I had an argument with a Facebook friend the other week that led to others joining in with her against my expressing my views about her beliefs, and the politics attached to them.

She is Catholic, and was expressing support for the bishops who are suing the US government to stop them "being forced to supply contraceptives".

I linked some article about the absurdity of people - particularly women - who allow their lives (and in particular reproductive lives) to be dictated to be a bunch of celibate men. She deleted my post, and a row ensued, whereby I said that the Catholic church was "founded on a lie which has been allowed to fester for the past 2000 years".

It subsequently lost me more Facebook friends who, I imagine, see me as some kind of "monster" for criticizing this woman's "beliefs". I think I'm just making the woman think.

Am I alone in thinking there are more ways than one of putting an atheist message across? And that although gentle discussion has its place, the occasional blast of "This is how it is" is necessary?


Personally, I'm tired of treading on eggshells around religion. I think it's time to let the Emperor know in no uncertain terms that his new clothes don't exist, and that he's making a fool of himself - even if it means losing friends doing so.

I'm of the opinion that religion isn't just some benign nonsense, but that it has political consequences, and it's an absurdity that causes a lot more problems than it fixes. And that it's about time we made more noise about it.

Opinions, please.

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It's self-hypnosis really, all it boils down to.

Shit like "god never gives you more than you can handle," or the entire notion of an afterlife. Clearly these are the products of a prophet who wanted his subjects to stop bitching about their misery and giving their lives for him..

I was in debate with christian whose best argument was that science can't explain itself. Desperate stuff.

Self-hypnosis or mass-hypnosis? 

Well I think in part it's because a lot of people don't like to stand out from the crowd. There's safety in numbers, and many people think that because a lot of people think a certain way then they must be right.

And so they go along with the crowd.

After all, they are expected to be sheep: "The Lord is my Shepard" says it all...

And sure enough, they discard all responsibility for themselves and everything else, because "God" will take care of them.

No wonder they're happy!

Until, of course, the farmer takes them to market...

I like the arm swinging analogy.  Everybody has the right to swing their arms around, but that right ends at the noses of others.  If you swing your arm and hit my nose, be ready to have your arm broken.

Fighting intolerance does not mean you have to be a doormat.  We aren't Christians, and even Christians don't turn the other cheek.  We really don't have to do that.  If someone is starting to attack, the right thing to do is to defend.

Likewise when followers of ideology try to perpetuate what I feel is a primitive and inferior idea such as intolerance, through the method of shaming those with the superior principle of tolerance, I do not just sit there and let them get away with their attacks.  It is a strategic balancing, and at times you have to resort all the way to the level of humiliation if a really bad idea is viciously being perpetuated in order to balance out the nonsense.

The same goes with religion.  If someone perpetuates the oppression of others on account of it being a part of their faith, then I attack their faith.  I wouldn't need to do that, however, if tolerance was widespread.  It is a situational ethics lesser of the two evils decision.

The problem I have with the rabid antitheists is that they oppose religion because it causes harm, yet they don't oppose what makes religion mainly cause harm in the first place. Yes, religion causes harm, and it is wrong because it perpetuates a lie and the truth matters.

However, intolerance is something that causes more harm than religion ever has. That is a fact. Most of the harm caused by religion, has been on account of intolerance.

Rabid antitheists give intolerance a free pass in order to fight a lesser evil which is religion. It is undeniable that logic dictates intolerance is the greater harm. Yet they refuse to submit to logic. Not only that, they use the greater harm to bring about a better world? How dumb is that? It is bizarre, that you can make a better world by using the worst thing in the world.

Yes, religion without intolerance is still bad because it is a perpetuation of a lie that still leads to misconceptions. But the thing antitheists love to attack about religion is the intolerance within. Yet the fools continue to perpetuate it in the new and better system they are trying to create.

Logic dictates that intolerance is the greatest social cause of harm in history. They plug their ears about that.

It is one thing to resort to intolerance as a temporary means to an end, it is another to perpetuate it as a good value toward anything you disagree with in the better world you are trying to create.

I love how you always talk in absolutes. Makes it even funnier.

Starting or even engaging in a fight will simply drive them deeper into their positions and stop them from listening. I'm surprised you haven't drawn that lesson from your Facebook experience. I think setting an example is probably the best way to go.

I use to preach tolerance in my younger days, but the older I got the more I realized the damage I was doing. I was an enabler and the humane race was the addict. Sooner or later society will have to make a conscious decision, either we keep these silly mythologies around and stagnate or we finally cast it aside and prosper. Religion has been holding us back for far too long. Don't feel bad about voicing your opinions. It's the chisel that chips away at the marble stone we call religion. After the artist is done the real masterpiece will show. 

"I was an enabler and the human race was the addict".

Precisely!

The Emperor has no new clothes, and has been standing naked in the middle of the room for way too long.

Personally, I'm bored with having to pander to everyone else who doesn't have the guts to speak up.

It's time to tell the emperor to get lost as well.

I agree.  I'm not sure if any "handbooks" exist regarding tactics to use when debating a Theist, but I do know that they have their own apologist books and "Witnessing to an Atheist" books.  I feel like I need one to help build my confidence.  My friends are beginning to confront me and I find myself using soft tactics with them - which are too weak to be very convincing.

Sometimes soft tactics work. Sometimes they don't. All I'm saying is that we should be sure to use hard tactics now and then.

Take for example the fact that there are seven US states where atheists can't hold office.

I'll say that again. THERE ARE SEVEN U.S. STATES WHERE ATHEISTS CAN'T HOLD OFFICE.

Do you really think that quietly defending atheism, and never attacking the absurdity of religion is EVER going to change that?

Being meek doesn't get the job done. Realise that, and you might be halfway towards beginning to affect change.

I was changed by a combination of a few things: argument with atheists, as I tried to protect my ever thinning belief in "spirit"; a good, gentle intellectual argument put forward by Richard Dawkins; a harsher, more brutal argument from Christoper Hitchens, and some fine ridicule of religion from George Carlin.

Attack from all sides: that's the way to go.

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