A theist and a non-theist being friends - Is it possible, and how?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by wynn, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Is it possible for a theist and a non-theist to be friends?
    If yes, how, under what conditions?

    After all, theism and whatever form of non-theism, are not just opinions, like one may have an opinion about tomato soup or Abba.

    I think theism and whatever form of non-theism deal with some fundamental ontological and epistemological positions that a person either takes or doesn't take, and these positions are categorically different for theism and non-theism.
    Given this, a theist and a non-theist have nothing substantial in common - so how could they possibly be friends?

    Or can someone provide a reason how they could?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Sure they can! They can have many, many other subjects of common interest upon which they agree. In fact, that perfectly describes my circle of friends.

    Now if you are assuming tremendous RADICAL forms of religion that would be a different story - but it would still vary depending on the individuals.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    That is a value judgement, and not a statement of actual fact. While this may be your opinion, there are many who would disagree with your statement on those grounds.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yes, it is possible, and would arise whenever the other aspects of their practical lives outweigh the matter of theism/non-theism in their relationship.

    Your conclusion that they have nothing substantial in common does not seem to follow from the premise... or you need to clarify what you mean as "substantial", please.

    How one thinks does not necessarily mean that they come to different conclusions on all matters.
    E.g. you don't need to be a theist to conclude that killing is wrong. You may have different reasons for the conclusion but the conclusion is the same.

    And one's epistemological and ontological viewpoints don't necessarily effect what your interests are... and friendship is built on practical matters, not necessarily via assessments of one's philosophical core.
    If one's theism / atheism affected your interests and your actions so significantly, that everything you did was an overt expression of your theistic position, then perhaps you might have a point.
    But outside of that core issue, the matter barely raises its head.

    If a theist's sole interest is their religion then I am sure I could not be friends with them... as I don't share their interest.
    But good friends of mine are religious, and are theist, and we are friends precisely because we share many interests outside of their theism and religious practices (and my lack thereof). We often discuss the issue, and we are friends because we can discuss it and challenge each other's position, and know we are not doing it to hurt, to offend.
  8. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    I think both must be open to the possibility of changing their opinions.
    If they are not dogmatic, they can be friends.
    The theist can tolerate a lack of faith in his friend, in the knowledge that his own faith is also sometimes lacking.
    The non-theist can tolerate superstitious ways of thinking in his friend, accepting them as part of human nature.
  9. elte Valued Senior Member

    I agree with Wynn that those two contrary positions make for quite an irreconcilable difference in a relationship. The activity of believers looks pretty foolhardy to me and I wonder if they think something similar about me.
  10. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    There are some people I ahve been friends with for years before discovering their religious leanings were wholly different from mine. (Or should that be "their religious leanings were holy; different from mine.")
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    But isn't this what theism is all about?

    I think that a theist is someone whose every action is an overt expression of their theistic position. Otherwise, I see little point in someone calling themselves a "theist."

    And shouldn't a non-theist's actions all be an overt expression of their atheistic position.

    I am currently in this situation where I have to decide one way or another, whether to be friends with a theist or not. Discussing this with him hasn't brought any clarity so far.

    I don't find the activity of theists to be foolhardy. I do find that the general attitude theists have toward non-theists is contempt. Sure, few theists would admit to that, but given that theistic scriptures don't spare words for non-theists, and consider non-theists to be less than human and all kinds of bad things, it only follows that if scriptures say lowly things about non-theists, and the theists hold those scriptures as The Truth, then it follows that those theists think about non-theists in the same lowly ways as scriptures do.
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    What does a theist have in common with a non-theist?

    They even breathe for different reasons.
  13. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Most people I know and choose to hang out with are decent, honest & caring human beings. It seldom occurs to me to ask for their opinions on the ultimate nature of the universe. When the topic of "God" does come up, I find that they range the gamut from anti-theist to pantheist to Christian.

    I do know a handfull of prostelytizing religious fanatics. But I usually avoid people that are too enthusiastic and/or militant about damn near anything - be it religion, politics, diet or just about anything else.
  14. arauca Banned Banned


    Pardon me to say this is a stupid question . I am a theist and my friends are mixed we make fun on each other as far our believes . What is nice about it we al ways have a topic to discuss , and we learn from each other .
  15. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Sure. All it takes is a non-militant atheist and a non-militant theist. Or if not that, one or both keeping their views private in terms of a local group of friends, similar to an atheist sometimes keeping quiet about their non-belief when in the company of their fundamentalist or even less-so religious relatives, because they're already too taxed with other matters to deal with additional friction that can be avoided. And vice-versa, though probably rarer, "...much like some theists keep quiet about....".
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    But you do believe that your non-theist friends will and deserve to burn in hell for all eternity because they don't believe like you do - or do you not believe that?
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I understand being quiet about things that may be controversial.

    But frankly, I am not comfortable considering someone a friend who believes that I deserve to burn in hell for all eternity because I don't believe what he does, even if he never actually says that to my face.

    I'd like to believe that it is possible to be friends with a theist, although I don't see how.
  18. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    And then, friends no longer?
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I've had many religious friends throughout my life. If you had to go out looking for a fellow atheist everywhere you went, you'd be a pretty lonely person.

    Some of them just don't talk about it much. They're good Christian people by almost anybody's standards: honest, charitable, good parents, go to church reasonably often, support it financially, make cookies for their events, etc. I say "almost" because they don't preach to me and that doesn't satisfy the hard-core evangelical American Christians.

    One of these people actually looked Mrs. Fraggle and me in the eye and said, "You guys are better Christians than I am. The way you help people, the causes you support, you've campaigned against war and racism since before it was fashionable. I know you'll be in Heaven, I just hope I make it there so we can still be friends. God doesn't give a damn (and he actually said it that way) whether you believe in all the stories in the Bible, even the one about Jesus. You live the way Jesus wants us all to live."

    And I have another friend who belongs to that hard-core Anglican congregation that broke off from the Episcopal church because they didn't want a gay priest. He's really into the doctrine, quotes the Bible on his Facebook page, all that stuff. But he basically thinks the same way as my other friend: "We're all sinners. Okay, you don't pray or believe in Jesus and those are some mighty big sins. But you live the rest of your life honorably. I do the religion thing really well but I've sure fallen down in some other areas of my life. I don't see why God should like you any less than he likes me." He didn't even care much about the gay priest business. He stuck with his church because all his friends were there, and if they had been in favor of gay priests he would have stayed.

    There are also lots of people who identify themselves as Christians and go to church, but they don't get involved in all the supernatural stuff. To them those are just their own community's mythology. If you're British you believe in King Arthur, if you're Mexican you believe in La Llorona, if you're Christian you believe in Jesus. But you don't really want anybody asking you to reconcile that belief with reality. They're legends that guide you into living a good life, and a couple of times a year you have a really big party to celebrate the good things about Jesus's life.

    As I've said many times, I love Winnie the Pooh, Frodo Baggins and Kermit the Frog, and they're not "real" either. Ain't nothin' wrong with lovin' Jesus too. In fact I do love Jesus too. He's a wonderful role model for all of us.

    So I don't really get into too many screaming arguments with my Christian friends. That happens here on SciForums because we come here to scream and argue with each other. But out in the real world there are so many more things to do, it's just not important. This is why we don't use our real names, in case we run into each other some day.

    If the Christians can love me, how could I possibly be a decent human being if I was not capable of loving them too? That's far more important than "ontology and epistemology."
  20. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    fundamentalist religion has no place for anyone but fundamentalists. This idea introduces logical impossibilities when placed in the hands of an ardent fundie. Is God good, using our word, if God condemns 95% of the human race to eternal hell fire and torture? because that percentage is where fundamentalism takes us. If I am trying to save 100 drowning people and throw out three or four life preservers, you would say, "nice try, little buddy, but you just aren't an effective rescuer." Or if i try to rescue a little child who doesn't know to grab for a life preserver by throwing them a life preserver, you might as well call me an idiot. I personally believe that there are interpretations of the bible that allow for God to be portrayed as competent and at least as decent morally as an average human, although fundie interpretations generally do not allow for that. If God isn't competent or concerned with humanity, why worship a cosmic practical jokester? God is the biggest gorilla in the forest? You along with other people insist on holding to fundamentalist ideas of God. I think that fundamentalism makes life easier because there is less actual discussion and questioning that has to occur, which is thankfully the case for anyone who has illogical premises.

    fundie problems -
    1 - noah's ark (etc.) MUST be an accurate historical representation
    2 - the earth is the physical center of my universe
    3 - the devil isn't God's fault in any way
    4 - free-will requires hell
    5 - god actively answers football players prayers but ignores starving people's prayers
    6 - separation of church and state is bad for us, but good for islamic states
    7 - the earth is 8000 years old or whatever
    8 - etc etc etc

    I personally don't accept any of those things, and i am willing to change my mind on the things i do accept if that becomes necessary to maintain my feeling that i am not crazy or illogical. I guess the question is, does the person you are talking about think like me, or are they a fundie?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  21. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    Eh? how do you come to that? They both breathe to get oxygen into their blood so they can live.
  22. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    They both have the same thing to argue about. I'm friends with theists. Romantic relationships are another story. But you don't have to have everything in common with someone to be their friend.
  23. arauca Banned Banned


    Listen I don't have the key to heaven , My God is merciful and we never know what will happen at the end of our life . Example one of the crucified changed his position ant the end. Jesus loves us all.

Share This Page