Agnostic.com

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Are you a friendly or unfriendly, atheist or theist?

"The friendly atheist can grant that a theist may be justified or reasonable in believing in God, even though the atheist takes the theistโ€™s conclusion to be false. What could explain their divergence to the atheist? The believer may not be in possession of all of the relevant information. The believer may be basing her conclusion on a false premise or premises. The believer may be implicitly or explicitly employing inference rules that themselves are not reliable or truth preserving, but the background information she has leads her, reasonably, to trust the inference rule. The same points can be made for the friendly theist and the view that he may take about the reasonableness of the atheistโ€™s conclusion. It is also possible, of course, for both sides to be unfriendly and conclude that anyone who disagrees with what they take to be justified is being irrational. "

[iep.utm.edu]

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TheMiddleWay 8 May 25

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41 comments

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13

I'm a friendly I-don't-want-to-play-that-game-and-you-can't-make-me-ist. ๐Ÿ™‚

skado Level 8 May 25, 2018
8

As friendly or unfriendly as I need to be.

Exactly.

7

Of course I'm friendly and lovely. Others appreciate my positive energy. I'm appreciated for me, not for what I believe or not.
I'm a social butterfly. ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜€

Me, too! In fact, sometimes I am too friendly--the psychic vampires love to feed on those of us with positive energy.

That's just so cool...?

6

I think I might be 'somewhat' unfriendly if someone were to question my position, because I wouldn't be questioning theirs. Live, and let live however you want -

6

I personally ain't got time to hear reasons or explain why to anyone but my family.

6

I'm your friendly neighbourhood atheist, but not for the reason listed. I don't agree that the theist is justified I stand firm that they are unjustified, but I recognize that mankind evolved due to type 1 errors in cognition. The person that assumed that the rustling in the bushes was a tiger, ran and lived even if there was no tiger. The person that assumed the rustling bushes was wind sometimes got eaten by the tiger. I think we are irrational as a species on any number of issues, atheists included. So I reject the notion that religion is justified but I accept the idea that we are irrational therefore I'm not angry at the theist, I just assert religion is unjustified and irrational.

" I just assert religion is unjustified and irrational."
Please read the description; that makes you a unfriendly atheist:

From the description:
"It is also possible, of course, for both sides to be unfriendly and conclude that anyone who disagrees with what they take to be justified is being irrational. ""

@TheMiddleWay I understand what your argument for friendly and unfriendly is, but that is a redefining of the word friendly, and the word unfriendly, that I don't agree with. An atheist who could see religion as justified, and see their own position as possibly wrong, could colloquially be understood to be an agnostic.

@BrightTyger979
Not my argument or definitions.
It is from the IEP link on "atheism" and based on philosophers William Rowe's conclusions.
That is why I provided the quote and the link...

@TheMiddleWay Ok sorry, what I mean to say is the presented argument. No need to be hateful.

5

It's for me to say. I don't like or Christianity, but I usually try and be nice to Christians, because I know they are usually sincere in their beliefs. I respect the right of other people to be wrong, so to speak. But I do hate the suppression of free thought and the belief that women should submit themselves to men. And if a debate should arise about God or Christianity, I don't mind letting people know what I think.

5

Iโ€™m a cantankerous agnostic.

Ha! Left that one out!!!

@TheMiddleWay ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ wha... the...??? for real...? you For Real forgot us? you must be... joking...

4

I'm kind and respectful. However, my internal dialog is definitely unfriendly. I often wish I could change this or have more control over it. Instead I'm thinking how ridiculous it is, that the logic applied to religious belief would be disastrous if applied to any other aspect of one's life.

4

I went with unfriendly because no matter what I say or do, I'm thinking "what a fucking idiot!"

3

Other than that, I would say I am friendly and reserved. Perhaps I come across as stand-offish, but unless the believer crosses some line on me, I will respond with gentle compassion and respect for their point of view, however that respect MUST go two ways.

The second the theist gets oh his high horse, then my MO will likewise change. I don't take shit. I also refuse to dish Out shit until the other person opts to head in that direction.

I suppose i am the sort who believes, do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Truth be told, again, if the theist steps it up, Ari will step it up too. Mano e mano. Whats good for the godly goose is good for the agnostic gander!

If a theist is up for a friendly bit of discourse, by all means, I'm your gal. If that same theist comes in Pretending he/she is up for a friendly bit of discourse and opts to go another direction once i take the bait... well... them's there fightin' words child! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I'm cool IF YOU'RE cool!

Sadoi Level 7 May 26, 2018
3

I'm really a grumpy, sarcastic, cynical and increasingly old bastard. But under that playful exterior lies a friendly atheist.......unless you're really dicking me off! ๐Ÿ™‚

3

Live and let live, except to those that don't live and let live!

JeffB Level 6 May 26, 2018
3

My direct answer to this is I am by definition an unfriendly atheist, being an anti theist. Personally, I'm a friendly atheist, unless religionists get in my face, whereupon they discover quick smart how unfriendly I can be.

3

Really depends on the Theist i'm being compared too, Fundies and i have a problem, but Cultural Theists are fine.

3

The definitions of friendly and unfriendly seem too extreme for this to be a true dichotomy. I fail to qualify as "friendly" as I do not believe that the theistic position is justified. I hold that any position that is not based upon evidence is unjustified. However I also do not meet the given criteria of "unfriendly" as I do not believe that anyone who disagrees with me must necessarily be wrong. I am always open to the possibility that I could be wrong, and will always correct myself when evidence is presented that challenges my beliefs.

" I fail to qualify as "friendly" as I do not believe that the theistic position is justified."
It's not that. The context here is that if you don't believe the theistic position is justified and you don't consider a theist for holding onto their belief as irrational, then you are a "friendly atheist".

On the other hand, if you don't believe the theistic position is justified and you consider a theist irrational for holding onto their belief, then you are a "unfriendly atheist".

Friendly and Unfriendly are within the context of justification and rationality; it has nothing to do with how you treat each other in this context.

I have posted, as a comment, a citation to the paper this usage is based upon as well as a link to the actual paper if you want to example the context this is being presented under.

3

It depends on who I talk to and what we are talking about.

Also why are there options for theist? Are there theists on this website?

Yes, there are. It's part of the spectrum.

Very few, but I have come across a couple.

@evidentialist Yeah, now that I think about it, that makes sense. There are agnostic theists just like there are agnostic atheists.

@SallyMc -- The varying shades of human existence.

@SallyMc -- Where in the site's literature does it say, "No theists allowed?" There is even provision for the varying shades of belief/unbelief built right into the questions asked to provide information about members. But even if that were not the case and NO THEISTS ALLOWED was printed in giant red letters on the site's home page, there would be no guarantee that theists wouldn't be here.

@SallyMc
What better way to show theists the benefits of our beliefs than by inviting them to share the table with atheists and agnostics?

@SallyMc
"They are in no way interested in the benefit of our beliefs as they prove every day. "
If you leave the door open and nobody comes in, that's on them.
If you leave the door closed and nobody comes in, that's on us.
I (and the creator of this site) clearly would rather leave the door open with the possibility of someone showing up than leave the door closed with the certainly that they won't.

"They do not meet the criteria for membership."
As Evidentialist pointed out, there is no criteria.
A site tag line is not the same as a criteria.
All are welcome here, as befitting the "agnostic" name of the site.

3

A clever salesperson, politician, lawyer, and gambler always limits the number of possible responses to any posit. I had to pick the 'friendly atheist' from the choices given, but there is a question I ask of anyone who holds strong views about anything, and this is particularly true when it comes to the religious.

Is it possible that what you think/believe/assume is wrong?

The answer to this question determines what happens next.

Nope.

The IEP quote defines what it means to be friendly and unfriendly in this context and applies it to the atheist and theist.
2x2=4 combinations in this case and thus 4 choices is a real, not artificial, limit.

@TheMiddleWay -- Did I say "...artificial limit..."? What was intended was that there is rarely taken into account the spectrum that occupies the space between one extreme and the other. No allowance for 'friendly on condition' or 'moderately friendly', only friendly or unfriendly. This is the sort of thing that is taught in debate classes and is the foundation of legal sparring. The door to door salesman is adept in this way as well.

2 x 2 does indeed equal 4. If the answer one gets is 11, then something is wrong and a reassessment of one's operations/logic should be made. What happens more often than not when dealing with the devoutly religious is something like your little math play. They say, "Everyone knows that 2 x 2 is 11." I ask them if it is possible what they believe is wrong and their response is, in effect, "The bible says it is 11, and the bible is the infallible word of What'shisname." From past experience, I know that walking them through the mathematical process that leads to 4 is most likely not going to bear fruit.

If I drop it right there and walk away, they feel rejected which reinforces what they already believe about atheists. We are unfriendly. We are terse. We are unfeeling. We are rude. We can't stand up to their 'truth'. We are cowardly. So, instead, I try to exit this conversation that cannot take place with some sort of kind/gentle parting commentary. That doesn't work, either. We are condescending. We are unable to comprehend their 'truth'.

So, I have a question for you. What exactly do you mean by friendly and unfriendly? You, not some definition taken from somewhere else.

@evidentialist
"What exactly do you mean by friendly and unfriendly? You, not some definition taken from somewhere else."
This poll pertains strictly to the quote pulled from the IEP, not my definition.

"If I drop it right there and walk away, they feel rejected which reinforces what they already believe about atheists. We are unfriendly. We are terse. We are unfeeling. We are rude. We can't stand up to their 'truth'. We are cowardly. So, instead, I try to exit this conversation that cannot take place with some sort of kind/gentle parting commentary. That doesn't work, either. We are condescending. We are unable to comprehend their 'truth'."

And as I've tried to point out, in this context friendly and unfriendly are not how we treat each other. In this context it refers to, and I quote:

""We can call the view that rational, justified beliefs can be false, as it applies to atheism, friendly or fallibilist atheism. [...] It is also possible, of course, for both sides to be unfriendly and conclude that anyone who disagrees with what they take to be justified is being irrational. """

Hence, you can only get 4 if Friendly and Unfriendly being applied to the Theist and Atheist is all this context refers to. Getting 11 would be unfounded in other words.

@evidentialist
I have posted, as a comment, a citation to the paper this usage is based upon as well as a link to the actual paper if you want to example the context this is being presented under.

@TheMiddleWay -- I know the paper from which it was taken. I wander in the IEP regularly. I also understand fallibilism. As you can see from the range of responses, it is not commonly understood what you mean. Too esoteric, my friend.

@evidentialist
I agree I could have set it up better.

The problem with polls is once you realize something is missing or if you want to add a clarification edit to the post, it resets the poll. This makes a lot of sense so that you don't change the question and keep the poll results.

However, once I realized that clarifications where needed, it was too late. Oh well, the results are still very interesting even if the people that answered friendly or unfriendly in Rowe's context seems to be in the minority.

3

"[Un]friendly" is in the eye of the beholder. I have commonly and repeatedly witnessed theists claiming someone is unfriendly, mean, nasty, cruel, vile, hateful, Satanic, and engaging in "persecution", simply for passively failing to agree with their ideology. And I have certainly witnessed these things for active / explicit disagreement.

I consider myself an affable fellow when meeting new people, certainly not threatening. But when people confuse their beliefs with their identity, they are bound to see anything short of full agreement with their ideology as an existential threat.

And that is their problem, not mine.

In addition, in my experience, no amount of walking on eggs will change this.

Which is why I am not sympathetic to the notion that we need to be "friendlier" or "kinder" or "nicer". Fundamentalists need to feel persecuted; it both validates their faith (as the Bible promises them persecution) and serves as proof of entitlement to special considerations and sympathy for their tender sensibilities.

When I was a freshly-minted deconvert, I tended to think more along these lines -- that so-called "new atheism" is fighting for the sake of fighting, you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar, and so forth. But I have over the years witnessed, virtually without exception, that they find ways to be offended no matter how gently you deal with them. They come, of their own free will and without compulsion, to places like this and pick fights, gaslight, project, shame, and play the martyr pretty much no matter how one acts. In truth, all new atheism is really doing, is violating some very old taboos that are long overdo for entirely justified contempt and satire.

I will grant you that there are a few hotheads and asshats among us who are deliberately harsh and provocative. But that is true of any group.

The reality is that for countless generations, theists have enjoyed entirely unearned deference and respect in the marketplace of ideas, and their pearl-clutching protests of our allegedly trollish behavior towards them is a product of thousands of years of never hearing a discouraging word, and thinking they are exempt from such. That no one can tell them they are not making a rational or coherent argument, that their epistemology is demonstrably failed, that not everyone disagrees with them, or has to, or should.

Well guess what. That's just reality. Deal with it.

And I say this as a former evangelical, who used to feel like they now do, and fully relate to it. But this is no different that telling someone who never gets off the couch and eats nothing but bon-bons, who asks why I don't live like that, that I have not found that lifestyle serves me, or anyone, well. I'm not telling them what to do or not do, just sharing my view, IF asked. If they can't handle that, then it's their problem.

"
"[Un]friendly" is in the eye of the beholder. I have commonly and repeatedly witnessed theists claiming someone is unfriendly, mean, nasty, cruel, vile, hateful, Satanic, and engaging in "persecution", simply for passively failing to agree with their ideology."

Please take note of my comment: unfriendly as defined here is not about attitude but rather if a person's reasons being unjustified means that person is irrational to you.

I added more of the quote to make this clearer...

@TheMiddleWay I understand the concept that it seems rational to them, based on their failed epistemology. That does not make it rational definitionally (i.e., does not make it based on or in accordance with reason and logic). To make a distasteful but accurate parallel, it seems rational and reasonable and permissible to a pedophile to groom and molest children for their own gratification, but that doesn't mean it's actually rational, reasonable or permissible, or even deserving of understanding and sympathy.

I understand many of the other reasons they believe, too. The fear of loss of community and approval; the fear of eternal perdition; the fear of temporal punishment from on high; genuine enjoyment of and comfort taken from ritual and tradition and perceived and real continuity with past generations, and a whole lot more.

None of that makes it definitionally rational either. It certainly explains the enduring appeal of religious ideology and practice; it does not substantiate its truth claims.

I respect the right of people to choose their beliefs, though not to choose or cherry-pick their facts, or to impose their beliefs on others.

All of this controversy goes away if they allow me my own beliefs, and treat me with the respect they want for themselves. And by extension, allow our secular society to flourish without demanding special accommodations for themselves and adherence to their special restrictions and proscriptions for people outside their belief-system.

I would hasten to say that in practice, in real life, on a direct personal basis they almost entirely do let me be (disclaimer: I don't live in the Bible Belt). My malfunction is mostly with people who voluntarily come to public discussion fora such as this and many others, and then complain that everyone doesn't fall all over themselves to affirm and admire their beliefs. And back in Real Life, it's with those who enable dysfunction and human suffering with their ideology (Trumpism, the whole Roy Moore affair, the vanishing of the middle class through wealth transfer to the elites, etc). In the US, fundamentalist ideology has outsized influence on these things, and they ultimately impact me, and especially, my children and grandchildren. So yes I take that rather personally.

@mordant
Well, it's not that really that complex. In this context, all it means is that if you consider someone who disagree with what you feel is justified as rational, you are friendly... if you consider someone who disagrees with what you feel is justified as irrational, you are unfriendly.

These are terms provided by Purdue University Emeritus Professor of Philosophy William Rowe which is why the poll quotes the article from the IEP which is where I found it. I posted the paper as a comment should anyone want to read more about it.

@TheMiddleWay -- @mordant has made several solid and valid points. The rigor of philosophical pursuit is best left to academia because it doesn't play well to the masses, nor does it make much sense on the street. Again -- too esoteric for general consumption.

This is why I asked you to provide your definition of 'friendly'/'unfriendly'. I would be willing to wager that if you went into the halls of any fine university and asked random students all the way up through post grads, you'd not find one who would give you the definition being used in the post unless you chose some who were majoring in philosophy.

@TheMiddleWay I can find someone's thinking irrational and still be friendly / polite / respectful (of the person, not the misbelief). It is the behavior of others that, if sufficiently egregiously rude or inappropriate, might engender pushback on my part.

I am heading out in a few minutes for my weekly social with several other men. One of them is xenophobic and one is a Trump supporter. I am affable with them both, because they don't proselytize or preach or in some other way be an ass about it. I think their beliefs and ideology are in large part irrational, but it doesn't stop me from liking them as a human being, at least at the level we are relating.

@evidentialist @mordant
"This is why I asked you to provide your definition of 'friendly'/'unfriendly'."
My purpose is only to disseminate this definition which uses friendly and unfriendly. The purpose is not to talk about being friendly or being unfriendly.

That is why I offered no personal opinion on the matter nor asked any followup questions. I was just reading through the IEP entry on atheism, found William Rowe's definitions of friendly and unfriendly atheist and theist, and thought I'd share it with the class.

In effect, affability and niceness have nothing to do with Rowe's usage: only if you consider a person rational or irrational in light of their not agreeing with your justification. I see many people do this on this site: call the theist irrational because they do not agree with the atheists justification for their atheism. As per Rowe, that makes them a unfriendly atheist.

This designation of unfriendly comes about, I surmise, because calling someone "irrational" is an unfriendly attitude to take with someone that disagrees with you. Not because you are being literally unfriendly to them. In other words, you can be polite, respectful, and friendly and if you still think that a theist is irrational because they disagree with your justification for atheism, Rowe would label you an unfriendly atheist.

@TheMiddleWay I do not see the utility in Rowe's notion that a thing is rational based on what information a person possesses or admits, even if the person is ignoring evidence or evidentiary standards or claiming something as evidence that does not actually qualify as such. Maybe he has a technical / philosophical sense in which he's deploying this but it runs afoul of the wee problem that "rational" has an accepted meaning to most people: that a thing is objectively or at least intersubjectively rational according to certain accepted criteria and methods that counter the tendency of human thought towards logical fallacies, particularly but not limited to confirmation bias.

I have always been, and still am, a person biased toward seeing agency in or behind reality. It would, if true, and said agency were somewhat consistent, render existence less absurd and more predictable, and relieve us of some rather scary responsibility to make our own way amidst the indifferent vagaries of the natural world. I am not asking anything of theists that I'm unwilling to take on myself: to simply honor the real rather than the preferred.

I also reject that I must necessarily be disrespectful or caustic with people who reach different conclusions than I about what is rational or actual. Selfishly I do not give a fig what conclusions they hold or whether I share them, so long as they practice "live and let live". Sadly, they often do not.

As soon as we start saying "idea or conclusion X is rational to person Y based on their arbitrary personal standards of what is rational" then the term "rational" ceases to have any real meaning. Sure, any relatively sane person seeks to rationalize their thinking in between their own ears so as to not think of themselves in a negative light, but that's not equivalent to having supportable / substantiated ideas or beliefs.

I think it's fine, though not terribly interesting or insightful or useful, to point out that most people are legends in their own mind -- they believe they are reasonable and thoughtful and right, pretty much regardless of what they think or why they think it.

But if we are interested in nudging humanity in a better direction -- one that is TRULY reasonable and thoughtful and helpful, one that truly helps people have in their minds a more intersubjectively accurate model of reality and a way of assessing reality that overcomes their hopes, dreams, preferences and fears where they conflict with bare-metal reality ... then I think we need to unapologetically advocate for better ways of thinking, call out poorer ways, and understand that if people become upset over a lack of unquestioning acceptance of everything that proceeds out of their mouths or thought processes, that is their problem.

Atheism is, at bottom a call for epistemological humility -- we can't help it that theists furiously project on us their own arrogance in claiming to have the One True Belief, endorsed by the mightiest superhero conceivable who promises to annihilate all who oppose him and his.

@mordant
""rational" has an accepted meaning to most people: that a thing is objectively or at least intersubjectively rational according to certain accepted criteria "
What is rational is hard to pin down. Consider that you used rational in your definition of rational and thus that definition is no more useful than defining red as those things that are objectively red based on an accepted criteria. And of course, there is the every present problem of an objective criteria.

Consider that if one group accepts 700nm as red and another group accepts 675nm as red, they are both rational within their own groups and yet both will claim the other is irraitonal if they are acting "unfriendly" as per Rowe. It is only among those that agree that 700nm is red that if one person claim that 675nm is red that person is acting irrational: a person that agreed it's 700 now claims it's really 650. And likewise, it's only among those people that agree that 675nm is red that one person claiming 700nm would be considered irrational; after all, they agreed it was 650 but now one person claims it's 700.

If we take the dictionary definition of rational as the broadest definition, we see that it is nothing more than an appeal to reason and logic. And therein lie the rub: your reasons or logic do not have to be accepted by another. This may make them irrational to you but it doesn't not make them "irrational" as a global statement and thus you can't claim that your point is correct or that they are wrong merely on the claim that they are irrational and you are rational. Again, there is no universal judge of rationality to tells us that you are, in fact, rational and they are, in fact, rational.

As such it's always been my personal opinion that we can strive to be rational according our own personal definitions as much as possible but should eschew from claiming another person is irrational just because they don't meet our standard. That would be inviting that which we hope to prevent: confirmation bias. After all, there is no objective arbiter of what is rational or not, no set global standard, no universal prescription. It's merely what we take upon ourselves to be rational and what other agree is rational.

As another example, consider a person born blind. That person would claim that colors don't exist. You might find this an irrational proposition: of course colors exist, I see them and every person with sight sees them. However, that argument, the blind person would counter, is that your claim is purely a bandwagon fallacy, a "mass delusion" of the sighted that want to believe in color but don't actually see it. Thus we are unjustified in calling the blind person irrational because their reason and logic is airtight: colors do not exist in their reality.

This how I interpret Rowes viewpoint: the theists claims is often swept away as irrational, that seeing the virgin mary at fatima is irrational, that believing in things you can't see is irrational. But they have their reasons and their logic. It is not your reason or your logic but then again they never agreed to your reasons or your logic nor you theirs. They don't conform to your standards, but it is their standard. And thus for us to claim they are irrational and make an external determination that their reasons and their logic doesn't count but yours does is, as I read it, at the heart of Rowe calling this position that of an "unfriendly atheist".

A "friendly atheist", on the other hand, still doesn't accept that their reasons or logic are correct but admits that they do have reasons and logic and thus doesn't consider them illogical, just that their reasons and logic are wrong from the perspective of the atheist.... they are still rational, just not your brand of rational in other words.

"But if we are interested in nudging humanity in a better direction -- one that is TRULY reasonable and thoughtful and helpful, one that truly helps people have in their minds a more intersubjectively accurate model of reality and a way of assessing reality that overcomes their hopes, dreams, preferences and fears where they conflict with bare-metal reality "
That may be your goal and I respect your pursuing it.
However:
There are people that would rather learn how to be happy than have an accurate model of reality.
There are people that would rather have an accurate model of reality than be happy.
There are people that want to have both.
There are people that want to have neither.

Part of being a friendly atheist, IMO, is to understand that your motivations, your reality, your goals are not necessarily those of others and that my emphasizing a different reality than yours doesn't make me irrational, just makes me, well, not you! ๐Ÿ˜€

"-- we can't help it that theists furiously project on us their own arrogance in claiming to have the One True Belief,"
No more than we can help atheists projecting their own arrogance in the opposite direction.
As Rowe points out, being an unfriendly atheist is not conducive to a frutiful conversation if the atheist considers the other side arrogant, irrational, or as I've heard others claim, mentally deficient for holding their POV

@TheMiddleWay This is a stimulating conversation which I appreciate.

I suppose it comes down to nothing being 100% objective.

As a former evangelical Christian, I certainly have a deep acquaintance (albeit, after all these years, fading a bit) with the lens through which they perceive themselves, each other, and outsiders -- as well as reality itself. I understand how and why they compartmentalize.

Because of this I not only have a good deal of empathy and compassion for their intentions if not their actions and attitudes -- the flip side of that is that I understand how their perception of outsiders makes people like me the Hated Other.

I do not think that I have fallen into the same error with them. I have very respectful and cordial relations with a number of religious fundamentalists and political conservatives. I understand the gap between their carefully cultivated virtuous self-image and the unkind and uncharitable way they come across in certain contexts. I also understand how I can seem unkind and uncharitable to them (how passive disagreement, or non-conformity if you will to their dogma, becomes, in their mind, "persecution" ).

None of this changes the fact that I discarded their epistemology as dysfunctional and unhelpful and that I simply cannot affirm their reality anymore.

In 99% of practical living this does not mean I have to be "unfriendly". In online discussion formats like this, though, where no one holds a gun to their head to come here, they are going to come face to face with the simple fact that I don't and can't agree with them, and they are going to be very upset with me about it pretty much matter how I try to finesse the situation or soften the blow for them. They are accustomed to intellectually dishonest gambits that I have come to the conclusion there's no percentage (for me OR them) in abiding.

Sometimes in these discussions we tend to forget things like, not all Christians are fundamentalists, and most contact between Christians and atheists are very different from the special case scenario of an online discussion forum, and for the most part, members of these two groups aren't even very aware -- sometimes not AT ALL aware -- that the people they are interacting with are members of this other group.

To my mind, the value of these sometimes difficult online interactions is that both parties come willingly and freely to them with at least the nominal goal of formally presenting and defending their views. Oddly, in my experience it is not so much the actual interlocutors, but the lurkers, who benefit most from this. These are people with doubts about their views of reality, doubts they often don't want to admit even to themselves. It is a big step (and often, a secret shame) to them to even hang out here, much less to interact. It is these people I am trying to help, because I was once one of them. I try to provide the sort of content that would have made my transition out of Christianity less fraught.

So I think that as long as our objective is not to otherize and browbeat and self-aggrandize, some good can come of all this, even if we manage quite often to irritate the bejesus out of each other in the process.

@mordant
"So I think that as long as our objective is not to otherize and browbeat and self-aggrandize, some good can come of all this, even if we manage quite often to irritate the bejesus out of each other in the process."

I completely agree that this is what it comes down to. If we call the other side "irrational" or "insane" for holding their beliefs, we are effectively building a wall between us that neither will cross. Much better (and you have a unique perspective on that; thanks for sharing) to realize that people can be rational and sane and STILL not see things the way you do!

There was a line from the IEP entry on atheism from where I got the OP post . I omitted it from the OP because I didn't want to bias the conversation or the poll but think summarizes both our feelings on the matter

"Given developments in modern epistemology and Roweโ€™s argument, however, the unfriendly view is neither correct nor conducive to a constructive and informed analysis of the question of God."

@TheMiddleWay Yeah I noticed that sentence.

I said previously that I consider lurkers my primary audience, but secondarily my fellow atheists as my particular association with theism (some formal theological training) fits me to render some of what atheists see, more explicable and humanized. For example there's another thread right now about a letter to the editor by a fundamentalist who opines that all atheists should be cast out of the US. The usual "dafuq?!" responses are understandable and I really think we should be free to vent a little bit, we're amongst friends. But I took on the explainer role there and walked them through the thought process that a fundamentalist would go through to decide that atheists are an existential threat to America even in those instances where they are law-abiding. It has to do with things even many deconverts may not be fully aware of, like the notion of corporate guilt and punishment. Hopefully this makes the editorializer more human and less a caricature, and clarifies the problem as something a little more nuanced than some "hater" being "stupid".

@mordant
"Hopefully this makes the editorializer more human and less a caricature, and clarifies the problem as something a little more nuanced than some "hater" being "stupid"."
Absolutely! When we hate the hater, we become that which we hate!!

Though even this middle of the road agnostic would legitimately say DAFUQ to the claim that anyone should be cast out of the country!!!! LOL

3

Living in a rural, conservative town, I have many Christian friends. Two are ministers. We don't discuss religion. They love me for who I am. The feeling is mutual.

Before meals at my friend's house, everyone hold hands while someone says grace. I politely look down until grace is finished.

If I rejected Christians, I would not have any friends.

2

See there are many friendly atheists.

There was never a doubt!
I constantly endeavor to try and promote the friendly over unfriendly in all things which is why I presented this topic.

After all, if you click on the link and go to the section where this is discussed, we find the following line (a line I purposefully omitted so as to not bias the poll

Given developments in modern epistemology and Rowe’s argument, however, the unfriendly view is neither correct nor conducive to a constructive and informed analysis of the question of God.
2

What didn't you as a proclaimed agnostic asked this about agnostics or non believers generally? Or are agnostics by definition always friendly, so the question doesn't apply.

Well I did ask about non-believers because theists are on the list.

And this is in reference to the IEP article on atheism (linked in the OP) and Rowe's 1979 paper (linked in one of my comments) and neither specifically mention the friendly or unfriendly agnostic.

"Or are agnostics by definition always friendly, so the question doesn't apply."
I don't think so.
If we extend the concept, the agnostic could make the claim that both atheism and theism are irrational because neither accept their justification for agnosticism.
Thus while it wasn't specifically covered in the IEP article or the Rowe paper (hence their omission from the poll), I think there is every reason to believe that an agnostic can be every bit as friendly and unfriendly within this context.

@TheMiddleWay leaving aside the reference to atheism being irrational which you know me well enough to know I think is absurd, I am pleased you say that this friendly/unfriendly rating is more broadly applicable. But I find this post a little odd. Why would an avowed agnostic who thinks atheism is arguably irrational post on this about atheism? I sense an attempt at another agenda stemming from your disapproval of atheism. Still, it has resulted in some interesting comments. But I find these simplistic terms, friendly or unfriendly, of little depth or meaning.

@David1955
"Why would an avowed agnostic who thinks atheism is arguably irrational post on this about atheism? "
You'd have to ask an avowed agnostic who thinks atheism is arguably irrational, i.e. an unfriendly agnostic.
The avowed agnostic who posted this has not, to their recollection, ever argued that theism or atheism is irrational; i.e. they've always been a friendly agnostic by Rowe's or any other definition

" I sense an attempt at another agenda stemming from your disapproval of atheism."
What agenda do you sense?

@TheMiddleWay so your statement "If we extend the concept, the agnostic could make the claim that both atheism and theism are irrational because neither accept their justification for agnosticism" is not your view but what a hypothetical agnostic could say. Is that right? Okay, but why would you present a hypothetical view of an agnostic if you don't agree with it.? Hypothetically an agnostic could make a variety of claims. It's not unreasonable to assume from reading the comment that you agreed with this statement.

Oh, by the way, my earlier comment " Or are agnostics by definition always friendly, so the question doesn't apply" was meant humorously. I should have added a smilie.

@David1955
It was unreasonable to assume that I was an unfriendly atheist.
There was nothing in this statement to justify said assumption:
"I think there is every reason to believe that an agnostic can be every bit as friendly and unfriendly within this context."
If you had any doubt on where I stood on the hypothetical I presented, you should have asked instead of assuming.

And what is the "another agenda" you mentioned that you sense? I'm still curious to know about your perception of my "agendas" plural considering this is "another" one.

@TheMiddleWay I've never assumed you were an unfriendly atheist. Never said so. I do strong think you are an ambiguous agnostic. I did refer to your reference about atheism being irrational, and I still don't know if your "the agnostic could claim .....irrational " statement applies to you. As to your agenda your antipathy towards the atheist position is quite clear, you come at it from different ways, though I know you'll reply in the negative. You play clever word tricks in your posts, "The agnostic could claim..." for example, but I'm not fooled by them.

@David1955
You claim...
"I've never assumed you were an unfriendly atheist"
... yet you said,
""Why would an avowed agnostic who thinks atheism is arguably irrational post on this about atheism? ""
As I am "the avowed agnostic who posted on this", clearly you did paint me as an unfriendly atheist, as one who stated atheism was irrational (something I've never done).

"You play clever word tricks in your posts, "
We all see what we want to see. You see "clever word tricks"... all I see are words. ๐Ÿ˜‰
You'd do well to read my words with less of a bias one way or the other: it will help you understand what I'm saying rather than interpreting as you'd like to hear.

"As to your agenda your antipathy towards the atheist position is quite clear, "

(anยทtipยทaยทthy
anหˆtฤ“pษ™THฤ“/Submit
noun
a deep-seated feeling of dislike; aversion.)

I have no deep seated feeling of dislike towards atheists.
In your case, I've always treated you with respect, I've never been snide or insulting about your beliefs or who you are, nor have I ever stated or intimated that I disliked you or that I wanted to avert myself from you.
Thus, I've always been "Friendly" in the Rowe and other definition towards you as an atheist and everyone else.
What evidence can you present in support of your claim that I'm antipathetic towards atheists ?

@NotConvinced
I've reviewed as much of our past interactions as I can and find no place where I claimed agnosticism was the only rational choice nor where atheism and theism were irrational.

In fact, I rarely use the word "rational" or "irrational" in my writings so it would be odd that I made such a claim. If I did, it would be more likely that I said agnosticism was the MORE rational choice, which keeps atheism and theism as rational just less so than agnosticism (a position I do hold), as opposed to THE rational choice, which makes theism and atheism irrational (a position I do not hold).

If I have used "rational" or "irrational" in regards to atheist, theist, and agnostics, I'd need for you to provide quotes of what I said for context. My views are subject to change and it could be the case that I said something like that in the past but if I did, I assure you that is not my position now in the present.

@NotConvinced
"Now let the Semantic Games begin...lol"
Indeed.
Where is "rationality" ever mentioned in that quote? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

My claim was that I was not "as one who stated atheism was irrational", that I had never stated atheism was irrational.

Your claim was that "you opine that agnosticism is the rational choice", that I had the opinion that agnosticism is the rational choice.

Yet my quote neither states that atheism is irrational nor that agnosticism is the rational choice!

But that is proof to you that I've stated that and hold that opinion? Especially in light of my saying point blank that that is not my opinion?

Semantic games indeed... I think you and david should focus less on inference and more one what is actually said. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

@NotConvinced
I appear right because I am right: you make up a false claims you can't support, from my claiming agnosticism is the rational choice to my creating straw man.

Enjoy the rest of your labor day weekend!

@TheMiddleWay you are impossible to deal with. @NotConvinced is right about you and straw man arguments. Look at below:

"... yet you said,
""Why would an avowed agnostic who thinks atheism is arguably irrational post on this about atheism? ""
As I am "the avowed agnostic who posted on this", clearly you did paint me as an unfriendly atheist, as one who stated atheism was irrational (something I've never done)."

So, avowed agnostic = irrational atheist.

That's in your mind. Your extraction.

I simply asked you if your statement " the agnostic could make the claim that atheism and theism, are irrational..." was your view as an agnostic, but you are evasive about it. I also previously stated that, OK, perhaps that isn't your view, but asked why did you state it. You reply by huffing and puffing about being painted as an unfriendly atheist.

And just for the record, I don't think you are an unfriendly atheist. I think you are so residually scared of your God that your intellectual mind can longer accept as true but your emotional mind can't let go of, you wouldn't dare call yourself anything but an agnostic. And no I don't have to ask you a million questions to determine that, as reading your stuff over months (like your ramble yesterday that faith equals personal 'evidence' ) reveals all. You're not the first residue religious agnostic I've encountered in my life. But you are one of the most self righteous.

@David1955
"So, avowed agnostic = irrational atheist."
Congratulations; your false equivalence gives evidence that you've no idea how the straw-man fallacy works.

"And just for the record, I don't think you are an unfriendly atheist. [...] You're not the first residue religious agnostic I've encountered in my life. But you are one of the most self righteous."
Who cares what you think of me?
Your assessment of me carries no weight, significance, or value in this site.
Pretty sad that you think it does and feel compelled to share it ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

@TheMiddleWay no, the false equivalence was yours, and I was pointing it out, you missed the point, again.

Now you're speaking "for the site" ? Well, why not, middle, or whatever your name is.

@David1955
"no, the false equivalence was yours, and I was pointing it out, you missed the point, again."
Clearly not mine.
Obviously yours.
That is your false equivalence based on a muddled misreading of my statement as you try and support your straw-man accusation

The more you defend yourself, the more evidence you give that you've zero understanding of the straw-man. But by all mean, keep digging the hole you're in.

"Now you're speaking "for the site" ? "
Ask @ Admin, who does speak for the site, if your opinion of me carries any weight, significance, or value for this site.
You are not special, David. What you think of me isn't special. What you think of me carries no special value in this site. What you think of me carries no special significance in this site. What you think of me carries no special weight in this site.

Point is, you should focus less on posting what you think of me and more on other, more useful things. ๐Ÿ˜‰

@TheMiddleWay you are definitely an odd individual.

@David1955
"you are definitely an odd individual."
Did you not get the message?
What you think of me is wholly irrelevant.

Your views on my being odd or even are neither accurate, nor precise, nor relevant, nor useful, nor informative, nor substantive.

Are you actually capable of not making a comment about me or can you not help yourself?
Let's find out...

@TheMiddleWay ๐Ÿ™‚

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Great post/question.

Thank you! I could have done better in setting it up insofar as making clear this was a definition forwarded by Philosopher William Rowe and it isn't about how you treat people. But either way, if it gets people to think about how they treat their "opponents", if they look in the mirror and see an unfriendly face staring back, then hey, not the intention but still a good result!

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I let people believe what they believe. I'm not going to change them, or try to.

2

Friendly, but introverted.... probably wonโ€™t strike up a conversation with anyone...

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