I'm Too Hostile to Believers
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20-06-2014, 12:12 AM
I'm Too Hostile to Believers
I grew up as a believer. The entirety of my childhood was focused on (and, I now realize, stolen by) the ritualized belief in and worship of God. Everything I did, I did for God.

But that's a story many of you are familiar with, because you've lived it as well. Since losing our faith, though, we now see belief for what it really is. It is irrational. It is unreasonable. And, in many ways, it is positively harmful. It is morally disruptive, and it causes a great deal of damage to our society - even in the most subtle of ways. For this reason, I am angry. Yes, I am the stereotypical "angry atheist" who belittles the beliefs of others and encourages them to do away with such ways of thinking.

The problem is that I'm a little too hostile. In fact, I can be downright savage toward others when engaging with them about their beliefs. A lot of people point to Dave Silverman, for example, as someone who is "too aggressive" with believers. He posts billboards that read "You know it's just a myth" or "You know they're all scams," and everyone - even those within the atheist community - gets up in arms about how he's being too direct and how he's only going to turn people off. But frankly, I could never see what was so offensive about such methods. To me, people like Silverman aren't being hostile enough. Here are just a few gems of vitriol that I've spewed against believers:

"Your beliefs are dog-shit. Plain and simple. No, I don't have to respect them. Your beliefs are a disease."

"When did I suggest that human life is superior to ANYTHING? Now you're pulling blind assumptions out of your ass. Not surprising, really; it's what you believers do."

"Once you stop being a selfish prick, maybe you'll be able to make a positive change, rather than masturbating in your god's love."

"Your belief is a disease of the mind. There is no "tolerable" level of disease. There is no point at which your beliefs are ok."

And, of course, the ever-popular punctuation to any argument:

"Fuck yourself."

So…I'm more than a little hostile. (Those were all culled from just the last hour of argument with several individuals, btw. We've not even begun to examine the tip of the iceberg)

I've been listening to a lot of the "Dogma Debate" podcast, lately. In fact, it's become my new favorite podcast of all time. I can't get enough of it. One thing that's really begun to sink in with me is how the host(s) go about arguing with believers. They don't shame and ridicule. They don't berate and they certainly don't issue profanity-laden insults. Quite the opposite, actually. The main host - David Smalley - has a stern method of compassion when dealing with these people. He doesn't try to change their minds by yelling at them. Rather, he tries to change their minds by relating to them as human beings and connecting with them on a personal level. He prefers compassion over vitriol.

And the truth, if I'm being completely honest, is that it works much better than my method. Yes, aggression has its uses. It really does. But I'm beginning to feel as though I've been using that as an excuse to be hostile with believers. "Sometimes you have to smack people in the intellect with a sledgehammer in order to wake them up," I've always said. But while that may be true, it doesn't mean every problem requires a hammer. It doesn't mean I have to go swinging left and right and knocking everyone's intellectual teeth out. It makes me feel a lot better to do that, yes. But I'm slowly beginning to accept the truth that it does little to make them more susceptible to a change of mind. In reality, their walls go up, and it becomes a competition of who can be more hostile than the other before everyone storms off. Invariably, I spew such hatred that they give up and leave; telling me they'll pray for me and that they hope I can "one day learn to live a life of love with God, instead of a life of hatred without him." I just end up making non-belief look bad for everyone else.

The point of all this rambling is that I want to be more calm in my interactions with believers. I actually have had civil interactions in the past, and the results were always much more rewarding. They were open to my views, and, to some extent, even changed their own in accordance with my arguments. People really are more open when I'm not being a complete asshole to them. (Imagine that) The problem is that I get so fucking angry when I'm confronted with certain beliefs or with certain arguments that I can't control myself. I go off. I try to keep it cool, but my fuze is very short and I become a ravenous, angry, "militant" atheist. I don't wish harm upon any of my opponents, but I do completely break down who they are as individuals. I attack their beliefs (as we should), and then I attack them for holding such hideous beliefs (as we…shouldn't? Should we?). Again, this is when walls go up, and no progress is made.

How the hell do people manage to be so calm and collected with believers? Teach me your ways.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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20-06-2014, 12:45 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
(20-06-2014 12:12 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  ...
How the hell do people manage to be so calm and collected with believers? Teach me your ways.

Pro Tip:
Believers are future non-believers.

That is all.

Thumbsup

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20-06-2014, 01:31 AM (This post was last modified: 20-06-2014 02:05 AM by kim.)
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
Maybe you are trying to throttle the person you used to be.
***

Do you consider yourself a passionate and compassionate person? Every believer certainly considers themselves to be passionate and compassionate. It's a pretty even field but you have to remember it isn't a game and if you make it easy for others to run away, they will.

It's natural if someone feels attacked, they will defend and possibly dig themselves further into the thing someone may be trying to extricate them from. Lead the other person by example ...most would rather follow friendly persuasion. Wink

You seem to have a pretty good bead on the direction you want to go with your own behavior. Understand you can't control the other person, you can only control YOU.

Maybe check out the book, A Manual For Creating Atheists for tips to fall back on if you feel yourself getting out of control. I think it addresses a bit of this behavior and how it can and does turn off a lot of people. It might help you keep your focus on the discussion and pull you back to it when you digress into hostility. Thumbsup

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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20-06-2014, 02:48 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
(20-06-2014 01:31 AM)kim Wrote:  Maybe you are trying to throttle the person you used to be.
***

Do you consider yourself a passionate and compassionate person? Every believer certainly considers themselves to be passionate and compassionate. It's a pretty even field but you have to remember it isn't a game and if you make it easy for others to run away, they will.

It's natural if someone feels attacked, they will defend and possibly dig themselves further into the thing someone may be trying to extricate them from. Lead the other person by example ...most would rather follow friendly persuasion. Wink

You seem to have a pretty good bead on the direction you want to go with your own behavior. Understand you can't control the other person, you can only control YOU.

Maybe check out the book, A Manual For Creating Atheists for tips to fall back on if you feel yourself getting out of control. I think it addresses a bit of this behavior and how it can and does turn off a lot of people. It might help you keep your focus on the discussion and pull you back to it when you digress into hostility. Thumbsup

I consider myself passionate and compassionate with those I care about. A few years ago, my dad asked my then-girlfriend "Is he nice?" She paused and said "…He's nice to me." lol

I have been intending to get my hands on that book; I guess now's as good a time as any.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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20-06-2014, 03:01 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
Remember the human.

That is all. Bowing

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20-06-2014, 03:10 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
And how tasty it would be in A.1 Steak Sauce.

A person very dear to me was badly hurt through a misunderstanding and miscommunication. For this, I am sorry, and he knows it. That said, any blaming me for malicious intent is for the birds. I will not wear some scarlet letter, I will not be anybody's whipping girl, and I will not lurk in silence.
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20-06-2014, 03:39 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
(20-06-2014 03:01 AM)Vosur Wrote:  Remember the human.

That is all. Bowing

Well that just seems counter-productive. Dodgy

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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20-06-2014, 05:09 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
I think you might be angry at yourself for believing all that bullshit and now taking all that anger out on others.

Don't hate them for being gullible.
Lead a fantastic life and show them the door you walked through to get there.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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20-06-2014, 05:27 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
I see David Smally completely differently. Hes a condescending asshole. But thats just my opinion.

I however understand what he's trying to do.
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20-06-2014, 06:08 AM
RE: I'm Too Hostile to Believers
I remember clearly what I thought at the time I was a believer. It is easy for me to slip into the mindset... so I know what I would have reacted to negatively and what would have got through to me.

I react badly to people who I think are lying to fool others. Or are lying full stop. Those kinda people I don't mind chirping hard, like in your examples. But people who're sincere but dumb (and dumb in this particular way, many of my believer friends are otherwise extremely intelligent)... they're OK and I'll try to be gentler if I debate them at all.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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