This post is directed toward Christians who question why I am commenting on Christian blogs. After reading my points below, I hope Christians will realize that I am not attempting to be a generic troll on these sites.
I am an ex-Christian and lost all my Christian friends on leaving Christianity. But since then, I have made a few Christian friends in my community and now also on-line. My Christian friends and I share a great deal in common and focus on our commonality, rather than our differences. Though we often do discuss our difference we can always laugh and return to our shared values. Here are some of those values:
- The reflective life
- The felt need to constantly improve ourselves & discipline our moral habits
- A community where we watch and encourage each other: “Accountability”
- Nurtured Virtues: Love, Forgiveness, Compassion and many others
- A culture that does not accept the values thrown at us by our commercial societies
- Transcending the limits of our human nature
- Love for classic literature and the Bible is one such example
- Many of Jesus’ teachings
- A few of Paul’s teachings
Though I am fairly well read, there are many things I do not know about religion, including Christianity. So I still love studying Christian history, theology and culture from an anthropological, sociological and philosophical perspective.
I believe that even mistaken beliefs can still serve good purposes. Heck, I also believe that correct beliefs, if held with wrong attitudes, can serve bad purposes. So I am not a belief-centric person. I am deeply interested in the human mind. So even if I may not agree with your beliefs, when taken literally, I may be trying to understand how you use your own beliefs to improve your own life. Read my post on Generous Translations & Web of Beliefs to further understand what I mean here.
All Christians are not alike. Just as Christians find certain types of atheists more tolerable than others, so I also like certain types of Christians more than others. See my post on “My Favorite Type of Christians“. So please don’t jump to the conclusion that I am trying to talk you out of your Christianity. I may simply be trying to argue you towards the sort of Christianity I like. Now this may sound paternalistic, but it is not. But you will need to read more about my philosophy (including the above section on Generous Translations) to see why I think this attitude is respectful and allows both parties to learn.
I do this debating with subversive patience (my phrase). I realize that very few people will change on the spot. All of us, myself included, change slowly and often the people who first introduce us to an idea are never around when we finally embrace that idea. This sort of incrementalism is behind much change in our lives — good and bad. So I am patient with others as I am with myself. I try to stay open-minded and try to discuss in a way to keep the other person open minded. Sure, I am trying to persuade, but most communication is persuasion. So let me thank those of you now who will probably influence my thinking in a year or two but whom I may forget and never thank.
Heck, probably like the rest of you, I love sharing ideas, I like reading, and I like debating. I also like trying to systematize my thoughts — the purpose of this blog. So this on-line stuff is fun. Thank you for helping to make it fun.
Avoiding the Echo Chamber
I could hang out solely on Atheist sites, but that would be boring. I don’t look at myself as primarily atheist, but view myself as primarily a person with great emphasis on many of the shared values I listed above.
Heck, talking with you guys also can give me great blog material. Smile.
Conclusion: I aint’ no Troll !
I choose many of my post titles to catch the eye of readers. Thus for publicity purposes, this title was meant to be ironically false and enticing.
A troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community with the primary intent of provoking others into an emotional or disciplinary response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. (Wiki)
I hope readers now see that my primary intent is not to disrupt on-topic discussion but to offer other perspectives or I may just be there to learn. I have no desire to inflame, but of course I have a desire to post controversial comments. If a site is does not desire such participation, they can delete or spam my comments (and this has happened to me) or they can tell me to stop, and I will. But again, I hope the above information softens their initial response to view me as a simple atheist troll and that we can engage in fruitful dialogue.