I have never understood people who like to debate and argue. Very early on in my life I learned that arguing with people, whether it was pleasant or not, never got you anything but hurt feelings and broken relationships. Although very capable of defending myself, I prefer to hold myself apart when any kind of drama is going down. I do not insert myself into situations, rarely offer advice, and never ever do I fight with my friends about things we disagree on. If our discussion is turning into a debate, I shut it down quickly. Lucky for me, I am married to man who also sees little value in arguments, although he does like to be right. Well, more like he thinks he is usually right. Now, I am aware that being good at debating can be a strength too. Lawyers, lobbyists, talk show hosts, politicians, moderators, salespeople, philosophers, coaches all have to utilize this trait. But I am none of those.
One of the things that makes me very uncomfortable within the atheism world is how much people debate. Reddit subs are full of people who stumble into debates at Starbucks or randomly at the library. Street epistimology is a thing. Churches and humanist organizations host debates all over the world, usually focusing on one single question. People post videos trying to debate the existence of a god, the validity of their holy book, or some other equally inane thing. Social media is full of regular every day people posting their inane comments supporting their position with the hopes that someone will comment on them. These debates make me extremely uncomfortable. When I was still questioning and seeking, I found that they raised my blood pressure and most of the time I would fast forward through podcasts and call-in talk shows because I couldn't handle the cringy religious people and the arrogant way some of the atheists talked to them. As much as I agree with Hitchens and Dawkins, I loathe the way they talk to people and find their "burns" to be a mixture of cruelty and arrogance.
I dread getting into a debate about religion with someone. Sometimes I will lie and tell people I am religious just to avoid discussion. I've done this three separate times. My one and only experience with a Jehovah's Witness made me angry and uncomfortable. Trying to even explain myself to my husband was hard and not really open for debate. Changing the subject is something that I have become adept at with my Christian friends and family.
Recently, I met an adoptive mom who runs an adoptive mom group. I really need something like this as I am a talker who really needs to talk to other people who understand this crazy adoption life. But when I asked a friend about them, now a co-worker who used to live in their city and also adopted three kids, she warned me that they are very conservative and religious.. This coming from a woman who still thinks I am a Christian and is pretty religious herself. "Well, shit," was my first thought. Come on, I already have enough of these religious right wing fanatics in my life. And now I have to make a decision. Do I do what I do with several of my newer religious friends and just avoid the topic of religion altogether, never professing or denying a belief in a god? Or do I be open and forthright, while also intrinsically inviting debate and drama into my life? Will these women invite me into their homes and lives if they knew I was an agnostic atheist? Will I find myself ostracized within this very small adoption community world? Or worse, will I become the focus of a missionary friendship? I live in the Bible belt, the topic will come up.
I don't know the answer to any of this. I'm not going to change who I am. I'm not suddenly going to become the kind of person who enjoys arguing and debating. But I also know that hiding who I am from people, compartmentalizing friends, is going to eventually bite me on the ass.
What would you do in this situation?
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.