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Old 03-31-2014, 11:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I was addressing my friend's specific situation with her close fundamentalist relatives and friends . . . not a generic solution. She is clearly having issues and discomfort, etc. in her personal life over this change in her beliefs. I was asking her to examine WHY she is having these difficulties . . . which are largely self-generated by her angst over not being able to "parade her disbelief" openly among her friends and family.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
I think it is the wording "parade her disbelief". It doesn't appear to me she is attempting to do anything of the sort. She is simply trying to strike the very delicate balance between being considerate and tactful, and not having to live a lie. Should she stop having conversations with her friends and family because they keep wanting to talk about religion? Or should she lie and pretend to be a believer?
I don't know her specific situation but I feel for her. My wife and I use the phrase "coming out" to refer to letting anyone in my family know that we are nonbelievers. We have come out to a few folks, and it has definitely poisoned some relationships, but why is it my responsibility to lie to salvage a relationship? Fortunately, my immediate family has sort of taken a don't ask, don't tell stance. Not everyone is as respectful about it.
I find it hard to imagine that you would pretend to believe in hellfire and damnation to make someone else feel better, or that you would sit meekly in a group of atheist friends and bite your tongue because you are afraid of offending. There is a difference between being considerate and tactful (which didn't appear to be her issue) and trying to be something you are not, just to avoid other people's baggage.
-NoCapo
I see the issue about my choice of words but it was designed to highlight the extreme end of a very wide spectrum. Unfortunately, these issues always seem to resolve down to an all-or nothing solution in these debates . . . which belies most things in human social relationships. There is a wide range of possible "unbelief" that could be expressed as disagreement without revealing a complete disbelief. This "I have to be true to myself" nonsense rings hollow when important human relationships are involved. That is why I asked her to search inward for the reasons she is unwilling to temper her expressions of disbelief to the more absurd and heinous of the fundy beliefs (like ET, etc.) without necessarily revealing a complete lack of belief. Only she knows which of her social and psychological needs a complete exposure of her disbelief is supposed to satisfy and why.
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:37 AM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,251,388 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I see the issue about my choice of words but it was designed to highlight the extreme end of a very wide spectrum.
Which all well and good if you are grandstanding, but you specifically said you were dealing with this specific poster, and her issues. This extreme did not appear to be present in the OP. The OP is simply understandably frustrated at being placed in a situation where must lie and play a role to keep from destroying relationships, simply because the other parties cannot deal with it.

Like I said the situation is a lot like homosexuality...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Unfortunately, these issues always seem to resolve down to an all-or nothing solution in these debates . . . which belies most things in human social relationships. There is a wide range of possible "unbelief" that could be expressed as disagreement without revealing a complete disbelief. This "I have to be true to myself" nonsense rings hollow when important human relationships are involved. That is why I asked her to search inward for the reasons she is unwilling to temper her expressions of disbelief to the more absurd and heinous of the fundy beliefs (like ET, etc.) without necessarily revealing a complete lack of belief. Only she knows which of her social and psychological needs a complete exposure of her disbelief is supposed to satisfy and why.
So, she should only speak up about issues that are important to you, because only the issues that separate you from fundies are important? I find it interesting that you draw the line so that you can be who you are, but the rest of us should shut up and live in the closet.

I don't get from the OP that she is trying to throw anything in anyone's face. She is not wearing a Darwin Fish to the Church potluck here. But in is neither wrong or surprising that she should expect the people she loves to be able to love and accept her as she is, and to share the responsibility for not causing offense and being sensitive. The fact that she cannot rely on these people not to freak out if she is open about who she is causes tension and frustration.

It is clear you have not been in this situation. It is a fine balancing act because we cannot expect people to tactfully moderate their language and behavior to avoid offense if we are not open, but then we get people like you who want us to hide it an pretend to be, if not good little Christians, at least Universalists, and question our motives if we don't. On top of that is the very real issue that being open in any way can result in shattered relationships, and ugly consequences.

The advice you are giving here is the same as telling a gay man to stay in the closet, because to allow anyone to know you are gay is just "parading your homosexuality". I've been around here long enough to know you wouldn't say this to a gay man, why do you threat non-theists this way?

-NoCapo
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:44 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
5,846 posts, read 3,357,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I was addressing my friend's specific situation with her close fundamentalist relatives and friends . . . not a generic solution. She is clearly having issues and discomfort, etc. in her personal life over this change in her beliefs. I was asking her to examine WHY she is having these difficulties . . . which are largely self-generated by her angst over not being able to "parade her disbelief" openly among her friends and family.
Why do you insist that this is about "parading her disbelief" around?

No, it's more about living a lie.

I don't think she is telling her family that they should all be atheists - she just doesn't want to participate in their ritualistic mambo-jahambo. If she has to respect their beliefs, they can respect hers. Respect within a family has to work both ways.

I think her family should ask themselves WHY they can't accept her atheism and let it go at that.
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
6,862 posts, read 3,788,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I see the issue about my choice of words but it was designed to highlight the extreme end of a very wide spectrum. Unfortunately, these issues always seem to resolve down to an all-or nothing solution in these debates . . . which belies most things in human social relationships. There is a wide range of possible "unbelief" that could be expressed as disagreement without revealing a complete disbelief. This "I have to be true to myself" nonsense rings hollow when important human relationships are involved. That is why I asked her to search inward for the reasons she is unwilling to temper her expressions of disbelief to the more absurd and heinous of the fundy beliefs (like ET, etc.) without necessarily revealing a complete lack of belief. Only she knows which of her social and psychological needs a complete exposure of her disbelief is supposed to satisfy and why.


This 'I have to be true to myself' nonsense, translates as 'uncomfortable with lying'. I'd have thought having a problem with lying would be a virtue, no? Does truth count for nothing these days?

What you said here Mystic shows a surprising lack of empathy on your part. Clearly you have never been in a position where you have had to tell untruths or shall we call them 'white lies'?
Or maybe you have had to tell a white lie here and there. Imagine having to live like that on a constant basis?
Personally I couldn't do it - I would have a massive problem living like that. But then I have been in the fortunate position that I have never had to, at least not to the extent the OP describes and Mystic you can think yourself fortunate that you don't have to either. I think we need to be sympathetic and empathetic to the OP's situation.

Why should the OP have to 'express disagreement without revealing a complete disbelief'. There is nothing AT ALL wrong with complete disbelief. The only reason to hide it is to not hurt the prejudiced sensibilities of those who would take offense or make judgements for all the wrong reasons. I don't see theists having any problems at all with 'parading their belief'. Why should the OP be required to live any differently? The OP is the sensitive party here and clearly already has had a 'sincere inner talk' with herself. She already is the bigger person.


To the OP. You are not the first person to write about your position like this and you won't be the last. I find it astonishing that anybody should have to hide their atheism these days as though it was some sort of disease. Really astonishing.
Sometimes I feel as though this country is going backwards.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:19 PM
 
40,086 posts, read 26,750,404 times
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Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
This 'I have to be true to myself' nonsense, translates as 'uncomfortable with lying'. I'd have thought having a problem with lying would be a virtue, no? Does truth count for nothing these days?
What you said here Mystic shows a surprising lack of empathy on your part. Clearly you have never been in a position where you have had to tell untruths or shall we call them 'white lies'?
Or maybe you have had to tell a white lie here and there. Imagine having to live like that on a constant basis?
Personally I couldn't do it - I would have a massive problem living like that. But then I have been in the fortunate position that I have never had to, at least not to the extent the OP describes and Mystic you can think yourself fortunate that you don't have to either. I think we need to be sympathetic and empathetic to the OP's situation.
I hate to express doubt about anyone's claims . . . but I am so absolutely certain that IF you have any social life and maintain any friends whatsoever . . . you are lying your b**t off on a fairly routine basis. You may call them white lies . . . but they are simply "social lubrication" to keep the social wheels moving smoothly. I refuse to argue it with you because it is so ubiquitous that there is simply no truthful basis for NOT believing it.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I hate to express doubt about anyone's claims . . . but I am so absolutely certain that IF you have any social life and maintain any friends whatsoever . . . you are lying your b**t off on a fairly routine basis. You may call them white lies . . . but they are simply "social lubrication" to keep the social wheels moving smoothly. I refuse to argue it with you because it is so ubiquitous that there is simply no truthful basis for NOT believing it.

You have to lie your butt off on a routine basis in order to maintain friends??

And you call those friendships? What kind of friends are they?


You are going to have to provide an example of where we all lie on a routine basis to lubricate our social lives. I'm not saying we are all angels - I'm sure all of us lie once in a while, but routinely?
If people are going around lying all the time, how do you know when they are telling the truth? How do you know what kind of person they really are?
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
You have to lie your butt off on a routine basis in order to maintain friends??
And you call those friendships? What kind of friends are they?
You are going to have to provide an example of where we all lie on a routine basis to lubricate our social lives. I'm not saying we are all angels - I'm sure all of us lie once in a while, but routinely?
If people are going around lying all the time, how do you know when they are telling the truth? How do you know what kind of person they really are?
Routinely over a lifetime does not need to be all that frequent, Cruithne but I said I wouldn't argue this with you . . . the amount of self-deceit and cognitive dissonance that exists makes it a pointless exercise. I would suggest this exercise though. However many friends you have . . . if you spent the next 6-12 months ALWAYS being absolutely scrupulously honest and never lying even by omission or avoidance or any other way . . . at the end of that time your number of friends would be diminished. It would be an interesting scientific experiment, no?
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:48 AM
 
Location: Detroit
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There's a big difference between telling little lies about trivial things and telling lies about yourself. If you have to tell lies about yourself to make or maintain relationships, are they worth it? Sometimes it might be in a person's best interest to tell a white lie about something trivial; however, it is never in a person's best interests to lie about themselves to make others happy. That only makes them miserable.

The fact is that being in a closet of any sort sucks. Life in the closet eventually begins to feel like a lie. Sure it gets easy to come out to people who really don't matter, but it can be incredibly difficult to come out to family and close friends that you have especially if you know that they are not supportive of whatever you're in the closet about.

In seventh grade, I met someone who would became one of my best friends over the next seven years. When we met, I was Christian and he was nonreligious. We got along great and all was well for four years. During 11th grade, he became a born-again Christian. I thought that it was awesome that he found the Lord and a positive influence in his life. Fast forward to this year. I realized that I really don't believe. My friend had became vocal about his fundamentalist beliefs, but I always just shrugged it off until I realized that I didn't believe and that a lot of what he said was dehumanizing to me personally. He would talk about how atheists are possessed by the devil and trying to destroy the world. I don't want to lose a friend, so I just say that I disagree with his view. Even just expressing my disagreement with his fundamentalist view, I am lying about myself. I am having to lie about myself to keep a friend. Now, every time I hang out with him, there is a part of my brain that knows I'm lying to make him happy. It makes me feel pathetic because I can't tell him, and I feel hurt because of his views. Now, imagine that this isn't a disposable friend that you see on occasion, but your family that you see every day. It can make a person's life miserable.

Being true to oneself is not nonsense. Having to lie about yourself to others to make them happy is the real nonsense.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:20 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by RC01 View Post
[b]I realized that I really don't believe. My friend had became vocal about his fundamentalist beliefs, but I always just shrugged it off until I realized that I didn't believe and that a lot of what he said was dehumanizing to me personally. He would talk about how atheists are possessed by the devil and trying to destroy the world. I don't want to lose a friend, so I just say that I disagree with his view. Even just expressing my disagreement with his fundamentalist view, I am lying about myself. I am having to lie about myself to keep a friend.
I know several people who can't handle some aspect of the truth, and not just about religious ideas; two that I've been reminded of recently:

* A father who was remote, emotionally unavailable, neglectful, objectifying and controlling toward his children, who does not want to hear or experience anything that violates his belief that he was a good father or that would require him to acknowledge his children's experience of his parenting.

* A young woman who insists on taking it very personally should anyone have a different opinion from her, or a different perception or interpretation of events -- particularly if it makes a relationship seem more complicated.

In the two cases above, in order to have any kind of relationship with them, you would have to "go along to get along", often to an obscene and, as you suggest, dehumanizing degree -- just like you're describing for religious ideation. The closer you are to them, and particularly if you're family, the worse it is. Either one of them could actually be great people to know, professionally or casually, where you don't have to engage with their illusions.

Sometimes I wonder if fundamentalism simply attracts these kinds of people or produces them, or if it's just incidental to human nature.
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Old 04-02-2014, 09:37 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
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On top of everything else said here, having to live a lie or to live in the closet about some contentious issue devalues and downgrades the friendship right from the start.

There is a feeling that a good friend or family member should trust and respect you enough to take your opinions and lifestyle seriously. Even if you might doubt or dismiss it coming out of the mouth of someone else, because it is being said by a close friend, lover, or family member, you want to think it holds a bit more weight.

Thus if you had a good friend who was religious and you told him you were an atheist, you would like to think that you're good enough friends for the reaction not to be, "Get you gone, heathen of the devil!" So when you're living a lie, living in the closet, it changes the very nature of your friendshps - because what it's saying is that your friends do not respect you and your opinions well enough to handle being told about your contrary religious beleifs. It also says that your friends are essentially religious bigots if they can't continue being your friend because of your atheism.

Now, it's one thing to, say, join a church under false pretenses and befriend people with the idea that you're Christian when you never were - THAT would be completely wrong. But if your religious perceptions change over time to becoming an atheist, good friendships should be able to handle that.

This should be a lesson to anyone who has friends that are all members of a particular group or beleif system. Would those friends abandon you if you were ever to leave that group or change your beliefs? Because if your friendships are contingent upon being a Christian, belonging to a church, being atheist, or whatever, then you might want to rethink just how valuable those friends actually are to you. Because then, it's not YOU they like.
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