It always seems that Christians show no respect for you once you explain you are a nontheist... Trying to convert you to their train of thought... Well this can really be said about anyone with a religion.... Back to my point.. People have tried to convert me, insaulted me, threatened me, all stuff you've probably dealt with..

So, should I retort? Start debating? Or is it a waste of time? Just asking for trouble?

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I invite you to read a blog I posted on this site titled “The Atheist and the Good Christian” and on my home blog: http://theatheistobserver.wordpress.com.

I also posted a blog on that site titled “The fool has said in his heart . . .” referring to the infamous Psalm 14:1 (and Psalm 53:1) we non-theists get hurled at us from time to time. After reading the blog, you'll gleefully see that it backfires on Christians exuding that noxious “non-respect” you speak of.

As far as deciding whether or not to debate the passionately intense theist; that depends on how sure of your 'skills' you are; how sure of your “stuff” you are. And bear in mind that you can just kick the theological bejeebees out of your Jesus-lovin' opponents and they'll just come back with something really lame like, “I'll pray for you” (a sure sign of defeat). They'll just feel they didn't have sufficient command of their “stuff” and will go off and "pray" about it. Or have someone tell them that they were debating a demonic-possessed, spiritually devoid, moron. So things end up in a Mexican standoff.

You're not going to gain any “respect”—except from theists of good heart who are searching for the truth in a deeply heart-felt way. They are the type that are searching for knowledge that has not been provided them to date. So it's a mixed bag. There's no harm whatever in having serious, respectful debate. In fact it's one of the healthiest thing we humans can do.

Bear in mind as well that society thinks we owe the Christians--to use them as an example--some sort of deference that they just don't merit. Conversely, we non-theists are naturally viewed as beings devoid of morals and ethics. Hence, we are not given the respect our views deserve. After all, it's not atheists that are filling our jails and prisons to beyond capacity, are we? Point to point out to the over-the-top Jesus people.

You mete out the respect meted you. You can't help but respect and admire genuinely good people doing genuine good. You simply can't help it--in most cases.

Okay, enough of me. Just realized how damn long-winded I can get.
If they already know you're a non theist, you may as well be open to discussion. Perhaps you can educate a few as to why. Otherwise, the negativity doesn't change.
When I've encountered bible thumpers or people trying to convert me I take the stance of total indifference.

They won't convert me and I don't care to convert them. I leave that to those with much more patience than I.

I used to engage them but when you realize that logic means nothing to them, that fallacies are thrown left and right, and that they're working from a memorized script it makes the whole barely cogent dance not even amusing.
Unfortunately, these people have to be engaged and resisted tooth and nail. Look at how many of the goofs are in Congress. Look at how well-entrenched they are in our military. And, ugh, shudder the thought: just imagine if they had Obama on their side instead of Sara Palin!

Yes, logic doesn't really mean anything to them. But I've studied the reference works of their most respected bible scholars and even they have problems with, say, Matthew 27:52-53 and the fact that there isn't even one original autograph book of either the Old or New Testaments that has survived to the present day. Seems to indicate God, and his son God, and Interstellar Gas-Cloud God, the Holy Spirit, didn't think them worth preserving for posterity, doesn't it? But when most fundies have been convinced that they have a direct line to God via a Holy Spirit, it makes the point somewhat moot.

I understand your ambivalence completely.
"Unfortunately, these people have to be engaged and resisted tooth and nail. "

In your opinion, not mine.

Australia isn't the US,religion isn't a big deal here. I really,truly don't care what others believe as long as they stay out of my face. Coming to my door they get as much time as it takes me to identify them. Then I immediately shut the door.

I do not try to argue or reason with believers,especially members of the lunar religious right. It's harder than trying to reason with an American Libertarian.
How about a group discussion? I have used (small) group settings with good effect. It's socially awkward being crude and disrespectful in a group context. Especially if you invite their pastor. The key, of course, is a good team on your side. And preparation. Yeah, you might have to endure a prayer or two and some emotion but you may reach those who have doubts. I learned these tricks as a Jehovah Witness: 1. Be respectful but certain. 2. Have your facts at hand. 3. Never lose your cool, this unnerves your opponent. Practice debate with friends first, if your unprepared.
Not for every kook you may encounter, best reserved for those who may have some impact on your life or circle of friends. If done well they will respect you, if only to avoid a replay.
A Jehovah Witness, eh?

I'm curious: What precisesly led you to leave the fold and become a non-theist?

Did logic and reason play a hugely significant role?
Well, I suppose reason and logic helped, although not as much as I would like to credit them. The awareness of contradiction, dissonance in constant play as I forced myself to obey biblical admonishments to squash doubt got the best of me. I thought too much. The elders tried to answer my endless speculations and questions with patience, but my impertinence wore them down. At some point "faith" is needed in all religion. I tried to grow it, I really did. Fortunately, I failed. No faith gene, I guess. Blue pill or red? I choose reality and never looked back.
Sorry for the 2 day delay. I'll never cut it with Fed Ex.
At some point "faith" is needed in all religion. I tried to grow it, I really did. Fortunately, I failed.

The main thing was that you were honest with yourself. Although never really gung-ho religious, I did feel a certain void within me for a spell. That went away once I immersed myself in biblical-related research and discovered just how bogus much of it is. And how far people will go to prostitute their intellect for the "warm and fuzzy glow" baseless belief gives them. Sell-outs.

We atheists/agnostics are every bit as morally and ethically upright as our Christian counterparts, aren't we? That gives me great comfort. You are what you are. No need for us to bow our heads in the face of the Jesus people.
Curiously, I'm more ethical and moral now than then. My early morality was "other" focused, now it's all about me and the impact I have on others. Perhaps this also separates the shrill, crappy Christians from the few I respect. Really, what is the most maddening characteristic of believers if not the arrogant, smug, self-assuming morality they assault everyone else with. "Why, those unbelievers are hell bait anyway, why show them any common decency?" they think to themselves. Kindness is only a tool which they use to disarm and deceive. Some lack even this sophistication. They spew hatred like raw vomit. It's a challenge not going wacko on them. But I digress. Imagine a world where everyone thoughtfully considered how they behave towards others, and not because of fear of punishment or hope of reward. Just because they can. I want that world.
I fully understand you feeling more ethical and moral now than in your JW days. And, Yes, it's now all about you being moral and ethical based on your own being instead of leaning on some artificial construct. Your morals and ethics are genuine, from the heart. (You are what you are.) Gotta love that your good character stems from the real you.

"Imagine a world where everyone thoughtfully considered how they behave towards others, and not because of fear of punishment or hope of reward. Just because they can. I want that world".

You are one of growing number of non-theists imbued with such noble sentiments. As for wanting that world: the more people that come to embrace your heart-felt world-view, the closer we'll come to achieving that goal. And what a terrific goal it is.
You should do what you think is right regardless of how they act. Regardless, if they want to debate your probably smarter than them so go for it.

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