Talking to the Infidel

22 05 2012

I’m sitting in a lovely cafe in Bangkok sipping some iced tea after a long day at work. I should be writing about how Bangkok and the Hospital have been surprising me, but this post, is as usual, long overdue.

This one is, after a long time, about non-believers like us and it started with an amusing incident on facebook.

You might want to read the facebook post to revel in the profound arguments in detail or you can have the executive summary.

Basically, Pink (the believer here, pink, because it is a nice colour) says that Religion and fear of the Afterlife keeps people’s evil in check. Black (the atheist, because we are drowning in darkness)  disagrees and points it out, calmly at first, then annoyed by the lack of a fight, turns up the heat. Then, Pink backs out and Black goes into full on argumentative Hulk mode.

You wouldn’t expect Facebook to be disseminating such wisdom!

Pink cannot take this and pulls a full out Ad Hominem attack and ends off with … “dun let the door hit you in the vagina”.  I have no idea how that would happen until I saw this on 9GAG.

Alright, now back to the serious stuff.

Many of us non-believers, feel that debate and argument are a wonderful way to learn. It is uncomfortable at first, but after the initial discomfort, it is a thrilling way to develop an idea and collaboratively refine it. Not that a lot of people can do it well (myself included) but it is the mainstay of skeptical discourse and I think it is here to stay.

When we argue with a non-believer, about religion, it’s often because we feel it might be an interesting question although we don’t agree with the answer religion provides. When we actually decide to participate, we hope it will be a fun and enriching experience for the both of us and that we might actually learn something.

On the believers’ part, it might actually be their virgin argument. Their beliefs might not have been questioned before and as a result they might forget their etiquette or take it as a personal attack. Let me remind you, questioning your belief is not a personal attack and most of the time, we are not making you out to be a bad person. People cross the line by making sexist, racist or homophobic comments. Especially so when they cannot offer a logical counter argument. It weakens their position and it reflects badly on them. And that goes for both sides.

So here is a great way to deal with it.

Since Pink, above, talked about the door hitting Black’s vagina here, I hereby introduce a BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism) concept. It’s called a Safe Word. In the midst of a BDSM activity, things can go horribly wrong so a safe word is a little “brake” to remind your partner that you are uncomfortable and would like the action to stop.

I would have liked to propose something fun and tongue in cheek, but I think I have a reasonable and functional phrase instead. The next time someone challenges your beliefs, I would actually encourage you to go ahead and have a civil discussion, but if you do feel uncomfortable, drop in a “It’s my faith(or belief)” and you may leave the discussion gracefully. The discussion might go on without you if it’s interesting enough. You can choose to live your life according to your faith, we might disagree about how much role faith should play in the public sphere, but we can’t really argue against faith. It’s a conversation stopper.

Also feel free to change the safe word to something else.

Wisdom from one of my favourite comics

More about the fun in Bangkok in an other post.





2 responses

23 05 2012

A better safe phrase could be “it’s personal”.

24 05 2012

Well. If it was personal enough, it wouldn’t go that far. But definitely, why not?

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