How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
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22-08-2015, 03:39 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
(22-08-2015 06:43 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(22-08-2015 05:43 AM)julep Wrote:  You don't know how much I wish that were true. And of course that was the problem: he wanted to get laid but couldn't bring himself to do so, because God. The letter in question was xeroxed and sent to all of us three children and went into excruciating detail (names of the demons, which were generic, including anger and of course lust). My father believes in demons and claims to have performed other exorcisms since.

Your father is, unfortunately, delusional. And potentially dangerous.

I agree on both counts.

You know what the most scary thing about my father is, though? He was a physics major at the University of Chicago, although he never completed a degree, as he dropped out his junior year. (He has religious degrees, including a ThD.) And after full-time ministry and missionary work didn't pan out, he spent the next 30 years of his career at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. Has given papers all over the world and has lots of scientific and engineering publications. Has run war games at the Pentagon, during the Bush administration.

Yet he believes in angels and demons and heaven and most definitely hell. He and my mother gave me a pretty decent brain, and it's hard for me to understand how he can compartmentalize so thoroughly. But religion is a dangerous topic with him, so I avoid talking about it entirely and he has abandoned conversational attempts to bring me back into the fold. I control access to his oldest grandson, probably the major reason he accepts that state of affairs.
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22-08-2015, 04:36 PM (This post was last modified: 22-08-2015 04:45 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
(22-08-2015 03:39 PM)julep Wrote:  And after full-time ministry and missionary work didn't pan out, he spent the next 30 years of his career at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

Hey, that's were I got my Masters. And I worked there as a visiting scientist in the mid nineties. Your Dad my neighbor? Did he wander the halls wearing pajamas and bunny slippers muttering to himself?

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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22-08-2015, 04:40 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
(22-08-2015 04:36 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(22-08-2015 03:39 PM)julep Wrote:  And after full-time ministry and missionary work didn't pan out, he spent the next 30 years of his career at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

Hey, that's were I got my Masters. And I worked there as a visiting scientist in the mid nineties. You're Dad my neighbor? Did he wander the halls wearing pajamas and bunny slippers muttering to himself?

If you were there in the mid nineties, you probably know my dad! He probably looked as sane as any other APL guy. PM me if you want and I'll tell you his name. If you were an grad engineering student, you might have taken a course taught by him…(although he has never taken an engineering course and does not have an engineering degree).
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22-08-2015, 05:24 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
I like Penn Jillette's answer to questions like this:
"Love your family."

Is it overly simplistic? Sure, because not all families- or certain family members- are going to want you to be who you are for fear of some eternal harm to yourself or the family itself. Hopefully that's not the case with your brother, & he is still open to the love you may offer him.
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22-08-2015, 09:41 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
Thank you everyone for the input. I have come to the conclusion that my brother is of the blissfully ignorant category when it comes to logic and reason. He is convinced of his very own concept of reality and his understanding of scientific theory is so turned around as to portray the very merits of scientific method as its downfalls. I have posted a portion of my final reply for your collective entertainment:

"I guess I don’t know how else to put it. What you consider evidence of a higher being (i.e. your experiences), I do not consider evidence. It’s not that I don’t accept your experiences, it’s that I don’t accept them as evidence of a higher being. Your experiences are anecdotal evidence; that does not make them untrue. I happen to require empirical evidence to form a solid opinion about something. Yes, you could say it would have to happen to me in order for me to believe it. But even then, because of my objectivity on the subject I would more than likely have a completely different interpretation of it than you did. It has nothing to do with me believing you. I do not think you are lying! You are presenting only two options: either I have to believe you because you are my brother -- and therefore change my entire world view -- or I think you are a complete idiot. That is what is hurtful to me. I can disagree with your interpretation of the events in your life without disrespecting you as a person!"

(He had claimed that as he was pondering a difficult decision about whether or not to make an important phone call, the word "Call" appeared on his Sirius radio at the exact moment he was trying to decide what to do. He informed me that he would dig out an old phone with the picture on it to prove it to me, hence the followingSmile

"Seeing a picture of your radio with the word “call” on has no significance to me because it did not happen to me. It happened to you, and having a picture of it in no way proves that it was sent by god to tell you to call that person. That is what YOU believe. In order to change my beliefs, I need more than that. Testimonials are not evidence, no matter who they’re from. There are no real “winners” in any debate, and if you’re saying that my argument is one-sided because I won’t change what I believe simply because of what you say, then yours is equally as one-sided. I can clearly see that our ideas about logic and what is considered substantial evidence are highly conflicting and therefore we probably will never come to an accord. But please stop taking my denial of a higher being as a personal insult (and I won’t take offense to your accusations that my beliefs [or lack thereof] are as dismissible as “not wanting to lose an argument.”) I don’t make strong judgements on shit or stand my ground on something unless I feel strongly about it and am completely sure about it, and when you suggest that I am just being proud or stubborn and “sticking to my guns” by not acquiescing to your ideals, you are insulting my opinion. If you feel that me not accepting your experiences as evidence for a higher being is insulting to you, I apologize. Just know that I respect you no matter what either of us believe."

I'm not sure if he'll reply or not, but I am pretty much done with this debate. (Either way school starts next week and I won't have any spare time to argue with simpletons anyway...) Facepalm
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22-08-2015, 10:20 PM (This post was last modified: 22-08-2015 10:28 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
(22-08-2015 09:41 PM)RussianMafia Wrote:  Thank you everyone for the input. I have come to the conclusion that my brother is of the blissfully ignorant category when it comes to logic and reason.

I'm going to be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender ...





I'm gonna find myself a girl who can show me what laughter means.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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29-08-2015, 01:13 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
I had a similar experience when I was 27. My abusive husband backhanded me while driving to work. We weren't quarreling. As I sat in silence, I saw myself lying on my death bed when this loud voice told me "You damned fool, you had one life to live and this is how you wasted it". It was so vivid I looked to see if he had heard it. I put my day in at work and since my holidays were starting I "vanished" for two weeks and never went back.
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29-08-2015, 02:14 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
(20-08-2015 09:10 PM)RussianMafia Wrote:  
After a lengthy e-mail debate on our opposing views in which my brother informed me that god spoke to him as a child and also informed me of various "bonafide" miracles that have happened to him in his life, he is asking me why I don't believe what he says (because it's the truth!). He just can't fathom how his personal accounts of god have not converted me and he is already a little touchy on the whole subject now. How do I tell him I don't believe him, but be respectful at the same time? All I could think of is to say that I believe that he believes that stuff
. ? Consider

Tell him he's a moron, but that you respect his right to be a moron and that being a moron does not make him a bad person.

"El mar se mide por olas,
el cielo por alas,
nosotros por lágrimas."
-- Jaime Sabines
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29-08-2015, 02:41 PM
RE: How do I respectfully tell my brother that I don't believe God spoke to him?
(20-08-2015 09:10 PM)RussianMafia Wrote:  
After a lengthy e-mail debate on our opposing views in which my brother informed me that god spoke to him as a child and also informed me of various "bonafide" miracles that have happened to him in his life, he is asking me why I don't believe what he says (because it's the truth!). He just can't fathom how his personal accounts of god have not converted me and he is already a little touchy on the whole subject now. How do I tell him I don't believe him, but be respectful at the same time? All I could think of is to say that I believe that he believes that stuff
. ? Consider

If you are feeling like a little dare-"devil" Evil_monster I would respectfully say this:

I am a person who bases my decisions on evidence that can be tested and recreated many times. If god really exists then you should be able to ask him to tell you what to say to me that would convince me that your understanding of your personal accounts being attributed to god is, in fact, correct. If he can't do that then there's no reason for you to believe in this god.

**Crickets** -- God
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