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Mar 05 2012

I get email

Aww, I’ve been invited to church.

Dr. Myers,

I am on staff with Ratio Christi (www.RatioChristi.org) which, along with other organizations, is involved in coordinating a group of evangelical Christians to attend the Reason Rally. You cite our website, www.TrueReason.org, in your February 23 blog post in which you express your annoyance that Christians would come to the rally. You said, “I’m beginning to feel like my long-standing personal policy of not intruding on their church services needs to be questioned, because man, is this ever arrogant and obnoxious.”

Many other atheists and secularists have expressed similar concerns. For instance, an e-mail to the TrueReason.org website said, “So is it now OK for groups of us to come visit you in your places of worship and do the same thing? Atheists have studiously avoided this in the past but you seem to want to up the ante.” These statements seem to indicate that atheists do not want Christians showing up at the rally.

I share your value for treating others with respect. I believe there are two key distinctions between the Reason Rally and a church service, however. First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue. Second, a public gathering on the National Mall is very different from holding a private worship service indoors.

Nevertheless, I believe it is very important for churches to demonstrate that they welcome the participation of atheists and other secularists in their communities.

Therefore, I wish to take seriously your concern and the concern of many other rally attendees. I would like to invite you to join me for church, at Twelve Mile Creek Church in Matthews, NC. I warmly welcome you there in the hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your disagreements with Christianity, so that we could have a reasoned dialogue. This is a standing invitation.

As I know you live in another part of the country which could make attending my church an inconvenience, and because many other atheists have expressed the same sentiment as you have, TrueReason.org is proposing that churches across the country open their doors to atheists in a gesture in favor of opening up reasoned discourse. Specifically, we are calling on churches to coordinate the first annual Atheists at Church Day. As with most churches, atheists are welcome at our church every week. We just want to offer you a special invitation to make sure you know you are welcome. Details on the Atheists at Church Day may be found at: http://www.truereason.org/atheist-day. We hope that many churches and many atheists will participate.

Sincerely,

Blake Anderson, Ratio Christi Director of Administration

Talk about clueless: yes, I called them arrogant and obnoxious. I did not question their right to show up and hang about the edges of our rally like a swarm of ticks looking for a blood meal. And no, they are not honest in their claim that they’re looking for “rational dialogue”: they’re showing up to proselytize, as they admitted in their original promise to “share Christ person to person”.

They’ve got a longer plea on their website. It isn’t going to work, because they haven’t managed to answer the central question I have.

Why would I want to attend their church service?

They have nothing to offer other than superstition and lies. It’s meaningless to offer to open their doors to me, when they have absolutely nothing to entice me to enter. It’s amusing how they simply assume that we’d want to listen to them because they’re anxious to speak to us and try to convert us, when they’ve got nothin’ but dumbass dogma and smarmy self-satisfaction.

206 comments

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  1. 1
    d cwilson

    Why would I want to attend their church service?

    Free crackers?

  2. 2
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I warmly welcome you there in the hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your disagreements with Christianity, so that we could have a reasoned dialogue. This is a standing invitation.

    But it could be funny.
    Take a group of 20 atheists and every time somebody says something you have a reasonable doubt about, one of them gets up and asks “excuse me!”

  3. 3
    joed

    Professor Myers, don’t be fooled by this type of statement. These “truereason” people are not reasonable, cannot be reasonable. In a “discussion” they can say anything they want but we are limited to being reasonable. they use that limit. Don’t get into a pissin’ contest with a skunk–you can’t win.

    “so that we could have a reasoned dialogue”

    “thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue.”

  4. 4
    Inaji

    Goodness. They get called out on their “let’s go witness to the heathens” plan and their solution is to have an atheists at church day?

    Yeah, that’s gonna work out.

  5. 5
    qwerty

    They seem to forget that most atheists did attend church at one time but left because of disbelief in their dogma.

  6. 6
    davidct

    They don’t have crackers in most protestant churches. I may be wrong since I have not been in a long long time.

  7. 7
    Worldtraveller

    An NC area secular/atheist group needs to call their bluff, IMO.

    Don’t do it when their expecting it. Just show up on a sunday, hang out in their parking lot handing out fliers (maybe Kissing Hank’s Ass) and having polite discussions and “share reason person to person.”

  8. 8
    theatrkd

    I used to get dragged to church kicking and screaming as a kid. No more, please! No more! *shudder*

    And I’ve tried having a “reasoned” discussion with Christians before. Generally doesn’t get good responses.

  9. 9
    'Tis Himself

    Anderson et al are going to the Reason Rally to proselytize but want to pretend they’re not arrogant and obnoxious in their party crashing.

    First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue.

    They’re Christians because of their faith and faith is anti-reason. So how can they expect to have a rational dialogue when they’re non-rational?

  10. 10
    reasonbeing

    It is striking to me how they want us to come into their Church to listen to what they have to say. As you point out, do they not understand that many of us left the Church (or wherever) because we heard what they had to say and reject it for any number of reasons?

    The other thing I find interesting is how open and friendly they are when they are inviting us to listen to them. I find it hard to believe that they will have the same “open” attitude they ask of us at the Reason Rally, or in any conversation with an atheist. I have not encountered that same “welcoming” approach when it is my turn to speak.

  11. 11
    Doubting Thomas

    Maybe they’ll let you give the sermon for the day. That could be interesting.

  12. 12
    Glen Davidson

    If they promise to forgo “revelation” and “faith,” and thus to dialog solely upon the grounds that perception and reason allow, then why not?

    Except that if they did promise to leave out the nonsense, they still wouldn’t.

    Glen Davidson

  13. 13
    dianepatyjewicz

    I left the Catholic Church last year. I still believe in God, but I read this blog everyday. It makes me think and question my beliefs.
    But I consider it rude and crude to start pushing my beliefs on others.
    I had the freedom to leave the church, others should have the right and freedom to believe whatever they want, without interference from others.
    A personal dialog one to one about God is rude and crude and disrespectful.

  14. 14
    carlie

    First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue.

    1. Being interested in reason doesn’t mean being interested in debate. Those are two completely separate things.

    2. There is no reason to believe that anything they say is rational, and many, many reasons to believe that nothing they say would be rational.

    I find the whole attitude that rationalists must be desirous of debate at all times to be quite puzzling. No, we’ve already settled those issues to our own satisfaction, thanks. Rehashing them with every new religious person who comes along is deadly boring.

  15. 15
    Kaddath

    Dear clueless Mr. Anderson:

    My last name is spelled “M-y-e-r-s” not DeBotton.

  16. 16
    Lynna, OM

    If atheists attend the Atheists at Church Day, christians will count each and every one of them as evidence of a grand, christian success.

    The organizers will really care about the numbers of people who attend, not what those people think.

    And they will report the event(s) from their perspective, that is, how many souls were exposed to the Jesus Christ message.

  17. 17
    Randomfactor

    A friend of mine just attended “Take an Atheist to Church Day” at a the Roman Catholic church attended by a friend of hers.

    She reported that little seems to have changed since the days when she was a believer and that she was plainly better-informed about the Bible than most of the parishioners–who used the occasion to bombard her with questions.

    But there WERE free donuts afterwards.

    ———

    First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue

    To paraphrase the old joke, they aren’t coming for the rational dialog OR the hunting.

  18. 18
    Ben Goren

    All y’all’re missing the point.

    This would be such an amazing opportunity.

    All you have to do is show up, with your Bible, with selected passages bookmarked.

    Start with John 20:27, and ask them why on Earth they’re professing undying love to a zombie with a penchant for having his intestines fondled.

    Then there’s Genesis 3. Why are they taking seriously a book that opens with a faery tale about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry giant?

    Be sure to finish off with Mark 16:18, so you can have them prove their bona fides. You want to make sure you’re dealing with real Christians, not some fake, after all. Why finish with this passage rather than start? Well, because there’s really not much room for follow-ups after that one….

    Cheers,

    b&

  19. 19
    Phledge

    Well, but, GOSH, it was such a nice letter! Why can’t you athiests [sic] be niiiiiiice?

    *duck and run*

  20. 20
    Art Vandelay

    Even if I did feel so inclined to subject myself to “Atheists at Church Day”, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that they really have no interest in answering questions relevant to my disagreements with Christianity.

  21. 21
    shinobi42

    Most hilarious response to their longer plea: Most (not all) atheists I have encountered are pretty hard to reason with. The reason they are atheist in the first place is irrational, so a rational discussion doesn’t work.

    This must be some new version of the term rational I’m not familiar with. Where Rational is believing in imaginary friends, and irrational is requesting some proof first.

  22. 22
    Ted

    Why would any atheist want to go to a church? They just don’t get it. It’s like a magician tells you the secret to a card trick where they palm a card and make it appear on top of the deck. You practice the trick, get good at it, then someone else wants you to sit down and convince you it was actually real magic. Hello..knock, knock anyone in there? We already know the secret….go away.

  23. 23
    datasolution

    I am very disappointed at PZ’s response here.

    This was a great opportunity to explain why they are unreasonable by default if they are christian, yet he offered nothing, not one iota for them to think about. Instead he just fell right into their perception of atheists and being pretty offensive in the process.

    A very lazy response unworthy of you Mr. Myers.

  24. 24
    peterh

    In order to justify their going where they’re not wanted, they invite you to go where you don’t want to be. Ay-yup!

    @#1: You get a free cracker (and quite small, too); in some protestant churches it’ll more likely be a ¼” cube of (Wonder™?) bread.

  25. 25
    dianepatyjewicz

    I left the Catholic Church last year. I still believe in God, but I read this blog everyday. It makes me think and question my beliefs.
    But I consider it rude and disrespectful to start pushing my beliefs on others.
    We have the right to believe what we want to and we have the right not to be proselytized by others.

  26. 26
    madbull

    datasolutions #23
    Do you think the only reason these guys are being unreasonable is because PZ hasn’t personally gone to their churches and spoken to them ?
    Do you think that will change anything ? There are plenty of sources to get an understanding about and science and reason. If these guys were reasonable they would have used them already.
    Their intention is not to have a reasonable dialogue only to
    1) proselytize while appearing warm and fluffy
    2) Act like they are not gatecrashing the reason rally and its all mutual discourse, which it is not.

  27. 27
    otrame

    datasolution, your deceased porcupine is still waiting for you to pick it up and insert it in the orifice of your choice. I should warn you, however, that it has not been refrigerated and it is getting a little….runny.

  28. 28
    qwerty

    Doubting Thomas @ 11: “Maybe they’ll let you give the sermon for the day. That could be interesting.”

    No, that would be miraculous!!!

  29. 29
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    A personal dialog one to one about God is rude and crude and disrespectful.

    Well, not necessarily. It all depends on context.

    It’s like speaking with a salesman. If I’m shopping for a computer and a salesman shows up to answer my questions, that’s not rude or disrespectful, that’s informative, and that’s what I wanted.

    However, if one knocks my door at suppertime and insists in trying to sell me something when I’m

    a) obviously not interested

    b) busy doing something else

    that is rude and disrespectful.

    The xians trying to proselytize a secular rally are an instance of the second case, IMHO, and that is why they’re rude and obnoxious.

    Nothing surprizing really since obnoxious and insistent sales techniques have been part and parcel of all kinds of cults for many years because they do work on some people. You have to be exceptionally rude or threatening to get rid of them quickly.

    I’ve seen them used by mormons on one of my hindu friends – he got those leeches after him for months because he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. It may be though that he had great fun because, as an hereditary hindu priest, he is thoroughly schooled in his religion and can spend hours discussing religious texts. I suspect the mormons gave up when they realized that it was my friend who was in the process of converting them.

  30. 30
    Anthony K

    This was a great opportunity to explain why they are unreasonable by default if they are christian, yet he offered nothing, not one iota for them to think about. Instead he just fell right into their perception of atheists and being pretty offensive in the process.

    On the other hand, contentless snipes are par for the course for you.

  31. 31
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    @ #6, davidct

    They don’t have crackers in most protestant churches. I may be wrong since I have not been in a long long time.

    The baptist churches I was dragged to all had either crackers (not the catholic wafers, just bits of regular cracker) or unleavened bread (I dunno what that actually is, tasted like pita). The alliance church just sent around chunks of plain ol’ white bread and everyone tore off a piece. That got a bit groddy by the time the plate got to the back, pawing fingers all over it and you still had to eat a piece, I made sure to always grab a fresh one. Grape juice for afters, wine was not allowed. I didn’t actually mind it that much. No incantations or changing it into actual body parts, just a small snack after a long sermon.

    The catholic version just seems extra creepy to me.

  32. 32
    LykeX

    Of course they want to attend the rally and of course they want us to attend their church. Both situations will afford an opportunity for them to preach to us. In neither case is it very likely that they’ll listen to a word we say.

    As for “rational dialogue”, I’ve noticed that for various faithheads, rational often means “whatever I agree with”. If it makes sense to them, then it’s logical. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t. So, when they talk of “rational dialogue”, what they mean is the kind of dialogue where you agree with them.

  33. 33
    coyotenose

    Well… he spelled your name right. That’s gotta count for like half a grade point, doesn’t it?

  34. 34
    carlie

    But there WERE free donuts afterwards.

    Were they baby flavored, or baby Jesus flavored? Big difference.

    All of the Baptist churches I’ve attended used square crackers bought from a supply house, like these, except for the one that was all pretentious and trying to push the judeo-christian connection by using broken-up bits of matzo instead.

  35. 35
    echidna

    It seems to me that the Christians going to the reason rally, and the subsequent invitation for atheists to go to their church, to make it seem all mutual, is a little disingenuous.

    There is no invitation for Christians to proselytise at the Reason rally, so an invitation to a church is not equivalent in any way.

    The purpose of going to the reason rally is so atheists can hear Christians speak. The reason for the invitation to church is so that atheists can hear Christians speak. As Doubting Thomas@11 noted, the real equivalent would be for a function to be arranged where atheists are invited to speak.

    Alternatively, it would always be nice if Christians attended the Reason Rally to listen with the same respect and submission as they would expect an atheist to display in church.

  36. 36
    Sastra

    I’d go. If it’s a ‘dialogue.’ It would be … interesting.

    I did something like that, once. Atheist Michael Newdow was having his first debate on the existence of God with a fundamentalist and it was only being televised in churches. They were ‘open’ to the public. I had nothing to do that night, so I went to the local Assembly of God, watched it, and then joined them all in the basement afterwards for group discussions and pizza. Why not?

    The group I was in were much more skeptical of the preacher than I expected, and thought Michael had made some good points. The leader was a young guy who seemed to go on his best behavior with an atheist in the mix. It was enjoyable. I liked them. But they were challenged far more than I was.

    Bottom line, I think that under these conditions there is really no place for the atheist to go but up. It’s their territory — but you’re the guest. Unless you suck at expressing yourself or go and do something butt stupid like punch someone, THEY are going to learn far more from you than you’re going to learn from them. They’re going to hear things they would never normally hear, and be forced to consider things they would normally never consider, in church, surrounded by the echo chamber. And they can’t just proselytize, because they’re committed to having a ‘dialogue.’ Even they know what that means.

    In their fantasy world, the fantasy atheist is surprised by the coherence and beauty of Christianity, and a “seed” is planted. But in the real world, atheists don’t play by the script. The “seed” is planted, all right — but it comes from the side which stands on the common ground of making sense and appealing to reasonable things. Internet debate forums are not going to give you the best preparation in the world, no — but the experience is more than adequate; it’s almost certainly more than they have.

    This isn’t “interfaith.” This is invasion by invitation. They should watch out. Some of us may take them up on it .. and be the catalyst that changes a mind. Little victories, small improvements, making a difference for this starfish, etc. etc..

    And it would be so much nicer than being welcomed by the UU, which usually goes by the implicit rule “nobody tell anyone their religious belief is wrong: share only.”

    Of course, they may try to institute that halfway. Too late.

  37. 37
    yoav

    Actually it sound like it could be fun, not enough fun to get me to drive 2.5 hours to this guy’s church, but if one of the local churches wants to try the cosmological arguments or the historical evidence for the crucifixion (the ideas suggested on their website) at me over a cup of coffee on a Sunday…

  38. 38
    datasolution

    Also this appears to goddists as if atheists are afraid to engage them for fear of successful persuasion. Responsible thing for atheists would be to invite them in and listen and then engage them in dialog. Make them a part of the rally to exemplify their idiocy and build on that with combination of ridicule, education and dialog since we all know there will be only idiocy coming out of their mouths.

    I thought this was the whole point. I can’t believe how clueless you are all acting.

  39. 39
    Christoph Burschka

    Well that’s not really a fair trade; one atheist coming to their church in return for a whole bunch of them sacrificing their free time to do hard proselytising work at an atheist rally.

    A much more even exchange would be a whole group visit in order to preach and try to convert their attendants. You could respond and see if they take you up on that offer.

  40. 40
    timberwoof

    Of course, once we’re in their church, we’d be expected to abide by their rules, one of which is to not question the logical inconsistencies in the story. If we took them up on their offer for “rational dialogue”, it would immediately go awry, for these words mean different things. To us, it means discussing my establishing a common basis for understanding and agreeing on basic facts, examining the evidence, and then coming to logical conclusions. To them, it means agreeing on the Bible as the source of basic facts, examining the evidence for its support of the Bible, and then coming to logical Bible-based conclusions. Of course, rejecting the Bible at the outset as a source of facts would be rude and irrational, so we lose.

    Perhaps at the Reason Rally it might be worthwhile to hold a couple of hour-long lectures introducing the philosophy of logic and science, aimed specifically at evangelicals so they can understand rationalists. This is how we think, and this is why we don’t start with the Bible as the source of facts…

  41. 41
    truthspeaker

    If they really were planning to engage in rational dialogue at Reason Rally, I think they would be welcomed. But that was not their stated intention.

  42. 42
    Jubal DiGriz

    http://www.truereason.org/atheist-day/

    So I took a look at their plan for “Atheists at Church Day”, and it’s not a drop-in affair. They’re planning for some event after church service. They’ll know who the atheists are, because at this point it seems an invitation-only affair. And while the churches are being asked to invite people from local secular groups (which rarely have anyone with particular training in philosophy or theology), the organizers suggest trucking in professional apologists.

    And this is all supposed to a happen in a moderated format, topics of discussion chosen by the church, with of course a Christian audience.

    So while they say they the point is “actually listening to what our non-believing visitors have to say,” this is set up to isolate the visiting atheists, control the discussion, and bombard them with apologetics.

    I think the worse part is they probably think this is a fair and generous format.

  43. 43
    Sastra

    An atheist activist had a formal program dedicated to setting up dialogues in churches between atheists and believers. It was named after 2 famous Victorian intellectuals (an atheist female and a Christian male) who had a long, cordial, interesting correspondence on religion. There was even a program to train the co-ordinators, so they would make sure they were fair and impartial. It started in California, and the participants were supposed to be very pleased with results: better understanding.

    And damned if I can remember the name. It was hyphenated. The founder was Chris something-or-other. Does anyone know what I mean? All I can think of is “Gossage-Vardebedeon” and that’s Woody Allen and nothing to do with it.

    I supposed it might be considered ‘accomodationist’ in a sense — but you weren’t told to kowtow to religion, soft-pedal your stance, or arrive at the conclusion that it’s all the same. I don’t think gnu atheism is about avoiding discussion. It’s about having a discussion. A real one. Not some phony ‘harmony.’

  44. 44
    echidna

    Also this appears to goddists as if atheists are afraid to engage them for fear of successful persuasion.

    Only because they are overlooking the fact that most atheists are ex-religious. We are not afraid of successful persuasion – we just don’t want to go back to that dreck.

  45. 45
    echidna

    Oh, I probably shouldn’t have said “most atheists”. I don’t really know that.

  46. 46
    Ichthyic

    TrueReason.org is proposing that churches across the country open their doors to atheists in a gesture in favor of opening up reasoned discourse.

    REASONED discourse?

    does not compute.

    well, unless they plan to actually TALK reason. But then, what would the point be of opening up a church to do that?

    a pub works better.

    I suspect them of being dishonest….

    :P

  47. 47
    Ichthyic

    Also this appears to goddists as if atheists are afraid to engage them for fear of successful persuasion.

    that’s simply because the goddists are brainwashed idiots.

  48. 48
    Anthony K

    Also this appears to goddists as if atheists are afraid to engage them for fear of successful persuasion.

    That’s always going to be the case, and it’s one of the reasons they love challenging atheists to debates, and why such debates are a losing bet for the rationalist side. See Gish Gallop.

    Responsible thing for atheists would be to invite them in and listen and then engage them in dialog. Make them a part of the rally to exemplify their idiocy and build on that with combination of ridicule, education and dialog since we all know there will be only idiocy coming out of their mouths.

    I thought this was the whole point.

    Looks like you thought wrong. I’d have them brought in and served for lunch, but a number of attendees feel the RR is their opportunity to get away from the oppression of American-style semi-theocracy.

    I can’t believe how clueless you are all acting.

    Your professed incredulity is neither an argument nor an idictment.

  49. 49
    Ichthyic

    I think the worse part is they probably think this is a fair and generous format.

    not probably.

    more’s the pity.

  50. 50
    Sastra

    I have been to many atheist, humanist, and skeptic conventions. When there are people who come to dissuade us from whatever the hell they think they should dissuade us on, there have always seemed to be plenty of people delighted to engage them, and plenty of people who want to watch. Biggest problem is taking turns.

    I think it comes down to a matter of taste, usually based on background, capability, experience interest, and ability to entertain bullshit without screaming. Plenty of people shudder and walk on, too.

    I remember one convention where some interloper putting forward the Shroud of Turin as proof of God met up with Taner Edis. I have never seen such a cordial and complete bloodbath.

  51. 51
    Rumtopf

    Datasolution, did you fail to read the first post about this?

    If these people bother you at the rally, I recommend one of two choices: either tell them sternly to leave you alone and walk away, or — and this is the fun part — calmly and politely take their rubbish arguments apart with much soft-spoken malice and cruelty.

    -pzm

  52. 52
    Ichthyic

    Your professed incredulity is neither an argument nor an idictment.

    sure it’s an argument.

    It’s the argument from ignorance.

  53. 53
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Can we tell them they are welcome to come if the bring the traditional offering for the BBQ? There will be a big baby roast right? I haven’t seen it advertised, but surely we aren’t having a big atheist rally without snacks.

  54. 54
    daniellavine

    I almost want to go just so I can say blasphemous things at them. Bet even on their best behavior they will be remarkably thin-skinned.

    @datasolutions:

    Also this appears to goddists as if atheists are afraid to engage them for fear of successful persuasion…

    Your interpretation says a lot more about your…let’s say “mental faculties” than it does about any attitude on the part of atheists in general.

  55. 55
    Sastra

    Brownian #48 wrote:

    That’s always going to be the case, and it’s one of the reasons they love challenging atheists to debates, and why such debates are a losing bet for the rationalist side.

    There’s often a huge difference, though, between the seasoned, professional Christian debater and the average believer, or the youth minister, or the pastor who is praised by the congregation for his killer apologetics which have never actually been used on a real atheist. I would guess that many of the Pharyngula regulars could and would at least hold their own against their believing equivalents.

    You, for example, would be lethal. I would not bet against the rationalist side.

  56. 56
    cag

    If the evil bastard wants to dialogue with rational people, do not send subordinates with their mixed messages.

    These statements seem to indicate that atheists do not want Christians showing up at the rally.

    What we do not want is religion showing up, christians are welcome as long as they remain rational. No superstitious nonsense, no reference to user manuals for stoning, no yarns about a vile, old, invisible monster who is pleased by the smell of burning flesh.

    OK, I recognize the oxymoron “rational christian”. So that won’t work for most. If we can sound a horn in your church every time a lie is spouted, we will attend. Not responsible for the deafness of parishioners.

    Send us your doubting, your questioning, your disgruntled, those yearning to use their minds. Let your rigid, deluded, hard core stay in church.

  57. 57
    humanape

    First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue.

    As if it’s possible to have a rational dialogue with idiots.

  58. 58
    Russell

    To amiably resolve this dispute, RatioChristaceans and Pastafarians should each provide a hundred or so virgins to be tossed into erupting volcanoes of their choice hourly , to see which subsides first.

  59. 59
    joed

    @16 Lynna, OM
    yes! exactly. they will say anything to make their nonsense seem true. There can be no debate or rational discussion because as,

    @9 “Tis, Himself, OM, says,
    “They’re Christians because of their faith and faith is anti-reason. So how can they expect to have a rational dialogue when they’re non-rational?”
    This really goes to the heart of the “debate” doesn’t it!

  60. 60
    Sastra

    Tis Himself #9 wrote:

    They’re Christians because of their faith and faith is anti-reason. So how can they expect to have a rational dialogue when they’re non-rational?

    This is not a reason to refuse to have a rational dialogue; this is the reason why they will lose.

    You see — they don’t know this. They think their faith is a “rational faith” — a small little negligible leap from off a strong mountain of evidence and argument. If you get them to agree to this at the start … they are abashed when they discover it’s not true. They honestly don’t know.

    You can’t persuade someone to change their mind by convincing them that they are going against your values. Why should they care? You can only get them to move by pointing out that they are going against their own values. They already do care.

  61. 61
    Jubal DiGriz

    Originally I was pretty confused why many people seem to feel pretty passionately about proselytizers showing at the Reason Rally (which I’m not going to btw).

    After reading PZ’s post and some of the comments here though, it hit me. This is essentially a civil right event. If when Dr. King delivered his “I have a dream” speech at the same location there were segregationists and white supremacists wandering around the crowd trying to tell black people why they’re uppity, that would not be appreciated.

    Like the segregationists thought they ought to object and counter the civil right movement because it was “their” culture people were trying to change, the Christians think that atheists need to be confronted whenever we pop up our heads because we’re trying to change “their” country.

    Both were right. You ought not need to be white to have a voice in American society, and you ought not need to believe in God to have a voice in American society. There is no “reasonable dialogue” people who disagree with this can engage in, and the religious folk who don’t think that’s the issue need to be woken up.

  62. 62
    Blondin

    So you’re welcome to come to their church and ask questions. I wonder if you’d be as welcome to hang around outside the church proselytizing and handing out atheist literature & Darwin fish for the kiddies.

  63. 63
    scorpy1

    From Jubal DiGriz’s link in #42,

    According to the Secular Student Alliance, National Ask an Atheist Day is April 19th, which will be a good time in future years….

    Not only are these guys obsessive about leaching off every notable atheist/secular event possible, but they miss the point of AAD where they’re expected to engage atheists with honest questions on their terms.

    Their version of discourse is consistently brow-beating, insincere and filled with fake humility…lacking genuine interest in the opposition.
    Kinda like how their Apostle Paul taught ‘em.

  64. 64
    hillaryrettig

    >Why would I want to attend their church service?

    It might be useful for the congregation to meet an out and proud atheist, and in particular it might be useful for members who are doubting.

    I’m not saying this is something any particular atheist needs to do, but it seems to me like it would be a useful activity for someone.

  65. 65
    harbo

    There are enough atheists already in church,
    otherwise known as priests.

  66. 66
    Louis

    This guy spelled PZ’s surname correctly!

    That’s it, I’m fucking converting.* THAT is proof of the existence of a deity right there.**

    Louis

    * I’m not.

    ** It isn’t.

  67. 67
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Datasolution, why should we listen to the advice of a misogynist rape apologist like yourself?

  68. 68
    Thursday's Child

    If I got invited to one of these “discussion” things, I would want to make sure I wasn’t going to be blind-sided as the sole atheist in a room of Christians anxious to convert me. If they want me there, it should be for their edification, not mine. I would set out the following guidelines for the evening.

    1) It should be an panel Q&A format including 3-5 atheists. A pastor or church representative can moderate the panel.

    2) The panel would be given a chance to meet before hand, and have at least a couple hours to get to know each other’s strengths, areas of weakness, and backgrounds before beginning.

    3) The format should not be a debate, but a civil time for the attendees to learn about the atheist position. Some back and forth should be allowed, as long as it doesn’t get too bogged down.

    4) There should be no child care/alternate activity for any child over the age of 3 provided on or off-site. Any and all children coming to the church should attend the discussion, encouraged to sit up front, and will be given priority to ask questions.

    The last one is the crux. If they do not believe children should be exposed to this discussion, then they don’t have much ‘faith’ in the strength of their arguments.

  69. 69
    Sastra

    scorpy1 #63 wrote:

    Their version of discourse is consistently brow-beating, insincere and filled with fake humility…lacking genuine interest in the opposition.

    Sometimes. Sometimes not. There’s variation in any group of people — especially people who (whether they know it or not) often join a church more for the community and fellowship than because they have a burning conviction for the truth of a doctrine they have meticulously examined and tested.

    All generalities are false — including this one, of course.

    I don’t have the kind of personal background experience a lot of you have, so I have to be cautious here. But I am skeptical in general principle that large groups can be so easily characterized. In my limited experience, the most dogmatic, closed-minded religious people are those who recoil in horror at the mere thought of having a ‘rational dialogue’ with the minions of Satan/ people with Negative Energy. No debate. Never any debate. Or even ‘discussion’ — unless it’s rigidly controlled. And even there, there would still likely be some stray soul in the church who will speak out of turn, and ask a real question.

  70. 70
    Nutmeg

    No incantations or changing it into actual body parts, just a small snack after a long sermon

    Hmm. Maybe church would be more popular if communion was actually a snack? If it’s all supposed to be symbolic, maybe the whole bread and wine thing isn’t necessary. Maybe just a grain product and a beverage would be sufficient.

    Now I’m envisioning a baking sign-up sheet in the back of every church. “This week, the body and blood of Christ will be cinnamon buns and hot chocolate, prepared by Mrs. Smith.”

    I don’t think I should go to Atheists in Church Day until I can keep thoughts like that to myself. Which means probably never. Oh well.

  71. 71
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    A very lazy response unworthy of you Mr. Myers.

    And why should we, and PZ, consider your inane response as anything other than trolling troll???

  72. 72
    Sastra

    Thursday’s Child #68 wrote:

    If I got invited to one of these “discussion” things, I would want to make sure I wasn’t going to be blind-sided as the sole atheist in a room of Christians anxious to convert me.

    See, that’s what I mean about variety in every group: that would be my preference.

    heh.

  73. 73
    desoto

    Nutmeg @70
    If it’s all supposed to be symbolic

    Not always . . .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation

  74. 74
    ChristineRose

    I feel bad for these people. They’re trying so hard to be nice but for some reason they seem incapable of realizing that we’ve already heard all their arguments and don’t find them convincing. Everyone is expected to fall in line as soon as they’re convinced that we’re all sinners. I suppose the alternative would be to admit that their arguments actually aren’t very good.

  75. 75
    scorpy1

    Hi Sastra,

    Perhaps I should explain the comment a little better.
    The “Their” I’m referring to was this specific group and even more specifically, the people trying to engage in “Atheists at Church Day”.

    I am not generalizing Christians and would discourage anyone else from thinking that just because this group is aggressive, it also means that engaging with religious people in any environment would be futile (as you say, there may be that one person that is reachable).

    That said, I think people should be (and probably are) aware that the mindset of this group is persistant and in Christianity, supported by their literature. This particular group is not interested in engaging in discourse the way you and I think of it; they are only interested in pushing their version of truth (as they’ve stated many a time).

    There may be one stray soulthat is reachable, as you put it, but this group is stacking the exchange to be in their favor and it would be very hard to get through that. They’re there to share with you themselves, you’re not there to share with them yourself. At least, that has been my experience with groups like this (and to be clear, I have met many who do engage on a genuine give-and-take exhange).

    I’m not saying to avoid discourse with people like these if one does not wish to, but I think we should steer efforts more to having them come to us with the questions, like with AAD.

    It’s rare that we have a reason to be the ones having the open house as it were, and not cede that to groups who always want to be the center of attention.

  76. 76
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Maybe the interfatheist accomodateists will go.

  77. 77
    sockeyesalman

    no. 70 and 73

    I understand conservative Lutherans believe in the “Real Presence” of four elements of Holy Communion (Eucharist):
    Body and Blood & Bread and Wine (sometimes grape juice although some say you don’t get “real” communion if you use grape juice).
    Bread doesn’t turn into Jesus body; Wine doesn’t turn into Jesus blood – The four elements are just there.

    I understand that Roman Catholic subscribe to the doctrine of “Transubstantiation” whereby when the priest blesses the bread (cracker) and wine miraculously are transformed into the the true body and blood and thus there are only two elements present after the Transubstantiation.

    I think I remembered that from Confirmation classes a bunch of years ago.

    Both version are rational and true, riiiight!
    I don’t known what all the other Xian denominations believe is true.

    Sockeyesalman ;-)>>>

  78. 78
    humanape

    A year ago I accepted an invitation to go to a Christian fundamentalist church. They were very nice insane people. The experience made me realize my goal to eradicate the Christian death cult is not going to be easy. I wrote about it here.

  79. 79
    Sastra

    scorpy 1 #75 wrote:

    The “Their” I’m referring to was this specific group and even more specifically, the people trying to engage in “Atheists at Church Day”.

    You could be right; I’m not familiar enough with this particular church. From what little I’ve seen, the most fervent (and dull) proselytizers avoid atheists and prefer to concentrate on people more likely to be receptive: other Christians and/or people in weakened emotional states.

    My comment at #72 was mostly an admission that I tend to get uncomfortable when I’m in a discussion and I’m not the only atheist. I usually know where I do and don’t want to go, steps I want to cover before slowly proceeding to next — and it seems that in a group there is almost invariably another atheist who will lead off into their comfort zone or walk right into one of their traps and I get quiet and secretly frustrated — or have to rush in with damage control. That’s probably a personal flaw on my part; I have to work in groups better. But I did at least say it was a preference — and not a requirement.

  80. 80
    qwerty

    They go on and on how the National Mall is a public area; so, they feel free to crash the event.

    If only they would take their ten commandmants, crosses and other symbols of their beliefs off public land; perhaps it would be an even swap.

  81. 81
    zb24601

    I think that people attending the Reason Rally should find out the name and location of the churches attended by anyone who tries to proselytize to attendees. The names and locations should then be compiled and posted so that atheists can go to those churches with the goal of converting the church attendees to atheism.

    After all, turn about is fair play.

  82. 82
    brettaapplebaum

    Don’t they understand that church is where I became an atheist in the first place?

    If I hadn’t gone to church I wouldn’t have found out that it is ridiculousness piled on top of fear-mongering on top of ideas harder to swallow than ejaculate of raw oyster.

    Christians and other religionists are the very reason I don’t believe in god.

    I retain my reservations about fairies, though. I would like to believe in them.

  83. 83
    defaithed

    PZ says: “they admitted in their original promise to “share Christ person to person”. ”

    That’s no promise, that’s a threat…

  84. 84
    DLC

    But-but, you haven’t heard OUR Arguments!
    Really!
    *babbles stuff from the book of John* see, it all makes sense! it’s all logical, isn’t it ?!

    And when you don’t immediately fall on your knees and start praising Jesus, and instead make an argument for why all that stuff is bollocks, do they give up ? Of course not. They immediately *bear down* and offer up more babble. The offer to pray with you. No, they insist. No really, it won’t hurt, just offer your soul up to . . . and if you haven’t sacrificed them all to Cthulhlu by now, it’s time to leave.

  85. 85
    spontorder

    I would accept the invitation of a church that clarified how equal time and ‘listening’ would be achieved. In my own case, when I was leaving Christianity, I recalled the unbelievers I had encountered as a child and as a teen mainly outside the Church but sometimes within a Church context. With our wider world experience, it’s hard for us to imagine how closed the circle of associates and friends some of these Christians move within. Even more so for some of their children. If that means a couple of hours of come poke the atheist at some narrow-is-the-way church, bring it on.

    That said I do consider it tacky to proselytize at someone else’s event, someone else’s celebration – no matter how gently done. It also isn’t the wisest PR move to describe yourself as bringing reason to someone else’s Reason Rally as if without your presence reason would be absent.

  86. 86
    'Tis Himself

    They’re probably going to say: “You need to hear this.” This claim is incorrect. We don’t need to hear it, they need to say it. Their desire to “reason” with us isn’t about us or our wants and desires, it’s all about them. They need to proselytize and they could actually care less if we want to be proselytized at.

  87. 87
    cicely

    They don’t have crackers in most protestant churches.

    In the Baptist church of my mis-spent youth, it was little oyster crackers. Not much meat upon ‘em.
    -

  88. 88
    Therrin

    harder to swallow than ejaculate of raw oyster.

    That is so not kosher.

  89. 89
    lancifer

    Are they going to come to the rally with bullhorns and bibles as they usually do at other public events?

    If so, I say fuck em.

    If they are coming to listen and learn and then engage in discussion, then I say welcome them. Why not. I would welcome the opportunity to engage them in a rational discussion. Seriously they would be bringing a stick to an ICBM fight.

    I’m betting it’s the bullhorns and bibles though.

  90. 90
    Erp

    Questions to ask.

    Is their music concert quality (sitting through a service at King’s College, Cambridge is probably worth it in order to hear the choir)?

    Are the after church eats good?

    Is the sermon short (or is the minister progressive politically with the speech making talent of Martin Luther King Jr.)? (other atheists may differ on the necessary political alignment)

    Are the congregants permitted to have diverse theological views and open to listening to different ideas?

  91. 91
    Ichthyic

    Their desire to “reason” with us isn’t about us or our wants and desires, it’s all about them.

    *ding*

    exactly.

  92. 92
    Ichthyic

    Sastra
    5 March 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Tis Himself #9 wrote:

    They’re Christians because of their faith and faith is anti-reason. So how can they expect to have a rational dialogue when they’re non-rational?

    This is not a reason to refuse to have a rational dialogue; this is the reason why they will lose.

    No, Sastra. Losing only works when there is reason on hand to begin with.

    You can’t reason someone out of a place they didn’t reason themselves into.

    so, no, “losing” isn’t the issue here, since nobody expects a reasoned argument from their “side” to begin with.

    It’s a fools errand.

  93. 93
    robro

    @ davidct — I believe the Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper” is a universal Christian rite that all denominations practice, although there are so many denominations that there might be some fringe cult that doesn’t do it. Of course, the practice varies considerably one to the other. For example, Catholics, Orthodox, and similar ritual oriented sects “celebrate the host” frequently as an integral part of any church gather. Plain churches (e.g. Southern Baptist, Methodist) do so more rarely, such as on special occasions (Easter, Christmas), and with less fanfare. Not only may the cracker not be a cracker, but in Southern Baptist and other temperance churches, the “wine” is just grape juice. All this is just another example of how plastic “Christianity” is. Because it isn’t really true, it can be construed to mean anything, and is.

  94. 94
    desoto

    @90
    Are the congregants permitted to have diverse theological views and open to listening to different ideas?

    Only if the “different ideas” are confined to debates on “how many angels fit on the head of a pin” and such.

  95. 95
    Mr. Fire

    I would welcome the opportunity to engage them in a rational discussion.

    Don’t you have some rational discussing of your own to do?

  96. 96
    grumpy1942

    There are enough atheists already in church,
    otherwise known as priests.

    Who are there not for the loaves and fishes, but for the chicken.

  97. 97
    footface

    “atheists and other secularists.”

    What is it they think “secularists” means, again?

  98. 98
    Shiroferetto

    A complete dumbfuck (professing to be an atheist) at a local freethinker group invited everyone to a church service in which there would be a speaker. This speaker is a scientist who was an atheist and converted to New Earth Creationism and all the god-lovin’ he can stand.

    Why the FUCK would a supposed atheist invite other atheists to this event? It’s as was said earlier in this thread… They don’t want you there so you can debate them or call into question their beliefs. They want you there so you can hear the “message of the gospels.”

    I’m encouraging others not to go to this nauseating event. It won’t accomplish anything for the local atheists.

  99. 99
    ikesolem

    One possible approach is to offer to go if they agree to book a good musical act, like James Brown in Blues Brothers.

  100. 100
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Sastra:

    “You see — they don’t know this. They think their faith is a “rational faith” — a small little negligible leap from off a strong mountain of evidence and argument. If you get them to agree to this at the start … they are abashed when they discover it’s not true. They honestly don’t know.”

    One of the problems with debating even the average theist lies in their misunderstanding of common words. To them it’s not only acceptable, but perfectly reasonable to believe in invisible, inaudible, undetectable entities, forces and powers (is there an anagram for that yet?IIUE’s?). To even get to the heart of the debate, non believers would have to spend time with theists and a really big dictionary. Just trying to get them to understand the words ‘reason, faith, belief, rational, logic, et al’ would take quite some time.

  101. 101
    pliny

    Stopped reading at comic sans. Seriously, who sends email in that font and expects anyone to read it?

  102. 102
    bcskeptic

    The first thing I do when I’m confronted with theists wanting to have a discusion or “debate” (and it doesn’t happen very often…but it does happen, usually out of the blue) is to establish that the discussion has to be rational.

    That means that any assertion made by either side must be backed up by evidence, and that evidence must be objective and independently verifiable in nature, and by that I mean published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    If the theist doesn’t agree to it, then I simply state that I don’t want to engage in a debate with someone who, by their own admission, is not rational. If they do agree, and they make an assertion without evidence, I end it right there and walk away.

    Usually these are very short debates!

    @datasolution: Fuck you. PZ responds as he does because he’s given up on having dialogue/debate with the theists as they are always a bunch of disingenuous lying fucking wankers. His time can better be spent farting.

  103. 103
    pliny

    Oh, you just make all your quotes in comic sans? Please stop doing that.

  104. 104
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Ms. Daisy @67:
    I imagine many people ignore datasolution. When I saw hir initial response in this thread, I thought about responding for about 2 seconds. It took that long to remember some of hir other comments that display character traits (such as rape apology) that I find offensive.


    Thursday’s Child @68

    4) There should be no child care/alternate activity for any child over the age of 3 provided on or off-site. Any and all children coming to the church should attend the discussion, encouraged to sit up front, and will be given priority to ask questions.

    The last one is the crux. If they do not believe children should be exposed to this discussion, then they don’t have much ‘faith’ in the strength of their arguments.

    Preach on! Err, hold on.
    I’m with you completely on that. I can imagine that many parents would not want their children anywhere near a debate involving atheists. They wouldn’t even understand the irony of accusing non believers of attempting to indoctrinate their children.


    Nutmeg @70:

    “This week, the body and blood of Christ will be cinnamon buns and hot chocolate, prepared by Mrs. Smith.”

    I wonder if we can have Pareidolia, Inc. add some Virgin Mary images to the buns…

    brettapplebaum #82

    …harder to swallow than ejaculate of raw oyster.

    Do I even want to know how awful that is?

  105. 105
    No One

    I’d like to go, discuss birth control and hand out condoms.

  106. 106
    jfigdor

    god knows I’ve been pegged as a faitheist here, but I’m with PZ on this one. Yes there are clear distinctions between a rally and a church service. However both are ostensibly open to the public. So if tons of Christians show up at the Reason Rally, I say we head into the pews with some pointed questions for the good old Rev. and any parishioners who want to have a reasonable conversation.

  107. 107
    Cipher

    god knows I’ve been pegged as a faitheist here

    I think narcissistic self-important asshole was more the consensus.
    Not to nitpick.

    My favorite thing about this is how they seem to think atheists want to go into their churches to learn more about religion, even though they’re coming to Reason Rally to proselytize. Be more naive, y’all. What you’re actually going to get from this kind of invitation is a bunch of angry atheists who are in the mood to challenge you. And you’re not going to have a polite, civil discussion. Promise.

  108. 108
    freebird

    Heh. I’m done arguing with that Davis dude on their website. He thinks eternal punishment is morally fair. What a douche.

  109. 109
    spontorder

    #108 Freebird, I was following your/Davis’s posts too. Very unbelievable isn’t it.

  110. 110
    rapiddominance

    How many times have we heard this truism:

    >Christians and other religionists are the very reason I don’t believe in god.<

    I forgot what line its on, but its par for the course and not worth scrolling up for.

    All I'm really doing right now is practicing using tags.

    Be for-warned: If my pseudoname shows up again on this thread its probably not worth reading.

  111. 111
    rapiddominance

    Lets see what happens when I switch them:

    Did it work?

  112. 112
    rapiddominance

    Where the hell did my quote go?

    Lets try again . . .

  113. 113
    rapiddominance

    It seems unlikely this will work, but here goes:

    Submit again.

  114. 114
    rapiddominance

    My quote is gone again, but the last sentenced was blocked.

    I think that’s good news.

  115. 115
    rapiddominance

    I bet this gets it:

    All I’m really doing right now is practicing using tags.

    Launch.

  116. 116
    rapiddominance

    Launch shouldn’t be blocked.

    How about it?

  117. 117
    rapiddominance

    Last time for tonight.

    All I’m really doing right now is practicing using tags.

    My concerns are growing.

  118. 118
    rapiddominance

    OK, so I’m a little obsessed. AGAIN!

    All I’m really doing right now is practicing using tags.

    So the question is, apparently, how do I turn off the blockquote?

  119. 119
    Cipher

    You know there’s a Preview button, right?

  120. 120
    rapiddominance

    Once I learn how to turn off the blockquote effectively I might begin to explore the staircase effect. Ideas for exploitation are already coming to mind. But MY main problem is that I can’t turn the fucking blockquote off.

    Jesus wept.<

    I can at least save some time while failing.

  121. 121
    rapiddominance

    I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to work, either.

    Maybe somebody’s tried to help me. I’ll check.

  122. 122
    Jadehawk

    oh ffs

    <blockquote> blah blah </blockquote>
    makes

    blah blah

    now stop spamming.

  123. 123
    rapiddominance

    Cassandra!

    You know there’s a Preview button, right.

    I notice that, thanks! Now that I’m no longer wasting thread space I find that I’m in my own little private hell.

    What do I do?

  124. 124
    rapiddominance

    “Thank you” to both of you.

    I’ll quit now.

  125. 125
    LykeX

    To even get to the heart of the debate, non believers would have to spend time with theists and a really big dictionary

    Indeed. On their Atheists at Church site, they have several suggested topics. I’d prefer that all such events start with a lengthy discussion on the subjects of logic and epistemology. Without a firm grounding there, any attempt at rational discourse is futile.

    I had this experience a while back, when talking to some Mormon missionaries. The more we, talked the more it became clear that I had to first teach them a whole lot about very basic things, such as the meaning of the word “evidence” and why “I feel it” is not a valid basis for asserting absolute certainty about the nature of reality.

  126. 126
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    rapiddominance:

    Thanks to John Morales, I got the hang of blockquoting. I’m still learning the other tags. As Cassandra mentioned, the ‘preview’ button is a handy way to check out how to use the tags. The last few hours, I’ve been experimenting with them. You turn the blockquote off at the end of whatever you’re quoting by placing the slash character ” / ” in front of the ‘b’ in blockquote. For instance, to quote your post at 121 as I do here:

    I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to work, either.

    Maybe somebody’s tried to help me. I’ll check.

    I copied the text and then pasted it in the comment box. Preceding the ‘I’ in your comment, I started the blockquote process by typing in the character for ‘less than’, followed by the word ‘blockquote’, and ending with the character for ‘greater than’. Following the period at the end of your second sentence, I typed in the ‘less than’ character again, but this time, I follow with the slash character ” / “, then the word ‘blockquote’ and finishing with the ‘greater than’ key. I think it’s the absence of the slash character that’s keeping your from blockquoting correctly.

    I’ve yet to find a site that gives examples of how to use the various tags out there (I haven’t done a comprehensive search mind you. However, in the last hour that I’ve taken to try and explain just this blockquoting, I searched around online to _almost_ no avail).

    I hope that helps.

  127. 127
    Louis

    I want to meet these people and have a reasoned discussion. I suggest we do it in a bar, that way I can have a drink. Then, when I begin to talk to people who aren’t there and babbling incoherently, at least I have an excuse and can say “Hey! You started it!”.

    Why do I have this terrible suspicion that my version of “talking to invisible entities” is somehow less socially acceptable to these folks than their own?

    Louis

  128. 128
    Owlmirror

    I’ve yet to find a site that gives examples of how to use the various tags out there

    http://www.w3schools.com/tags/

    There’s a “Try it yourself” button on each page that demos the tag.

    Not all tags that are there can be used here, of course. See “Allowed tags”, just above the comment box.

  129. 129
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Owlmirror:
    Not all tags that are there can be used here, of course. See “Allowed tags”, just above the comment box.

    Thank you my friend. What’s really funny is that I had *just* found that site about 10 minutes ago. Apologies to anyone for derailing the thread (I imagine there’s some way to tie HTML tags into theists attending the Reason Rally; can’t come up with one though).

  130. 130
    nmcc

    “They don’t have crackers in most protestant churches. I may be wrong since I have not been in a long long time.”

    They don’t need them. Most of the people there are fucking crackers to begin with.

  131. 131
    raymoscow

    Of course at church one does not get to ‘ask questions’, except occasionally in a bible class within very limited parameters. You’re expected to sit there and listen.

  132. 132
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Be sure to finish off with Mark 16:18, so you can have them prove their bona fides. You want to make sure you’re dealing with real Christians, not some fake, after all.

    You mean Steve Irwin was Jesus?

  133. 133
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    They don’t need them. Most of the people there are fucking crackers to begin with.

    And they said PZ was irreverent when he put Vegemite on a cracker!

  134. 134
    anubisprime

    OP

    I warmly welcome you there in the hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your disagreements with Christianity, so that we could have a reasoned dialogue. This is a standing invitation.

    The whole point of church is not to ask questions just do and say what the woomeister general bids you do!

    Point of order…’rational dialogue’…xians don’t do it!

    Any debate actually initiated would not take part in front of a sheepled congregation…a congregation that did not do logic to get enmeshed in gobblygook in the first place and any argument that reveals evidence and logic in clear terms might even end up therefore swaying the audience by an atheist with a silver tongue, and they are not after that scenario…no sir not by the whisker hairs on beezlebub’s chinny chin chin!

    And most church woomeisters do not do debate with atheists anyway!
    We all know why…they cannot…therefore do not!

    So certainly a disingenuous invitation at best and a damned con at worst…”we had an upsurge of atheists amongst our number on Sunday…truly god is great”

    It is a simple device to claim that their story is so unassailable and even atheists accept it enough to attend church.

    Divide and rule…xian tactic 101….anyone fooled by the fishing lure of debate is more naive then unbiased…or indeed a possessor of any integrity

    Religion and particularly the xian one has shown its true colours for far to long for anyone with a smidgen of analytical sense to be fooled by weasel words and wide shiny eyed, seemingly innocent, appeals to rationality simply because rationality is ultimate anathema of what xianity actually is, and it is the last thing they appeal to, and the first thing they disparage.

    It is a game of moves and subterfuge, a game of shadows and misdirection, but above all a game of conquest for jeebus..by any means!

    I think that atheism as a movement and a view is really starting to get them worried, disrupt, smoke and mirror the enemy, delay and harangue them…and as such are the only tools left in their bagatelle of tricks and ruses …you can almost taste the stifled hysteria!

    They have never seriously tried this before…they are aiming for headlines that proclaim that ‘atheists are so afraid of debate they refuse to attend a church open to discussion’,or they want headlines that proclaim ‘so persuasive are the arguments that atheists attend church to get to know god’…tis a win win gambit…the only way for atheism to win the game is not to play it…simples!

  135. 135
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    Of course at church one does not get to ‘ask questions’, except occasionally in a bible class within very limited parameters. You’re expected to sit there and listen.

    I imagine that sticking your hand up and saying “Genesis: really?” about 3 times a minute would get old after a while too.

  136. 136
    Louis

    Many moons ago I was challenged by a friend of mine to go to a local evangelical church meeting (not service, but a discussion meeting about science and faith….eurgh). The conditions of the challenge had one restriction: for every time I used the word “but” I would have to buy my friend a pint of beer.

    “Easy” you think, we have “however”, “and so”, “alternatively” and a wide variety of substitutes. My friend is smarter than that. He knew full well that at some point someone would utter something blisteringly stupid and I would be reduced to spluttering “but but but but but but….GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”, at which point he would have a few free nights out stored up nicely.

    I wisely refused the challenge.

    Louis

  137. 137
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @pliny:

    PZ puts quotes in Comic Sans that are stupid (hence the Gumby avatar in the corner as well.)

  138. 138
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Someone has probably already pointed this out, but the thing that irks me most about the churchie invitations is that many of us have ALREADY BEEN THERE!!! Why do they think we despise it so much?

    This simple bit of lacking knowledge is just a double insult. We already know the bible verses and the apologist arguments and found them ranging from the ridiculous to the horrific to the specious to the ‘I’m going to explode in giggling fits if I have to hear another one!’. The fact they don’t know that we know just shows their general lack of investigation, even if only to satisfy their own curiosity. It’s not universal, but intellectual curiosity is definitely lacking in a lot of ‘the faithful’, especially the fundagelicals/creationists.

    If they were genuine in their invitation’s motive, if even just for the sake of a nice coffee table chat, they would have already read up a bit on some of the points the atheist community is trying to make. The fact that these points hardly come up in discussion just shows the disingenuous nature of the invite and the pointlessness of responding to it.

  139. 139
    David Marjanović

    Now I’m envisioning a baking sign-up sheet in the back of every church. “This week, the body and blood of Christ will be cinnamon buns and hot chocolate, prepared by Mrs. Smith.”

    That’s it. *falls to knees* *folds hands*

    You can’t reason someone out of a place they didn’t reason themselves into.

    You can, however, reason someone out of a place they believe they reasoned themselves into.

    Besides, come on, didn’t you reason your way out of the religion you were brought up in? I did.

  140. 140
    tomr

    I have sent the following to Ratio Christi:

    I have read Blake Anderson’s letter to PZ Myers here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/03/05/i-get-email-12/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+freethoughtblogs%2Fpharyngula+%28FTB%3A+Pharyngula%29

    Since I live in South Charlotte, I would be glad to meet with the Matthews church members for an informal “Ask a Skeptic” session.

    Tom Rafferty
    ratioprimoris.blogspot.com

  141. 141
    julietdefarge

    I hope believers do show up at the Reason Rally. They’ll just be counted as part of the crowd.
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/the-curious-science-of-counting-a-crowd

    Catholic communion wafers are just dried sheets of flour paste. They won’t crack unless there’s zero humidity. You’re supposed to let them dissolve in your mouth, because it would be icky to chew God’s flesh. It you suck on it vigorously it will fall apart sooner, or you can use your tongue to paste it to the roof of your mouth, which will make it possible for you to speak. I don’t know if the church is working on a gluten-free alternative, but they should. To experience this treat for yourself, get some German Lebkuchen cookies, which are baked on large oblaten, or get the oblaten at a specialty store.

  142. 142
    velkyn

    “I share your value for treating others with respect. I believe there are two key distinctions between the Reason Rally and a church service, however. First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue. Second, a public gathering on the National Mall is very different from holding a private worship service indoors.”

    Nice way for Blake to say “you can’t stop us but we can stop you”. And from his website, and the comments of his minions, he has no idea what reason actually is. Considering that he is looking to waste $5000 on printing a “booklet” filled with the same old tired excuses for his religion, and doesn’t realize we’ve all seen them in this “internet” age, he hasn’t thought much at all, much less used reason.

    What would Blake do if an atheists did show up to his church *uninvited* and declared that s/he would demand to engage the church members in “rational dialogue”? It seems from his post, he’d do his best to kick them out of his “private worship service”.

  143. 143
    Fabricio Ferreira

    Offer a free Xbox 360, and I would go. I mean, I want to play Tales of Vesperia, Guardian Heroes and Ikaruga, but I don’t want to pay for a console just for three games; for a free one, I would put up with one or two hours of bullshit.

  144. 144
    megs226

    The Catholic church didn’t want me there even when I was Catholic. I was in confirmation class after 9/11 and every Sunday evening was spent grilling the teachers about why god would let that happen. My parents were disgusted with the church at that point (my dad went to Catholic high school in Boston and many of his high school teachers were child abusers) and let me choose my own path and gave me the option of dropping out. One of the greatest things they ever did for me. I nearly got sucked in again two years ago but narrowly escaped.

    If someone invited me back sure I’d go, sing a few songs, get some cookies and coffee afterwards, but the priests wouldn’t want me there. 10 years later they still know me as the girl that dropped out of Sunday school.

  145. 145
    rr

    I imagine that sticking your hand up and saying “Genesis: really?” about 3 times a minute would get old after a while too.

    The last time I was in a church was for a funeral, so I kept quiet, but I really wanted to raise my hand and ask the Methodist minister, who was droning on and on about Paul, (why is it they always drone on and on about Paul,) why she could safely ignore Paul’s words about women keeping silent in church. At a regular church service I’m not sure I could restrain myself.

  146. 146
    David Marjanović

    You’re supposed to let them dissolve in your mouth, because it would be icky to chew God’s flesh.

    No longer. The 2nd Vatican Council abolished that.

    In fact, it abolished so much nonsense it’s really surprising how much is left!

  147. 147
    Kevin

    I wouldn’t mind going to an event as long as a few conditions were met.

    1. It’s not a church service, nor part of the church service. Honestly, every church service I’ve attended in the past 45 years or so has caused me intense discomfort. One of these days, I’ll get around to writing about the last Ash Wednesday service I attended and how repugnant I thought the whole thing was. No service. In fact, no praying out loud. Period. Praying seriously creeps me out.

    2. I get to create a PowerPoint presentation and go first. That presentation would consist of the definition of what an atheist is (ie, someone who does not believe in gods), followed by a quick refutation of the most-common arguments for gods (cosmological, ontological, design, moral, personal experience, historical [eg, empty tomb]). This has the salutary effect of making whoever goes next perfectly impotent. I would then present my Five Goalposts for discerning whether (any) god exists.

    If it’s a Christian church, I would also present my arguments on why I think the character named “Jesus” in their book of myths was probably a fictional creation on the order of Hercules.

    I could probably get the whole thing down to a solid 30 minutes; but I’d have to rehearse a lot, and naturally there would be some skimming.

    Somewhere in there, I’d probably need to define what “evidence” means, so that might take a little detour. For the uninitiated: evidence is that which is reliably observable by a disinterested or antagonistic third party which points irrefutably only in the direction of the intended hypothesis. For example, the presence of the universe is not evidence of a creator because eminent physicists now say that the god hypothesis is not necessary to explain the inception of the universe. If you can’t rule out the null hypothesis with your observation, it’s not evidence.

    3. I get to use an air horn every time the person who goes next uses an already refuted argument or abuses scientific evidence in support of their god hypothesis.

  148. 148
    supermanlives

    I’d go for the donuts.

  149. 149
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    So if tons of Christians show up at the Reason Rally, I say we head into the pews with some pointed questions for the good old Rev. and any parishioners who want to have a reasonable conversation.

    I am fucking sick of hearing this response. The goddists are being disrespectful asses when they intrude on our rally. Responding to their being asses by being an ass yourself doesn’t accomplish anything. I get pissed off when Fred Phelps protests funerals. It is a fucking douchebag move. You know what my response isn’t? Going and picketing xian funerals.

    I’m all for being confrontational and rude to theists when they project their delusions into a public space. However, I wouldn’t go into their churches to piss on their delusions. jfigdor apparently would.

    god knows I’ve been pegged as a faitheist here

    I think Cassandra’s response sums up my sentiments,

    I think narcissistic self-important asshole was more the consensus.

  150. 150
    jfigdor

    @Woo Monster:

    Don’t be ridiculous. Christians want Atheists in the pews. How else would they convert us? Secondly, we can go into pews without being “disrespectful asses” (ok, so maybe I have some doubts if YOU can avoid being a “disrespectful ass”) by saving our questions for the coffee hour or by talking to the Rev. after the service is over.

    FWIW, I think engagement with religious folks is almost always a good thing as I think that we atheists generally tend to come out better in interfaith discussions.

  151. 151
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    Woo_Monster:

    The suggestion is to go to the specific churches whose leaders want to proselytize at the Reason Rally, not just any random church.

    The analogy would be specifically picketing Phelps’s funeral, or that of one of his funeral-picketing followers. Not picketing the funerals of unconnected people who are also called “Baptist” or go to something called a church. Ignoring the Phelps clan entirely is probably a better tactic, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for picketing Phelps’s funeral.

  152. 152
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Don’t be ridiculous. Christians want Atheists in the pews. How else would they convert us?

    False equivalency. The christians coming to the reason rally are not there just to “sit in the pews” and observe. They want to engage/proselytize. You implied that we should return the favor to the christians. I think that is stupid for the reasons I already explained. The way you phrased it was “if xians do X, we should do Y”. Now you say that the “Y” you are suggesting (invading the pews), is actually something that the xians want. Congratulations, you respond to rude, unwanted proselytization by recommending something that the proselytizers want.

    Secondly, we can go into pews without being “disrespectful asses” (ok, so maybe I have some doubts if YOU can avoid being a “disrespectful ass”) by saving our questions for the coffee hour or by talking to the Rev. after the service is over.

    I made that statement based off the connotations that a plain-reading of your comments implies. When you want to respond to unwanted proselytization by going to the churches, I assumed you implied that you wanted to return the favor. This is stupid. Now you say all you want is to politely sit in on a sermon, and then ask a few questions to the rev after service. And you say xians would appreciate this. So, I ask, how is this in any way a response to the issue of xians being asses and coming to proselytize at the Reason Rally?

    FWIW, I think engagement with religious folks is almost always a good thing as I think that we atheists generally tend to come out better in interfaith discussions.

    First, there is no such thing as an “interfaith” dialogue between an atheist and any theist. Atheism involves no beliefs that are held on faith. Fucking understand this.
    Second, mythologies diserve mockery (not all people who believe them, but the ideas themselves). I strongly disagree with the idea that attempting to have a “interfaith dialogue” is “almost always a good idea”. Productive dialogues involve contributions from two sides to an issue. There is no contribution to be made from those espousing supernaturalism. It grants these shitty-beliefs too much credence to have a respectful “interfaith dialogue”. Their beliefs are laughable and shouldn’t be respected as much as implied by having “interfaith dialogues”.

  153. 153
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    The suggestion is to go to the specific churches whose leaders want to proselytize at the Reason Rally, not just any random church.

    Quote where the commenter specified that only those “specific” churches should be invaded.

    Even if that were the point that was being made, it is still stupid. Don’t respond to childish and rude behavior by mimicking it.

  154. 154
    jfigdor

    @Woo Monster:

    What part of this don’t you get? If Christians come to the Reason Rally trying to convert Atheists, then I see nothing wrong with Atheists going into churches (specifically those churches which are sending proselytizers, duh), listening and not being disruptive, then asking hard-hitting questions publicly to the rev./minister/priest after the service is over or during the coffee hour.

    Christians have a right to attend our public rally. Atheists have a right to attend Christian services that are open to the public. I would prefer that Christians save the proselytizing for another day. But if Christians come to the Reason Rally, I see no reason why we shouldn’t visit their churches.

    Note: even if religious folks are rude on the Mall, I think that atheists should maintain the moral high ground and be respectful, but also be incisive and brutally honest with our Christian interlocutors.

  155. 155
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Your first comment was this,

    So if tons of Christians show up at the Reason Rally, I say we head into the pews with some pointed questions for the good old Rev. and any parishioners who want to have a reasonable conversation.

    which sounded like you wanted to obnoxiously proselytize xians in church (one of the few places where they are not imposing on the secular world). The conditional you set up by starting your claim with, “if Christians…”, implies that heading “into the pews” was a response to their behavior.

    Then, in your respond to my point, which was that you are being obnoxious if you do that, by saying this,

    Don’t be ridiculous. Christians want Atheists in the pews. How else would they convert us? Secondly, we can go into pews without being “disrespectful asses” (ok, so maybe I have some doubts if YOU can avoid being a “disrespectful ass”) by saving our questions for the coffee hour or by talking to the Rev. after the service is over.

    So “if Christians show up at the Reason Rally”, you want us to go have a chat with some reverends over coffee after a service? And you concede that this is something that Christians would want. Way to stand up against the xian’s bullishness, storm the churches to have pleasant conversations over coffee. Give them some more opportunity to mindlessly proselytize at you. That will teach them for engaging in unwanted proselytization!

  156. 156
    jfigdor

    @Woo Monster:

    So this wasn’t clear enough for you: “…Rev. and any parishioners who want to have a reasonable conversation?”

    How is calling the Reverend out on his nonsense publicly during the coffee hour a waste of time? I think that if I’d ever seen someone question the minister publicly in Church that would have been helpful in accelerating my own path towards atheism.

    If your atheism is so weak that it would be threatened by some polite Christian’s question during coffee hour, I think you’ve got more thinking to do. I would encourage those of us who not only are atheists, but are confident in our ability to defend those beliefs publicly, to engage with religious folks whenever possible. You never know when those seeds of doubt you plan will germinate.

  157. 157
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Christians have a right to attend our public rally. Atheists have a right to attend Christian services that are open to the public

    The right to attend and proselytize are not at issue.

    What part of this don’t you get? If Christians come to the Reason Rally trying to convert Atheists, then I see nothing wrong with Atheists going into churches (specifically those churches which are sending proselytizers, duh), listening and not being disruptive, then asking hard-hitting questions publicly to the rev./minister/priest after the service is over or during the coffee hour.

    What part don’t you get, shit-for-brains? No matter how much high-ground you claim by being respectful, non-disruptive, and polite, the substance of your actions are obnoxious. You have no problem saying that, “I would prefer that Christians save the proselytizing for another day”. So you seem to see that no matter how polite the Christian Reason Rally-crashers are, their proselytization is still annoying and shitty. Their nice approach does’t make the substance of their actions, going to a place where proselytization is unwanted and proselytizing, any better.

    Just like with your stupid suggestion. Be nice, polite, and respectful all you want while you go to these churches to proselytize with your “hard-hitting questions”, you are still being obnoxious.

    I’ll try to make my point one last time for you.

    I would prefer that Christians save the proselytizing for another day. But if Christians come to the Reason Rally, I see no reason why we shouldn’t visit their churches.

    Those reasons you have for preferring they don’t come to your event to ask their “hard-hitting questions”, those are the same reasons that you have for them not wanting you to come to their event to ask your “hard-hitting questions”. It is really fucking simple. It is wrong for them to do it, it is wrong for you to do.

    We all have the right to do these things. But if you do them, you are an ass (even if they were the ass first).

  158. 158
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I would encourage those of us who not only are atheists, but are confident in our ability to defend those beliefs publicly, to engage with religious folks whenever possible.

    Hear that folks? jfigdor doesn’t understand that there is a time and a place for engaging superstitions. I have some religious friends and family. The thought of you trying to engage them if they are terminally hospitalized is fucking disgusting. Much less disgusting, but still disgusting, is your recommendation that we go into churches to proselytize.

    How is calling the Reverend out on his nonsense publicly during the coffee hour a waste of time? I think that if I’d ever seen someone question the minister publicly in Church that would have been helpful in accelerating my own path towards atheism.

    I never said it could never be successful in “accelerating peoples path towards atheism”. It may be. But it is fucking obnoxious to go to church to proselytize. Just as it is for theists to come to the reason rally to do the same.

    Why is it obnoxious for them to come to the Reason Rally, but not for you to go to their church (lets assume everyone in question is being nice and polite when they are proselytizing)? Why?

    If your atheism is so weak that it would be threatened by some polite Christian’s question during coffee hour, I think you’ve got more thinking to do.

    Fuck off. You are promoting the idea that we should go into churches and proselytize. I think that is dumb, you conclude my convictions are weak? Fuck you.

  159. 159
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Atheists should only occupy pews after the churches show conclusive physcial evidence for their imaginarty diety. Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers, as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Something equivalent to the eternally burning bush. Otherwise, leave them to their delusions, and laugh at their lack of solid evidence.

  160. 160
    jfigdor

    @Woo Monster:

    Your inability to engage in a polite discussion with a fellow atheist shows that you’re not really mature enough to engage with religious people. But I’ll continue the discussion anyway. Have you never encountered religious people coming to your local atheist/freethinker meetings? Do you think those religious people who show up and ask questions are assholes?

    If so, you’re pretty small-minded. I don’t mind those people at all. I think they often ask some intelligent questions. Personally, as long as they’re not disruptive, I appreciate their attendance. It shows that they’re trying to reach out to atheists to engage in a dialogue.

    As far as the Christian “Reason Rally Crashers,” to use your words, if they’re rude and disruptive, they should be ignored. The Reason Rally is about atheist/humanist/agnostic/freethinker unity/mutual-support/celebration, not about wasting our time shouting at fundies. If the Christians who show up are respectful, then I think it is worthwhile to spend some time educating them. And I don’t think that it is reasonable to infer an invitation to show up uninvited to their programs (which we would be welcome to attend anyway, in most, if not all cases), if they show up uninvited to our rally.

    As for the whole Atheists attending church thing, Hemant Mehta wrote a book called, “I sold my soul on ebay” about his experience attending church and critiquing pastors. I commend it to you.

  161. 161
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Otherwise, leave them to their delusions, and laugh at their lack of solid evidence.

    But then we would miss out on all of those fruitful interfaith dialogues!

  162. 162
    jfigdor

    @Woo Monster:

    Where did I say go engage religious people on their deathbeds? That is mean and stupid. You assert with no evidence that I say ridiculous things. I’m done with this discussion. Don’t bother writing to me anymore. I won’t respond.

  163. 163
    jfigdor

    Proselytizing and having reasonable conversations are two different things. Let’s not convict Christians of “proselytizing” until they show up and start mindlessly quoting the Bible. If that happens, ignore them and their public Bronze-Age-Poetry-Slam and let’s have a great time at our Rally!

  164. 164
    Anthony K

    Something equivalent to the eternally burning bush.

    Leave my herpes out of this.

  165. 165
    jfigdor

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls:

    Is it really safe to ignore all religious people and leave them on their own? Personally, I’m glad we have folks keeping an eye on the more scary goings-on in conservative Christianity (like Jeff Sharlet’s expose on “the Family”). I think we need to be aware of the increasing Christian nationalism in this country.

  166. 166
    Ing

    FFS you should NOT ignore someone being rude or preaching. They’re not your child you don’t control their environemt you can’t send them to their room. They get reinforcement for bad behavior already…all silence does is give implicent consent

  167. 167
    jfigdor

    @Ing: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream So I Comment Instead

    So what is your solution? How should atheists respond if Christians show up, some to have hear us out and try to understand the atheist view, others to proselytize?

  168. 168
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Where did I say go engage religious people on their deathbeds?

    I would encourage those of us who not only are atheists, but are confident in our ability to defend those beliefs publicly, to engage with religious folks whenever possible.

    jfigdor 6 March 2012 at 1:06 pm,
    I’m done with this discussion.

    jfigdor 6 March 2012 at 1:08 pm

  169. 169
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Proselytizing and having reasonable conversations are two different things.

    My god, you argue dishonestly.

    Remember when you said,

    How is calling the Reverend out on his nonsense publicly during the coffee hour a waste of time? I think that if I’d ever seen someone question the minister publicly in Church that would have been helpful in accelerating my own path towards atheism.

    Calling out the reverend’s nonsense is not a “waste of time”, because it could be helpful in accelerating one’s path towards atheism? Sounds an awful lot like your hard-hitting questions are aiming to proselytize.

  170. 170
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    So what is your solution? How should atheists respond if Christians show up, some to have hear us out and try to understand the atheist view, others to proselytize?

    It is clear that the purpose is to proselytize. From the OP,

    And no, they are not honest in their claim that they’re looking for “rational dialogue”: they’re showing up to proselytize, as they admitted in their original promise to “share Christ person to person”.

    Just like you would be dishonest to claim that going to church to “accelerate” church-goers path towards “atheism” is not proselytizing.

    Boy, aren’t there allot of similarities in the dishonest arguments put forth by both faitheists and those polite theists?

    And there are any number of ways to respond to responding to their churlish behavior without mimicking it. Refute them, ignore them, laugh at them, whatever. Just don’t follow their suit.

  171. 171
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Is it really safe to ignore all religious people and leave them on their own?

    Compared to laughing at their delusional thinking? Laughing at them shows in order to be taken seriously, they must get serious about the evidence they claim exists. There is no evidence for their imaginary deity, and we should always call it what it is, imaginary.

    I think we need to be aware of the increasing Christian nationalism in this country.

    We don’t need to be in the pews to do that, as any fool would know. We do a good job of tracking such idiocy here, and laughing at it. They don’t appreciate being laughed at, an it does make them sit up a think a little when they are on the end of the laughs.

  172. 172
    jfigdor

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Laughing is fine and dandy, but if no one is out there doing the field research, we have nothing to laugh about. If Jeff Shartlet had taken your advice, “The Family,” also known as the “Christian Mafia” would probably not have been exposed.

  173. 173
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    You are making a huge mistake, jfigdor, if you are assuming that we are saying there is only one way to deal with these people.

  174. 174
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Laughing is fine and dandy, but if no one is out there doing the field research, we have nothing to laugh about.

    Why don’t you shut the fuck up here, and go do that research yourself, if you are so interested in it. Put up or shut the fuck up, instead of trying to get others involved with your fuckwittery. I won’t do anything you say, as you are a delusional fool unworthy of that type of respect. And that is being polite.

  175. 175
    jfigdor

    @Janine:

    I didn’t say that. Since my suggestion that we should ignore the ones who want to proselytize and engage with the ones that want to have real conversations was met with such derision, I want to know what the alternative is.

  176. 176
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    jfigdor – on such high-ground that he left reality behind.

  177. 177
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    FWIW, I think engagement with religious folks is almost always a good thing as I think that we atheists generally tend to come out better in interfaith discussions.

    Speaking only for myself, if the person I am talking to is not a friend, I have neither the temperament nor patience to deal with this.

    Here is the alternative, I will conduct myself as I have always done and be grateful that Jeff Sharlet has the ability to do what he did.

  178. 178
    jfigdor

    @ Janine. Quite reasonable. I sympathize with the lack of patience. May I ask if you’re from the south or the north? As a northerner (A transplanted New Yorker) in Cambridge, Mass, I think that not being surrounded by overt conservative religiosity makes me more patient when I occasionally do meet a religious person. If I lived in the South or in the Mid-West (I did briefly live in Butte, Montana) where people’s first question is often, “what church do you go to?” I doubt I would be as patient and willing to converse.

  179. 179
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Sure is convenient to be able to avoid criticism merely because you do not like the tone of the criticizer.
    Well, I have no qualms about beating up an enemy that refuses to fight back. I really wish you would cut out the double-speak. You claim that you are not suggesting going to church to proselytize, but want to engage in “reasoned dialogue”. Yet you also claim this “reasoned dialogue” is “worth it”, implying that it is “worth it” because it could help accelerate church-goers to atheism. This is fucking contradictory.
    You also concede that you would prefer Christians not to proselytize at the Reason Rally, but can’t comprehend why atheists should not do the same in churches.

    I would prefer that Christians save the proselytizing for another day. But if Christians come to the Reason Rally, I see no reason why we shouldn’t visit their churches.

    This is fucking contradictory
    You can’t have your cake and fucking eat it too. You cannot be attempting to “accelerate atheism” and claim you are not proselytizing. It is special pleading to insist that it is all proper for you to politely go to church to ask “hard-hitting questions”, but that you would prefer Christians not do the same.
    Get off your high-horse and engage the criticism. Or are your fee fees to fragile?

  180. 180
    jfigdor

    Atheists do well in fair, reasoned conversations with religious believers because our beliefs make more sense, are easier to explain, and are more consistent. This gives us an advantage over religious believers who have to convince us faith is a good thing, which we are not about to concede. This doesn’t make us proselytizers. It makes us the more reasonable people. When Christians ask their toughest questions (how does life have meaning for you if there’s no god? where do you get your sense of ethics and morality from if there’s no god? etc.) we have answers to them. When we ask tough questions (why does god allow infants to die of SIDS or children to die of leukemia?), they don’t have good answers.

    Also, grow up and stop it with the personal attacks. You only make yourself look childish.

  181. 181
    Sastra

    Woo Monster #179 wrote:

    You claim that you are not suggesting going to church to proselytize, but want to engage in “reasoned dialogue”. Yet you also claim this “reasoned dialogue” is “worth it”, implying that it is “worth it” because it could help accelerate church-goers to atheism. This is fucking contradictory.

    I don’t see the contradiction. I think you’re defining ‘proselytizing’ too broadly. Instead of limiting it to “mindless preaching,” you’re including the whole concept of changing someone’s mind. If it is wrong for Christians to try to turn us into Christians, then it must be wrong for atheists to try to turn Christians into atheists. Keep to territory.

    But one of the major points the gnu atheists make is that it’s NOT wrong — or rude, or intrusive, or aggressive, or ‘militant’– to try to change someone’s mind about religion. That’s a popular trope of the liberal theist, one designed to protect and coddle faith. “Respect” the identity of the other person and don’t ever, ever tell them their religion is wrong. Religious beliefs are sacred.

    I don’t mind the Christians coming to the Reason Rally to try to reason us out of atheism. Nor do I worry much about what would happen in a dialogue with the religious.

    Sure, talking to them is giving them what they want — they think. But the actual discussion is NOT going to give them what they want.

    For the most part I agree with jfigdor. I would just emphasize the fact that not everyone ‘should’ be involved in debating theists. Many strategies.

    This wouldn’t be accomodationist “interfaith.” Accomodationist interfaith efforts would be atheists going to church and making an effort to blend in, find common ground, and agree to get off the controversial subjects and agree that we’re all people of ‘faith’ making faith choices and fooey on those bad atheists who want to “convert” people.

  182. 182
    'Tis Himself

    Also, grow up and stop it with the personal attacks. You only make yourself look childish.

    Aw, is jfigdor all upsettipoo because people are not paying him the deference to which he feel entitled?

  183. 183
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Atheists do well in fair, reasoned conversations with religious believers because our beliefs make more sense, are easier to explain, and are more consistent. This gives us an advantage over religious believers who have to convince us faith is a good thing, which we are not about to concede. This doesn’t make us proselytizers. It makes us the more reasonable people. When Christians ask their toughest questions (how does life have meaning for you if there’s no god? where do you get your sense of ethics and morality from if there’s no god? etc.) we have answers to them. When we ask tough questions (why does god allow infants to die of SIDS or children to die of leukemia?), they don’t have good answers.

    I am aware that reason is on the side of atheism. And no, the fact that we can counter appeals to faith with reasoned arguments does not automatically make us proselytizers.
    This,

    I think that if I’d ever seen someone question the minister publicly in Church that would have been helpful in accelerating my own path towards atheism.

    Would make you a proselytizer*. It seems like you are ignoring/missing my point. You claimed going to church wasn’t a waste of time. You said it can be “helpful in accelerating one’s path toward atheism”. If going to church is worthwhile because it may help convince church-goers of becoming atheists, you are talking about proselytization. You are “converting or attempting to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.

    Also, grow up and stop it with the personal attacks. You only make yourself look childish.

    I’ll stop with the personal attacks when you address points honestly. And are you completely un self-aware? What kind of an idiot makes a personal attack in a plea not to make personal attacks.

    *Not that I am against proselytization per se, but again, there is a time and a place.

  184. 184
    Sastra

    Woo Monster #183 wrote:

    *Not that I am against proselytization per se, but again, there is a time and a place.

    I think a good time and place for trying to persuade Christians to be more reasonable and rethink their beliefs might be an event being held for the sole purpose of Christians getting to meet and talk to atheists.

  185. 185
    Anthony K

    For the most part I agree with jfigdor. I would just emphasize the fact that not everyone ‘should’ be involved in debating theists. Many strategies.

    Yeah, really. Leaving aside other issues over which he and I may disagree, I don’t see what he’s saying that’s inviting these attacks. If he or any other atheists wish to take up these specific churches on their offer and go and give them the gears, what’s the issue? Everyone in this conversation seems to be agreeing that there’s a time and a place for argument that may or may not be proselytisation. Well, is there any time or place better than when someone invites you over for that purpose?

  186. 186
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I don’t see the contradiction. I think you’re defining ‘proselytizing’ too broadly. Instead of limiting it to “mindless preaching,” you’re including the whole concept of changing someone’s mind.

    Perhaps I am viewing proselytizing too broadly. I am viewing it generally as trying to convert people from one belief to another. I think this is the standard use of the term. “mindless preaching” is an insidious form of it.

    If it is wrong for Christians to try to turn us into Christians, then it must be wrong for atheists to try to turn Christians into atheists. Keep to territory.

    I don’t think it is wrong for Christians to proselytize. But I find it obnoxious that they insist on doing so at the Reason Rally, where it is obvious that people are congregating to be free of just such actions. I find it just fine that Christian’s attempt to push their beliefs generally, just as it is just fine for me to push my beliefs generally. I really don’t see how you could believe in a hell and not find it your moral duty to proselytize.

    But one of the major points the gnu atheists make is that it’s NOT wrong — or rude, or intrusive, or aggressive, or ‘militant’– to try to change someone’s mind about religion. That’s a popular trope of the liberal theist, one designed to protect and coddle faith. “Respect” the identity of the other person and don’t ever, ever tell them their religion is wrong. Religious beliefs are sacred.

    But one of the major points the gnu atheists make is that it’s NOT wrong — or rude, or intrusive, or aggressive, or ‘militant’– to try to change someone’s mind about religion. That’s a popular trope of the liberal theist, one designed to protect and coddle faith. “Respect” the identity of the other person and don’t ever, ever tell them their religion is wrong. Religious beliefs are sacred.
    I agree 100%

    I don’t mind the Christians coming to the Reason Rally to try to reason us out of atheism.

    I do. This is our event. If you want to proselytize, fuck off. Atheists should be allowed to have fun and enjoy a sense of community without it. Just as theists should be as well.

    I think proselytization is generally wonderful. My only point is that in some situations, it is not. This is a get-together for rational people to enjoy like-minded company.

  187. 187
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    …an event being held for the sole purpose of Christians getting to meet and talk to atheists.

    What event are you talking about?

  188. 188
    'Tis Himself

    jfigdor may have a useful idea or three about dealing with theists. That’s not my complaint about him. No, what I don’t like is his tone trolling:

    jfigdor #160

    Your inability to engage in a polite discussion with a fellow atheist shows that you’re not really mature enough to engage with religious people.

  189. 189
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Well, is there any time or place better than when someone invites you over for that purpose?

    That isn’t what I read jfigdor to be arguing.

    I am a firm believer that people should be able to practice whatever delusions suits them, in a private setting, and partake in events where they can enjoy the company and community of like-minded thinkers free from proselytization. I just find it obnoxious.

    I enjoy when people attempt to convert me, and I enjoy attempting to convert others. But I don’t go into their safe-spaces to do it. Believe whatever the fuck you want in private, keep it there, and you won’t here any criticism from me.

    Other people have their own standards for when to and when not to proselytize. That is fine, but if one thinks it ok to go uninvited into community gatherings to attempt conversions, I think it is ok to notify them that they are, in my mind, being obnoxious.

  190. 190
    Anthony K

    jfigdor may have a useful idea or three about dealing with theists. That’s not my complaint about him. No, what I don’t like is his tone trolling:

    Thanks, ‘Tis. That’s one.

    Are there any more reasons why we should gladly send him off to argue with the theists and away from us?

    Joking aside, while he has a conversational style that I don’t love (and to be fair, his tone-trolling was kept checked until the barbs started flying between him and Woo_monster), he’s a self-identified Gnu who’s willing to take these theists at their word and take the fight to them, and so far hasn’t shown any propensity for stabbing the rest of us in the back while he does so. I still don’t see the problem.

  191. 191
    Sastra

    Woo Monster #186 wrote:

    Perhaps I am viewing proselytizing too broadly. I am viewing it generally as trying to convert people from one belief to another.

    The problem then might be that the term ‘convert’ seems to be just as loaded with negative implications as the term ‘proselytize.’

    If you encounter someone does not believe in global warming, or Obama’s health care policy, or compatibilist free will, or string theory — and you decide to argue against these positions — are you trying to “convert” them? Is that the word you would use?

    I think that one of the (many) ways that religion demands special treatment is by acting as if trying to change someone’s mind on religious claims is so different than trying to change someone’s mind in any other area — science, politics, economics, philosophy, etc. It’s unfair. Religious claims aren’t truth claims — they’re matters of identity.

    But I find it obnoxious that they insist on doing so at the Reason Rally, where it is obvious that people are congregating to be free of just such actions.

    Actually, there are a lot of motives for attending the Reason Rally, and it’s not really obvious. Some atheists will possibly be excited by the actual presence of the Other Side, and eager for debate. In fact, judging by what I’ve seen when theists or the woo-sters come to atheist/humanist/skeptic conventions, this is a safe bet.

    The Reason Rally is being held because atheists want to be taken seriously in the public square. We exist. Listen to us.

    One of the most popular ways to marginalize the atheist is to insist that religion is a “private matter,” and thus debate is rude. Pointing out problems with theology is rude. Saying mean things about faith is rude. Please. Let’s have harmony. Atheists need to stop harping on about the problems with religion. Let’s just change the topic. Let’s leave each other alone. We’ll agree that the fundamentalists are rude when they try to ‘convert’ people if you then agree to shut up. Live and let live! Everyone leave everyone alone.

    No. That is, I say no.

    There’s a large strain within atheism which doesn’t want discussions about religion hushed up. We want to open up the subject to the light of day and drag the question of whether or not religion is true into the public square, kicking and screaming.

    Believers coming to the Reason Rally to argue with us isn’t a violation of what the Reason Rally is all about. It’s not about any one thing.

    For some atheists, it’s a way to say “leave us alone and stop trying to convert us.”

    For others, it’s to say “let’s bring on the debate.”

  192. 192
    Sastra

    Woo Monster #187 wrote:

    What event are you talking about?

    The one in the email, the “Atheists at Church Day.”

    Since I consider atheism a conclusion and not a matter of my chosen ‘identity,’ I think that it’s fine that the Christians attend the Reason Rally, for the same reason I think it’s fine when the psychics show up at The Amazing Meeting.

    The risk is all on their side, you know.

  193. 193
    Anthony K

    That isn’t what I read jfigdor to be arguing.

    This is what he seems to be arguing:

    If Christians come to the Reason Rally trying to convert Atheists, then I see nothing wrong with Atheists going into churches (specifically those churches which are sending proselytizers, duh), listening and not being disruptive, then asking hard-hitting questions publicly to the rev./minister/priest after the service is over or during the coffee hour.

    So, it’s a tit-for-tat strategy (and one that’s kept relatively respectful—no-one is interrupting any church services), and those can be highly effective. I see no advocation for a full-scale march on churches, but only for respectful annoyance of those churches that, in effect, started it.

    Here we’ve got one person arguing that he’s an obnoxioush lout for advocating this, and another calling him a tone troll. It’s very confusing.

  194. 194
    consciousness razor
    …an event being held for the sole purpose of Christians getting to meet and talk to atheists.

    What event are you talking about?

    Not the Reason Rally, obviously. I think I agree with you that we’re not on an equal footing when the response to an unwanted intrusion (however polite they may intend it to be) is supposed to be to solicit an invitation to meet with them at a proper time and place.

    People attending the Reason Rally aren’t inviting these Christians to it. What to do when they show up anyway? The only reasonable response isn’t that we arrange some other time to have punch and pie while discussing metaphysics, with these particular assholes who’ve decided to impose themselves on us. If that’s what you want to do, don’t ask me for permission, but I think it’s reasonable not to engage them at all.

    It’s like some random asshole decides to crash your wedding party, and you decide to respond by inviting him over for drinks after the honeymoon. Okay, that’s very generous (perhaps too generous for your own good), but there’s no obligation whatsoever for you to do it. The point of the event was not to serve the asshole free booze, but to celebrate your wedding, which we assume doesn’t include him. In this case (since your wedding is a private event and not the best analogy) you have every right to throw the asshole out of your party and never speak to him again. He can whine that you’re being mean or taunt you by claiming you’re not good enough to share a drink with him after all; but you can ignore that too, because he’s still just being an inconsiderate, self-absorbed asshole.

  195. 195
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I see your point Sastra, and should be more clear about not speaking for the atheists who would like to “bring on the debate” at the Reason Rally. I am speaking only for myself. I find it annoying that people are coming to “share Christ” at the Reason Rally.

    Just to be clear, I do not wish to privilege religious belief. It deserves just as much respect as any other shitty belief. I do not care either that people have special personal attachments to their religious beliefs in particular. I respect people who proselytize (and see no negative connotation in the term, though I recognize most do).

    It just strikes me as churlish to go to church to proselytize. Or for church-goers to attend the Reason Rally to do it. Or to go to a meeting of libertarians to inform them that their beliefs are ill-founded. Or to go to a meeting of abortion-rights activists to convince them they are wrong.
    I am open to be dissuaded from my views against proselytizing in these situations. It just strikes me that, as a member of a few groups that the majority of people vehemently look down on, it is valuable to have access to events and settings that are proselytization-free in order to build up a community.

  196. 196
    Sastra

    The confusion may partly stem from this:

    I share your value for treating others with respect. I believe there are two key distinctions between the Reason Rally and a church service, however. First, the very banner of the secular gathering is “Reason”, and thus it seems puzzling that you would be annoyed that people who disagree with you are interested in rational dialogue. Second, a public gathering on the National Mall is very different from holding a private worship service indoors.

    Because the writer is a creepy fundamentalist, I think some people have made the assumption that agreeing with what he writes here is a form of accomodationism. And atheists who take him up on his offer of “Atheists at Church Day” are practicing accomodationism.

    But accomodationists are almost always against making nice with the fundamentalists. They’re into advocating playing kissy=face with the moderate and liberal theists, the ‘people of faith’ who only want to be respected for their beliefs and not have either Pat Robertson or Richard Dawkins telling them they’re wrong, or that science conflicts with religion, or anything else that smacks of ‘conversion’ or ‘proselytizing.’

    An offer to come to church and dialogue about the truth of religion is not an interfaith-style get-together. Interfaith wankfests don’t get into arguing over what’s true: people share what they believe, people clap, and it goes around the room — resolving finally in a mass orgasm over the idea that people all choose what “works” for them and we need to get off the idea that there’s right or wrong because we all follow our own path o my god it’s spiritual not religious!!11!!.

    I give the fundy church the credit to think they will not do this.

  197. 197
    Sastra

    Woo Monster #195 wrote:

    It just strikes me that, as a member of a few groups that the majority of people vehemently look down on, it is valuable to have access to events and settings that are proselytization-free in order to build up a community.

    I agree. But I think a mass protest march down the center of Washington Mall seems less like a private meeting and more like a public event, an attempt to bring us and our views and our concerns out into the open, where people who aren’t atheists can see that there are a lot of us who ARE atheists. I’m not sure this sort of activity is like a “safe space” where we can get together amongst ourselves and shut out the other side.

    I can see your point. But I can also see why people against our views would think a Reason Rally a great place to explain to us why our position is not reasonable. After all, we are not in favor of atheism as such, but the methods that got us there. We’re celebrating ‘reason.’ I think it’s a fair justification.

    Bottom line, those who are sick of outside criticism can ignore the proselytizers, and those who are sick of people trying to shut down the religion discussion can engage them. Which we both know is going to happen anyway, so I know I’m not making a point.

    The big public rally, though, is a different thing than the private get-togethers afterwards. If a theist tries to ‘crash’ one of those we can say he or she is not invited, go. Or we can say “why, come in my dear …”

  198. 198
    Anthony K

    It just strikes me as churlish to go to church to proselytize. Or for church-goers to attend the Reason Rally to do it. Or to go to a meeting of libertarians to inform them that their beliefs are ill-founded. Or to go to a meeting of abortion-rights activists to convince them they are wrong.

    Just so we’re clear, Woo_monster, I’m 100% with you on this (if for no other reason than to impose some constraints on my boorishness). I don’t troll religious or libertarian sites. People are welcome to have conversations that don’t include me, no matter how uninteresting and boring such a conversation might be.

    However, to use consciousness razor’s analogy: if some asshole crashes your wedding, I think you’re well within your right and good taste to crash his, drink your fill, stuff your pockets with the peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, and make out with every member of the wedding party, should they be willing and able to consent.

  199. 199
    'Tis Himself

    Brownian #198

    if for no other reason than to impose some constraints on my boorishness

    Is such a thing possible?

  200. 200
    consciousness razor

    However, to use consciousness razor’s analogy: if some asshole crashes your wedding, I think you’re well within your right and good taste to crash his, drink your fill, stuff your pockets with the peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, and make out with every member of the wedding party, should they be willing and able to consent.

    Fair enough. I think we may have different standards as to what constitutes a person’s “rights.” It may also depend on your preferences regarding peel ‘n’ eat shrimp; but for the record, I never said you shouldn’t do that, merely that there are other reasonable choices at your disposal. It’s even conceivable that a wedding crasher could form a lasting friendship with the bride or groom, but then (presumably) your motivation wouldn’t be the wedding crasher’s mere presence and persistent assholishness.

  201. 201
    Anthony K

    Is such a thing possible?

    You can bridle a wild mustang but you can never fully break one.

    I think we may have different standards as to what constitutes a person’s “rights.”

    Correct. I should have been more clear; I don’t believe in such things, other than as protected or proscribed by law.

    It’s even conceivable that a wedding crasher could form a lasting friendship with the bride or groom, but then (presumably) your motivation wouldn’t be the wedding crasher’s mere presence and persistent assholishness.

    Of course. In such a situation, I wouldn’t wear the trousers with the enormous pockets permanently stained with seafood cocktail sauce.

  202. 202
    consciousness razor

    Correct. I should have been more clear; I don’t believe in such things, other than as protected or proscribed by law.

    Um, neither do I, but I don’t think any U.S. law* gives people the right to violate another’s privacy in the way you describe. Since the Reason Rally isn’t a private event but a public one, that’s one of the ways the analogy breaks down. Throwing them out isn’t an option, but ignoring them sure as hell is.

    *Maybe Canada’s laws are different when it comes to weddings specifically. Like everything else pertaining to Canada, that is worth ignoring.

    Of course. In such a situation, I wouldn’t wear the trousers with the enormous pockets permanently stained with seafood cocktail sauce.

    But you could. Some might even find that endearing.

    For myself, it would also depend on my proximity to a region with fresh shrimp, because I’m kind of picky about it so that if I’m going to go to the trouble of stuffing myself with them at no expense, I’d choose to crash a wedding offering the good stuff (as well as one with top-shelf liquor), regardless of whether they gave me a reason to exact revenge on them.

  203. 203
    Anthony K

    Um, neither do I, but I don’t think any U.S. law* gives people the right to violate another’s privacy in the way you describe. Since the Reason Rally isn’t a private event but a public one, that’s one of the ways the analogy breaks down. Throwing them out isn’t an option, but ignoring them sure as hell is.

    Correction: the way you describe. It’s your analogy, after all. If the law doesn’t bar them from attending your rally, does it bar you from attending their church? And if they’ve specifically invited you to do so, then you’re clear to pack some proton torpedoes and ask to see their exhaust port.

  204. 204
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    tomr @140

    I have sent the following to Ratio Christi:

    I have read Blake Anderson’s letter to PZ Myers here: [link omitted]

    Since I live in South Charlotte, I would be glad to meet with the Matthews church members for an informal “Ask a Skeptic” session.

    Tom Rafferty
    ratioprimoris.blogspot.com

    Let us know how that goes. I’m interested to hear about it.

    ————————

    As for the Great Debate:
    1. Church is public, not private. A church service is open to the public. [Church membership is usually not, but I have never seen a church that wouldn't at least claim the services are open to anyone.]

    2. When I was a fundagelical, I used to blast into places like Pharyngula and pick fights with the atheists. Best thing I ever did. The questions they asked and the holes they poked in my “rational” theology were devastating. I think there’s a place for contending with these people, for talking back to their evangelism (that was my reason for going to atheist websites).

    3. I think it’s perfectly valid to go to churches and, after the service, to speak to people. After all, they LOVE doing that shit to us all the time. And frankly, it seems to me that the customary respect for religion is, in large part, responsible for a lot of the objections to doing so. I’m not advocating that we go be assholes, all kicking over pews and interrupting the service. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking questions of the parishioners (as long as you aren’t trapping them in a conversation), especially if it’s done by invitation (these guys seriously LOVE coming to our campus atheist group and inviting us to church!)

    4. HOWEVER, de-conversion isn’t for everyone. Not everyone has the patience or the stomach for all that nonsense. I don’t fucking blame you. Sometimes I don’t either. We don’t all have to be Crusaders for Atheism or whatever. Some of us just want religion to leave us the hell alone, and that’s a perfectly valid response. But so is going after the nonsense the godbots spew.

  205. 205
    tomr

    To Cyranothe2nd, comment #204, and others: I have made contact with Blake Anderson of Ratio Christi and I will be meeting with the church members sometime in the near future. I will comment on my experience in an email to PZ.

  206. 206
    blake

    True Reason, the book, is now available. Authors of new book highlight irrationality of atheists’ and the Reason Rally claim to be defenders of reason.

    Press release here http://ratiochristi.org/blog/post/christians-respond-to-the-extreme-claims-of-the-reason-rally

    Can be purchased here http://www.amazon.com/True-Reason-Christian-Responses-ebook/dp/B007J71S62/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331555799&sr=8-1

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