This has some excellent advice under the "preparation" section that demonstrates the fair-mindedness of the author:
"Know your own reasons for doing this. Are you trying to convert them because their atheism makes you uncomfortable with your own faith, or makes you angry? Well, first consider how important your religion is to you."
"you may find the person you are trying to convert is better versed in the Bible than you. Remember that atheists live in a world that is mostly religious. They've had to defend their beliefs much more than a Christian who lives in a mostly Christian society would. So, they're generally good at it."
And best of all,
"Imagine exactly how they feel about their beliefs. They hold them as settled and true to them, so pressuring towards conversion is an act of disrespect, not a gift."
It is important to remember that when someone genuinely believes you are in a danger far more terrible than death, they are (rightly!) morally compelled to offer help, as an atheist would as well. Understanding this perspective, we cannot ever reasonably expect proselytization to end. But we should be supportive of material that encourages a fair, respectful discussion and expression of earnestness and genuine interest in the person's well-being, even if we don't agree with the source of their concerns.
Started of well, but as soon as it got to science, it went downhill.
It seems strange to me that, as far as I've seen, no theist has ever thought about whether god is as simple an answer as they seem to think it is. Because to me it seems there is no less explanatory and intellectually unsatisfying, not to mention unscientific answer than "god dun it".
And then he says "Their doctrines of secularism may prompt the Atheist to dismiss God". Awesome.
"Think also of the "RNA-messengers", specific "DNA-plans" (genetics) for one particular kind of living cell. So how could that have just spontaneously bubbled up in a "tidal-pool" or "deep oceanic, volcanic hot-water-vent" -- or wherever they may say." So much for understanding the arguments.
It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness - a Chinese proverb. I can be an angry Atheist too. I caught some cult types giving out "free literature" to the teenagers hanging out in the local shopping mall carpark recently. When challenged by me about where they got the right to hand this stuff out to under 18's they told me they had permission from jesus. So I put on a Slayer CD - "God hates us all" (be prepared !) and turned the volume up to 11and followed them for 15 minutes. It was hilarious. Some guy playing death metal and following 15 people in green tshirts around a carpark ! Security guard was going nuts - turns out he was one of them also. Now I go there just for the Mexican standoff with him. He reads the bible while on duty and I give him blank sheets of paper.
I feel sorry for religious people, not the hypocritical nuts that even Jesus would scorn, but honest people who truly believe the lie. If I thought that my family was going to burn forever I would try and save them too. These people believe they live in a crazy F-ed up world, a world full of unspeakable twisted horror. I would not want to see the world this way. It's sad.
I get annoyed at stupid people sometimes, but at the end of the day I pity them.
I don't mind them trying to convert me. I enjoy it. They have an impossible task to do. All I have to do is to create a seed of doubt in their minds. I usually aim for the novice - the one the other is training (always in pairs). It is not nice to destroy the pillars of somebody belief system but if they approach me first, that is my aim. But worse than the brainwashing is the sense of doom and the scaremongering they live with. "The End of the world is nigh"etc. They infect their children with it.
I will not tolerate it. I see red when I see them out looking for victims especially anyone who may be emotionally vulnerable at the time. They are spiritual vultures. We (in the first world at least) live in the best of times that mankind has ever known - the longest living - the best feed - the healtiest ever and yet they piss and moan about everything and then discredit science for getting us here.
That reminds me of an excellent book I read a while back by a Canadian journalist. It is called "Risk: The science and politics of fear" by Dan Gardner. Although he does not really talk about religion many of the parallels are obvious.
Nice one James - the point about "fear" is very apt. They become secure in that fear and it gets reaffirmed all the time because they generally only know people with the same views - the flock mentality grows because of this confirmation bias. but it is even tougher than that to break free because they are also told that there is no place for or need for doubt. If they even start to doubt or question any tenets of their belief system peer pressue kicks in to rationalise it for them.
Even worse is the fact that they would then be shuned and expect to go to hell because they tried to ask questions. We can see the fears are unfounded but when you are trying to debunk a life long belief system and get a new outlook on the world it must be a terrible sensation to feel. All the people they would normally turn to are suddenly out of bounds.
Two JW's will call tomorrow. They are now sending their biggest gun. The young girl asks simple questions but refuses to read my material - rebuttals of their brochures - but I know she has started to think. The eyes are not as glazed over and the smile is genuine. I actually think the other guy is so deluded he ain't ever coming back. He is dangerous. I would not want him around. I would rebuild Babylon just to wind him up :) I am on a mission from no god !
I thought some of those engaging in this discussion might be interested in State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and worldview leaders to discuss matters of ethics, faith, religion and morality in a respectful and collaborative way, supported by the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. Currently featured articles include musings on religious conversion, the worship of consumerism, and my article on the positive aspects of Humanism - I'm a Humanist Contributing Scholar. Please visit, read what you like, and leave comments. Your support will help this venture succeed, and it's essential to get atheist voices into these discussions if we want to be heard!
Thanks - I will give it some time later for sure. I had a quick look. Most Atheists have no problem with people of Faith in general. But our (my - speaking for myself) lack of belief will never be understood by people of Faith. If a Christian understood my way of thinking he/she would become an Atheist. Atheism is just a perception of the world. I cannot relate to somebody whose morals, ethics and world view are formed by an imagery being.
However I will join in as I like philosophy (even if it unnecessary to Atheists :)) and agree that Pascal is defunct - especially his Wager. Your point on "deity Deficit" is interesting. I like the comment by EAH - "I had never even really considered it before, but you make several good points (that I can come to myself, and easily, if I just apply a little critical thinking)". So maybe I can help the critical thinking process along. I cannot post more here on this site so will on it later with this user name