A dilemma
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18-08-2010, 01:36 AM
A dilemma
So... I never really came out about my atheism to anyone who actually knows me. I am quite open about on Facebook and other places on the Internet, but the truth is, I just want to spare myself the incovenience of having to explain things to people who would not (read that: do not want to) understand them. I know, I'm a coward. But besides, I never really found it necessary. My parents aren't exceedingly religious, they rarely ever go to Church, they just have a generic belief in god because they were taught to believe and have never questioned it. I had a chat with my brother recently and it didn't take much to convince him that the god of the Bible couldn't possibly exist - in fact I think he had been disbelieving for a long time. We like to think of ourselves as 'undercover' atheists.

My issue is with this friend of mine. She's very devout - regular churchgoer, fast and prayer, tens of icons in her room etc. So we get to meet each morning at the tram station, and no matter what we talk about, she always ends up discussing saints and Jesus and redemption and stuff like that. For instance, this morning we were discussing some news about some babies who burned alive in a hospital, and all she cared about was that they hadn't been baptized! And each time she brings up these subjects I boil inside and I really want to say that I don't believe in her god, but for some reason I can't say it out loud and it irritates me. I don't want to offend her, she's really nice and everything but I need to make my point because I find this situation particularly frustrating and irksome.

Is there any advice you could give to me? What would you do if you were me?

All learning is quite useless if you haven't learned to question what you learn.
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18-08-2010, 03:27 AM
RE: A dilemma
Hey Juppers! I actually only came out a week ago today. Because of that, I don't know if my advice would be more effective (due to the freshness of it in my mind) or weaker (due to not seeing yet how this is going to pan out in the long run). Either way, I'll try to give you the best advice I can, but it would probably be best by all means to compare it to the advice from the other members.

Anyway, if I were you I would probably wait for a day when you feel like you've got it together. A day that you wouldn't mind kind of falling apart. A stable day, I mean. On that day when you see her, I would probably start off the conversation (after ritual smalltalk) with your surprise. Do it calmly if you can, and remember that you're still exactly the same person as you've been, and try to communicate that to her as well. If she's anything like my family, she might take it extremely... unwell, but still at least have this discouragement with a somewhat loving overtone. Do your best to understand her position and above all, remain calm and illustrate no different character than you have before (it should help her understand a little better that this isn't just some whimsical decision).

If (I don't know her, but again, if she' like my family) she begins throwing apologetics towards you, still remember to be calm. If you know the answers, educate her--don't "correct" her--and if you don't know the answers, tell her you'll look into it (and please do =P).

Don't think of yourself as a coward. Sure, it takes a lot of courage to identify as something that goes against what's popular, but that doesn't mean wanting to be cooperative or non-confrontational is the same as being a coward. Above all, think about your personal emotional and mental health. For me, personally, it was a tremendous relief to be out in the open after I did it. I celebrated with tons of laughter and excitement, even through all the negativity I received. It's a liberating experience, and I would encourage it, but I wouldn't be so naive to think that it's the best choice for everybody. Think about your situation. Make a pros and cons list.

Generally speaking, this is an important decision for anyone at any time of life, so make sure you think through it (I can tell you are--getting advice first was a great idea).

Like I said, I've only come out recently, but if there's any way I can help, feel free to talk with me about anything you might want to know. And of course you have the rest of the forum here to ask, too.

Good luck! Hope all goes well for you!

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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18-08-2010, 08:28 AM
RE: A dilemma
That all sounds about right. Be calm and courteous. I'm not exactly sure how to start the conversation, but the next time she brings up Jesus and the saints and whatnot, try to (politely) interject, and maybe just start by saying "you know, I've been wanting to talk to you about some of that stuff." Be honest and tell her you weren't really sure about how to approach the subject, but that you feel like you should. Hopefully you can take it from there. Good luck to you.

edit: Also, don't ever feel like a coward for not wanting to cause what could potentially be a huge disturbance. You just never know how some people are going to react to things, and the fact is sometimes you have to just use your best judgment and decide whether or not a discussion or disagreement is worth it. Sometimes it isn't. Big Grin

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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18-08-2010, 08:35 AM
RE: A dilemma
You're not a coward. Don't think of yourself that way.

As for how to reply to her, just let her know that you really aren't interested in discussing religion with her. If she refuses to shut up, then explain that you don't share her belief.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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18-08-2010, 12:12 PM
RE: A dilemma
What would i do... When she says somethng like ''oh no, those babies who burned alive were not baptized!'' I would reply something like ''how is it so bad they were not baptized?'' (of course expecting her to know that I have no religious beliefs). In that way, not depending on the subject of conversation, I would probably start a discussion where she has 3 options, 1. try to defend her believes with something credible, 2. admit that she cant defend her religious claims with anything credible and stop talking about religion, 3. she curses you to hell.

BUT, remember that you are you and I am I, you have your style of reacting in different situations, and I have mine. My style is not good for social people, since it might lead you to losing some of your friends and it might not be good for your relations with your relatives.

Correct me when I'm wrong.
Accept me or go to hell.
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21-08-2010, 01:43 AM
RE: A dilemma
The question is why are you actually keen on this girl?
You happy to put up with this for the rest of your life?
What hope to you think you have of converting her?
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21-08-2010, 06:46 AM
RE: A dilemma
My experience is that religious people can get very insulted if you question their beliefs or come back with refutes to their faith based arguments. Now, some of you may have picked up on the fact that I'm not exactly Mr. Sensitive (no, no, it's true) but as a rule I try to avoid going out of my way to flat out pick fights with people.

If you point out you don't believe what she believes, you are most likely going to get 1 of 3 reactions: an argument that will never end, an endless stream of attempts to "convert" you to her way of thinking, or an awkwardness in your relationship that eventually leads to its cessation. There is that rare chance that she just accepts your statement, but, from what you're describing, I'd bet against it.

So, I think the question to ask yourself here is can you live with #3? If you are ok with losing this friend, then say something. If you otherwise enjoy hanging out with her and would rather continue to do so, then I'd let it go because my guess is you can't live with options 1 and 2. I know I couldn't.

To TheAtheist's point, if you're trying to escalate this relationship then I'd probably cut bait now because this does not sound like a workable relationship for either of you.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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