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

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

  1. arauca Banned Banned

    2986205]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.[/QUOTE]

    You will not burn very long as soon the temperature goes above 400 F you will be baked meat

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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Sure, "because God works in mysterious ways."
    And it's not just 95%, the percentage is much higher.

    "Fundamentalism," or simply true religion?

    Surely you are familiar with the Divine Potmaker analogy: God makes pots (ie. humans), and those he likes, he keeps (ie. sends them to heaven), the rest he throws away (ie. sends them to hell) - because it is his universe, his material, his power, his to do so.

    Even CS Lewis argued for this analogy - which is what I find so scary about it all. Despite all his sophistication and attempts at compassion, he nevertheless resorted to this, in my opinion, brutal analogy. Which is why I don't trust him, don't trust his ideas of love, compassion, God, or whatever.

    If that is so, then why stick with the Bible at all? Why call oneself a "Christian" at all, if one prefers a completely idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible, a completely idiosyncratic idea of Jesus?

    Freestyle religiousness has just as many problems as fundamentalist religiousness.

    That is not true. I use the fundamentalist ideas to make my point.

    If even CS Lewis resorted to, what appear to be vile theological twists, who's to say that the person I'm talking about won't?
    And in my estimation, he already has.

    Being friends with a Christian is much like trying to trust a wolf who happens to be wearing a sheep's skin, and one knows about this.
    Sure, the now sheepish wolf may seem amiable enough, but he is, nevertheless, a wolf - and one knows it.
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  5. Balerion Banned Banned

    Not to be rude, but it's hard to believe this question was asked seriously. I mean, look at this:

    I'm supposed to take this seriously?
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If one is coming from the position of strong atheism, then it's easy enough to dismiss other people's religion as simply "myth," "superstition," "tradition;" and then conclude that since everyone, theist or not, probably believes some nonsense, the theists are not special. And then it is easy enough to be friends with pretty much anyone.

    But I'm not taking the position of strong atheism, so that option of simply dismissing the other person's religiousness is not open to me.

    I'm sure they say they love you ...

    Not at all. Issues of ontology and epistemology work right into ideas about love.

    Christians breathe to live for Jesus.

    Others breathe for other reasons.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Gee, Balerion, tell us - what do you have in common with theists?
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

    As with anything, it depends on the individual. I have a friend who, for instance, shares my belief that people are basically good. We also believe in charity, and both feel a sense of duty to our fellow citizen. That's the deep stuff, but there are countless other things we have in common, such as a love for the fiction of China Mieville, a preference for brunettes, and an unhealthy addiction to the internet.

    I mean, what kind of question is that? Have you really never met a theist you have something in common with? What makes you think being of faith prevents you from sharing an interest with someone who doesn't, and vice versa?
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Like I said earlier:

    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."

    I don't think theism is something that one could simply don and take off as a cloak, or something that would address only some aspects of one's life, but not all.
    I can't imagine how someone could be a theist, but, say, have a preference for noodles or Jane Austen novels, and see these preferences as having little or nothing to do with their theism.
  11. Balerion Banned Banned

    I'm sorry I missed this before, but let me address it now: First, that's not what a theist is. A theist is someone who believes in at least one god. Understand? What you're talking about is a fanatic, not a theist. Theists can be fanatics, but defining them as theists is misleading. It's like saying that men and women can have nothing in common, because by "men" you mean "people whose every action is an overt expression of their heterosexuality." You're forgetting the vast majority of men who aren't pigs or sex-crazed sperm dispensers (not to mention the ones who aren't even heterosexual). Same goes here for the vast majority of theists who do not live their lives at all as you've described here.

    And again, I'm left with the nagging suspicion that this is not a serious question. Do you really believe that all theists live their life in such a way? Do you really not know any theists, as I do, who would rather be defined by their art or their music? Their philanthropy? I find that difficult to believe, which means that you're really trying to say only fanatics are theists, which I find equally difficult to believe. So...are you being serious?

    You are mistaken in that case. I would suggest casting a wider net in your social life, or perhaps getting to know people better, because you'll find that most theists tend to compartmentalize just like anyone else. But even if they didn't, how would that prevent them from being friends with a non-theist? If we both like noodles and Jane Austin, what would it matter what we thought noodles and Jane Austin meant in the grand scheme of things?

    I have a sneaking feeling that you're going to bail on this discussion before answering any of the above questions, so let me throw this out here as something of a safety net: You say you think theism is all-encompassing; what makes you think this?
  12. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    Once we discovered our different views on the importance of religion it made zero difference in our relationships.
  13. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    It isn't my religion either way. At this point i would rather be wrong than interpret the bible that way, so I guess I am pretty screwed if it turns out to be "true religion".
    of course there is the reality that the biggest gorilla in the forest can do whatever it wants whenever and wherever it wants. You can decide whether that God who doesn't care and just tosses everyone away is worth following and if you say no, and get tossed in the fire, I guess i will be there too.
    i personally feel the need for some sort of savior to transcend the gap between this world and a different one. I am in a box, and if i am going to get out of it that is my perceived need. I don't have the answer for anyone else's box, their box is not mine and i can only guess. If you are trying to put yourself in someone else's box so you can figure out what they think, you have kind of a hopeless job at that point.
    Name one problem with my freestyle religiousness. Psychology, science, logic, or bible (without the fundie's pure literalism), morality, health, or civic issues. I have no problem getting more stuff to think about and work out, if you are successful.

    Maybe the person you are talking about doesn't use fundamentalist ideas. In that case you are basically saying, "i use a straw man to make my point."

    It isn't like C.S. lewis is the least rigid believer in the world just because he is the most widely accepted fundie, and has a great facility with language, and has some nice or sensible thoughts.
    Perhaps you shouldn't be friends with people YOU are going to think the worst of, because they are eventually going to do things you see as
    "vile" if you look at them through a magnifying glass or negative colored glasses.
    It really breaks down to that i think. You decide who you can trust. And you've decided you can't trust a theist. Whether it is because you don't practice strong atheism and you will have to accept the idea that they may be right, which is too much for you to deal with, or because you just think theists are all bad people, I don't know. Maybe both.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member



    Under conditions of being reasonable, normal human beings.

    There's only the ontological position - whether god exists or not. I see little necessary epistemological difference. Explain.

    Surely they can have everything else in common other than the relatively minor matter of whether they believe in a sky fairy or not.

    They both breathe because if they didn't they would die.


    For many people in the world, religion is not the centre of their lives. They go about their daily business, have relationships with other human beings, eat and sleep and have sex, and if God comes into their thoughts at all it is only on certain occasions.

    Is there a special way to eat if you're a theist, as opposed to an atheist?
    Is there a special way to have a bath?
    Is there a special way to collect water from the well?
    Is there a special way to flush the toilet?

    "I'm a theist, so they way I flush the toilet must be an overt expression of my belief in God. Better get this flushing thing right!"

    Frankly, I'm surprised he tolerates your nonsense. If this is getting in the way of a potential friendship for you, then I have to wonder why anybody, theist or atheist, would want to be friends with you.

    Then I'm guessing you've met very few theists.
  15. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    I think this is similar to asking if gays can be friends with non gays... The answer is yes.
    There are non theists and theists on here I'm sorta friends with.
    There are different Christian sects. Like Catholics, church of christ, baptists, Mormon. We can be friends even with jews. Anyone in my opinion can be friends. It just hinges on tolerance, an "limits".
  16. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    They certainly are only opinions. Whether grounded in "fundamental ontological and epistemological positions that a person either takes or doesn't take", they still revolve around opinions unless someone has either proven or disproven God.

    They can base a friendship in other areas, or agree to disagree, or...

    Look, why is this a thread?
  17. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    OK, I will do so.

    Global response: Each and every one of us humans consume, excrete, breathe, sleep, desire sex, feel pain and pleasure. We have parents, siblings, home and a place where we were born. We share a language and cultural background with the other humans around us. We are individual members of a world tribe of highly social top predator primates. We live together and hang out together because that is an intrinsic part of our nature - we are social and prefer to live together. While we are each a distinct individual with a set of idiosyncrasies that set us apart from every other human, we share more than we differ.

    Personal response: I am 61 years old and run 7 miles a day 7 days a week on trails in my area. There are other people who also run substantial distances on a daily basis on those same trails. A small group of those other people are in my age range and do a daily mileage comparable to mine, some as much as 15 miles a day, most average 50 miles a week. As a group, we share many likes, dislikes and personal issues. As individuals, we differ as to details. One of those details is religion. As you are well aware, I am Buddhist and atheist. Some of my friends are ardent Christians. We do not debate or discuss religion. We discuss the 10 stories of stairs that we all use every week to strengthen our hearts, practice deep breathing and build up our thigh muscles. We discuss specific injuries and how to deal with them. We discuss our meal plans and our spouses, dogs, children, work, and retirement plans. We discuss local running heroes and legends - the lady who came in 8th in her age class at the Boston marathon, the lady who just turned 40 and has quit trying to get into the Olympics after just missing on her third try, now she heads up the local middle school track program, the 54 year old lady who is back at it after a bout with cancer, the guy out running in the deep woods who had his foot crushed by a deer and had to crawl 3 miles through the snow to get back to his car to call for help.....that is the stuff we discuss.

    James has made solid points. The question has moved closer to the question of an 'ardent atheist being married to a religious fanatic' rather than a 'theist to an atheist'. This is logically equivalent to asking whether a homosexual person can be married to a heterosexual person or a gay male to a lesbian female. If I were to answer that from my personal experience I would have to answer in the affirmative as I have friends in both situations. I do not know a married couple that is comprised of a religious fanatic and an ardent atheist though, but must state that would not be as odd as it may seem at first blush and could well work out well for both parties IF they are able to negotiate an agreement.

    Sometimes love, pheromones or biology win, other times religion wins. :shrug: It comes down to reaching mutually agreeable terms of endearment.

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  18. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    My wife is a French-Italian-Cree-Dutch Conservative-made-me-put-a-chair-in-the-yard-Romney-Ryan Republican theist who, surprisingly, believes Jesus was real and a prophet but not God. I have attempted to describe her as a Unitarian or a Monophysite or a Muslim or something but she resists these terms in order to frustrate my attempts at categorization. Because she is French.

    I am an English - possibly slightly Welsh, which explains my hairiness and excellent singing voice - failed Communist and semi-atheist with Christian underpinnings that I find difficult to shake. When I proclaim my atheism, she decries it and tells me that I'm not serious.

    We get along fine.

    Really, what is the point of this thread?
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Of course. It's very common. I'm not a theist, but several of my closest friends are Christians.

    The same conditions that cause any two people to become friends. Basic psychological compatibility, shared interests, stuff like that.
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I think this is only applicable in an environment where one's ontological stance has a significant impact on the position one takes... and in such situations one can label oneself theist / non-theist. Such as on a forum where such matters are discussed.

    But how does being a theist or not affect one's love/hatred of soccer?
    Or of whether you prefer Dali over Monet, like beer or wine, partake of amateur dramatics, prefer Shakespeare to Tolkein, or Pratchett?

    Theism is not necessarily an overt position... merely an ontological one. It is up to each individual as to how overt they wish to make it, and how much that ontological position affects their life and the way they live their life. For some it will be overt, others not. There is no proscriptive way of demonstrating one's position, or even whether one needs to demonstrate it.
  21. Gustav Banned Banned


    the crux of the matter
    i think we should examine the specific scriptures in the various religions that promote such a belief
    does anybody know which ones they are??
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I get the impression that Wynn has 'theist' confused with some word like 'saint'. A theist isn't merely somebody who believes in the existence of God (or gods, whatever those words mean). To Wynn, it seems that a theist is something much greater than that, an ideal Christian (or Muslim or whatever it happens to be). A totally God-centered individual, an absolute paragon of faith. I'm not sure if such an ideal religious figure has ever walked on the dirt of this planet.

    Perhaps the old testament Hebrew law might have been intended to create that kind of situation. Its creators seem to have wanted to convert all the formerly mundane acts of daily life into ritual acts. The Hebrews were supposed to be God's nation of priests, and it seems that the idea was to turn every action in their lives into a kind of liturgy.

    Even then, in that rather extreme example, I think that it was more of a pious aspiration than it was ever an actual reality.
  23. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    You must be surrounded by some of those "interesting" Abrahamic theists paraded about on the news clips and railed against on liberal discussion shows. The ones I'm in contact with since the last move here to a "water-tower town" are pretty boring folks who donate their time to watching over elderly people in their communities, raising food for the needy and money for people drowning in debt from hospital bills, etc. I know at least one caregiver who "leaves it utterly up to God" to judge the disabled gay man she attends to, and couldn't care less about what that final evaluation might be beforehand.

    The most openly irreligious people I've encountered around here resemble meth-heads in physical appearances, who are so nasty-acting and unpredictable that I wouldn't want to leave even a kid's pet frog in their vicinity. With the few fully confirmed atheists/agnostics with constructive personalities, who do better service to their non-beliefs, actually being similar to the covert kind, still culturally considering themselves to be Christian and even attending church. (Non-theist Jews who still identify themselves as Jewish come to mind, although probably not a fully applicable analogy; as well as Thomas Jefferson having considered himself to be "Christian" in a philosophical sense (no supernatural stuff); as well as a former Mafia hit-man who still considered himself "Catholic" after whacking who knows how many people, and never believing there was really any life after death; and Diane Keaton's mother and Jerry Garcia in the latter cultural vein, though obviously minus the murderous, brutal career.)

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