one more thing I don’t believe in
I’ve subscribed to various “tag feeds”, on topics I’m interested in, and one of them popped up a typical Christian view of Atheism, one that “focuses on the person, not on the issue”. I started writing a comment , but I was having so much fun, it got a bit too big to be a comment, and big enough to be a post here. Before reading my responses, go ahead and read the article: 6 Points To Remember When Debating An Atheist, then my responses.
- I’ve never heard that one, and can only imagine it being used by someone who was already angry, and then by only a few. Just be aware atheists regard outright evangelizing as pointless, and prefer rational discussion without attempts to convert them. If by “Christians like you” they mean “Evangelists”, doesn’t that tell you something about how aggressive Evangelism fits in to a modern adult society? Tone it down!
- If someone calls you a “hypocrite” directly, that’s just insulting. However, while atheists generally don’t accept bible quotes as meaningful to them, many have read the bible, and are aware of the contradictory messages it contains (even if they can’t quote chapter & verse offhand). To say you follow the Bible, but only the “nice” New Testament bits and not the harsh bits, is to risk accusations of hypocrisy – that’s (mostly) where that kind of talk starts.
- I imagine that is an occupational risk for evangelists: if you don’t want resistance to your arguments, don’t evangelise to atheists. Or do you assume “they just haven’t heard the Word”, and are waiting for you to enlighten them? That can make you sound patronising, which some (like myself) really do find insulting. Avoid.
- I’m sorry, this is just the kind of really old fallacy that annoys rational atheists. What is so hard about the concept of people having “no belief”? Were you born with belief? Becoming an atheist is no harder than forgetting something you were taught, or enjoying silence after hearing noise. If an atheist tells you “that’s how I see it”, and you contradict them, you’re saying “I know atheism better than you” – despite you not being an atheist – and the discussion will go nowhere but downhill from there. Avoid!
- I don’t know what kind of atheists you go looking for, or what you say to them, but statements like “their bread and butter is in tearing up the Bible and shoving it down the Believer’s throat” are not helpful. That is mischaracterising atheists as “anti-Christian”, which I suppose makes it easier for you to hate them, but it’s not true, even if your preacher says so. Most atheists don’t go looking for fights, and don’t care what people believe, as long as no harm comes of it – but the last point is very relevant in the world today. Personally, I don’t even mention my atheism unless the topic comes up, and would only resort to such tactics in the face of an evangelical assault. However, if Christians feel under attack by atheists today, you need only look at the world today, the USA and Middle East in particular, and understand also that we don’t think Christianity is fundamentally (?) better than Islam, over long-term history.
- This is related to (4), I think: if you insist on evangelizing, when that is clearly unwelcome, that’s just bad behaviour on your part that is going to raise hackles, and while you may believe it is your Mission, be aware you may be overstepping personal or social boundaries in the process. You have to be sensitive, take no for an answer, and back up a statement with more than a bible quote – which tells an atheist nothing useful! Avoid any “arguments from authority” like “the Bible says so” – what is an atheist going to make of that? We know you believe it, but we don’t, so telling someone “you’re wrong because my book says so” is never a good idea, any more than “I say you’re wrong”!
Summary; the article is hostile to atheists, and contains a lot of overexaggeration designed to portray atheists as irrational, hostile, or unthinking – the kind of rhetoric a preacher might use to whip up a frenzy in his congregation. I don’t doubt you will meet such people – stupidity knows no religious divide – but if you insist on characterising all atheists in such negative terms, don’t be surprised if you find atheists hostile to your approach. My advice would be: chill out, treat the people you talk to as your intellectual equals, and assume they know and have thought about all this stuff. They just came to different answers, and who are you to tell them they are wrong, if no harm comes of what they believe or not?
If a Muslim says to you (as often they do): “if you but read the Qu’Ran, you will become a Muslim”, how do you react? Do you think there’s anything in there you need to know, or that it has the power to change your life? Do you accept Allah’s authority, because Islam says so? Well, atheists feel the same way about all “holy scriptures” and religions, and regard “God” as just another superstition they don’t believe in, alongside Vishnu, Fairies, and Santa Claus.