Sunday, January 13, 2008

Internet evangelist

Now before I start I'd like to make it plain that I accept that all internet evangelists are not the same and some behave with grace and wit. And that some atheist debaters are rude and obnoxious.

The thing that evangelists have to deal with that an atheist does not is that there are a set of rules/expectations that go with being a believer. A Christian, for example, is expected to demonstrate the old offering the other cheek and so forth. An atheist has no such expectations on them because atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s) and while some atheists might have a lot in common with each other, they may not also. This of course gives the atheist an advantage in debate, at least should it become personal which it often seems to online, because it is loopy to describe one's opponent as a bad atheist whereas the charge of being a bad Christian or bad example of a Christian is more easily levelled.

At the same time, however, Christians can argue that persons displaying poor Christian values* yet claiming Christianity, such as I don't know, evergreen haters, the Phelpses, can be dismissed as not "real" Christians or not understanding their own religion.

Still, I found such an alleged Christian commenter on P-Momma (Atheist in a Minivan)'s blog extraordinary a few days ago, and it keeps bothering me, so I'm doing what I do, which is to empty out the thoughts here. The commenter, H, claimed to be some sort of Christian and had been discussing points made in P's blog on and off for a while. One day P made a post in which she explained how her illness, lupus, affects her: just venting, really. H immediately started in on comments about how her religion would help P and how her church could help if she, H, asked them to. She also suggested that atheists would not help and atheism doesn't "pay".

Unbeknowst to H, Berlzebub had taken up a collection in order to make some practical alterations to P's house to try to improve her quality of life. I get the feeling that when H realised this, it quite ticked her off.

She dismissed this effort with "That is nothing compared to what I had lined up for you." Which was what? Something vague, allegedly from her church but only on the basis that H asked on P's behalf and she would withhold asking because she didn't like P's pov. To say to someone you could help them but won't, is very ugly. I'm not saying H had any obligation to help P, even had she the power which I doubt, but to sneer and claim to withhold help is just nasty.

Anyhow, as of the 13th, readers of P's blog had raised a little under a thousand dollars and they're not done yet, which I think is pretty amazing from the blogging community. And all comes no strings attached.

Yah boo sucks to H.

* Although which particular values can only be ascribed to Christians or which only come from Christianity is debatable. Since, for example, the Golden Rule has been around in various forms in various religions and philosophy for a very long time. Plato had it in his Laws in 360 BCE and here's a site showing its appearance in different religions, back to Ancient Egypt.

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