Where do you find your patience?

Dec 21, 2012

Discussion by: kbala
Hello all,
I am amazed at the level of patience that Prof Dawkins or
Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris have when dealing with superstition &
ignorance. I live in England and I am fortunate enough to not run into
irrational people that often. But it is a completely different story when I visit my
home country, India. I seem to lose my patience more & snap at
people lot more. That too, in a country that has incomparable levels of
poverty, subjugation & injustice. The last census put the percentage
of rationalist/atheists in India at 7%. So one comes across a lot more
morons in everyday life on an average in India than, say in Europe or

As I am getting older, I am
getting grumpier and impatient. I cant seem to tolerate irrational
statements or attitudes.  I am getting more confrontational about
traditional & religious beliefs of others.

How do you deal with this issue? Or is it not an issue for you? Where do you find your patience?

34 comments on “Where do you find your patience?

  • 1
    johndhutcheson says:

    Usually under a pile of laundry. ūüôā
    But seriously, understanding that you are not really talking to that one moron in front of you, but simply opening discussion and revealing your point of view to the on looking audience takes the away much impatience. Practice really helps, knowing their arguments while being grounded and confident in your own arguments, helps too, it becomes more like chess, than a gladiator sport.

    Accepting that you will not “win” all arguments, and that on-the-spot de-conversions are extremely rare and thus having realistic expectations is a powerful way to keep your head, and enjoy watching ignorant buffoons loosing theirs.

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  • 2
    Alternative Carpark says:

    Personally, it is people who spell “lose” with two Os that get on my nerves. ūüėÄ

    As for kbala’s problem, just avoid the subject of religion wherever possible, and when irrational nonsense enters the conversation, just tune it out, like so much white noise.¬†

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  • ¬†I relate. I too am losing patience and tolerence as I grow older and as I read and learn more, including my headshaking at the extraordinary assumptions made¬†during this time of year. My father was a Protestant Chaplain and¬†my thoughts¬†are¬†hard-wired and need repair; rituals,¬†meetings, hyms, promises and prayers… and all sorts of¬†other nonsense that defies explaination. We were the party, our family, and it gave us a lot of status and power.

    ¬†Just bringing the topic¬†of impatience¬†helps me¬†stay calm and open-minded,¬†as well as¬†having¬†boundaries based on reason, research, facts and information from¬†superb debates by Harris and Dawkins etc.¬†These men win¬†the day, not in the traditional sense of ‘against them’ but¬†rather that¬†knowledge¬†there are¬†things that¬†make sense. Existence¬†is too much for many (many) ¬†people¬†so they¬†look elsewhere for¬†comfort and safety.¬†Let them.¬†They can have it, just keep me out of it, and stay away from my kids.

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  • 6
    SaganTheCat says:

    my patience has never been great, but as i get older the idea that i need to hide my anger seems to hold less sway. there’s a misconception that being angry is the same as being wrong. Richard has lost his patience with people in the past simply because they refuse to engage in any sort of real debate, and from my perspective, handled himself surprisingly well but how people are percieved often depends on their viewpoint (i.e. to a religoon you only have to sound slightly tired to be accused of completely losing it).

    so now, when i’m dealing with one of those religious apes, i know that if i hiss or growl they’ll take my reaction as a sign they’ve won the argument. however i also realise that if i completely ignore them, they’ll take my reaction the same way.

    reacting angrily has nothing to do with my exasperation of them not listening to logic and understanding how much better we’d get on if we could just agree some ground rules any more, it is entirely because i feel like reacting angrily, i need to let off steam once in a while and if i have to do it, i may as well do it at someone who’s feelings i really don’t give a toss about

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  • 7
    Nodhimmi says:

    For English readers, I was once described as ‘a cross between Basil Fawlty and Victor Meldrew’ ! Yep, the¬†epitome¬†of the grumpy old man (for Americans, perhaps Dr Becker might come close… “how will they know they’re idiots if nobody tells them??”)

    If you think Xtians are obtuse, try discussing rationally with Islamists- it’s been a salutary lesson in the power of brainwashing, ignorance and stupidity. Particularly ignorance- of their own religion.

    For all that we must be relentless in driving rational thought like a dagger through the heart of religion; other froms of supernatural nonsense are tolerable where not actually harmful.

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  • There’s nothing wrong with being confrontational about irrational beliefs. I understand how it can be frustrating having to encounter them over and over again. It becomes really really tempting to just resort to calling someone a moron instead of pointing out where they went wrong and why. I take the chance to argue (in the philosophical sense, of course) at every chance I get, but when I realize that the person I’m talking to isn’t really arguing (no matter how hard I try to get him to at least think) but just insisting that he is right, that is when I call it a day. I rarely snap, but I don’t want to risk it because I’ve had issues with being impulsive and I know what I can be like.

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  • 9
    Ignorant Amos says:

    As I am getting older, I am getting grumpier and impatient. I cant seem to tolerate irrational
    statements or attitudes.  I am getting more confrontational about traditional & religious beliefs of others.

    Me too! I’m Spartacus….That is why this place is such a sanctuary, for the most part.

    Edit: perhaps refuge might have been a better descriptor.

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  • 11
    Nodhimmi says:

    “Haha Ape behavior. Language evolves..”¬†
    NOT by natural selection, it doesn’t. In case you are not aware, ‘lose’ means ‘to no longer have¬†possession¬†of’ plus 4 other related meanings; ‘loose’ however refers to slack, not tight, inexact (as in your case). Language can’t ‘evolve’ by errors in definition.

    Jeez, I AM getting grumpier ūüôā

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  • 12
    Ignorant Amos says:


    Now there’s a thing…it’s been a while….around about the time I started being a grumpy bastard now that a think about it…do ya think there might be a correlation?

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  • 13
    papa lazaru says:

    On a good day (most days), I’m an advocate of live and let live, up to a point. And I don’t think confrontational approach is very constructive. Although to be honest, I don’t get into that sort of discussions often, at least not I.R.L.

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  • 14
    GospelofJudas says:

    I agree with the sentiments above regarding the Socratic method, the Buddhist monk, and papa lazaru. What good does calling people idiots really do? Is starting a confrontation going to open someone’s mind, or will it make them defensive? People argue not to find truth, but to make others think they’re right.

    In spiritual progression, there is a point referred to as the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ (bear with me here); it is a point at which someone has come to a profound understanding of life and the universe, and they long to share this wisdom with others, but they find that no one is listening. The person is regarded as insane or worse, and it can lead to the feeling that you’re screaming silently in a crowd of people. I’ve discovered in my life that you will have an extremely tough time changing anyone’s mind about anything, but you can guide people to change their own mind. Ask questions. LOTS of questions. Force people to look hard at their own pitch, and let them find their own revelation. You can lead a horse to water, and you can’t make it drink, but you can drink, and show the horse how beneficial it is for *you*. I worked my way from various religions to an atheist (pantheist would be more accurate) perspective because I kept asking questions that others couldn’t satisfy. If you don’t confront, but guide (if and when the subject comes up), I think you’ll find you have a great deal more patience.

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  • 15
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    I maintain my patience through not having much daily contact with faith heads of any stripe.

    I’m retired now and can chose who I interact with much more, although as a Technical Sales Engineer for 25 years I had to shut up & smile at times when Customer Employees were being nutty or offensive….

    I read a lot, type slowly, and revise often, trying to consider who will read my words, so I can remain calm & not go on too many rants.

    I’d have a more difficult time talking live with some slippery, intransigent religinut, so I admire & respect our best spokespeople who can refrain from (physically or verbally) beating the crap out of some who have publicly earned it.

    I do respond firmly to some god-infected RDFRS commentators who think we are inexperienced, uneducated, immoral, sinful & are lost souls – as if we’ve never heard their tired old myths, assertions & threats of damnation before.

    Since I’ve never been religiously infected, I have a hard time comprehending the mindset of those with a heavy viral load, and I will likely recommend travel & solo intercourse if they try inserting their bullshit into my life.

    Peace – for those who live by the Golden Rule….

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  • 16
    Reckless Monkey says:

    I don’t think Richard always maintains his patience, although he does so much better than I could given how much he has to put up with, nor do I think he should the very first thing the religious should get out of their heads is the right to not have their views challenged.¬†¬† Every day decisions are made that make no sense from a secular view,¬† I maintain their right to vote how they feel even if dictated by religious motivations but that very right gives the rest of us the right to challenge their views as directly and offensively as we like.¬†¬† Remember there is little more offensive than the belief that anyone who doesn’t believe in god is going to burn in hell.¬† You want me to maintain my composure when that is what you thing is fair to me and mine, sorry you’ve earned every bit of ridicule and impatience you get.

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  • 17
    voiceofarabi says:

    Hi Kbala,

    I really understand your point, plus feel and share your frustration.

    What ultimately helped me at the end is getting rid of the tribal mentality…¬† The ‚ÄúUS‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúTHEM‚ÄĚ thinking…¬†

    In the past, I use to think why are those people so ‚ÄúStupid‚ÄĚ, and why can I ‚Äúsee‚ÄĚ what they can‚Äôt… I must be different…¬† This process normally dehumanise others, and made me feel comfortable why I was different….

    In reality, we are all the same ‚Äúin our differences‚ÄĚ.. some are tall, some are short, some are smart, some are stupid, but we are all human and made up of the same stuff…

    This thinking, of course, is not easy as it gets challenged every time you meet someone that you dehumanised in the past

    Live long and prosper…

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  • 18
    Bruvvamoff says:

    Remember that the big players in the big debate have self adopted their parts in the war.
    Noone is forcing them to make these arguments, it does pay the bills for a lot of them.
    In fact some such as Hitchens have openly admitted that the enjoy the debate so much they would in fact miss it if it were to be over.
    But the issue of the ignorance we as individuals encounter in our day to day lives is a seperate one.
    Personally, I’ve only been involved in this debate since I fell in love with science a few years ago.
    Other than a few interesting conversations with friends, I’ve never actually been involved in a debate or confrontation. So I’ve never had to show patience towards that sort of short sighted ignorance.
    I’m lucky in that most of the people around me are Atheist or at least Agnostic.
    However¬†I do¬†need to show patience when I see a new Mosque being built near me, or whenever I hear the word ‘offended’

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  • 19
    JHJEFFERY says:

    “Language can’t ‘evolve’ by errors in definition. “
    I’m not sure what you meant by this. Certainly the etymology of words indicates that definitions can not only change, but are sometimes created by whole cloth. The word “normalcy” was accidentally coined by President Hoover during the Great Depression. The Watergate hearings changed the definition of the word “parameters.” The word “raise” can now refer to bringing up children, where before it was used for vegetables, et al.

    I guess we’re off topic.

    Like several of you, I have run out of patience with them. I no longer suffer fools likely. I have become so outspoken that a philosophy professor friend of mine refers to me as “the Village Atheist.” It’s as good a title as any. Usually I try to bring the conversation into a small frame of reference, such as asking if his fellow travellers heard the same voice that Paul heard on the Damascene Road (it is told both ways in one book: Luke). Some the answers I get are positively comical.


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  • 21
    theGreatFuzzy says:

    ¬†The monk was a bit long winded for me, nearly lost my patience, thought he’d never get to the point, but I agree with his basic idea. Go with the person. Accept their premiss and argue it through with them. I mean really make an effort to get round the problems in their “theory”. Don’t start off with the idea you’re going to show they are wrong (which the monk seemed to be saying, I disagree with that bit), start with the intent of proving them right. Point out any problems and suggest possible ways round them, if you can. You never know, you might find they are right, or at least have a point! The purpose of any debate is to learn, not win. The best outcome of a reasoned debate is you lose it (I mean the debate – not your patience;-)).

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  • I have the same problem. The older I get, the less patience I have … right now, my patience with the irrational, superstitious or religious approaches zero. So I opted … not discuss. Just tell them “your position is irrational, and I can not have a logical discussion with you, so keep you believing in the products of his imagination.” I do not feel obliged to “save” or “convert” anyone. Everyone is responsible for their own mind, and if you choose to believe imbecilities, is your problem, not mine.

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  • I used to get into big arguments with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they came to the door, but now I just engage in conversation. I often have difficulty expressing myself, so whenever JW’s arrive, I treat it as an opportunity to practice!

    For me, the impatience arises because I think “why are these people wasting my precious time?”, or “I’ve got more important things to do”. But are these thoughts true? Are they really wasting my time? Maybe, right now, this is the most important thing for me to do: it’s Reality. (I’ve found The Work of Byron Katie incredibly helpful.) I now see I have a choice: I can either disengage or continue talking.

    What also helps me is when I realise that, even though their beliefs may be ‘wrong’, they are still human, and I do my best to try to see them as such. Most people (including atheists) have erroneous beliefs. The belief in a separate self is one such.

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  • 25
    nick keighley says:

    I’m lucky in that most of the people around me are Atheist or at least Agnostic.
    However¬†I do¬†need to show patience when I see a new Mosque being built near me, or whenever I hear the word ‘offended’

    how odd. They’re building a new mosque near me and I don’t have the slightest problem with it!

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  • Why is it so difficult for people for abandon religion? Why do they cling to it even when they can convince themselves that it’s so silly?

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  • 27
    Gerard66 says:

    The other day my boss told me he was a creationist, I had a melt down in the middle of the kitchen(I cook for a living). ¬†I told him I was going to have to quit because the thought of working for someone with those beliefs was to much to bare. I was not serious about quitting but I did get my point across. The fact that being an atheist is so obvious to me it blows my mind that so many very otherwise intelligent people are complete “f” ing idiots on the one point. My patience on this issue is nonexistent. ¬†I must avoid this issue for the sake of not looking like a raving lunatic in public.

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  • 28
    storyoftheblues says:

    The older I get the more I find I have to avoid any discussion involving religion as it usually ends up in a rant with words like deluded crackpots being banded about. 

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  • 29
    Frin63 says:

    First of all, I tend to respect everyone, even those that have a different view on life than I have. So I don’t think of them as morons. I think it will be very hard to convince someone of your viewpoint when you are angry, impatient and not willing to respect¬†their viewpoint. Second I don’t try to convince everyone of my viewpoint, I am glad already if they respect mine and will not impose any religiously based rules on me (like not permitting to work on sunday or¬†having the ultimate choice to end one’s own life).
    In the end I think it’s more important how people act than what they say they¬†beleive. It’s certainy not true that relegious people have a monopoly on morals and moral behaviour. But the reverse isn’t true either.

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  • 30
    HarrieM says:

    There was a time, I
    thought I could communicate with people who believe in a god (or in
    more than one) It seems to me that most people say I believe, don’t
    believe at all. They just know it for sure. They are convinced they
    are right. I learned that a discussion with a person who is convinced
    of being right is impossible.

    When I meet with such a
    person, I try to be polite and sure will not discuss any religion
    related thing. There was a time I thought I respected people who
    believed in god, but that was a long time ago. I can’t have any
    respect for people who can’t think for themselves and only can talk
    like a parrot, without understanding what they are saying.


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  • 31
    evogelic says:

    Good thing you didn’t include Christopher Hitchens in your example of “patient people”. LOL

    I share your feelings about the difficulty in conversing/debating with creationists friends or family, and often have to bite on my tongue to spare relationships.

    However, when debating the “outside world” why would you bother to teach yourself patience?? Patience is for people stuck in traffic!!

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  • 32
    Dublin-atheist says:

    Hi kbala, I agree how dose Dawkins for example hold his manners around ppl who claim the world is only 6000 years old, the mistake is equivalent to thinking that the length of north America is only 8 yards that’s 24 feet, thats his most common point against the new age crowd there’s an awful lot of idiots out there.

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  • 33
    ForFreeThought says:

    Quite honestly, to help with this, I remember my own religious upbringing. These people aren’t ‘morons’, they’re your friends and family who never made that rational leap. If they never even consider it/think to consider it, I think it’s more sad than anything else. The majority of people in my life who I love more than anything hold these religious beliefs. It can be frustrating at times sure, but I think back to a time when I thought the same way. It’s scary to have someone rock your fundamental beliefs, so naturally people tend to lash out on both sides. The point here is that when you freak out, that person is less likely to actually listen to you. If someone were to calmly explain to you why they believe what they believe, as opposed to freak out at you, you’re also more likely to listen. You’re more likely to hear them out and actually have a decent discussion instead of a screaming match. Just remember that freaking out does not help the cause, it only sets us back.

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  • 34
    ForFreeThought says:

    In reply to #2 by vbaculum:

    I think the best way is to be Socratic about it. I’ve been reading Plato’s Socratic dialogues and it helps. Ironically this Buddhist monk has some advice on this that I think is really good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?…

    I’ve started reading this too, it’s extremely interesting! ūüôā

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