I would like to try this again but first can I just let you know that I am an atheist who is trying to understand the religious point of view. This is not the same thing agreeing with them but I truly am trying to see it from their angle. I want to step into their shoes and I want to feel it the way they feel it and in that way, hopefully try to solve problems with them instead of against them. This is empathy. This is peace.
About the name I use - Evangelia is my Mothers name and the English version of that is Angela. It makes me happy to see my mothers name. David is a biblical name to but that doesnt mean people named David are religious.
When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME
There's a book called "The Lucifer Effect" by Philip Zambardo, the man who was in charge of the now infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, that goes into detail about how certain environmental situations can influence behavior and essentially make good people do bad things. It's a pretty good read.
Sagacious Hawk those experiments are so interesting. See how easy it is to interfere with the human psyche.
I think that the most remarkable thing about those experimensts is that they were meant to go for 14 days but it became too hostile after only 6 so they closed it..
The Nazi scientists are another good example. Educated intelligent men doing unspeakable acts of cruelty on other humans.
and we cant say that they do evil because they are evil, because evil doesnt explain evil ...
I'm glad you are here, Angela. Sorry for some of my former assumptions about you. There is a quote I like that I will paraphrase that says "Assumptions are the termites of relationships" by Henry Winkler aka the "Fonz" from the old TV show Happy Days.
I do think it is important to be as educated as possible about religions so we can help people to get out of them. That being said, it is super hard for many of us that were raised as religious people to control our anger when we first become atheists because we have suffered so many injustices and painful experiences over the course of our lives so far.
Over time, I have been able to mostly reconcile my past involvement etc. to a good enough degree that I'm pretty much at peace and don't see it as my fault that my parents were raised in religiously minded homes. There is a fairly long history in my family of being part of one religion like I'm sure is true of many former theists.
However, I still have to deal with the deep programming that I was raised with. So I do get angry and frustrated when I have a memory pop up that I don't want to have in my head anymore. (Like remembering on Sundays that I shouldn't buy stuff, etc.) The main point I'm trying to make is that it takes time for people to evolve out of religious ways of thinking.
Along that journey, people will make big mistakes like arguing and fighting in some vicious ways sometimes. Just examine history to see how the conflicts have played out. I'm glad that war is generally fading in most areas of the world as more and more people become better educated and more secularly focused.
I agree with you that atheists can try new approaches in reaching out. The most effective thing at least in my case was just to have some atheist friends that I met talk with me calmly and ask me many, many questions and just let me figure it out on my own how I was being irrational. They would just make suggestions of things that I should consider or books that I should read etc. but they left it up to me to pursue it further.
I never felt any coercion or hostility from them but they did get frustrated with me sometimes when I was being stupid and I even knew at the time that I was being stupid and had some kind of sick entertainment in seeing them be frustrated with me but that was not a deal breaker for them or me to being friends. They just kept asking me questions and mostly showing how they were just living life to the fullest and weren't worried about what any god might think of them.
It took me several years after knowing these atheists before I really let their questions sink into my brain and then I had to make decisions about how I would deal with their questions and the reality that they were speaking more truth than my religious friends and family were speaking. It really is an individual and deeply cerebral activity to process out the religious non-sense from reality and it still make my brain hurt sometimes. hahaha :)
So patience is the main thing I would advocate. I don't really think it is your job to fully understand their ways of thinking but it is good to know their beliefs so you can challenge them better. Just present the atheist way of thinking and let them deal with it in their own way and in their own time.
Thanks for asking lots of questions. It shows that you have a good mind and lots of curiosity and empathy. An examined life is a good life. :)
Nate ... I think I love you : )
You are a Leader.
Wow - Just - Wow
Im going to read that 5 more times. : )
Thanks. hahaha :)
Excellent post Nate, you have a wonderful clarity about you, it is really refreshing :)
Were you brought up religious or non religious? If you were brought up religious, you have an idea of a how a theist views the world, if you were brought up irreligious you have had a lifetime to study religion what conclusions have you made?
What problems do you have in mind that you want to solve together? To say you want to solve problems together leave it so open ended while there are problems that can be solved without invoking a deity
I think for me, I seem lost with the threads you start. I don't know where they are going, I can see where they start but their end rather what you aim at solving I don't see unless you just want to engage the good people here, there has been some quietness last few weeks so if that is the aim all good :-D
"I think for me, I seem lost with the threads you start. I don't know where they are going,"
That is so funny ... I hear that a lot and Im sorry. I also think thats what gets me in trouble. I take no offence. : )
I tend to write the way I think and its more about just putting some ideas out there to see what happens.
But then again look at what this post gave Nate the opportunity to do. So thats really encouraging.
I would like to try this again but first can I just let you know that I am a liberal conservative who is trying to understand the fascist point of view. This is not the same thing agreeing with them but I truly am trying to see it from their angle. I want to step into their shoes and I want to feel it the way they feel it and in that way, hopefully try to solve problems with them instead of against them. This is empathy. This is peace.
Hell no. It is surrender to forces that harbor ill will. Religion is a blight on mankind and antithetical to enlightened rationality.
@Angela – This is a summary of 2 hours last week where I engaged 2 Jehovah Witnesses. It is written very quickly but it keeps its essence (I hope).
Last Saturday a pair of JW’s, both women, called to my house. They all know me and I am friends with their group leader. I am of the opinion that he sends them to me as if I am some sort of training boot camp before he sends them out into the wild. I have already helped de-convert 4 of their flock over the last few years so I was surprised that 2 beginners called rather than the usual Master/Novice pairing.
So when I speak with these callers I always tell them that I am open to changing my own beliefs if they are too. While I am very militant towards religious groups in general I am always civil with individuals. I do not consider their beliefs a mental illness but rather a delusion for that is what it is - a delusion.
As usual they quickly get to trying to debate Science with me and inform me that they don’t believe in Evolution. So I tell them that it is not a matter of belief but of understanding and they don’t understand it. They continued that Evolution does not explain how life started and I agreed. They then start of about how the Science has not explained how the human eye came about. Apparently they had read this amazing fact in a recent Watchtower science publication. “Mmmmm Christian Science” (Homer Simpson voice).
It continued with how Science and their version of the Bible are not in conflict. The bible knew the world was round 3000 years ago. I knew here that they really were just trainees because they could not recall which Book (never mind verse) said this. So I suggested they look in Isaiah which startled them and when I said “It could be verses 40:22 if that helps”. Their embarrassment was obvious. This Atheist knows the Bible!! So they continued to “explain” that their Bible is a direct translation from the original Hebrew (I know, I know) and that is why it is accurate. So I asked if they were referring to the distinction between the Hebrew words “Chug” and “Dwur” for “flat” and “sphere”.
“Well we believe the Bible is true because it is the word of god.” (Take that Atheist!!). So they played the Faith Card on me. Ok let’s get down to business. Would you like a coffee?
So you believe your Bible is the inerrant word of God from start to finish? Yes Reg we do. So you believe your God is the creator of the Universe and all that is in it? They answered in the affirmative. Turns out he is my God too. I continued to ask about prayer and they pray every day.
I think asked them if they thought my friend and his partner were evil and immoral for being gay and if working as medical professionals and saving Christians lives even if they used blood transfusions would condemn them to over 100 billion years in hell. I say a 100 billion because eternity is just too big a number isn’t it?
“We believe the word of God. They did not have to choose to be gay. That is the choice they made with their own freewill and it is up to God to decide and not us.”
Oh man where do I start with this?
So ladies when did you decide to be straight yourselves? What age were you when you decided not to be gay?”
More embarrassed silence.
“When you are talking to the creator of the Universe what does his voice sound like”? Does he have a Middle Eastern accent?
Two sets of confused eyes glare at me.
Well you said earlier that your God created the Universe and that you talk to him in your prayers which he answers. So I was wondering what his voice sounded like when you ask this god of yours (ok ours then!!) that can create Universes to change his pre-ordained plan for us. I mean if he has set everything in motion and you pray every day for him to change his plan does he ever sound angry?
I can see the seeds of doubt (or clarity) washing over one of their faces. I am looking at her and she knows I am not being hurtful. I know that she knows that I know she no longer believes it all. I love those moments. If she can only get over the fear of letting it go. Of course the local leader will probably isolate her and ensure she gets plenty of confirmation bias lectures during the week. I love the person but not the sins of their church.
“Yes I would love if you come back next week. Thank you for the science brochures too. Could you write down on a peace of paper you r 5 core beliefs and WHY you believe them without saying “because the bible says it”” If you bring it with you next Saturday I will give it my careful consideration. Thanks for calling to me and may your god go with you. See here on why I asked them to write down their beliefs. I hope they will call again.
So I am quite prepared to talk person to person with most Theists and empathise with them. I want to see them freed from religious thinking for the sake of their own lives.