Have you ever been in a debate with a Christian and what you said about their religion offended them personally? Have any of those people been your friends, to whom you have great respect? How do you go about apoligizing for something you are not sorry for saying?

I wear my atheism with pride. I think it is very important that everyone speak out when given the opportunity to place religion in the spotlight and reveal its many ugly sides that are so often ignored. Yet I'm finding more and more that it is impossible to do so without making enemies in the process. Regardless, I feel it is something that needs to be done, but I still feel bad for the hurt feelings I'm causing. I NEVER attack them personally, but if you attack their Jesus or their God, their reaction indicates otherwise... Ugh. It's frustrating.

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Fry puts it much better than I could in the last few seconds of the above clip.

I have not had a acquiantence/friend get that offended yet, fortunately.

I have read on another site (WhyWon'tGodHealAmputees.com) the acronym SPAG: Self Projection As God. Meaning most people put themselves into their understanding of God. Which is in part what the video (that SteveInCO kindly posted a link to) refers to - IIRC. (I first saw it months ago so I did not watch it again.) Which means we need to be careful when discussing religion. Maybe even pointing out the tendency for SPAG.

Maybe talk to the person(s) who have felt offended and explain SPAG and the other aspects in the video. Explain you are sorry for any unintentional insult and that you never wanted to insult them but you do want to educate them. Kevin Anthony's reply rephrases one of my favorite quotes as a set of questions and those questions might be a good way to reopen the discussion - if you can and want to.

It is a very difficult thing to do--especially because they seem to goad us into it.  They just won't let up, getting more and more insulting until we say something back and then it is all our fault. 

The key in my mind is not to actually debate them.  That will just cause them to dig in their heels.  Far better to throw out the occasional "bon mot" that undermines their thinking.  Then let them stew.  The de-conversion has to be their idea.  Trying to force it is almost always counterproductive.

Read these three short essays.  They may help--especially the last one.




When I find myself in a debate with the religious it is never my mission to convert them to atheism. I simply express my opinions and knowledge through the fun of it. I love intelligent, thought-provoking conversations and I love causing others to think as well. I also never bring up the subject of religion (I hate bible-thumpers and people who push their religion on others, so I would never do that). Most of the time my religious friends challenge me with questions. Some of them are very fascinated by my viewpoints because I see the world so differently than the norm in the community I live in. The problem is, once you get me going, it is very difficult to stop (one point leads to another, and another, and so on...). I like it when they ask me questions because this subject is COMPLETELY off limits in my house among my family. They would much rather pretend like their daughter is a "searching Christian" and is only going through a phase right now. Things get ugly when I do or say anything that discourages their delusions...

I've thought many times about writing a book about what it's like being an atheist in a southern baptist community; growing up amongst them, my experiences within the church growing up, my deconversion story, and my life now as an atheist. I know it's been done before, but at least it would be therapeudic for me, if nothing else, to get my thoughts out and not spew them all over my Christian friends. Whenever they ask me questions I could simply refer them to chapter 4 in my book...lol

I have been in a lot of debates before, tho i never being the one who initiate it; since in my view, its useless to have a personal debate since there wont be any significant changes especially with those who are delusional..unless its at a mass debate.

And i do not apologize, if they are offended with my point of view while ignoring the facts and serving fiction only..they can marry the fictional character/s they so love for all i care..

not that i care.

I once offended someone by questioning if Christianity should be able to hide behind the same concept of diversity that it seeks to destroy in every other instance. I felt a little bad, but they just butted into the conversation anyway so screw em'. 

It's easy to offend Christians, just point out the lunacy in the Bible.  But Muslims are perhaps easier to offend, draw a picture of Mohammed.

I never attack someone's personal faith, but if I do happen to get into a debate, I attack religion as a whole. However, most people see an attack on religion as a person attack. I don't suppose that can be helped. You shouldn't apologize for saying how you feel. If they can do it, so can you.

I've been in similar situations before. It is a very hard thing to try to fix (it was for me, anyways). She didn't talk to me for like four days, and I eventually just sat her down and we talked for a good 5 or 10 minutes about what we both had said to eachother. We didn't debate, we didn't apologize, because like you, we wore our faith pride. We did, however talk about all the upsides to both of our religious views, and it really cheered her up. She told me about all the times the whole WWJD thing really helped her, and I talked about how my moral values were intact enough to just do the right thing. Once we both opened our minds to some of it, it made us closer than we already are. :)

I just try not to talk about religion to a religious person... they have been told to believe in things for years- the repitition is part of their lives which makes the closed minded. It's not worth trying to open their minds because most people wont budge. :( But I do wish friendly debates could actually remain friendly..

To me its like talking to child about Santa. If I feel they are ready for the truth I have no problem proclaiming my atheism and the way I feel about beliefs in gods, spooky ghosts, and things that go bump in the night.

If I feel they are not ready then its a lot of "how nice".

On the other hand I never have a problem telling people I dont pray, I dont go to church, ashram, temple etc.

if they wish to persue it beyond that...oh well

I've known many Christians who respected my beliefs. Also, I've met those who couldn't stop proselytizing. My friends did not take offense. But, the Bible-thumpin' jerks would keep at it until I finally had to cuss them up one side and down the other to give them a clue. People who are your friends wont't try to make you feel uncomfortable. The ones who try to make you feel badly for not buying the-guy-in-the-sky are not doing you a kindness. Just tell them what you believe and tell them to let it go. Some people are just ITLESS.


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