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 Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 18, 2012 at 9:49am

Yes, it can be difficult to express it in words because when we “get” the meaning of the words we move to a new level of understanding. This is ok because we are challenged to look again and when we do we get a deeper appreciation of it all. Overall I am completely insignificant in the scheme of the universe. I am part of it all the same and made up of the same elements as everything and everyone else in the Universe is made of. Being aware that I am aware of that has its own significance. I am on this rock for a while and I do not desire more. That would be to waste the time I have.

Of course one of the gods I don’t believe in may have plans for me. Yeah right now pass it to the left.: )

Comment by Gary Mueller on March 18, 2012 at 10:16am

When I find myself in this type of discussion I always set one specific ground rule and that is for the person who contends I am agnostic to first define the term "god"

As I have said before, if the definition of a god is merely something that can do what I cant then my toaster is a god.

I would assure you that as to the existence of Thor, Venus, Jehovah, Allah, Zeus, Krishna, Mars, Baal, Aton, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Neptune and Odeon I am an atheist

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 18, 2012 at 1:08pm

First Diane, you know as well as I do that this lady's opinion should mean nothing, and probably really doesn't. I think you're testing your resolve to stand up to someone who challenges your belief system, and that's far more important to you than what she thinks. We all test ourselves from time to time, that's how we know what we're made of, and the fact that it bothers you so much, tells me you DO have the resolve you need.

On the less philosophical (and more practical) side, pick some ancient gods - Zeus, Odin, Ra, all you like - then ask if she believes in them. We both know her response. Explain then that as far as these gods are concerned, she too is an atheist, but that you simply believe in one less god than she does. It won't change anything, but at least you'll have taken it as far as you can.

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

Comment by SteveInCO on March 18, 2012 at 1:50pm

Also if you have a copy of Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" the line of argumentation he puts on pages 6 and 7 would be interesting to try out in real life.  Let me see if I can quote it at length here:

Consider:  every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you have for being a Christian.  And yet you do not find their reasons compelling.  The Koran repeatedly declares that it is the perfect word of the creator of the universe.  Muslims believe this as fully as you believe the Bible's account of itself.  There is a vast literature describing the life of Muhammad that, from the point of view of Islam, proves that he was the most recent Prophet of God.  Muhammad also assured his followers that Jesus was not divine (Koran 5:71-75; 19:30-38) and that anyone who believes otherwise will spend eternity in hell.  Muslims are certain that Muhammad's opinion on this subject, as on all others, is infallible.

Why don't you lose any sleep over whether to convert to Islam?  Can you prove that Allah is not the one, true God?  Can you prove that the archangel Gabriel did not visit Muhammad in his cave?  Of course not.  But you need not prove any of these things to reject the beliefs of Muslims as absurd.  The burden is upon them to prove that their beliefs about God and Muhammad are valid.  They have not done this.  They canot do this.  Muslims are simply not making claims about reality that can be corroborated.  This is perfectly apparent to anyone who has not anesthetized himself with the dogma of Islam.

The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims.  Isn't it obvious that anyone who thinks that the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe has not read the book critically?  Isn't it obvious that the doctrine of Islam represents a near-perfect barrier to honest inquiry?  Yes, these things are obvious.  Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity.  And it is the way I view all religions.

Comment by Mo Trauen on March 18, 2012 at 3:02pm
Comment by Diane on March 18, 2012 at 5:43pm

@ SteveInCO - Excellent passage from Sam Harris' book!  

@ Mo - Thanks. the next time I have an opportunity to use those arguments, I will.  

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 18, 2012 at 5:54pm

I don't know jesus either..

Comment by Diane on March 18, 2012 at 6:23pm

I had the opportunity to use some of those arguments after reading her very next Facebook post.  She said atheists don't exist because God has never been disproved.  That's some screwed-up, backwards logic if you ask me.  I assured her that I certainly do exist.  Well, I think I do anyway.

 

Comment by Mo Trauen on March 18, 2012 at 6:56pm

@Diane:  Yep.  That's why it's usually a waste of time.  Such people have no interest in actually thinking about their beliefs.  They just want to appear to win the argument.  Like their religion, it's all about their egos.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 18, 2012 at 6:59pm

@ Diane - RE: "God has never been disproved." That's true - however, he/she/it has also never been proved.

RE: "I don't know jesus either.." - I do, his last name is Gutierrez, and he sells the most delicious bacon-wrapped hot dogs out of a cart on the corner, with mayonesa, o mustasa, cebollas, cilantro, y chiles -- yum!

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