Advice on this situation with my wife...
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02-07-2015, 12:09 PM
Advice on this situation with my wife...
I've posted on here a couple of times before about my wife recently being baptized as a Christian and am very appreciative of all the helpful responses I've received. Here is my question: where, in your opinion, is the line between healthy skepticism/discrediting of religion and plain old intolerance begin?

In reality I've been an atheist for quite some time now, without giving it much thought, (I'm 34) but have only delved into the subject of what I actually think to be true a few years ago and have become fascinated by what people think on this subject. I interact with people of faith on a daily basis and have no problems whatsoever with what they believe. I could care less. Except for one person: my wife. Two months ago after leading a primarily non-religious life she got baptized into the christian faith.
I am doing my absolute best to respect her beliefs and I never say anything negative about it, but I will admit that at night when I'm reading national geographic or something of that nature and she is reading a God/Jesus focused self-help type book it bugs me. Many times I want to grab a bible and start showing her the atrocities in both the old and new testament that I know she is unaware of (she hasn't read the bible) instead of the cuddly, cherry picked verses from psalms, proverbs and Paul's writings. So far I have been able to resist doing this.

How would you suggest dealing with these types of feelings when its comes to close family? I have avoided any type of deep conversations on this issue to not create any type of divide between us. Also, I should note that she knows I'm an atheist, but not how I became an atheist.

Any thoughts of yours are greatly appreciated.
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02-07-2015, 12:35 PM
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
Offer to study the entire bible with her.
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02-07-2015, 12:38 PM
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
Is she planning on reading the Bible from beginning to end? Reading the entire Bible is what cured me of my belief in christianity. I don't think someone telling me not to believe because of such and such a reason would have done it. The church tries to sugarcoat these passages and when you truly want to believe it is easy to buy into those "explanations." Maybe suggesting to her that she start with Genesis and then discuss it with her and see what her thoughts are. I would ask her why are there two accounts of creation? Why did God say the earth was made in 7 days and man from dust when science says otherwise? I would also get her a bible commentary that explains some of the passages in detail. For example, why is the sun created after God says let there be light? This is because in biblical times, people looked at the sun and moon as light bearers-- but also looked at light as a separate entity. Meaning when the sun goes behind a cloud, there is still daylight. So light was also thought to be separate from the sun.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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02-07-2015, 10:56 PM (This post was last modified: 02-07-2015 11:19 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
As I've mentioned in other threads, I recommend The Language of God by Francis S. Collins, an evangelical Christian who was head of the Human Genome Project. Yes, much of it is Christian hogwash, especially once it delves into his theology, but it does set out the case for evolution and natural philosophy excellently, and shows that they do not conflict with the Christian dogma the way many conservative/literalist Christians claim.

It might help insulate her against the idea that you are "attacking" her faith, which is what her Churchy friends will tell her when you start trying to "discuss" the Bible with her, otherwise. They are well aware of the danger an atheist represents to the faith of a fledgeling Believer, and they will do everything they can to poison her against you if you are not careful to inoculate her against it. Anything you do or say that can be construed as an "attack" against her faith can trigger Christianity's built-in defense mechanisms. If she's reading nightly devotionals like that, then she is deeply emotionally attached to it already, and your relationship could be in jeopardy if you are not extremely careful.

Try the book. Read it together, even. Then she may see you as an ally. My Beloved is a Christian, but also an evolutionary biologist (genetics), and as a result we have zero friction between her beliefs and mine. It makes her happy, and it doesn't corrupt her brain too much.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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03-07-2015, 08:25 PM
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
(02-07-2015 12:35 PM)pablo Wrote:  Offer to study the entire bible with her.

That will certainly cure her.

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05-07-2015, 11:59 AM
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
I like rocketsurgeon's suggestion and also maybe include A History of God by Karen Armstrong. Seeing how gods develop may also make interesting conversation. I get it. My wife is a believer also.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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08-07-2015, 07:56 AM
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
Personally, I would focus on setting an example of how an atheist can be a very moral person. The more you can disprove the "atheists are bad people " meme she is sure to encounter, the more cognitive dissonance and doubt you will sow. Basically, you would be "out-Christianing" the Christians. If she's honest, she'll eventually come around. But it could take a while ...

Also, gently ask what drew her to Christianity in the first place. Maybe she feels a need to connect to a community. If so, perhaps you can both join a secular activity with a social component (a bowling league??)

IMO the last thing you should do is react with frustration or exasperation to her "search for the truth". (I know, it's very hard, especially with someone you love). Christians just thrive on persecution, and making her a martyr will only encourage her.

(Sort of how I dealt with my teenager when she started dating someone who had a criminal record, but I digress).

Just my $0.02

Your faith is not evidence, your opinion is not fact, and your bias is not wisdom
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08-07-2015, 07:59 AM (This post was last modified: 08-07-2015 08:02 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Advice on this situation with my wife...
(02-07-2015 12:09 PM)Rkane819 Wrote:  How would you suggest dealing with these types of feelings when its comes to close family? I have avoided any type of deep conversations on this issue to not create any type of divide between us. Also, I should note that she knows I'm an atheist, but not how I became an atheist.

Any thoughts of yours are greatly appreciated.

I guess the question you would perhaps have to ask, is why does it honestly bother you? Why does it irritate you the way it does? Is it possible not be bothered, or annoyed by it? To let bygones be bygones?

The problem is no matter how you address your objections, criticism, or arguments, that peevishness, that annoyance, that irritation will exist in one form or the other, that's likely to be recognized by her more so than you might think.
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08-07-2015, 08:53 AM
Advice on this situation with my wife...
(02-07-2015 12:09 PM)Rkane819 Wrote:  I've posted on here a couple of times before about my wife recently being baptized as a Christian and am very appreciative of all the helpful responses I've received. Here is my question: where, in your opinion, is the line between healthy skepticism/discrediting of religion and plain old intolerance begin?

In reality I've been an atheist for quite some time now, without giving it much thought, (I'm 34) but have only delved into the subject of what I actually think to be true a few years ago and have become fascinated by what people think on this subject. I interact with people of faith on a daily basis and have no problems whatsoever with what they believe. I could care less. Except for one person: my wife. Two months ago after leading a primarily non-religious life she got baptized into the christian faith.
I am doing my absolute best to respect her beliefs and I never say anything negative about it, but I will admit that at night when I'm reading national geographic or something of that nature and she is reading a God/Jesus focused self-help type book it bugs me. Many times I want to grab a bible and start showing her the atrocities in both the old and new testament that I know she is unaware of (she hasn't read the bible) instead of the cuddly, cherry picked verses from psalms, proverbs and Paul's writings. So far I have been able to resist doing this.

How would you suggest dealing with these types of feelings when its comes to close family? I have avoided any type of deep conversations on this issue to not create any type of divide between us. Also, I should note that she knows I'm an atheist, but not how I became an atheist.

Any thoughts of yours are greatly appreciated.

I became an atheist (or realized I was an atheist) while I was still dating the woman who would become my wife while she still identified as a Christian (she was raised in an evangelical household).

The same concerns you have, I had. Intolerance is when it transitions from being annoyed at an opinion she has, and allowing that annoyance to permeate your opinions about her wholesale such that you judge her solely based on her theism.

For my wife and I, curiosity on both of our accounts led to more and more discussions where we asked to know and not to convert. The result is that my wife is something closer to an atheist now (also as a sort of consequence, her sisters have transitioned into less religious opinions including one who also now identifies as atheist).

It also had a lot to do with how her friends and family responded to me and my atheism (like her father). When she saw that all of her fears about secularism and atheism she was preached to for years were completely unfounded and that instead the judgements and stereotypes about atheists were the bigoted ones, she began to realize more and more about the beliefs she grew up with.

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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08-07-2015, 08:54 AM
Advice on this situation with my wife...
And no, I don't think it's true that your wife is going to have some sort of magic insight into how you feel about her theism just because you're an atheist and she's a theist (as our resident theist suggests). If she cares for you, she'll try and understand and if you care for her, you will try to understand. Just make sure to give her the time she needs.

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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