My friend who I love
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07-05-2015, 01:00 PM
My friend who I love
Hello TTA community. As usual I am turning to you for both perspective and perhaps a little advice. I surround myself with a fairly well educated group of friends. I find it particularly intriguing that although most of them are Masters or PhD students or holders, most of them are largely theistic ( some of which are more deist, but still religious ). I find that often the subject of religion in general is largely ignored however when it is brought up, most of the personal beliefs are very Old Testament in regards to those of us that are secular. Keeping in mind that, as a free thinker, as an atheist, I try very hard to be open minded and rational and support my beliefs with evidence, however there appears to be a huge disconnect between my friends and I due in large part to my lack of belief in "something greater than myself" or "something". I explain that while it would be nice if there were magic, gods, djinn, fairies or whatever supernatural event, there is no concrete reason to believe in them until it is demonstrated. I explain that until there is evidence to believe in something, there is no reason to believe in it. They return with quick quips about how if you hold no belief in god you have no beliefs or morals or ethics. Soon, For the most part they get real quiet and the subject gradually changes to something more lighthearted and my viewpoints go largely forgotten into the glazed over eyes. However one friend for whom I care for deeply holds some sort of contention toward even the word "Atheist." I suspect it is largely influenced by the stigma toward us in the media and upbringing, but often times so much is said that is so wrong is such volume and so fast that it is impossible to correct or even make an attempt to change the mind of this person. In all other areas of my friends life, they appear to be compassionate, kindhearted, loving, caring, charitable and intelligent, and at the same time someone I enjoy spending time with, but when it comes to atheists as a whole or the secular movement or even the mention of a possibility that someone doesn't believe in gods, all I have ever heard is the distasteful sneer and self righteousness you'd expect from a televangelist. My questions are this:
1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general ( not a deconversion per se, but an understanding of the position we hold as skeptical creatures)
2). Does anyone else have a situation sinilar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?
3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion? I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.

Thank you for all your time and thought.

Cheers
Patrick
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07-05-2015, 01:10 PM
RE: My friend who I love
(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  Hello TTA community. As usual I am turning to you for both perspective and perhaps a little advice. I surround myself with a fairly well educated group of friends. I find it particularly intriguing that although most of them are Masters or PhD students or holders, most of them are largely theistic ( some of which are more deist, but still religious ). I find that often the subject of religion in general is largely ignored however when it is brought up, most of the personal beliefs are very Old Testament in regards to those of us that are secular. Keeping in mind that, as a free thinker, as an atheist, I try very hard to be open minded and rational and support my beliefs with evidence, however there appears to be a huge disconnect between my friends and I due in large part to my lack of belief in "something greater than myself" or "something". I explain that while it would be nice if there were magic, gods, djinn, fairies or whatever supernatural event, there is no concrete reason to believe in them until it is demonstrated. I explain that until there is evidence to believe in something, there is no reason to believe in it. They return with quick quips about how if you hold no belief in god you have no beliefs or morals or ethics. Soon, For the most part they get real quiet and the subject gradually changes to something more lighthearted and my viewpoints go largely forgotten into the glazed over eyes. However one friend for whom I care for deeply holds some sort of contention toward even the word "Atheist." I suspect it is largely influenced by the stigma toward us in the media and upbringing, but often times so much is said that is so wrong is such volume and so fast that it is impossible to correct or even make an attempt to change the mind of this person. In all other areas of my friends life, they appear to be compassionate, kindhearted, loving, caring, charitable and intelligent, and at the same time someone I enjoy spending time with, but when it comes to atheists as a whole or the secular movement or even the mention of a possibility that someone doesn't believe in gods, all I have ever heard is the distasteful sneer and self righteousness you'd expect from a televangelist. My questions are this:
1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general ( not a deconversion per se, but an understanding of the position we hold as skeptical creatures)
2). Does anyone else have a situation sinilar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?
3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion? I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.

Thank you for all your time and thought.

Cheers
Patrick

I think the best thing you can do is to show by action. If you are involved with various causes--tell them about them, invite them to join in. I think sometimes believers assume atheists don't care about the world--they only want to sin and go to Hedonism. Tongue I still have friends who are christian and some of them are okay with my leaving the faith and others--not so much. You can't make people be happy with your life choices--the point is whether or not you are happy with them. Unfortunately, sometimes it is a matter of limiting contact with those types of people or changing the subject when the topic of religion comes up. Either way, I generally try and be respectful of others beliefs--because after all I was one of them. I know how hard it is to come out from all of that into a state of clarity. The only time I will voice my opinions is when they are being critical of others.
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07-05-2015, 01:13 PM
RE: My friend who I love
(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  My questions are this:
1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general ( not a deconversion per se, but an understanding of the position we hold as skeptical creatures)
Emphasize the stuff that you share - humanity, compassion. Don't worry about convincing him/her/it that you're *right* in any way whatsoever, nor that you have valid reasons for your belief. Just aim for a. I am a nice guy. b. I am an atheist, it's just part of who I am. c. Other atheists and non-believers can also be nice, although thar also be assholes depending where you look. d. Although you may be convinced that I am wrong, I have a *right* to hold my own views - you'd be surprised how many theists take it personally that anyone could possibly not be smitten with their dodgy ol' deity.

Quote:2). Does anyone else have a situation sinilar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?
Quite a few religious friends. I mostly don't discuss it with them, the topic rarely comes up. If they're too pushy they cease to be friends.

Quote:3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion? I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.
It's not your job to tell them anything Wink My personal preference is if someone's *interested* in what I have to say then I'll state it. If they're hostile and pushy then I'll go on the offensive. Otherwise if they're happy in their little bubble I leave them to it. If they're really into some kinda whacko belief like anti-vax then I'll definitely attempt to change their minds but as long as there's nothing dangerous about their barmy shit I'm not into changing minds. The problem is, you see, that it's pretty near impossible - they see things one way and there's not a lot you can do about it. The only way anyone changes is from their own dissatisfaction with the answers they receive, IMO.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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07-05-2015, 01:53 PM
RE: My friend who I love
I hate to say it --- but it's usually easier to change friends, than to change a friend's mind......

.......................................

The difference between prayer and masturbation - is when a guy is through masturbating - he has something to show for his efforts.
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07-05-2015, 07:08 PM
RE: My friend who I love
(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  Hello TTA community. As usual I am turning to you for both perspective and perhaps a little advice. I surround myself with a fairly well educated group of friends. I find it particularly intriguing that although most of them are Masters or PhD students or holders, most of them are largely theistic ( some of which are more deist, but still religious ). I find that often the subject of religion in general is largely ignored however when it is brought up, most of the personal beliefs are very Old Testament in regards to those of us that are secular. Keeping in mind that, as a free thinker, as an atheist, I try very hard to be open minded and rational and support my beliefs with evidence, however there appears to be a huge disconnect between my friends and I due in large part to my lack of belief in "something greater than myself" or "something". I explain that while it would be nice if there were magic, gods, djinn, fairies or whatever supernatural event, there is no concrete reason to believe in them until it is demonstrated. I explain that until there is evidence to believe in something, there is no reason to believe in it. They return with quick quips about how if you hold no belief in god you have no beliefs or morals or ethics. Soon, For the most part they get real quiet and the subject gradually changes to something more lighthearted and my viewpoints go largely forgotten into the glazed over eyes. However one friend for whom I care for deeply holds some sort of contention toward even the word "Atheist." I suspect it is largely influenced by the stigma toward us in the media and upbringing, but often times so much is said that is so wrong is such volume and so fast that it is impossible to correct or even make an attempt to change the mind of this person. In all other areas of my friends life, they appear to be compassionate, kindhearted, loving, caring, charitable and intelligent, and at the same time someone I enjoy spending time with, but when it comes to atheists as a whole or the secular movement or even the mention of a possibility that someone doesn't believe in gods, all I have ever heard is the distasteful sneer and self righteousness you'd expect from a televangelist. My questions are this:
1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general ( not a deconversion per se, but an understanding of the position we hold as skeptical creatures)
2). Does anyone else have a situation sinilar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?
3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion? I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.

Thank you for all your time and thought.

Cheers
Patrick

If they don't accept you and truly think that you are without morals then can they really be your friends?

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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08-05-2015, 08:17 AM
RE: My friend who I love
Patrick:

I have friends who are atheists, and friends who are theists. My theist friends accept the fact that I am an atheist. The couple who are probably my best and closest friends are devout believers in some sort of a god, but they openly assert that it's impossible to know anything about that god, and they are very critical of all the established religions. They revere Jesus, so I call then Jesusites rather than Christians, since modern Christianity was invented by Paul and has little to do with Jesus except to demand that people "believe" in him.

I live my life as well as I can, and am always open about my rejection of religion. As a result, I have no friends who hold the sort of attitudes that yours do, because such people cannot tolerate my honesty about my own opinions. I do not respect bullshit. I respect people who believe in "some sort of god," but I do not respect people who demand that others adhere to their particular religion, or people who are certain that their particular view of god is the only acceptable one, or especially people who demand that others follow arbitrary and pointless behavioral codes.

"El mar se mide por olas,
el cielo por alas,
nosotros por lágrimas."
-- Jaime Sabines
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15-05-2015, 03:16 PM
RE: My friend who I love
(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general ( not a deconversion per se, but an understanding of the position we hold as skeptical creatures)
2). Does anyone else have a situation sinilar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?
3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion? I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.

1.) Discussions are always a great place to start if he's willing to do that. You can show that you are still a moral person and you live your life day-to-day very similar to him. As Jennybee said actions speak louder than words though.

2.) I am in a similar situation where I am no longer a believer and my immediate family is freaking out because they don't know what's happening to me or what i believe. I've been accused of being broken, having a mid-life crisis to being demon possessed. My mother even told my wife, who is a christian, that if I come out of this doubting phase as an atheist (going on 2+ years) that she (my wife) will need to divorce me. My own mother said that! What I have done and will continue to do is love my family, my kids and my wife with all that I have. They see I'm a good husband and father and this confuses them. How can he still have values, hold some kind of moral code and not believe? Because you don't need to believe to activate all those characteristics. Show by action. My road my end differently, my wife may give up and want out. I take it day by day.

3.) Every conversation deserves a tailored approach and it really depends on the the person. These discussions are a game of psychology. The Socratic - reasoning method may work well for some and an all-out assault may work for others. Just make sure to let them know you are not attacking them as a person, you are only questioning their worldview. It's very difficult for believers to separate these two out because their worldview is their life.

That's all I have for now...i may add more later. Best wishes to you though.
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16-05-2015, 05:09 PM
RE: My friend who I love
(15-05-2015 03:16 PM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  
(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general ( not a deconversion per se, but an understanding of the position we hold as skeptical creatures)
2). Does anyone else have a situation sinilar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?
3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion? I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.

1.) Discussions are always a great place to start if he's willing to do that. You can show that you are still a moral person and you live your life day-to-day very similar to him. As Jennybee said actions speak louder than words though.

2.) I am in a similar situation where I am no longer a believer and my immediate family is freaking out because they don't know what's happening to me or what i believe. I've been accused of being broken, having a mid-life crisis to being demon possessed. My mother even told my wife, who is a christian, that if I come out of this doubting phase as an atheist (going on 2+ years) that she (my wife) will need to divorce me. My own mother said that! What I have done and will continue to do is love my family, my kids and my wife with all that I have. They see I'm a good husband and father and this confuses them. How can he still have values, hold some kind of moral code and not believe? Because you don't need to believe to activate all those characteristics. Show by action. My road my end differently, my wife may give up and want out. I take it day by day.

3.) Every conversation deserves a tailored approach and it really depends on the the person. These discussions are a game of psychology. The Socratic - reasoning method may work well for some and an all-out assault may work for others. Just make sure to let them know you are not attacking them as a person, you are only questioning their worldview. It's very difficult for believers to separate these two out because their worldview is their life.

That's all I have for now...i may add more later. Best wishes to you though.

Wow! You are in some deep shit my friend!

If you need some online support just holler.
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16-05-2015, 09:38 PM
RE: My friend who I love
(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  1). How do I go about changing the mind of my friend toward acceptance of me, us or non believers in general.

I second what was said already about it not being your problem. Just be the best person you can and if there is dissonance on how you can be good, they will either ask you about it, it will continue to eat at them, or they will cut you out. If they cant see past it, then they don't deserve your friendship.

(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  2). Does anyone else have a situation similar to mine they'd be willing to share? What was the outcome? How did you approach it?

My wife is a believer as is her entire family and mine. I am the only out atheist I know in an area that is fairly religious (which kinda sucks). I hate the sympathetic or condescending words my wife hears (although she would never admit it), prayers for my soul, and garbage like that. I would be shocked if she didn't have the "he's so arrogant because he doesn't believe in jesus" nonsense logged at her. I have been approached by more than one person who thinks they have the convincing story of how they felt the holy spirit tickle their balls or something like that. I just politely thank them for sharing and let them know that I found their story completely unconvincing (because without exception, it is) I have never really taken after someone before who didn't have it coming but I also don't back down if it comes up. I did have a really great conversation with someone on my softball team a couple of months ago. It's a church league so that makes it really interesting as I think I am the only one out of the entire league that does not go to the mound for prayers after the game which has raised many, many eyebrows, I know. I look at it as the only way to express my individuality. Anyway, I had a really great talk with my teammate and it was rather fun. I would just say be as respectful as you can be. If you pounce, that may be what they are looking for ("you have a temper problem, you need jesus").

(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  3). When a religious conversation does come up, should I stop appealing to reason and asking questions and instead go on an all out assault? Is there a situation where you can deconstruct someone's religious beliefs with compassion?

In my experience, it is extremely hard to say. Many, many people have religion as their identity. I personally think it is a defense mechanism that was part of the indoctrinating process to shield them from any challenges. I would tread lightly here until you know for sure. I had read many stories about believer's taking even the slightest prodding personally but when I went through it with my wife, I saw it firsthand. Not pretty.

(07-05-2015 01:00 PM)patrickhurbain Wrote:  I believe my reluctance to seriously correct incorrect information and positions based in falsehoods to be as kind as I can be in this situation but after a year, I am beginning to feel singled out.

You are being singled out. That comes with the territory. You don't fit the mold and so they may feel like it is their job to mold you. If they are christians, jesus says this exactly. I am the only person in the entire softball league who does not participate in the prayer circle. I know that I am kind of singling myself out in a way, but it is just who I am. I would feel incredibly stupid standing on a pitcher's mound and listening to these grown men utter some incantation to the sky. I put it to my wife a while ago like this: we all were running as a pack of lemmings, just following the asshole in front of you. I am just a lemming that stood up, looked around, and found my own way. Take care.

Side note: I know the lemmings don't do this, it's just a metaphor so don't take it out of context. :D

"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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