So I've had this friend for about four years now. We met on an rp site. Many of our nights were spent in nerdistic ecstasy killing drow, orcs and other fantasy evil-doers. We'd chat over IM pretty often in the midst of our epic questing, just the usual things: Work, families, dating woes and the economy. He knew I was atheist. I knew he was first a student of theology and now a pastor/private school teacher. We talked about demonology, angels, mysteries of the Bible and other fun but neutral religious topics. Never did he attempt to convert, never did I attempt to debunk. I liked this guy so much and have always been so impressed with his depth of knowledge that I invited him here soon after the creation of Proselytize Point in the 'discussions' category.
Now, while some of the other mods no doubt saw this as a trash bin for all the well meaning but fleeting internet trolls, I really wanted it to be a place of mutually respectful conversation. I believe as atheists the one thing that makes us better than the hordes of the indoctrinated is our resistance to conviction. Please don't mistake the word passion for conviction. Passion is the breath of life we give our arguments, it's the light and truth we seek. Conviction, on the other hand is a dirty word, much like faith. Conviction, in my mind is the unreasonable belief of rightness despite facts to the contrary. It is a baseless, cowardly thing.
If we do not open ourselves to challenges, we are no better than believers. Atheism is a process, much like science. Through re-analyzation, questioning and learning, our awareness of the universe evolves. Religion is a belief. Lack of religion is a law. It must be tested, modified and held up to peer review again and again until all disputes are proven false.
That is why I welcome opposing opinions. That is why I participate in debates.
My friend feels the same way. He welcomes mutually respective talks. His answers are always thoughtful, interesting and rational. When I invited him here, it was with the promise that our relationship as fellow geeks would not change.
Only it did.
The last time I spoke to him, he was browsing the sight and reading arguments. He voiced exasperation on how many of the 101 Bible Contradictions were merely quotes taken out of context.
I told him to counter it. As long as his posts were polite, filled with passages to support this 'out of context' argument and rational, he'd be met with equal respect. As a warning (because I really didn't want to see him smeared) I reminded him that everything he took on faith or for granted would have to be backed up with quotes or evidence out of the Bible, because most of us here could quote it back word for word out of the very same books he learned from. Faith wasn't a legitimate argument, because it was subjective. He went quiet for a moment, then said he'd need more time to consider joining the discussion. Then turned off his IM.
That was weeks ago. I haven't heard from him since.
When I send him a hello online, he doesn't respond. When I see him in game, he doesn't acknowledge me.
It's been a few weeks now, and we've obviously gone from talking a few times a day to not at all. No reason was provided.
I've since given up and stopped messaging him. For some reason, I've yet to hit the delete button, though. I'm not sure what stops me. Perhaps it's.....faith.
If some bit of reason sank through, his entire life, career and direction have been destroyed. I can't imagine how hard that would be. So I guess I'll keep his name on my contacts list. Even if there is a small chance he ever needs anyone to talk to, I know I'll be there.