As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
14-02-2014, 12:42 AM
As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
I only met one outspoken Atheist when I was a believer. I was in high school, and we had Algebra together. Class usually ended with a period of group study, which gave us ample time to discuss any subject that we saw fit. His name was Matt. Over the course of my Sophomore year, he and I talked about religion a number of different times.

Unfortunately, Matt was an asshole in general. This was obvious to all long before the subject of religion was even discussed. He was the kind of young man who said whatever happened to be on his mind at any given moment, regardless of how it might affect his surroundings. He was a bit of a class clown and a bully, especially when he thought you had a stupid, illogical opinion. You can imagine how he reacted to a sixteen year old Mormon who was raised in the faith. I had no idea what I was in for.

I remember my first impression of our discussion very clearly. I was utterly shocked at his boldness in dismissing everything that I believed. Not only were my "evidences" meaningless to him, but he laughed out loud at nearly all of them. I remember the deep feelings of embarrassment that I suffered through, knowing that my friends were listening to every word of our debate. As a Mormon, I was already considered a bit odd, and Matt was only making it worse.

After my embarrassment faded a little, I fought all the harder for my position, using everything I had ever been taught about how to share the gospel. As I did this, I knew in my heart that I was only saying what I had been told to say. I was repeating arguments that had been given to me in classes at church. I wasn't arguing from my own passion. I felt like a victim, not a missionary. The deep gap between what I was told I ought to believe, and what I truly felt deep down was making my head hurt. Why should I be required by my faith to preach to this asshole? If had any arguments worth noting, I wouldn't be delving into my religious education looking for something to say.

Matt's arguments against faith were the killing stroke. I had no defense, since every time I was questioned, I had to fall on faith, my foundation. The more I relied on faith as an argument, the more he was able to point out faith's many weaknesses and poor results. I was trapped and beaten by my own beliefs.

No deconversion took place as a result of meeting Matt, only the further rationalization of my faith. I dismissed him in my mind as a bully and a mocking liar. I thought of him as my enemy, as well as god's. He was the kind of person I had been warned about all my youthful years, a antagonist in the employ of the devil, whether he knew of this or not. I remember considering his existence as evidence that my religion was right, since they had so clearly predicted him and others like him.

Obviously, I grew up, and a seed had been planted back then. It goes to show how important a fully developed critical mind is to thinking clearly. I think I understand Matt a little better now. I owe him and he doesn't know it. He probably thought he got nowhere with me, just as I have thought of many a conversation with a theist. He was wrong though. Here I am.

Did you ever believe? If you did, did you ever meet an Atheist? What was your experience? Did that Atheist convince you, or plant a seed?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 7 users Like Dark Phoenix's post
14-02-2014, 12:47 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
I don't think I knew atheists existed.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-02-2014, 01:08 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
That was a great story. Thanks for posting it!

I can't say that I have, as I'm a never-believer. But your story is why I still try with some people, even when it most often feels like it's accomplishing nothing. I only ever bother with people who bring it to me, by either asking my thoughts, or forcing theirs on me. But the point you made, that at the time it caused only the "further rationalization" of your faith, really stood out to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm accomplishing the opposite of what I would intend, as I can see them dig in deeper in defense, building their walls higher to and developing better avoidance and denial skills to the types of things they may hear that challenge and question their beliefs.

But I also see, as you pointed out, them sometimes really think when they have had those defensive stripped back, and I hope that in that mix of baring down and buttressing their faith, and having parts stripped away, it lets enough in to make a difference.

I never truly care that they loose their belief (though that would be lovely), just hope that through our interaction they become, if anything, at least slightly more rational, thoughtful, critical thinkers of the world. I'm glad to hear a story where some of those things I've noticed happening in others may not be for not, and that seed may still get in there.


I would love to hear more stories like this.

...
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Raptor Jesus's post
14-02-2014, 01:16 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
I argued with many atheists on the internet, but I didn't know any in real life back in the day. My first encounter with atheists on the internet seemed horribly rude...but as I persisted, I came to understand why. 2B1, argue with 1.

Softly, softly, catchee monkey.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-02-2014, 01:18 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
(14-02-2014 01:08 AM)Raptor Jesus Wrote:  That was a great story. Thanks for posting it!

You are welcome. I am glad you found it worth a read.

Quote:Sometimes I feel like I'm accomplishing the opposite of what I would intend, as I can see them dig in deeper in defense, building their walls higher to and developing better avoidance and denial skills to the types of things they may hear that challenge and question their beliefs.

When Matt stripped me of my defenses, I felt trapped and alone. I wanted to discredit and demonize him, not because I thought my faith was factually right (I wasn't even ready to consider that as a possibility), but because I couldn't bear the embarrassment of being utterly eviscerated in the debate. Matt's conclusions were too emotionally devastating for me, since my well being, ego, and morality were all bound up in my religion.

Matt made a profound influence on me, but I did not have the moral courage to conclude that my religion was false. That would have to come when I was older, and less afraid.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-02-2014, 01:21 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
Quote:Not only were my "evidences" meaningless to him, but he laughed out loud at nearly all of them.
Haha
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-02-2014, 01:37 AM (This post was last modified: 14-02-2014 01:40 AM by sporehux.)
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
I didn't know what a theist was or an atheist.
Had a vague idea what agnostic meant, but spent time challenging the legitimacy of the bible and the origin of the creator. Came as a shock when things made more sense if there was no creator.
I Thought I was special, its like i snapped out of a hypnosis. And then was blown away at how many atheists there were around the world.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-02-2014, 01:40 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
I actually had a similar experience to the OP, except much more watered down.

I had a lot of friends growing up, from all walks of life including several atheists. Thankfully I was able to get along with everyone, and I was big enough to not be a target of anyone who I wasn't friends with. I, too, grew up in the Mormon church, but I had parents who taught me how to be accepting and respectful of others opinions, especially if you disagree with them (something I think my mom wishes she had done differently knowing how I turned out, and who she has turned into but I'm certainly happy Smile and my dad is still the same loving example he's always been).

The atheist friends I had were great, a couple of them could be abrasive at times, but overall nice to be around. Some of them mocked my beliefs, but I thought nothing of it and just chuckled along with their jokes. I never was a militant Mormon, I never wanted to go on a mission, I never even had a solid faith in the church in my entire childhood, just did what my parents wanted and told me to do. I think it was having my dad as a good example of love and acceptance and having respectful and courteous friends that shaped me into who I am more than spitefulness or down right rebellion against faith.

So, what I take from that, is that it is much easier to shape a mind through thoughtful and respectful dialog and treatment than through any kind of militant tactic. A mind is very unlikely to change when their belief system is constantly attacked. When presented with avenues of learning that interest them, it seems people are more likely to come to a differing point of view than through any kind of mockery of their faith.

I had great examples growing up, and I hope to raise my daughter to be the kind of person that can help shape the people around her through love and respect as well as learn from them as she goes.

"Good news, everyone!"
-Cody
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Anudist's post
14-02-2014, 01:44 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
You should try to find him and tell him Smile

I don't know if I ever met an atheist before I deconverted, I think not, but I did know about atheism. There was this joke I remember my parents saying every time we talked about anything close to atheism: Atheist always say "god doesn't exist, thank god".
It's a lame joke, but it always got me thinking, "why did they stopped there?", "why not talk about atheism?", "they are wrong so we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it"... They just disregarded it as something to be mocked.

Sure enough atheism as a concept grew on me and got me curious, in time youtube recommendations showed me a few talks and videos with Hitchens (hated the guy at first, too cocky) and Dawkins. But if I recall correctly, it was Stephen Fry and Hitchens in the Intelligence squared debate that started to lower the coffin (the grave was slowly dug over the years already), I still clung a bit to religion before that, mostly as a valve to vent any frustration, but after that video everything just fell apart and it didn't make any sense in any meaningful way, so I just started to watch atheist videos with my defences lowered and let more informed people clean my head of stupid ideas. Matt Dilahunty was my Seth, actually I don't think I ever listened to any of the TTA podcasts.

[Image: sigvacachica.png]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-02-2014, 02:09 AM
RE: As a Believer, Did You Ever Argue with an Atheist?
It's funny, the thing some of you have said about not even knowing atheism was a thing.

I didn't either. I never believed, but I just kind of thought no one really actually believed, because...I mean come on, it's ridiculous! I thought religion was just a cultural thing people held onto and did culturally. I thought about religion a lot, but never though anyone really believed it. And anytime any one talked too seriously and adamantly about belief in "God", Jesus, Heaven, etc, I just thought they were insane crazies. It was like you just told me you believe in fairies and gnomes.

I understood that people used to believe, like back in the middle ages and so forth, but not really today. So I actually had the opposite realization as some of you. I knew, culturally, religious people existed, but I didn't realize theist existed, even when we were still going to church. I guess that's just how little it made sense to me.

But I do remember the moment I realized I was an atheist. By this time, for the past good number of years, I had already realize that I knowingly (rather than passively) did not believe in "God". But I had heard the word atheism a number of times in those past few years, and I knew (probably from the context it was said in) it was a bad thing to be, so I knew I wan't one. Then one day I heard someone say they where agnostic. Someone asked why, and they explained the difference between agnosticism and athesim, and then right there I realized, "Oh, I'm an atheist" and I hadn't even known it, even though I had known it my whole life.

...
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like Raptor Jesus's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: