Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
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30-12-2012, 11:51 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(25-09-2012 08:31 AM)Impulse Wrote:  
(24-09-2012 06:13 PM)Azaraith Wrote:  I'm not really sure how to explain it, but since I left Christianity behind, my parents have expressed hurt from that - my mother said she cries at night about it, etc. They're earnestly worried about me burning in hell - telling them that there is no hell to burn in doesn't help, as they're so far into their delusion that the concept of Christianity being false seems silly to them. They've gone so far as to say my college education was a complete waste of money, because that's when I started drifting away from belief - to them, it's more important that I believe than I get a good education, good job, and succeed (also, I was "smarter when I was 13 [and believed]" and such Dodgy ). They've even questioned whether I really ever believed, since to them it's inconceivable that a Christian could walk away from faith.

I honestly care about their feelings though, and wish I could do something... I know that they'd be thrilled if I converted back to Christianity, but I can't a) force myself to believe something against all evidence and logic or b) fake conversion - I don't like the idea of living a lie or double life to fool them into being happier. I've got as much chance of de-converting them as I do winning the lottery 50x straight, so getting them to join my side is off the table too...

How do you deal with that, for those that are in a similar situation? I know they won't be "getting over it" any time soon, so I don't have that hope... Saying "I don't want to talk about it" just prompts a "that's because you can't defend your faith in atheism, just admit you're wrong" response Rolleyes
My situation is similar. I have family members who are distraught with the whole idea that I will likely go to hell. They regularly pray for me and tell me so. I often hear expressions of grief from them and how much they wish I would reconsider. They keep telling me to learn more about Catholicism (the religion I grew up with) in the hope that it will bring me back despite my repeatedly replying that every time I read more, I find more reason to confirm my atheism.

As a former Catholic, I understand their position and why they grieve. It also tells me there is little I can do to console them. For that reason, I simply try to be as respectful as possible by making sure I am never rude about my atheism or about their religious beliefs. As much as I dislike it, I also allow them to discuss religion and my atheism as much as they want to help them process it all. I do draw the line at rudeness though. If I notice they are becoming rude, I'm not afraid to say so calmly and request that they return to more polite discussion. The bottom line is to respect their feelings and to try to maintain a state of civility between you while also remaining true to your own beliefs. Under no circumstance would I "give in" and pretend to believe, think, or do something just to make them feel better. It is them, not you, that is really causing their grief. It's hard to watch, but you likely can't relieve them of it.
I feel like I could have been the author of your response Azaraith as it so mirrors my thoughts and situation. I am in daily tumoil with the rift between my parents and I. Somedays I'm ambivelent about the whole situation but on others a I feel depressed and sometimes even anger. I'm looking for a coping mechanism, one of the reasons I came to this site, in the hope of finding like-minded people in a similar situation that will share a liitle wisdom and some insight that has proven helpful to them. So my question to you is what do you do to help quiet the inner turmoil? I will appreciate thoughtful and sincere input.

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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30-12-2012, 04:35 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Here's a possible solution.

Sit down with them and discuss history. Talk about the origins of their beliefs.

I've written a book titled "Get Over Christianity by Understanding It" with this very purpose in mind (it's still suffering its last few edits).

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is liberating. The truth can set them free.

I suggest start with the gospels. Who wrote them? When? Why? Who was Jesus? What was a "messiah?" Who was Peter? Was Peter the first pope? Did Jesus have a brother named James? Who was he?

Who invented Christianity? Enter Saint Paul. Who was he? Did he know Jesus? What was his source of information?

What is a church? Why do they exist? What is the Vatican? How has the Vatican behaved throughout history? What is the real purpose of a "Christian"education? What are hymns?

Conversations like this can be enjoyable for both parties. Get them to imagine they are in Jesus' shoes...fighting the Romans who occupy God's holy land. Get them to imagine being crucified by the Romans. Then explain how Jesus' real Jewish legacy was invented by Rome...so they crucified him twice!

If you discuss facts and history you demonstrate you have an understanding of their beliefs. If they have any curiosity and are honest you'll discover there are major cracks in their belief....cracks they've just ignored. You can provide the answers for them. If you can do it in a not too confrontational way you may have them sitting on the edge of their seats.

They'll respect you more and may do some learning for themselves.

Having said this, you may get nowhere. But you can always say "Well mum and dad, any time you want to discuss the legitimacy of your beliefs feel free, I'm all ears."

Good luck.
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30-12-2012, 04:59 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Luckily my family are not religious but they do sometimes act as if they have a certain amount of sympathy to various regions. I guess this has something to do with my multicultural upbringing and the different cultures we have experienced. Now on one hand i totally embrace different cultures and foods and experiences. That really is one of lifes little pleasures. But as far as respecting different faiths, to me if they are of supernatural basis then that is another thing entirely. I cannot respect non evidence based beliefs. So my family has no issue with my lack of belief but they don't particularly like me being an activist for Atheism. This i find hard to understand. Religion has been divisive in certain areas in my life. In particular it was a causal factor in me breaking up with my fiance. She herself wasnt a strong believes but her mother was and when she interfered pushing her views and my ex failed to take a stand it fell to me and the argument that ensued it wasnt pretty

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30-12-2012, 05:02 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Ask your parents if Jesus's maternal grandparents, (Mary's mother and father) are in heaven or hell ?
Tell them that Mary's parents both died before Jesus was born, thus they would have no Christ to believe in.

If Jesus's grandparents are in hell simply because they were born at the wrong time or like many billions in the world born in the wrong country, do you really think that your loving god who knows the goodness of someone's soul would cast so many into the pits of eternal torment because this book written and edited and re-edited by MAN a thousand times over says that he will.

Ask them which do you truly believe in, the goodness of god or this book that men claim was inspired by god ?
Ask them if god inspired every change, translation error, editorial additions and revisions by kings the world over for the last 2000 yrs ?
Ask them to find out on their own how the bible was made ? What did the first bible look like and who put it together ?
Ask them if god ever instructed any men to put together a bible ?
Ask them if god ever gave instruction on what books should be used in building the bible or how to tell if a book was truly inspired by god ? What tests would the first book builders use to determine inspiration by god ?

Ask two final questions.
Can a good man torture another good man and still be called good ?
Can a good god torture a good man in hell forever and still be called good ?

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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02-01-2013, 05:23 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Grow up and kick your family to the curb. If they can't deal with who you are, they're garbage and don't deserve to have you in their life. I'll never understand this attachment people have to families that mistreat them.

"To hate man and worship God seems to be the sum of all creeds." — Robert Ingersoll
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02-01-2013, 05:24 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(02-01-2013 05:23 PM)Human Being Wrote:  Grow up and kick your family to the curb. If they can't deal with who you are, they're garbage and don't deserve to have you in their life. I'll never understand this attachment people have to families that mistreat them.


You would if you were a human being. Oh, wait, ... Consider

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-01-2013, 05:28 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2013 06:22 PM by Human Being.)
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
I know I sound flippant, but I would seriously ask yourself why you need to have them—the ones who can't accept you—in your life. If they truly want to understand why you believe the way you do, give them some reading recommendations. Of course, they won't read them, because as I said earlier, your family is made up of assholes.

Seriously, I think you'll find the freedom of literally saying, "Fuck you" to a parent very similar to the liberation of giving up Faith for Reason. It's extremely liberating to be able to choose who is in your life and who isn't, without the baggage of honoring blood relations. In all likelihood, once you do, they will step in line over risking losing you. Either way, it's a win-win.

"To hate man and worship God seems to be the sum of all creeds." — Robert Ingersoll
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02-01-2013, 06:05 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2013 06:11 PM by Azaraith.)
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
I would reserve abandoning family for cases of real physical or emotional abuse - if we can't remain on good terms with family because they don't share our beliefs and even disrespect them, how are we better than those families that would kick out their children for going against their beliefs?

While ideally I would like to interact with people that understood and respected my beliefs, the question of theism doesn't make up the entirety of my life or what I can relate to them with. I just don't bother arguing with them about it anymore - they're not open to the idea that they might be wrong and it's not worth the strain to try.

(30-12-2012 11:51 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(25-09-2012 08:31 AM)Impulse Wrote:  My situation is similar. I have family members who are distraught with the whole idea that I will likely go to hell. They regularly pray for me and tell me so. I often hear expressions of grief from them and how much they wish I would reconsider. They keep telling me to learn more about Catholicism (the religion I grew up with) in the hope that it will bring me back despite my repeatedly replying that every time I read more, I find more reason to confirm my atheism.

As a former Catholic, I understand their position and why they grieve. It also tells me there is little I can do to console them. For that reason, I simply try to be as respectful as possible by making sure I am never rude about my atheism or about their religious beliefs. As much as I dislike it, I also allow them to discuss religion and my atheism as much as they want to help them process it all. I do draw the line at rudeness though. If I notice they are becoming rude, I'm not afraid to say so calmly and request that they return to more polite discussion. The bottom line is to respect their feelings and to try to maintain a state of civility between you while also remaining true to your own beliefs. Under no circumstance would I "give in" and pretend to believe, think, or do something just to make them feel better. It is them, not you, that is really causing their grief. It's hard to watch, but you likely can't relieve them of it.
I feel like I could have been the author of your response Azaraith as it so mirrors my thoughts and situation. I am in daily tumoil with the rift between my parents and I. Somedays I'm ambivelent about the whole situation but on others a I feel depressed and sometimes even anger. I'm looking for a coping mechanism, one of the reasons I came to this site, in the hope of finding like-minded people in a similar situation that will share a liitle wisdom and some insight that has proven helpful to them. So my question to you is what do you do to help quiet the inner turmoil? I will appreciate thoughtful and sincere input.

I'm not sure if you meant to reply to Impulse (your quote) or myself, but I spend a lot of time reading about philosophy, science, etc. from books by Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the like as well as watching/listening to some Youtube videos on similar topics. I defer any and all discussions with friends/family to email/fb now since that helps to calm nerves and give people real time to think about what they mean to say as well as research it. Unfortunately, it has the side-effect of producing extremely long and time consuming emails/discussions... ha That has done wonders for both my ability to formulate my thoughts and convey them to others in a way that fends off the more emotionally charged arguments (especially where I'm not confident in an area due to unfamiliarity).

Better without God, and happier too.
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02-01-2013, 09:47 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Hey, Azaraith.

I haven't really read through the thread. I just wanted to offer something.

Imagine you have a daughter. You love her. You raise her through scraped knees and piano recitals and pig tails and her first crush and that crazy boy band infatuation. Now imagine that one day, she comes home and tells you that she does XXX hardcore porn.

Your response, I would imagine, would be one of pain, would it not?

I'm not comparing Atheism to porn. What I am saying is that the reason the porn thing is so painful is because there's not a lot of arguments that are gonna make you OK with it. It's so far beyond the pale that you just plain can't understand why she would do such a thing, or how she could do such a thing and you worry about the damage it will do to her life.

Your parents look at Atheism as something that's beyond the pale. It's incomprehensible to them. Their little boy has crossed a line that they don't think they can get you back from. And they probably can't. If you put yourself in their shoes, in the shoes of a parent that has tried to keep their son safe his whole life, it's an understandable reaction.

So, how does the porn star get her parents to be OK with her choice? I have no idea. But that's what you have to do. Help them be OK with your choice. Because right now they're just afraid for you. I imagine that step one is acknowledging their fears. A little bit of empathy could go a long way. And remember, they're your parents. They love you. Love them back.

PS: Anyone who told him to discard his parents, please go suck a dick. You're terrible people. For real, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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02-01-2013, 09:54 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
It may help to just continue to be a decent person so that you can show that your atheism hasn't turned you into some sort of horrible monster.

You are the same person you were before they knew of your lack of belief.

Being combative or remote will just be blamed on Atheism.

It doesn't sound like a lot of time has passed since they found out...let some time go by without confrontation to give the hurt feelings a little time to not be so tender.

Just a couple thoughts.

See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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