I don't mean that they would literally go crazy and kill everyone, I mean like if they would lose their direction in life, stop being selfless etc.
I know lots of really nice (obviously deluded) religious people, but for an example, I'll use a friend of mine called Callum.
He gets A* in EVERY single test and has had all As on every report since I've know him.
He is a VERY VERY nice person, (EVERYONE likes him) and he somehow manages to be popular with people without going against his views or getting in trouble. Ftr, I'm in secondary school (which is like middle school in America I think..? Anyways I'm 14) and he has never gotten in trouble either.
I often have religious debates with him (he's Methodist, I believe) and his arguments aren't very good but I never win him over.
I'm also pretty sure that all of the above comes as a result of his faith and morals (which is rare in teenagers these days, I know xD)
I have never sat him down and drilled atheism into him as I know I could (I've done it to others in the past) because I genuinely think it would ruin him as a person?
What would you do? (taking into account that we go into this debate assuming Atheism is the right way of life xD)
While a non-theist/free-thinker, I recognize that some people - for whatever reason - need the god delusion. Sure, that is sad. Don't get me wrong, I will not give quarter if someone gets in my face and tries to "save" me. When I look at the Lindsey Lohans of the world, I hope such a person finds religion. Some people need that delusion. For whatever reason, it is needed to give certain people a sense of order.
Why would it destroy him? I would think it would make him more educated and give him reason to be even more selfless. I'm an atheist and I have a good moral background, and am very selfless and kind and charitable. You don't need God to have a moral background. I have morals because I feel I should not because some God says I should. It should not destroy him as a person, he'll just have to learn to think for himself instead of for his god, which can be a very difficult thing to learn to do but in the end very freeing and the things someone can learn by being open minded to more things than god allows them to be is a wonderful life changing experience.
Like you, I'm an atheist and don't need god for morals or anything else. Some people do. Why? I don't know: to what degree this is nature or nurture, I don't know. I have known my share of reformed alcoholics & drug users. Belief in a god is what ultimately worked for them. I would prefer that rationalism solved these debilitating problems. In many cases, it does not. I guess some (ha! Many) need an unifying explanation of life. Yes, there is infinitely more wisdom to a person relying on rationality and not a sky god. To use an expression that a former girlfriend was way to fond of, “it is what it is”.
I never try to "win" anyone over. I was not won over by anyone. It took a great many years for me to progress to where I am now and for me to claim that I "brought someone over" would be foolishly thinking that I can think for another person.
What I do is ask a religious person questions their religion cant answer. I just want them to think, even for a moment, about whether or not their religion is possible.
Take the argument "Well this (i.e. earth) can't be random. It had to of been created." This is a B.S. argument. So I say "Okay but then if it can't be chance, then who or what made God? Because that can't just be chance, either". Using polytheism to crush their monotheistic arguments reminds me of art, really.
But there are people of whom logic doesn't reach. and I'm okay with that, too. You can't win all the time. some people will spend their entire life with their hands over their ears going "lalala" and if that works for them then okay. But it will always make me sad.
In the end you cant win all the time and sometimes its better to just let it go. If you persist with someone who isnt listening then they'll think you're a jerk.
I think religion is an obstacle to moral behavior, not a basis for it. It is my desire to live among people whom I respect, and who respect me that leads me to lead a moral life. I don't expect any reward in the afterlife, so what I see in front of me is all I have. Better to treat the people around me well in the hope that they return the favor, rather than treating them like some misogynistic bronze-age goat herder thinks I should behave.
I don't "convert" people to atheism. One of the things that irritates me the most are evangelical religious people. I am not afraid to speak my mind and criticize religion, but I do not EVER go out of my way to try and bring people to atheism. First: I know that I can't. The truly religious mind is invincible to logical arguments... but if they decide to engage me, I will take no mercy on their logical fallacies... I just don't go looking for them.
Second: It is more important to protect the first amendment and the wall of separation than to work on de-converting religious people... since you can't that's a waste of your time anyway.
Religious people deconvert themselves. It's the only way they CAN lose their religion.
I DO offer my help and support to people in the deconversion process who are experiencing the inevitable pain and confusion. But I do so to lend a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on, not to promote my view of the non-existence of God.
A person who is deconverting from their childhood religion is going through an unstoppable process that was initiated by them or an event in their personal life. It is up to them to search for the truth. If they ask for my guidance or decide they don't believe in god but "don't know what to believe anymore" then I may give them some help with websites and reading materials. Otherwise, I let them confide in me with an empathetic ear on their pain and let them find their own way.
I think that's the right thing to do.
My true experience with people, is that religion never really turns anyone into a better person. Or really that much into a worse person, either. You're good or you're bad, you're sociable or you stay to yourself, people find reasons to like you or to dismiss you, you end up being successful or you don't, no matter what philosophy or religion you choose (or accept just because that's what your family follows).
Of course, some people like alcoholics and addicts do find something to grab onto and clean themselves up with religions - but actually, overall, the same proportion of such people who try to improve do so across the board no matter what new course they choose and adhere to. (in fact, people who join theism-heavy Alcoholics Anonymous are MORE likely to "slip back" than alcoholics who work to clean up on their own!)
If your friend is bright and kind and moral, it is because of what is in his own life, not because of a religion his parents taught him.
Imagine if your friend was in Nazi Germany or 1990's Rwanda - do you think if he was handed a gun and TOLD by his family and society that being a killer was the right thing to do, that he would go out and murder who he was told to? Or do you think he would ask "okay, but WHY do you say these certain people are sub-human and should be killed?", or even join The Resistance based on his high morals and love of people?
I really don't think you friend is such a great and caring guy just because he's Methodist. And I really don't think if he thought about things and chose another philosophy, he would become any different.
If he DID change philosophies and became a terrible person, that means he was never a good person in the first place, just faking it, a liar. And that would come out sooner or later, no matter what or because of anything anyone told him.
My best friend here in college, Blake, was a devout Lutheran when I met him. He's a chemical engineering major and he and I have a few classes together. He and I have talked about religion and faith on numerous occasions. Last semester, he had a crisis of faith which he came to talk to me about. He couldn't reason what he was learning in his science classes with his religion. Before his crisis, he was a wonderful person, with high morals and a driving urge to do the right thing After his crisis, he is a wonderful person with high morals and a driving urge to do the right thing. It wasn't his religion that made him a good person. It's just who he is.
My advice is don't sit him down and try to convince him that his faith is wrong. Faith (or lack thereof in my case) is a very personal decision. Maybe your friend will have his crisis one day, and if that happens just be his friend and explain to him your journey to atheism. Ultimately, though, the decision is his.
Yup. One can't force people to not believe in their faith. People have to figure these things out on their own.
I agree with Emily Raymond, this lad is good because he is - good - religion doesn't make him "good". He is just innately good. He may see the light, he may not. It's a personal thing, but I have found the most immoral, hypocrites are 'xians". Idiots, charlatans, hateful, vile people are innately that, religion doesn't make them one way or the other, and these innately vile people just hide behind the cloth and cross. Which is why when someone makes the announcement "I am a christian', I run.
It's not about political correctness; it's about common sense. Going head-first into a zealot, or even someone with passive faith, won't accomplish much. You have to use strategy and tact with the approach. Are you going to buy a car from a dickhead? how about a house from a dickhead? No, you're going to buy it from someone that is personable--someone that can smooth talk you into a sweet deal.
Overt anti-theism only hurts us.
Regardless of being a dickhead or not, the point is that if you're aggressive, you're less likely to talk some sense into people. Think about it. I'm sure you get annoyed when they get confrontational with you, so why would you use the same tactic against them? Gain their trust and you'll be in a better position.