Should Atheists Slam Religion Or Show Respect?

I had this man approach me in the supermarket and ask if I was interested in hearing about his "awesome" church. When I told him I was an Atheist, he literally fled from the store as if I was the devil himself. Many people seem to equate Atheism with evil. I think they need to look a little closer to home. Evil has a way of justifying itself when it has a doctrine to back it up. Anyway, this article is interesting, because as an Atheist, you do have to walk that line between ridicule and respect--and when friends and family are involved you often just shut your mouth...

Should Atheists Slam Religion Or Show Respect?

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Comment by Goz on May 8, 2012 at 4:51pm
Nope...I respect them as far as I can fling a bull elephant and they seem to only respect themselves.
Comment by Michael A on May 7, 2012 at 8:20am

Not to go off on a tangent, but Stephanie mentioned near death experiences. I think it is important to us not to get caught up in other people's near death experiences. Much like Loren said, the body is malfunctioning. For example, if the brain is malfunctioning and the person knows subconsciously or otherwise that they are near death, then their brain will likely fill in what it expects. For Christians, they may see Jesus or God. For Satanists, perhaps Satan or a demon. An ancient Egyptian may have seen Thoth or Anubis.

Our brains are no joke. They're powerful, and if something goes wrong up there, we could experience practically anything at all. Preexisting ideas of what to expect (like God or otherwise) will likely have an effect on what we do experience in that sort of situation.

Comment by Loren Miller on May 7, 2012 at 7:35am

This is a common mistake that a lot of believers make, Stephanie.  They take personal experience as evidence, when there is no mechanism for independent evaluation of those experiences.  They fail to recognize that internal consciousness is a realm where ANYTHING is possible, any experience is feasible.  I look to my own sometimes utterly absurd dreams as testimony to this effect for myself, and I'm willing to assume that other human beings have had similar wild dreams as well.

What I DON'T do is give any credence to dreams or other internal experiences.  I do this not just because my dreams aren't verifiable, but because they frequently have a habit of violating so many laws of physics that I would pay them no mind anyway.  Of course, I'm an engineer and have been trained in physics.  Even without that, common sense should inform any evaluation of a dream as lacking any level of verity.  As to near-death experiences ... GAD!  "Near-death" means that The Body Is MALFUNCTIONING; it's not working as it ordinarily works.  Under those circumstances, WHY should we expect our senses to report reliable information?!?

Yeah, I know ... I'm expecting people to exercise common sense ... and I run up against one of my favorite quotes:

Common sense ISN'T.
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Comment by Sandi on May 6, 2012 at 8:20am

You give the same respect you receive. Obviously he had no respect for you or what you stand for. If you had of said yes tell me about it and spent 5 minutes listening to his story, do you think he would have offered you the same courtesy in return?

Comment by Loren Miller on May 6, 2012 at 5:43am

Okay, let's ask ourselves a question: just WHAT are we supposed to respect?

Sam Harris put it very well in a video wherein he posited that if, during an interview, someone claimed that Elvis was still alive, that person's credibility would be called into question and that religion is no different for the same reason.  Believing in a deity or that a long-lost rock star continues to walk the streets both give a basis for someone to question said person's rationality, because if one such extreme irrationality has crept into their thinking, what others might also be lurking there?

My policy of late is pretty straightforward.  Religion gets NO rhythm from me whatsoever, certainly not as it comes to the Abrahamic faiths, and they are the most prevalent and the biggest offenders in this regard.  The people espousing these beliefs get as much respect as they render to me as an atheist.  Over the past three years I have had two conversations with Jehovah's Witnesses, and in both cases, there were no voices raised nor any ill feeling in evidence.  I treated my guests civilly.  Their religion was another matter, and I had no compunction about making that crystal clear to them.

Further, as it comes to the issue of respect, I think there is the opportunity of EARNING respect in the manner of comportment when such conversations, discussions or debates arise.  For the large portion, I do not indulge in ad hominem or any other specious practices which tend to speak less to the subject under question than they do the character of the participant.  However, if someone wants to try to convince me that god is love, I bring up Luke 19:27, or if they want to assert the reliability of the bible as a receptacle for the history of their savior, I might mention that Judas Iscariot either spilled his guts out in a field or hanged himself and that apologetics aside, either one or the other had to happen, but NOT BOTH.  Need I mention, there are plenty more examples to cite; the bible gives us ample ammunition.

Still, we need to remember that we're not just dealing with people's opinions here.  We're dealing with beliefs which are so closely held that they become integrated with the person, part of that person's make-up.  They ARE their religion, and when their religion is attacked, they feel that THEY are being attacked.  So be it.  If one is dependent on something for its supposed strength, they are also dependent on it for its weakness.

For myself, I will conduct myself in a reasonable manner so long as my guest / opponent does, and in many cases, even if he doesn't.  The topic of discussion, in this case, gets NO such consideration, for the plain and simple reason that It Doesn't Deserve It.

Comment by Steph S. on May 5, 2012 at 7:30pm
Thanks for the article link. I'm going to it now.

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