Coming Out Atheist, pg 88

Oct 17, 2016

“‘And explain why it’s important for you to be out: that you intention isn’t to criticize or ridicule them, but to be honest with them and the rest of the world. “My ‘outness’ provoked’ provoked, perhaps a year or two ago, a conversation with my mother during which, in response to her complaint that my ‘A’ was ridiculing her beliefs, I pointed out that she had never actually asked me why I wore that red letter. Since that time she seems to be a bit less disturbed by it.’


“This also worked for Kimberly, who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and whose mother an sister are both devout protestants. She came out in an email to them, suggesting that they watch a news show about Julia Sweeney’s one-woman show, Letting Go of God. In that email, she said (among other things), “I hope that you both know me well enough to understand that my intent in mentioning this piece is not to insult or belittle anybody’s religious beliefs. You’ve both always been very open and honest with me about your beliefs, and I think I owe you the courtesy of being open and honest with you about my lack thereof.”She says, “My mom responded by email promptly and lovingly. She’d read the transcript of the ‘Sunday Morning’ segment, and like Julia Sweeney’s mother, said she and I could ‘agree to disagree.’ She said she respected my views and appreciated that I treat her beliefs with respect. (I don’t mind that she misinterprets my respectful treatment of her as ‘respect for her beliefs’.) the line that I like best from her email message is, ‘I’m especially grateful that our differences don’t keep us apart!” In fact, Kimberly’s mother trusts her so much, she’s named her as her legal advocate if she’s unable to express her wishes about her health care. (Her sis was chilly for a while, but warmed up later on.)”

–Greta Christina, Coming Out Atheist, pg 88


Discuss!

13 comments on “Coming Out Atheist, pg 88

  • bonnie2

    religiondispatches.org/atheos-review/

    @link -Modern atheism has a PR problem.

    Nope! It’s just that god-delusions are so insecure and easily offended that their puppets and propagandists are easily triggered to make ad-hominem attacks on critics!

    For too long, the most outspoken non-believers have been antagonistic, bombastic, and sometimes profoundly embarrassing older white men. When they aren’t writing inflammatory books, these men interrupt people on talk shows and get into Twitter fights with teenagers.

    Facts and reasoning really are inflammatory and embarrassing to god-delusions – hence the projection!

    Any challenge to religious delusions is claimed to be “antagonistic, bombastic, and inflammatory” as a matter of routine evasion of issues which are in places the deluded don’t want to look!

    .. and yes tirades of preached gish-galloping religious drivel, are interrupted, to deal with assumed individual points raised on TV shows which are presented for the benefit of informing audiences!

    This is just parroting the old theist strawman atheist image.

    They model behaviors that seem to alienate their fellow non-believers as much, if not more so, than religious people.

    This is a statement of approval for the easily intimidated, head-down, – “let the assertive theists rule”, type of closet atheist, who offers no resistance to asserted nonsense or theist domination.
    It is also falsely promoting as a majority atheist position, the view from a handful of very weak apologist atheists, that others should not stir up theist resentment and anger, by challenging theist attempts to dominate conversations and thinking with unevidenced supernatural assertions.

    Once theists try to bring their irrational dogmas, and pseudo-controversies, into politics affecting other people, they are fair game for valid criticism and active opposition, regardless of how many “offended cards”, or “religious immunity badges”, they produce!



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  • Hi bonnie2 [#1],

    Many thanks for that link. I thought that was an excellent response to the passage from Greta’s book.

    This passage (at the linked story) caught my eye:

    When asked about the belligerent reputation of many of modern atheism’s most outspoken leaders, both [of my atheist interlocutors] agreed that there was a tendency for controversial [atheist] firebrands to receive the most attention, and for their followers to mimic that antagonism in their own discussions

    Like Greta’s atheist coming out, and triggering a fierce response in friends and family, that report was written by someone so sensitive that just introducing the fact that there are well known atheists triggered an extraordinary emotional response: “belligerent”, outspoken”, “controversial”, “firebrands”, “antagonism” … goodness me she managed all that outpouring of bile in just three lines!

    One of the reasons that I haunt these pages is that I had been taught that atheists are shrill and aggressive. Yet when we read The God Delusion we find an example of the opposite case.

    One of the reasons that Reporter, and Kimberly of Tulsa, Oklahoma, experience this hair-trigger seems to have something to do with the very nature of belief through faith. It’s almost as if, as Alan says:

    … god [believers] are so insecure and easily offended …

    But why are they insecure? Isn’t their faith supposed to give them “strength and comfort”?

    The very sensitivity they demonstrate exposes this lie: They only have the appearance, they can only present a face to the World, that – in the right circumstances – gives the impression of strength and comfort. In reality, as the hair-trigger demonstrates more clearly than we could ever hope to see at any other time, just how vulnerable and exposed living a lie has made them.

    If anyone here has not yet tried Atheos, the App, I can recommend it. Whether your considering a next step in your life, and you want to prepare to discuss your atheist views with loved ones while maintaining that love, or whether you’re realizing that shouting matches and formal debates are not changing many minds, Atheos and Peter Boghossian’s approach to open dialog with theists is the logical next step.

    Try to be that person that you would like to see.

    Peace.



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  • Re “I treat her beliefs with respect”:
    There might a slight, but important difference between ‘treating somebody’s belief(s) with respect’ and ‘treating somebody with respect’. For example, I have little respect for the belief that the death sentence is an appropriate sanction – but I may well respect the person who believes in the death sentence.
    What do you think?



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  • Hi Morpheus,
    I think it was Richard himself who replied to the respect for religion question, in the following fashion: I respect the person, but not the person’s (mental) disease; that has to be eradicated/treated.
    Nice one 🙂



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  • @Alan4discussion

    This is a statement of approval for the easily intimidated, head-down,
    – “let the assertive theists rule”, type of closet atheist, who offers
    no resistance to asserted nonsense or theist domination. It is also
    falsely promoting as a majority atheist position, the view from a
    handful of very weak apologist atheists, that others should not stir
    up theist resentment and anger, by challenging theist attempts to
    dominate conversations and thinking with unevidenced supernatural
    assertions.

    I come from a Hindu background where they pray to deities having animal faces, multiple limbs, etc. If you counter a normal religious person with negligible knowledge of the scriptures (which most Hindus are) about the image of the various gods, mostly he would laughingly brush it off or justify it by identifying them with some metaphor or the other. But him worshipping the deity is about finding peace or putting down his personal grievances or being grateful with his life. He is not worried about the rationality behind the whole process.

    For him the ends justify the means, whereas for an atheist it is the means that SHOULD justify the end.

    Yes, all the bloodshed and ideological conflicts in the name of religion, are the religious justifying the ends by any means; against them you can present a strong case with humanism/reason by your side, but what about the millions of religious to whom god is mostly a private affair. Just because we are right by reason doesn’t give us the license to offend someone who thinks he is right by his belief. It would brush his ego on the wrong side and you will end up antagonising him rather than making him see your side of the issue. Most of us atheists feel that we have a right to admonish those with a counter view just because the religious do not have any empirical evidence to establish their view. I think we should go beyond evidence and facts to a more conscious level in trying to first understand a theist emotional attachment to god and then handle it in a more calmer way. Being understanding and patient doesn’t necessarily mean cowardice all the time.

    Correct me if I am wrong.



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  • Alwar S #6
    Oct 20, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Most of us atheists feel that we have a right to admonish those with a counter view just because the religious do not have any empirical evidence to establish their view.

    The crunch comes when they stop exercising their delusions in private, and inflict them in laws and pressures in the societies where we live. In countries dominated by theocracies, atheists and minorities should be careful because religious delusions are easily provoked into having their host believers attack critics. – Hence the wars between religions and religious groups with conflicting views.

    I think we should go beyond evidence and facts to a more conscious level in trying to first understand a theist emotional attachment to god and then handle it in a more calmer way.

    I think modern neuropsychology does this, and where science and medical expertise are encompassed in law, and the fundamentalist fanatics are in a minority, delusional beliefs can be handled calmly, with reason based laws effectively enforced, and dangerous psychotics confined in institutions or prisons.

    Being understanding and patient doesn’t necessarily mean cowardice all the time.

    People are forced to be “patient” and long suffering for their own safety, where theocratic tribalism dominates.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

    Right or wrong, in handling the delusional, very much depends on the society and culture where individuals live. It is relative to circumstances, so probable outcomes should be carefully considered.

    Science makes carefully considered and well evidenced predictions of outcomes on many issues.

    Those dominated by “faith-thinking” (beliefs without evidence or proof), are much more prone to unforeseen disasters due to reckless decisions based on dogmas and wish-thinking.

    For example deciding that a tsunami was caused by insufficient prayer and lack of attendance at the local mosque etc., is unlikely to leave people better prepared for the next one! – Although it may encourage them to oppose spending money on warning systems and being prepared with planning for evacuations!
    There are examples on this link:-

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/tsunami04c.htm
    Why did the South Asian Tsunami happen?

    Reasons given by some religious conservatives



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  • Re: Comments 4,5

    I do not necessarily respect the beliefs of believers. Nor do I necessarily respect the people who have them (and I have my doubts as to whether Dawkins – if pressed – would say that he has much respect for many creationists as people). What I do respect is a person’s right to have beliefs. That will never waver.



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  • “She said she respected my views and appreciated that I treat her
    beliefs with respect.”

    So says a believer in some religion. I simply do not respect a person who “believes” in female “circumcision” to control her sexuality, or stoning a woman to death because she had sex with someone (say another woman). I do not and never will respect a person’s belief that the government can prosecute a person as based on the religious “beliefs” when those “beliefs” have no basis in evidence. An example of this is the US Supreme Court had, at one time, 7 out of nine who were Roman Catholics and passed down judgements based on their “beliefs.”



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  • Why is Greta Christina’s rambling paragraph about “RESPECT” taken from the pages of “her” pipsqueak book appearing center stage at the venue of the Richard Dawkins Foundation?

    Because (even if it was only done in his name) Richard is not petty. No one is anyone’s nemesis. Everyone has some disagreement with everyone.

    (Respect was put in its place. Its wrong use was noted, but set aside because, love.)

    Mutuality, Melvin.



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  • Respecting a person and their believes are two different things. How can someone respect something if she know that its entirely false? How can anyone respect something that is not true?



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