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"if You Believe It, It Is True For You."


Llwellyn
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This phrase is a way of encouraging productive interaction and community between an atheist and a Christian.  Their God-belief and my lack of God-belief is not something that is relevant across two people.

 

I have to deal with Christians all the time.  My bosses are Christians, my colleagues are Christians, my parents, siblings, and customers are Christians.  Not every one in the mix are Christians, but a good number of them are (perhaps 5 out of 10).  When religion comes up in interaction, as it often does, It is not polite or productive to engage in toe-to-toe confrontation.  It is much better to give them space to be Christian, and to maintain my space to be Christianity-free.  That is why I think it is so nice to be able to say something like this:

 

"If you believe in Christianity, it is true for you."

 

By saying this, they know that my atheism is not something that I care to push onto them, and not a disagreement that I have with them.  It is simply something I care to possess for myself.  It also lets them know that I respect them, and want to interact with them in productive ways.  I want them to be happy and content, and I want to be able to show them love and experience love from them.  I don't want to argue with them, and I don't want to change them.  But it also signals that their Christianity has nothing to do with me, and there is no bridging point between their mindset and mine.  My atheism likewise has nothing to do with them.

 

Obviously, there is a part of atheism and Christianity that speaks to a "universal truth" that is common to all thinking persons, regardless of their religion.  But, I just do not see the point of emphasizing this when you are dealing with others who do not agree with you.  Obviously, as an atheist I believe that God-belief is a imagination figment.  But it is simply cruel and pointless to say that to a believer.  Much better to build alliances and seal peace treaties by saying "If you believe it, it is TRUE for you."

 

One problem with this approach is that for some Christians (e.g. apologists, fundamentalists, evangelicals, and unprofessional people who would argue religion at work), it is just like hitting the hornets nest with a stick.  They hate this phrase, it drives them crazy, and provokes the very opposite of what it is intended to do.  Sigh.

 

What are your thoughts?  Do you use this phrase with others?  Have you ever heard it from Christians in a way that lets you know they want to show you respect?

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The phrase is fine as far as it goes, but xians are compelled to share their truth even into schools and gvmt and ignoring any conflicting views.

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I'm trying to use it more often, and I am getting better at it, but the urge to refute Christian theological claims every time the religion is brought up is quite strong and difficult to ignore.

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I couldn't say that. It is NOT true in any sense. All we can honestly say is that they are currently satisfied with the belief.

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No, I wouldn't use a phrase like that. It's patronizing. In a way, I don't even blame the types of people you mention for getting upset. You're basically telling them they need a pacified version of reality and you're kind enough to just smile and let them have it.

 

I believe in "live and let live," but if people expect to talk to me about this stuff, they're getting my full unvarnished perspective and if they disagree I'm telling them I find their position to be wrong. I think it's disrespectful for me to decide for them what they can or can't handle.

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I think the hornet's next situation would be more likely. That phrase will just get you accused of relativism, which is by far the worst sin imaginable to some christians.

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I suppose it is in a way being dishonest for me to claim that I believe it is "true for them" -- because, insofar as their beliefs include a belief in a real supernatural person named "Yahweh," then I don't believe that it is true.  And it probably also violates the law of non-contradiction insofar as I would be saying that Yahweh as postulated is at the same time not real (for me) and real (for them).  Those are definitely a couple of good reasons to avoid the phrase.

 

Maybe the best approach is to simply say:  "I care about out relationship, and I want it to be as positive as it can be even though we believe different things.  I believe in cooperation between people of different religions, and I believe in live-and-let-live.  So let us not be divided but live together in peace even though we disagree.  We can talk about our disagreements as long as it does not create hurt feelings, divisions or distractions."

 

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My best friend was an atheist for many years and would post rants online about Christians. It actually made me cry a couple time and I prayed for her soul for YEARS only for her to get engaged and then married to an atheist with degrees in evolution and biology!!!!  But, really, it'll probably vary depending on the type of person you're dealing with. I'm pretty passive, my friend is more assertive but we both value our friendships and though I did work SOME to convert her at the beginning, I did eventually accept all I could do was pray and accept things as they were. NOW, not so much, obviously. But my de-conversion is still pretty recent and I do remember that mind set fairly well. 

 

I always hated it when people implied I only believed for some form of comfort. I actually find it MORE comforting not believing in Hell or some God, honestly. I miss it *sometimes* but I don't think thinking about my best friend and her family burning in hell ever really brought me comfort. 

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My best friend was an atheist for many years and would post rants online about Christians. It actually made me cry a couple time and I prayed for her soul for YEARS only for her to get engaged and then married to an atheist with degrees in evolution and biology!!!!  But, really, it'll probably vary depending on the type of person you're dealing with. I'm pretty passive, my friend is more assertive but we both value our friendships and though I did work SOME to convert her at the beginning, I did eventually accept all I could do was pray and accept things as they were. NOW, not so much, obviously. But my de-conversion is still pretty recent and I do remember that mind set fairly well. 

 

I always hated it when people implied I only believed for some form of comfort. I actually find it MORE comforting not believing in Hell or some God, honestly. I miss it *sometimes* but I don't think thinking about my best friend and her family burning in hell ever really brought me comfort. 

 

Does your friend know about your deconversion? I know I have an atheist friend that I tried to convert when I was still a believer, but it failed every time. When I told him I deconverted, he said he wasn't surprised, but I didn't know why though. I know I was surprised!

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I used to find the 'well it's true for you' stuff incredibly condescending and I still do, unless the person saying it really does think that the instant I believe something an entire separate personal universe is spawned where everything I think is entirely correct. It's fair enough to accept that we're all seeking after a larger truth in our individual ways and each might have a bit of truth to them, but to treat this as anything other than an on-going hit and miss process in this search for meaning and knowledge is I think not doing humankind's capacity for development justice.

As a Christian all I asked was for people respect my right to and my considered reasoning for having my beliefs, I was happy to debate them or just leave it be and move onto other subjects, I didn't need un-looked for platitudes!

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It's a nice sentiment on the face, but it isn't true.  I'm interested in the truth, which is why I'm not a Christian. 

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At this point I could say, "If it works for you, great."  But that's the nicest way I could put it.

That is probably the best I could do, too.  I don't get into discussions about religion much, but usually I just take the "nod and smile" approach.

 

If someone really presses me for my opinion, then they're going to get it.  And at that point I won't care whether they disagree with me or not.

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At this point I could say, "If it works for you, great."  But that's the nicest way I could put it.

That is probably the best I could do, too.  I don't get into discussions about religion much, but usually I just take the "nod and smile" approach.

 

If someone really presses me for my opinion, then they're going to get it.  And at that point I won't care whether they disagree with me or not.

 

 

That's been pretty much my approach, too, but I'm leaning toward avoiding religion with people I know unless we agree. The potential for division and conflict is too great. If customers want to share their beliefs in passing, I'd say smile and nod. If they ask your position, decline to discuss something so personal and change the subject.

 

As for the platitude: Everyone has their own truth.

 

I don't understand how that is supposed to work on the objective intellectual level so I would hesitate to say it.

 

With relatives, friends, and co-workers I think a good approach is to agree not to talk religion "because we won't agree anyway."

 

With bosses it can be more tricky but I think in most Christian countries (as opposed to some Muslim countries) it is illegal to dismiss employees based on religious position. Obviously, they can make life miserable so if your line is what it takes to keep the peace I say go for it.

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"If you believe it , it is true for you. But personally I think it's bullshit."

 

:-)

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