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Author Topic: Hiding true feelings for the sake of politeness

Posts: 21
Hiding true feelings for the sake of politeness
on: December 3, 2016, 12:15

I tend to deliberately not discuss my atheism with people, especially those who I know have a strong faith. Not because I'm ashamed or want to hide it particularly. Rather that I find it difficult to maintain the need to be respectful towards the other person. The trouble is the sheer irrationality of the other person's position causes me to feel contemptuous towards them, and so I have to make a conscious effort to restrain these feelings in order not to appear disrespectful and arrogant. Also, the religious person may be a genuinely a nice person who is actally a good friend. Consequently I feel a conflict between wanting to maintain a good relationship with the other person, while simultaneously feeling frustrated with the absurdity and, as it would see it, stupidity of their position.

I'm sure there must be many others who have experienced this dilemma. I wonder what experience other atheists have and how you deal with this situation?

Posts: 1007
Re: Hiding true feelings for the sake of politness
on: December 4, 2016, 13:11

I think you raise several points. One is do we avoid the subject? I would say no, but be clear and specific about what we object to. Is it superstition (belief in gods and miracles) or religion (faith school segregation; Child genital mutilation infringing children’s rights; halal/kosher infringement of animal rights; bishops in the Lords; etc) or is it both? Note that some people who support religion don’t believe in god(s) and some who oppose religion superstitiously believe in god(s) or believe some other superstition. Be relaxed about it too.

A separate question is when is it appropriate to raise the question of atheism and religion? I think it may be raised almost any time but how and when need careful consideration. It is okay for someone to take offence at something said, it is not all right to cause offence. Someone taking offence or feeling their views are threatened doesn’t necessarily indicate any intention to cause offence. I tend to wait for religionists and believers to raise the subject but don’t shy from it. It is they who are on weak ground.

A third question is how to deal with the frustration we feel about people we care about or know well who are sincere believers and who may react badly if their “beliefs” are challenged? The answer to that is (1) not to be too personally invested in an outcome and (2) don't get agitated. We may feel disgust at many views people hold, such as Brexit or Remain, nuclear power, or support for Trump or Duterte and maybe we can't change their minds. Accept that. It isn’t possible not to care when someone you care about holds the opposing view, but it is possible to be mindful and not get agitated if they don’t change their views.

The concern is either that we will get into a conflict or that we will "lose" the argument. The answer is to control one's agitation and avoid the discussion becoming heated. Start calmly and keep it that way or close the discussion.

Mindfulness and other philosophy can help some people stay relaxed....

In short, I wait for the subject to arise and make my points without rudeness or the least agitation and am always careful to give the other party a chance to respond. It is very often their weak or flawed responses overall that do more to change their minds than any argument I may offer.

Posts: 21
Re: Hiding true feelings for the sake of politeness
on: December 5, 2016, 16:03

Some good answers there. I especially like the your last point about them realising the flaws in their own argument.

It reminds me of a good way of getting children to learn - helping them to reason something through, so they come to the right conclusion - by asking them questions that cause them think about things for themselves.

Posts: 23
Re: Hiding true feelings for the sake of politeness
on: December 27, 2017, 13:52

Hi Kennet,
You are so right, it is very difficult dealing with family, friends that are believers!, not to mention complete strangers. I normally just say to whoever the theist is "my friend I will die knowing the truth, you won't!". Sometimes I add "We're born, we live, we die, that's it, nothing before, nothing after!". I normally get blank looks, but it gets it off my chest!!. Mind, it really is hard not to be a theist!!, I mean to say, woman from mans rib!, talking serpents!, 6,000 year old Earth!, burning, talking bushes!, ............please!!.

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