Hi all, new to TA as of yesterday. Am very happy to have found this site!
Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had any pointers with dealing with Christian friends. I have many and they have tried converting me, and I feel like I should open up with my thoughts as well but I do feel pretty intimidated by them. How do you deal with this? To give you a feel of what some of them are like - here is a recent post on Facebook that one of my Christian friends wrote:
"I feel deeply sorry for people like Richard Dawkins, men blinded by the brilliance of their own minds, like sunstrike on a calm Sunday evening drive, allowing you to blissfully coax along, right up until the splitsecond before the train hits you from the side..."
I feel deeply sorry for people like Richard Dawkins, men blinded by the brilliance of their own minds, like sunstrike on a calm Sunday evening drive, allowing you to blissfully coax along, right up until the splitsecond before the train hits you from the side..."
sounds elegant ... but sadly is so blinded by faith sometimes there is nothing you can do or say to get them thinking or asking questions.
Remember, Truth can never be reached by just listing to the voice of an authority. -- Francis Bacon
Also you can find a slick wallpaper with that quote here :]
I know this matter of aggressive Christian peers has been hashed over many times, but I am too lazy to dig up the pertinent discussions at the moment.
When dealing with theists, there is "no one size fits all" solution. How you approach the problem depends on the medium, the theist, and most importantly, you. For example, if you do not have extensive Biblical knowledge, you should not debate theists on the merits of the Bible. Also, if you don't know jack about biology, then you shouldn't make your stand when they call evolution a hoax. But, if you are a Physics major and a theist wants to propose that God is hiding in quantum foam, then by all means rip them and their argument to shreds.
But that is all about how to debate them. It really depends on what outcome you want when dealing with them. Do you want a debate? Do you merely want them to respect your unbelief and not proselytize to you?
How I personally deal with it is, well....I don't have to usually. Most of my friends are not religious. Typically, I do not bring up the matter of religion or atheism in normal conversation. But the few times I have had this happen to me, I just ask questions. Try it.
If you come across as genuinely interested, they'll be less defensive and more eager to be friendly. It doesn't take long before you can start stumping Christians with questions about their religion. This might even get their wheels turning. Growing up in a Christian household, nothing got the topic changed away from religion faster than genuine questions by a curious child that did not have easy answers. Amazingly enough, I find that still works as an adult.
I think the problem I have had is being TOO friendly and TOO eager to see their side of the story and too passive in showing them my thoughts and beliefs. I think they think "Mecca's so nice - why is he not Christian?"
I think being moral/nice and being atheist are mutually exclusive. But in reply to Reggie, I think as myself as a jack of all trades when it comes to knowledge of Atheism if you will. So whilst I am no Bible specialist, I do have a basic knowledge of it. As with evolution etc.
But thanks, I might just do that. Ask them questions and get them to maybe question themselves. Probably won't work though.....they are close minded and stubborn as hell!
I think as myself as a jack of all trades when it comes to knowledge of Atheism if you will. So whilst I am no Bible specialist, I do have a basic knowledge of it. As with evolution etc.
The problem with debate, especially face to face, is that people tend to make stuff up as they go along or they have their facts wrong. Unless you are very knowledgeable, this can be difficult to refute on the spot against a confident opponent. I know a bit about biology and evolution, but I am no biology major (although I want to be) and while I may recognize spurious claims in regards to biology, I may not have the knowledge on hand to properly combat it.
Debating online is much easier because you have the resources and the time to utilize them.
If they are that closed minded, then there is not much you can do to enlighten them. You could use them as sparring partners for practice and try different techniques and see which works best for you.
Hahaha, I hope I do not have to result to that! I may do what Reggie has suggested and use them as sparring partners. I enjoy debating yet get so frustrated at the same time because they do not approach it with the open mind that I give to them. Arghh!
In my experience, your best bet is a two-pronged approach. First, never bring up the subject yourself. Simply be an example of an atheist for them to admire by how you live your life.
Secondly, when approached, dismiss the issue as quickly as you can. Have ready some very basic one- or two-line responses and stick to them at all times. Not just during that specific encouter, but every time. No exceptions.
I have outgrown the need for myth and superstition.
I am pursuing knowledge instead of beliefs.
I understand where you are coming from.
You will have to come up with some things that fit your personality and that you can say so you don't sound like a robot.
You will have to practice. Take some of the posts you have received from Facebook (or wherever) and line them up in a Word doc or similar. It doesn't matter what order. In fact, it would be better if you mixed them up on purpose. Then insert your chosen phrase(s) after each one. Then read the whole thing to yourself like a script--out loud. (It's important to actually speak the words. You don't really get comfortible with them unless you do.) What you will notice is that in being consistent, your short answers will not only always be applicable, but will not allow them to pull you into a fruitless interaction that will go nowhere.
You will repeat yourself a lot at first. A lot. You will eventually get comments like: 'can't you say anything else?,' 'you are just a broken record,' etc. But, they will eventually leave you alone. This only works if you are consistent. Like a dog, you will train them to know that whatever they do or say your response will be the same. It won't pay them to engage with you on this subject any longer.
This, however, is only if you want to get them to just leave you alone on this topic. If you actually want to try and de-convert them through evidence, you'll just end up frustrated, unless you just like to argue.
Those who have a belief can't generally be persuaded through this kind of stuff. Their belief includes within it an automatic dismisal of anything that runs contrary to itself. It's what a belief is--holding a thing to be true or false despite of any evidence to the contrary. The evidence has to be wrong because it is contrary to the belief. Nothing you can do or say will change that.
However, if you live your life as an example that looks like you've 'got it together,' so to speak, that will speak much louder and more effectively than anything else. At some point, people will approach you and ask you why you are so happy/successful/friendly, etc. instead of telling you that something's missing from your life and you need god. At that point, you can explain yourself because they are at least partially open to it. Until then, it's a waste of time.
People will disagree with me. But I find that this does work. It's not easy, but it works.