Yesterday, I explained to my mom (a strong Christian) how I am not offended when people say "I'll pray for you," because in my eyes, it has the same intent as saying "I'll cross my fingers" or "I'll keep you in my thoughts."
Naturally, she argued it's not the same.
Being an open-minded atheist has its drawbacks. I'm not accepted in a religion because I definitely do not agree in any higher power. However, I'm not always accepted as an atheist, because I'm too passive about non/religion. I accept that other people believe in some existence of a god, and I don't always challenge it. I don't take offense when somebody says "I'll pray for you," when many atheists do, because I see their intention and, in a way, pick up on the intention of the statement as if it was said another way, without bringing religion into the conversation. I didn't take offense when the lady said, "God bless you," for helping her find her car in the parking lot. I simply said "Thank you," and walked away. I explained this to someone and according to them, I'm "not a true atheist."
Is it possible to be a passive-aggressive atheist? If so, are you more on the passive side, or the aggressive side?
They identify separate things. 'Atheism' is a limited term dealing with a singular concept: god(s). In general and practical terms, I think it's fair to state that atheists do not believe in the supernatural. However, that statement has be made with the concession that there are outliers who do believe in supernatural phenomena, though not in deities. Those outliers can, with linguistic and philosophic validity, also be labeled as atheists.
I concede (is that the word?) that there may be some individuals who are on the margins who can be labeled as being atheist but not naturalistic. But that distinction I can only justify on the linguistic level, not the philosophical one. You can simply equate the belief in any supernatural force or event with the belief in a deity because, frankly, I don`t see why anything that is exempt from natural laws of our universe should be considered something else than a god. To me, people who believe in anything supernatural = people who believe in a deity; naturalists = materialists so I would not be so sure. You must allow that not all linguistic conventions really are of use to us. If it were so, language wouldn`t change all the time.
As for you Katie, I do not see any reason for you to call yourself passive-aggressive. I am a perfect example of being passive-aggressive. I question my grandma into silence when she starts talking about praying for me, I constantly accentuate the lack of intelligence and/or reason of people who are religious and I never miss out on pointing out when someone chooses "the easy way out". I never make the first step, though. But still I am worlds away from you in terms of rudeness and aggressiveness. Still, I have sown doubt in many heads and have already made too many people cry to start feeling regret now. I am now at that period of time when all the endeavors come to fruition. People have started respecting me and my position and those who know me no longer see my approach as aggressive and insulting. It has liberated both me and people with whom I talk. Now all of them know they won`t get special treatment when it comes to religious beliefs, as they will not get for any kind of stupidity in general. They know that my only action is a rational, critical, RE-action. Everyone has his/her own way in this but if you ask me, be as understanding as you can if you are not confronted with injustice and stupidity. When, however, you are, do not spare it. Also, there are ways to strike down someone`s attitudes and beliefs without attacking the person. Those people must realize that refuting a claim does not mean insulting the person making that claim
"You can simply equate the belief in any supernatural force or event with the belief in a deity because, frankly, I don`t see why anything that is exempt from natural laws of our universe should be considered something else than a god."
I don't see the point is such a verbal dilution.
"You must allow that not all linguistic conventions really are of use to us."
I don't think that any linguistic convention at play here is particularly contentious.
"If it were so, language wouldn't change all the time."
Sure it would. Some changes destroy useful conventions and replace them with inferior practices. For an example, in English the third-person pronoun 'one' has been largely replaced with the second-person pronoun 'you'. This practice is profoundly idiotic, yet it seems near universal to native anglophones (myself included).
I am wondering if the person who said that you weren't a "true" atheist is a theist or an atheist. I don't really see an atheist saying that but mankind (as a whole) never ceases to surprise me. If you say, "I do not believe in god(s)" then you are an atheist. Enough said. Period. We all have different opinions after that. :)
I am neither. I state my position where appropriate and demand the same level of respect that I give to all others. Some people characterize this position as 'aggressive', but truth be told, I think they're simply used to being able to marginalize atheism. It's as if some people take it as a right to trivialize atheism, and when you insist that they stop, it feels like they're being asked to give something up.
I don't have an issue with religious expressions for the most part, especially from people who are unaware of my philosophical position; however, if someone is aware of my atheism and I have explained that I don't like being prayed for, I expect them to respect that.
To place this in context, imagine I have just been diagnosed with cancer. I make a facebook announcement that reads as such:
Just been diagnosed with skin cancer. Ain't that a bitch? They caught it early so the outlook is good, but I still have to consult with the doctor again. On a side note, I know that some of my religious friends tend to pray for people in these scenarios. While I appreciate the kind sentiment and respect your freedom of belief, I am not comfortable, as an atheist, being included in religious rituals. I ask that you not pray for me, or if you truly feel strongly about the practice, that you pray privately.
Now imagine someone responds, "Oh, you may be an atheist, but we're praying for you anyway. lol" Why shouldn't I tell them to fuck off (though probably in more polite terms)? I'm sure their intentions are still good, but the fact of the matter is, they don't take my beliefs seriously enough to respect a simple request. Am I aggressing in defending my beliefs there, or am I simply demanding the exact same respect any religious person would expect in turn?
It should be noted that I am using a very literal interpretation for what it means to aggress.
edited to add that this post brings my post count up to an awesome palindrome: 888
I think there's a subtle distinction and you have to draw your own line. For example, I have a good friend who is a Christian. When i talk to her about being angry or sad or whatever is bringing me down, she always says, "I'll pray about it." I accept that the words are just a vessel which carry the message - the message being that she cares about me and wants me to be happy, and she feels that praying is the best way to help.
On the other hand, the cashier at the local Steak-n-Shake insists on saying "God bless you" when someone pays their bill. So I don't go there. Because those people don't care about me. They just say it because they feel like they're supposed to say it.
The underlying idea here is that your personal boundaries are personal.