The Atheist Agenda speaks

Our talk at the Christian organization went really well!

A few days before the scheduled meeting I got a little nervous.  I had an atheist pastor of a secular church (intentional oxymoron) no longer able to come and be my token atheist.  I didn’t want to do this alone.

Thankfully, the day before the talk some awesome people I had only recently met said they could help me out.  I now had 3 people backing me up.  Although we barely knew each other, these three were willing to put themselves in a vulnerable position.

This Christian society’s website announced my talk as “Compassion for the Lost.”  Underneath was a picture of me and a short bio that emphasized all my missions involvements.  It looked like I was going to talk about witnessing to third world ‘lost’ peoples, which is pretty racist, along with being condescending to non-Christian faiths.  Not a great way to introduce a talk about respect for non-believers.

That was when I realized that the people I was speaking to would have no idea what they were about to hear.

The organizer didn’t even introduce my topic when he introduced me.

After I announced I’d be speaking about atheists, the room grew really still.  After I said that we had some “real live atheists” to talk to afterwards, everyone turned and stared at the three people they knew hadn’t been there before.  One person even got up and left.

My speech went quickly.  I talked about how I was qualified to speak from past experiences, went over definitions, and then talked about common myths and assumptions that hurt many Christian interactions with atheists.  There was a hand-out on how to discuss ideas honestly.  I talked about how we derail conversations with defensiveness and ways to counteract that (something I’m still learning, so any advice here is appreciated).  We ended with talking about some of the ways that atheists are mistreated and oppressed in our society.  That really got through to a lot of people.  Plus, a good sprinkling of bible verses.

Then it was question time and we all sat down in a circle.  At first there was silence.  Everyone looked scared, and they really were as they told us after.  Finally, one guy began to ask some of the questions I’d suggested they ask in my talk.

The three ‘token atheists’ were wonderful.  They were kind, well-spoken, and funny.  Even when one woman decided to try and witness to them, they were polite.  Most of the audience stayed for another 2 hours after to talk.  

 

For your listening pleasure, I present Life, the Universe and Everything Else #56 podcast where Rob, Richelle and Greg share their perspective on the night and the Atheist Agenda in general: http://lueepodcast.wordpress.com/

  

5 thoughts on “The Atheist Agenda speaks

  1. Ahab says:

    I applaud your (and their) bravery. You no doubt opened some minds!

  2. TWF says:

    Congrats on the successful venture!

    Dealing with defensiveness is tough. I’m still fighting through it too! I’m not sure how it is for you, but, for me, at some level, it is an ego thing. Not trying to always be right (which I do and am! 😉 but rather that at some level challenges to my position are like saying to me “hey, you don’t know how to figure this out, or you haven’t spent the time needed to figure this out” which is all the more annoying given the time I’ve spent doing just that! And it’s not like trying to figure out rocket science or brain surgery… it’s one of those types of issues which “obvious” to everyone to some extent. You know what I mean? It’s not like debating the finer points of whether or not the communion wafers are transubstantiated into the literal body of Christ, but rather the fundamental “is there a god?”

    I don’t have kids, but I suspect that, on some level, it is the same kind of ego bruising that goes on when people give unsolicited advise on how to be a better parent. 🙂 It just has a way of getting under your skin.

    So do what you can to minimize your ego. And when you figure that out, let me know what you did! 🙂

  3. prairienymph says:

    Ahab, the feedback we got was that we had “challenged” the group. I hope it means what you said 🙂
    TWF: I appreciate most advice, especially about kids, but when there is a hint of condescension, I get really defensive. I’m not sure which annoys me more- the obstinate ignorance of people who refuse to accept facts that don’t match their leader’s view or the condescension and pity they have towards others.
    As a Christian, I got over my defensiveness towards atheists when I realized that they were not the enemy and when my identity as a human being was no longer tied to a specific groups and its teachings. I don’t think I minimized my ego, just stretched my boundaries on the definition of ‘good human being’ and let go of some of my identity loss fear.
    Knowing that some religious people see my existence as a threat to their identity helps me realize their aggression is more about refusing to see facts that demand a change in their worldview. I don’t know how to diffuse their defensiveness though.

  4. prairienymph says:

    Maybe the answer to the last bit is ego?

  5. TWF says:

    Maybe so? Maybe the trick is to try to make them feel safe with the facts, but wait for them to change their minds and worldviews? Plant the seed, so to speak.

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