A Combox Atheist In The Real World

I have always presumed that comment box on Catholic sites (or any religious sites) provided a unique distance and anonymity that allows commenters to behave badly. Among the most misbehaved are atheist commenters who prowl around comboxes making vicious, insulting, and often vacuous comments while feeling so superior in the process. If you have been around Catholic comboxes for any length of time, you have seen them. No more explanation is needed.

Like I said, I presumed this to be strictly a combox phenomenon for while I have met many atheists in my life, I have never met one who behaves in person like these others do in comboxes. I have never met one who behaved like they do, until now.

I was having a conversation with a work colleague of mine. He is Greek Orthodox. We were having the latest in our ongoing conversation in which he misrepresents, misunderstand, and misinterprets history in ways that put the Greeks and the Orthodox at the center and as saviors of the Universe. And I, for my part, was correcting him. We do this frequently and we always have fun.

A consultant currently working in my office sitting nearby overheard our (loud) conversation and decided to weigh in. (Every single word of this is true!)

"All religions are stupid because there is no God and people who believe in religion are biased and have closed minds. There is no point in speaking to anyone who believes in religion because they don't have an open mind."

"Okay," I said as I foolishly took the bait. "By that logic, the only person you can speak who has an open mind about religion is someone who rejects it?"


"But aren't people who reject religion just as biased in their belief as someone who believes?"

"Yes. Because every person who believes in a religion thinks that their religion is the right one. So you can't speak to them because they are biased."

"That makes no sense. You can speak to them about their religions and about what they believe even if you don't accept their claims."

"No you can't. They are biased and have closed minds."

"So the only way to have an open mind is to reject religion?", I queried.


"Again. That makes no sense."

"Yes it does. You are a Catholic and you think you're religion is right, correct?"


"See, you are biased. Your religion teaches that anyone who doesn't belong to the Catholic Church and doesn't get ashes is going to hell. I could never believe in a Church that says that 99% of the people in the world are going to hell. How can I talk with someone who believes that?"

"But my Church does not teach that. You don't understand what the Catholic Church teaches."

"Yes I do."

"No, I am telling you that you are wrong. That is not even close to what the Church teaches."

"Yes it is. You don't even know."

"Ummm, yes I kinda do! I am telling you that the Church does not teach that! What the Church really says is..."

"See! You are biased!"

"What? I am just trying to tell you what the Catholic Church really teaches. This isn't about bias, it is about facts!"

"Ha! You believe that 99% of the world is going to hell and you think that is fact? See, you are biased!"

"No. You misunderstand. I am not trying to convince you now that what my Church teaches is right. I am just trying to tell you the truth about WHAT it teaches."

"See. I can't talk to you. You are biased."

"Again. All I am trying to tell is what the Church actually teaches as opposed to what you think it teaches. What you think is wrong."

"See, that proves it. You have a closed mind. You are so convinced I am wrong."

"No. Listen. I am not trying to convince you what my Church teaches is right, I am only trying to tell you what it really teaches."

"I know what your Church teaches."

"I am sorry, no you don't."

"Yes I do. It teaches you to diddle little boys. That is what it teaches you."

I got up and walked away. I thought about, well, I thought about alternative conversation enders but I decided just to walk away as I need my job.

So there you have it. Comboxes atheists exist in the real world. So much more the pity.