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Old 14th February 2013, 02:39 AM   #1
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An Atheist's "right to be angry"

As I have posted here before:

Although Agnostic, I have been regularly attending a First Baptist church for around two years now with my wife Susan, who is a Christian.

We attend services and Sunday School every Sunday, as well as weekly Bible Study groups. I sing in the choir and have started volunteering in the church's library. Susan volunteers in the church's office every week.

After we had attended for a few months, I "came out" (as a non-believer) to the church's Pastor and Associate Pastor, and later, to our Sunday School class and my Men's Bible Study group. I continue to be treated well there, and we have retained the many friends we have made there.

Our Sunday School class recently started sponsoring/hosting a multi-week-long class titled "Christian Worldview 101", which was promoted as explaining the Christian Worldview and comparing/contrasting it with other major worldviews.

We attended one of these classes last Sunday, and here is the text of an email I just sent to the man who taught the class:

Quote:
Robert Lancaster here (the guy with the big gray beard and the purple camouflage hat, who rides around in a motorized wheelchair at the church).

We (My wife Susan and I) missed the first session of your "Christian Worldview 101" class, but caught the second one (last Sunday, Feb 10), and it is about that second session that I will be commenting below:

First, I found the class to be disorganized in the extreme. Points seldom seemed to build on the ones which had preceded them, giving much of the class a feel of just a series of random thoughts strung together (That was a tad harshly-phrased, but is fairly indicative of how I felt during the class).

Second, I was very disappointed that it seems as though you might not be going to be presenting the other (non-Christian) Worldviews in a simple, factual way which might lead to a fair comparison, but instead may be presenting them in ways meant to mock them rather than let them succeed or fail on their own merits.

I base that on the way that you unfairly (in my eyes, at least) painted Atheists in a brief aside during that class:

You said (and I paraphrase, but I think it's a pretty accurate paraphrase) that someone (Pastor Jeff, I believe it was) had said something to you which you found to be interesting (and accurate, from the way you presented it):

You said that Pastor Jeff (if that's who it was) had said to you that he felt that an Atheist, not believing in God, would have no right to be upset (I believe you said "no right to feel angst") if someone had broken into his (the Atheist's) home and stolen his possessions.

You did not clarify just why this was, but I assumed you were going to say that without an external definition of Right and Wrong (which the Bible provides a Christian), an Atheist had no right nor cause to say that what the thief had done was Wrong.

And that, to put it bluntly, is cowflop (okay, I could have been even more blunt).

First, the Laws of our society would provide a pretty clear definition showing that breaking into someone's home and stealing their possessions is Wrong, giving our hypothetical Atheist every right to be angry about what had happened.

Second, regardless of the legalities involved, a person - whether or not they believe in a Supreme Being - will quite naturally be angered when they are harmed, whether physically or by other means (in this case, financially, through loss of property), and to say that they would not have that right unless they attributed their right to that anger to a Supreme Being is utter nonsense.

Would you say that Atheist would have not had the right to be angry if someone had walked up and socked him in the jaw?

I hope not, but the principle is the same, only the nature of the harm is different.

As I looked around the room after you said that, I saw several others in the class quietly chuckling and nodding their heads in apparent agreement with you, joining with you in the smug, self-satisfied enjoyment of that Atheist's supposed predicament.

Jim, there may well be inconsistencies in the Atheistic Worldview, but if so, I do not think that your strawmannish example was one of them, and, if that is how you will be (mis-)representing the other non-Christian Worldviews in the weeks to come, I think we can kiss any pretense of a "fair analysis" goodbye.

If the Christian Worldview is provably the Right (or even the Best, or most logical) of the major Worldviews, then a truly fair and logical examination of all of those Worldviews should support that conclusion, and so, manufacturing false positions (or predicaments) for people espousing other Worldviews should not be neccesary. I feel that to do so is a disservice not only to the people in the class, but to Christianity itself, providing it "short shrift" by defending it in ways which are (I feel) dishonest and misleading, and should be unneccesary.

I resisted the urge to stand up and voice my concerns/objections in class that day, not trusting myself to keep it civil and non-emotional, nor to express myself in a way that would make my point cogently and clearly.

But, since I am currently planning on continuing to attend the class (despite my misgivings), I wanted to express my concerns to you privately, and this email is how I have chosen to do so.

By the way, I think it only fair to tell you - in case you do not already know - that I am not a Christian.

I am Agnostic, in that I do not claim to know whether or not there is a God (although I do not hold the view that such knowledge is unattainable/unknowable). This is something I have discussed with Pastors Mark and Jeff - and, later, with my entire Sunday School class (Pathfinders), as well as the members of my Men's Bible Study class, and others, but I was not ready to discuss it in front of the entire Christian Worldview 101 class, which is another reason I chose not to voice my objections last Sunday, thinking it likely that my non-belief would come up in the resulting discussion.

Best regards,

-Robert Lancaster
I know, I did some Strawman construction of my own there, arguing with what I only assumed was his explanation for the "no right to be angry" thing, but left it in anyway.

Any thoughts on this - especially on the "no right to be angry" thing - would be appreciated.

-RSL
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Old 14th February 2013, 03:31 AM   #2
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I think that it's a well thought out and well worded note.

I've encountered the view that "if you're not a Christian then you are not bound by God's laws" before and the suspicion that as an Atheist I will kill, steal and whatever just because I won't get punished by God.

I think that this speaks more to their frame on mind than mine. Are they really saying that if it weren't for the fear of divine retribution they'd be killing people right now ?

I suppose what the person has done is to say that they think that the law is divinely inspired "thou shalt not...." and so if you don't believe in God then you aren't entitled to protection under that law (God says you can't steal, you don't believe in God therefore it must be OK to steal).

It sounds like the whole thing is an exercise in strawmanning. I once worked with a fundamentalist YEC Christian (quite rare here in the UK, he was South African) and we got along very well. he simply could not understand my lack of belief in God and because I was generally kind and compassionate he thought that I must be a Christian. When I pressed him on it, he said why would I behave in such a way when there was no fear of being judged by God. He could not understand that I would do something just because it was the decent thing to do and just because I would feel good about myself for behaving in that way.
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Old 14th February 2013, 03:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
I know, I did some Strawman construction of my own there, arguing with what I only assumed was his explanation for the "no right to be angry" thing, but left it in anyway.

If he can come up with a convincing alternative explanation, he deserves some kind of award for creativity.
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Old 14th February 2013, 03:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
You said that Pastor Jeff (if that's who it was) had said to you that he felt that an Atheist, not believing in God, would have no right to be upset (I believe you said "no right to feel angst") if someone had broken into his (the Atheist's) home and stolen his possessions.
Tell him that it's a self-defeating argument : It justifies persecutions against christians in non-christian societies, since it essentially asserts that not being part of the dominant point of view in any given society means you have no right to benefit from said society's laws and protections.
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Old 14th February 2013, 03:48 AM   #5
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Thanks, The Don.

Your discussion with your YEC co-worker reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a co-worker.

He was an atheist, married to a Christian. They'd had the wife's pastor over for dinner, and the pastor had said to him, in a conversation about his Atheism, that he (the pastor), if not a Christian, would gladly rape and murder, not being bound by God's laws.

I told my co-worker that I would have replied "Well, I'm glad you're a Christian then, because you're a [bleep]ing sociopath!"
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Old 14th February 2013, 05:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
Thanks, The Don.

Your discussion with your YEC co-worker reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a co-worker.

He was an atheist, married to a Christian. They'd had the wife's pastor over for dinner, and the pastor had said to him, in a conversation about his Atheism, that he (the pastor), if not a Christian, would gladly rape and murder, not being bound by God's laws.

I told my co-worker that I would have replied "Well, I'm glad you're a Christian then, because you're a [bleep]ing sociopath!"
Though, as you certainly know, "I used to be an atheist..." is just codespeak for "I was once a regular Christian, not born-again..."
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Old 14th February 2013, 05:36 AM   #7
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Old 14th February 2013, 05:47 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Though, as you certainly know, "I used to be an atheist..." is just codespeak for "I was once a regular Christian, not born-again..."
One of my favorite Lying For Jesus(tm) quotes.
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Old 14th February 2013, 05:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
Thanks, The Don.

Your discussion with your YEC co-worker reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a co-worker.

He was an atheist, married to a Christian. They'd had the wife's pastor over for dinner, and the pastor had said to him, in a conversation about his Atheism, that he (the pastor), if not a Christian, would gladly rape and murder, not being bound by God's laws.

I told my co-worker that I would have replied "Well, I'm glad you're a Christian then, because you're a [bleep]ing sociopath!"

I would have thrown him out of the house for good measure.
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Old 14th February 2013, 05:55 AM   #10
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Ask him why theft and murder are frowned upon in non-christian societies both before and after establisment of that particular religion.
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Old 14th February 2013, 05:58 AM   #11
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Re: An Atheist's "right to be angry"

Originally Posted by Resume View Post
Ask him why theft and murder are frowned upon in non-christian societies both before and after establisment of that particular religion.
Why should Christians care? The thief earned eternal torture from our all loving god and the christian is inconvenienced for a fee years but will go to eternally sign gods praises.
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Old 14th February 2013, 06:45 AM   #12
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It sounds to me that the source of the problem is Pastor Jeff, who originated the nonsense. Jim is just parroting his teaChing. Is Jeff one of those who knows you are not a believer?
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Old 14th February 2013, 06:50 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Resume View Post
Ask him why theft and murder are frowned upon in non-christian societies both before and after establisment of that particular religion.
Murder and theft is so frowned upon by Christians that, if you do it, they'll kill you and take all your stuff.
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Old 14th February 2013, 06:52 AM   #14
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Robert,

What you wrote resonated with me.

Not that I agreed with it (after all, I wasn't in your shoes--or in your chair, if you will--so I cannot take a stand on the soundness of your analysis of the particular circumstances), but rather it reminds me of times that I have attended similar church-sponsored "educational sessions." These sessions were usually conducted in a church basement before or after a service, and in most cases, they were conducted by a lay person.

I value education highly, and I deem "education" generally to mean learning things that one did not previously know or understand, and learning them accurately.

Many of the speakers at these educational sessions did not see the function of "education" in that way. They consistently mis-characterized the views or practices of others, and then proceeded to condemn them. What I "learned" about Mormonism at one of these sessions and what I "learned" about Jehovah's Witnesses at another was mostly wrong. As bad as the mis-information about other religions is, the views and practices of atheists and agnostics get the most unfair treatment of all.

The assumption of some is that religion is necessary for morals, and a corollary is that being an adherent to a completely false religion is better than being an adherent to no religion at all. Atheists and agnostics, because they follow no religion of any kind, cannot possibly be good people; by their lack of belief, they are unethical, amoral, unprincipled and untrustworthy. They don't just decline to accept religious notions; they HATE God. They are liars. They are blasphemers and iconoclasts and social poisoners. There still is a strand of thought that atheists and agnostics are communists and are actively opposed to the American Way of Life (whatever that is).

All of which is bigotry and cowflop.

I hasten to add that not all those who hold religious views are such ignorant bigots. Some of my relatives hold strong religious beliefs and have publicly denounced such bigotry, saying that a person is not necessarily evil because of atheism or agnosticism. But they have also said that they got a lot of hateful, harassing and threatening correspondence in response. The bigotry runs deep.
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Old 14th February 2013, 06:59 AM   #15
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I would have said that any good Christian should welcome being murdered because after all, if they have been good they are going straight to Heaven and, there will be an extra bonus in being a martyr whose name will constantly be on the lips of the devout in that maudlin self-pitying way that people who believe in an after-life somehow still have.
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Old 14th February 2013, 07:07 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Flo View Post
Tell him that it's a self-defeating argument : It justifies persecutions against christians in non-christian societies, since it essentially asserts that not being part of the dominant point of view in any given society means you have no right to benefit from said society's laws and protections.
That’s what more or less occurred to me. If you are relying on a supreme being to define right and wrong there’s no reason he can’t say it’s OK to steal from Them but not from Us.

Another thing (this may be slightly off topic)

Anytime I hear something like “Christian World View” or “Christian Values” I have to wonder - who’s definition of Christian is being used.

Fred Phelps?
The KKK?
Greek Orthodox?
The Pope?
Oral Roberts?
The guy who has never gone to church or read a bible but puts up a nativity scene at Christmas?
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Old 14th February 2013, 08:10 AM   #17
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This is the old "where does morality" come from if not from god codswallop.

If anyone cannot see that survival of the human species depends essentially upon cooperation, and the golden rule, and that this does not require any edicts from any god to make it real, then they are simply desperately seeking to shore up their belief with a non-argument.

If the people who peddle the nonsense about atheists being essentially immoral can prove the existence of their deity, then they can start to argue about whence morality. Until that point, the only sensible conclusion is that it is all man made anyway, and their views are irrelevant.
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Old 14th February 2013, 08:10 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Brown View Post
Some of my relatives hold strong religious beliefs and have publicly denounced such bigotry, saying that a person is not necessarily evil because of atheism or agnosticism.
That takes an open mind for sure!
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Old 14th February 2013, 09:47 AM   #19
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It might seem all nice and good to attend a Christian church as an agnostic/non-believer, and that these people seem all happy-smiley and tolerant and everything, but it sounds like you experienced Christian Worldview 101 in more ways than one. While everything you stated in your letter made perfect sense, their approach to the class and their opinions of atheists should not have surprised you. The next thing will be, because of your physical/medical predicament, that you are not really an agnostic, you are simply "angry at God." "And that's okay, because many people feel that way and we can help you work through it."
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:11 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
It sounds to me that the source of the problem is Pastor Jeff, who originated the nonsense. Jim is just parroting his teaChing. Is Jeff one of those who knows you are not a believer?
Yes he is - he is the Pastor Jeff I mentioned in my note to Jim as having discussed my non-belief with Pastor Mark and myself.

And I sent Pastor Jeff a copy of the note I had sent to Jim, in hopes he could either tell me that Jim had misquoted or misrepresented his thoughts, or could clarify just what he meant by it. If he replies, and I feel his reply is shareable, I will add it to this thread.
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:22 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Psi Baba View Post
It might seem all nice and good to attend a Christian church as an agnostic/non-believer, and that these people seem all happy-smiley and tolerant and everything, but it sounds like you experienced Christian Worldview 101 in more ways than one. While everything you stated in your letter made perfect sense, their approach to the class and their opinions of atheists should not have surprised you.
"Surprised?" No.

Disappointed, yes. And frustrated because I self-censored my response to what I disagreed with.

Quote:
The next thing will be, because of your physical/medical predicament, that you are not really an agnostic, you are simply "angry at God." "And that's okay, because many people feel that way and we can help you work through it."
I have not heard even a hint of that in all of the discussions I have had about my non-belief with many people there, but if someone does posit that theory, I have but to tell them that Susan and I had discussed my non-belief when we first were dating, which was more than five years before my current "physical/medical predicament", and Susan - a Christian - can and will back me up on that.
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:26 AM   #22
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I hear that sort of thing sometimes but I've already decided that I would have the right to be upset if I were burglarized. In point of fact my home was once burglarized and I was very upset. I understand that religious people make assessments of my right to criticize their beliefs or my right to moral judgments. I still do both without regard to that assessment.
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:44 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
That takes an open mind for sure!
Not just an open mind; it also takes intelligence and honesty. In its simplest form, denouncing such bigotry merely involves saying truthfully, "I know some atheists and agnostics, and they aren't all bad people."
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:45 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
Any thoughts on this - especially on the "no right to be angry" thing - would be appreciated.
Others have pretty well covered what I would have said - I would just add that, if you wanted to get into a debate with Jim, you could point out that Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, animists, Scientologists, Jainists, and - yes - atheists and agnostics all get upset when their things are stolen, which shows that that feeling comes from somewhere deeper and more primal than religion. You could then go into a discussion of how the vast majority of religions have similar rules for how to treat one another - viz., how you would want to be treated - which shows that morality comes from our humanity, not from a divinity. But you probably don't want to go there, at least not in this "class" (I use the word advisedly, because it doesn't sound like either of its more common meanings apply).

ETA: Since when does someone need a "right" to feel an emotion anyway?

Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
I know, I did some Strawman construction of my own there, arguing with what I only assumed was his explanation for the "no right to be angry" thing, but left it in anyway.
-RSL
I don't think it was a straw man. You didn't attribute to Jim some position other than the one he took, you filled in a gap which had left. You are open to the possibility that you did so incorrectly, and I assume that you would correct your thinking if Jim provided another credible explanation for his statement.
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:46 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
"Surprised?" No.

Disappointed, yes. And frustrated because I self-censored my response to what I disagreed with.



I have not heard even a hint of that in all of the discussions I have had about my non-belief with many people there, but if someone does posit that theory, I have but to tell them that Susan and I had discussed my non-belief when we first were dating, which was more than five years before my current "physical/medical predicament", and Susan - a Christian - can and will back me up on that.
I'm guessing that soon you will not be attending that church.
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Old 14th February 2013, 11:24 AM   #26
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Did you get any response to the email?
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Old 14th February 2013, 01:05 PM   #27
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I am following this discussion eagerly and was just wondering the same thing that MikeG just asked. Have you received a response?

Frankly, I would not have been controlling myself in the room you were in, I would have been rendered speechless. That sort of thing at first totally gobsmacks me and it wouldn't have been until later that I would even be able to put my thoughts together.

You've done well so far. I can't wait to find out how it turns out. Hopefully it will be good and differences resolved.
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Old 14th February 2013, 01:47 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
I hear that sort of thing sometimes but I've already decided that I would have the right to be upset if I were burglarized. In point of fact my home was once burglarized and I was very upset. I understand that religious people make assessments of my right to criticize their beliefs or my right to moral judgments. I still do both without regard to that assessment.
Yes, nobody can tell me what "right" I have to a gut-level reaction to something.

Originally Posted by Brown View Post
Not just an open mind; it also takes intelligence and honesty. In its simplest form, denouncing such bigotry merely involves saying truthfully, "I know some atheists and agnostics, and they aren't all bad people."
I am fairly certain that I play that role (the agnostic they know who is otherwise a decent guy) for some people at our church.

One man there who I have come to regard as a friend is Tom, who teaches our regular Sunday School class (not the "Christian Worldview 101" sessions), and who sits next to me in the choir. Susan has become good friends with Tom's wife, and the four of us regularly get together for meals and to visit.

Not long after I "came out" as a non-believer to Tom (and the rest of the class), he told me that he had thought he had no friends who were not Christians, and was surprised to find that he had a friend who was not.

Our friendship has done nothing but grow since then.

This reminds me of an incident a few months ago in Sunday School:

We had been studying a passage in the Bible which was talking about how Christians are supposed to love everyone, and Tom brought up the fact that this is most challenging to do with a person - or graoup of people - who believe differtently than you do, and asked the class "Have any of you had any recent experience with groups of people who believe differently than you do?"

There is one man in the class, who is always bringing up "the homosexuals and the child molesters" (yes, he almost always mentions them together like that), and usually trots out a story or two about some gay co-workers of his who he feels are always "pushing their lifestyle" on others at work. So, when Tom asked the class the above question, I gritted my teeth and awaited Yet Another Story from Mr. Homophobe. After a few moments of silence, I raiosed my hand to offer MY answer to the question. When Tom called on me, I said "Yes I have had recent experience with such a group: Christians!"

After a moment of stunned silence, the room erupted in laughter. Conversations broke out at several tables, starting with statements like "He's right!" Another friend of mine in the class gave me a big smile and a "thumbs up", and the discussion turned to comparing my situation - a non-believer among believers - with situations many of them had experienced (in the workplace, for example) where they had found themselves the lone believer amongst non-believers.

It's probably egotistical of me to say, but I think that my presence in that group may have caused some there to reassess their image of non-believers somewhat. I don't fit the pigeonhole where they long have filed non-believers.

Originally Posted by Jon. View Post
Others have pretty well covered what I would have said - I would just add that, if you wanted to get into a debate with Jim, you could point out that Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, animists, Scientologists, Jainists, and - yes - atheists and agnostics all get upset when their things are stolen, which shows that that feeling comes from somewhere deeper and more primal than religion. You could then go into a discussion of how the vast majority of religions have similar rules for how to treat one another - viz., how you would want to be treated - which shows that morality comes from our humanity, not from a divinity. But you probably don't want to go there, at least not in this "class" (I use the word advisedly, because it doesn't sound like either of its more common meanings apply).
Interesting points, thanks!

Originally Posted by tsig View Post
I'm guessing that soon you will not be attending that church.
That may well be, but if so, not because of this incident, I don't think.

Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Did you get any response to the email?
Not as of yet, but I only sent it out late last night. If I receive one (from Jim or Pastor Jeff) which I would feel right about sharing here, I will do so.
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Old 14th February 2013, 03:13 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Jon. View Post
Others have pretty well covered what I would have said - I would just add that, if you wanted to get into a debate with Jim, you could point out that Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, animists, Scientologists, Jainists, and - yes - atheists and agnostics all get upset when their things are stolen, which shows that that feeling comes from somewhere deeper and more primal than religion. You could then go into a discussion of how the vast majority of religions have similar rules for how to treat one another - viz., how you would want to be treated - which shows that morality comes from our humanity, not from a divinity. But you probably don't want to go there, at least not in this "class" (I use the word advisedly, because it doesn't sound like either of its more common meanings apply).

ETA: Since when does someone need a "right" to feel an emotion anyway?

Heck, even cats react poorly when one of "their" belongings gets stolen, and everyone knows that all cats are Satanists!
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Old 14th February 2013, 03:56 PM   #30
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I am interested in hearing the response from Pastor Jeff. Given he knows your views, that could be viewed as a personal afront. He'll of course deny that it was intentional (I'm sure it wasn't) but maybe ir be a lesson for him.

I'd let him know that regardless of how he intended, you took it very personally and that you had a relationship based on respect, and you'd appreciate if he were more considerate.

That type of comment is pretty damning for a minister, I'd think.
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Old 14th February 2013, 04:22 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
I am interested in hearing the response from Pastor Jeff. Given he knows your views, that could be viewed as a personal afront. He'll of course deny that it was intentional (I'm sure it wasn't) but maybe ir be a lesson for him.

I'd let him know that regardless of how he intended, you took it very personally and that you had a relationship based on respect, and you'd appreciate if he were more considerate.

That type of comment is pretty damning for a minister, I'd think.
Pastor Jeff probably considers agnosticism to be very different from atheism, and doesn't consider RSL an atheist, whether or not RSL considers himself an atheist.
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Old 14th February 2013, 04:46 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I've encountered the view that "if you're not a Christian then you are not bound by God's laws" before and the suspicion that as an Atheist I will kill, steal and whatever just because I won't get punished by God.
I've had a rather hyper-religious relative say the same thing to me after she found out I wasn't a believer. I believe I said something along the lines of, "Your fellow christians should worry you more. Think on this; According to what you've just told me, the only reason the christians don't do horrible things is because they believe god is watching them. Who would you trust more to not break your lawn ornaments? The child down the street who doesn't misbehave because he knows he is being closely watched, or the child who isn't closely watched but behaves the proper way whether he is being watched or not?"
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Old 15th February 2013, 07:29 AM   #33
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Nice, Mister Earl!

But, to your hyper-religious relative, the analogy is flawed. To fit in with her Worldview, the second child (analagous to you) is always be closely watched, just never aware of it.
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Old 15th February 2013, 08:25 AM   #34
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What disturbs me most is the tact implication that it is acceptable to steal (or worse) from an Atheist. I really hope I'm just reading too much into it because that is not something I want to see going around the Christian community. Can you imagine the mess if extremist Christians start believing that they don't have to show any kindness to non-Christians?
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Old 15th February 2013, 08:37 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Weak Kitten View Post
What disturbs me most is the tact implication that it is acceptable to steal (or worse) from an Atheist. I really hope I'm just reading too much into it because that is not something I want to see going around the Christian community. Can you imagine the mess if extremist Christians start believing that they don't have to show any kindness to non-Christians?
Some of them don't show any kindness to Christians, so I wouldn't feel special.
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Old 15th February 2013, 10:12 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Weak Kitten View Post
What disturbs me most is the tact implication that it is acceptable to steal (or worse) from an Atheist.
Even if Pastor Jeff DID say what Jim quoted him as saying (that an Atheist would have no right to be angry if robbed), I would bet anything that he did not mean to imply that it was okay to rob an Atheist.

However, I could see that being read into it, so yes, that could be...dangerous, in the wrong ears. I will discuss this with Pastor Jeff and see what he says. As it is, I think there might be a clarification at this coming Sunday's class of what he said, and what he meant by it.

If so, I will post of it here.
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Old 15th February 2013, 12:20 PM   #37
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Okay, I got a reply from Pastor Jeff.

First, he said that he would like to continue the discussion in person, as he feels the topic is far too complex to successfully discuss it via email.

I replied, saying that I would like that, but feared I would be outgunned debating theological/moral issue with a man who had studied them for years, and who discussed them for a living.

He also said that Jim had left out an important part of what he had said in that discussion. I don't have the exact quote with me, but basically he wrote that he did not say that the Atheist would not have the right to be angry, but rather that the Atheist would not have right to be (I think he said) "morally outraged".

I replied that, while I felt that was a bit more supportable than "no right to be angry", I would still argue with it, and, after a brief shot across his bow, asked when and where we could further the discussion in person.

I also told him about someone's concern above that someone could twist "An Atheist would have no right to get angry if robbed" (or even "An Atheist would have no right to get morally outraged if robbed") into "it's okay to rob an Atheist". When I meet with him I will ask him if he would be okay with my quoting his correspondence with me here.
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Old 15th February 2013, 12:44 PM   #38
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I think I can see where he may be coming from. If a person believes that morality is only the word of god rather than a personal dedication to right action then one who does not follow their god cannot by definition have morality. An atheist, by that definition, cannot be morally outraged because without their god there is no morality.

If that's his argument then it is a rather rude one but internally consistent. However it does still lend itself to being interpreted as saying that atheists do not have any moral rights at all. I'll be interested to hear what he has to say on the matter.
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Old 15th February 2013, 01:04 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
He also said that Jim had left out an important part of what he had said in that discussion. I don't have the exact quote with me, but basically he wrote that he did not say that the Atheist would not have the right to be angry, but rather that the Atheist would not have right to be (I think he said) "morally outraged".
And he gets to decide what your rights are based on what?
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Old 15th February 2013, 01:21 PM   #40
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I think he means "right" in the same sense that some say "if you don't vote then you have given up the right to complain about who gets elected".

I don't agree with either, and they both smack of someone thinking they can decide what "rights" others have, but they both seem to actually mean "have no defensible logical position from which to..."
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