At Least I’m Not Preaching

93


Discussion by: EmmaWinefride

I was recently reading 'The God Delusion' on the train, when I was interrupted by a Christian gentleman who said to me "I find it very offensive that you're reading that" then further asked if I was going to stop – to which of course my answer was no. But, what gave him the right to say that to me? It was not like I was reading the book aloud to the entire carriage. It's people like him that made me read the book in the first place.

93 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Missus Gumby:

      Have you seen the movie Starship Troopers? If so, you will understand why his attitude is very easily summed-up: Take a peep at this.

      I took a peep, its a giant arse hole hole about to find out that its teeth are no match for for a large pointed probe, from what i can remember of the film.

      • In reply to #63 by Dublin-atheist:

        In reply to #1 by Missus Gumby:

        Have you seen the movie Starship Troopers? If so, you will understand why his attitude is very easily summed-up: Take a peep at this.

        I took a peep, its a giant arse hole hole about to find out that its teeth are no match for for a large pointed probe, from what i c…

        Ah, the good bit right at the end. :)

    • In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

      He had every right to be offensive.

      Why does he have a right to offend? Good manners should prevail. It’s none of his business what she reads! We have no right not to be offended by the legal actions of others.

      • In reply to #3 by mjr:

        In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

        He had every right to be offensive.

        Good manners should prevail.

        Yes, but do you, in fact, mean good manners must prevail? Will you force your preferences on others?

        Besides, it is sweet to turn the other cheek to a Christian. They so often fail to notice their own offensiveness.

        Edit:

        In case people haven’t twigged this yet, you cannot effectively play the offence card as a response to someone who has just played the offence card.

        The correct response is, “Thank you for your offensive comment. You have confirmed that I am reading this book with good reason. I will defend to the death your freedom to make such comments and with the help of this book deny you the opportunity to actually stifle others’ speech as you seem intent to do.”

        • In reply to #7 by phil rimmer:

          “Thank you for your offensive comment.”

          Why does anybody have a right to invade my private space? I can choose to not read papers I find offensive, and I have a right to defend myself against intruders into my private space. The right response is: take care of your own fucking business and fuck off, arsehole.

          And if he persists in his attempt to further molest me mentally – just punch his fucking lights out and claim self defense.

          I am not polite to someone who uninvited with stupid comments invades my privacy.

      • In reply to #3 by mjr:

        In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

        He had every right to be offensive.

        Why does he have a right to offend? Good manners should prevail. It’s none of his business what she reads! We have no right not to be offended by the legal actions of others.

        You are exactly right. Im a Christian and I believe you let people do what they want to do, you cannot control people and its not your judgment to be cast down upon them.

        • In reply to #30 by ike_lcpl:

          In reply to #3 by mjr:

          In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

          He had every right to be offensive.

          Why does he have a right to offend? Good manners should prevail. It’s none of his business what she reads! We have no right not to be offended by the legal actions of others.

          You are exactly right. Im a…

          Hi there ike_lcpl:

          Welcome to the site. It is always excellent to have Christians engage with us on this site as it gives us an opportunity to engage with a different point of view. Of course we all know many Christians in our personal lives but it can damage relationships to engage fully on issues of faith as this story illustrates. So welcome, welcome, welcome!

          Be aware that many people who post on this site feel somewhat aggrieved at the various results of the religious being the majority of citizens in their countries (if democracies) and worse if not. Issue like gay marriage, fundamentalist Christian impact on science curriculum and euthanasia have this impact on me. So you will probably witness some venting and lashing out. Part of the benefits of this site is a place where we can feel free to gripe and let out feelings that are best vented here than at Mum, Dad, sister, wife, children, workmates, friends etc. So I hope you can accept that as part of the experience.

          Another thing you may need to accept is that by nature we are likely to be addressing the majority of Christians not necessarily you. The Bible is wide open to interpretation so the impact on us as atheists is often felt by small but cumulative impacts you may not even be aware of and by a majority of Christians which you may or may not agree with on any number of doctrines. For example you may consider homosexuality based upon verses in the old the testament but choose to ignore passages in the same book that tell you not to eat shellfish. So please try not to take offense unless the comment is addressed directly at your beliefs. If it is addressed at your specific beliefs I suppose you are free to take offense if you like but we’d probably prefer to have a good argument with you if you are willing.

          Anyway hope you keep posting and trying to keep me on my feet.

          All the best.

      • In reply to #3 by mjr:

        In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

        He had every right to be offensive.

        Why does he have a right to offend? Good manners should prevail. It’s none of his business what she reads! We have no right not to be offended by the legal actions of others.

        Yes, you are right and that is why I would tell him politely to fuck off.

      • In reply to #3 by mjr:

        In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

        He had every right to be offensive.

        Why does he have a right to offend? Good manners should prevail. It’s none of his business what she reads! We have no right not to be offended by the legal actions of others.
        I couldn’t agree more. It Is up to her what she believes

        • In reply to #91 by ryan.jackson.16121471:

          In reply to #3 by mjr:

          In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

          Why does he have a right to offend? Good manners should prevail. It’s none of his business what she reads!

          I couldn’t agree more.

          It Is up to her what she believes…

          Exactly so.

          He though, thinks she is reading Mein Kampf and is precipitating the end of the moral world. He’s a bit bonkers. If she were, we would feel perfectly happy about his brave public howl of disapproval.

          We can make the world a better place by everyone trying their darndest never to hurt anyone’s feelings,wrongly inflame others or we can choose a different strategy of simple tolerance of others’ slighty wonky ways. We can ask everyone on the planet to please not give offense to others or we can do the job ourselves and try not to take offense and understand the others.

          We can, for instance, choose not to be offended by cartoons, choose not to be offended by the sight of women. We can behave like the savvy parents of terrible twos toddlers and not rise to the bait of attention seeking.

          I am for tolerance (toleration!), freedom of speech (one day it will be Mein Kampf) and self improvement. I am against the imposition of burkas to manage the risk of inflaming men. The problem is with the flaming men.

    • In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

      He had every right to be offensive.

      Yes, he had the right to react however he wished.

      In case people haven’t twigged this yet, you cannot effectively play the offence card as a response to someone who has just played the offence card.

      Good point again. My former church was really good at pointing this out, especially when it came to being judgmental towards people being judgmental. …and then noting how an argument of pointing fingers usually ensues. Usually someone would point out that mentioning this is being judgmental and would take responsibility for his own being judgmental for pointing out that the other person was judgmental towards the person who was being judgmental…… lol

      Some people try to pave the earth in leather rather than wear sandals. (Buddhist saying)

        • In reply to #15 by phil rimmer:

          In reply to #10 by QuestioningKat:

          In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

          Some people try to pave the earth in leather rather than wear sandals.

          LoL. I’m having that! Thanks.

          It’s one of my favorite sayings. It’s actually something like – It’s easier to wear sandals than pave the earth in leather. (?)

      • I am lucky to have a relationship with my wife, the most beautiful person I’ve ever known or seen. We have been together for 25 adventurous years. Anyway, a long long time ago, we came up with a phrase that we both abide.

        We call it the double mad. You cannot be mad at me for being mad at you. It has served us well. Proper usage of the meme is : “Don’t you double mad me!”

        One of the things that old married folks know is how to fight. I don’t mean that we fight all the time. I mean we have established boundaries and parameters to our disagreements. Oh, yeah, and the other thing is that I am always right!!!

        But this reminds me of the concept you are proffering.

        In reply to #10 by QuestioningKat:

        In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

        He had every right to be offensive.

        Yes, he had the right to react however he wished.

        In case people haven’t twigged this yet, you cannot effectively play the offence card as a response to someone who has just played the offence card.

        Good point again. My former ch…

      • In reply to #2 by :phil rimmer

        He had every right to be offensive.

        In reply to #44 by :alf1200

        >

        >

        I think you meant he had every right to be offended.

        I think phil got it right. We should have the right to offend people who hold any ideas. And I think that this is one of the basic differences between us and them, they can not tolerate anything that offends them and does not fit their delusion.
        I have been banned from almost every christian debate site for just telling them the truth, they just don’t want to hear it. That is what I like about secular sites, you can say what ever the %@(# you want and nobody is going to silence you for having different opinions.

    • In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

      He had every right to be offensive.

      I sort of agree with you, although I don’t think you have the right to intimidate others. When talking about free speech and individual rights we often forget that individuals also have the right to not be disturbed by others. For example, I don’t think you have the right to make a political speech on a train or in other places where people can’t escape. In the same way people have the right to not be disturbed by others when on a train. If I don’t want to talk to you, you have no right to disturb my peace. Free speech does not mean that you have the right to force others to listen to what you’ve got to say.

      • In reply to #52 by Nunbeliever:

        For example, I don’t think you have the right to make a political speech on a train or in other places where people can’t escape.

        I disagree, we do have the right to make any speech on the train (that is political activism) but the people on the train (and owners of the train) have the SAME right to throw us off the train. So, we have a right to do whatever we want to do, but that does not mean that there is not a price to be paid for exercising our rights. Martian Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi are examples of people who were willing to pay that price, and posthumously won their battles. In the end only Natural Selection will determine who was right.

        • In reply to #53 by EricFSM:

          Martian Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi are examples of people who were willing to pay that price, and posthumously won their battles. In the end only Natural Selection will determine who was right.

          Natural selection takes many generations for even small changes. The time scale for evolutionary change for humans is thousands of years at a minimum. The changes brought about by people like King and Gandhi didn’t have much to do with natural selection except that natural selection determined the kind of animals humans are right now, but that kind of social change is driven by other factors, which we don’t really have a mature scientific theory for yet.

        • In reply to #53 by EricFSM:

          In reply to #52 by Nunbeliever:

          For example, I don’t think you have the right to make a political speech on a train or in other places where people can’t escape.

          I disagree, we do have the right to make any speech on the train (that is political activism) but the people on the train (and owners of…

          Martian Luther King mwhahahaha

    • In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

      He had every right to be offensive.

      Absolutely not. What a person reads is his or her own business. Religion should be what should be kept private. In fact, someone practicising religion in public is what is offensive.

      • In reply to #79 by virag.padalkar:

        In reply to #2 by phil rimmer:

        He had every right to be offensive.

        Absolutely not.

        Is offensiveness illegal? Would you like to make it so? Are ideas personal insults?

        What a person reads is his or her own business. Religion should be what should be kept private.

        I agree twice, but you do realise this man probably thinks of Atheism as a religion (You and I don’t) and he may even subscribe to your secular views about its public expression.

  1. If that man was spiritually fit and felt confident in his religion he wouldn’t have been upset. He would have felt sorry for you, and smug with his superior knowledge. You might have missed an opportunity to show him how he is pretending to know things he doesn’t know.

    • In reply to #5 by A3Kr0n:

      If that man was spiritually fit and felt confident in his religion he wouldn’t have been upset. He would have felt sorry for you, and smug with his superior knowledge. You might have missed an opportunity to show him how he is pretending to know things he doesn’t know.

      Well said! That would be the right response on his part if he was indeed “spiritually fit” and “confident in his religion.” In fact, if he was really confident in his religion (which he ought to be if he’s religious) he might ask about the content of the book and then try to disprove it…

  2. Assuming you were in a country where free speech is protected, his right to express his opinion about your choice of reading has been given to him by the law/the people. He even has the right to request that you stop, though you are in no way required to oblige under the exact same law.

    Was it infantile behaviour to be offended by conflicting world views? Certainly.
    Was it a sign of wilful ignorance to be threatened by something simple as an informative book? Absolutely. Yet it is allowed and like Mister T suggested it might actually be a good opportunity to create a moment of self-reflection.

  3. apart form everything else, if there is any offense involved at all it surely is the Christian God that might feel offended. As far as I read the stories that deity is portrayed as being quite capable of handling offenders him(her)self :-)

  4. This reminds me of a story told by Bill Hicks. Hicks was down in Alabama when he told a joke about Jesus. After the show three rednecks met Hicks and told him they were Christians and didn’t like what he had said. Hicks replied, “Then forgive me.”

  5. Everyone has an objective right to voice his or her opinion in a public space, no matter whether that opinion is rational or irrational, offensive or inoffensive, provided that in doing so he or she does not violate anyone’s objective rights to his or her life, liberty or property. No one has a right not to be offended. The Christian gentleman violated no one’s rights when he told you that he found your reading of “The God Delusion” offensive, nor when he asked you if you were going to stop. However, he would have violated your rights had he initiated force against you to make you stop reading, or had in some way threatened to do so.

    A feeling of offence is an automatic emotional response to a subconsciously held value judgement. If the value judgement is rational – i.e., has its roots in observable facts of reality, then the feeling of offence will be appropriate; if it isn’t, then it won’t be. The only way to avoid an inappropriate emotional response, such as a feeling of offence, is to ensure, through the process of reason, that one’s value judgements are rational, and therefore objective.

    The Christian gentleman’s feeling of offence in this instance was wholly inappropriate and the direct consequence of his holding irrational, and therefore non-objective, premises about the nature of reality. Your feeling of offence at his verbal reaction to his own feeling of offence was rational, reality-based and entirely appropriate.

  6. I always wonder how religious believers established the status that their feelings must be respected under all circumstances? Who else can claim such special treatment. I accept respect for the constitution and for many laws, but privately held feelings don’t deserve this. To me it is blatant arrogance and must be rejected anytime. It amounts to bullying and indecent behaviour.

  7. This is where I would like to push things a little, by proposing that hate speech legislation is misguided.

    I want incitement to hatred decriminalised (where it is criminalised) as an incoherent offence, unfairly restricting free speech, but I would like incitement to violence very, very assiduously policed and prosecuted.

    Ideas can reasonably be hated. Political and religious movements can be hated, but violence is committed only against people and incitement to violence is directed at people. A legal test for incitement to violence is far more precise in its results than a test for hatred, and, anyway, the only examples of hatred that I believe reasonably prosecutable would be those that should qualify as an incitement to violence.

    Further, in having enthusiastically policed and prosecuted incitement to violence laws, the facists and racists who should be its target will, I believe, choose their words more carefully. They will take better care to (publicly!) hate only an idea and not a person. Now, alas, they can speak ambiguously, incite violence, and claim they were talking only about hatred of an institution. If they do not clean up their ambiguous language, then we have a far more convincing prosecution to sling around their necks.

  8. “I find it very offensive that you’re reading that” then further asked if I was going to stop – to which of course my answer was no.

    I would have asked if his opinion was based on reading the book in full.

    If not read it, he would be in no position to make such an assertion about the content being “offensive”.
    If he had read it, it would be difficult to see him having a basis for objecting to others doing likewise!

    Of course seeking evidence for opinions is not a “faith activity”, so he was probably just parroting something he had gullibly accepted from some preacher who had also not read it!

    http://www.atheistmemebase.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/091-Dont-force-your-beliefs-on-me.jpg

  9. The religious are used to having a privileged place in society and being treated as an equal is disturbing to them. This sort of privilege often leads to a sense of entitlement and bad manners, as you witnessed.

    • In reply to #20 by canadian_right:

      The religious are used to having a privileged place in society and being treated as an equal is disturbing to them. This sort of privilege often leads to a sense of entitlement and bad manners, as you witnessed.

      I think this sums up the attitude of a lot of theists very well, they refuse to accept that they are not in control of society and seriously believe they should be. Debate is often a waste of time, especially with those who think faith equates to evidence. Personally, I would just ignore these creeps unless they persisted to a point some sort of response was needed.

      • In reply to #22 by Stephen Mynett:

        In reply to #20 by canadian_right:

        The religious are used to having a privileged place in society and being treated as an equal is disturbing to them. This sort of privilege often leads to a sense of entitlement and bad manners, as you witnessed.

        No name calling is needed my good sir.
        >

        I think this sums up the attitude of a lot of theis…

    • In reply to #20 by canadian_right:

      The religious are used to having a privileged place in society and being treated as an equal is disturbing to them. This sort of privilege often leads to a sense of entitlement and bad manners, as you witnessed.

      This doesn’t apply to us all.

  10. How did EmmaWinefride know he was “Christian gentleman” ? What else did he say apart from asking her if she had stopped reading because he was offended ?

    Whatever else he was, he was no “gentleman”. A bloody obnoxious pain in the backside, imo !

  11. I never think quickly enough when caught off guard by rude people and their nasty comments, but in your shoes, it would have been fun to say, “Thank you, Mr. Christian Man, for reaffirming one of the reasons I began analyzing religion and ultimately not having a god belief in the first place!”

    I had a similar experience a long time ago. I was on a long flight with a toddler, and although she’d been well behaved most of the flight, she began to behave like toddlers will when they’re confined too long and tired. She was whining, kicking the food tray in front of us, and just being a squirming handful. Distractions were failing to soothe or entertain her, and I’m not sure who was more tired, her or me, but I was trying my best to calm her down so not to upset other passengers. We were near Salt Lake City after having flown from Italy. A Christian man seated nearby, wearing a neat little hat and suit, glared over at me and said in a flat sort of tone,”She’s a true descendant of Eve.” Those words just stuck and not in a good way. Good grief, but he was saying my child, who was merely exhausted, was misbehaving because she was cursed and evil! That man, though, helped set me on a road that he would be shocked I’ve traveled as I’m now an atheist.

  12. ‘At least I’m not preaching’

    Sounds like a very good time to start. They have opened the debate by being so rude so go forth and ask the simple question. “That’s very interesting. Exactly what is it about this book that you find offensive?”. What can they say that you could not positively refute?

    • In reply to #34 by Bob Springsteen:

      I am a very lucky man. I once walked into my local mosque carrying my copy of The God Delusion. I’ve still got two hands!!!

      1. Were you in Saudi Arabia? Or was it somewhere else that has established Sharia law? You don’t think mosques in the States, Britain or Europe do that, do you?

      2. Why would someone walk into a mosque with TGD in view? Book club meeting or just bruising for a fight?

      3. Cutting off hands is the Sharia law penalty for theft, not reading infidel books.

      4. Muslims consider you to be completely lost to salvation already. What’s one more violation?

    • In reply to #34 by Bob Springsteen:

      I am a very lucky man. I once walked into my local mosque carrying my copy of The God Delusion. I’ve still got two hands!!!

      Yes! – But have you nodded your head to test its attachment?

  13. All too often people (of various stripes) seem to falsely equate “I disagree with something” with “it is offensive.” To a certain extent, most everyone can relate to this initial emotive feeling as most people are very passionate about their positions and want others to share them. However, such emotions should not rule us nor guide our behaviour or our thinking.

    • In reply to #38 by Sue Blue:

      I might have said something like, “I find it very offensive that you can’t mind your own damn business, douche. Go smoke a bible.” But then, I’m a menopausal bitch.
      Yes I think he would have probably noticed that, these people very rarely pick on someone larger or self-aware but an innocent woman sitting reading quietly is a prime target. And it was a threatening action on his behalf, male against female in any walk of life is aggressive when totally unexpected. He was probably bullied at school and had a flashback.. well done to the girl for not backing down..

  14. I am not typically a person who likes to reply to abuse with abuse. The only time I can remember blowing my stack under a similiar circumstance was at a function where a rabidly C of E Minister had me boxed into a corner and was doing his utmost to convert me, despite my telling him politely that I was not interested.

    When he stopped to draw breath, and I have no idea where the words came from, I said: “Look, if I ever felt so unsure of myself as to want a mythical deity to intervene on my behalf in my daily affairs, it would certainly not be the murderous, adulterous, genocidal and misogynistic tyrant that the Hebrews worship.”

    I saw his jaw snap shut, and then hang open while the blood drained from his face. I left while I could, and for the rest of the evening I could feel him staring at me in utter hate.

    I did not get any great joy from the exchange, rather I felt dragged down a little to his level, but, having used the sentence once, I have it on hand if I ever need it again.

  15. In reply to NUMBER 35 by LaurieB : Hi LaurieB, Perhaps I should apologise for my sense of humour. These words are part of a speech I will be making at the annual dinner of my cricket club. All ten of my team mates are moderate Muslims and I know they will all laugh at the joke. In fact, I have a greater knowledge of the Koran and the hadith than all my Muslim friends. I spent four years at university studying theology. They are a great bunch of team mates and it’s a very cheap beer round in the bar after a match. None of this alters my opinion that Islam is a nefarious ideology.

  16. Could this have started with banning cigarettes on the train ? Does freedom really mean freedom these days ? Or does it mean freedom to intrude in my space ?

    If someone had the chutzpah to say that to me I would be utterly upset !! I would ask them to move to the next car or get off the train before I make a scene and call the exorcist … I mean really ?

    Please stop reading the Bible in front of me , I would have said. There is no more offensive book ever written than than the bible filled with rape incest slavery torture and death by the numbers. How much more offense can someone take from a book ?!!!!

    Please take that cross off, it is offensive.

    Stop saying jesus loves me, that is offensive.

    “Your ignorance offends me.” I think this is probably the best one .

    But maybe also something like, Isn’t peeping a sin ? Mind your own business …

    Then again since I normally can’t contain my evil under these crics, I would say sure, and then pull out my copy of “A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook [Paperback] at amazon if interested lol
    Then ask, how is this ? Better ? (silent stare in shock) Ok then , Now get back in your seat before I put a curse on you :)

    Maybe it’s like all other things they want but won’t let themselves have. Most believers doubt their faith deep down. That is why they go to mass and such . To fortify their waning faith. So possibly reading anything that can crush their faith is like smelling cigarette smoke when trying to quit.

    The thing these people fear the most is losing their religion. They imagine a black hole where there is nothing. So they avoid any temptation including , as this article suggests, reading that god is a delusion.

  17. “A Christian gentleman”? There is much evidence he was not a gentleman. How do you know he was a Christian? And how does he know you are not reading this book in order to prepare a rebuttal in a Sufi magazine?

  18. I’d agree with others here, the man had the right say he was offended, but equally you have the right to offend. So he was mortally wrong, indeed confused, in that he seemed to value his right not to be offended above yours to the extent that your choice should be suppressed. You were entirely right to refuse his demand and carry on reading.

    This did not reflect well on him, but then it is hard to know from a stranger what his motivations were, but he may well have been i thrall to propaganda. This does not excuse hiss intrusion – ‘just obeying orders’ is not defence, but it may help explain it.

    But I think it is vital to resist such censorship. It is very close to the dictatorial mentality of some of the most vicious regimes in history – Stalinism, Fascism, some modern Islamic states (e.g. Saudi) and of course Medieval Christendom under the Papacy, which brought a higher understanding of torture into the modern era.

    In other words, while the conversation was on a train, with a ‘Christian gentleman, he was drawing on and advocating for human evil at it’s worst. The terrible and yet almost ridiculous thing is that he probably thought he was on the side of good. All the more treason to refuse to be censored.

  19. I was sat on a bus next to a vicar once who was actually reading the bible while I was reading Unweaving the Rainbow. it was all very british and understated but I got the impression he felt more uncomfortable than me

    I guess he had the right in as much as he had the right to free speech but he also left himself open to so many repsonses. your “no” was no doubt the most polite.

    The best response has to go to Bill Hicks though; “forgive me”

    what gives an nutter the right to be a nutter? I suspect it wasn’t so much that he was offended by you reading a book as he wanted the carriage to know he was a christian and gets offended. maybe hoping for others to all stand up and join him in his crucade. love to know what the reactions of others was though

  20. Can one respond with ” I read books that have no pornography, no violence, no cruelty, no misogyny, no injustice and no contradictions. What kind of books do you read?” (to be stated with a big disarming grin)

  21. Should of said “Your face offends me, get the fuck away from me or I’ll call the police tell them u are harassing and assaulting me” though the desire to spit in his face would be overwhelming, don’t do this, it can be considered an “assault” and u could be charged, fined, maybe even jailed depending on where you are like in the Bible Belt of the USA

  22. GK Chesterson (the FATHER BROWM bloke) sad somewhere that if someone punches youon the Nose ;you may safly conclude you have offended him.Whether you have been Offensive that’s annother matter

    • In reply to #51 by Nunbeliever:

      I think the best way to respond in these situations is to ask “why?” with a big smile on your face…

      I wish this would happen to me. Normally, I avoid talking to strangers like the plague but if someone were to approach me in public asking about a book like The God Delusion I would consider that to be an open invitation to start expounding on all the reasons not to believe in God or organized religion.

      Actually, something like that did happen to me once. I was waiting in a political office for a meeting to start and as usual I brought a book with me Marc Hauser’s Moral Minds. The guy next to me (who was also waiting, we were the only two who got there on time) asked me about it and he actually seemed mildly interested and I started talking seriously about why it was interesting and how I think Chomsky’s ideas of language fit into what Hauser is trying to do in a way that Hauser himself doesn’t completely get but I do and… About 20 minutes later I stopped to take a breath and realized that the guy was probably completely lost, I was talking way too fast and using concepts like “language hierarchy” and “first order logic model” as if everyone would understand what that meant forgetting this was a meeting (supposing it ever started, I’m always on time for meetings that always start late) of political people not philosophers and computer scientists. It was kind of a self aware moment, I realized I was sounding like one of those nuts that people always try to get away from. Come to think of it, if I was more self aware I would probably have that feeling more frequently :)

    • In reply to #51 by Nunbeliever:

      I think the best way to respond in these situations is to ask “why?” with a big smile on your face…

      No no, not a smile. A really confused look, like you have absolutely no idea what he’s on about.

    • In reply to #59 by EricFSM:

      In reply to #55 by Red Dog:

      Natural selection takes many generations for even small changes. The tim…

      Natural selection works on ideas, not just biology. An idea with good survival value will propagate very fast and suffocate inferior ideas. Check out this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

      Yes, I know what a meme is. But memes aren’t mature science the way evolution by natural selection is. We have incredibly strong evidence for how natural selection works and a very mature theory with excellent explanatory and predictive power. Meme theory is nowhere near that well understood yet, and there are significant problems with it that make some people wonder if it is even a useful construct to view ideas as undergoing the same process of selection as species. See Scott Atran: The Trouble with Memes for example.

      So it’s IMO a mistake to blithely going around saying statements such as you did, you are trying to apply the well understood science of evolution and natural selection to a completely different domain. Saying that species evolve by natural selection is a well supported scientific statement, saying the same thing about ideas is just speculation, at best informed speculation but even that is debatable.

  23. I was recently reading a Toyota motor vehicle maintenance manual on a bus and I was interrupted by a man wearing a Ford T shirt who said to me “I find it very offensive that you’re reading that” then further asked if I was going to stop – to which of course my answer was no. But, what gave him the right to say that to me? It was not like I was reading the book aloud to the entire carriage. It’s people like him that made me read the book in the first place………and so the wheel turns.

  24. I wouldn’t read into it to much about what the gentleman said to EmmaWineFride that sort of thing is indicative of the religious, the best answer is the one Emma submitted “Its people like him… ” I would of said that to him.

  25. I once converted one of two Jehovah’s Witness who knocked on my door one day. I was on leave and a little bored. The lead guy was solid and immovable which scripture quotes as is only evidence. The understudy was not quite so sure, and after a while of the leader sounding pretty stupid, started to question the leader himself. I suspect he was probably a closet doubter and just needed permission to come out.

    What’s this guy’s location. I’ll see if I can save him from a life of mysticism.

    • I kept thinking about this and it dawned on me that the reason someone would expect you to stop reading that if they said it offends them, is because of this respect entitlement syndrome.

      These people feel that only because and specifically because they are god believers and bible pushers, they deserve some special kind of respect other than simple politeness .

      The unspoken undeserved respect for religiosity at large. I can visualize this person burning books and hunting witches with the rest of them kind lads.

      Maybe the proper response is to ask if they wish to burn the book as well…..

  26. Thing is, I am very happy to know what more unusual people think and how they feel. I am enriched and wiser (potentially!) because of it.

    Being offensive and being intimidating are two different things. Intellectual coercive unpleasantness is different from a physical coercive unpleasantness. I suspect I am quite often thoughtlessly offensive (a bit mind blind without time to think it through) but hope never the latter. My distinction of hate speech and violently threatening speech is the dividing line for me.

    Once I used to disagree with the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, as words can clearly hurt. But so often hurts are misapprehended (you are taken as symbolic of something has little to do with you, or there was hurt in the ill-speakers past that may offer mitigation). “Sticks and stones etc.” may be untrue but it is a fine aspiration for us all. Just imagine if no one took offense?

    We do though and I see the man’s views as offensive and interesting and worth knowing. (I’d ask why so?) I saw nothing intimidating.

    There are many who are far more socially duff than I and I would like tolerance for as many eccentrics as we can stomach. He may well be experiencing distress at the sight of the book…

    Good manners and rights should not be part of the same conversation. Some people here seem to conflate the two, unreasonably in my view. (I take rights here to mean what is not legislated against.)

    As an anarchist, a lover of the eccentric and a celebrator of the creative, nice societies are those three breaths away from atrophy. The moderation of “offensive speech” on this site has pretty much killed it, in my view, stealing its emotional highs and lows. I long ago learned not to get in the way of my kids’ “fights”. I was told, “But, Dad, that’s our job.” They were exactly right. The need for good manners is learned by the experience of their absence, not by some imposition of curtailed rights.

    • In reply to #71 by phil rimmer:

      Good manners and rights should not be part of the same conversation.

      True but this is also a matter of perspective, rights are supported by law and good manners are supported by common law.

      There is some part of this incident that could be used as an example of when to have manners and respect the rights of others, and when to stand up for your rights. They key is to know when.

      I have ancestry that died by the hands of the nazis during the war. It is a subject that makes me very mad and sad at the same time and often ask why. So I asked myself , If I was on a train and someone was reading Mein Kampf would I ask them to stop because that book offends me and have good reasons ?

      The answer is No. Why would I ? How do I know what their motives for reading it are?

      There really should be no control of what people read no matter how vile it is. As long as they are not reading out loud or professing how great Hitler was, why should I care?

      What people do inside their own head is nobody’s business anyway. Further more if there was a bunch of angry jews in the train and they all got up and wanted to beat up the reader, I think I would try to reason with them that it is only a book and that it’s contents have been rendered harmless by the truth. That we can’t become oppressors of people and dialogue renders a better result.

  27. In reply to #43 by Reckless Monkey:

    In reply to #30 by ike_lcpl:

    Just a short add on to what “Reckless Monkey” said to “ike_lcpl,” and I thoroughly endorse his comments. These discussions can get awfully like preaching to the converted, and a reasoned intelligent point of view from those for whom religion adds to their lives in a positive way is always worth hearing about.

    There is more to religion than the charlatans and idiots and murderers and pedophiles and mutilators, and I am sure that they, the decent reasonable people who get comfort from their church must be starting to feel pushed into a corner.

    Please don’t feel unwelcome here.

  28. Whats the quickest way to get a shit load of believers to reveal themselves ??? Read this book on a busy train in amurica making sure to sit where as many people can see you and film all their reactions like on candid camera -

    jebus – if the fag hatin creeps from westbro could picket at peoples funerals….then people can damn well read their book wherever they like – we’re free to do that……they cant control thoughts……incidentally….if the book title had been ‘the allah delusion’ the guy wouldn’t have said a word to you ….what a double hypocrit eh !

    • In reply to #76 by kraut:

      …censorship

      The (earlier) deleted post brought up a good point; to wit, the general difference between females and males reactions to this type of situation.

      Personally, suggestion @ 70 I like – turn it right back to them.

  29. Amen to that. The basis of Abrahamic religion is reproduction (for want of a better word). The more the religion is spread, the more successful it is. However, point to note is that it is essentially a redundant concept and such people (strong believers in the concept of god) will soon be in the minority. I think 500 years from now, we will look at religion like social evil; much like untouchability or racism.

    • In reply to #78 by virag.padalkar:

      Amen to that. The basis of Abrahamic religion is reproduction (for want of a better word). The more the religion is spread, the more successful it is. However, point to note is that it is essentially a redundant concept and such people (strong believers in the concept of god) will soon be in the min…

      If may be sooner that you think. Chris O’Dowd the actor from the IT Crowd and the film Bridesmaids, when asked about religion made comments that included the following:-

      “There’s going to be a turning point where it’s going to be like racism. You know, ‘You’re not allowed to say that weird s**t! It’s mad! And you’re making everybody crazy!’

  30. This forum software sucks, it works more like a blog. I find it hard to keep track of. Maybe Dr Dawkins can use vanilla forums instead. I like the old forum.

    In any event, it would seem as though the problems religion created are not going away any time soon.

    • In reply to #83 by GFZ:

      In any event, it would seem as though the problems religion created are not going away any time soon.

      In fairness, I have to say that religion is not responsible for all the world’s problems. But, if we could only get rid of religion, then we would have time to fix the remaining 5 % of the world’s problems.

  31. I would say to that person. I am offended that you are offended that I am reading this book. To answer your question “What gave him the right to say that to me?” Nothing, he had no right. We live in a prissy prissy, tipy toey society where anybody who even so much as, erm lets see….reads a logical, thought provoking book on a train infront of a religious person is in someway offending them. Well they offend me, and they should offend you too. How dare he be so intolerant of your beliefs and interest in a book and yet expect you to be so tolerant of him being offended by you……ooooooooooooo…..I wish I was there on that train with you, I wouldv stuffed that book down his…erm..trousers.

  32. “It’s now very common to hear people say ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights; it’s actually nothing more…it’s simply a whine. It’s no more than a whine. ‘I find that offensive,’ it has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I’m offended by that,’ well so fucking what?”
    -Stephen Fry

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