How does an Atheist talk to someone who believes in God without causing offence?
It seems that no matter how politely one tries to avoid the topic of ‘God’ these days, there are those who will insist on bringing it up.
Many atheists, myself included, find religious an extremely offensive and contentious topic and don’t want to speak about it.
How does one get a ‘believer’ to drop the topic and never talk about it again – without causing offence?
Outside of finding someone who will actually respect your request to stop, I don't particularly think it's possible.
If it bothers you that much, I would just say to ignore them. Might be the most polite thing to do under circumstances.
Indeed. It does bother me that much. I seem to spend my life having people want to discuss religious with me and the topic bores me to tears.
Try making some business cards that tell people you refuse to speak about religion - you keep your religion and I'll keep mine. Otherwise we can't be friends. Hand them out whenever someone starts talking religion.
Just inform religionists that you don't believe in religion/God & that they should respect your beliefs as you respect their beliefs. If they persists in bombarding you with their religious beliefs, promptly inform them that you refuse to discuss the matter further. Then if they refuse to listen and continue to inculcate you with their beliefs, discontinue the conversation and walk away from them. Lastly, if they are adamant in attempting to convert you to their philosophy (friends, family members, & other associates), disassociate from them entirely for they truly disrespect you and clearly don't have your interests at heart.
That's exactly what has happened. Yesterday was the end of yet another friendship. And I refuse point black to ever go near my brother-in-law again. Even my sister saw over a period of two months that it was him, not me.
If people refuse to respect you for your beliefs, simply.......DITCH them. They are toxic people period!
YOU: The Sky Is Falling!
ME: But u have no evidence
YOU: Yes i do...this piece of sky fell on me.
ME: Please stop!
Thank you for selecting my answers.
Unfortunately, family breakups are common among Christians and their family, especially - because they are TERRIFIED that you are going to hell; and they are ORDERED to convert you or they somehow fail, themselves. My mom doesn't talk to me, either.
Hi Tessa Schlesinger,
Those who believe in God come in all shapes and sizes. Just find one that is not a bigot or a zealot, and there are plenty.
If the person is a good friend, you can come out and say it loud and clear - Dont want to talk about that.
If it is not, just go quiet for a moment, then introduce a different subject. If the person does not take the hint, why worry about any offence.
"If the person does not take the hint, why worry about any offence.' I've lost six close friends during the last six months because none of them would drop the subject. It's as if my very existence is offensive.
I am sorry to hear that Tessa. That does make it difficult to be yourself. You know, these friends probably think they are 'Holier than Thou'; are you sure they are worthy of your friendship?
Marie, I don't understand why they can't drop the subject, but even though I ask if we can change the topic, they persist. I half suspect that somewhere deep inside I'm a threat to their belief or they are surprised that I'm not a walk over.
Great question and awesome answers. Help me find the answer to this. Okay, it's one thing to speak to friends like that and drop the subject or refuse to talk about it but what if it's your MOTHER IN LAW???? She is so intense and I try my best to avoid her at all cost... A regular conversation like "hello, how is it going, how are the kids--- great, how are you?--- oh you know, God is watching over me and I am going to pray, you should join me, I would also like to pray for the kids--- <--- NOW, this is mild!!! Basically, every conversation, even when about unclogging the damn toilet, has God in it. LOL Even though she knows I am an Atheist, she still pushes and when I talk to my husband about it, he says "let it go, she is harmless". I am afraid that if I speak my mind and make her cry or offend her, this will hurt my marriage. It has before. We almost separated a while back because we got a puppy and she is "allergic" and claimed that I bought the dog on purpose to keep her away. Obviously, she hates me but I can't stoop on her level... Help would be appreciated.
I would just stop talking to her period. Is she needs to say something to you, she should relay through her son. Leave the house when she comes over, basically just ignore her completely. Maybe she'll figure it out some day, but I doubt it.
In my own situation, I just told my sister one day I wasn't ever going to speak to my brother-n-law again, and that I would never come to her house while he was there. Depends on how strong your relationship is with hubby. Mine is strong with sister.
It's strong but he is a momma's boy. She babies him and He loves her very much. I don't want them to argue because ofme even though I know he fully supports me
Maybe you should get another dog??? She can always pray away her allergies. LOL!
Well I remember reading you were a believer at once. However you said you read the Bible 18 times in 18 months?! I have never ever seen that recommend or even attempted in any of the well known Christian churches. To be honest that sounds cult like and I hope that is not the only picture of God or Christianity you have seen.
But to be honest if you don't want to accept God or change your heart, then as a Christian I do not want to talk to you about Christ. That is because I don't want to debate and argue, I want to help peoples doubts. If you are sure you don't want Him, I will for surely leave you alone. Please just don't spread false info because I would be open to correcting that where I see it. Don't want people misled from the true teachings of the Bible.
So to summarize if your honest and have a open heart then I won't be offended as a Christian. I can't speak for the others.
Wow, first Christian I ever saw that recommended NOT reading the bible! LOL. Well, that's because reading the bible will turn you off of Christianity faster than anything else! It's NOT that we don't want to accept your god, it's that we CAN'T!
There is no need to believe in God to benefit from the wisdom in the Bible.
This is a good question. Having recently lost my faith in God from the trauma of inadvertently joining a cult and putting my life in danger as a result. I've found such dead-end discussions usually happen if I bring up the subject. If I don't bring it up, it's usually not an issue.
I've been attending Baha'i Faith meetings. I enjoy their company. They know about my lack of belief in God. Whenever they start talking about God, I simply fall silent. They already heard me the first time; it would be rude for me to keep bringing it up, as if to get them to change their view.
If someone keeps bringing it up to me, I just say, "I'm glad that works for you." Awhile back, a former roommate kept trying to bully me back into the church. When it was obvious that wasn't working, she cut me off and refused to answer my phone calls. We're still friends on FaceBook, and she continues to post annoying messages on my wall. I'm considering un-friending her. What do you guys think?
It's possible to unfollow a fb friend without unfriending them. Check the little drop down box and you should see it. They can still see you, and can send you dm. But you don't have to see their every post.
Thanks - I'll check that out.
Dear, I think you may have a session of discussion with her and offer her to be sensible and tolerant during discussion. Let the things take their course one way or the other. But after wards, we continue our friendship and avoid such discussions.
This is awesome!
I am a Australian muslim and I believe that we should not force any religion upon anyone my mother being a atheist has always made it known that she prefers not to have any 'rules' in her life and I respect that and never bring up the subject with anyone as I think it's rude because if people wanted to know things they would ask. but am completely open to answering questions. I believe our belief in God is between us and him only and whatever you chose to believe or not is none of anyone's business. Each to there own I say. Respect others and they will respect you if only all people thought like this we would live in a better place
And that is what I was taught - that religion is a private affair and it is never brought up in public. The purpose of manners is to avoid insulting or hurting someone else. Trying to convert other people is bad manners and leads to fights.
Hi Tessa, you said we either shut up and get insulted or speak up and lose friends". Yet also said "militant atheism... .Now we either shut up and get insulted or speak up and lose friends. There's a victim, & an aggressor, both of them describe
Wow! Marie. You certainly have a black and white view of life. In case you hadn't noticed, we have only 250 characters so one assumes that people can read between the lines.
When you are friends with them and have know them for 30 or 40 years?
If they're your friends and they still don't know this makes you uncomfortable then something is very wrong here.
It takes two to tango. Discussion cannot be started unless one of the group i.e. atheist or believer starts it. On the atheist part, he must not talk on the topic with believer.
If the believer initiate discussion, simply argue that I do not have sufficient knowledge about the matter and might some of my arguments hurt you that I do not want to. Better to choose from some other worldly scenarios and not to get on each other nerves.
Let's have a cup of tea.....hahaha, sure!
If only they would be content with that...
Carrie, I am deleting all your comments plus those of other Christians who are trolling me. And you are trolling me. Make no mistake. I asked a question which is polite.My hubs are written for atheists.
You can't handle the truth is what it is. You have to censor what you don't agree with. You saying Christians should stop talking about religion while you keep doing it?! Is what would be considered trolling! What happened to free speech. Dictator.
roob - she is not talking about religion, she is talking about atheism. That's what YOU cannot tolerate. Your comments are deleted because you won't answer the question, you just want to preach and call names.
You are dealing with fanatics here - Christian fanatics being just as dangerous in their way as Muslim ones. Winston Churchill once said of fanatics that they can't change their mind and won't change the subject.
Although you have reasoned argument on your side, you'll get nowhere by trying to reason with a convinced religionist because they don't believe in reason in religion - even if they use it in other facets of their lives.
The best you can do is get them to agree to disagree with you and accept that any religious remarks they make will go straight over your head and be ignored. They might eventually get bored of talking to a brick wall (i.e. you) but maybe they won't!
Christian fanatics being just as dangerous in their way as Muslim ones. - Anyway
People can still have differences of opinions and talk NICELY about these disagreements. What is there to be offended about? Love is kind and is not easily provoked (1 Corinthian 13:4-5). One's unbelief in God ought not to provoke anger, offence or frustration. Nor should the atheist be provoked to anger by another's belief in God. People ARE STILL FREE TO BELIEVE WHATEVER they want: a freedom GUARANTEED BY LAW AND GIVEN BY GOD. As they both attempt to effect a particular belief system/ worldview, Militant atheism AND harassing evangelization are in my opinion one and the same, and should be avoided ...... I do hope, you can have better, maybe even good conversations with people who believe in God. Or, just agree to not talk about God? All the best
Christ commanded Christians to go out and witness (convert) others to Christianity. So atheists do NOT want to talk about religion, and Christians insist. It's not about whether one can talk nicely; it's that most atheists don't want to discuss it.
Clearly then, the Atheist just says "I DONOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT GOD". Problem solved. I have been told this many times, even from close friends. Never been a problem or any offence caused! Unless there is some other issue at play here...
And as I pointed out, there is a percentage of Christians that when you say you don't want to talk about it, will persist. That is quite clearly what my OP says. You're talking about reasonable people; I am talking about fanatics.
Tessa, I would get into a nice and relaxed conversation with them. So I would ask them nicely - What is your faith doing for you? Are you healthier? Are you happier, and calm, and tolerant, and accepting, and loving, and forgiving, just as your faith is requiring you to be? And what is your definition of a friendship? Is it an agreement where one friend has to imitate others' ways of thinking, not being allowed to be herself?
I would challenge them to prove to me with their example that their faith is something that I should follow. I would tell them that I want to have friends who treat me as an equal, and if their faith is not allowing that, then why are we friends?
I would ask them - if Jesus was here right now, do you think he would be forcing me to believe in him, in the name of "love"?
Sometimes you have to put a mirror in front of believer's face. I have been doing it for a while here, and many of them unpacked that shiny wrapping and exposed their true colors when their ego got hurt.
There are a couple of wonderful people here who are believers, and I know they know that I never meant them as I was challenging religionists. All others are religious phonies, with no virtue cultivated through all their parrot-like preaching.
Well, Tessa, that's what I think, don't raise your voice, smile, have fun, and ask them what religion in the world are they representing by acting as they do.
Why on earth would I do that? The subject bores me to tears. I have no interest in discussing it. We've got global warming, massive inequality, terrorism, and more. Those are real things. Why on earth would I speak of imaginary gods?
I'm 65. This is the first time I have done so. Just had someone badger me and insult me for two weeks because my atheism was an afront to her despite my being polite - until I had a gutful. Then I said goodbye.
There is a man called Moses that God called to take the children of Israel out of Egypt. When they were about to enter the promised land, God showed Moses the promised land, but told him, he would not enter it. Why?
If they insist on bringing it up constantly just tell them you're an atheist and the topic isn't comfortable for you. Most people who have a shred of decency will shut up about it after that. The ones that don't are generally the ones you want to offend anyway so they'll leave you alone.
Funny you should say that. That was what I thought they were supposed to do. Drop the subject. They don't. They seem to think it's an invitation to debate it. Thank you for confirming that.
It's a little tricky for me to answer this as I am a Christian Author and Sunday school teacher, but try not to judge me, lol. I believe that a belief is personal. It is not my job to coerce another into anything. I am not to bombard, Bible thump or judge. I am simply to love others where they are.
I would humbly answer a direct question if directed to me as best I can and respect where someone is at and how they live their life. I have friends who are atheist and when they directly ask me a question in regard to my faith I will answer it. I respond similarily for most controversial issues.
I do not need to attack to believe, there are many ways to share my thoughts Hub being just one. Therein people can choose how to react, what to read, and how to live and hopefully live in mutual respect.
I am sorry you feel disrespected by those who push or prod. I think these acts are unnecessary as if people truly believe in the power of God or have faith, then they know they do not need to bully people with their belief.
People are allowed choices after all that is where it all strated, if people know the story. Free will and all that jazz. I as a person, and as a Christian am called to love in all circumstances. I am not better than anyone on earth and I understand this.
I do my best to respect opinion and belief. I may choose to pray quietly as a means of intercessory prayer for all people as well as the world. That is just who I am and what I do. I do not need to convince anyone to do as I do. I am to love, simply love
If you asked my to stop talking when around you I would be sure to find other things to talk about getting to know you and enjoying your company. I would be kind and hopefully funny, patient, and I would hope your friends who are believers would do the same.
I do hope this did not offend and I would doubt that you would ever enjoy reading me hub but, no worries I generally just like people anyway.
Peace to you always
I wish all religious people thought that way. Then I have no issue. I have issues when, out of the blue, make statements or ask questions in order to stop 'sharing their faith.' I find it deeply offensive, and I do not want those people in my life.
Best would be to excuse yourself from the place. Or simply look blank if not impolite. Nodding now and then is an indication that you are not listening.
This is something I do sometimes when a topic becomes very unbearable. I am a theist but not to the point of being a fanatic.
You know, it helps to look dumb at times.
I must be doing something wrong. That said, sometimes even a blatant "I don't want to talk about that' seems to cause a pause for a moment, and then another door is found to speak about the same topic.
Reading the discussion below, it seems that we are discussing 2 different things.
1) Please don't try to evangelize me, invite me to church, explain your theology to me, etc. If I say I'm not interested, please don't keep pushing. If I say I'm not interested, don't drop me as your friend.
2) I am offended by the very mention of God, because God is pretend and is not important. Therefore, as long as we are together, I want you never to mention God at all, even though this is a big part of your life. In fact, you should never mention God in public.
These are 2 very different things, but they are being conflated in this discussion.
The assumption seems to be that if someone mentions God, ever, or that if they ever ask about someone else's spiritual life, or invite them to consider God, they are are offensive pusher who cares about nothing but getting spiritual scalps. It ain't necessarily so.
You're absolutely correct - for the most part. I disagree only on the fact that if someone mentions god, that they are out to deliver scalps. There are exceptions. However it does mean they believe in mystical pie in the sky. Not my kind of person.
Please can you stick to the topic. Yes, there are Christians who drop the topic if asked. However, I am talking about people who will not drop it under any circumstances because being an atheist is an affront to them. The reason for that is that at a deep internal level, they have doubts. When someone says straight out that they don't believe, they can't let it go.
Of course, there are people who respect the request, but there are also a fair number who don't. I am talking about those.
And, yes, I will delete comments from people who are just here to defend Christians. I have no issue with people who respect my wish not to discuss their delusional faith. However, I have an enormous problem with people who keep bringing it up despite my polite request (repeatedly) not to discuss the topic.
Some of these people were close friends 20 years ago, but since my return to South Africa, I have found them much changed. I don't want to hurt them, but I also don't want to know about beliefs in mystical gods. This post is directed at people who want to answer the question, not those who wish to defend their Christianity or think it must be my fault because I'm losing friends. I'm not losing all my friends, and I'm the one who is walking away.
4 of 93 hubs about atheism/agnosticism/religion over the course of a year and 3 related questions within the past 3 months = obsessed.
She totally tops your harassing of pastors roob...
I don't follow your logic. If an overwhelming majority of people are Christian, there would be an assumption that you are Christian (so they wouldn't proselytize). So unless you bring it up, I can't imagine it is a constant topic for conversation.
Carrie, are you stupid or something?
1.: Hi, how are you?
1. The Lord is good. He made it rain today, just when we needed rain.
2. The Lord had nothing to do with it.
3. The Lord is in charge of all things. Praise god.
4. I'm an athiest
When I learned math, I had to put the steps neatly under each other so the teacher knew what I was doing. When I taught math, I was told that the teacher had to figure out the steps, to prevent copying. Try hanging up on a sales person as an analytic
The only way, is just to smile and say, i don't like talking about God..
I like that. And it's not offensive at all. If I keep repeating it, it may sink in.
An atheist who wants to talk about theism is quite probably but a conversion in the making . Why ask Why ?
She is not talking about theism. She is talking how to get other people to stop talking about theism.
AustinStar, it really appears difficult to get religionists to understand that they are the ones who keep bringing up the topic and that it is virtually impossible to get them to drop the topic politely.
First of all, I think you need to take out the "these days". I don't know if you have heard of Marcus Garvey?
As a Christian, it difficult to avoid arguments period. There are Jehovah's Witnesses who insist on knocking on doors, to spread the gospel. They usually go away quietly, if you tell them you are not interested, but in a few months, another set shows up at the door. There are Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists, and Catholics, whose religious views I do not share. In the bible, all the prophets got into arguments. Paul mentioned in Galatians 2 vs. 11, Paul confronted Peter to his face. Then you could be living in a country where Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism is the dominant religion.
I really do not think it is possible to talk to someone who believes in God without causing offence. So , instead of not wanting to talk about it try a different approach. Have an open mind. Pray about it. Ask "God" for the answer. Seek Him, and try to find out why you find religious conversations offensive and contentious, but still cannot avoid getting involved in the subject. Ask Him if there is something He wants you to do, that you are not doing. Tell him to shine the light on the matter, rather than leave you in the dark..
Atheists do not talk or pray to nonexistent gods. So, telling an atheist to pray to god for help is about as helpful as windshield wipers on a submarine.
How does an atheist 'pray' to a non existent god? Which god would that be? Thor? Zeus? Alah? Yehweh? Shiva? Osiris? There are thousands of gods, and none of them answer. I don't want to talk religion. Period. It used to be rude to talk about religion
People who bring up such issues are the ones who tend to think everybody agrees or thinks like them on the same issue. The only way i've gotten out of such situations is to easily keep quiet but if somebody persists on the topic i simply look at them directly in the eyes and say to them, "Not everybody sees the world the way you do, and not everybody is gonna believe in what you believe in, its better to respect their views than impose yours on them. As you know, Jesus neither God ever forced anyone to turn to his religion but simply gave them a choice." And that is how i get out of an uncomfortable God driven argument. Use their own religion against them.
That's a really good response. I was on the bus earlier and the lady next to me started talking to me - first about how boss made R50 million, then what a strong believer she is and she doesn't believe that God gave her mother dementia....
Feel free to talk to me anytime. Why would I be offended by your views?
I spent 5 years at a religious boarding school, plus ten years as a fundamentalist Christian attending many churches and meeting many Christians. What on earth could you tell me that I don't know and that I don't know from experience?
I never claimed to know more than you. I simply stated that I would not be offended by anything you have to say about God.
Go softly Tessa, We all carry burdens ...sometimes they surface only when we are truly helpless. Prayer begins when human capacity ends. Yours seem to be endless... is it? Be as the yielding tree, or a blade of grass, when you can. Much Love.
When ppl care for each other (family and friends) they will do anything to relieve present or future suffering in their loved ones. Don't take offense. Concentrate on their love. Truth will eventually settle over the relationship for truth is the unequivocal facts that always stay the same. Opinions come and go. If your relationships are ruled by opinion neither party in a relationship will be heard or even loved.
Hmm..I am a Christian, and my friends would be about 50/50 Christian to Atheist. Funny thing is I can't even remember the last time religion even came up in a conversation. There seem to be so many other things to discuss these days. No Christians I know ever try to preach to non-believers, they believe each to his own. So I can't answer your question.
John - People are so incredibly different that we can't generalize what is a "good" topic for a conversation. Some enjoy arguing over sports and politics, some see a good pastime in questioning others' belief or a lack of it. Just humans I guess.
Avoid conversation with this party. I you are choosing to maintain some type of a relationship with this party, perhaps you need to accept this person as they are.
You may be afraid of the topic because you don't want to get saved or swayed from your current lifestyle.
Sounds to me that you want to maintain communication with this party for some reason.
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