My theist wife giving time to listen
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27-01-2011, 12:00 PM
 
My theist wife giving time to listen
I got married in 2009 to a woman who is just perfect for me in every important way. We have a beautiful baby girl and a wonderful happy life together. The one issue that we tend to make no progress on is religion.

She was raised in a very right-wing conservative fundamental Catholic household. Her parents and grandparents are as deep as it gets. They have bible studies, go to church to stand, sit and kneel and explain every gap with god. If there is anything wrong in the world, to them, it is due to a lack of a relationship with god. They have no desire to search for more answers or hear the other side, even when it comes to other religions and obtaining religious literacy. Don't get me wrong, they don't preach to me and are really wonderful people who I truly love. I get into political debates with her dad (which I really enjoy), but I never really talk to them about religion, as I don't want to be disrespectful in their home (or in general).

So, back to my wife. She doesn't go to church but she still calls herself a christian. I try to bring up the subject often because I want her to understand my POV and I'd like to understand her POV and apply logic to it. These conversations often turn into her completely shutting down and not wanting to hear my views at all. We've covered a lot of ground on this subject and at times she has been willing to admit that her believe structure is a choice. I make it a point to talk about the subject very calmly, but when I point out a lack of logic in theistic thinking she feels I am angry and attacking religion for no reason other than to just be argumentative.

Well, last night I was showing her some vids showing Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly to be ignorant fear mongering liars, then I started playing a TTA vids (welcome to this world - the one with the baby). She got all upset and stormed upstairs and I explained to her how passionate I am about this subject and how much it means to me and she made a nice little compromise for me. She doesn't want to hear about my Atheist/Agnostic views everyday, but she said she would be willing to talk to me about it unemotionally for 30 minutes a week. She asked when I wanted my 30 minutes of Atheist talk and I said "well, why not Sunday morning?"

So now my wife is willing to sit down with me and talk about the subject openly for 30 minutes a week, which I'm really happy about. It's a start and it's better than completely ignoring and discounting what I have to say. So, what is your advice guys? I was thinking of showing some more TTA and Mr.Deity vids and talking about them from there.

I just want to make sure I approach the subject in the right ways so she will become more open minded through the conversations. Any suggestions?
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27-01-2011, 12:07 PM
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
My wife is an evangelical Christian. She accepts who I am, but doesn't like me talking about it.

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“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” ~ Gautama Buddha
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27-01-2011, 12:13 PM
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
If she gets so upset watching youtube clips that she storms upstairs... my guess is you're gonna have to take it slow. And even then you probably won't make any progress. You're essentially telling a grown-up that santa doesn't actually exist. There's going to be some anger and some resistance to you crumbling their entire belief system.

I say start off with youtube clips, then move on to entire movies like Religulous or the Zeitgeist movie. And finally, move on to you debating your wife. You'll probably piss her off a lot along the way, but how is that different from any other discussion in marriage?

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

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27-01-2011, 12:48 PM
 
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
One thing that it's helpful to understand is that believing in God for many (especially Catholics) is an emotional choice, not a rational one. I feel like I am very similar to your wife, in some ways. Now it sounds like her parents are considerably more devout than mine were, but I still would guess being catholic she was expose to Bible verse less than most. Many atheist want to disprove the Bible, but this doesn't mean much to Catholics. Catholics say Ok sure evolution got it, but not sway in their Catholic ways. Being Catholic is a great big old security blacket (picture Linus). You can give us every reason under the sun as to why that blanket is silly and provides no security whatsoever, but just try and pry it out or our hands! So your victories may be her having a better understanding of your POV, but she will probably still pull out the old sign of the cross when times call for it! It's not logical, its emotional.
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27-01-2011, 01:17 PM
 
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
Wow, you guys are providing some great insight already. Thank you all so much. Glad to know that I'm not the only one dealing with this stuff.

I've actually convinced her to sit through Religulous, but she just hates Bill Mahar. She thinks he's a smarmy little rat, but she agrees with him (on social issues, not religious) more than she agrees with Beck and O'Reilly. I've not even seen Zeitgeist myself, but it's on my list.

I think she was more upset about the YT vid because I sprung it on her without warning. My approach on Sundays will now be much more gradual.

You guys hit the nail on the head with the emotional connection though. She was raised and brainwashed her whole life that this was the truth and to question it will result in eternal hell. It's a crutch, a security blanket, and sometimes she will even admit such things and we'll get into crutch metaphors. She asks why would I want to kick the crutch out from someone who needs a crutch. I say that the people who move forward without the crutch are the truly strong individuals and that the crutch is a bad thing when used as a weapon. I compare it to the mobility scooters that fat people use just because they are lazy, you know, like it's a total choice and requires much less work. I have also seen folks who are handed some pretty shitty life circumstances and claim that the only way they got through such times was with their faith. For those folks it's hard to let go and it's a tough subject to approach from the aspect of calling that crutch imaginary.

Does it ever make you guys laugh when a theist asks you to be open minded? Sure does for me.
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27-01-2011, 01:21 PM
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
Quote:The Zeitgeist movie
I don't recommend it. Even the part about religion has so much errors in it, but even if one wouldn't care about them, showing the entire movie would still be a risk to make the target conspirasick.

I wouldn't try comedic videos (like most of the TTA vids), since they might seem like mockery. Something calm and polite would be nice, but I can't recommend anything.

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27-01-2011, 01:24 PM
 
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
Thanks to this group I've been introducted to the comedian/performer Tim Minchin who says if you open your mind too far your brain will fall out.
Check this guys videos they are perfect for this situation. :

http://thethinkingatheist.com/forum/show...p?tid=1352

very calm and not condesending.
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27-01-2011, 01:30 PM
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
I too was raised Catholic in a mostly secular home. The thing about Catholic indoctrination that a non-Catholic apostate has to understand when talking with a Catholic is the complex dynamic that Catholicism is.

The pope recently acknowledged that the big bang happened, but he says God started it. So basically, Catholicism is not bible dependent for the creation story. However, it's also not henontheisitic, pantheistic nor deistic. Jesus is still (to them) literally the son of God. Priests still literally transubstantiate the Eucharist. Somehow, in order to be Catholic, you have to reconcile a 30 billion year old universe with the story of Genesis and evolution and the impossible chronology from Adam to Abraham to David to Christ; because without that chronology, there's no basis for the claims that Jesus both fulfills prophesy and is also god.

My suggestion: Edward Tarte. http://www.youtube.com/user/edwardtarte#...CAA2448025
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27-01-2011, 01:38 PM
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
I also recommend trying to show her this:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Evid3nc3

It does not bash religion and he uses logical agruements against it. Also he tells his psychological issues he had to deal during the process coming from a loyal Christian too a logical atheist.

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“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” ~ Gautama Buddha
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27-01-2011, 01:40 PM
RE: My theist wife giving time to listen
After I'd lost my faith, long after, I began to see if I could find it again...

After years of being what I described as a "bare bones Christian" in that I bought into the Jesus thing but thought God viewed Earth as the Jerry Springer show - tuned in for 5 minutes a week purely for entertainment purposes...but I digress. I wanted to take a rational approach to faith, so I started reading. I'm a historian by education, so I looked at the bible and related books historically - some great ones I'd recommend would include:

Who wrote the New Testament by Burton Mack
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Wrote-New-Test...0060655186

Mack is a professor of theology at the Claremont School of Theology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burton_L._Mack

He shows the New Testament to be basically a fraudulent and flawed document simply based on the historical level.

Another great book, but one that should be reserved for a tipping point (and definitely after the Mack book) is J. Dominic Crossan's The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus.
http://www.johndominiccrossan.com/index.html

Crossan still professes to be a Christian, largely because it makes him feel good, but you clearly come away from, having read his writings, that Jesus was a historical person turned into a god by his followers.

Once you make the break, everything else starts falling into place.

And, just for the record, my wife and I were both brought up Catholic. When we were married, I was really trying to have faith - largely because she did. After I began my rejection, and while she still believed, I simply asked her to read the books that I read (rather than getting into debates on the merits of faith). After she read the Mack book she looked at me and said something to the effect of - "so it's all bullshit huh?"

Hope that helps- Sean

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