How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
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19-06-2016, 09:01 PM
How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not baptize infant children. Instead any one of any age, weather new converts or those raised in the religion, are baptized only when and if they want to be. I choose to never be baptized.
It became clear to me from an early age that the beliefs of my parents was wrong. There was no singular thing that convinced me that Christianity – in all its forms – and probably every other religion was wrong. I was always a bit socially awkward and I have a very introverted personally so I spent a lot of time as a child reading non-fiction books at the library (mostly science/astronomy books) and also watching any science fiction movie or TV series I could get my hands on. Evolution and Cosmology played a big role in cementing my doubt. Also there where many contradictions within the Bible and contradictions between Bible translations. And why would God harden Pharaoh's heart? How does one man dying absolve us of our sins? How is it fair that we have to pay for the sins of Adam? Also there was no Adam so the assuming the whole thing ever had a leg to stand on – which is debatable – it falls apart anyway. And what was the deal with God testing Abraham by asking him to kill his own son? God knows everything, he does not need to test his followers. Makes no sense.
I did not tell my parents about my doubt for a very long time. I have never been angry with my parents for trying to raise me with a belief in God and for feeding me “lies” such as original sin, global floods, splitting seas, walking on water, resurrection, and so on. In my mind my parents were not lying to me as lying implies an intent to deceive. My parents did not want to deceive me they were simply perpetuating the same lie that they have been taught. They believed in what they were selling and so they were victims as much as anyone else who buys into any kind of snake-oil. The funny thing is they went out of their way to make absolutely sure that I did not believe in Santa Clause. I remember the conversation where they told me that the kids at school might believe in Santa and I shouldn’t contradict them because I will just upset them. They also made me engage in logical reasoning. By asking questions like, “How could one man bring presents to every house in one night?”, or, “Think about it, how does he get into the houses that don’t have a chimney?”… Yet the son of God born of a virgin and turning water into wine seems perfectly cromulent in their minds. I don’t get it.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is very cult-like in that followers are heavily encouraged to avoid association with anyone who is not in “the Truth” (that what they call it, Truth with a capital ‘T’, seriously). Although the children can get baptized whenever they want there is significant pressure to get baptized. Many of my friends and peers got baptized only so they could start dating and get married. I didn’t want to date and eventually marry a nice Christian girl only to have her find out that I was an atheist. I had no interest in living a lie and I most certainly refuse to ever raise children in a cult. So when I started to get too many questions like, “Why don’t you get more involved in the congregation?”, or, “That young sister likes you. Why don’t you get baptized and then ask her out?” (For clarification everyone in the congregation is referred to as brother or sister) I decided to just tell my family that I was a non-believer and I stopped attending the Kingdom Hall. That was 5 years ago.
This last year has been rough on my father. In the span of just 4 months he has lost 3 dear friends to cancer or old-age. He has been having a rough emotional time. He said to me the other day, “It’s just not fair, I believed it. I was dumb enough to believe it.” You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Armageddon is just around the proverbial corner. They believe that God will soon interfere with the world and save humanity from itself. They think that the world is constantly lowering the bar when it comes to morality and standards and greedy men rule the world and we as a species are destroying the world. Jesus is meant to come down out of heaven and, in a sort of reverse rapture, all the evil people will be purged from the earth leaving only the faithful to inherit the earth. The faithful will be granted everlasting life and the earth will become a paradise. There is no eternal soul and there is no hell so the evil people are simply dead forever and the faithful live indefinitely with perfect human bodies free of old-age, sickness, or death. Any faithful followers who had died before The War of Armageddon are to be resurrected to eternal life on earth.
My father was convinced that all this should have already happened by now. He never thought that he would see his retirement or old-age creeping up on him. He was convinced that he would not ever see his closest friends die. On one hand I’d like to think that it is a good thing that he is having a crisis of faith but I really don’t know what to say to him. Hypothetically; If a close friend was to fall victim to a con-artist’s scheme and lost all his money, his identity, his whole life it, hardly seems appropriate to say, “I told you so.”, or, “Here is what you did wrong.”, or, “You really should have seen this coming, I mean it’s obvious in retrospect.” I could educate him on the same hard logical facts that had convinced me that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of bronze-age books that mostly just recycled the stories of older religions. But that is not what he needs to hear now. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to realize you have believed in a lie for most of your life. I want to comfort him. I don’t want him to feel worse. I also want him to do what he thinks is right but if he were to de-convert and my mom ever found out she would be devastated.
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19-06-2016, 10:22 PM
RE: How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
Hard to advise. I would recommend not mentioning religion at all. Just be there for him. Losing people to cancer or any disease is tough. Humans are resilient though.

Good luck. Smile

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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20-06-2016, 05:29 AM
RE: How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
(19-06-2016 09:01 PM)drthpnguin Wrote:  I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not baptize infant children. Instead any one of any age, weather new converts or those raised in the religion, are baptized only when and if they want to be. I choose to never be baptized.
It became clear to me from an early age that the beliefs of my parents was wrong. There was no singular thing that convinced me that Christianity – in all its forms – and probably every other religion was wrong. I was always a bit socially awkward and I have a very introverted personally so I spent a lot of time as a child reading non-fiction books at the library (mostly science/astronomy books) and also watching any science fiction movie or TV series I could get my hands on. Evolution and Cosmology played a big role in cementing my doubt. Also there where many contradictions within the Bible and contradictions between Bible translations. And why would God harden Pharaoh's heart? How does one man dying absolve us of our sins? How is it fair that we have to pay for the sins of Adam? Also there was no Adam so the assuming the whole thing ever had a leg to stand on – which is debatable – it falls apart anyway. And what was the deal with God testing Abraham by asking him to kill his own son? God knows everything, he does not need to test his followers. Makes no sense.
I did not tell my parents about my doubt for a very long time. I have never been angry with my parents for trying to raise me with a belief in God and for feeding me “lies” such as original sin, global floods, splitting seas, walking on water, resurrection, and so on. In my mind my parents were not lying to me as lying implies an intent to deceive. My parents did not want to deceive me they were simply perpetuating the same lie that they have been taught. They believed in what they were selling and so they were victims as much as anyone else who buys into any kind of snake-oil. The funny thing is they went out of their way to make absolutely sure that I did not believe in Santa Clause. I remember the conversation where they told me that the kids at school might believe in Santa and I shouldn’t contradict them because I will just upset them. They also made me engage in logical reasoning. By asking questions like, “How could one man bring presents to every house in one night?”, or, “Think about it, how does he get into the houses that don’t have a chimney?”… Yet the son of God born of a virgin and turning water into wine seems perfectly cromulent in their minds. I don’t get it.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is very cult-like in that followers are heavily encouraged to avoid association with anyone who is not in “the Truth” (that what they call it, Truth with a capital ‘T’, seriously). Although the children can get baptized whenever they want there is significant pressure to get baptized. Many of my friends and peers got baptized only so they could start dating and get married. I didn’t want to date and eventually marry a nice Christian girl only to have her find out that I was an atheist. I had no interest in living a lie and I most certainly refuse to ever raise children in a cult. So when I started to get too many questions like, “Why don’t you get more involved in the congregation?”, or, “That young sister likes you. Why don’t you get baptized and then ask her out?” (For clarification everyone in the congregation is referred to as brother or sister) I decided to just tell my family that I was a non-believer and I stopped attending the Kingdom Hall. That was 5 years ago.
This last year has been rough on my father. In the span of just 4 months he has lost 3 dear friends to cancer or old-age. He has been having a rough emotional time. He said to me the other day, “It’s just not fair, I believed it. I was dumb enough to believe it.” You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Armageddon is just around the proverbial corner. They believe that God will soon interfere with the world and save humanity from itself. They think that the world is constantly lowering the bar when it comes to morality and standards and greedy men rule the world and we as a species are destroying the world. Jesus is meant to come down out of heaven and, in a sort of reverse rapture, all the evil people will be purged from the earth leaving only the faithful to inherit the earth. The faithful will be granted everlasting life and the earth will become a paradise. There is no eternal soul and there is no hell so the evil people are simply dead forever and the faithful live indefinitely with perfect human bodies free of old-age, sickness, or death. Any faithful followers who had died before The War of Armageddon are to be resurrected to eternal life on earth.
My father was convinced that all this should have already happened by now. He never thought that he would see his retirement or old-age creeping up on him. He was convinced that he would not ever see his closest friends die. On one hand I’d like to think that it is a good thing that he is having a crisis of faith but I really don’t know what to say to him. Hypothetically; If a close friend was to fall victim to a con-artist’s scheme and lost all his money, his identity, his whole life it, hardly seems appropriate to say, “I told you so.”, or, “Here is what you did wrong.”, or, “You really should have seen this coming, I mean it’s obvious in retrospect.” I could educate him on the same hard logical facts that had convinced me that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of bronze-age books that mostly just recycled the stories of older religions. But that is not what he needs to hear now. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to realize you have believed in a lie for most of your life. I want to comfort him. I don’t want him to feel worse. I also want him to do what he thinks is right but if he were to de-convert and my mom ever found out she would be devastated.

Firstly, welcome to the forum. Hell of an intro.
As for advice, all you can really do is try and be there for him, and don't talk about religion unless he brings it up first. But if he does bring up the issue, be honest.

Unfortunately I have found in my own experience that non-believers have little in the way of resources to comfort people in these situations.

A friend in the hole

"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard
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21-06-2016, 05:25 AM
RE: How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
You could share your own doubts with him, it's likely to be a rewarding conversation. I'm sure he realizes the effect it would have on your mom, but it would help him to have someone to talk to, to know he's not alone.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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21-06-2016, 04:24 PM
RE: How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
Wow! That intro will take some work to beat. Welcome to the forum.

(19-06-2016 09:01 PM)drthpnguin Wrote:  My father was convinced that all this should have already happened by now. He never thought that he would see his retirement or old-age creeping up on him. He was convinced that he would not ever see his closest friends die. On one hand I’d like to think that it is a good thing that he is having a crisis of faith but I really don’t know what to say to him. Hypothetically; If a close friend was to fall victim to a con-artist’s scheme and lost all his money, his identity, his whole life it, hardly seems appropriate to say, “I told you so.”, or, “Here is what you did wrong.”, or, “You really should have seen this coming, I mean it’s obvious in retrospect.” I could educate him on the same hard logical facts that had convinced me that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of bronze-age books that mostly just recycled the stories of older religions. But that is not what he needs to hear now. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to realize you have believed in a lie for most of your life. I want to comfort him. I don’t want him to feel worse. I also want him to do what he thinks is right but if he were to de-convert and my mom ever found out she would be devastated.

You seem to have a pretty decent handle on this already. If your father converts/deconverts then he does and there's precious little that you, your mother, or anybody else could do to change that. It's an intensely personal matter that does not lend itself well to reason. By the tone of what you are saying he may already have deconverted.

Be there for him. Let him know that he is loved and respected regardless of his beliefs. That's what he needs more than anything right now. He may well need to talk and may not be able to talk to your mother about it for obvious reasons. That's a bad place to be so try and be a good listener. He'll likely be in more need of a sounding board than an advisor. If the conversation goes down the road of belief then let him lead.

Perhaps a summer fishing trip (or your father's equivalent) might be in order? Give him the opportunity to be what he needs to be and say what he needs to say.

Quote:The funny thing is they went out of their way to make absolutely sure that I did not believe in Santa Clause.

LaughatFacepalmBowing Brilliantly done if they were trying to raise you as an atheist. Teaching you that much critical thinking that young pretty much doomed religion from the outset. I'm entirely unsurprised that you never "got it".

Quote:“That young sister likes you. Why don’t you get baptized and then ask her out?” (For clarification everyone in the congregation is referred to as brother or sister)

So very Icky on so many levels.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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23-06-2016, 09:12 AM
RE: How can I comfort a parent who is having their own crisis of faith?
(19-06-2016 09:01 PM)drthpnguin Wrote:  I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not baptize infant children. Instead any one of any age, weather new converts or those raised in the religion, are baptized only when and if they want to be. I choose to never be baptized.
It became clear to me from an early age that the beliefs of my parents was wrong. There was no singular thing that convinced me that Christianity – in all its forms – and probably every other religion was wrong. I was always a bit socially awkward and I have a very introverted personally so I spent a lot of time as a child reading non-fiction books at the library (mostly science/astronomy books) and also watching any science fiction movie or TV series I could get my hands on. Evolution and Cosmology played a big role in cementing my doubt. Also there where many contradictions within the Bible and contradictions between Bible translations. And why would God harden Pharaoh's heart? How does one man dying absolve us of our sins? How is it fair that we have to pay for the sins of Adam? Also there was no Adam so the assuming the whole thing ever had a leg to stand on – which is debatable – it falls apart anyway. And what was the deal with God testing Abraham by asking him to kill his own son? God knows everything, he does not need to test his followers. Makes no sense.
I did not tell my parents about my doubt for a very long time. I have never been angry with my parents for trying to raise me with a belief in God and for feeding me “lies” such as original sin, global floods, splitting seas, walking on water, resurrection, and so on. In my mind my parents were not lying to me as lying implies an intent to deceive. My parents did not want to deceive me they were simply perpetuating the same lie that they have been taught. They believed in what they were selling and so they were victims as much as anyone else who buys into any kind of snake-oil. The funny thing is they went out of their way to make absolutely sure that I did not believe in Santa Clause. I remember the conversation where they told me that the kids at school might believe in Santa and I shouldn’t contradict them because I will just upset them. They also made me engage in logical reasoning. By asking questions like, “How could one man bring presents to every house in one night?”, or, “Think about it, how does he get into the houses that don’t have a chimney?”… Yet the son of God born of a virgin and turning water into wine seems perfectly cromulent in their minds. I don’t get it.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is very cult-like in that followers are heavily encouraged to avoid association with anyone who is not in “the Truth” (that what they call it, Truth with a capital ‘T’, seriously). Although the children can get baptized whenever they want there is significant pressure to get baptized. Many of my friends and peers got baptized only so they could start dating and get married. I didn’t want to date and eventually marry a nice Christian girl only to have her find out that I was an atheist. I had no interest in living a lie and I most certainly refuse to ever raise children in a cult. So when I started to get too many questions like, “Why don’t you get more involved in the congregation?”, or, “That young sister likes you. Why don’t you get baptized and then ask her out?” (For clarification everyone in the congregation is referred to as brother or sister) I decided to just tell my family that I was a non-believer and I stopped attending the Kingdom Hall. That was 5 years ago.
This last year has been rough on my father. In the span of just 4 months he has lost 3 dear friends to cancer or old-age. He has been having a rough emotional time. He said to me the other day, “It’s just not fair, I believed it. I was dumb enough to believe it.” You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Armageddon is just around the proverbial corner. They believe that God will soon interfere with the world and save humanity from itself. They think that the world is constantly lowering the bar when it comes to morality and standards and greedy men rule the world and we as a species are destroying the world. Jesus is meant to come down out of heaven and, in a sort of reverse rapture, all the evil people will be purged from the earth leaving only the faithful to inherit the earth. The faithful will be granted everlasting life and the earth will become a paradise. There is no eternal soul and there is no hell so the evil people are simply dead forever and the faithful live indefinitely with perfect human bodies free of old-age, sickness, or death. Any faithful followers who had died before The War of Armageddon are to be resurrected to eternal life on earth.
My father was convinced that all this should have already happened by now. He never thought that he would see his retirement or old-age creeping up on him. He was convinced that he would not ever see his closest friends die. On one hand I’d like to think that it is a good thing that he is having a crisis of faith but I really don’t know what to say to him. Hypothetically; If a close friend was to fall victim to a con-artist’s scheme and lost all his money, his identity, his whole life it, hardly seems appropriate to say, “I told you so.”, or, “Here is what you did wrong.”, or, “You really should have seen this coming, I mean it’s obvious in retrospect.” I could educate him on the same hard logical facts that had convinced me that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of bronze-age books that mostly just recycled the stories of older religions. But that is not what he needs to hear now. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to realize you have believed in a lie for most of your life. I want to comfort him. I don’t want him to feel worse. I also want him to do what he thinks is right but if he were to de-convert and my mom ever found out she would be devastated.

If he shares his worries about his de-converting with you, I'd tell him that it's going to be okay no matter what. His mind is going to settle and he is going to be happy. This is a process, a tough experience, but ultimately he is going to end up strong in his belief-system no matter where his struggle leads him.
And you can be a good example of life on the other side. By showing him that you're happy, safe and not scared, he'll see that there is not going to be fire and brimstone raining on his head. That there is a happy and fulfilled life beyond religion. Not an empty, meaningless life.

And give him a big hug from us all. Smile

"I believe that while not all people are essentially good, most are trying" - Adam Savage
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