It's difficult for me to take religious people seriously anymore, and I think that's been one of my biggest headaches. I care for my friends dearly, but when they start talking about god and jesus and the happy feelings they get in chapel, I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes or quirking my eyebrow in disbelief. I really really don't want to offend anyone. But they make it really hard for me to not make a remark about the things they say when they don't even know the truth about what they're talking about D: 
I love debates because I love to think deeply about things and give my opinions on them. But I can't be so open about my opinions on religion here because by attacking religion some people will feel like I'm attacking them.

I'm also especially terrified of speaking out in my biology class. My professor is nice, and so are my fellow classmates, but I'm still afraid of being shunned by everyone D: I think I'm mostly afraid of accidentally acting like an asshole. I'm so excited about the knowledge that I know and about thinking critically about things that I forget about people's feelings and just plow right through without any regard to anyone.

I suppose that the best thing I can do is just think through everything that I want to say and try and say them all in a non-asshole way, but that gets tricky when I'm in the heat of the moment and when I've got things bouncing around my brain at lightning-speed, fighting to get spat out. 

For instance, today I had a test for my biology class. One of the questions asked was something along the lines of "Why is science outside the realm of miracles? Give two specific reasons."
It took all my effort to not make any snarky comments.  I wrote "1). Science is based off of evidence, and miracles have none."
and "2). Because science is constantly being disputed and new theories are being pushed forward, any evidence that comes up scientifically explaining miracles could be disputed later and cast out."
Asshole-ness averted (somewhat). 

We'll see how he grades me.

[Edit] I think I should point out that I'm going to a small Christian college, which should help explain the appearance of the weird question on my test, and which totally explains my constant headache and the spiking anxiety I've been enduring for the past several weeks. [/Edit]

Views: 507

Comment by Mo Trauen on February 22, 2012 at 1:19pm

Sometimes it is hard not to offend.  Sometimes the bastards deserve it, and that is when it is especially hard not to offend.  I find that it helps tremendously to write my thoughts and observations down in a diary or blog or even a book draft.  Sometimes it is necessary to let that thought out!  Better to do it safely.  But, each situation requires a separate assessment.  There may be times when that thing you have been wanting to say for some time will fit the bill nicely.

Comment by Gerry Evans on February 22, 2012 at 1:56pm

Well, you can always tell them that "you think that they're good people" and the reason that you are telling them your opinion is "if you didn't you would be lying to them and think more of them than that".

Just my two cents though... I know that at times it's a little more "involved" than that.

Comment by Taylor Campbell on February 22, 2012 at 3:16pm

Thank you all for your thoughtful insights and kind words :) 

I feel like I need to address some things that y'all seemed concerned about, mainly why such a question like the one on my test could possibly end up in a college-level biology class. 
The first thing you should know is that this school prides itself on a very "Christ-centered curriculum", meaning that they inject Christianity into everything.
The only class that I've had so far that we didn't speak a lick about religious things was my math class.
You see, we have these evaluation surveys we have to fill out for every professor, at the end of  every semester. It's a pretty good idea, because it keeps the good professors in and the bad professors out. However there are always these two questions on the back that ask 1) If the professor did a good job integrating faith-based lessons into the class and 2) if the class helped us in any way to develop our faith. 
So you see, the Professors HAVE to teach with godly-things in mind or (I guess) they'll get in trouble with the school :/  
The question on my test was one that we had briefly discussed in class (and by discussed I mean he essentially said that science is outside the realm of miracles because miracles don't really have evidence, they're based in faith, and then we moved on to other things), and I knew that a question like that was going to be on the test because similar things were on the study guide. Such as (and I quote) these things that he wanted us to know about and understand:

  1. What is the role of worldviews like naturalism, post-modernism, Christian in science?
  2. Natural and creational law
  3. Describe the limits of science
  4. If successive research reports keep changing the interpretation of some subject, how is that evidence that science may be bad or is it evidence that the scientific process is working?
They definitely allowed me to think about science from a different point of view. I mean, I'm not going to sit here with my arms crossed, huffing and puffing about how science is perfect and the best thing in the world, and to think otherwise is stupid, because that would be ignorant and close-minded. But these questions are just a sneaky way of making science seem almost weak and unbelievable :/ He's lowering the credibility of science by suggesting that science has so many problems with it. 
I don't know. That's what I think about it all.

He says we won't have our tests back until tomorrow, so I'll update either tomorrow or Friday about it :) 


Comment by Unseen on February 22, 2012 at 3:35pm

When I was in college, I talked to someone who had graduated from a Catholic high school. Her chemistry teacher (a nun) explained that each of the chemical elements on the Periodic Table was in reality one of God's angels. How that might relate to anything in terms of chemical engineering I have no idea.

Comment by kevin searley on February 22, 2012 at 3:47pm

The evaluation survey you mentioned dazzled me, its quite obvious that "good Christian values" are the backbone to the curriculum which I find extremely unnerving. Theres a constant underlying current of how can we twist this and undermine science and get away with it by eventually placing our god into their hearts going on. I wouldn't say science is perfect either, but it does own up to its own mistakes as its purpose is to search for truth. I'm very interested to see what you have to say after you have your results back. By the way, if you don't mind can you tell me where in the world you are that asks these questions in a Christ centered curriculum, I'm guessing USA but what state?

Comment by Colleen on February 22, 2012 at 4:41pm

It may bother you when they talk about the feelings they have at chapel, but these feelings are very much real to them and not really something that you want to just take and rip to shreds.  Most of us like to feel like we belong, like we're loved, like someone is there to catch us when we fall.  Theists or not, they're only human.  I use it as an opportunity to talk about the sources from which I get these sorts of feelings/needs met - but then again most of my friends are not strong theists.

If they say something ignorant as a result of the blinders this faith can often create (e.g. some sort of well-spouted myth about evolution or science in general), then that's a completely different story.  As with any form of ignorance/bias, it is best to stand up and address the problem right then and there.  They may find your disagreement or your effort to point out a fallacy annoying and/or rude, but as long as you keep it simple and try to avoid resorting to name calling or attacking the person (keep it about the false statement not the person) then I think that you can walk away proud.  You might not do it perfectly every time, you might kick yourself for letting your feelings get the best of you at times, but at least you didn't stand back silently.  If they're not ready to accept their own faults (we all have blind spots), then they probably will latch on to their belief, repeat the same thing over and over, and become defensive.  If you ever find yourself doing this on a topic, then you might want to take a moment to step back and check for your own bias.  This reaction can be extremely uncomfortable, but it won't kill you.

As far as school goes, that may be a completely different story in terms of what is expected of you as a student, and if you wish to complete your degree there.

Comment by Taylor Campbell on February 22, 2012 at 4:55pm

@Kevin: The Dirty Mitten ;) (AKA Michigan)

@Kris: I suppose I could have worded it a bit better. What I meant was that to not participate in the classroom discussions or thought processes just because I don't agree with the topic is something that I do not want to do. It's a challenge to me to think about things from the Christian perspective, and I definitely love thought-provoking challenges.
And when it comes to science, I will trust and "believe" in it and it's production of "the most comprehensive and accurate results where trying to unravel the mysteries of the universe is involved," forever, or until a better process of doing so comes up. Right now, the processes of the scientific method and of peer-review are nearly unquestionable to me. 
In other words: I <3 science. Me love science long-time. Science is God. Science is SUPER-DUPER. etc. ;)  

I suppose "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" should be altered in my case to "when in Rome, live amongst the Romans and think critically of what they do, why they do it, and try to keep a tolerant mind, but don't feel pressured to do as they do."  

Comment by Bill on February 22, 2012 at 6:21pm
I would say the question itself is irrelevant. Isn't a miracle by definition that which has no scientific explanation. In other words if it is within the realm of science it ain't a miracle.
Comment by Kairan Nierde on February 22, 2012 at 9:56pm

When I was in college, I talked to someone who had graduated from a Catholic high school. Her chemistry teacher (a nun) explained that each of the chemical elements on the Periodic Table was in reality one of God's angels. How that might relate to anything in terms of chemical engineering I have no idea.

It could always be worse!  That's gotta be a nice lesson plan...  I'm picturing small cardboard angel ornaments, labled by element.  Get fancy and we'd need some angels missing a wing or a foot, some with mutant extra limbs, angels in threesomes and many moresomes (O Chem!), and angels parts chopped and mixed.   

Comment by Vincent Darrell on February 22, 2012 at 11:35pm

I understand your frustrations. I have a lot of friends and family members who are theists and I find it quite painful sometimes to listen to their arguments and reasoning. They commit one logical blunder after another, and seem completely certain about the reasonableness of their assertions. These days, I largely avoid such frustration by doing the following when engaged in conversations with theists

1) I remind myself repeatedly during the conversation that my intention is not to change these people's views although it would be great if I could, since I am convinced that I am right and they are wrong. By doing this, I avoid the likelihood of them feeling that I have an agenda that is in stark contrast to their views. 

2) I try hard to avoid emotional reactions to what I consider blatantly stupid comments on their part. This gives them the feeling that they are not being patronized. My feeling is that a lot of theists react pretty adversely to atheists because deep down they know that the atheist they are having a discussion with might be smarter than they are. This, I believe, makes them more defensive and ergo more reactive.

3) I try to make plant a seed of skepticism in their mind that might eventually blossom into full-blown atheism. To do this I feel that it is important to make the other person feel that the provenance of skepticism is their own mind and not mine. In other words, I take a socratic line of questioning, that forces them to engage in ever deeper thought about their beliefs.

For example, consider this conversation....

Theist: I don't believe in evolution!

Me: What about it don't you believe?

Th: That we could evolve from monkeys. Why aren't monkeys becoming humans now?

Me: How would you know that present-day monkeys are not slowly becoming something else more human-like?

Th: Cuz I would notice it.

Me: You mean over millions of years? What within your lifespan?

Th: That's a cop out. How do biologists know what happened over millions of years?

Me: They would say fossil evidence, and all sort of other evidence. By the same rationale how do you know what didn't happen over millions of years?

Th: The Earth is only 6000 yrs!

Me: So, you don't think carbon dating works?

Well, you get the idea. It is time-consuming, but certainly a lot less frustrating. At the same time it is quite amusing to see theists squirming for reasonable-sounding answers. I encourage you to give it a try. If it fails a few times I insist that you persist. For me it has been well-worth the perseverance. I've successfully been able to plant the seeds of doubt in devout muslim friend of mine, but the effects took a full year or so.


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