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Defending a religious person...

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by Hestha, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Hestha

    Hestha Active Member

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    I am not religious myself. However, oftentimes I encounter online messages from people who seem to be extremely anti-religious. They may say things like "Religion is useless" or "God is dead" or "I disproved God" or "I disproved religion", which I find extremely hurtful. Yes, I do agree with religious skepticism, but some extreme forms of religious skepticism seem to be just morally unacceptable and overly insulting. (Fortunately, people tend to do this online. People in real life tend to be more friendlier, possible because of the face-to-face interaction.) Recently on this forum, I felt that this ex-Catholic atheist with whom I conversed had some awful anti-religious sentiments. She claimed that she disproved God by performing a "science experiment" and trying to see whether or not God would pass the test. She claimed that the lack of effectiveness of prayer in health care was due to the absence of God. When I asked her whether or not she prayed to God for forgiveness, she replied that she never had and instead prayed once to a Catholic priest, because that's what Catholics do (according to her words). Having read Religion for Dummies, I became awfully suspicious of her behavior and her claims and attempted to debate her. Didn't work. Actually, she just claimed that I had some sort of anti-atheist bias. Personally, I view atheism/agnosticism as a personal choice that same way I view practicing a religion as a personal choice. If a person just doesn't feel that religion is right for them, then they do not practice it rather than screaming out to the world that "Christianity is false!" Ironically, I still thank her for providing me an unique experience. After talking with her online (it was only an online forum conversation), I began to realize the importance of prayer myself. She showed me (quite unintentionally) how prayer was not going to work, and I felt I understood the meaning of prayer and how prayer was supposed to work. I referred to Corinthians 13 and thought that pertained to my experience with that pitiful ex-Catholic atheist girl, especially the part about "moving the mountain" thing, which she seemed to interpret as "literally and physically moving a mountain by God's works". Eh... I thought I got really spiritually enlightened at that point and made me wonder whether God was really worth praying to.

    Ethically speaking, have you ever defended a person with a faith commitment different from you? For example, a Christian defending a Jew from anti-Semitic attacks?
     
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  2. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist I believe in life before death!

    +2,591
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    How is that hurtful unless one has a very thin skin?

    Yes, I have defended Christians before.


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  3. Catherineanne

    Catherineanne Well-Known Member

    +4,395
    United Kingdom
    Anglican
    Widowed
    I have no problem defending anyone who is not being treated fairly by others. On this forum it could mean pretty well anyone at all.

    People are gregarious; we prefer company. The down side of this is that we prefer to be with those who are like us, and we are suspicious of those who are different, and we can at times behave unkindly towards them. The challenge for all of us, not just Christians, is to recognise that different does not mean dangerous. Perhaps for our ancestors it did, but now it does not. Now different is good; we can learn from it, and we can most of all learn what our own prejudices are, and try to eradicate them.
     
  4. QR1

    QR1 Rook by any other name, still moves the same

    482
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    I have defended enough people I am sure some of em had to be of different faiths, never stopped to ask. It isn't the Samaritan way, need help? I am a last resort kinda guy, but chances are, if someone needs my kinda help, nothing less will do & they won't be askin me about my religion
     
  5. lisah

    lisah Humanist with Christian Heritage

    +87
    Humanist
    Married
    Well, I think she has just as much a right to her viewpoint as anyone else. If you disagree, then you disagree. (I tend to avoid being sucked into online drama's.)

    I have never found myself in the position of needing to defend anybody's religious views other than my own. I also avoid needing to do that as well. In fact, I rarely discuss religion with anyone. It seems pointless now.
     
  6. motherprayer

    motherprayer Elisha

    +491
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    I don't believe anyone deserves to be insulted. There's this virus going around lately. It doesn't have a name, but I call it eattheobjectersitis. It is where one person believes one thing, another believes something else, and they trade insults either until they both get tired or until one gets mad enough to simply leave the argument.

    There is a thread about that which shall not be mentioned in GT. It is closed now, but it is a perfect example of this. I disagreed with pretty much everyone on there, and spent 76 pages trying to defend everyone else, AND in the end I wound up being attacked by people from both sides.

    People need to put on their big-kid pants and unbunch their training undies, and learn that it isn't the end of the world when someone disagrees with your POV or worldview.
     
  7. Gadarene

    Gadarene -______-

    +2,447
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    Far less hurtful than the greatest hurts of religion, mind. Beware of false equivalencies.

    Not that all religion is harmful, but at base it is generally just incorrect.

    Could you link to the thread, please?

    Two sides to every story, and all that.

    If people are generally disposed to pointing out that wrong/baseless ideas are in fact wrong/baseless, then religion merits no unique treatment in that regard.

    If not pointing out that wrong things are wrong is right for you, then great - but don't insist that everyone else to the same ;)

    Plenty of times, usually from misrepresentation, or usually against their fellow believers who treat disagreement as a sign of not being saved or whatever. I was a Christian before I was an atheist, and that crap is still really tedious to encounter.
     
  8. Gadarene

    Gadarene -______-

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    As the OP describes it, though - this applies to her.

    Disagreeing with views in a brusque way is not the same thing as insulting the person. Saying that something is wrong/disproven is hurtful and shouldn't be done is rather dangerous, frankly.
     
  9. motherprayer

    motherprayer Elisha

    +491
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    God hasn't been proven or disproven scientifically. And there is a way to state one's views that isn't hurtful, and a way that is.

    Here is an example. The same POV, expressed 2 different ways.

    1) Science has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that 6 day creation is impossible.

    2) People who believe in 6 day creation suffer from a lack of intelligence.

    Now, it could be said that both statements express a certain degree of fact. However, the first is discussing the issue, whereas the second is discussing the people who disagree. The second isn't an outright attack, but it does communicate in a way that isn't conducive to open discussion. It forces opposers to defend their intelligence rather than their view.
     
  10. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist I believe in life before death!

    +2,591
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    Agreed, (1) is preferable because it is more civil. But these were the examples given in the OP:

    "Religion is useless" or "God is dead" or "I disproved God" or "I disproved religion"

    They are far more like (1) than like (2).


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  11. Gadarene

    Gadarene -______-

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    Not denying that. But those aren't the examples the OP used. All of them were addressing the idea. Badly and incorrectly, perhaps, but the target was the idea and not the person nonetheless.

    If the problematic approaches are calling religious people en masse stupid, then surely she should have said so?
     
  12. motherprayer

    motherprayer Elisha

    +491
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    I don't know. I do see those things as attacking statements. They make it seem like anyone on the opposite side has a fundamental issue with their psyche, well the first two do. I wouldn't engage with someone saying any of those things, because it would be obvious to me they are not interested in hearing the other side.

    Now, if an atheist spoke in a willingness to at least hear, if not agree with, me, I may engage, and at the least give my POV.
     
  13. motherprayer

    motherprayer Elisha

    +491
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    Lol it was a comparison. Not an metaphor, but an analogy. A like circumstance.

    And then, if someone said "Religion is useless" I would think that they had no interest in hearing opposing remarks, as that is a conclusive statement rather than something that "they" would believe is up for discussion.

    It's like when pro-lifers go "Abortion kills babies!" Which doesn't speak to the person but the issue, but then by default puts those on the other side on the defense. Who wants to engage in open discussion with someone who uses harsh statements?
     
  14. Gadarene

    Gadarene -______-

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    No interest in hearing opposing remarks =/= hurtful.

    Nor is it an attack upon the person.
     
  15. motherprayer

    motherprayer Elisha

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    I can agree with this. Some people are too emotional. I may have misinterpreted the OP just a bit lol
     
  16. Gadarene

    Gadarene -______-

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    I can't say I see it as objectively offensive and a complete no-no if someone disagrees with me. Even for bad reasons.

    Heck, if it's for bad reasons, it's just funny more than anything else.
     
  17. essentialsaltes

    essentialsaltes Stranger in a Strange Land

    +8,781
    Atheist
    Legal Union (Other)
    Sadly, many people have been emotionally crippled by their experience with religion, and this sometimes shows up as an unhealthy (IMO) antitheism, rather than atheism.

    Many times, especially on the various online religious forums where I've participated. I can recall defending Islam against the Christians who wanted to stop the so-called Ground Zero mosque. I was accused of being hypocritical, but I challenge anyone to find where I (or any reasonable atheist) have demanded that a Christian church not be built on private land.

    More recently, although I realized how helpful (to Obama) it might be to whip up anti-Mormon bias among the evangelicals, I wound up defending the idea that a religious litmus test for voting was not a good idea, in a thread about the election. Somehow, I managed to convince someone that he could hold his nose and vote for Romney. Still not sure if I should be proud of that!

    And from time to time I defend Christians of various stripes from the antitheists.
     
  18. Tomk80

    Tomk80 Titleless

    +384
    Agnostic
    Why? None attack the person, none are actual insults.

    Do you think opposite statements to the same effect are equally hurtful?
    Like "Atheism is useless" / "Atheism leads to immorality", "There is a living God", "I proved God exists" or "I proved Christianity is true". If not, why not?

    Linky link?

    What about proclaiming religion is true? Church signs, billboards, preaching on the streets, evangelizing. Do you think that is offensive as well?

    ..."Pityful ex-Caholic atheist girl"...
    "I thought I got really spiritually enlightened"...

    Nice combination of personal insult and personal pride you've got there. Makes for a nicely ironic OP.

    Often, although I probably have been and will be the perpetrator as well. I try to treat every one and every idea equally on their merits. I do not always succeed to do so.
     
  19. Gadarene

    Gadarene -______-

    +2,447
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    Thread reminds me of this:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. keith99

    keith99 sola dosis facit venenum

    +4,278
    Atheist
    Single
    Back to the OP.

    I often have not just 'defended' Christians against such claims, I go on the attack.

    I dislike false claims and reasoning.

    One cannot disprove the esistance of God. One can disprove CLAIMS made about how any one God works. Huge difference.

    If I do it well I manage to get both sides really upset. The God disprovers don;t liek me since their argument is cut off at the knees. But the Christians making false claims are even more upset if they realize I'm saying they are making false claims about their God.
     
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