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At 50+, I find that it's not what people believe that frustrates me but to what degree they impose their beliefs on others. I have two close friends, both religious, that I absolutely value. One is an old friend. In our 30s, her religion WAS an imposition and I was careful to not share my lack of religious belief. But we grew over the years and love one another dearly. I gradually came out of the not-religious closet and she grew to be no longer sanctimonious.

I don't see the problem in religion as being WHAT others believe. (People believe for many reasons.). The problem, to me, is the self-righteousness of many believers AND this holier than thou attitude seems to (I don't have personal experience of this) come right out of church teaching, like it's an integral part of church dogma to be intolerant of others, to impose their thinking on others.

I see this same intolerance in many (not all) atheists. My question is, if you are atheist: is a missionary-like zeal fundamental to being an atheist? (Use of religious terminology intentional lol).

(Also, of lesser importance to me: IS it integral to church dogma to be intolerant of other belief systems?)

Just a little something to chew on as we head into the weekend! TGIF

crazycurlz 7 Mar 9

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I try to champion skepticism and critical thinking rather than atheism. Give them the tools to shed their own belief rather than address them directly.


It looks like people are more insistant if they are not fully vested into their own believing. Because, once a person embraces their truth, they seem to care less, whether others, see it their way or not. They may even be more tolerant of others different view points.

Tolerant, yes. Sanguine -- not necessarily. Many unbelievers see religion (and, in particular, the failed epistemology of religious faith) as a significant societal harm. Even if they don't see it as intrinsically harmful, they certainly see the more strident religious attempting to impose their rulesets / beliefs / practices / taboos on people outside their private clubs, and react to that. So any level of pushback is not entirely (or often, even mostly) explicable in terms of insecurity or immaturity. Maybe it's called pushBACK for a reason. If the religious were all truly live and let live, I would be to. The truth is, many of them are not.

@mordant I know that I have spent a big portion of my life, defending, pushing back, setting the record straight with the 'nutty' people and trying to educate. But, in last few years, I am drawing back and if abuse comes my way...I remove myself. Now, if I see someone mistreating another person, I will step up, otherwise I will keep my distance, except for respectful, regard! With most religious people it seems too much a 'battle of wills'...instead of bringing out some helpful insight! I can use that energy more productively, elsewhere!

@Freedompath True enough. I've been doing this long enough that I can see where the battle lines are drawn and will mostly remain, so I'm more selective in my engagement too. Of course ... I would not judge other's level of investment / agitation by their level of engagement. Mostly my state of mind when "setting the record straight" is either bemused or very detached, and I am not trying to set the person I'm messaging straight, so much as balance the record for later lurkers to peruse. I see these discussions as a sort of archive of discourse. I don't expect to change most believer's minds ... about anything. I am always thinking not so much of the 1 person I'm engaging with but the 99 lurkers who are reading our engagement.


To each their own.


It seems to be mostly a part of the Christian and Muslim religions. They feel they have a responsibiliy to spread the message of "salvation", one reason probably being that there was no universal revelation, just a local one, from a chosen few individuals. Which really doesn't make sense if the message is of such great importance to mankind. You'd think their god would have performed the miracle of a universal revelation. And that there would not still to this day be some pockets of culture oblivious to the existence the Abrahamic religions. And of course some of them hate to see others doing just fine and dandy without subscribing to their agendas or being subject to their restrictions. The Muslims especially seem to be motivated by this sort of intolerance.


Atheist here ... Of course there's no need for "missionary zeal". I think you may be drawing conclusions from a skewed sample. In every day, real life, I am indifferent to religion and don't bring it up unless someone else does, which has happened exactly twice in the past quarter century, and even then, it was a passing exchange. In my online life I come to places specifically designed for the purpose of discussing and debating [a]religion, with other people who voluntarily come for the same reason. And then I have spirited discussions about a topic that interests me and that I care about in this context. No one holds a gun to anyone's head to have these conversations; I am kind but frank and if people want to confuse their beliefs with their personhood -- in general, if they can't stand the heat -- then they can get out of the kitchen. It's astounding how many people confuse simple disagreement with personal attack. Beyond all that -- atheism is nothing more or less than unbelief in any god(s). While it tends to be a knock-on effect of skepticism and critical thinking, atheists are humans too, and sometimes it's not a well-considered position, and not always logically self-consistent. Nothing about being an atheist immunizes you from being an asshat either. Anymore than anything about being a believer immunizes you. Lastly, remember that many atheists are deconverts and may have lingering regrets and personal pain and abreaction to the theism they have come out of, generally at significant personal cost. So you would expect many of them to be crusaders. I don't regard myself as a crusader really but I am keen to help fellow travelers in their journey out of faith. I do that mainly by posting the kind of information that lurkers struggling with these issues will find helpful -- the kind of posts I wish I has encountered more of in my own journey out of faith.


I have a friend who was a "fundamentalist atheist." When I pointed out to him that he was just as critical towards towards any type of spirituality as being evil as fundamentalist religious people were towards anyone who didn't believe as they did, he didn't get it. He'd post these huge rants on Facebook that sparked very heated debates. Then one day he got it, and suddenly became very humble, and the rants stopped.


What one cannot tolerate in oneself, such as doubt in one's own convictions, one ususally cannot tolerate in others either. So, to remove this uncomfortable mirror from one's sight is most reassuring.


I agree. My non-belief is mine and mine alone and I do not try to persuade anyone to think the same way that I do. I expect others to afford me the same respect and not try to push their beliefs onto me.


Religion is dangerous because people want to force it on you

But, isn't that a generalization? And, if it is happening in churches (I have no doubt it is because of their missionary work), shouldn't that be our focus, (if we all were to have a focus): it wouldn't be about condemning people for developing their own relationships to God or not, it would be to go after the instigators. Or is yours the same argument that we take against those who say the problem is people not guns. Just saying this problem has probably vexed all of us, to some degree, for a long time, if not forever

well yes it is a generalisation

You are so right. They want their religion in our schools and our laws but have a holy shit fit if a non Christian religion is seen in the schools or in our government.

all religions want to be THE religion and people seem fine killing each other even to get what they want apart from none believers.

hahaha Leigh, another generalization. There are religions that do missionary work and they actively want to be THE RELIGION, all I can think of is Christianity but someone mentioned Islam (don't know this). Then there are tribal religions, Judaism is one of these: conversion is not one of their tenants. Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable generalizing about religion if I'm a non-believer. That's ignorance, isn't it? I think you may be proving my original point. But, then, maybe it comes full circle because am I judging you...


They need your money.


Anti vaxers, flat earthers, religious people, they all need educating. But stupid does not want to learn, so I don't waste my time.

haha I actually had to look up anti vaxer. I love being here. I learn something new every day.


I have Christian friends as well and know a lot of Christians. Most don't take that holier than thou attitude with me and those that do I avoid. I have neighbors I do everything I can to avoid.


My atheism rarely impacts on my social life even though I live in the hotspot of Northern Ireland .
I don't continuosuly put my athieism at the forefront of my life it is absolutely of no consequence to me. Maybe if I had been religious and had a struggle to give it up it would have been different but theism has never been part of my life . When I first came here I was baffled by people asking my partner three questions - (You only need three to find out if someone is protestant or catholic) - No one was in the least bothered to ask me the three questions because I was English and so didn't count .I don't have a belief so church dogma cannot touch me and I certainly would nt proseletyse atheism what would that give me? I believe in nothing except death and taxes. I might be interested in what other peopel believe as an academic exercise but its very uninteresting to be the negative of that, how would you talk about an unbelief?


I don't care that much about other people's beliefs as long as they don't interfere with my life. However, I care very much about humankind and our planet. I don't have any biological offspring, but there are children whose future I care deeply about, and to be honest, I hope I don't live to see the destruction of the species and the earth that seems to be inevitable.
I don't proselytize because I'm not good at it, but if I could do it successfully, I would.
I think others' beliefs are important because the religions that dominate the world are inherently anti-science. People have come to believe that faith is more important than knowledge, and the powerful manipulate them based on that belief. As long as that attitude prevails, we will continue accelerating toward the precipice.

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