Conversations with Roger The christian 1 - The Basics

one of us is evilThe other day I got the following comment. I know we've covered these questions before, but since it was an invitation to a dialogue I thought a post was in order as opposed to a reply. I try to always be open to conversing about beliefs and the lack thereof. Before I tackle the questions, perhaps we should set some ground rules?

  • Let's find some common ground to begin. What can we both agree on? (How to Argue)

  • No personal attacks or insults. I guess that's a given, but it doesn't hurt to add it here. (Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy)

  • Let's establish here that we will be respectful of each other, and argue fairly.

  • If you want to end the conversation, just say so. No hard feelings.

I can't think of anything else offhand. If anyone has anything to add to this, please let me know!

Roger said:
I have found your website to be interesting to say the least! I will be honest with you, I am a christian and I do not believe the same as you (obviously). I do however wonder about a few things. Most of the athiests that I have met in my life have some underlying reason as to why the reject religion. I guess my question is have you always not believed in a God or did something happen in your past that caused you to reject the ideals of religion. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to start an argument, I’m just curious. I don’t believe in religion because really, to say a person is “christian” means that they have a personal belief and relationship with God.

Hey Roger. Well, the first thing I noticed in your comment is that you made broad, sweeping generalizations about atheists. I understand you're basing it on your experience, but I just want to clarify. Atheism is a philosophy. So people of all walks of life will hold this lack of belief, all for different reasons. All I can do is talk about my experience as an atheist, married to an atheist, with atheist friends and a predominantly religious family.

I have to say, your choice of wording is rather inflammatory. What kind of christian are you? What church do you go to? How do you define yourself? Why do you want a dialogue with an atheist? Did I misunderstand? What do you want to get out of talking to me? Your last sentence in the above paragraph makes no sense, by the way. It totally contradicts the rest of your comment. What did you mean there?

My de-conversion story explains the whole thing, but basically I was a good little christian until about age 12 when I started to see the blatant hypocrisy of the church. It was a long road of questioning and trying to understand history and religion until one day I just realized, hey, I'm an atheist. What a relief.
Most religions today are biased to their own personal belief(s). Most people want to force their beliefs on others (christian or atheist or hindu or muslim, etc.,). So, to my next question. I do not mean to stereotype but, every (and I do mean every) atheist I have ever met, works twice as hard to get people to stop believing in God than most “christians” work to get people to believe. If in fact, atheists do wish to stop the world from “believing” does that not make them a religion in and of themselves?

Funny, I find that to be the reverse. You probably know a lot more atheists than you realize. Some will just not say anything or even mention religion to a christian. That's how I handle it with the religious members of my family. This blog, for instance, isn't to try to convert religious people. It's for people on the fence, who are trying to deconvert, or who are already atheists of some sort.

I understand that faith is a great security blanket for people so I don't go out of my way to talk about religion to anyone who doesn't start the conversation. I'm not a confrontational person. So maybe it's just the crowd of people you have been around. Because there are lots of people like me. Again, there are atheists with all different kinds of personalities. Just like there are religious people who are completely offensive and obnoxious with their faith, as well as the other extreme of christian who just tries to be a good person and basically keeps their faith to themselves. And there are all kinds of people in between.
Again, I am not trying to offend. I am just looking for answers to my questions. I will not change my beliefs and I will not try and force mine on someone else. I would encourage everyone to look beyond those tangible things in life and look to things that are not known by senses. Self reflection is what causes most people to turn to religion and sometimes even to turn from it.

As for Craig, I am sorry that he stopped his dialogue with you. I find it interesting when people of opposing beliefs can maintain a conversation. If you would like I could converse with you about why I believe what I believe. Up to you…



So it's up to you, Roger. If you're willing to dialogue fairly, just email or reply here by comment. Just remember, it's a dialogue. Your last line leaves me wondering if that's what you had in mind. If not, if you just want to proseletyze, no need to waste anyone's time.


  1. As I am not as patient as you, I will say that the "all atheists were hurt by somebody, and that's why they don't love god anymore" meme is getting tiresome.

    I had a hard time believing as a child. One day I had to admit the whole god thing didn't make any logical sense at all, and that was that.

  2. Oh boy, here we go again......

  3. If in fact, atheists do wish to stop the world from “believing” does that not make them a religion in and of themselves?

    Since I love pointing out logical fallacies:

    If, in fact, public transportation advocates do wish to stop the world from "owning cars" does that not make them a car company in and of themselves?

  4. I actually have a question for Roger. These atheists that you know, who try "twice as hard" to deconvert people, who mentioned religion first? Them or you?

    I'm an atheist, as are many of my friends. None of us, and I mean NONE, have tried to deconvert anyone, and the only people we've argued it with brought the subject up themselves.

    I agree with Neece, you've got it backwards.

  5. Yes, you're right, PF, it's very old. It's as simple as that, really. I gave up on Santa and the Easter Bunny when I was a kid too. There's really no difference. It's all made up.

  6. Did I miss that line? Damnit. Well, thanks for pointing it out, Geds. It's quite a silly fallacy.

  7. Oh, Malefic! What an EXCELLENT point! Thank you! That is SO TRUE. I've NEVER brought up religion to a believer. But they have brought it up to me countless times! Even then, if it's inappropriate, I keep my mouth shut. (like at easter dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's house, who I respect)

  8. Roger wrote, "I don’t believe in religion because really, to say a person is 'christian' means that they have a personal belief and relationship with God."

    While this *is* a bit of a non-sequitur, I think he's trying to say that his personal relationship with G-d/Jesus is far more important to him than being part of a church, or than any organized system of beliefs. Hence, he doesn't really believe in "religion" per se - just G-d.

    I could argue that this distinction is essentially meaningless, since his religion clearly emphasizes a personal relationship with G-d/Jesus... but I don't really know that such is the case. He might belong to one of the more church/community-oriented variants of Christianity, in which setting his would be an unusual view. Almost certainly not heretical, but unusual.

    On the other side of the table, Neece wrote: "...basically I was a good little christian until about age 12 when I started to see the blatant hypocrisy of the church." This is, to my eyes, a violation of the third (and possibly the second also) of the ground rules that you began your post with: it's not respectful, and it could be construed as a personal attack. "Good little Christian" sounds extremely condescending, and "until.. I started to see the blatant hypocrisy of the church" is a pretty direct accusation of Christianity at large. I'm not sure you meant it that way, but that's how it comes across, at least to me.

    And I *have* met atheists who see any mention of religion as an opening to mercilessly attack and ridicule other people's beliefs - under the apparent assumption that their victims obviously haven't put any thought into their beliefs, since otherwise they wouldn't believe anything so glaringly ridiculous in the first place. Obviously, these are not the majority of atheists, agnostics, or even pagans - but they are out there. And the obnoxious minority does tend make more of an impression than the reasonable majority. ::shrugs::

    Michael Mock

  9. I was going to comment on that religion v. christian line. I have actually heard that claim before. I just assumed it was just an attempt to distance oneself the "crazy" stereotype of religion.

    I like how he follows up by saying Atheism is a religion though.

  10. I say go for it! It's always nice to have an open dialogue with someone who can discuss this topic without getting upset of inflammatory. I have a few people in my life that happily do that and have beliefs that are polar opposites from mine. ;-)

    I'm rather jealous, though. I never get people asking ME to have such dialoges on the internet. Come to think of it, I never get people knocking on my door, either.

    I wonder if it's my breath??!? ;-)

  11. "atheists do wish to stop the world from 'believing'"
    Incorrect, that's silly. I don't care if you... ahem... believe. Believe whatever the hell you want. But don't sit there and force your beliefs on others. And I'm talking here like passing laws against homosexuals, or banning condoms... These are forcing your beliefs on others, and that's unacceptable. And don't try to argue opposite here, if condoms weren't banned, nobodies forcing you to use them, and that's just it. And if stopping you from believing is a way to do it, okay, but it doesn't have to go that far.

    "to say a person is 'christian' means that they have a personal belief and relationship with [g]od."
    Nay, that is also incorrect. And I've come across this many a times... A lot of 'Christians' don't seem to get it that you can believe in god, without being a christian. In fact, there are far more pretty and far more loving religions out there than Christianity. Religions such as pantheism and panentheism along with many others which have roots in humanism. Of course, these religions don't have a booming god that casts people to hell who don't believe... or even throw out laws and dictate who is good and evil. Many 'Christians', don't even realize they aren't Christians anymore but more aligned to being a humanist.

    On a completely unrelated note, OMG, I only have 2 minutes to edit this or I'll never be able too!
    That's kind of... well, funny I guess. Why does it time you to edit your post? Hmmm...

  12. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for giving us an idea of what Roger was talking about with that sentence. It seemed totally contradictory to what he was saying everywhere else.

    I disagree that me talking about my personal experience is meant to be offensive. I was a good little christian girl. I did find the church I was going to to be extremely hypocritical. Those are my experiences. I am not going to sugar coat everything I say just to spoon feed it to everyone to spare every person's feelings. That's unhealthy. If someone finds offense in my personal experiences, I can't help that. Some people will find offense in anything and everything that they disagree with, and in fact go out of their way to be offended.

    Like I said to Roger, there are people of all walks of life in every philosophical group. Sure there are some atheists who are more in your face than others, but certainly not all of us. Plus, if you're a christian, you might take a simple contradictory retort from an atheist as a huge attack. Just like maybe I am probably a bit sensitive about all the god talk I am subjected to every day. But you're right, the obnoxious and vocal minority makes a strong impression, and is very irritating.

  13. Yeah, it sounds fishy to me. I am still curious about it, but I've noticed that Roger has not replied either through here or by email. So maybe we'll never know!

  14. Well, I tried but haven't heard from Roger. So maybe I have bad breath, I dunno. :P (You cracked me up there!)

  15. Exactly! You can believe in Invisible Pink Unicorns for all I care. Just don't force your beliefs down my throat and into laws, etc.

    No, I understand what you're saying. you can believe in any number of deities from all around the world. I myself am a polyatheist. I don't believe in any of them. :P

    What are you talking about 2 minutes to edit this? Who said that? I can't find it!

  16. I'm not suggesting that you edit your content, or try to sugar-coat your points. (Nor did I mean to imply that you were *trying* to be offensive - merely that it could easily come across that way.) It's simply a question of wording - well, that and the fact that I can't see your face or hear your tone of voice.

    When I hear "good little X", the speaker is usually being condescending about X. Therefore, when I read "I was a good little Christian", in my head it sounds condescending. (Oddly enough, if you'd just said "I was a good Christian", I wouldn't have read it that way.) That has nothing to do with your intent, just the way it comes across to me as a reader. I have, of course, no idea how Roger or any other reader would interpret it.

    And, on the second bit, "I started to see the blatant hypocrisy of the church" doesn't sound (to me) like you're talking about your personal experiences with one particular church. It sounds like you're talking about Christianity in general: the church.

    I have the same problem with the term "sheeple" (from an earlier post). I realize that you're talking about that particular contingent of the population who seem to believe whatever they've been told, without any apparent reflection or any attempt at critical thinking. Use the term too casually, though, and it sounds like you think anyone with religious beliefs is a sheep.

    Again, I'm not trying to suggest that you whitewash your experiences, or your account of them. I'm really just trying to point out a couple of places where I think your wording could be clearer - and, as a result, your attempt to open a respectful dialogue could be more successful.

    Michael Mock

  17. It's under my comment whenever I post... It's a little 2 minute timer that ticks down, next to the edit this post button... and when that two minutes are up, op, no more edit button. Of course you're the author, you may not have such a limit as us such lowly commenters.

    Oooo, this time it's a 5 minutes timer. Perhaps that's always been the case...

  18. Thanks Michael. I think I see what you're saying and I'll keep that in mind.

  19. Oh, that's so cool that you mentioned it. I have a plugin so people can edit their comments but I could never tell if it was working. So thanks, GMN, you're so helpful, as usual! :D