When a general Facebook question goes oh so very wrong!

I recently posted a question on Facebook. I wanted to know if atheism is compatible with the principle of the Law of Attraction presented in the book "The Secret". I think they are but I wanted to know what they thought in FB land. I received the following response from a person I thought was my friend: "YOU GUYS NEED JESUS DON'T SEND ME ANY ATHEIST ANYTHING!!!!"

Today I received the following e-mail from the person who posted that response:

"I did not mean to attack you or anyone on facebook I am just really can't believe that you are an Atheist... I love you so much and I know
that you have had some negative experiences and interaction with people
that call themselves Christians. For that I am sorry but I really will
have in depth conversation with you because I respect your right to
believe what you want but God is love and he lives in you whether you
acknowledge it or not. I have some books I would like to send to you and
apologize if I hurt your feelings in any way. I was just frustrated
with everyone denying God because of the things that stupid humans do or
have done to them!!!! I LOVE YOU and never meant to offend or hurt you
so please accept my apology and I look forward to us having this
conversation with you. Because after all I am stupid human too :)"

How do I delicately shut this crap down? Any suggestions?

Views: 72

Comment by Apple on July 9, 2010 at 5:05pm
" I know that you have had some negative experiences and interaction with people that call themselves Christians. For that I am sorry but..."

Is this person really a good friend? S/He's sure straw manning you as hard as possible here. Your friend is throwing out this statement because s/he wants it to be true. S/he wants you to believe that your lack of belief in his/her god stems from some simple bad experience, rather than any number of things that are much more likely. (Lack of evidence, betting on infinity, problem of evil, etc. etc.)

If this person person is a casual friend, then just avoiding the topic is probably best. But if this person is a very close personal friend, then it may be ok to invite them to have the discussion with you. But you need to make it clear that you're not inviting them in for a conversion session. You should tell them that you desire mutual respect for eachother, and this will not happen if you both do not understand eachother positions. Explain clearly and firmly that you have come to your position through a long period of study and consideration, and that your views are not based on "personal experience." Your discussion with him/her should focus on explaining to him/her, in a very clear yet respectful way, why you believe what you believe. If you need preparation for that, then you can post another topic and I'm sure you'll get more than enough good, clear points.

When speaking you may want to remind them that you are not here to change them or convert them as you have no such agenda. You only want them to understand you so that your friendship can continue to grow. Be willing to admit that you don't have all the answers, but at the same time let the person know that you don't think anyone else does either, unless they can clearly demonstrate such knowledge.
Comment by tsuken on July 9, 2010 at 5:30pm
Good thoughts in the previous comments. Myself, I just cannot be bothered having discussions with people so wedded to a faith-based opinion (be it religion or CAM or pseudoscience or whatever), as I just cannot see it going anywhere useful. They can't abandon their blind belief, and I can't abandon reason, so there is no common ground to be found. Thus I would shut it down (politely) if it ever came up for me.

Good luck
Comment by Doug Reardon on July 9, 2010 at 6:05pm
I just say: gods are illogical, irrational, unreasonable, and impossible. Of course, many times this results in homicidal ideation on the part of the believer.
Comment by Sophie on July 10, 2010 at 10:55am
I deleted all my christian friends and then decided it was best to just close my whole account. Never looked back. Atheist friends on here are much better!
Comment by Gaytor on July 10, 2010 at 11:05am
The apology is insincere. "YOU GUYS NEED JESUS..." Followed by an apology with the request to send books directing you to Jesus no doubt. I think that I would point out that I cannot accept an apology when you clearly don't understand what you did that was wrong. But I'd be happy to if you'd recognize that you were disrespecting my freedom of religion.
Comment by Therese Lee on July 10, 2010 at 12:35pm
Thanks for all the advice folks! I took it all under consideration and then sent her the following response to her e-mail:

"I know you love me and I love you, too. You are a terrific friend and you didn't hurt my feelings, so don't worry about that.

While I appreciate your concern, and I know you mean well, I really do not think there is anything to be gained by further discussion on this subject. I have been an atheist for as long as you have known me. I am quite content with my lack of belief in a god and it has nothing to do with anything anyone has done to me.

We all believe what we believe. I may disagree with you on this topic, but I would never make assumptions about why you believe what you do, or try to change your beliefs and I simply ask that you extend me the same courtesy. You have your beliefs, and I have mine."
Comment by Therese Lee on July 10, 2010 at 4:39pm
I will start a separate thread for that discussion.
Comment by James on July 11, 2010 at 12:17am
Very good reply Therese. Personally, I probably wouldn't simply turn down her information/attempt without explaining further. Otherwise you run the risk of coming across as close minded. I would explain that you have examined many arguments and haven't found anything to prove any God to you. What annoys me is the jump assumption that Atheism has to be a reaction to bad experiences rather than a well thought out and honest journey. But I digress... Your reply was well done, and should help ease conversion attempts. And if it doesn't... well, you're friend wll come off as pushy and rude.
Comment by Shanna on October 5, 2010 at 3:24pm
I think she got to the point and made her desires clear enough. She did not want to engage in a conversation. And I dont blame her. It's like talking to a wall. "Running the risk of coming across as close minded" is irrelevant because it appears that the friend already felt that way from her email. It wouldn't matter in the least if Therese explained anything further. That may in fact lead the friend on to think Theresae does want to engage in a conversation by giving the friend information to refrute in a replied email. Which is exactly what Therese wanted to avoid per her email to her friend. Nip it in the butt and move on. I do however, agree with you, James, that it annoys me as well that people jump to assumptions and blame bad experiences (among other things) without you ever admitting if that were true. For example, some people think I'm gay because I may have had bad experiences with men. It's not justifiable and is false. Even if I did have bad experiences with men (who dont have bad experiences with men or women, really?) or bad experiences with religion, who I am is not derived from "feelings" but from biology or in religion case, reason.
Comment by Doug Reardon on October 5, 2010 at 6:01pm
Avoid those who are vexations to the spirit.


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