I had asked you where you find your “safe harbor”, and based on your response I feel almost compelled to wonder if you are somehow my ethical and moral twin — perhaps I am schizophrenic? Did I set up an Atheist forum in my sleep, so I might have at least one imaginary contemporary with which to agree?
Hard to say, the universe being what it is. Whatever it is.
I’m lucky enough to be rarely badgered or heckled for my “lack of faith”. I read these stories on your site and sometimes wonder if your contributing fans actively seek these confrontations. But then again, I am in a fairly “progressive” area.
One notable non-conversation I did have with a Fundie started with the question of how Christian I was. I answered “not at all”, and was then asked for an explanation of what I DO believe in. I say, just be good to each other and seek brotherhood through compassion and support. The response was “that’s not what Chritianity is about!” From what I’ve seen, generally, that is quite an accurate rebuttal.
This person was homeschooling his son, and the current curriculum was all about creationism. All around were the Biblical accounts, various books dealing with specific times and places, even a giant explanatory chart detailing the evolution of man from — well, from man to man.
I’m an electrician, so I’m in people’s homes all the time. I see all kinds of things and meet all kinds of people, typically in the sanctum of their homes. So it’s my professional philosophy to notice much, comment on nothing. But this particular Christian was truly expecting me to mock him, perhaps even “correct” him.
I am sorry (almost) to have disappointed him. My concerns are those related to proper wiring in a timely and fairly-priced manner, not debating the origins of everything. Like you, I prefer to leave those explorations to those who specialize — and learn and discuss the output as fascinating theory and mindplay.
This Christian made it clear to me just how unsatisfying a life of cold theory seemed to him; in fact, how such pursuits can only lead to disillusionment and sin. But I find love and satisfaction in the wonder of it all — a cold (well, hot) cosmos of seeming simplicity exploding through “time” to become capable of pondering its own existence and nature — and in my own way I am praising creation itself. Therefore the heresy I commit is in not personifying such intelligence in my own image. There is no comfort, for me, in ascribing all of this wonder to some sort of subservience to an unseen superbeing with all the answers.
In fact, I might say instead that the anthropological principle (or form of) holds quite well for me; nothing can be said to exist without a subject to observe it. Perhaps “God” is the totality of experience, its own proof of self through the duality of seeing and being seen. There’s that funky new-age claptrap again!
Well, that’s me. I see religion and natural philosophy as being so much the same and yet so divided by method and dogma as to be nearly irreconcilable. And I enjoy that.
By the way, you forgot the first two rules of Fight Club.
If you somehow accidentally set up this site in your sleep, then I’ve got some invoices to send you
I think you are right that some people — both theists and atheists — actively seek confrontation. Some treat it like a game, a way for them to show that they can “one up” those that disagree with them. This usually leads to smugness and generally annoying behavior, which is largely unproductive and can give their point of view a bad name.
The response you got from the Christian about brotherhood and compassion not being “what Christianity is about” is just bizarre. Someone once said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Perhaps they should look that up. (And you’re right that, far too often, Christians often behave in unchristian ways.)
I admire your restraint in not confronting the Christian’s odd beliefs in the context of doing your job. There is a time and place. Also, it doesn’t sound like this person really wanted a discussion, they wanted an argument — and that’s not a productive pastime, it’s a Monty Python sketch.
It makes me sad when people say that they think atheists and skeptics can’t appreciate the world around them. It makes me wonder just how many of the marvels the world has to offer they are missing by not looking for beauty in the inner workings of the universe.