Have you noticed the repetition and predictability that occurs when you discuss your atheism with a religious friend? Are you starting to feel a sense of deja vu? I am. After yet another back-and-forth with a passionate theist, I have concluded that there is a pattern here. Does this sound familiar?
Atheist hints at nonbelief during some random conversation. Theist picks up on it, smells an opportunity, and bites. Theist, with a kind, approachable smile, gently inquires about Atheist's beliefs. Atheist either dodges and says something bland like, "I don't go to church anymore, but I'm still spiritual," or blatantly asks, "I'm an atheist, you got a problem with that?" Theist uncontrollably envisions Satan standing before him.
Theist proposes that Atheist is, in fact, really Agnostic. Asserts that Atheists believe just as dogmatically that there is no god as the fundamentally religious, and that perhaps Atheist is more open and suggestible to Theist's religious teachings than that. Atheist explains the difference in terms, and directs Theist to the nearest Wiki entry on the words.
Theist composes himself. Nods and shows pitying expression, then offers, "But you realize you cannot disprove god." Atheist cites burden of proof, and that to have fantastical claims is to assume the responsibility to prove them.
Theist chuckles and misses the point, then describes strong internal conviction. Confuses "knowing" with verifiable knowledge, when instead Theist's sense of "knowing" is actually a subjective feeling and internal conversation. Confuses faith with evidence.
Atheist points this out. Theist asks, "How does anyone know anything, then?" Theist veers off into existential discussion and asks how Atheist even knows that they are "real." Makes up bizarro-world scenario to show life may all just be an illusion or a test!
Atheist focuses conversation back to the here and now, and redefines evidence and knowledge versus faith and dogma. References how it is very likely that said Theist is probably an adherent to the same religion he was born into.
Theist discounts this. Atheist quizzes Theist on world religions, past and present. Theist fails, but continues to claim that he has the one, true answer to all of life's mysteries and the trials of existence for all humanity through the religion he adopted when he was seven years old.
Atheist becomes irritated because Theist seems to be talking past Atheist, rather than respecting his right to believe any way he sees fit. Asks for mutual respect and awareness that there are many "answers" in life. Theist then, either directly or indirectly, labels Atheist angry, militant, smug, and/or belligerent.
Theist calls on Pascal's Wager in desperation. Atheist busts this argument as flimsy, and posits that if this is the true reason Theist worships god, an omnipotent, omniscient diety would surely be able to see through this false allegiance. States that the admirable reason to worship a god is not for an eternal payoff or a promise, or even the fear of damnation.
Theist introduces the morality compass. Says without said holy book, there are no rules or reasons for morality. References holy condemnation of current controversial social issues like abortion or homosexuality. Atheist notes the shitty things like murder and infanticide that occur in holy texts without condemnation, and scoffs that these books are not exactly morality tales or ideal examples of a divine, inspired, perfect message. Suggests that morality must come from within, not from threat of a great overseer. Atheist then further refers to scientific studies about morality and childhood development of empathy and consideration of others.
Theist misses point again, and unconsciously discloses his fear of death by pleading that there "must be something more." Atheist agrees, there is something more, it is just found in the beauty of the natural world and universe, and in the amazing strength of human virtues. It does not have to be magic.
Theist sighs and rolls eyes, and admits that he feels sorry for how "closed minded" the Atheist must be. Theist then refers to the holy text because the holy text is true because the holy text says it is true.
Atheist calls circular reasoning. Theist sighs sanctimoniously and finally says, "I will pray for you to find the Truth." Grits teeth, crosses arms, and steps back in judgment.
Atheist changes subject, having no more tolerance for this same conversation that occurs over and over again. Wishes, "Please give me something new. Anything?"