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Why do some theists care about atheists & empiricists?


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Initial post: Nov 28, 2012 4:22:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 4:23:47 PM PST
Ehkzu says:
Atheists make up 4% of the American population & 2.3% of the world's population. So statistically we're a blip.

And we have no power over the electorate. In fact, Americans report to pollsters that atheists are the people they trust the least apart from violent criminals. Atheists can't get elected to public office in 90% of congressional districts if not more. An atheist can't get elected President.

On the other hand, 78% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.

Yet millions of Christians act as if they're living in Nero's Rome, about to be fed to the lions by pagans. As if they're an embattled minority that has to fight for their rights to survive.

78% vs. 4%. Not really a fair fight.

And we're a lousy source of converts for them as proselyitize. I know a lot about this courtesy of having attended a Mormon church for the last 28 years, and Mormons proselytize heavily.

As any marketeer will tell you, your best source of customers for, say, your beer is people who drink other kinds of beer--not wine drinkers, and certainly not teetotalers.

Trying to convert atheists is exactly like beer drinkers trying to get militant non-drinkers to drink. It makes no sense, unless you're spiritually masochistic.

I notice Muslims also have this sense of being aggrieved--of being persecuted despite numbering ONE BILLION BELIEVERS.

Since Christians number over 2 billion worldwide, they have even less reason to feel persecuted--not here at least. Christians are definitely persecuted in every Muslim-dominated country, as well as being discriminated against in totalitarian countries like China and Russia (unless, in the latter case, you belong to the church Putin likes).

So...why do American Christians spend even one second thinking about what 4% of the country is up to--a 4% that enjoys zero support from 80% of the public, that has zero pull with Congress, and which is the last group a sane theist would look to for making converts.

I know a lot of religious people and they don't seem to be obsessed with atheists--but I live in a college town in Silicon Valley, which is culturally distinct from most of the country.

Can anyone clear up my confusion?

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 4:36:57 PM PST
Our existence is a threat. The same way same sex couples threaten them. That is why someone who is an open atheist is always 'angry' and same sex couples in public are always 'flaunting it'.

It is the 'no particular church' people that are increasing so fast, but they get lumped in with secularists and people who are scientifically literate and they are, of course, all godless infidels.

The world is not going their way. Even among evangelicals (definitional, not political) same sex marriage and freedom of choice are majority viewpoints. The old timers are the entrenched majority who are losing their privileged status and they don't like it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 4:41:04 PM PST
The Weasel says:
Ehkzu says:
Can anyone clear up my confusion?
***
Anyone who is different is a threat.

How else can you explaing fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims claiming that the other is the devil? They are both autocratically and rigidly conservative in their views of society and their religion. As such you would expect them to be natural allies instead of mortal enemies.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 4:47:01 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 1, 2012 6:27:03 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 4:49:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 4:51:34 PM PST
Ehkzu says:
re: natural allies

When I took a course in aesthetics in college I was fascinated by the theory of the grotesque, namely that people are bothered most by what's closest to what they value most only not.

Thus when I was in college the people Stalinist Communists hated most were Maoists, and vice versa. Mormons get fundamentalists' knickers in a twist because they're so very conservative in every way fundamentalists hold dear--apart from the Book of Mormon stuff.

Try this thought exercise: imagine an alien creature that's a stinking blob of oozing jelly 10 feet high, with writhing tentacles and making a screeching sound. Now imagine standing next to it is the most gorgeous babe you've ever seen in your life, in a teensy bikini, beckoning to you seductively--only her nose is in the middle of her forehead.

Now--which image is more disturbing?

Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims seem similar to us who are not either, but to them each other is the babe with the forehead-nose. All they see is that nose.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 4:52:44 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 1, 2012 6:28:29 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 4:53:11 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 5, 2012 2:00:54 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 4:56:54 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 1, 2012 6:31:28 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 5:17:24 PM PST
Ehkzu says:
Yes, that too, since according to a recent Pew survey the Americans who know most about religion in general and Christianity in particular are Atheists, Jews, and Mormons, while those who know least are Fundamentalists.

Plus I'd say that only Atheists and Agnostics can be said to be altruistic, since we aren't working for a big fat reward in the Hereafter...

There was a survey showing that liberals do less charitable donations than conservative Christians--but I believe it turned out later that the survey included tithing--exactly the way Mitt Romney claimed to be so philanthropic. Donating to one's own church is not the same as donating to, say, the Coral Reef Society.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 5:17:55 PM PST
Ehkzu says:
re:humility

George Bernard Shaw said "The humble usually have a great deal to be humble about."

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 6:01:05 PM PST
Ehkzu says:
Strange...this forum is full of fervent anti-atheists. Yet not one comment in this thread explaining themselves to the rest of us. Is this the Anti-Atheist Poker Night, such that they aren't here right now?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:14:44 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 28, 2012 6:17:14 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:16:26 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 5, 2012 2:01:04 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:17:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 6:18:22 PM PST
S. Friedman says:
The mere existence of atheists creates discomfort, at best. It tells them that their belief ISN'T shared universally; that they're thought to be mistaken.

Ever see the pain and denial exhibited by some American Idol contestants when told that they simply cannot sing? "Oh no! What if the judges are right?"

Atheists serve as a constant reminder to the faithful that they may have devoted their lives to a lie.
Hard to ignore that feeling. The source must be attacked. Neutralized.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:47:35 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 1, 2012 6:37:21 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:56:07 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 5, 2012 2:01:17 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:04:45 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 1, 2012 6:43:11 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:15:45 PM PST
>why do American Christians spend even one second thinking about what 4% of the country is up to

Religion depends on convincing oneself that one has "no choice" but to believe in God. If not, the religious believer claims:

1. Life is meaningless.
2. We may as well revert to savagery and probably will, very shortly.
3. Eternal punishment awaits.

Atheists are living proof that one does not have to live his life by myths. As such, they are an embarrassment and a reproach to the religious, who are too frightened and insecure to think for themselves.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:22:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 7:23:45 PM PST
Heaven101 says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:40:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 7:42:26 PM PST
>What good thing do we lack?

The truth: which is that religion is a myth.

Did you not even read the post you were responding to? That the faithful have devoted their lives to a lie? Is that not answer enough? Do you think it's OK to devote your life to a lie? If so, you're beyond help.

There are two verses in the Bible I completely agree with:

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

Exactly right, and the biggest truth is that you do not have to live your life based on a myth.

"When I was a child, I thought as a child...but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

Also right, and if everyone followed through on that, Christianity would vanish tomorrow morning.

But some people, it seems, are afraid to grow up. They are like adults who still play with dolls, or with GI Joe action figures.

Are you among them?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:44:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 8:01:13 PM PST
S. Friedman says:
H101,
What would you have lost? Beats me.
Could be very little. For many, it's time, money, and mental energy -- of course amounts would vary by person.
On the extreme side, some believers have lost the opportunity to love a relative or to find love for themselves because they were taught that homosexuality wasn't OK. Or worse, some have actually lost children because they shunned medical care for religious reasons.

That said, I'm not suggesting that it's better not to be religious - that believers are necessarily missing anything. On the contrary, just as an example -- by not being religious, I'm missing the friendships that would've developed if I were to go to a church every week.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:46:25 PM PST
Bubba says:
If you go to a Unitarian-Universalist church you can go to church every week and not be religious.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:49:35 PM PST
S. Friedman says:
What's that quote? Something like, I'd never belong to a group that would have me as a member.

;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 7:57:10 PM PST
Bubba says:
"Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member" -- Groucho Marx, in a telegram to the Friar's Club of Beverly Hills

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 8:04:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 8:19:13 PM PST
S. Friedman says:
Yep, that's the one.
Actually I went so far as to check websites of a couple UU churches near me. Seems my selfishly hedonistic ways might be at odds with some of their values. My goodness limit is maxed out when I swerve to avoid children playing in the street.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  25
Total posts:  160
Initial post:  Nov 28, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 7, 2012

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