I just can't seem to resist getting into discussions with a certain woman on Facebook.  She's not my friend, but she's a friend of a friend, so occasionally we can both comment on the common person's posts.  

Yesterday she told me, again, that I'm not an atheist.  She says I am an agnostic because I don't think I can know for sure whether or not there is a deity.  This is true, but I also don't believe any deity exists.  This is a bit of semantics, really, but what I can't get over is the unmitigated audacity of this woman to not only say she is sure what she believes is correct for all of humanity, but also that I am having a double standard by saying my beliefs are more valid than hers.  

I do think my beliefs are more valid than hers, but I didn't say that to her.  I really don't care what she believes.  My point was that I don't want her to include me in her "we" have to love Jesus, or "we" have to read the Bible to know Jesus."  No we don't.

From communicating with her before, I know trying to get her to give me the respect she wants from me, and which I believe I have given, is like trying to teach a pig to dance - it doesn't work and it annoys the pig.  So I told her she can call me an atheist, agnostic, or unbeliever, as she prefers, and she'd be right!  I also confessed that I have never met Jesus.  That's really rather the point, isn't it?  Truer words were never said.

She said that I've never met her mother, but should I deny her existence?  That's just silly.  I believe that the overzealous Facebook proselytizer believes in Jesus, and I'm not trying to convince her otherwise.  She, on the other hand, "knows" I'm misled and has no qualms about telling me.  

I will confess that there is a part of me that wants to say, "Nope!  I don't, won't, can't, wouldn't, mustn't believe in your deity," but then I would be accused of protesting too much.  It's a tricky game, this being honestly, unapologetically, respectfully atheist/agnostic/unbeliever.  Yet, as Martin Luther is said to have uttered, "Here I stand.  I can do no other."  It was a different issue, but the principles are the same.

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Comment by Kantarell on March 17, 2012 at 12:34pm


I thought I'd just leave this link here for you. It's a flow chart for belief.

As for the theist you were talking with, I'm not sure what I'd do myself, she seems so brainwashed and indoctrinated.
There are a lot of examples on how to deal with this kind of people online, without insulting them or their belief.
You'll just have to look around, or alternatively I could help out if you wish. Always a pleasure making christians speechless.

Comment by Mabel on March 17, 2012 at 2:06pm

Most likely, there is absolutely nothing you can do or say that will ever change this brainwashed woman's mind one iota. Anything you say will only make her feel MORE smug in her belief. There is no talking with people like her. The best thing to do is cast your vote for politicians who stand for freedom of the mind (if you can find any like that).

Comment by Dale Headley on March 17, 2012 at 2:56pm

   I know people who believe firmly in flying saucers, bigfoot, and Jesus.  I have the same answer for all of them:  "Okay, show me!"  They never do, of course.  BECAUSE NONE OF THEM EXIST!!

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 17, 2012 at 6:45pm

You don’t believe what she believes so it is not really a case that your beliefs are better or have more validity than hers. I think you should replace the word “belief” with the word “opinion”. Then you can argue that while we are all equally entitled to hold opinions on any subject, some opinions have more validity than others.
In the case you can claim that your opinion is more valid because it is formed over time through research and is therefore knowledge based as opposed to hers which is only based on unproven assumptions that are completely faith based.
You don’t believe the god she believes in exists so you are an Atheist. You are agnostic because you do not have any knowledge of this god existing.
Anything replies to the contrary will be attempts by her to offer evidence. However they will only be arguments she confuses to be evidence.

Comment by Doug Reardon on March 17, 2012 at 8:05pm

Avoid those who are vexations to the spirit.

Comment by Diane on March 17, 2012 at 10:21pm

I was tempted to send her some kind of description like the flow chart, but it is useless.  In prior lengthy and tedious discussions with her, she sent link after link of alleged evidence.  I skimmed through some of it but mostly just responded out of my own experience.  

I know it is an exercise in futility to get into the details with people like her.  I really want to just let it go and do my own thing, but these people vote, sit on school boards, teach children, run for office, etc.  If I don't speak up now, when will I?  Will it be too late then?  

I learned from my earlier experiences with her to not debate her.  I just don't have that kind of time.  At the very least, she knows where I think I stand even if she thinks I stand somewhere else on the issues.


Comment by Jason on March 18, 2012 at 6:16am

I know there are probably many threads here on TA about agnosticism, but please someone enlighten me: As I see it, there is no such thing as an agnostic.

If one is undecided – then that person doesn’t believe – if that person lacks belief – they are an atheist. Am I missing something?

Comment by Diane on March 18, 2012 at 7:27am

Well, that is basically what the lady with whom I've been corresponding is saying.

This was helpful for me.  


Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 18, 2012 at 8:48am

The term Atheism refers to a lack of BELIEF in any given god while Agnostic refers to a lack of KNOWLEDGE as to a gods existence.

Nobody can prove the existence of a god but this however does not completely establish that the god in question does not exist.

Atheism is not the denial of any gods existence (as most theists assume) but the lack of belief in the existence of god or gods. You do not have the knowledge or the means to acquire this knowledge so you must suspend your judgement on the subject until such knowledge presents itself. Therefore you are Agnostic.

You are an Atheist because you do not believe in a god existing but also Agnostic because you cannot claim to have the knowledge to know.

When someone makes the positive assertion that they believe god exists then they are a Theist. The problem for me (all of us) is that they then claim to have proof. They claim to have divine revealed knowledge of this god. But they can never show evidence for this god. All they have is Faith. Faith is required because they have no evidence – only arguments to “prove” his existence.

God exists because the bible says so and we know the bible is true because it is the word of god therefore the bible is true so god must exist. Take that Atheist – how can you say in your heart that you don’t believe.

Okay – that last bit sound silly but I am sure we have all heard similar offered as proof. The thing is it sounds reasonable to say at this stage that Agnosticism is a strange claim. Why not just claim Atheism? We are as good as certain that this biblical god does not exist. I have yet to hear a description of this god that is not so self contradictory that I just dismiss it. Of course I am not “just dismissing” it. I have given the concept plenty of thought over the years and now I just dismiss it. I do not believe any of it.

However I cannot dismiss the possibility that somewhere “out there” a god or a deity I have yet to encounter exists. Maybe one does and just does not bother to be involved in every single aspect of every single moment of every single humans daily life like the Christian one is. I cannot claim that it is not possible, however unlikely. I must remain agnostic on that because I do not claim to have knowledge either way.

To be honest I will now contradict myself. When all is quite and I am reflecting on the wonders of life, the beauty of nature and the Universe in all its glory (ahem)……I have a sense or a feeling (maybe similar to a religious one) deep in side me that not only do I not for a second even consider a god existing or have a hand in any of this creation, I “know” in those moments that there are no deities. In those moments I can claim to myself that I am not Agnostic because I know there are no gods. I see myself and the world for what it is and for what I am. I am part of it forever even if I am only aware of that for a fleeting moment. That is a beautiful thought to hold.

Of course I can’t publically claim that or I have to prove a negative or engage with a Theist who has never had just a life affirming moment of truth. He cannot for his god did it all and he is afraid or unable to think such thoughts. So to him I will say I am an Atheist because I do not believe what he or she believes - I positively affirm that I do not believe in your god. I am Agnostic again because there may be a god somewhere out there that I cannot claim to have any knowledge of.

Comment by Diane on March 18, 2012 at 8:59am

Wow.  You and I think very, very much alike.  I've said some of those things before, but I think you expressed it more succinctly and clearly.  

I have had that same feeling of knowing my place in the universe.  It is a comforting perspective.


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