There is a Madness to My Method

A friend of mine from high school has recently abandoned Christianity in favor of atheism.  She messaged me on gchat yesterday to talk about it.  The conversation made me smile.  She told me how now, instead of thanking god, her children thank other people.  No more grace, but completely unprompted her kids will thank the waitress for bringing the food, the cook for making it, and even the restaurant owner for building the place.

But there was one part of our conversation that stuck out to me.

Ex Christian:  I’m a bit of a stalker on your blogs …

Me:  Oh my.  :P  How did that work while you were a believer?

Ex Christian:  um, pissed me off at first. confused me for a while.

Ex Christian:  did my own research because you COULDN’T be right …

Ex Christian:  then converted

I have gotten countless emails from people thanking me for helping them ditch religion who tell that exact same story.

This is why I do not care if religious people are pissed at me.  I do not care if they’re offended.  I want religious people to realize that if they are to protect their beliefs from criticism, hunkering down and hiding behind taking offense won’t stop us (or the conversation).  I want them to know the only way to put us atheists in our place is to engage us.

I am told by many other atheists that we should be careful not to offend religious people.  Though I do not advocate offending people for the sake of offending people, when this argument gets applied to genuine criticism of religion it does not move me in the slightest.  I do not want religious people to be comfortable in their beliefs.  I want them to worry that when they step out of church that they will lose an argument if Jesus gets brought up.  I want them to view me as the enemy – hell, I am the enemy of their religion.  I want them to be mad at atheists so much they either stop bringing Jesus up in public (win) or they engage atheists (win).  I want them to want to beat me because that means they’re learning, even if it’s in the interest of besting me.

As long as people are learning, as long as they’re exposing themselves to the facts, and as long as they’re thinking, religion is losing.  I may not convert them, but knowledge mixed with reality will.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.