Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 9: In God We Trust

What a great weekend! I went down the Pine River and only tipped twice. I've never tipped before and my wife noted that it might be karma. I harassed another buddy for tipping last year - twice for him too. Now on with the story.
I think it was Friday night. Most of the group went to bed. The next lot over contained a fire and a couple people still up chatting, enjoying the fine evening. For some reason, we ended up talking about politics, and of course, religion. I can't resist talking about it anymore. Of course I announced my theistic position. They were both kind and receptive.
After a short exchange, I was asked what I thought about "In God We Trust" being on our money. Being familiar with the question, I didn't stumble. It doesn't offend me. I know that with any group there are extremists, zealots or whatever you'd rather call them. I don't know what most atheists think about the money issue. I've heard the term "militant atheism" with respect to this issue. Really, I think it's menial and there are so many more productive or valuable things I could be doing with respect to theism, like provoking thought.
After I explained that I wasn't offended, but that it was presumptuous because it excluded a portion of Americans, I got a typical response. "Our founding fathers were Christian." She said it so nice. It wasn't assertive or anything. She only meant to give her opinion on what she thought was a plausible explanation for it ending up on our money. I said, "that's not true" and gave a basic explanation which covers Adams and Jefferson, and also what deism is. Well, for those who have already done the research, you understand that our founding fathers were not exclusively Christian. Though my response may seem alright to some of you, I wish I could take it back now.
After consulting with an ACA member, I've rephrased my typical response to debunking common assumptions to this: "Hmmmm...I understand it differently." This leaves less of a chance that my audience will be offended. Why don't I want them offended? Because I know that when humans get offended, they listen a lot less and are focused more on forming arguments rather than having a friendly exchange.

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