Revealing Atheism to Inquisitive Strangers
Webcast Q&A: 4 December 2011, Question 4
I answered a question on revealing atheism to inquisitive strangers for Philosophy in Action Radio on 4 December 2011. You can listen to or download the podcast segment below – or check out the whole episode.
Should I reveal my atheism to strangers when asked? I work at a hospital. One night a patient asked me if I'm religious. I answered yes. He then asked me if I believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. I answered yes. Then he took my hand and prayed for me. Immediately, I felt guilty, because I lied in answering these questions. In fact, I'm an atheist. The next day, I told the patient the truth, and he thanked me for my honesty. What should I have done in answering his original questions?
My Answer, In Brief: Honesty is a virtue, and fully applicable here. So when asked personal questions by strangers, the proper response is to either answer the question honestly or decline to answer it.
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- Philosophy in Action: Lying to a Dying Person (27 November 2011), Admitting Mistakes at Work (13 November 2011), and other questions on honesty
- National Post: Atheists can not be trusted: Religious people rank non-believers alongside rapists, study
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and most Thursday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or chat about a topic of interest.
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