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This is my comment:

Hello Father,

I think there is some frustration from within the atheist community and there is a reason for it. I think sometimes it's worth asking them about it. I don't think people should just 'hush', because it just means hiding it under the rug, I think discourse is a wonderful thing, language is a great thing, whether you believe we evolved the ability over generations and generations or if you believe it's a God-given gift. I don't think brushing people off as trolls helps either. Yes, some folks are trolls, but generally trolls are there for the specific purpose of winding you up. A troll's purpose is not to convince you of anything, they might not even believe what they say. Their purpose is to annoy you.

I get into discussions with Christians on the internet and to be honest it can be very frustrating, not because they refuse to give in, but for various other reasons, usually in how they engage the discussion. That's not to say it's the case for all, I have got into discussions with Christians who engage in a much more positive way.

Most of the time I find Christians tend to completely misunderstand and misrepresent the opposite side. You wouldn't believe the kinds of misconceptions we read, some of them are actually pretty insulting, yet the Christian may not realise it or realise why somebody is offended, then they assume that you're just being ignorant.

Many atheists were previously Christians and take their understanding of Christianity from their sects and also from Christians they encounter. My knowledge of the bible comes from debating Christians (or just by listening) and from my own quote digging. One of the troubles with Christianity is that there's a lot of sects out there, approx. 38,000, but none have actually been able to demonstrate why their sect is right and why others' are wrong. When I challenge people's view on the bible I will use the views of an opposing sect in hope that somebody can justify why they're right and the other Christians are wrong. In my experience, each sect is able to back their arguments strongly with the bible. So far I have been unsuccessful in determining what a true Christian is. If I knew what a true one was, then I'd be able to pursue that in my discussions and my arguments could be made with a higher degree of accuracy.

But why should I bother engaging Christians as an atheist? Surely I should keep to myself? Belief (or non-belief) is an individual thing, right? Well, I do learn more about others and in the process I also teach others. Education I think is a beautiful thing. Okay, that doesn't necessarily mean debate anybody at any given time. It doesn't mean I tear into my Catholic grandmother every time I visit (in fact, I've never brought up religion to her). I think there's always a time and place and place, for example, the blogosphere is appropriate, because it's a hot bed of opinions, the very embodiment of free expression, assuming it's a blog that allows people to freely express themselves, some bloggers rather stick their fingers in their ear and prevent people from commenting (my opinion counts, but not yours). The other reason is the effects of Christianity on society, I think Christians tend to be oblivious to it and when it is challenged, they often go on the defence, suggest we're being ignorant, intolerant and even trying to deny them their right to freedom of religion, without first trying to understand. That in itself is incredibly frustrating. In fact, on 'angry' atheists, there's a fantastic blog post here. http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html She states it a lot better than many of us probably could, though (as she says herself) she hasn't covered everything.
If you wish to understand many of the atheists out there who appear angry, it is worth reading that blog post, in fact all of it. It's a bit long, but I think it reflects how many feel with great detail and worth it. Ideally I'd like to see a world where we all get along where people believe whatever they wish without it hurting anybody, without people being ignorant of each other. I think it would be unfair (and completely unethical) to force religion out, I am a big supporter of freedom of thought/belief/expression. If it did die I wouldn't miss it because I think humanity can do fine without it, even if it may be special for an individual. Obviously many religious would disagree, particularly those who openly proselytise looking to 'save' the damned, but then they believe their religion is a direct connection to a deity, which makes it significant through their eyes. But that's my view anyway.

That's my two cents.

I hope it gets approved. I think I've been reasonable enough.
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