I think this is where I should put this.

I tend to lose a lot of friends whenever I debate over their religion, and I was just wondering if this was true for anyone else. I need to know if I'm an anomally, or perhaps it's where I live, or what it is that makes me lose friends, because I don't like it.

-Garrick, aka The McMaster

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You're definitely not the only one. I've lost alot of friends and my relationship with my best friend is degrading cause her parents are catholic and she immediately thinks any topic concerning religion is a personal attack against her.
It's extremely irritating!
Yeah; it get's really bothersome!...like yourself, I don't believe in anything paranormal and never have, and if I venture to elaborate on all the reasons I have for NOT believinig in ESP, Telekinesis, Little Green Men Flying Around in Metal Ships Abducting People and Shoving Anal Probes in their Assses, Ghosts, God, etc. most people get uncomfortable, then defensive, then usually ( but not always ) slither to the other end of the bar, so to speak.

I think of it, Caitlin, in this crude, but essentially "true" way: I'm on eof those people - and I suppose you are as well - who sees Ideas and Concepts as toys for the brain to play with, and as sort of "separate from " the Essential Unity of my Psyche. In other words, I can change my mind about things,and NOT feel like I've "Ripped the SoulCore out of my Being", or somehow impugned my Identity. Whereas most people DO feel that way - that the elements of their beliefs somehow DO congeal to produce the Overall Them. We don't see it that way, so we are much more relaxed about the relation of What We Believe to Who We Are.
But they're religious... I can't stand to see people around me deluded, much less my own family. I want to be able to help them. Me and my dad don't talk about religious, because I thought he was agnostic. But he's been going to church ever since he got this new girlfriend, and I've been preparing myself to confront him. He's not a pleasant man, lol.
This is precisely the reason I choose not to tell my friends that I am an atheist. I have told one of my closest friends and that is only because she asked me, and luckily she isn't a strong christian. I think if we discussed religion in depth then I might be able to turn her but I know it would create a lot of trouble in her life if I did that so I would rather not. She advised me not to tell the rest of my friends as they are all strong christians and would most likely take offense to it and cause a rift in our friendship. The topic of religion hasn't ever come up in conversation except for last saturday night, it was extremely difficult for me to keep my mouth shut, but I knew that if I said anything it would most likely turn into a fight and everyone (except my friend that knew I was atheist) would gang up against me.

I have a feeling that they suspect that I am a non believer, which is fine with me. I just don't want to cause trouble because our friendship group has been friends for most of our lives and I don't think I could handle having any sort of reason to fight with them.
For the past few years I've been a member of a Yahoo group that had nothing to do with religion (sort of a class B RV/Van type group). I met many members in person and I communicated on the group almost daily. We were able to co-exist until some more Bible thumping types started posting. Several times I ended up in the midst of a controversy when I asked that the group remain free of religion and politics. The last time, when a member asked that we all be called to prayer, I mentioned that it wasn't a prayer group... that some may not share the same beliefs. The member that made the "call to prayer" started spitting out venom about how it would be okay if she were a lesbian or an abused woman... saying that members from those groups had both been allowed to post. Several people I used to have respect for, agreed with her. Several members suggested I use my delete key if I didn't like the religious conversations. I've pretty much been labeled as someone who is disrespectful of Christian religious beliefs. I don't know where that comes from since I have been friends with these people for years and my own family is very religious.

I stopped posting to the group and came looking for another place to socialize. That's when I found this site a few weeks ago. I admit to being really lonely. I haven't been here long enough to get to know anyone and I've lost all of the "friends" I've made over the last few years. I could still post there if I wanted, but I'm now looked on as an outsider.

I don't talk to my family about religious views... it's complicated.
A guy goes to a doctor and says "Doc, it hurts when I do this."

The doctor replies, "Then don't do that."
Yes, it can be true and in my experience there are two aspects to be considered - your approach and their tendencies.

Faith is one of those things that people often like to talk about as long as no one is pushing boundaries. Many people have been involved in religion from the time they were born, they don't know anything different and when you start exposing points of contention it makes them feel vulnerable in a very base way. I learned early on that if you push too hard they will often step back... and it makes them feel better so they keep stepping back until you are disassociated.

I am a big proponent of the notion that you cannot convince someone who does not want to be convinced. The best tact I have found is to ask questions, lots of little questions about their views (e.g. what do you think will happen to me when I die?), not probing/challenging questions that are "in your face" (e.g. explain the whole of creation, love, etc). By formulating the question to the point where they say "I don't know" it becomes a question for them, something they must answer. It doesn't always work, as theists are often taught to trust in the wisdom and plan of god if they themselves don't understand; it's a nice security blanket. If they the sort who are comfortable "knowing" that there is something out there watching over them, it is a tough thing to ask themselves to question it. After all, in their mind who are they to question God's ineffable plan? God brings them comfort, guidance and love and who are they to question the manner in which he provides it? Or, for that matter, who are you to question it for them?

I don't believe in not talking about it, but it is a good idea to remember that what you are dealing with is, to them, sacred. In your face is easier, but I am of the opinion that subtlety is best.
That being said, yes, I have lost friends over being an atheist, but generally they were people who I was not very close to in the first place. I went to college in the Bible belt and during my freshman year I was "fortunate" to be put in a suite with four born-again southern Baptists (out of eight of us). They were nice people to be sure, they even asked me if they could pray for me to see the light (I thought it was nice that they at least asked my permission). The biggest problem they had with my atheism, by their own admission, had to do with their inability to understand how I could not believe in ANY god. If I were a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or something else that they could at least understand. I would say we were friends then, but looking back on it there was always a distance. But once the next year came around, I was living elsewhere and whatever friendship we had was effectively dissolved.
Me and one of my friends debvate alot I think she know I'm Atheist.For a while she stopped talking to me then she moved now we talk a little more but not much
Until age 18, I way pretty much in your face about my atheism, then from 18-40, I was silent about my atheism. Since then I am open about and slightly 'in your face'.

I have come to think that being friends with illusion believers is near useless and simply 'enables' their faith.

In this context, if our unstated objective is to reduce the amount of woo and god in our society IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT WE BE OPEN about it.

IMO it is even more important to address this with 'friends', not purposely debating it, but if the topic is relevant, certainly not sidestep it. If that means having less friends, then so be it... frankly, maybe it's age, but I just got tired of catering to everybody else's sensitivities.
"...slightly 'in your face'."

"I'm only going to shoot you a little bit." Lol.

The oxymoron made me laugh, :P

And, I do agree with you. Which is the problem I face. I live in the Bible Belt, I think, and people aren't very happy with the way I talk about religion. I'm absolutely anti-theist because I can't stand to see the delusion that other people face. That they have to have a crutch to lean on, and I want to help them see through the facade, but I lose friends more than I convert people. In fact, the second option has never actually happened. I just lose them as friends.
Glad I gave you a giggle :)

One poster mentioned to debate it tactfully. That seems like the best plan.

I am separating "stating my atheism" (even tho more than once is usually necessary) from actually "debating theism". Indeed, usually, with old friends and relatives I don't take it to the debating level. But with new acquaintances I do.

But what happens I think is not so much they leave me but me leaving them. I seem to loose interest in religious people cuz I spend more time noticing the ridiculous things they do and say when I'm not around...

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