Hi.

I have a young sister who I strongly suspect is beginning to believe in christianity & being taken to church by her friends.. I say this because I noticed that she is beginning to read this new bible I noticed on her desk (the bookmark keeps changing).

She's 20 and I want her to know the stuff about christianity (the flawed arguments and false evidence) that I know, but I don't want to seem like I'm banning religion in the family. I just want her to be exposed to the other perspectives and know the facts. Just want to be sensitive about this.

I'm thinking of just asking her whether she goes to church groups and ask if I can go, and go there to be the person who questions stuff in her group (I'm skilled enough in biblical knowledge/science/philosophy/psychology etc to conduct a calm intelligent discussion).

What should I do? Any thoughts?

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Why not treat her like the intelligent grown up woman that she is. (I'm a little sister and I know how horrible it is when your big brother makes you feel like a moron!)

Tell her you've noticed her reading the Bible and that you're interested in her views on religion. Say, calmly, that you have a different view. Tell her that deciding on what to believe is a very personal choice and she should make her decision, not based on what you believe, but based on her own research. Say that your only concern is that, as an intelligent women, her decision should be based on having considered both sides of the argument.

I would suggest that you recommend lending her your copy of Sam Harris's "Letter to a Christian Nation". If you don't have a copy, get one! The reason I suggest this is because it's really small and easy to read and doesn't need a big commitment of time. Someone 'on the brink' of becoming a Christian just isn't going to invest the time needed to read and digest Dawkins.

Perhaps you can say to her that you'd love to discuss her perspective on Harris. That you don't expect her to agree with you, or with what he says, just that you respect her intelligence and that, now she's past her teens, it would be great if the two of you could discuss some of these important philosophical matters.

The main thing is not to make her feel like you're doing the 'big brother knows best' thing. If you are in the least bit condescending, you will lose her. She really needs to feel that you sincerely want to engage her in intellectual discussion as equals. Maybe you can even ask if you can read her book so you can discuss on equal terms.

Don't try to 'win points' in your discussion. Just say, "Have you thought about this ...." or "Yes, that's an interesting perspective, but there's an argument against that that goes ...." You don't have to get her to concede your points then and there - just give her some stuff to think about. And, if you don't have a comeback to some of her points, concede that, and say, "Good point! That's something I'll have to think about/research and get back to you."
Have her read through the more gruesome parts of the Old T and reminder her that the god of the OT is the same trinity that Jesus is 1/3rd of. Ultmately, if she does convert, she's still your sister and you shouldn't let her mistake change your relationship with her.
"Letter to a Christian Nation" audiobook can be downloaded with this torrent:
http://torrents.thepiratebay.org/3946862/Letter_to_a_Christian_Nation_(Harris)_[NF].3946862.TPB.torrent

Do make sure you buy a copy too.

I just listened to it and it is a great short (2 hrs) work, every bit the equal of Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion", and Christopher Hitchens' "God is not great"

This should be required listening in school.
I would tell her that if she wants to be a Christian, she shouldn't be a hypocrite about it. She should actually follow Jesus' words. She could start by giving away all her worldly possessions and rely on God to feed, clothe and shelter her. Then she should be prepared to turn the other cheek, love her enemies, and forgive her transgressors "7-times-70" times. After all, it was important enough to Jesus to ensure that those instructions made it into the divinely inspired Bible. He obviously wants her to obey them.

If she doesn't like that idea, then she should be made to understand that she'll have to cherry-pick what she wants and likes from the Bible. If she doesn't want to be a true Christian, she'll need to be a selective Christian like everybody else.

You could point out that she doesn't have to join a religion to be a selective Christian. In fact, since all the various denominations espouse varying degrees of contradictions, Jesus can't agree with them all. How will she know she's choosing a religion Jesus actually likes? The safest way to heaven is to do her cherry-picking without formally joining ANY church.

Remind her that when Christians cherry-pick from the Bible, almost all of them reject: the subjugation of women, slavery, battlefield excesses and blood sacrifice. She will probably want to do the same.

If you can get her to see that she uses her own true morality to cherry-pick what she wants from the Bible, you can then get her to understand that her true morality decides what is or is not religiously worthy.

Once she understands that, ask her: "If your own morality decides what is religious, why do you need religion at all?"
My advice, Nothing.

It's not our place to intervene.
There are those who can see reality for what it is, and those who prefer not to.

If we intervene and push Atheism on people, we're no better than the missionaries the church pushes on other less fortunate peoples.

Let her decide for herself. If she chooses to become religious, then that's her choice.
Just be glad that you see reality for what it is.
I agree with Johnsky.
I think most members here became atheists by seeing the reality themselves.
If we try to convert, we'll be just lousy missionaries.
I understand what your say, but I don't think that there's anything wrong with help a family member have access to the truth. Politely discussing religon is really no different than discussing politics or sports even (or at least it shouldn't be). I agree that none of us should adopt the tactics of theists (promising afterlife or threatening hell) but almost by definition those tactics are unavailible to us.
If it gives you comfort... reading the Bible is how I became an atheist.

I was about her age and wanted to learn to believe in god for social acceptance. I dont think any book has ever pissed me off as much as reading the bible. If she was just going to church I would be concerned, but reading the Bible is the best thing someone can do when they are questioning religion.

In the end, letting her decide her path is the best way... it's her life.
I suggest that she (read about)/study other world religions along with christianity... So she can see that none on them is truly unique, and none offer verifiable truth. Or can suggest to her that she actually read the whole bible(page by page) in context, and not just skipping around to the "good verses". Then she may see the absurdities(injustices, contradictions and errors), and turn away from it.

Katalyzt
You might just want her to take a look at Luke, 26:14. Then again, maybe not!
I agree that you shouldn't do anything beyond letting her know what your position is and then move on. She's an adult and should be allowed to make her own choice in this matter whether you agree with it or not.

I'm the token atheist in a large family of christians and pagans. It's OK - it makes for interesting family gatherings. :)
I am the only one too, even my girlfriend is roman catholic (we agree not to talk about religion, she goes to church and i watch my pre-game football shows, it works out just great!!).

i play nice, go to christmas and easter dinner, but refuse to prey. My Aunt died a couple of years back. i went to the church, but refused to stand, kneel, or repeat any of the brainwashing statements, but i did it. HATED every second of it, but i did it!!

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