I have encountered all of these in my experience.
7 is the most perplexing; a surprising number of proselytizers act as if atheists have simply never heard about religion. You might think that people seeking to “save the atheists” might try to understand their potential audience, but no.
6 and 9 are not surprising, because there certainly are angry atheists, and they tend to be very vocal.
2 is sometimes expressed as “How can you believe in nothing?”
Thanks so much @Dan_Eastwood!!! Now I can ask you by number and not have to type them out completely!!
Hahaha… seriously, thanks for sharing.
Are there any questions that you find intriguing?
[Since it is taking so long for you to reply, I’ll add this one, for example… Why is it, that someone so intelligent and clearly articulate as you (a Biostatistician, for crying out loud, whatever that is…) would spend your valuable time and moderator authority to hack into my posts and leave silly little messages, like “I like trees” on my otherwise serious posts??]
As I noted, #7 is perplexing, and very common. I’ve Googled some of the materials made up for people to use for “Conversations with atheists”, and it’s like they don’t realize atheists are human too.
Most proselytizers don’t put any serious effort into communicating. If you aren’t immediately impressed by their weak effort, it’s “Oh well, I tried, have a nice time in hell”. ;-/
There are other people more serious about talking to atheists; they are more interested in honest discussion than proselytizing.
Sort of unrelated, but I once had a nice chat with one of the 5 remaining members of the Shaker religion (one of two new recruits). He wasn’t interested in recruiting, only in chatting.
Do you mean perplexing in a good way? As in “intriguing”? I think that most Christians have a difficult time discussing their faith with anyone. We all hate cognitive dissonance, so the fear that something will come up in conversation that is insurmountable, is probably in the back of their minds. And you all are so stinking intelligent, that it’s tough to just get up enough courage to say hello. (Hi, by the way… )
Seriously, though, I honestly feel that there’s a huge amount of intimidation for any Christian who speaks with an atheist, if they don’t have a lot of experience doing so. Probably like many others from a group that may be opposed to our faith. So it is good to have a little script to follow (or not follow, as the case may be!)
Do you wish that prosthelytizers would put more energy into their communications?
I don’t mind questions 2 and 5. I think it is a chance for atheists to talk about why they are able to have fulfilling and meaningful lives. It also gives us a chance to talk about what we do believe in, such as human progress, knowledge, justice, and so on.
When an atheist talks about how they have a meaningful life because of the love they have towards their family, the rewarding relationships they have with friends and spouses, the wonderful things we learn and experience, and the idea that a little bit of what we do will benefit future generations you may find that theists will find a lot in atheism that they can agree with.
I could be wrong, but I think this can be due to how some christians are brought up in the church. They are told that atheists are just in denial and don’t have a good reason for being an atheist. If they then find that atheists make a lot of sense in how they view the world this chips away at the foundation of their beliefs. However, if they were taught from the beginning that people can honestly believe in different things then atheists may not be the threat that they would otherwise be.
Given their restrictions on having kids, it would seem strange that a Shaker would be reluctant to recruit.
I mean perplexing in a generally annoying way, but the points you bring up are interesting - especially about cognitive dissonance. I think to have the sort of discussion that might change someone’s view of religion, you have to open up to the point where it might change your own views. I can see that someone who hasn’t deeply considered their own reasons for belief could find that challenging.
Not all atheists are strikingly intelligent. Trust me on this!
For a Christian going into an online community full of atheists, it can be a bit like entering a lion’s den. If you aren’t careful (and sometimes if you are) those angry anti-theist will be all over you. For those that avoid the anti-theist bait, there are plenty of people willing to chat.
PS: In the community where I moderate, we try to tone-down the anti-theism.
Not really. It’s just odd (and annoying) that some feel compelled to “spread the Word”, but do it so very badly. Edit: It’s like they are doing it for show, and have no real interest at succeeding.
You are 100% correct about this… If you proclaim the truth, then you cannot be afraid of where the truth lies. Many people are not comfortable enough in their own faith, so they hesitate to interact. I told Patrick this once, but I remember hesitating to read The God Delusion for a week or two before finally cracking it open.
I didn’t want a serious challenge nor the cognitive dissonance that comes with it. Once I did, I was quite surprised that it did not challenge my faith at all. Rather it helped.
But well-spoken atheists (like @T_aquaticus) and even the other ones (like you, @Dan_Eastwood) definitely provide a broad range of challenges!! Hahaha…
Atheist groups don’t exist just to be an atheist group. They usually have a mission statement are to what they are for and against and what they are working towards. FFRF is for keeping church and state separate. Richard Dawkins Society of Science and Reason is a pro science education group and more of an anti-Islam group internationally. Also sometimes secular humanist groups and charities and science groups gets labeled atheist groups when they shouldn’t be. Being secular isn’t the same as being atheistic.
Hey, I’ve been called “atheist” by Christians many times—usually after I explain why I affirm evolutionary biology or don’t believe the Hebrew text of Genesis is describing a global flood.
Of course, it is worth mentioning that a few centuries ago the word “atheist” simply meant “one who opposes God.” Thus, various theologians who were judged guilty of doctrinal heresy were dubbed “atheist.”