Saturday, January 3, 2009

Atheophobia?

In mainstream culture, the word phobia is often appended to the disparaging noun, 'homo'. Thus the commonly misplaced term 'homophobia', meaning the irrational fear of homosexuals. And I say "commonly misplaced" because mere disagreeance with the practice of homosexuality can earn a person the stigma of being homophobic, which is just as much an irrational and fear-based reaction as being afraid of homosexuals.

Nevertheless, I have to wonder how far the notion of a phobia can be spread before it becomes one of those words that means little-to-nothing. If a simple disagreeance with a practice, perspective, philosophy, or what-have-you can gain the 'Phobia Badge of Dishonour', how long before having an opinion is considered a fearful thing?

Which is where this little gem comes in: atheophobia. Atheophobia? The irrational fear and hatred of atheists.

It's certainly no secret that there are some rather loose-tongued, unloving 'religious' people out there who have taken arms against homosexuals. I'm thinking in particular of such evangelical disasters as Fred Phelps and his army of irrationalists. But I've never personally met, heard of, or even read of anyone actively 'hating' or 'fearing' atheists.

But this is where such obfuscations as labelling something a phobia comes in. If I disagree with something because I hold a reasonable position to the contrary, am I thereby 'fearful' and 'hateful' of the opposite position? On personal reflection, I can very pointedly state, "no." I am a Christian, convinced and content (in the best sense of the word). On top of that, I have an enormous lack of fear and hatred for atheists.

Admittedly, I only speak for myself in all of this. Apparently there are enough people out there who claim to be both religious and fearful and hate-filled toward atheists. So-much-so, in fact, that the term atheophobia has swung into the vocabulary of the British citizenry, and leaflet campaigns are attempting to raise awareness of this problem.

Atheophobia, it is alleged, leads to anti-atheist bigotry, including the following examples:

"- are morally inferior
- are a cause of evil
- have rejected God and embraced sin
- intend to destroy religion and religious holidays
- have meaningless or decadent lives
- should not be allowed to express their beliefs
- are unsuitable for positions of responsibility"

I truly am baffled by this. Like I said earlier, I have not seen a single example of any of this happening around me, or even in extended acquaintances and engagements. The closest I've come to seeing a possible and highly improbable case of this is in reading and viewing debates where religious scholars question the basis of morality if God is non-existent. Certainly cross-examination of another's position isn't bigotry, irrationality, or hatred is it?

If we reduce the logic of "disagreement equals irrational fear and hatred" then almost everything is fair game. If I disagree with my wife that we should purchase eco-wool for bed-making, am I suddenly woolaphobic? Is an adamant pipe-smoker cigaphobic? If I'm suspicious of being labelled am I nounaphobic? Was Plato Aristotlephobic? Are Catholics Protestaphobic? Well, okay. Maybe we can make a case for that one!

In any case, is there a rational basis for labelling someone phobic because they hold to a different view of reality and the divine? If not, then who has the phobia? And really, who does it benefit to slather a moniker on anyone? All it does is pronounce a segregation that would be more rationally dealt with through sincere and meaningful discourse. As soon as you crusade against something, no matter how benignly you crusade, you invite combat, and that, historically, is the breeding ground for phobias.

Does anyone else out there get tired of seeing people running around π?

38 comments:

Sarah said...

If the world were just shy of 'christian-only' water fountains and 'atheists-sit-at-the-back-of-the-bus' signs and posters warning of the 'atheist's spell-casting,' then a full-scale awareness campaign would be warranted.

As of this moment, though, it seems that 'phobia' isn't the only over-used-to-the-point-of-meaning-nothing word involved.

It seems 'discrimination' as a label is certainly in dire need of some...

It is also interesting that what began as a disparate set of human beings, scattered as they were, assuming 'freedom of thought,' enjoying the life they have here on earth for what it really is, here and now instead of in the future (or after-life) has transformed into a militant group/assembly/CONGREGATION, crusading to CONVERT through spreading the new and sound doctrines of anti-theism-- the anti-theology of no-god-- and demanding 'rights' as a distinct culture. Hmmm........

I guess human beings cannot resist banding together for a cause, hey? I guess I now can now claim with worldly assent, to be a FREE-THINKER!!!

The more things change...

suneal said...

Since Proverbs 14:1 says "The fool has said in his heart 'There is no God'"; then why bother with fools? Why waste one's time on "foolishness?"

Christopher said...

Suneal,

Because 'fools' are still worth God's efforts.

suneal said...

I agree, I just wonder exactly what are HIS efforts.

Christopher said...

Innate moral conscience (Rom. 1), teleology (Rom. 1), Law, Gospel, Holy Spirit, the witness of others.

Seems God makes a lot of effort.

suneal said...

Precisely, exactly my point. Thank you. I hope we also strive as hard to go along with God's backdrop of effort being primarily in the realm of revelation and not mental ascent.

Christopher said...

Interesting, Suneal. You came at your point kind of sideways. I was a little worried when you asked your first question. I figured you knew the answer so I wondered why you even asked. Still, why did you come at your point from the side like that?

suneal said...

Because I live in a fallen world with fallen brethren, I myself being one of them, with you being another.

Christopher said...

That's why you came in sideways on the question: because you're fallen?

Are you being tongue-in-cheek with me, young man? ;)

suneal said...

Well on a lighter "note," I am a musician who sometimes "improvises" when called upon even if it looks "staged." I guess it's all part of the act.

I feel older than young but younger than old.

Again, I can't miss a beat.

So, if you want I can beat your "mental ascent" side-ways silly if you like.

On second thought I'll let you revel in the revelation of God. May all atheists also be so inclined.

Which brings me to another point. Are we praying for these dudes enough? Revelation is all about God drawing people to Christ, then revealing Him to them. Prayer may have a smidgy to do with that "work of God."

Sarah said...

...but what I really wanna know is- dunna nuh nuh nuh na- Are you gunna go my way?

lol

suneal said...

I "dunna-nuh-don't know."

"And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, Ill say it clear,
Ill state my case, of which Im certain.

Ive lived a life thats full.
Ive traveled each and evry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, Ive had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, Im sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

Ive loved, Ive laughed and cried.
Ive had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.

TO SAY THE THINGS HE TRULY FEELS; AND NOT THE WORDS OF ONE WHO KNEELS.

The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!"

This Frank Sinatra song has a nice sequel by ACDC.

"Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don't need reason, don't need rhyme
Ain't nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too

I'm on the highway to hell

No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody's gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody's gonna mess me round
Hey Satan, payin' my dues
Playing in a rocking band
Hey Momma, look at me
I'm on my way to the promised land

I'm on the highway to hell
(Don't stop me)

And I'm going down, all the way down
I'm on the highway to hell"

To all atheists out there, please don't "sweat it," hell ain't real anyway, remember? So no offense and no harm done to those who know better.

Anonymous said...

Given the amount of people that suffer from phobias in the world it's surprising there are not more places online to offer help and advice but there is help to be found at Ofear The Fear & Phobia Forum You will find people from all over the world giving helpful advice as well as specialists from hypnotherapists, psychotherapists and mental health nurses offering their expert knowledge about phobias.

sarah said...

That's wonderful; thank you for sharing.

Is there a whole branch of counseling devoted to helping those with atheophobia? I think that such a term and definition might be quite upsetting to those who suffer actual fear and mortal dread, such as a phobia causes. I cannot imagine how a whole group of people who supposedly believe the same things would also simultaneously suffer from a mortal dread and fear of atheists.

We need a new word. How about disdain? It applies, doesn't require a whole new entry in the OED, and most people know its definition. Hate works too. Maybe those aren't 'strong' enough? Ugh.

suneal said...

I think one of the problems here is any group labelling or diagnosing a "phobia" when they themselves are not experts to do so, and also are personally involved, in this case as the so-called recipients of the "fear."

In comparing Agoraphobia to so-called Atheophobia, in the former the Greek implies fear of "marketplaces." Now, if one is an atheist, no more weight should be attached to a market place and its environ than to "atheists." For, belief in no God, actually irradicates any true teleological purpose, so all things living and dead are equal. Therefore, as much as atheists want to rally behind eradicating all so-called bigotry toward themselves, they also should rally for the "marketplace" or any other "victim" of phobias. Note how the emphasis changes from agoraphobia when compared to "atheophobia," with the former favoring the subject of fear and the latter favoring the object of fear. I am merely asking in an obtuse and ridiculous manner to keep things consistent. To be more consistent, any "atheophobiac" should be favored, for they are the victim!! These poor souls may have been abused by atheists one way or the other, so where is the justice now??? Only further abuse! And yes, to all those atheists out there who have written such damning, disrepctful, seemingly mocking and hateful literature against those of faith, I guess they are "bigots" too and need to be dealt with. Maybe, their books should be added to Salmon Rushdie's list of "hate literature" and be removed from publication.

Heck, let's all join the "primordial soup" of not offending anybody, and soon see after we have jetisoned all content of belief that it will all start again, for we will see "atheism" is just a spectrum in the continuum of belief to understand and gropple with why the heck we are here having at times rather ridiculous conversations. "Those who choose not to decide, still have made a choice," by Neil Peart, are words that can be echoed here, "Those who choose not to belief still have made their faith." They may be correct, but without proof, they are mere believers like us. Oh, sorry, I meant to keep my distance and call them "the enemy." Or actually, I shouldn't claim they have "faith," it may offend them. But, if I don't say they have faith, well then I am making differentiations that lead to bigotry...uh so maybe I should just stop believing in God so that I am not a bigot...but what if I can't because God has convinced me otherwise...uhmm...I think more "phobias" are developing...I wonder why?

Is a fear of "political-rightness" in conflict with not being an "atheophobiac?" What if I have a "fear" of "hypnotherapists, psychotherapists and mental health nurses," and a fear of "online expertise?"

Maybe one day I'll just say, the hell with it and be myself. Uh-oh, I hear the sirens, they are coming to get me in this "free-thinking democracy I live in as an emasculated male"...!!

Anonymous said...

No More Atheophobia is a campaign relating to prejudice and bigotry, covering matters where atheists are bad-mouthed in blogs, the press and by other people. It does not intend to cover debates about the existence of God - the question is not "should atheists believe what they do", but "should atheists be allowed to believe what they do".

You might have cared to quote the first paragraph of the site:

"Atheophobia is an irrational fear or hatred of atheists that manifests as a strong prejudice against those who do not believe in a God. Put short, it leads to anti-atheist bigotry."

There are only a small number who come up with nasty stuff, but their ability to do so is bolstered by a larger number of people having incorrect, generalised opinions against atheists (for instance, polls in 2008 found that 53% of the USA would not vote for an atheist but otherwise well-qualified Presidential candidate). We're not asking you to stop questioning atheism, but please treat atheists as equals.

Craig said...

I read somewhere that when Douglas Adams was once asked by a reporter for an pro-atheist magazine if he had ever experienced persecution for being an atheist in England, he found it very enjoyable to respond that such a thing was completely unimaginable.

Christopher said...

Anonymous,

I've already dealt with your concerns in my original article. Please refer back.

What you are describing is not a 'fear' or 'hatred' of atheists. When a majority of religious people don't want to vote for an atheist for president, that isn't a fear; it's simply the politics of fair representation.

suneal said...

Anonymous said: "the question is not should atheists believe what they do", but "should atheists be allowed to believe what they do".

Well, God has enough patience to say "Yes." So why would not believers in this God? And since parliament for the democratic world does not primarily represent either God, atheists or believers but a political platform, therefore, this is not even a question relevant to the real world.

Nobody decides what should be done to this extent, except the individual, so, I think this is a "straw-man" debate.

Atheists often attack, bad-mouth believers, but we are not calling them "Believer-phobiacs." Get real. The door swings both ways.

toshido said...

"What you are describing is not a 'fear' or 'hatred' of atheists. When a majority of religious people don't want to vote for an atheist for president, that isn't a fear; it's simply the politics of fair representation"

Wrong. That is religous persecution. The presidency is a job. Religion should be a factor. In other jobs it is even illegal to ask about religous beliefs.
It is fear. It is the fear that someone not Christian will not have similar morals or sense of justice and what is right.

suneal said...

I just wanted to jump in. Toshido, I can see where you could get this impression.

Personally, I "fear" Harper, a Christian, as much as I feared Mulroney. Maybe he is a Christian, I don't know, and in either case it seems irrelevant to me. To me, the morals of a person or their sense of justice is not dependent on their "belief" system. If a leader has a "moral choice" as part of a political platform, that choice should be decided upon it's own merits, irrespective of religious belief. For example, an atheist may be "pro-life," or a Christian may be "pro-choice." If I believe in "pro-life," then that will give me one more reason to vote for the atheist leader. Although, the rest of his or her platform also has to be to my liking or the best choice overall.

Toshido, you have a point if the primary reason for not voting for a President IS them being an atheist. The American system makes being a "born-again Christian" fashionable, and a tactic for winning big votes. In Canada it makes you an idiot!! Reverse discrimination there! Stockwell Day was made a mockery for his beliefs.

I guess, I am saying most politicians are going to tap into the culture to win and keep power. I think the problem as I said earlier swings both ways. Personally, any atheist fighting for the rights of atheists not to be discriminated against in the political realm ought to do the same for believers, particularly in Canada, for we are people too. Why should Canadian Christian politicians have to almost pretend they don't have faith in the Christian God? If my faith is perceived as a dent in my "intelligence" or as some other negative then am I not being "discriminated against" for my belief? I mean, I am Indian (half), so really what would that have to do with being Prime Minister? If I say before a budget proposal, "I am Indian," does that help the effects of my budget proposal? No. If I say, "I am a Christian," neither is that relevant. However, if saying I am a Christian is deemed not pertinent to my "job" as Prime Minister, then it is also something that I should not fear to profess, anymore than that I am an Indian!

Personally, I don't feel the need to rally behind any united cause to fight against this "discrimination." But if I did, then I think I would fight for equal rights regarding all those so discriminated against, and yes, in Canada, that definitely includes Christians.

Christopher said...

Toshido,

"Wrong. That is religous persecution. The presidency is a job. Religion should be a factor. In other jobs it is even illegal to ask about religous beliefs."

Actually, if you want to call it persecution, it would be persecution of the non-religious, or areligious persecution. Religious persecution refers to people being persecuted for their religious beliefs. If atheists are being discriminated against because Christians won't vote for them, then it is the areligious that are being persecuted. Hence areligious persecution.

"It is fear. It is the fear that someone not Christian will not have similar morals or sense of justice and what is right."

Without evidence of 'fear', or 'hatred', or whatever, I can only work within the evident system of American politics: representative government. That being said, stating that 53% of American Christians wouldn't vote for an atheist presidential candidate tells me a couple of things:

1. That 53% of however many American Christians were poled would not vote for an atheist president. It is not conclusive therefore, that 53% of all American Christians would not vote for an atheist presidential candidate. The actual numbers could be much less, or much higher; who knows?

2. That in a representative system, 53% of those poled would want a president that represents their majority concerns. If they want this out of fear of the alternative, I don't know. All I know, and can reasonably comment on is that they want a president who represents their concerns.

Unless we pole the reasons for why this is so, we cannot simply conclude that it is due to fear or hatred. That is called "jumping to conclusions" and is not admissable as a reasonable view. More, it is illogical to move from the fact that 53% of those poled means 53% of all American Christians: fallacy of the undistributed middle.

toshido said...

Suneal, you are right. Discrimination based on religous beliefe is wrong in both ways. i also don't feeel a need to rally about this. But likewise if I did I would be rallying to end discremination.


Chris...

What are you talking about? Do you not have a reasonable response to what I said so you need to hack aapart the language and go off on tangents and change the previous messages to futher wander off topic?

Anon first posted that53" of americans would not vote for an atheist, not 53% of christians...

It is not areligous persecution, it is religous persecution. We do not need to invent new words here. It is persecution based on religous beliefs. Wrong religous beliefs persecuted. Simple as that stop trying to make simple things complex.

And yes I agree that surveys do have variance. That is why a good survey also tells you the numebr of people polled and the cariance in that survey. Normaly listed as a probability, i.e. accurate to +- 3% 9 out of 10 times.

So again you are both twisting the origianl statement and going on tangents instead of carying on the conversation.

Christopher said...

"What are you talking about? Do you not have a reasonable response to what I said so you need to hack aapart the language and go off on tangents and change the previous messages to futher wander off topic?"

Sorry, man. If you're not content to deal with the semantic end of the topic, I can't help you. I personally think having a working definition, or common understanding is important in a debate. Especially on such a loaded topic. But if you don't want to work toward that end, we can just keep talking past each other if you find that more satisfying.

Personally, I don't. So I'll make another, more denotative attempt to communicate with you.

"Anon first posted that53" of americans would not vote for an atheist, not 53% of christians..."

Yes, you're right. Sorry about that. Doesn't do much to alter what I said, however. If 53% of Americans would not vote for an atheist, then that means that whatever statistic Anon is quoting from only indicates that 53% of those poled would not vote for an atheist presidential candidate. Who knows what 53% of the overall American population would vote?

"It is not areligous persecution, it is religous persecution. We do not need to invent new words here. It is persecution based on religous beliefs. Wrong religous beliefs persecuted. Simple as that stop trying to make simple things complex."

Stop trying to make simple things complex? Are you kidding me? You've incorrectly applied the term "religious persecution" to the concern that 53% of Americans would not vote for an atheist presidential candidate, made a case in another thread for atheism not being a religion, and then turn around and tell me that I'm making things 'complicated'? Are you even bothering to keep track of what you're saying? Or are you just spouting?

Look, if you're going to use the term "religious persecution" at least understand what it means. Here's a little help.

Note that "religious persecution" is persecution visited on the 'religious' by other people who are 'religious'. Note also, that "religious persecution" is the term used to describe the (often) torturous methods used to get rid of the 'religious' by areligious, or non-religious groups, as in the case of the Chinese or Albanian governments.

Persecution based on religious beliefs is rightly called "religious persecution" if it is applied to the 'religious'. You have made your argument elsewhere that atheists are not religious. Ergo, this perceived persecution of atheists because 53% of Americans won't vote for an atheist presidential candidate is definitionally not "religious persecution". Add to that your corrective that Anon. stated 53% of Americans, not American Christians, and your whole point about "religious persecution" falls out from under you: 53% of Americans (no religion identified) won't vote for an atheist/areligious/non-religious presidential candidate. The fact that no religion has been identified, and the subject of the statistic (the atheist candidate) is decidedly non-religious, means that there is no logical connection to "religious persecution" at all.

So, if I 'make up' a term to help your argument take better shape, or make more sense, consider it a boon to the conversation. I could just leave you with your misimpressions and erroneous understandings, but that would work against the goal of communication: understanding.

suneal said...

Yes folks, and I gave you all the correct term, "religious discrimination," and I assumed that was what Toshido meant to say.

Christopher said...

Suneal,

If this is what you mean, then I agree.


Toshido,

If that is what you mean, then I agree.

toshido said...

So Chris, do we now agree that it is religous discrimination?

I also stand by that Atheism is not a religion. It is simply not believing in a higher being. At least it is for me.
But again definitions seem to be what you love so much.

From Websters

"one who believes that there is no deity"

So while it is not a religion it does deal with religion in that it disagrees.

suneal said...

Thank you Chris for your indiscriminatory last comment that gave equal footing to atheist(s) and believer(s) alike. I am careful at least with my plural/singulars:)

Christopher said...

Toshido,

Yes, we agree if we use the term "religious discrimination". We do not agree if you use the term "religious persecution" to speak of voters not voting for an atheist.

Oh, and being a fan of definitions simply helps to ensure more practical communication and understanding between us. I'm a fan of understanding moreso than 'definitions' per se.

"So while it is not a religion it does deal with religion in that it disagrees."

Quite right. Atheism is not a religion, it is a particular philosophy. And in recent years certain atheists and atheist groups have taken on some of the tactics of religion to disseminate its agenda. That is where some people have observed -- and I agree with them -- that atheism, while not being a religion proper has absorbed some of the flavours of religious extroversion.

toshido said...

"Quite right. Atheism is not a religion, it is a particular philosophy. And in recent years certain atheists and atheist groups have taken on some of the tactics of religion to disseminate its agenda. That is where some people have observed -- and I agree with them -- that atheism, while not being a religion proper has absorbed some of the flavours of religious extroversion."

Or in the context of atheism they feel the need to educate theists.

Something that I personally feel is wrong.
Personally I feel that everyone needs to seek out their own faith and beliefs. Not have it thrust upon them by outside forces.
One of my largest beefs with organized religions, and soon to be a beef with organized atheist groups.
Just let people have their beliefs for their own personal reasons.

toshido said...

Interesting find in Websters regarding definition of -phobia.

-phobia
" an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation"


Homophobia.
"irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexual."

What I find interesting is the inclusion of words like aversion and discrimination in the homophobia definition.

So a word like Atheophobia using the homophobia definition as reference would be accurate in this case.
Also using this definition, including aversion especially then I can personally attest to being the victim of atheophobic individuals. Largely confused young bible college students. I can also attest to some close friends being atheophobic to a degree, including the author of this blog :)
Still love you though you atheophobic buddy :)

Christopher said...

I have no fear of atheism, or atheists. I cannot therefore be atheophobic. I have no aversion to atheists, I enjoy having them around as much as I do Christian friends. I cannot therefore be atheophobic. I do not decide against atheists because they are atheists, or disclude them from my considerations based on their chosen/unchosen non-belief; I do not discriminate against them. I therefore cannot be atheophobic.

Nice try, though!

toshido said...

Sorry Chris. Personal interactions between us and our friends say otherwise.
If you wish to discuss this further we can do so in private, but I do not feel it is fitting for specific details to be so public. I have already said too much about the specifics in other replies to your blog and I actually apologize for that.

Christopher said...

"Sorry Chris. Personal interactions between us and our friends say otherwise."

You're implying an accusation here. But you want to continue this in private. I'm not sure how accusing me of something in public and then wanting to take it up in private makes for sincere, or fair conversation. Besides the fact that anything you've brought up on the blog, so far, happened more than a decade ago, and in some cases almost two decades ago. And you want me to make a retrospective account for that? That's patently absurd, dude!

toshido said...

Okay no problem. yes I agree it was long ago but still.

Biggest and most blatant example I can think of was with Brenda.

When I was dating her you were advising her to not see me because I was an atheist, I did not share her Christian views.
This is very clearly discrimination against me based on my atheist beliefs.

Do you disagree?

There are more subtle things that were just gut feelings through the years. For instance I always felt we would have been closer if I shared the same religous views as you. That is based on the very close friendships you formed very quickly with new people found through church and bible college, then you often made time for those friends where there was none for me.
But like I said, that is more gut feel, the Brenda incidents are very real and tangible examples.

Christopher said...

"Biggest and most blatant example I can think of was with Brenda.

When I was dating her you were advising her to not see me because I was an atheist, I did not share her Christian views."


This is exactly the episode I was anticipating you would bring up. And again, this was a decade ago (give or take).

Nevertheless. While you were dating Brenda I was not "advising" her to not date you. There was no such continuing action. She approached me once before she started dating you, asked for my opinion, and I reminded her of what it states in Scripture: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers."

"This is very clearly discrimination against me based on my atheist beliefs."

Like you, I consider that discrimination. However, it was a healthy form of discrimination (i.e., "the ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment") that did not set out to devalue you in any way, but simply help to ensure the strength of another's faith. Brenda was an emotionally troubled, very simple, and largely unaware young Christian lady. The fact that I counseled her along the lines of our shared faith was simply the honest thing to do.

She walked away from her faith after dating you. Whether you were the cause of her decision to disbelieve, I don't know. But I think my caution to Brenda was proven by her subsequent deconversion, don't you? Thankfully, years later, she phoned me up out of the blue, and excitedly told me of her re-conversion.

In any case, if you are concerned about any discriminatory actions there, put the blame on God. I merely quoted what He inspired Paul to write. Your beef is with Him, not with me.

"There are more subtle things that were just gut feelings through the years. For instance I always felt we would have been closer if I shared the same religous views as you."

Now reverse the paradigm: do you think we would've been closer friends if I shared the same non-religious views as you? In this sense, there could be discrimination happening at both ends of the playing-field. But I'm not concerned about that form of discrimination; it comes with the ability to think and see differences.

"That is based on the very close friendships you formed very quickly with new people found through church and bible college, then you often made time for those friends where there was none for me."

I'm going to admit a very personal shortcoming of mine here. And this particular shortcoming plagues me, haunts me, and drives me utterly mad at times. I have extreme difficulties feeling connected, or attached to anyone. Period. I enjoy other people, and want to spend time around others, but I have always felt a disconnect, or uninvited emotional aloofness toward them. This has caused problems, even to this day, in all my friendships, even my marriage. No-one is at fault for this but me, and perhaps my parents who bred this trait into me. I continue to battle this problem day-by-bloody-day, and have had some small successes with Sarah and my children. But I find it incredibly scary, to be honest.

So, while it is that you perceived me as being closer to people who shared a greater range of common experiences with me, they were in reality no closer to me than you were.

That may hurt for me to tell you that, I don't know. It may make me look like a smug, and insincere little bastard, I don't know. But that's the truth of the matter, and it has nothing to do with whether you are an atheist or not. It has only to do with a particular part of my psychology that got a little bent out of shape a long time ago.

toshido said...

"Now reverse the paradigm: do you think we would've been closer friends if I shared the same non-religious views as you"

Not at all. If you had religous views closer alike to mine then i think we would have a much shallower one dimensional (RPG) friendship.
The differences in religous outlooks has lead to a great many interesting conversations.

As for Brenda... I agree she was a mess and basketcase. I remember hearing about her downward spiral after she moved away from the Kitchener area.
While I never encouraged or advised her to remain Christian, I never did the opposite either. I never pressured her to anything she did not want and even made her slow down and consider her actions instead of rushing into things.
Personally I think she more or less used me to her own ends during that time. She wanted someone, anyone, that did not have the religous beliefs of her friends so that she could pursue aspects of a relationship that she could not with a devote Christian.
Ca la vie.

As for you not counselling her against dating me. What you are saying now differs from that long ago time.

Christopher said...

"As for you not counselling her against dating me. What you are saying now differs from that long ago time."

Not really. I'm just not as inarticulate now as I was then. And, I'm able to put things out in writing, which has always been a better mode of communication for me than face-to-face.