Who's Zoomin' Who?

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Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Rian » Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:43 pm

As Aretha Franklin asks, who's zoomin' who?

(I thought I'd give it a bit of a catchy title)

What I mean is this: atheists for years have complained about how Christians try to "convert" them, yet more and more, I'm seeing atheists do just what they complain about - they're trying to convert people, too. So is there a double standard going on here? We try to convince other people of our opinion on something all the time - when (if ever) does it cross over into something people should object to?
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Jesus Raves » Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:15 am

Is this evangelical atheist thing a widespread phenomenon? There is a marked difference between arguing a point and evangelizing to someone--that being, in one case, I want to convince my opponent, in the other, I need, am compelled, to convince her. Atheists love to argue, but at the end of the day, most of us don't feel the compulsion to convert people to atheism. Many of us progressive atheists would love if more people agreed with us on scientific and social issues--because that might produce a net positive change for those causes for which we care most--but I don't know of many atheists who actually go so far as to evangelize their non-belief in any way akin to Christian evangelism.

Now, to be fair, I've heard many atheists--myself among them--express joy at the idea or the reality of more people coming to non-belief, but that's because humans love to discover that others agree with them on anything; it's observably different from going out door-to-door and preaching the good word of Our Lord and Savior, Richard Dawkins. So is this a real phenomenon or has it been invented? Yes, we argue--a lot--but do we really evangelize? Or, at least, is there really a significant number of us that evangelize? (Enough to demonstrate this as a real trend instead of as the practice of a handful of atheists)
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Stacie Cook » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:05 am

What about this- Atheists that used to be Christians and now that they aren't, they feel bad for converting people in their former days. Now they want to 'help people to see the light' so to speak. Where does this fall?
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Stacie Cook » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:09 am

Jesus Raves wrote:Now, to be fair, I've heard many atheists--myself among them--express joy at the idea or the reality of more people coming to non-belief, but that's because humans love to discover that others agree with them on anything; it's observably different from going out door-to-door and preaching the good word of Our Lord and Savior, Richard Dawkins.


This. This right here- the first sentence, I *guarantee* would be considered 'preaching' if a Christian said this. Guarantee. Not by you necessarily, but definitely by some atheists.

I agree sharing a joy is different than door-to-door service.
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Patrick Star » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:28 pm

I don't have a problem with anyone trying to persuade others to their beliefs, but only if the target person expresses willingness to listen. I don't condone these cold calls that some Christian organizations engage in. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are bad at this and in the South the Baptists do it all the time. I find this intrusive and I would never engage in it for any ideology. And if a conversation goes into religion I have no issue with a Christian trying to change my mind, but they won't have much luck. And it's important to know when to quit.
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby tirtlegrrl » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:31 pm

I think there's only a double standard if the person complaining about conversion is the one also trying to convert others. There is disagreement among atheists about whether we should be out trying to make more atheists. I personally think the issue is too complicated for me to weigh in on it with any degree of wisdom, though I will say that right now my social circle consists mainly of church people and I don't try to change anyone's mind about their beliefs because in practice they are more about love than about power and control (as Mitch might put it :wink: ).
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Stacie Cook » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:35 pm

Patrick Star wrote:I don't have a problem with anyone trying to persuade others to their beliefs, but only if the target person expresses willingness to listen. I don't condone these cold calls that some Christian organizations engage in. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are bad at this and in the South the Baptists do it all the time. I find this intrusive and I would never engage in it for any ideology. And if a conversation goes into religion I have no issue with a Christian trying to change my mind, but they won't have much luck. And it's important to know when to quit.


I'd say that is a pretty good summation.
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Aaron » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:02 am

tirtlegrrl wrote:I think there's only a double standard if the person complaining about conversion is the one also trying to convert others. There is disagreement among atheists about whether we should be out trying to make more atheists. I personally think the issue is too complicated for me to weigh in on it with any degree of wisdom, though I will say that right now my social circle consists mainly of church people and I don't try to change anyone's mind about their beliefs because in practice they are more about love than about power and control (as Mitch might put it :wink: ).

Church people in the UK? I feel like there's the idea in America that Western Europe is all atheist.
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby tirtlegrrl » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:49 am

Aaron wrote:
tirtlegrrl wrote:I think there's only a double standard if the person complaining about conversion is the one also trying to convert others. There is disagreement among atheists about whether we should be out trying to make more atheists. I personally think the issue is too complicated for me to weigh in on it with any degree of wisdom, though I will say that right now my social circle consists mainly of church people and I don't try to change anyone's mind about their beliefs because in practice they are more about love than about power and control (as Mitch might put it :wink: ).

Church people in the UK? I feel like there's the idea in America that Western Europe is all atheist.


Church attendance in general is very low, and many churches are struggling financially. My church is very small, but I've made friends there and I rehearse the choir so I'm there a lot. My impression is that the Anglican Communion is trending more evangelical and conservative recently, with courses like the Alpha Course being adopted to bring in more converts, and a substantial percentage of African Anglicans also pulling the church to the right. There's an evangelical C of E in downtown Oxford with a packed Sunday evening service, worship band, hands raised and all that. I've only been in the UK for a year and a half, though, so if you want the lowdown on Anglo-European churchiness I'm sure Moonwood can give you a more accurate picture. :)
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Rian » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:06 am

tirtlegrrl wrote:I think there's only a double standard if the person complaining about conversion is the one also trying to convert others. There is disagreement among atheists about whether we should be out trying to make more atheists.
There are now and have been in the past atheists here that really strongly complain about Christians trying to convert atheists, yet they say their goals are to get rid of religion and un-delude Christians, etc. I'm seeing that vocalized more often, and as any kind of hypocrisy really irks me, I wanted to bring it up. I feel the same way you do - it's a double-standard if they're trying to convert, too.

Patrick Star wrote:I don't have a problem with anyone trying to persuade others to their beliefs, but only if the target person expresses willingness to listen. I don't condone these cold calls that some Christian organizations engage in. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are bad at this and in the South the Baptists do it all the time. I find this intrusive and I would never engage in it for any ideology.
I actually left a Christian group in college over this issue. I just felt it was so fake and insincere.
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Rian » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:11 am

Jesus Raves wrote:Is this evangelical atheist thing a widespread phenomenon?

I'm seeing it vocalized more often, although I think it was around but not vocalized much before.

There is a marked difference between arguing a point and evangelizing to someone--that being, in one case, I want to convince my opponent, in the other, I need, am compelled, to convince her. Atheists love to argue, but at the end of the day, most of us don't feel the compulsion to convert people to atheism. Many of us progressive atheists would love if more people agreed with us on scientific and social issues--because that might produce a net positive change for those causes for which we care most--but I don't know of many atheists who actually go so far as to evangelize their non-belief in any way akin to Christian evangelism.
I'll start to pull some examples when I see them. I'm not talking about arguing a point so much as I'm talking about an atheist expressing a goal of converting Christians as something that they think is important.

Now, to be fair, I've heard many atheists--myself among them--express joy at the idea or the reality of more people coming to non-belief, but that's because humans love to discover that others agree with them on anything; it's observably different from going out door-to-door and preaching the good word of Our Lord and Savior, Richard Dawkins. So is this a real phenomenon or has it been invented? Yes, we argue--a lot--but do we really evangelize? Or, at least, is there really a significant number of us that evangelize? (Enough to demonstrate this as a real trend instead of as the practice of a handful of atheists)

And definitely both sides can operate out of love and concern for the other. But both sides can operate out of what I think are "bad" reasons, too - for example, those Christians that feel proud for having a high head-count, or those atheists that feel that all Christians are incredibly stupid merely for not believing the same way that they do, and they are really arrogant.
"Aurë entuluva! Auta i lómë!" ("Day shall come again! The night is passing!") -- from JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion

Christianity is the red pill - go for it! Seek the truth, wherever it leads you.
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Re: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Postby Jesus Raves » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:59 am

I can't say exactly who, but I do recall a prominent atheist or two expressing a belief that we should try to convert theists--not necessarily in those words, though. However, I'm not so sure that's indicative of a larger trend. I don't live in or near a significant population center (my Missouri town boasts a population of roughly 12,000), so I don't usually firsthand witness street evangelism. But I hear about Christian street evangelism as a common occurrence in cities, whereas I've never heard anyone mention seeing atheists "witnessing" on the street. One would assume that, if this were a new trend, said evangelical atheists would pop up--from time to time--in the wild. Of course, it could be that news has yet to reach my ears of these roving bands of witnessing atheists.

Anyway, adding more in my response to your actual question instead of sidetracking with my skepticism: I think the red line--the line that, when crossed, condemns--appears where psychological or social pressuring comes into the picture. When the conversation turns to, "You must come around to my way of thinking or else bad things will happen" ("bad things" being something like but not at all limited to Hell or social rejection), that's when we've left the realm of argument and entered the realm of proselytizing, and I don't like when either Christian or atheist enters that realm.

Note: Apologies if I partly or completely parroted any already-posted responses, in regards to the latter half of this post. Most of the posts in this thread I read a few days ago.
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