Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Talking with Christians

Recently it was asked: ”Why?” Why do we discuss with Christians?

At the moment, I do it because I enjoy it. I like the discussion; they won’t come here—so my only other choice is to go to them. The reasons have changed over the years since my initial deconversion.

I recall freshly abandoning Christianity and desiring to talk with other Christians regarding what I had discovered. Tried it in real life—epic fail. My main internet spot (iidb) was inundated with other deconverts and non-theists waiting to pounce upon any poor Christian that wandered into the lion’s den. I was one voice among too many—this was not satisfying.

Off I trotted to another forum, and thus began a pattern of discourse continuing to today. I approached it with naiveté. I thought if they only knew what I had discovered—they, too would reconsider their position. No, I didn’t expect them to immediately deconvert upon my appearance or first post. Nor my second or third. I did think they would be as interested as I was to actively engage the conversation and perhaps…just perhaps…realize there were viable and robust reasons Christianity may not be what they thought it was.

It was like discovering a new Mexican restaurant tucked behind the Post Office very few people know about, and despite its 1950’s styling, the cook is so extraordinary, one taste of his food and you could never deign to enter any other Mexican restaurant again.

Of course, I quickly discovered many theists were not as interested in the subject as I was. That it was too hard to discuss with a skeptic. That they had already made up their minds, and were sufficiently satisfied with any justification that might tend to support their conclusion. I discovered other theists that certainly did want to discuss the subject—but only in attack mode. No matter what I said, it must be wrong because of who said it—not the content.

I have continued conversations because of concern with lurkers. I certainly recall during my deconversion process (and have heard similar tales from other deconverts) lurking and lurking and lurking. Reading entire threads, and every link and every link from the link, absorbing the various positions. Ordering recommended books from Amazon or the library, and pouring over them.

Remembering those days, I can’t help wonder who might have wandered into some blog, forum or facebook note I happen to comment on, and they desire to know more about my position. It would be a shame to abandon the blog entry, when the lurker is yearning for more.

One thing I learned—if you go into these conversations with the expectation…no…the NEED…to have the person agree with you—you are doomed for disappointment. Best acclimate to such disappointment or you will have ulcers within weeks.

The other thing I learned is there isn’t one “correct” style. Think you may have been too harsh in your response? Doesn’t matter—I’ve tried nice and it doesn’t make a difference. Think your story is “too emotional?” Doesn’t matter—I’ve tried intellect, cites, books, authors, websites, etc. They still look at me quizzically and proclaim, “You deconverted because of sin.” Or the wrong intellectual reasons.

For me…now…the reasons are pretty simple. If I see a topic interesting to me—I will comment. If the person is not convinced…*shrug*…not my department. If they want to accuse me of some ulterior motive, I may ask once for a method to determine motive—but sheer proclamation doesn’t move me much.

Oh, noes!—some Christian thinks I’m wrong!

I would love to see American become less engrossed with religion. I would love to openly state “I am an atheist” only to elicit the response, “Yeah…so what?” However, after watching the tea-bag party, and the interviews with protestors over the Health Care reform; I see little intellectual pursuit in other areas to determine what is true, let alone in religious fields.

So I discuss because I want to.


  1. I periodically comment on Christian sites and blogs just to break through the one-sided commentary. On so many of them, the vast majority of comments all look the same!! Then, along comes yours truly and the conversation gets turned on its head.

    Like you, I realize that no single comment will have much effect. It is my sincere hope, however, that someone visiting said blog who is wrestling with some degree of doubt will be open to consider a different viewpoint. That's about all I hope to accomplish.

  2. You're giving not expecting to receive, right? Well, like "someone" said, it is more blessed to give than to receive :)

    I am known for lacking patience with the saints, so I leave it to the likes of you who really enjoy it.

    But I think that, more often than not, when we write online, we influence more Christians than we think. On any given day, 150 people come to my blog to lurk around. And on some of those days, I am lucky to receive two comments.

    I don't think you're wasting your time, nor am I. People out there are quietly reading and starting to wonder. Four years ago when I started my blog, there were few de-converts out there. Now, there are thousands. So the cause is going nicely, I think.


  3. I haven't gone to Christian sites much to comment. I may check that out. My platform is facebook. I like to pose a question for the sake of discussion, because I like interacting with people and like discussing.

    I figure, at the very least, I'm helping the Christian improve their conversation skills or learn more about the Bible that they believe in so intensely, yet aren't all that familiar with.

    Plus I know they can always defriend me or hide my posts or refuse to discuss with me-they have total freedom. And so do I.

    That's a nice change from church.

    My husband keeps asking "Why do you even bother talking with these people?" I say what you say-because I enjoy it. At least for now.

  4. I'm very grateful you do what you do, Dagoods, thank you. When I first deconverted, really when I was building up to deconversion, I read everything I could get my hands on. I was also a consummate lurker... but once I got it, the energy to continue to study religion left me. I found I wanted to spend my time learning stuff I didn't allow for when I was a Christian.
    I want to become expert in other areas and just don't have the time or energy to do what you do, but I am very glad you are out here as a trustworthy expert. So, I hope you continue to enjoy doing this.

  5. Also, thank you for the good feedback in this post concerning different approaches to take.

    I always worry about being nice and respectful. I do want to be that way, but if it gets heated and I ratchet things up a bit, I can know that it's not the end of the world. I can always apologize if I feel like I should.

    I think it definitely helps tremendously to not have an agenda. My aim is to freely express myself. One thing, though, that I think those of us who've been out of Christianity for awhile now, must guard against-we are past the intense- feelings stage. The person we're talking with is not. They take it very seriously still.

  6. Lynn,

    I know you mean about the “intense feelings” situation. I have to guard against approaching biblical studies with a cavalier attitude. Sometimes I fear I make jokes or treat lightly when to the other person it is literally a matter of life vs torture of eternity.

    Like laughing about post-resurrection Jesus being able to teleport at will, going in and out of locked rooms…but needing the stone moved so he can get out of his tomb. (Too soon?...he he he.)

  7. You gave me a good chuckle on that one! I never thought of that-why WOULD he need the stone removed to get out? But, yeah, I won't be crackin' that joke to Christians! Especially this week!

    This goes to show again, though, that as Christians, these things don't even cross your mind to wonder about. You just hear the story and move on.

  8. Someone needs to do a post on some Christian site, called "Have You As a Christian Ever Wondered Why...."

  9. Most Internet Christians really don’t want to discuss or be challenged, so it is going to be hard to get them to engage in any conversation outside of agreeing with how good God really is.

    A lot have never been taught about their faith nor want to learn. It is the I am saved and that is good enough mentality that ticks me off. They want to be critical of others beliefs when there isn't a clear consensus on their own views.

    At least you have patience. Most of them are still praying for it.