I am going into churches with the atheist message. I have already talked to pastors and scheduled meetings. I know, sounds crazy but it's true. The goal is to tear down common misconceptions between us and open a respectful dialog between believers and non-believers.
What are some ideas from you all about type of approach, format, follow-up and a catchy title?
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
If I were to do what you plan, one of my primary goals would be to show that asking questions is a good thing. Another would point out and illustrate how priests use ambiguous words and how scientists use precise words.
"The Human Face of Atheists"
Ambiguous words to profess certainty v. precise words to profess uncertainty.
Thanks to George for leading me down this path.
George told us about this article which explains how myths persist in peoples minds as true utterings:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/03/AR2...
Many studies show that repetition is the key to remembering anything as true.
So, when a republican says something totally wild, the non-republicans will spend a lot of energy saying that the wild thing that mrs. republican said is wrong, and the people only remember mrs. republican said the wild thing, so it feels as true cause we heard about it so many times.
Here is a quote from the Washington Post article: "Indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit. Things that are repeated often become more accessible in memory, and one of the brain's subconscious rules of thumb is that easily recalled things are true."
This article has the right idea, but I say we need to repeat it as much as possible:http://www.addictinginfo.org/2011/11/23/the-7-types-of-republican-i...
Atheists know the facts. What Atheists know is true. We have to repeat them incessantly. The republicans and religious leaders will counter with specifics, but we will not repeat their version, but our version: Atheists know the facts. What Atheists know is true.
Now, the following is an assumption on my part. Can you people who were raised in religion attest whether the following is true for the most part?
From the quote we can see how religious leaders operate to influence their followers. They repeat what they want the followers to believe over and over again. How do we fight it?
Here's an earlier discussion on a related topic: How the Mind Counteracts Offensive Ideas
...And when stories embody values in which we don't believe, we tend to reject them. But, according to a new study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, it goes further than just rejection, psychologically we push back against the challenge, reasserting our own familiar structures of meaning.
I am the oldest of three brothers. I am divorced, the middle brother has never been married, and the youngest brought his Christian wife. Today, we spent 2 hours discussing topics from politics, to education, to science, etc. My sister-in-law didn't say too much, but at one point said that that person will go to Hell. I don't remember the topic, but I do remember the comment about Hell. Nobody commented about her comment. Basically it was ignored and we went on our merry way to another topic.
But that comment got me thinking how I would have responded to her if the point of the gathering wasn't to have fun.
Here is my suggestion on one topic to talk about in churches:
I would talk about the fear of going to Hell when we die without discussing whether it is true or not. The fear of going to Hell when you die has caused some people to do great things. Can you(the church congregation) list some of the great things? You can start with great works of literature (Dante's Inferno?), great works of art, etc. Then when they are all cozy with you, you spring the list of things done in spite of the fear of going to Hell. Things like child molestation by priests, the amount of wealth and power the Vatican collected that qualified it to be a sovereign state, and lots of other atrocities. These things point to the fact that religious leaders do not believe in Hell, or they would not have done what they did.
Though I can see the congregation getting defensive to the latter point (pointing out the wrongs of leaders within the religious world), I think you're driving a good point of teaching them critical thinking. While it doesn't always work (case in point: my mother took a critical thinking course in college and works in IT... kind of needed in that line of work)--I think that more people thinking critically is a good thing, religious trappings or not. I would guess that a good percentage of those who learn critical thinking will apply it to all parts of their life, and eventually rationalize their way outside of the religious cardboard box.
Even while I was pagan, my way of thinking had changed to the point I could never believe in one god. When I was able to admit that the reason I had no pantheon for all of these years was because they're all just conduits of the human psyche and reflections of ourselves, I was able to move on. I still have a need to be connected to the awe and majesty of life--but I don't need to dress it up anymore. But the seed of doubt was planted when my first belief, which was christian, was shown to be a hodgepodge of Judeo-pagan mysticism.
Sew the seed. Inception isn't just a movie. <3 Get folks to think rationally, even in regards to their beliefs, and even if they don't wake up from the delusion--they might understand just a wee bit why some people, though different and godless, can still be good people.
Jason, you have taken a bold and big decision. You deserve to be admired for this. You may meet the pastor and others without any anticipation of success. They are going to condescending, pontificating and hypocritical. There is one simple reason for this. All of them have past association with the church, they have visions of future of their life with the church and they can not be expected to give up everything after just one discission. In addition, they have their faith too. Your object in meeting them should be to impress upon them the integrity of atheist opinions, our strong tendency to believe only proven truths and our consequent belief in science. If they dispute science, make it clear to them that they have to prove all their claims by their own scientific work and not based on imagination. Tell them not ask any questions to science as science works for its own objectives and is not enslaved to them.
speaking in churches? mega or lite? ; )
either way good luck w.that echo echohhhhh
If you are in the deep south, watch your back. Xtian does NOT mean non-violent. Remember, the KKK, which burned and murdered many minorities, including Jewish, Black, Hispanic, Indian, etc etc. They did it cloaked in their XTIAN religion.
If you "can" do this, without loosing your job, getting your tires slashed, hey great! I used to be a strong activist against religion, quite openly. Hate mail and death threats were common. I cooled my jets when my car and house was shot up, but obviously I still speak my mind, just a tad bit more privately...
Just be careful and watch your back. ;)
Exactly who will you be talking with? The pastors and/or congregants? During a Sunday morning service? As part of the service?
You are brave. The Good Without God author, Greg Epstein, may have some useful ideas.