Hi, so I had two (20something) young (at least in comparison to me lol) Jehova's Witnesses come to the door the other day giving out literature etc the ususal deal. I was very polite and told them I was a non believer to which I was asked why? My response was I'll happily tell you but I don't want to offend your beliefs. They didnt respond to this and just left which I took to mean they didnt want to engage about the subject in an honest way and just wanted to share thier message not debate its validity. I felt like I had missed an oppertunity to at at least try and have a dialogue with them but the inclination to not offend took priority. This has been on my mind since as I feel increasingly like I should challenge theists when I can but am Ijust falling into the same trap as them in wanting to preach. I struggle with this feeling a lot. Anyone else ?
It has been my experience with the "Believers" is that engaging them really does not work.
Usually, like say with the LDS, they are sent to schools and have a list of open ended questions they give you.
Like, "What would it take YOU to believe in ____(you fill in the blank). The best way is to ask their questions to THEM before they get a chance to ask them of you.
So, "Let me ask you a question....What would it take for you to reject your religion or your religious beliefs?"
Remember, most of the people have been socialized or conditioned since they were infants on their "beliefs".
But be careful of being "nice" or "respectful" to these types.
They have been conditioned to believe that YOU or YOUR BELIEFS or wrong. And that their beliefs take are the ONLY beliefs that are right or correct.
I aplaud you for trying to not offend anyone. We each represent agnotism, atheism, Humanism. We all need to put our best foot forward so they don't think we all are horrible people.
Having said that, I do try to challenge them in a non-offensive way.
I explain that we all are evidence based. We all value evidence. When you get up and see the sun shining and the forcast is for clear, we decide to leave the umbrella home.
Oddly enough, when it comes to religion, they sweep all that rational thinking aside in favor of faith. Faith is believing in something in spite of evidence to the contrary or no evidence. This is illogical.
My Anatolian rabidly barking at them usually makes them not want to stick around too long. All my experience with Mormans and JWs is that they're trained to reject anything that contradicts their beliefs, even if you did have an impact on them you'd never know it. They'd never show the slightest inclination to your face bit maybe they'd reflect on it later.
I don't really feel the need to engage in a conversation with the JW or any other person who is trying to share their faith. I've only seen the JW come to my house twice. One time they didn't get far from their car before they scrambled back into their vehicle. They probably heard my dog barking. The other time I saw them come up my sidewalk, I opened the door and said I wasn't interested, they turned around and left. Don't feel the need to try to "convert" theists or tell them how "wrong" I believe them to be. Who am I to do that stuff? I'm not the prophet or preacher of atheism/agnosticism. I keep to myself my personal thoughts about things. If someone asked, depending on the scenario, I might share what I believe. I learned long ago that I need to pick the battles in which I will fight.
I had a similar experience when two older JW's came to my door. They introduced themselves and then quickly asked me if I thought the Bible was relevant in the world today. I said no and as he started the next part of his speech he realised Ididn't say yes and had to back peddle. It caught him completely off guard and he asked the question again thinking I didn't understand it. We then talked for a few min. as I explained that I truly did not find the Bible relevant in any way. Then I thanked them for stopping by and they left. I have a feeling I may have been their first "no" answer to that question as I live in a very religious part of Florida. I also have a feeling I won't be seeing them again.
Thanks for all the input guys I see the consensus is to engage. I think they just caught me off guard as I didn't notice them approaching the door. I think in the future I will open with the reverse questioning ploy of 'why do you believe what you do ?'. The main reason for the post was I was really supprised at how young they both were as you usualy see older JW's or one older and one younger. I just wanted to 'save' them I suppose lol
My belief in questions is, if you aren't prepared for the answer don't ask.
For JWs or LDS, you didn't go looking to engage them on the subject. They are out there trying to save souls, presumptively, but they are being manipulated to generate revenue for their respective churches. The church is counting on their naivety and unquestioning belief. Where's the harm in presenting alternatives?
If conversation about what you believe is offensive, then they had invited you to engage. They were not interested in debate though, I am sure. I doubt they are equiped by their faith training to do such. When I have had discussions with Witness's and others, they usually return with standardized objections around what you have said, regardless of it saliency to what you have said.
I generally do my best not to offend anyone. I am not always successful, as is
evidenced by many of my comments here.
However, if you come to my door to "enlighten" me regarding your beliefs, I'm probably going to say a few things that end up offending you, even though my intent is to have
a rational exchange of ideas.
I find door-knockers to be highly offensive. They get what they get.