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Am I An Asshole?


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I've been a lot more vocal about my atheism the last year or so.

 

I had previously (several years ago) gotten into emotionally-heated arguments about it, but recently, I've been making provocative posts on Facebook, or making pointed comments in person to theists in an attempt to just make them think.

 

Mind you, I won't start the debate or argument, but I will respond to things that theists say without thinking about it.

 

"Have a blessed day!" is the one I respond to most often with direct questions about what they mean.

 

I'm generally pretty chill with the whole thing, not really emotional, just very excited when someone is willing to forgo the butthurt and actually talk about what they believe and why they believe it.

 

In the last year I've lost about 20 friends when I challenged them to explain their beliefs and most recently, a fundy that I debated with in person added me as a friend on Facebook... specifically to debate religion, mind you... and then got all butthurt when I said that I was only conceding the existence of god in order to have a discussion about the role satan played in the bible as an intellectual exercise and didn't appreciate their multiple ad hominem attacks.

 

They said,

 

"If you want intellectual exercise i'd recommend a crossword puzzle or sudoku. It seems you have your mind made up on the God subject. Arguing/ debating over facebook, and insulting the Christian God (you don't really address/insult any other deities or their followers), only causes damage (a charge you make against religion). Isn't this time better used doing something positive for mankind instead of hammering in wedges?"

 

My response was,

 

"If anyone (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, Satanist, Wiccan, etc) were able to provide the slightest evidence for God, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Yu-huang, Satan, the Goddess, or whoever, I would be more than willing to change my stance. That is intellectual honesty. But so far, in hundreds of mini-debates, and about a dozen formal ones, no one ever has.

 

Believing something without evidence is just silly. If I told you to take it on faith that I owned a unicorn, would you? Of course not.

 

I don't generally insult religions besides Christianity because the other ones aren't currently trying to turn the United States into a theocracy by legislating their brand of morality or being exclusionary to people who don't believe the same way that they do.

 

As far as I'm concerned, I AM doing something positive for mankind. Hopefully I'm making at least a few people think about what they believe and why they believe it. If you can't answer those two questions, then why do you hold the belief?

 

Most people don't have beliefs, they have geography and history. We've discussed this before. If you had been born in ancient Greece, you'd believe in a whole pantheon of gods. If you had been born in modern-day Iran to Muslim parents, you'd be a Muslim. I'm not saying no one ever converts to a different religion, but the fact is, most people believe the same things that their parents did because they don't think about it. As long as you're not willing to even consider the possibility you could be wrong, you won't grow as a person."

 

 

They immediately ceased talking to me.

 

Now, I'm willing to concede that if I had brought the rage they'd have a reason to bail, but I thought this was a pretty measured, non-emotional response.

 

So, I guess my questions are:

 

1. Am I being more emotional than I realize?

2. Am I being rude?

3. If not, then why is it that a considered response gets more vitriol from fundies than I used to get when I'd just curse them out? Could it be working? Are they actually thinking?

 

Any input?

 

I'll be away for the Labor Day weekend, but I'll check this out on Tuesday and see if I'm just being an asshole.

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my pet peeves is people who believe stupid shit and have no idea why. I tend to ask, "So why is it that you believe that?" and I get answers such as, "It's in the Bible" or "My family has always been (fill in blank)."

 

Keep up the good work.

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You're not being an asshole.

 

People just hate to have their (unfounded) ooey gooey precious little puppy beliefs shown for what they are. So they try to make you out to be an asshole because they're butthurt.

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It will depend on who you ask.

 

I don't see this sort of thing as a 'moral' question. It's just a question of whether or not I prefer to keep these people in my life while keeping my mouth shut about their stupidity- or would I prefer to tell them what I think and likely never speak with them again?

 

IMO it's just a question of preference.

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So, I guess my questions are:

 

1. Am I being more emotional than I realize?

2. Am I being rude?

3. If not, then why is it that a considered response gets more vitriol from fundies than I used to get when I'd just curse them out? Could it be working? Are they actually thinking?

  1. Not that I can see. Your responses seemed pretty measured, unless you ended one of your sentences with "you fuckwit" and deleted it before posting it here.
  2. Not that I can see.
  3. More than anything else, fundies hate facts. Because unlike opinions that they don't like, they can't just make them go away. They are stubborn, pernicious things that gnaw at them, causing painful cognitive dissonance.

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Kind of.

 

Most people say things not looking for a debate. Turning a greeting into a debate would be pretty fucking annoying.

 

If someone knowingly enters a debate with you, that's one thing, but otherwise, you're being a gadfly. If that's what you want to be, good work, but you won't have many friends that don't think exactly like you.

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^^ That's what I was about to post. If they didn't ask for an argument and weren't directing their posts at you, I don't find voicing contrary views productive. It's offensive to them.

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Now, I'm willing to concede that if I had brought the rage they'd have a reason to bail, but I thought this was a pretty measured, non-emotional response.

 

You are missing something here. They have reason to bail because their beliefs are false and they can't stand seeing their beliefs challenged. Having false your beliefs challenged natually results in anger. So if you provide that challenge your actions and their beliefs trigger their anger. Of course some of them will put all the blame for this on you because they can't blame their own religious belifs. But your actions are provacative so it depends on how one defines asshole.

 

 

So, I guess my questions are:

 

1. Am I being more emotional than I realize?

2. Am I being rude?

3. If not, then why is it that a considered response gets more vitriol from fundies than I used to get when I'd just curse them out? Could it be working? Are they actually thinking?

 

I seriously doubt you are going to make them think. The religion has defense mechanisms built into it. You are just going to activate their persecution complex. When Christians think they are being persecuted this reinforces their religion because the Bible says they will be persecuted. And because the Bible said it will happen they interpret it as persecution when they don't get what they want.

 

In my opinion these debates serve a purpose when there is somebody breaking away from Chrisitanity and getting the fear and guilt routine. Basically that is why I engage in them in the Lion's Den.

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"Insulting the Christian god" by...not believing in it? Or did you call the Christian god a big doody-head or something?

 

Now, I don't know you at all, but I had a long time where I was always itching for a fight over religion, but eventually noticed it tended to piss people off. I think it's a pretty natural impulse; a lot of us are pissed about the way we were lied to in religion and want to kick back. Or we just have a lot of enthusiasm for our new way of thinking and want to share it with everyone. (Sound familiar?) I think I got better. I got more practice in deciding when to argue and when to roll my eyes quietly to myself and walk away. There's no Great Commission - you and I aren't responsible for educating the believers. It's still so easy for me to lapse back into Angry Debater Man, that, when the topic comes up, I explicitly ask whether the other person really wants to have this discussion, and to please let me know if I start going around the bend. I have to remind myself that pleasant social relationships are often more important than being Right. Again, I don't know you - that's me.

 

I don't think what you've posted here is terribly emotional or aggressive, but we can't see the whole context or social dynamic surrounding it. And maybe that context was ambiguous anyway, given the online medium. As we know, plain text can be read much differently than it was written. I think I know what you meant, but from his point of view, maybe he read it as you calling him silly, insincere or naive in his belief, and that you think he'll never grow as a person. FB in particular isn't designed for subtlety or nuance, so factors other than the raw text were probably in play. Different expectations, maybe. Guy probably thought you were open to being persuaded, but you just wanted to play with ideas. He doesn't want to play with those ideas - either they're too precious and tied deeply into his concept of himself, or it's too scary to examine them too closely.

 

I think it was in Why People Believe Weird Things, by Michael Shermer, where he reports a study that shows most people think they're *own* beliefs are intellectual and carefully thought-out, while *other people's* beliefs are emotional and not carefully thought-out. And it's consistent, no matter what the specifics of the belief. Even religious people think they arrived at their own beliefs reasonably, but other people *who believe the exact same things* didn't. Just being aware of this human tendency may suggest a different strategy in these debates. My two cents.

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^ good post.

 

But I also want to say, avoiding being the "asshole" isn't just about not being "emotional." I often find the "I'm always right because I'm super-duper reasonable" guy just as infuriating as the "I'm always right because I have the Bible" guy.

 

The connection - they're both ALWAYS RIGHT. No matter what you say. I have no fucking time for either, personally.

 

If I had a person on my shit constantly for my belief in gods, "intellectual exercise" or not, we wouldn't be friends. I can't, for the life of me, see why people care what others believe, whether it's "reason" or "Jesus."

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Personally, I do not enjoy debating for the sake of the debate. I much prefer to be there for someone who is actively seeking answers to their questions about Christianity. It's one of the reasons I like ExC so much because we sometimes have people come here who have already begun the process of thinking and are looking for answers.

 

Whether you engage in debates with people who are true believers is, of course, up to you. But hurt feelings will almost always come with that territory and, at least based on my observations and experience, it will almost never result in true believers thinking about the topic. Rather, it will put them on the defensive and will tend to entrench them more in their beliefs.

 

What follows are my comments on what you wrote.

 

"If anyone (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, Satanist, Wiccan, etc) were able to provide the slightest evidence for God, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Yu-huang, Satan, the Goddess, or whoever, I would be more than willing to change my stance. That is intellectual honesty. But so far, in hundreds of mini-debates, and about a dozen formal ones, no one ever has.

 

In this quote, you assert that no one is "able to provide the slightest evidence for God, Jesus...." Is that true? Is there not even the slightest evidence for God or Jesus? It may not be convincing evidence for you (or me), but the Bible is at least slight evidence. I think you would be better off conceding that there is at least some evidence and then inviting the other person to take a look at how convincing that evidence is.

 

Believing something without evidence is just silly. If I told you to take it on faith that I owned a unicorn, would you? Of course not.

 

In this quote, you again assert there is no evidence and then you say their belief is "silly." That's an attack that will always be a total turnoff for the other person.

 

I don't generally insult religions besides Christianity because the other ones aren't currently trying to turn the United States into a theocracy by legislating their brand of morality or being exclusionary to people who don't believe the same way that they do.

 

In this quote, you concede that you insult Christianity. Again, a total turnoff for a true believer.

 

As far as I'm concerned, I AM doing something positive for mankind. Hopefully I'm making at least a few people think about what they believe and why they believe it. If you can't answer those two questions, then why do you hold the belief?

 

In this quote, you assert that you are hopefully "making at least a few people think about what they believe and why they believe it." It's the word "making" that is the rub. It is as if you are asserting that you have the power to cause people to think. That could be a turnoff since you are suggesting to them that they are not thinking and if they only would use their brains, then they would be in agreement with you.

 

Most people don't have beliefs, they have geography and history. We've discussed this before. If you had been born in ancient Greece, you'd believe in a whole pantheon of gods. If you had been born in modern-day Iran to Muslim parents, you'd be a Muslim. I'm not saying no one ever converts to a different religion, but the fact is, most people believe the same things that their parents did because they don't think about it. As long as you're not willing to even consider the possibility you could be wrong, you won't grow as a person."

 

The problem with this quote is that you make an unequivacle statement that if this person had been born at such and such a location that they would have another religion. How can you make that blanket statement about the person to whom you are speaking? Maybe they would not have their parent's religion. We at ExC prove on a daily basis that people are capable of not accepting the cultural religion even when there are family pressures to do so. That kind of statement would go over better if you had said something like, "Chances are" or "there is a likelihood" or similar words in which you do not make a 100% declaration of what that individual would do since you cannot know it on the individual level.

 

I do not write this to insult you at all. Rather, I take you at your word that you wanted honest feedback.

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If you're giving a good debate to someone who's looking for one -- probably not an asshole. (Sort of depends on the argument, of course.)

 

If you're giving an argument to someone who simply wishes you a blessed day -- asshole.

 

Heck, I sometimes close messages with "blessings" (or, to the consternation of my Christian friends) "blessed be." And yeah, if somebody gave me grief over that, I'd say they're just spoiling for a fight.

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Believing something without evidence is just silly. If I told you to take it on faith that I owned a unicorn, would you? Of course not.

 

Unicorns are false doctrine. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one true god. Heaven forbid (just a common saying) anyone should believe silly things. Though when people start arguments over whose silly belief is correct, well that causes problems. But generally xians dont bother me. I've decided I don't care what they post on Facebook. No one is trying to convert me.

 

Xians are interesting though. One argument an xian will use is "2.1 billion people can't be wrong. We all believe in Jebus so it must be true!" Someone wrote that truth is not a democracy and I like that idea. No matter how many people believe something to be true, if it isnt true, it isnt true. Yet most everyone believes this waking experience is absolutely real. They call it 'consensus reality' because it's denizens have all agreed that it is real. Consensus reality is a belief system based on agreement and assumption by people who may not even be real. Where is the evidence this is any more real than a dream? Don't roll your eyes at me. haha. :-)

 

 

I don't generally insult religions besides Christianity because the other ones aren't currently trying to turn the United States into a theocracy by legislating their brand of morality or being exclusionary to people who don't believe the same way that they do.

 

Good point. There are some xians who would like a theocracy to exist. Some xians also feel that hurricanes are signs that god is pissed at people and that we all need to repent before he destroys us. Similarly there are some atheists who believe that xianity should be wiped out so we can all be atheists , think the same way be free!

 

As far as I'm concerned, I AM doing something positive for mankind. Hopefully I'm making at least a few people think about what they believe and why they believe it. If you can't answer those two questions, then why do you hold the belief?

 

I don't really feel the need to force my beliefs or non-beliefs on others. If 2.1 billion people want to piss away their lives, why do I care? I shall piss away my life in my own special pagan way. :-) I have a certain belief. It isn't hard and fast. It is subject to change and modification...evolution, you might say. haha. Why do I believe it? The same reason people watch tv. It is an enjoyable part of my life. It is illogical and unreasoned and there is no evidence any of it is real. It doesn't earn money, it doesn't feed Vaal (sorry, star trek reference). But it's fun. And it is my system only. Nobody else. :-) But I'm not OCD about it like rabid fundies.

 

Most people don't have beliefs, they have geography and history. We've discussed this before. If you had been born in ancient Greece, you'd believe in a whole pantheon of gods. If you had been born in modern-day Iran to Muslim parents, you'd be a Muslim. I'm not saying no one ever converts to a different religion, but the fact is, most people believe the same things that their parents did because they don't think about it. As long as you're not willing to even consider the possibility you could be wrong, you won't grow as a person."

 

Well, they may not grow the way you want them to grow. They may grow deeper into their religion. There are many different ways to grow besides just religiously or philosophically. But once again, I don't give rats ass about someone elses spiritual or non-spiritual life. The more I 'cared' about someone's growth the more it might co-incide with my wanting them to think the way I think. So, are you willing to entertain some Xian beliefs? It could help you grow, you know. :-) haha. I'm not sure how many people consciously think about 'growing as a person' as they go thru life, but it is a good idea to consider different points of view. But my job isn't telling other people how to grow. I have enough trouble taking care of myself. But I suppose a World Religions teacher could really help some people with different ideas and philosophies, right?

 

They immediately ceased talking to me.

 

Now, I'm willing to concede that if I had brought the rage they'd have a reason to bail, but I thought this was a pretty measured, non-emotional response.

 

So, I guess my questions are:

 

1. Am I being more emotional than I realize?

2. Am I being rude?

3. If not, then why is it that a considered response gets more vitriol from fundies than I used to get when I'd just curse them out? Could it be working? Are they actually thinking?

 

Any input?

 

I'll be away for the Labor Day weekend, but I'll check this out on Tuesday and see if I'm just being an asshole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, are you being an asshole by expressing your non-xian view? I dunno. Are xians assholes when they say something xian to you? I guess it depends how far you take it. You can be RIGHT but alienate everyone. What is important in your life? Truth, honesty? Peace, love? It's a waste of time to debate xians. Someone down in the Lion's Den forum mentioned an xian with a never ending supply of bible quotes. I would add that they also have a never ending supply of bullshit made up on the spot with which to fuel asinine debates. It is sufficient to plant the seed of doubt. If it takes hold, great. If not, who cares?

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If you're giving a good debate to someone who's looking for one -- probably not an asshole. (Sort of depends on the argument, of course.)

 

If you're giving an argument to someone who simply wishes you a blessed day -- asshole.

 

Heck, I sometimes close messages with "blessings" (or, to the consternation of my Christian friends) "blessed be." And yeah, if somebody gave me grief over that, I'd say they're just spoiling for a fight.

 

Throw a 'Namaste' at em , for good measure. :-)

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So, are you being an asshole by expressing your non-xian view? I dunno. Are xians assholes when they say something xian to you? I guess it depends how far you take it.

 

It depends on what it is. If they say "they are praying for you" or "God bless" they are just being polite. If they say that "your nature is sin", that "you cannot be happy without God", that "you cannot have a successful marrage without Christ", that "you are just angry at God" then they are being jerks and asking to get a verbal lashing. However giving that verbal lasing would not be nice.

 

You can be RIGHT but alienate everyone. What is important in your life? Truth, honesty? Peace, love? It's a waste of time to debate xians. Someone down in the Lion's Den forum mentioned an xian with a never ending supply of bible quotes. I would add that they also have a never ending supply of bullshit made up on the spot with which to fuel asinine debates. It is sufficient to plant the seed of doubt. If it takes hold, great. If not, who cares?

 

It's very rare for a Chrisitan to engage in a formal debate and follow the rules because Chrisitans don't like to admit they have nothing. Usually you wind up with something like playing chess with a pegion.

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It depends on what it is. If they say "they are praying for you" or "God bless" they are just being polite. If they say that "your nature is sin", that "you cannot be happy without God", that "you cannot have a successful marrage without Christ", that "you are just angry at God" then they are being jerks and asking to get a verbal lashing. However giving that verbal lasing would not be nice.

 

 

I agree. They can bless me all they want. If someone tries to shame me then they are fair game.

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The way I go about it is like this:

 

I don't go around actively seeking to deconvert fundies. However, if someone makes an unsolicited attempt to convert me all bets are off, the gloves come off, and open season commences on that person. Someone tries to convert me, I'm going to go all out to deconvert them. If they're keeping their religious beliefs to themselves, I'll keep my atheism to myself. Simple as that.

 

When it comes to facebook, yeah, I post atheist stuff on my wall every day. It's my wall. I'm an atheist. If someone doesn't want to see what I post, there's numerous things they can do to not see it, just like I can. However, if a fundy votes that they disagree with same-sex marriage in a poll on facebook, I'll quickly add a vote in favour of same-sex marriage. If they want to get into it with me, they can. Otherwise, I'm not going to go after them.

 

I'm not going to change who I am. But neither will I feed their persecution complex. I don't go out seeking debates, but I won't back down from one if one arises. That's how I work it.

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Kind of.

 

Most people say things not looking for a debate. Turning a greeting into a debate would be pretty fucking annoying.

 

If someone knowingly enters a debate with you, that's one thing, but otherwise, you're being a gadfly. If that's what you want to be, good work, but you won't have many friends that don't think exactly like you.

 

Don't forget this detail from the OP:

 

a fundy that I debated with in person added me as a friend on Facebook... specifically to debate religion, mind you...

 

If the very reason the fundy added him to FB was to debate, then the debate was not unwarranted or even uninvited.

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It may not be convincing evidence for you (or me), but the Bible is at least slight evidence.

 

OF, my friend, I think this is the first time I've disagreed with something I've read from you. The Bible is not evidence for God. The only reason why Christians think that the Bible is evidence for God is because they come at it with a load of false assumptions. The Bible is so full of problems that it's not the slightest bit of evidence for God.

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I've been a lot more vocal about my atheism the last year or so.

 

I had previously (several years ago) gotten into emotionally-heated arguments about it, but recently, I've been making provocative posts on Facebook, or making pointed comments in person to theists in an attempt to just make them think.

 

Mind you, I won't start the debate or argument, but I will respond to things that theists say without thinking about it.

 

"Have a blessed day!" is the one I respond to most often with direct questions about what they mean.

 

I'm generally pretty chill with the whole thing, not really emotional, just very excited when someone is willing to forgo the butthurt and actually talk about what they believe and why they believe it.

 

In the last year I've lost about 20 friends when I challenged them to explain their beliefs and most recently, a fundy that I debated with in person added me as a friend on Facebook... specifically to debate religion, mind you... and then got all butthurt when I said that I was only conceding the existence of god in order to have a discussion about the role satan played in the bible as an intellectual exercise and didn't appreciate their multiple ad hominem attacks.

 

They said,

 

"If you want intellectual exercise i'd recommend a crossword puzzle or sudoku. It seems you have your mind made up on the God subject. Arguing/ debating over facebook, and insulting the Christian God (you don't really address/insult any other deities or their followers), only causes damage (a charge you make against religion). Isn't this time better used doing something positive for mankind instead of hammering in wedges?"

 

My response was,

 

"If anyone (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, Satanist, Wiccan, etc) were able to provide the slightest evidence for God, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Yu-huang, Satan, the Goddess, or whoever, I would be more than willing to change my stance. That is intellectual honesty. But so far, in hundreds of mini-debates, and about a dozen formal ones, no one ever has.

 

Believing something without evidence is just silly. If I told you to take it on faith that I owned a unicorn, would you? Of course not.

 

I don't generally insult religions besides Christianity because the other ones aren't currently trying to turn the United States into a theocracy by legislating their brand of morality or being exclusionary to people who don't believe the same way that they do.

 

As far as I'm concerned, I AM doing something positive for mankind. Hopefully I'm making at least a few people think about what they believe and why they believe it. If you can't answer those two questions, then why do you hold the belief?

 

Most people don't have beliefs, they have geography and history. We've discussed this before. If you had been born in ancient Greece, you'd believe in a whole pantheon of gods. If you had been born in modern-day Iran to Muslim parents, you'd be a Muslim. I'm not saying no one ever converts to a different religion, but the fact is, most people believe the same things that their parents did because they don't think about it. As long as you're not willing to even consider the possibility you could be wrong, you won't grow as a person."

 

 

They immediately ceased talking to me.

 

Now, I'm willing to concede that if I had brought the rage they'd have a reason to bail, but I thought this was a pretty measured, non-emotional response.

 

So, I guess my questions are:

 

1. Am I being more emotional than I realize?

2. Am I being rude?

3. If not, then why is it that a considered response gets more vitriol from fundies than I used to get when I'd just curse them out? Could it be working? Are they actually thinking?

 

Any input?

 

I'll be away for the Labor Day weekend, but I'll check this out on Tuesday and see if I'm just being an asshole.

 

 

 

 

 

4billion.jpg

HAHA

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Well, if you were to insist that you own a unicorn, after a while people would give up and leave you to your own mentally-ill devices. Maybe you should do the same for the fundies.

 

To be honest, I don't follow my own advice. I

NEED to get into theological arguments. I thrive

on it. So don't think I'm an old wise woman.

 

I don't think it sounds like you are being a jerk, but you should not get all worked up about this. People will believe what they will believe, and eventually you learn this through personal experience. So if you're thinking of shaking anyone's faith, forget it. You are only going to make them feel persecuted and holy.

 

For the sake of your sanity and social life, I think you should stick to crosswords and sudoku.

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Starting a debate over a friendly greeting is a little much. Try to avoid that, because it does sound antisocial.

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It may not be convincing evidence for you (or me), but the Bible is at least slight evidence.

 

OF, my friend, I think this is the first time I've disagreed with something I've read from you. The Bible is not evidence for God. The only reason why Christians think that the Bible is evidence for God is because they come at it with a load of false assumptions. The Bible is so full of problems that it's not the slightest bit of evidence for God.

 

Hi, Citsonga. Maybe our "disagreement" is more semantic than anything else. When I use the word "evidence" I am generally not commenting on how convincing it may be. To me, that is a different issue. I believe the Bible is at least "slight evidence" for the existence of god because it is at least 2,000 years old and it does purport to contain accounts of human contact with a deity. Therefore, it is evidence which we must examine to determine how convincing it is. But I am in 100% agreement with the following quote of yours as reworded only slightly: "The Bible is so full of problems that it's not the slightest bit of evidence convincing for the existence of God."

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