I mean, I have seen lives get crushed by this moment of clarity.
Isn't it better just to let theists live happily oblivious of the truth, blindly expecting their reward in the afterlife?
First off, thank you everyone for your responses. Now I'm afraid I'm going to annoy the Jebbus out of you all with mine, I apologize in advance, and also for the delay.
Just to clarify, I have seen that the realization of the nonexistence of god has caused anguish, severe depression and even attempts of suicide, on people experimenting it. Just to be fair, I have also seen other people feel relieved and happier after getting rid of that burden.
I *AM* an activist, and very open about my lack of belief, but sometimes I wonder if it is worth the pain we cause.
When talking or debating with people, you can always add in your own thoughts on things they may find hard to deal with if they were to lose their faith. It's just a matter of perspective really. Like death - yeah it might not be something people want to face, but we were non existent before we were born and coped well enough then, and we're lucky to be here in the first place without moaning that only an eternity will make us feel happy.
I do not begrudge anyone their psychological security blanket so long as it does not harm others. Many devout believers cling to their delusions in desperation wrought by dealing with a horrifying reality. What of the mother who watches her child suffer from an incurable disease and die an early death? Can you truly begrudge her a belief that the child will be rewarded in the afterlife for his suffering on earth? Until I have had to deal with the tragic reality of another person, I cannot fully chastise their insistence upon delusion in coping with their tragedy.
That being said, these faithful delusions rarely succeed in harming none. Also, these cases of extreme suffering driving belief are rare and certainly not characteristic of the religious multitudes. Nonetheless, it is unfair to fully approach the aggregate of the religious community without considering individual cases.
Under no circumstance should any belief system be granted immunity from criticism, disputation, or opposition. However, in the case of the heartbroken mother, I see no reason to shatter her comforting illusions unless she is attempting to repress others based upon those illusions.
Thank you for your reply, Jean Marie. Here is how I see it, if you are open about your atheism you are an activist, and when you openly say that you don't believe in god it brings up questions. Your answers, not always, but often enough, are somehow a form of deconversion whether you are trying to change people's minds or not.
Re: Changing policies ans laws, that's not what I was aiming for when I asked, governments don't have feelings, just interests.
The deal is.....Where I live (in the bible belt) I could get in a debate every other sentence if I challenged every religious statement being made all around me.
Most of these people I work with and are my friends and I wouldn't dream of hurting them in any way shape or form if I could help it.
Direct confrontational Atheism vs Theism isn't going to work with them and would only cause a lot of heartache and pain.... But this doesn't mean that you sit quiet and don't say anthing either.
There are ways to get people to start 'thinking' and that's what you really want. A thinking and seeking mind will find its own way to discovery.
The recent Pat Robertson statement was met with universal disgust by most everyone I talked to about it. Many didn't know what he had said but I remedied that. When they see the scope of the tragedy and weigh it against the oportunism of this jerk and what his statement actually implies about 'God'/Devil/ natural disasters etc....they begin to take stock. They don't want to be the 'Pat Robertson' kind of christian. Heck, thats a good enough start for me.
Don't get me wrong.. I'm not actively engaged in trying to convert anyone.. What I'm engaged at is getting people to 'think' regardless of 'where' they are coming from. Most of the time we talk about everything, shoot the shit, visit, share etc.. But opportunities present themselves sometimes and 'sometimes' I use them to pose a question or two.
Most important thing about our relationship is that its genuine. I really care about these people and we've helped each other through many a rough time over the years. They know I'm a good person and I know they are good people. They know we do not see eye to eye on a lot of things......and thats ok. We still find ways to communicate with each other.
I don't think it is a good idea to try to deconvert theists. They won't be swayed anyway. A theist can only be deconverted of their own free will.
However! Being an activist is an ESSENTIAL to atheism. Closeted atheists probably shouldn't be activists until their ready to reveal themselves to the world. But others should stand up for us. Although we shouldn't try arguing to deconvert theists, we NEED to stand up for our civil liberties!
we dont cause pain my dear young lassie, we open up others to the truth based on fact, its thhat simple. the others will gripe that we are getting far to millitant in our approach but I say no.
Are we to feel bad about talking of the world as we see it, we need to shout out loud, not give a fuck about what any other atheist or the brainwashed think. The more we sit back enjoying tea and cake with rev or father jebus not putting our thoughts, again based on scientific fact right in their faces, is a backward step in making the planet a safer place.
Dogma and the brainwashing may have been around for a few thousands years in its present state but surlley that does not mean we have to be meek and all nice. If we want change, then the tea and cake with the deluded is not for me.
I doubt seriously, that anyone has committed suicide because they are experimenting with atheism. Almost all suicides in, healthy pain free, individuals are the result of depression and low seretonin levels in the brain. A study conducted many years ago, sorry I've forgotten the citation, found that 100% of the autopsied brains of suicides had seretonin levels 1/3 or less than that of non-suicides.
Trying to give them the opportunity to open their eyes to Science and all that it offers is never a waste of time. These people have no will of their own if they are THAT attached to their church I don't see how they can function as human beings. They're used to being told what to do and don't like thinking for them self. I've seen countless people in church who are exactly the same way. Life to them is the church.
Isn't a life spent in the church, accepting everything you're told as the ONLY truth, already a form of intellectual suicide?
Some of those people, who are so dedicated to their church they would shout insults and refuse to even listen to what you have to say, they're just dead to the world already. And THAT to me is very sad. Another organism's existence lived in waste. I sometimes try to imagine what this world would be like WITHOUT religion. All the money we could have better spent elsewhere. It just makes me feel like we've wasted so much time, and lost so many people along the way. I hope that changes one day. Even if that means reading story after story in the newspaper of Christian after Christian, Muslim after Muslim, Jew and Jew ending their life because they have no will of their own.