A Letter From A Reader: Why Can’t You Be Nicer To Religious People?

A Letter From A Reader: Why Can’t You Be Nicer To Religious People? March 21, 2018

I post a lot on Instagram. Often my posts are poking fun at religion or meant to spark a conversation about it. Of course, it’s not surprising that many of these posts upset believers, as these are their most cherished ideas being torn to bits by thousands of people on a public platform. I do understand that it cannot be easy to witness as a religious person. As such, I get a lot of people accusing me of being insensitive to their religion, and they often deliver those accusations in a fairly rude and personal way. So, when I got this email from Bryant, I was pleasantly surprised. He was polite and had a genuine question regarding my frequent attacks on religious ideas:

My name is Bryant. I have been following you mostly on Instagram. I am a person who believes and follows Jesus. In many ways, I find your Instagram posts funny, satirical and thought-provoking.

I read your latest blog post-Christian Says We Need To Embrace These Ideas In The Bible… And I Agree! In many ways, I agree with what you are saying.

However, as I thought a little bit about your response, I was a little thrown because what you say here: “ The one thing that Billy missed, though, is that we do embrace these things already. Not all atheists, but there are loads of us who already cherish these ideas; who live them, and preach them and use them as cornerstones in our everyday lives.”

Now, I do not doubt that you do not practice these ideas and do practice them within most areas of your life. However, as I follow you on Instagram, I wonder how the majority of your posts help to communicate in others (be they theist or atheist) a sense of love, joy, peace, kindness self-control etcetera. I guess I struggle to see how when you post some things, that you are doing that in a way that is seeking to help someone become a more loving, kind, joyous, or patient etcetera person toward the atheist position? I will say that I do believe from the short time I have followed you, you do seem to exercise some self-control with people who follow you on Instagram and make negative comments and you reply in a much kinder way.

I suppose I am just saying that I am a little bummed because I think, “Wow, this blogger atheist has a such a chance to build up a community of atheist people and rally them around a more intellectual view of life that breaks the shakes of petty belief.” But then I see some posts and go, but all I keep seeing is lots of putting down or poking fun at religion that I wonder if it is really producing in people more love, more peace, more joy, more kindness etcetera.

Bryant took the time to be reasonable in his email, so I thought I would take some time to answer him thoughtfully.  I wanted to share my response here because these are questions I often get, and I’m sure more than a few people might get something out of me answering them publicly. Here’s what I said:

Hi Bryant,

I am so glad you wrote this email. I understand why you might have wrestled with it, though. Please be assured, I am so very open to hearing from believers and answering these sorts of questions. I am also really glad you emailed me instead of commenting because often I miss comments as I get so many notifications. So, thank you!

First, I want you to know that I have a deep respect for many religious people I know personally, and even many whom I’ve gotten to know online. So much so, that I have invited many of them to guest blog on my blog. I have much love for many religious people and nothing that I post is meant to be taken personally.

However, it is important to separate ideas from the people who hold them. Even though some of the ideas I am critical of are held dear by some people, they are still ideas. In much the same way that religious people say they “hate the sin, but love the sinner” there are many beliefs I loathe, but still have a deep respect for people who hold them.

For instance, take my mom. She’s amazing in every way. She’s been my biggest support my whole entire life. She’s so intelligent, caring and wonderful and I love her so much. The thing is, she’s a follower of alternative medicine, believes in a lot of strange conspiracy theories and I find some of what she believes quite dangerous. I often crack jokes (along with my brother) about her remedies, like suggesting she dip her elbow in apple cider vinegar when she complains of pain or tiredness. These jokes are not meant to hurt her, or be an attack on her. Instead, they are jokes about the ideas she holds. Even though she cherishes these ideas I find incredibly dangerous, I still love and respect her and she loves and respects me, too. It’s not personal.

Another example would be if one of your kids joined a cult. You would likely have a great deal of concern for the safety of your child and would probably criticize the ideas put forth by the cult, but that doesn’t mean you love your child less. It doesn’t mean you’re trying to hurt the child. Of course, the things you say might hurt him or her because they feel so strongly about these ideas, but that doesn’t mean you should stop criticizing the ideas themselves.

When I poke fun of religion, I am often expressing how I truly feel about it. While my true feelings regarding religion may feel like an attack on someone who holds that religion dear, they are not. They are how I feel and I won’t ever pretend I don’t feel that way. I have just as much right to express my feelings about religion as religious people do.

he thing is, my Instagram feed is meant to serve atheists. It’s meant to be a place where atheists can discuss religion and related topics and feel free to express how they really feel about it. Of course, I love it when religious people join us and I love to be challenged, but the ultimate goal of all of my social spaces is to provide a place for atheists to be themselves.

I also often share posts that I don’t agree with. My captions are usually questions on these posts, asking my audience how they feel about it, because these posts are meant to spark conversation rather than be something I endorse.

The truth is, I think a lot of the things religious people believe in are silly. I also think some of the things religious people believe in are scary. As such, my posts reflect that. However, I do not think religious people are stupid or inferior. I don’t hate religious people or carry any contempt for them. I respect and love many religious people, but I can’t pretend I don’t feel amused, concerned or outright disgusted by some the ideas they hold dear.

I hope this sufficiently answers your questions. I know that someone having such contempt for the ideas that shape your life is not an easy thing to swallow. I appreciate you contacting me in spite of that.

That pretty much sums up my position. No matter how many feelings it hurts, my position on religion will be the same and I will express it until such time someone gives me a good reason to respect it. No, I don’t have much respect for religious ideas because I’ve always been an outsider and it’s always seemed silly, strange and sometimes scary to me.

Even though I should be used to it by now, it always throws me for a loop when a religious person suggests that should I not have anything nice to say about religion, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Imagine if that’s how we’d approached slavery or segregation or child labour? Not all ideas deserve respect. Some ideas deserve to be criticized relentlessly, especially those for which there is no demonstrable reason to believe them. Even more especially those ideas that lead to discrimination, abuse and sometimes even death.

It’s also as if they are suggesting that only believers should be entitled to openly discuss their feelings about religion; that the feelings atheists hold about religion are invalid or less valuable than those of believers. What else can I really say but, too bad? I’m sorry my opinions on religion hurt your feelings but I’m not going to hide them or change them because they do.

What do you think? Do you think atheists have a right to criticize religion openly and even make fun of it? Let me know in the comments!

Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay

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  • Tawreos

    “…a religious person suggests that should I not have anything nice to say about religion, I shouldn’t say anything at all.”

    I am sure they would like that, but they seem to have a problem taking that piece of advice even when the issue at hand has no direct effect on them at all. How many groups would suddenly find their lives infinitely better without the attacks of the religious folks on them? When they lead by example on this issue I might be willing to follow them on it.

  • You’re so nice to the people who send you hate mail!

    I certainly feel that we’re within our rights to criticize religion and make fun of it. But I think we should realize that a lot of people don’t recognize the distinction between criticizing the ideas and criticizing the people who hold them. These aren’t opinions about ice cream flavors or rock bands, after all. We seem to be saying, “I’m not ridiculing you, I’m ridiculing everything you hold dear!!” And if we’re prepared to take the consequences for poking the hornet’s nest, fine, but we can’t just deny that we had any idea people would get riled up over it.

    The Utah Outcasts were talking about the whole Lawrence Krauss brouhaha on YouTube, and Felicia made a pretty good point: a lot of people think atheism is about nothing more than making fun of religious people, when that’s just the icing on the cake. We should be putting forth a positive moral vision, one that engages with things like LGBTQ rights, separation of church & state, and income inequality, and that repudiates behavior like Krauss’s. But if we’re just in it for the yuks, we shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t take us seriously.

  • Tawreos

    The people that think we only make fun of religion are probably only going to places where making fun of religious people is kind of the point. Coming to that atheist blogs on Patheos will reveal plenty of christian mocking, but also many posts and comments that espouse more than just mockery of christians. I think that you will find plenty of posts and comments that back up the points you think we should be showing to the world, but we can’t make christians read them. It is much easier to take offense at the mockery they see than it is to respond to thoughtful and well thought out arguments. They are only human after all and atheists can be just as guilty of doing the same thing. I, for one, do not worry about the religious and their feeling all that much mostly because they never seem to worry about the feelings of others that their tribes don’t like.

  • It’s impossible for me to feel even mildly guilty when the religious grouse about the “Happy Holidays” thing, or push back when we oppose discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. But there are lots of times when atheist groups put up big sarcastic billboards, and then act surprised when religious people get offended by stunts that were only intended to offend them in the first place.

    It’s a question of whether we want inclusion in our society, or whether we’re just satisfied sitting at the kids’ table of our public discourse.

  • Jim Jones

    > Do you think atheists have a right to criticize religion openly and even make fun of it?

    I think we have a duty to do it. But I don’t make too much of an effort because the task is so enormous.

    If anything, I prefer to celebrate the good people in religion, like Fred Rogers, or the Mennonites who volunteer to help after towns are destroyed. It seems disturbing that only a few of the religious make that sort of effort, while so very many are willing to donate or to help to deny people their rights such as abortion or gay marriage.

    Over 1,300 Mennonites have come into the city. Volunteers from the conservative sect of Protestant Christianity that includes the Amish, known for their skillful carpentry (as well as their beards and bonnets), have already returned dozens of low-income, hurricane-struck families to their homes. They have another 80 projects in various stages of rehabilitation.

    https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/months-after-storm-a-team-of-mennonites-has-stayed-to-rebuild/

    ————————————————————————-

    http://truth-out.org/archive/component/k2/item/59491:amid-ruins-volunteers-are-emerging-as-heroes

    The Gulf Coast in general and New Orleans in particular have at times felt abandoned by the American government. But they haven’t been abandoned by Americans, who have volunteered by the thousands to clear out houses, collect trash, fight mold, cover roofs, feed the hungry, tend to the sick and help in any way they can.

    Religious denominations are focusing on their traditional specialties in disaster relief. They include Southern Baptists (chain sawing for debris removal), United Methodists (tracking the needs of families), Seventh Day Adventists (warehousing supplies) and Church of the Brethren (emergency child care), according to Kevin King of the Mennonites (building trades).

    Volunteers include Old Order Amish, who shun modern conveniences and still dress as they did centuries ago; hippies of the Rainbow Family, a 1960s-style, back-to-the-land group that established a soup kitchen and medical tent in a park east of the French Quarter; and planners from the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research group that waived its usual fee to study rebuilding New Orleans.

  • To paraphrase Madalyn Murray O’Hair…

    I’ll tell you what you did with Atheists for about 1500 years. You outlawed them from the universities or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy. You dehumanised them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off their breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, imprisoned them, stabbed them, disembowelled them, hanged them, burnt them alive.

    These days you’re better. Now what you do is try to push your religion into our secular government. Also, you tell me I have no basis for my morality, and that when I die, I’m going to fall on my knees begging God for forgiveness, then I’m going to burn in a lake of fire for eternity. And when I do die, you’re likely to claim I converted to Christianity when I did no such thing, or you’re going to say, with barely contained glee, “Well, he sure knows God is real now”.

    And you have nerve enough to complain to me that I’m not nice enough to you.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    The latter position you’re advocating is Humanism, IMO, and is a good thing.

    Atheism, I believe, should be more associated with skepticism.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    And the religious billboards telling us we’re going to hell?

    You’re okay with that?

    Turnabout is *eminently* fair.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Funny how the religionistas have a hard time taking their own advice.

  • Yes, I would suggest they start with not telling us we’ll burn in hell.

  • I agree. That’s why I am nice even when people say hateful things – I see it as the perfect opportunity to prove that the godless heathen in the situation can behave better than the religious person, putting the morality argument to rest.

    Thanks for reading!

  • I did not know that about the Mennonites – very interesting!

  • Yes, this quote is absolutely perfect.

  • Maura Hart

    oh crap. now i will have to delete myinstagram account. i did not know i was supposed to spread all those zombie jeebus ideas. it seems weird particularly since zombie christians do not follow zombie jeebus but really they follow the teachings of the apostles peteR and paul. i just find it impossible to follow any ideas of 2000+ year old fairy tales, myths, metAphor and allegory. i will surely miss instagram, especially since i just started following you. damn.

  • Maura Hart

    just to be clear. zombie jeebus “rose from the dead” peter and paul, no such luck. hence they are just dead. not zombies

  • Maura Hart

    yes, there are so many billions of mennonites, they come to florida every hurricane season, ….oh what the hell those are jehovah witnesses. not eye witnesses of course but still. and aren’t they in puerto rico right now installing electric grids? and in africa the catholic church won’t allow condoms to be donated because sex, and yet aids is still epidemic. so, christ? and all the bigotry. hatred and rage disguised as love. and of course the holy domination, subjugation and enslavement of women that they want. mark driscoll, he of the mega church and mega scandal says that women are only penis sheaths. i believe tt
    at comes from the book of axes

  • Martin Penwald

    There are christians mocking other people beliefs who get whiny when their own beliefs are ridiculed. Grow up, you’re not that special !

  • Duane Locsin

    Religion is not above scrutiny and criticism.

  • When did I ever say I was “okay with that”? Are you hearing voices no one else can hear?

    Look, Tu quoque might win the Interwebz, but I think the OP demonstrates very effectively that in the real world, a little respect goes a long way. Bryant got a very patient and intelligent response to the points he brought up, and he’ll have a lot higher opinion of nonbelievers than if Courtney had just heaped insults on him.

    If mutual understanding is our goal, then maybe “Fúck-you-I’m-an-atheist” shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of our contribution to public discourse.

  • BlueBlazeSpear

    I think it’s the job of any decent, well-meaning person to tear down the battlements that protect dangerous ideas. Religion often posits one of the most dangerous ideas of all: “Things are true or false because we say they are.” The “we” makes a big difference. It can lead to feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless, but it can also lead to – and often does – every human horror imaginable. I think one of the most effective tools in battling dangerous ideas is to point a spotlight on them that shows just how ridiculous those ideas are, or can be.

    I have love and respect for many religious people, but when I have to choose between hurting their feelings on this particular subject, or choosing to stay silent in the face of a moral grotesquery, the choice is clear. I can soothe someone who’s taken a blow to their ego. But I can’t look at a source of human suffering and turn away because people I care about are deeply invested in the mechanisms that allow those horrors to go unchallenged. If anything, religious people should marvel at my restraint.

  • Kevin K

    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. If it could be understood it would not answer their purpose. Their security is in their faculty of shedding darkness, like the scuttlefish, thro’ the element in which they move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there they will skulk.

    — Thomas Jefferson

  • Lark62

    Humor has a place. There is nothing wrong with sarcasm.

    And it’s hard to get all worked up over christian hurt feelings when their response to the more sarcastic billboards is no different than a billboard that says “atheists exist.”

    The American Atheists tried to put up a billboard in Salt Lake City a few years back to advertise their upcoming conference. It was rejected as “offensive to community standards.” Several variations were also rejected, including the last attempt with a picture of a kitten, and the words “Kittens are cute” and the American atheists url.

    Polite banners mentioning nonbelieve are routinely vandalized by “loving” christians. It is pretty much impossible to design any message acknowledging the existence of atheists that does not “offend.” At some point, laughter is the only valid alternative.

  • Lark62

    “Fúck-you-I’m-an-atheist” is not the only contribution to public discourse. But it is one of the valid options.

  • I am an atheist who deconverted from evangelical Christianity by way of progressive Christianity. Deep down I do look down a bit on the rational thinking skills of religionists. I know I shouldn’t so I keep that to myself. However I am uncomfortable when my husband’s atheist uncle posts memes flat out ridiculing religion as I think it is more effective to post intellectual arguments if you are looking to influence someone’s ideas. Ridicule puts them on the defensive and they will shut down without considering your idea. But a thoughtful statement might be considered. Though I do laugh and agree with a lot of his snark – It just isn’t effective in promoting dialogue.

  • RichardSRussell

    I’m always amazed at the way religious people think we atheists should clam up around them, lest we offend their deeply held beliefs, but feel no compunction whatever prattling on endlessly about whatever nonsense they’ve fallen for. It reminds me of this pithy observation: “#12: People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.”—Dave Barry, syndicated humor columnist, “25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years” (1997)

    Also this slightly less polite one: “The first rule of Jesus Club is: You never shut up about Jesus Club.”

  • RichardSRussell

    2½ minutes from comedian Steve Hughes on “I Was Offended”: https://youtu.be/ceS_jkKjIgo

  • Syzygy

    If there is a bible god, he’s not just an asshole.
    He’s the worst asshole in the universe.

  • Jodi

    PERFECT!! I say that too. How dare you ask me to be nicer to you, when you just sentenced me to eternal torture.

  • Jodi

    “few of the religious make that sort of effort” – I was floored to see how NOT generous churches are with their money, especially mega churches. 1% – a MEASLY 1% is average for charitable donations!! And the fact that giving right back to the church or another religious entity is counted in that number, makes it infuriating when i hear a Christian say that if it weren’t for the church, charitable work would suffer. It’s a money making endeavor for some and a social network for others. So, basically a sham equating to high school cliques.

  • prinefan

    No one is obligated to “be nice ” to those spouting silly nonsense. Implying and demanding that all should be obligated to treat religion and it’s adherents as something special and given special consideration is what has kept religion alive.

  • hopeful idiot

    Do I think atheists have a right to criticize religion openly and even make fun of it? I think we have not just the right, but an absolute duty to drag believers, kicking and screaming if need be, into the light of reason. To use one of your examples from above, if a family member joined a cult, would you not feel that it was incumbent on you to do whatever you could to get them out of it, to deprogram them? Just because a religion has many followers, that doesn’t make it any less a cult, in my opinion.

  • lemsip

    Until Richard Dawkins published ‘The God Delusion’ it was taboo to say bad things about Christianity so I got no help in deprogramming from the toxic effects of religion except online.

  • Jim Jones

    Exactly. And the LDS donate 0.8% to actual charity.

    Also, in some cases churches give out food baskets but instead of giving them to the poorest, they target possible new members of the congregation.

  • Laurance

    Excellent! Excellent! Yes! We’re supposed to be oh so nice to people who delight in the idea that we will burn in Hell for all eternity…

  • Laurance

    So what about atheists who are also humanists? And humanists who are also atheists?

  • pasapdub@gmail.com

    I’m always nice to them! Until they get in my face and then….I let them have it!

  • Edward Silha

    Look at the Satanic Temple web site – actually has a set of moral tenets:
    .THERE ARE SEVEN FUNDAMENTAL TENETS.
    One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
    The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
    One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
    The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
    Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
    People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
    Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a charity that contributes to disaster relief, victims of crime, and various other causes.

  • Edward Silha

    Atheists attempt to show how ridiculous some religious concepts are. However, there is greater animosity between religions and even sects of the same religion than any atheist post I have seen.

  • Charles Winter

    Good to know that there are still some Christians who still follow Christ.

    Christianity as presented in the gospels, especially Matthew and in the early epistles attributed to Paul, offers many good lessons for life. Of course, the priests quickly took over and negotiated a deal with the Roman Emperor that forgot about that wandering Jewish preacher.

  • Jim Jones

    And if all Christians were like those people the religion wouldn’t be losing followers so quickly. Far, far too many Christians use the religion to satisfy their worst instincts.

  • Jim Jones

    These aren’t binary choices.

  • Jim Jones

    > act surprised when religious people get offended

    Who does that? Mind you, we’re a little disturbed when they resort to theft, vandalism and even arson.

    Second Fire at Bellevue mosque

    http://www.king5.com/video/news/local/fire-at-bellevue-mosque/281-8043346

  • we have not just the right, but an absolute duty to drag believers, kicking and screaming if need be, into the light of reason.

    One of the beliefs I think needs to be cruelly mocked is the one that says we’re basking in the light of Reason and so we have a monopoly on Truth. I mean, that kind of belief has never caused problems in history, has it?

  • A quote from the disreputable, never credible but gigantic- boulder- on- the- shoulder atheist-spokesperson Madalyn Murray O’ Hair- taken from whence it comes.

  • No-one sentenced you to anything as no trial was involved.

  • The book of axes??????

  • And your opinion is just that.

  • Phil

    Absolutely you have the right. Here in the UK religion seems to high-jack events at every opportunity. Even Stephen Hawkings funeral for god’s sake. So while I have to sit through “Thought for the day” or b0llocks for the day as I call it) every morning on the radio while driving to work, I reserve the right to point out the stupidity of it all.

  • Jim Jones

    Acts?

  • Yes, exactly! If you’re going to bombard us with the nonsense, don’t be upset when we call it nonsense!

  • Jim Jones

    > Madalyn Murray O’ Hair

    I’ve read some of her writings. They are calm & rational.

  • Jodi

    OK, they WISH eternal torture on me. Is that better? Or are you content in living in your little bubble that Christians are all nice people that aren’t jerks to anyone non-Christian? And of COURSE your profile is ‘private’. That tells me that you’re a coward that doesn’t like being held accountable for previous statements. What’s the matter? Afraid you’ll be proven wrong over and over and over…..?

  • Jodi

    As compared to the ‘gigantic- boulder- on- the- shoulder’ (sic) (you really should learn how to use compound words – no space between hyphens) Christians all over the world? Hmm…a christian with their head in the sand and inept at grasping reality. Sounds about right.

  • Jodi

    It’s sickening!! My husband used to the books for a mega church, here in Denver. Disgusted him.

  • Jodi

    “Satisfy their worst instincts” – ooh! I’m going to use that one!

  • Morgan Lefaye

    Jodi, DFTT. Block it instead.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    For me, it depends on the audience. A meme making fun of religion is appropriate on an atheist forum. Said meme would not be appropriate on a Christian forum or on a forum that is not about religion.

  • Jodi

    Yeah, I usually do. Guess I was feeling a bit snorty today. 😉 He’s blocked now, because he really has nothing to say.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    Once I took this too far and thought it was impolite to question someone’s literal belief that she was a deity, because it was questioning her religious beliefs. I am way too good at taking things to logical conclusions.

  • Flint8ball

    Amen!

  • Flint8ball

    Reminds me of The Christmas Story when Ralphy goes off on the bully. Everything is in play…until the tables turn.

    “I’m telling my dad!” says the Toadie. Love it!

    That said, Bryant was thoughtful and kind. That’s awesome. My comment is not directed toward believers like him.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    I block these arseholes because they’re on the wrong forum.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “A Letter From A Reader: Why Can’t You Be Nicer To Religious People?”

    If religious people left their religions inside their homes or places of worship, how non-believers may treat them wouldn’t be an issue.

  • onlein

    I think the most reasonable perspective is agnosticism. Atheism and theism are, like, both too certain. There is an idealism to both of them. None of us really knows reality–unless maybe it is someone who has had a moment of enlightenment or awakening, a freedom from theories or beliefs, a direct first-person experiencing beyond our everyday, sleepwalking lives. And this of course can be interpreted differently: as an encounter with god or the just the neurochemistry in the brain. We don’t really know. I’ve tried long periods of religious belief and of agnosticism. I could never quite do atheism. Now I’m sort of like philosopher Gary Gutting, an agnostic Catholic. Or I’m just wishy-washy.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    You have every right to criticize Christians. Just make sure you know what they believe. The Bible is not to be interpreted literally, it is not a science book nor is it a history book. In fact many of the stories are not historical, but myths that tell us how we relate to God and others. The passages that right wings use to say that God hates LGBTQI people have nothing to do with LGBTQI folks in the first place. Those passages are there to tell us that people are not to be manipulated or used for own pleasure without any regard to what they desire. God loves us unconditionally whether we are gay or straight. I will stop now. If you want to criticize me as a Christian, call me out for not loving others, for ignoring the poor and hungry, or for not being respectful of others.

  • In other words you don’t have a coherent response- okay then.

  • You say; they WISH eternal torture on me- come now that’s pure conjecture on your part and you know it.
    Who said all people are nice, or maybe you think only those who think like you are.
    A lot of people don’t like Christians because of their beliefs and nice really has nothing to do with it.
    Yes my profile is private so what.
    All the better to keep it from prying eyes and nosey parkers like yourself as well as even more insidious paid intelligence trolls.
    Nothing whatsoever to do with being wrong- but everything to do with being right.

  • Um to my knowledge Christians don’t boast of their own moral superiority but that of God and atheists love to try and prove they’re superior to Him in every respect which is all really strange.

  • Aegis

    Christians believe that their god made the rules that determine who burns forever and who doesn’t. They fully believe that people they love will suffer for eternity, they fully believe that they know who made sure that would happen, and they worship that entity as the source of all goodness and morality. Even while aware that – if they’re right – it is inflicting this suffering on billions, and will continue with countless more.

    The absolute best way to parse that is that they don’t think about it, because they’d realise how disgusting it is. But then when it’s pointed out to them, few to none of them change their minds – they keep right on believing in the torture and idolising the torturer. If they don’t want to be accused of wishing it on people, maybe they should act a bit less like they adore the guy who came up with it.

    Also, no one’s fooled by your attempts to turn this around on the nonbelievers. All that ‘maybe you think only the ones who agree with you are nice’ horseshit is not making you look as if you’re approaching this in good faith. You’ve yet to give any indication that you’re here for anything other than to try to needle atheists for mysterious emotionally masturbatory reasons of your own, because your interactions so far have pointed in that direction. Hell, you’ll probably claim I’m projecting or some crap just by pointing out what you look like, which’ll prove my point.

  • Aegis

    ‘I’m shit-talking a dead person because they dared to be angry about things Christians did to them which I decided they shouldn’t be angry about. If you get sick of my shit you’re not being coherent and I win.’

    This is the impression you’re giving people. And you decide they’re the ones with nothing useful to say.

  • Aegis

    Wow. You really do make up the world around you as you go along, don’t you. Okay, enough with taking you seriously, you’re clearly a punchline with a keyboard.

  • Aegis

    Oh boy, self-awareness is fuckin’ gone from you.

  • They’re totally separate categories, IMO.

    I’m both atheist and humanist; some religious people are humanists, and some atheists are not. My atheism only means that I do not believe in gods of any sort, the very concept seems pointless to me. My humanism is a part of the philosophical framework I use to guide my life and (hopefully) encourage my own personal growth.

  • I used to feel that way, until I started thinking about vampires. I don’t believe in vampires. Never have, never will. I’ve frequently enjoyed vampire stories or movies, been kind of a fan since watching Fright Night as a small child, but I’ve never believed in them. I’ve met people who claimed to believe in them, or even to have had contact with them, but I’ve never believed that they’re in any way real.

    Yet, vampires and vampire-like creatures (ghuls, revenants and the like; I usually call them CUPs, short for Cannibalistic Undead People, though they aren’t all undead) are common to most human societies. Heck, they’ve been common for thousands of years. We know from grave excavations that people used to take CUPs very seriously.

    ” It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony. It would be strange if such things should have happened formerly, since we can find no evidence of them in the works of ancient authors, whose vast labor it was to commit to writing every occurrence worthy of memory; for if they never neglected to register even events of moderate interest, how could they have suppressed a fact at once so amazing and horrible, supposing it to have happened in their day? Moreover, were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen in our times, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome; so I will fain add two more only (and these of recent occurrence) to those I have already narrated, and insert them in our history, as occasion offers, as a warning to posterity.”
    -William of Newburgh, Historia rerum Anglicarum, Book 5, Chapter 24 (circa 1190 CE)

    It’s interesting to note that he didn’t know about ancient CUPs, but folks didn’t have access to quite so much knowledge back then. He certainly vouched for their existence during his time. Yet I’m not even remotely tempted to believe his stories. He was a very intelligent person, but he was a product of his (very superstitious) age. I’d say similar things about every single legend, every single story we have about CUPS. None of the thousands of legends convince me of anything—except that our forebears were imaginative, rather uneducated, superstitious and way-too gullible by modern standards. People in the past often displayed a childlike sense of credulity, even the most educated minds of their day (think of some of the stuff Pliny the Elder wrote about, like the Monopods, despite being a well-read, brilliant thinker), and that explains all of the legends, all of the ritually desecrated corpses.

    I could never believe in CUPs. The entire concept rings false. Dead people remain dead, and they do not roam the night in pursuit of the innocent and unwary. They are nonscientific, utterly without precedent in the observable world. Their existence is as unnecessary as it is unlikely. There’s no point at all in being a “CUP agnostic,” no point in even entertaining the idea that they have any basis in fact.

    I feel the same way about unicorns, dragons, faeries, demons, gods and God.

  • What planet do you inhabit Mars? as you clearly know nothing of the state of this one or maybe its a straightforward case of stunted consciousness.
    Either way you’re still clueless and without a punchline to speak of.

  • How do you even use self-awareness in a sentence?
    It’s an oxymoron as far as you’re concerned.

  • You’re being nonsensical.

  • Oh boo-hoo like all the world needs right now are more victims who insist they’re hard done by.

    This malaise has reached epidemic proportions already- enough is enough.

  • Aegis

    I rest my case. You’ve never been here in anything approaching good faith, so thanks for proving that. Blocked, regardless of the fodder it’ll be for your little I Got People To Block Me boner.

  • Linguagroover

    Challenging silly ideas with ridicule rather than the threat of violence seems relatively civilised.

  • Yay…… ……………another one bites the dust.

  • rubaxter

    Yeah, but one person’s silly idea is another person’s stoning offense.

  • If believers keep harassing not-believers to convert them to their faith AND can afford to insult and and threaten them, don’t expect the latter will be nicer with you.

  • When I said to one preacher that I was not interested on what she offered to me, she told me I’d burn in Hell. Yeah, right.

  • onlein

    Many religious people no longer believe in their childhood god, who is the same god atheists don’t believe in: the big old often mean guy in the sky with a smiting tendency. So all atheists and all theists aren’t at loggerheads. At least they don’t need to be.

  • Jay Has

    There are plenty of Christians who do take the bible to be interpreted literally. A large number in fact.

  • John Gills

    Years ago I heard a Baptist minister asked about a controversial bible passage to which he replied that he held a “reverent agnosticism” on that point.

    My reaction was, “Yes! There IS much wisdom in the world’s holy books (and much that is not)” As a result I have styled myself as a reverent agnostic and feel I can freely draw on the wisdom I see as honorable and true.

  • ERRN55

    The irony of this most omnipotent of beings that we are ‘sent to this lake of fire’ for eternity- that is not as a punishment say, for a trillion years- but forever reeks of a masochist. AND he knew before you were born this was going to happen! Even people put limits on punishment- save the death penalty- of ‘life without parole for 50 years…or 400 years incarceration etc. Should you survive that long (didn’t Moses live for 900 years?) society would say you ‘paid the price.’ Very ironic. MMO’H was so hated in her day I do wish she had lived to see the good she has done.

  • Billy Smith

    I don’t believe in any type of supernatural being. So yes there is still reason for me to be at loggerheads with people who believe in any type of unnatural being.

  • I can’t count how many times a Christian has told me with utter glee that I will burn for eternity.

  • Honestly, I love it when believers approach with respect and make conversation a real possibility. Thanks for reading. Loved A Christmas Story 😀

  • Yes. If they did that, we wouldn’t need to be here writing about atheism.

  • I think you’re confused about what atheism is. It’s not the claim that there are no gods, it’s a lack of belief. For instance, I am an agnostic atheist – I have no belief in gods, but I don’t know that there are no gods.

  • I don’t really like to criticize the people (unless they are actively doing stuff that requires it). I prefer to criticize the beliefs. You are right, Martha, in that we should understand what a person believes. That’s why I love to start out the conversations with believers by asking them what their faith means to them; what do they actually believe? So many have a different answer to those questions. Thanks for stopping by!

  • If someone were trying to prove that they were superior to god, they couldn’t possibly be an atheist.

  • “They fully believe that people they love will suffer for eternity” – this is the point that always makes me wonder how they can believe Heaven is a blissful paradise. How can you feel bliss knowing there are people being tortured for eternity? People they love, no less?

  • Wonderful point. I agree.

  • Aegis

    Some depictions of heaven involve a view of those being tortured, so the blessed can witness it happening.

  • Ick.

  • Linguagroover

    Thanks.

  • Pippy Longstocking

    TRIGGER WARNING to Christians. If you can’t hear the truth, stop reading.

    If, and I mean IF, Christians reeeelly trusted their Dissociative Identities Disordered Jesus Christ/God/Spirit, than they would go into their closet and quietly pray and let their imaginary miracle maker in the sky do the rest. They would not stand for anything because their trust would be in Jesus. But history has clearly shown that they do not trust their god at all. People who have left the church know exactly how evil Christianity is. Christians have been brutal to anyone who is not like them, forcing their beliefs/religion on everyone, often beating or killing the non-believer if they refuse to believe as they do. Christians will twist the words of the bible to fit their every need any chance they get.

    Christian’s hate everyone from gays, to unwed mothers, woman seeking healthcare, Jews, Hindus, Native American, Atheists, . . . you name it, Kill’m all! They hate anyone and everyone who is not just like them. Christian’s are the most hateful, dangerous, cult alive today, but they do not see it. It is not about the love of God, it is strictly about abuse of power and control as seen in politics today.

    If Christians really trusted in their Jesus, they’d have no need for medical services. If their so called powerful god decides everything, than Christians need to prove to me they really trust Him.
    If God doesn’t want a woman to have an abortion, the great man in the sky would stop it, it is not for Christians to stop. If your god wants me to be straight, he will make me not love a woman.
    If Christians trust God, they’d stop forcing all their BS on everyone else and stop twisting everything around to suit their needs. If Christians really believed in what they say they do, they would let everyone live their lives as they see fit, but they can’t, because they do not trust their own god, because they KNOW “He” is not real and “HE” will never answer a single prayer.
    If Christians were real believers they’d honor the old, they’d feed the poor, nurture the sick. You know, like the bible commands 🙂 God forbid they pay taxes to help anyone! It is THEIR money and THEIR LOVE of it that shows what (not who) they really trust.

    When I see Christians, I run for my life. They are the scariest people on the planet, they pretend to be kind and loving on the surface, but end up being the most hateful, scary people around. THEY are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  • Pippy Longstocking

    And THAT is the problem! The Christians in power and many of their followers are dangerous.

  • Yes, I often wonder why some of them are so bothered by atheists – did their god not make us this way? Why don’t they trust his work?

  • Pippy Longstocking

    Many years ago, when talking with a fundamentalist family member about their faith in God and medicine, she said, “God made doctors so He must want me to use them”. I went cross-eyed. There is no reasoning with them, if there were, we’d have no Christians.

  • MystiqueLady

    To Bryant: I really don’t care what people do on their own time, especially in the realm of religion, but once they push their beliefs by word or deed on others, regardless of relationship, then that’s when I cry foul. Included in this are proselytizers that go door-to-door, the neighbor down the street who goes about gossiping about the religious practices/beliefs of another neighbor (especially if they are harmless), the parents that abuse children as part of their perceived religious duty, men who abuse their wives under the guise of religious duty, people who go around praying for (or preying on) others they encounter in public, to those who try to force their religious beliefs onto the general population through various pressure campaigns or legislative efforts.

    Have I been hurt by Religious people? Yes — mostly Christians — both directly and indirectly. Indirectly because I am woman from the tail-end of the Baby Boom generation who was forced to take a back seat too, and to put up with abuse from, men in power over me. This power dynamic is rooted in Christianity. I’ve had to cross the picket line, manned by Christians, at an abortion clinic. I have a neighbor who has decided that i am a witch, and she happily spreads that rumor around the neighborhood. The good news is that no one in the neighborhood likes her, and the neighbors that know me (they’ve told me of her rumor mongering) have basically told her to keep her nose out of my business.

    I had a subordinate who was Church of God — and because of the church’s teaching that women were not to rule over men, he felt he did not have to attend meetings, pay attention in meetings (he actually sat in meetings playing with his smart phone — and I knew for a fact that he was not doing company business), and, in general, ignored me, my co-lead (also a woman), the manager of the team we were working with (another woman)< AND our department manager (a non-white Male). Because of the stress I was under at the time, to which he contributed more than his fair share, I attempted suicide. While I was out of the office recuperating, my co-lead, as well as others, all realized how disrespectful he was. He not only did not do what he was instructed to do, but actually did things that specifically told him NOT to do. (He was fired and black-listed from the company where we all worked as contractors.)

    But my worst moments came came when my husband died. He went very quickly and unexpectedly. Although he was raised Catholic, he had long-ago turned from religion and was an open Atheist. While he was dying (actually, he was dead, the medications they gave him to try to resuscitate him kept his body going for a little bit longer) my SIL told me that she had told the counselor to get a priest for the last rites (this was a Catholic hospital), because she thought it would give him and me some comfort. I looked at her squarely and told her that number one, my husband was already dead, and number two, the only comfort I could get was if that little bottle of magic water could bring him back to me. I arranged for him to be cremated, but because of the circumstances surrounding his death, he had to be taken to the ME's office for a week. I then arranged for a memorial service at my home about a month after he died. One of his aunts had called and asked me, several times during the phone call, when was the mass and service going to be (his parents had passed a few years previous). I told her three times, that as he and I were atheists, there would be no mass or church service. Finally, after she insisted on this point, I told her that if she wanted to arrange a mass and service, she was free to do so, but that I would not attend.

    Are we still being hurt by certain groups of fundamentalist Christians? Most definitely yes — those that insist that science is not valid and that all the "answers" we need are in the bible. Those that try to force "creationism" or "intelligent design" as alternative theories. Those that support the idea of dinosaurs being present on the ark (and represent the bible story of the flood as fact when there is no evidence that supports it). Those that knowingly misrepresent scientific foundations (such as equating a scientific theory with just an idea). Those that knowingly misrepresent the dangers of accepted climate change science to the point that government departments, such as the CDC, are not allowed to use words like fetus, transgender, vulnerable, science-based and evidence-based.

    Do I enjoy the stories of wrong doing by various Xtian leaders? Not really — I feel sad for their victims, and I feel sad for those who blindly follow these con artists and pay into their coffers. I feel sad at the waste of the mind power because their followers brain-wash their children into thinking and acting like sheep. That's where my "dislike" of religion stems from. Like I said, do what you like on your own time, as long as you don't hurt anyone else — either directly or indirectly. Like Jesus said, Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus did not specify WHICH neighbors you were to love.

  • I’m sorry for the loss of your husband and the way you were treated during that. That must have been heartbreaking to have had the people around just not respect who he was. Thank you for commenting. I’ll pass this on to Bryant.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Try addressing the message rather than attacking the source.

    that particular fallacy is known as ad hominem…you could look it up.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Dude (assumption), LOOK IN A FUCKIN’ MIRROR!

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    The *fuck* YOUR KIND don’t claim to condemn us to eternal torment for not being able to believe bullshit.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    When somebody says, with evident glee (usually because their sophomoric idiocies have been shot down, requiring them to save face) “You’ll see WHEN IT’S TOO LATE!” then yes, I feel justified in saying they’re WISHING eternal torment on me for daring to show what fucked-up idiots they are.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    YOUR KIND are suffering from privilege loss, trying your damndest to FUCK the rest of us over before the last vestiges of your (unearned and undeserved) secular power are swept away, and you’re trying (pathetically) to accuse US of complaining about YOUR KIND’s treatment of us?

    That’s fucking RICH.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Nope. Eventually your irrelevance and inability to raise opposition will no longer work as fundagelical Viagra, and you’ll go away because it’s not getting you off.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Actually, the positive moral vision is more like Humanism, IMHO.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    To my knowledge Christians don’t boast of their own moral superiority

    Evangelicals pull this nonsense EVERY DAMNED DAY, especially when they’re invading other peoples’ personal time (and homes if given the opportunity)

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    I see a LOT of ad hominem, but very few actual factual statements or support of your (idiotic supernatural) beliefs.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Which is good clean fun to watch, if I may say so 😉

  • Raging Bee

    Sorry, that’s rubbish. We really DO know that none of the claims of supernatural beings ever voiced, have ever been backed up by real evidence; therefore we can safely discount all of them, resurrected gods along with zombies, fairies and werewolves.

  • Raging Bee

    Well, we’re not telling religious people they’ll go to Hell for their beliefs — or even their most mean-spirited and hurtful actions. Is that nicer enough?

  • onlein

    Tell that to Raging Bee. He or she claims there are no gods. Period. Others also make such claims. There are atheistand there are atheists.

  • DogGone

    Thank you! So true.

  • DogGone

    Those who voice criticism seldom can take it.

  • DogGone

    Me too. I’m grateful when they spout off. I know whom to block for the best forum experience. (I don’t answer the door when religious nutters come around, either,)

  • DogGone

    and besides, who’s in their heaven? Other rude, nasty, manipulative, unthinking robots like them. No thanks.

  • DogGone

    Out of sight, out of mind. Who cares what he/she is proud of? We who block people like this still see the rest of the conversation, and it’s easy to infer their predictable posts from the replies. Not responding (which is what blocking facilitates) eventually discourages them and they go off to bother others,

  • DogGone

    and who want to take away all of our rights, forcing everyone to join the powerbase their leadership enjoys. It’s all about money and power–greed and corruption. Blessed are the Christian leaders for they shall become very rich and, like toddlers, insist that everyone exists to serve their whims.

  • DogGone

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • DogGone

    I’m afraid to put a window sticker on my car that mocks the stick people or fish stickers because loving Christians might vandalize my vehicle.

  • Exactly.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    Next time I meet some nut who won’t leave me alone, I will say the magic words: “Go fuck yourself with a rusty porcupine!”

  • Ameribear

    Jodi posted.

    PERFECT!! I say that too. How dare you ask me to be nicer to you, when you just sentenced me to eternal torture.

    Laurance posted

    Excellent! Excellent! Yes! We’re supposed to be oh so nice to people who delight in the idea that we will burn in Hell for all eternity…

    DoGone posted

    and who want to take away all of our rights, forcing everyone to join the powerbase their leadership enjoys. It’s all about money and power–greed and corruption.

    Courtney wrote in the OP

    They are how I feel and I won’t ever pretend I don’t feel that way. I have just as much right to express my feelings about religion as religious people do.

    That’s fine I don’t have a problem with that and I’ll always welcome an intelligent discussion with anyone about religious and non-religious issues. The problem I do have is none of the above posts are true Christian beliefs. They’re a caricature of original christian beliefs and it’s hard to take you seriously when you insist on repeatedly positing straw men instead of making the effort to find out what the authentic teachings are on such issues. I agree 100% that the beliefs you just singled out are completely worthy of scorn and ridicule. I’ll also say that you make yourselves look foolish because you’re attacking aren’t attacking authentic christian beliefs.

  • DogGone

    LOL

  • David Cromie

    The day I respect christianity, and its believers, is the day one of them adduces the irrefutable, falsifiable, evidence that would lead any intelligent person to conclude that their favourite supposed ‘god’ does actually exist.

  • I’ll always offer my respect to people, even if they are Christian. Their religious ideas, not so much.