Advising Morally
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25-11-2013, 09:45 PM
Advising Morally
When dealing with those people who are coming out as an atheist, especially the younger among us, I am somewhat bothered by what I often hear on different atheist media outlets.

The Most Common Example
There is a necessity for some young people to hide their true beliefs from their families, for fear/knowledge of the repercussions of coming out. In those cases, hiding the truth is the better option because the safety of the individual is paramount; teens do not often have the facilities for being able to take care of themselves were they cast from their homes. Prior to reaching the age of majority there are few options - you can't sign contracts (rent, for example,) you can be forcibly returned to your parents (unless there is abuse), and other mitigating factors make leaving or being kicked out unfeasible.

However, all too often I have heard advice given to keep quiet until college is paid for or some other major expense is covered. To give this advice seems to me immoral - recommending that an individual knowingly subvert the trust of anyone for their own benefit is not an example we should be setting. Will going to college make things better in the long run for that individual? Probably, but not necessarily. It's easy to rationalize that a few more years of hiding the truth is justifiable. But does that desire to go to college rise to the same standard as having no other options? I don't think it does.

I brought up the most common example I hear but the basic message applies to similar situations. I think that we need to be setting a higher standard of advice that we dispense to those in the closet or questioning their faith. We need to help people learn to think though the morality of their situations and how making the hard choices, devoid of rationalization, is part of being moral without God. I think we best do that by being an example of it ourselves.

Thoughts?
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25-11-2013, 10:37 PM
RE: Advising Morally
I recently advised a collegue to see what his folks think of
People in Sweden , Norway. And ask do you think they have morals being mostly atheists.
Still waiting on the answer he got.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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25-11-2013, 10:42 PM
RE: Advising Morally
I think what you are seeing is just one version of advice that could be given. I've seen others say that we need to be more open, more out there, and visible.

Most of what I see here, is that you should take in all of this advice, and weigh the pros and cons of each side, and make the best decision according to your situation.

For some, coming out as soon as they realize their an atheist is a feasible option, others truly do need to keep quiet about it until they are ready and / or self sufficient.

It is a very delicate situation, and I think it is necessary to express all possibilities. Give people as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision.

I hope that the world turns, and things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. - V for Vendetta
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26-11-2013, 04:45 PM
RE: Advising Morally
(25-11-2013 10:42 PM)Smercury44 Wrote:  It is a very delicate situation, and I think it is necessary to express all possibilities. Give people as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision.

I agree with you completely on your points. The main thrust of my concern is that we need to be holding our public representatives accountable for the advice they give. It is something I would like to be doing myself when I hear these types of moral ambiguities coming up (I just used the most common example.) The purpose of my post was to ask other atheists if they see this type of situation as a moral dilemma as a way of checking my own head Wink
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26-11-2013, 06:10 PM
RE: Advising Morally
Honestly, if the person is going to withdraw their love of their child because their child saw through the shroud of mysticism that they can't, I don't really care about said person. Furthermore I would say it's not immoral to not tell them your beliefs (or lack thereof) because your beliefs are personal to you, and you have every right to keep some things private and other things not.

So the act itself is not immoral however I think you are probably directing the question at the justification, I'll address this two ways, first: if the act itself is not immoral (not to say it's moral, but more amoral), then it doesn't need to be justified, it can just be done. The guardians do not need to know, so it does not need to be shared. Now if you say that the motive is still immoral, then that's fine, but I'll draw on what I said earlier: if the person is willing to forsake their own child over something like that, I say a little financial loss to them is more than justified.
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26-11-2013, 06:50 PM
RE: Advising Morally
^^Yuppers. I get what you're saying JC, and I kind of agree. I've been thinking of how to respond but TheK said it well.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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26-11-2013, 06:59 PM
RE: Advising Morally
(25-11-2013 09:45 PM)joshChase Wrote:  The Most Common Example
However, all too often I have heard advice given to keep quiet until college is paid for or some other major expense is covered. To give this advice seems to me immoral - recommending that an individual knowingly subvert the trust of anyone for their own benefit is not an example we should be setting. Will going to college make things better in the long run for that individual? Probably, but not necessarily. It's easy to rationalize that a few more years of hiding the truth is justifiable. But does that desire to go to college rise to the same standard as having no other options? I don't think it does.
I disagree with you here. If a parent is going to hold their child's future hostage over their child's religious choices (or lack of) then that parent is a horrible parent and the kid needs to do what it needs to do to get ahead in life. This isn't manipulation, IMO, this is counter-manipulation. The parents are doing EXACTLY what they would be doing if the kid was actually religious. I think it is gross what some parents do when the kid comes out as an atheist. But the fact of the matter is that some do these things, and the kids don't deserve it. Not at all.

It's up to the parent to decide how much they want to help with their child's future, but basing that decision on your child's religion is for lack of a better term, discrimination. The kid is protecting itself from this discrimination by not giving their parents the information that they would use to discriminate with. I see nothing wrong with the kid doing this. Just like if there was an employer who only employed heterosexuals (even though that is illegal), I wouldn't think it was wrong for a gay person to pretend to be straight while at work.
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26-11-2013, 07:11 PM
RE: Advising Morally
I've personally witnessed:
  • I've seen children thrown out of their homes
  • I've seen people lose their family
  • I've seen parents withhold money for college
  • I've seen parents or grandparents remove children from their wills and trusts
  • I've seen first hand the "news" spread like wildfire across family units.
  • I've seen cases of very extreme emotional blackmail.

With adults I've seen:
  • People driven from their small towns
  • People lose their jobs
  • Husbands/wives leave
  • Custody battles

A few years back there was an article about trust.
Atheists were the least trusted of anyone. I don't think it's disingenuous to warn anyone before coming out of the possible consequences.


God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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26-11-2013, 07:37 PM
RE: Advising Morally
I only think it would be immoral if there was an agreement like "I'll pay for college as long as you're a Christian." If they never communicated that their support was contingent on their child holding a particular set of beliefs then they can't complain about feeling exploited.

"I feel as though the camera is almost a kind of voyeur in Mr. Beans life, and you just watch this bizarre man going about his life in the way that he wants to."

-Rowan Atkinson
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26-11-2013, 07:41 PM
RE: Advising Morally
(26-11-2013 07:11 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  Atheists were the least trusted of anyone.
Yeah what was it, rapists were even more trustworthy than atheists right? I remember hearing about that too. Very sad.
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