One of my oldest friends recently got divorced and met a woman who is a Christian. She got him to go to an Alpha course and now he has become a Christain as well and they both attend quite a hectic church where I think things like faith healing happen. I've been struggling to understand how an inteligent Atheist can be brainwashed so easily. The tipping point for me was on Saturday night when he told me he could no longer listen to some of his favourite music becasue the devil was mentioned in the lyrics. How can I understand him anymore ? He wants to explain why he has become Christian but I don't think I'll be able to listen without getting frustrated. Sooo.....
1. How should I handle this and
2. shouldn't we start Alpha courses for Atheism (...Beta courses) :)
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Personally I'd listen to him, if only to let him know that you care about him, even if his opinion is erroneous. At the stage he's in now, there's no real room for debate or discussion regarding his choice. From what you've just written it looks like he still reeling from the divorce and looking for answers. What we as atheists who have Christian friends must realise, is that Christianity in the minds of it's adherents, does provide answers, thought they may be presumptuous and wrong. So right now he's going through a stage of discovery. Of himself, or his new relationship, and of his newfound faith.
Right now He's going through the first stages of conversion, with all it's changes. This is really where (if he becomes a fervent believer) he'll try to convince you it's a good thing, he'll tell all his friends about it, and he'll become very passionate about his new "discovery". After that though, things will mellow out, it may take weeks or months, but they will. And hopefully, even if nothing can make him see reason, it should be possible to maintain a friendship that isn't contingent on him always telling you about aspects of his faith.
The danger here is that because he's just had a life-shaking event (the divorce) he now has to redefine himself, and his newfound faith may unfortunately become an embedded part of him, along with the support of his new girl and his friends at church encouraging it.
The problem you'll encounter with him at the moment is that you're trying to appeal to his reason. Don't. He's not using his reason for these decisions. He's using his emotions, so the more you try to push the use of reason, the more he'll take it the wrong way and react emotionally (why can't you support me/accept me/see the "truth' etc.).
I think the best things you can do is listen to him, not because of what he's saying, but because of who is saying it to you. Listen to his reasoning, ask him to analyze his reasoning if you feel it's okay to do so, and leave the rest to him. hopefully he'll come around to his previous perspective, but he'll have to accept most likely losing his new lady if he was to do so.
It's not all bad though. If he comes to the realisation that this new chick is a rebound, drops her and his new faith, all's well that ends well.
It's sad to see great friends divided by something as useless as faith, so if there's going to be division in the friendship, don't let it come from you. Just love and accept him for who he is, not what he believes. That's what I try to do man. I was in church for 20 years before changing my mind, and I cannot talk to those people about god's existence, because the idea is so ingrained in them, and has been for years. I just love them cos they're my friends, and ask that they don't talk to me about it, or give me any biblical advice.
Hope that helps.
I didn't think of it like that - emotion versus reason. I guess asking him to be logical and reason it out and explain the specifics to me will end in the old favourite cure-all FAITH which is based on emotion and not reason.
I would listen to him and then explain that you understand how he is hurting, but to remember the reasons why he was an Atheist. Hope he comes back around to reason. If he gets in so deep that he becomes really religious and there is no going back, you will have to decide whether you want to keep the friendship or not.
I don't know about starting the courses for Atheism! If people are brain-washed, they aren't going to listen to reason. I think you have to come to your own conclusion that religion is bull.
Reminds me of a line by Redd Foxx in the Movie Harlem Nights, about a cop that went from being a Catholic to a Baptist after he fell in love with a hooker. "Must be some powerful p---y to make a man change his god."
In all seriousness, I'd listen to him. You state he's a friend, so be one to him. I agree with Anthony and booklover. Like Anthony, I tend to think this might be a rebound after the divorce. Been there, done that. And the woman I thought I was in love with tried the old "You need to find Jesus" with me, after a great evening. Fortunately, I didn't succumb. And, ultimately opened my eyes. Funny thing. She's now a rather plump housewife who's married to a control freak, and doesn't speak unless she's spoken to, because their church demands women's subservience. Whew! Did I dodge a bullet!
Give him some time. He may very well come to the realization that he royally screwed up over the first thing that came along after his divorce. And hopefully, if he does, you can have a beer at some future time and laugh about it.