way with my personal interactions with people. If I criticize religion to a religious person, I'll do it more indirectly, e.g. demonstrating obvious problems with (any) religion or cult, in general. I also run into new age, non-religious people who have severely retarded, non-scientific, non-evidenced-based ways of evaluating lifestyle and medicine (e.g. homeopathy), but I'm not anxious to argue against their placebo unless they clearly need real medicine to fix something.

To me, it's not the belief or the fantasy that's dangerous so much as how they want to impose it on others.

I think it is rude to correct a person's bad manners, health habits, or religion unless it involves your own life. Live and let live. But a good conversation with some one about religion is fun. I don't try to make them believe they are wrong but you can make them think a little and maybe they will even feel stronger about their beliefs but maybe they will at least think. As others have stated, it is when they want to inflict their world of belief on every one else that it becomes a problem. I don't mind a Jesus and manger scene in a public place, but don't make stupid laws based on religious beliefs for their own sake. I should be angrier about that and speak out more against those who relish in those kind of laws.

I don't mind a Jesus and manger scene in a public place, but don't make stupid laws based on religious beliefs for their own sake.

My inclination used to be to feel this same way.  Likewise casual "god" references in school, etc. or a student praying over the mike at graduation.

However.  You'll notice nativity scenes typically show up in front of government buildings, not in front of private residences.  And when the court case comes along and the people are directed to remove the offending scene or behavior, and it is pointed out to them that they can move it to a church, they generally either refuse, or they vow to do it and then nothing happens.  They'll make some statement about you trampling on their religious rights as if they don't understand the distinction between government paid-for-and-endorsed religion and their own private actions.  But their pattern of actual behavior, and what they get outraged over, tells me they damned well know what it is they are doing here--using the government to give their own skygod beliefs more prestige, and creating more societal pressure to toe the line and go to their same church.

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