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Old 04-04-2014, 07:14 AM
 
13,695 posts, read 13,623,653 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
That is why I was reluctant to advance this discussion in this area. That is NOT what I am advocating. There are always multiple factors and impacts to consider in the complex world of human relationships. I admit to having an extreme dislike of the often completely bogus ("I can't be dishonest" nonsense). It is always just a matter of what we are capable of being dishonest about and with whom.
Your entire diatribe reeks of egocentrism and you completely miss the point that started this discussion. It is NOT about the OP feeling like an outcast. It is about NOT hurting others she cares about who feel deeply about something she now considers imaginary and causing unnecessary discord and dissension over it. I find that a majority of those who most vehemently proclaim "i've gotta be honest" about contentious things are primarily self-centered and inconsiderate human beings looking for attention. My friend is not . . . so I was asking her to consider what it is about revealing her disbelief that is so crucial to her . . . given it is about what she now considers to be imaginary anyway.
Egocentrism? Yeah, sure. Whatever. Has it occurred to you that the people the OP is afraid of hurting are the egocentric ones in this case?

As it happens, I missed that specific post you are referencing. But I think maybe the rest of what I said holds true. When the people around you are going to be HURT by you holding deeply felt beliefs, it is perhaps time to expand one's social circle and not invest so much in the people who are that fragile. What if the OP is going through a difficult time and she slips up and her "unbelief" is revealed? Suddenly, there's going to be chaos at the time when she most needs cohesion. If you have to hide a fundamental part of who you are from someone, they are not someone you can rely on as much as someone you can be your authentic self with.

And in any case, where am I talking about "vehement proclamations" and the like? I don't think I've ever vehemently proclaimed my atheism or recommended anyone else do the same. But when people ask me for my religious opinion on something, I will explain that I'm an atheist and how that affects my opinion. I'm not any more in your face about it than I am about having brown eyes and freckles. For example, I've had evangelical friends start to "witness" to me, and I have heard them out and then explained my stance, as respectfully as I can. Basically, my point is "that's great you've found a faith that works for you, but it doesn't really work for me personally." And they can like it or lump it from there. Most people don't care. I post things about atheism on my FB, other friends ask for prayers and "Like" God and other religious sites, and we don't squabble over it. When someone asks for prayers, I tell them they're in my thoughts. I am not advocating that the OP suddenly rub everyone's face in her atheism, in any way shape or form. But she should be able to offer her perspective and make statements that reflect her beliefs without everybody and their brother getting weepy or falling to pieces. The problem seems less that she is surrounded by religious people and more that she is surrounded by people who don't know how to be adults.

I personally would not have said "are we done with the god talk now?" or whatever it was that she did say earlier that set off that one friend. There are better ways to express one's self, after all. But I DO think it was a statement born out of frustration and the extended reminder that her beliefs are not something she can discuss openly with many of her friends. I would have just treated it the way I do when some of my friends in the field of biology do when they start talking shop - I basically go to my happy place and think about what I have on my to-do list or what's planned for the rest of the week. I'm not going to freak out if my friends want to talk about something they are passionate about - but those same friends afford me similar latitude and courtesy if one of our other buddies shows up and starts talking literature with me.

In any case, I was responding to the thread of loneliness and isolation in the OP's post, as well as the frustration. There is apparently a large segment of her social network who are not going to accept her atheism. Because "protecting" them from that can be isolating and exhausting and nerve-wracking, I stand by my suggestions. It's like a Sword of Damocles hanging over her head, though quite a bit less deadly. So yes, she needs a support system who doesn't care about her beliefs, which she has to some extent, but it would be great if she had a few more people who hold SIMILAR beliefs so that she has people who fully understand her perspective. And yes, maybe it is time to move.

She also needs to accept the fact that her mother and other fragile folk could very well learn her secret and have a plan for going forward from that point.
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
6,867 posts, read 3,794,760 times
Reputation: 4609
Mystic I've noticed a common theme running through your posts in this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I would think that atheists would NOT see concerns about an imaginary God as all that relevant to life. So why should it become a source of discord and disruption of their actual life?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Pretending that not being true to your disbelief is such a big deal that it justifies causing discord, dissension and other negative impacts on others and on your life experiences to reveal it . . . is just nonsense.
SNIP
/ NOT volunteering or revealing that you no longer believe in God as you once did is hardly a critical issue if you are truly an atheist. It is about a imaginary being, after all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Your entire diatribe reeks of egocentrism and you completely miss the point that started this discussion. It is NOT about the OP feeling like an outcast. It is about NOT hurting others she cares about who feel deeply about something she now considers imaginary and causing unnecessary discord and dissension over it. I find that a majority of those who most vehemently proclaim "i've gotta be honest" about contentious things are primarily self-centered and inconsiderate human beings looking for attention. My friend is not . . . so I was asking her to consider what it is about revealing her disbelief that is so crucial to her . . . given it is about what she now considers to be imaginary anyway.
You seem to be basing your view on this, from the stance that not believing in an imaginary being is so trivial that it is not worth worrying about and therefore okay, to paraphrase, 'lie your ass' off about it.

You are missing something entirely central to who we are as human beings.

Let me draw your attention to something that seems to be quite important to Christians, written by the mods here, and taken directly from the sticky in the Christian forum:

Quote:
When it comes to what someone believes regarding their faith, it is not the same dynamic as a political stance, which one chooses based on reason or critical thinking, and how they feel about politically-based policies or issues. When it comes to religious belief, what one believes is personal to them, it is what they base their lives and actions around, and in many respects defines who they are, based on their understanding and belief of Christianity, and how it pertains to them as individuals. In short: Their belief is an extremely important part in terms of their definition of who they are. In overtly attacking their beliefs, you are also attacking that member...
(SNIP)
....But what is NOT acceptable, and what takes place on this forum every day is to attack that person for what in essence, is an integral part of who they are in what is highly personal to them in their perception of Christianity, and scripture, and is something they base their live's on, and what greatly defines who they are as individuals upon.
Now I don't think 'atheism' can necessarily be said to 'define' a person in quite the same way as Christianity defines a Christian. Nobody has ever started a war over atheism, so lets not get too carried away.
Nevertheless, people on this forum have arrived at a worldview and standard of ethics that is very much personal to them. Sometimes and in many cases arriving at that worldview has been a personal struggle against the odds. I read some stories and wonder how on earth they broke free of the indoctrination they are surrounded by on a day to day basis.
In many, many cases people have rejected Christianity because it clashes with their own innate personal standard of ethics, and they have arrived at atheism because they have seen that as a more ethical and rational way to be. The 'imaginary being' is only one chunk of the whole, it is a rejection of that AND the unethical religion that surrounds it.

Every situation is different. The OP has decided that in her case she is willing to make compromises in order to maintain the status quo. Only she can make that decision. But lets make very clear that she and people like her are the ones compromising themselves, by hiding who they are, however you look at it. It is not quite as trivial as you seem to want to make out.
As I think NoCapo said it is no different at all to hiding homosexuality which is very good comparison. Fortunately we seem to be gradually breaking free of that particularly ignorant and bigoted view. Lets hope one day we can say the same about atheism.

While atheism may not define a person, that persons worldview as a whole should be extended the same courtesy as your Christian worldview IMO.

This is what you seem to be missing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I find that a majority of those who most vehemently proclaim "i've gotta be honest" about contentious things are primarily self-centered and inconsiderate human beings looking for attention.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I admit to having an extreme dislike of the often completely bogus ("I can't be dishonest" nonsense). It is always just a matter of what we are capable of being dishonest about and with whom.
I take issue with this constant attack and trivialisation of honesty, whether it is directed at me or anyone else.
I have never in my life heard of honesty being defined by 'looking for attention' or 'inconsiderate'. You are coming out with some of the most ridiculous and I may say insulting statements.
Don't judge other people by your standards.

Last edited by Cruithne; 04-04-2014 at 11:46 AM..
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:28 PM
 
40,145 posts, read 26,779,715 times
Reputation: 6053
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
That is what I thought and I completely understand and agree with your beautiful and considerate motives. it is not that you would be self-serving to parade you disbelief as you did your belief. It is that it should not matter now that you consider it all imaginary anyway . . . and as you said it would hurt those you care about. I support you 100%, my friend and always will. It is never easy caring about others at the expense of our preferences. Peace my beloved sister.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
I take issue with this constant attack and trivialisation of honesty, whether it is directed at me or anyone else.
I have never in my life heard of honesty being defined by 'looking for attention' or 'inconsiderate'. You are coming out with some of the most ridiculous and I may say insulting statements.
Don't judge other people by your standards.
The above post sufficiently addressed my psychological concerns for my friend's state of mind in what has to be a very uncomfortable and trying situation with those she cares very deeply about. I am satisfied that has been achieved. I was reluctant to engage in discourse about this for the very reasons revealed in your post Cruithne. We human beings are actually very fragile psychological creatures who create self-perceptions and cognitive dissonance to enable us to see ourselves in acceptable lights. ANY perceived attacks on those perceptions of self are aggressively resisted and attacked in response. I withdraw from any further discussion here allowing you and all to consider me wrong and warped or whatever other assessment heals your perceived insults or wounds. Peace.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,143 posts, read 19,214,711 times
Reputation: 14007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
Yesterday I spoke with my sister who is unaware that I'm now an unbeliever. Her FIL passed away and she was asking me to pray for the family. I didn't have a clue how to respond except to say "uh-huh" or "ok" but I have yet to find the right words when it comes to something like this. I just said I was really sorry and that I would send a donation. I know people think I'm a coward for not just being honest but there are so many things involved and it just wouldn't be well received. So I keep it to myself.

I met a new friend over the weekend and I made the mistake of saying I didn't believe in god.....wow what a chilly reception. Here in the bible belt people equate non-belief with the devil so I'm sure I've been red-flagged. Then there was a side discussion that I caught parts of about god and I made another mistake of asking if the god-conversation was over with and it made my other friend cry. She never would say what she was upset about but I know that was it. So these are some of the reasons I don't talk about it or mention it. I get so sick of hearing about "god", praise "god", pray for me, I'll pray for you, on and on and on.....you get the picture. Makes me want to shout "I'm an atheist!!!!" from the rooftops sometimes but I'd probably be picked off the roof by these gun-toting idiots around here.

What the heck do you do? Any suggestions about what to say or do?
The answer is knowledge and understanding. You've gotta understand how religion and beliefs complicate human relationships and then get above them.

First off, saying and doing things like "I'll pray for you" "god bless you" and so forth actually have more meaning to real-life relationships than to any grab bag of supernatural beings. In fact, it is saying "I care about you" and "I want you to be well". That the person invokes a deity instead of just saying what they want is simply a way to express it as deeper wish with more "power" than just by their own name. Unless the person is obviously snarky about it, take it as a compliment... their god might not be real but THEY are and they care about you as another human being.

Next, remember believers have been constantly drilled into their heads with certain concepts which may or may not be true.

For example, a common belief among religious groups is that they are the "chosen" and those who don't see the world from their religion's perspective are essentially doomed and damned.

Often they are trained very well to stay in their particular religious box and never look at or even think about other conflicting ideas.

This means you will not start a relationship "eye to eye" out the door, which means you have to work to make it work. People will not just go with your opinion on things just because you are you... just like you wouldn't jump into their belief system just becase they want you to. Meet in the middle, understand their perspective.

Third, realize you aren't so different. You have your own belief system, they have theirs. Both are BELIEFS in how things really are and both are likely incomplete or even outright wrong.

The worst scourge of Atheism is arrogance. Atheism is a step up in perspective from institutional religion which naturally leads to a sense of superiority but it ISN'T the end of the road. In another few hundred years future people will laugh at the things we thought we knew today.

We've ALL got a long way to go still.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:57 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,535 posts, read 2,452,753 times
Reputation: 24049
Quote:
Originally Posted by 11thHour View Post
I went through that for many years. I was a closet atheist surrounded by fundamentalists. Most of my family and wife's family. Most people I work with are very religious. You know what? I got tired of pretending, of hiding who I was. Why was I elevating their opinion of me over my own self worth? Why was I giving them so much power over my life? I finally decided I had enough and quit lying. Now I no longer feel shame for being atheist, and will outright make it known if the subject of belief/religion or lack thereof comes up.

I truly think if all atheists would just quit pretending and stand up, things would only improve. Nothing changes if people continue to hide. You know atheists are considered the least trustworthy people in the US? It's because mainstream religious folks have it in their head that we are all satanic criminals with no moral compass. What they don't realize is most are working with atheists, have family with atheists, but those athiests haven't spoken up. Once they see we are good people, the pressure for others to hide will fade. . Look at homosexuals. For all time they've been shunned and ridiculed, having to live two lives. The tide is turning thanks to their boldness to stand up and say "hey, we are people just like you". So athiests, quit hiding. It will make things better for all of us. Just stay out of Saudi Arabia though. Atheists have been officially declared to be terrorists.
I have already been working on being honest about it with certain people, all of my true friends already know and have accepted it, except for one cousin. She continually says things like "I wish you were still a Christian" like I'm just being stubborn or something. One thing is for sure, fundamentalists have the hardest time accepting it and you're right, they all think we are satanic and devil worshipers, can't be a good person without "gawd". I know exactly why they think like they do, I was one of them for 45 + years and I thought the same things.

Unfortunately I don't think atheists will ever be given a fair shake.
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