I have hesitated posting this because I make no secret to my friends or family about who I am, what I believe or where I hang out online. As a result however I really dislike posting specific information about those in my life because their stories are not really mine to tell. I respect others privacy in much the same way I respect my own.

However I have recently found myself at in a conundrum, and I am seeking advice from those who have been there before.

My girlfriend who is for the most part a rational and intelligent human being, follows some Pagan/Wiccan beliefs. While I would love for her to put such idea's aside, much of what she uses from these beliefs are mostly the meditative aspects of it, to help focus herself and help relieve some stress levels, what I see as placebo reactions. She doesn't turn away from modern medicine and accepts that science and most modern ideas are good and positive. She is more then likely an agnostic deist (she doesn't know but believes that there is something greater out there) when it comes right down to it. We have talked about this on several occasions and are both completely aware of each others stances on such things. For the most part it has never affected the relationship, it is a non-issue, and while it might bother me a little, it doesn't bother me a lot.

Recently however she moved in with someone who is even more deeply into these same beliefs and practices some of the more health risky aspects (rejecting modern cures for more ancient and questionable remedies). Recently I have started to see cracks in what she thinks about such beliefs, that is to say she isn't as big a believer as her roommate is and it shows. She talks to me a fair bit about her roommate, and while I am not afraid to tell her what I think, I have recently begun to wondered if maybe I should be pushing back a bit harder.

My issue is that I don't want her to be an atheist because just because I think its a good idea. I am not even asking that she radically adjusts her position or belief system, I don't want to take away what makes her the person she is.

I guess the advice I am looking for is what idea's or concepts first started to erode your beliefs in such things.

Would it have helped you to have someone to talk to who felt differently, or believed something different?

What if that same person pushed a little harder, and made more active challenges to what you thought? Would it have helped or would it have made you retreat further in those same beliefs?

I have considered introducing her to Pantheism, but I am not sure that she would see it for what it is.

Mostly just looking for some advice, from those who have been there before.

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Would it have helped you to have someone to talk to who felt differently, or believed something different?

Yes. If I'd had people to talk with who could have pointed out the logical fallacies of my superstitions, or the riskiness of some "natural" cures, I would have dumped it all a lot sooner. I think the few people I knew who might have been superstition-free were too busy making fun of people like me to be bothered.

What if that same person pushed a little harder, and made more active challenges to what you thought? Would it have helped or would it have made you retreat further in those same beliefs?

I don't think "pushing" is a useful tactic. Active challenges only work when the person being challenged has given their consent to be challenged.
Thank you for the response Méabh.

I think the few people I knew who might have been superstition-free were too busy making fun of people like me to be bothered.

This is something I specifically go out of my way not to do, I try hard not to make nasty fun of other peoples personal beliefs, though it is tough sometimes with the more radical ones.

I don't think "pushing" is a useful tactic. Active challenges only work when the person being challenged has given their consent to be challenged.

I actually feel the same way, it is part of the reason I asked the question.

Talking to someone about what they believe, and not being a jerk about it is tough sometimes, especially when I believe that I am right.

I mostly want to encourage her just to think a little more about some of the stuff she says, but I don't want to be an asshole while doing it. It is a very fine line of discussion to walk, the nice thing is that we have continued to maintained this openness about our different beliefs, so a lot of the social tension (not all) around these subjects has been removed.
This is something I specifically go out of my way not to do, I try hard not to make nasty fun of other peoples personal beliefs, though it is tough sometimes with the more radical ones.

I hear you, JayBarti. In person, with friends, family, and acquaintances, I generally let a lot of stuff slide unless they are proselytizing. I can agree to disagree, and co-exist as long as I don't have constant, insecure reminders of someone's "faith".

Here on A|N, I let off a lot of steam.


I actually feel the same way, it is part of the reason I asked the question.


I'm glad to hear that. I have had people, over the years, try to push their opinions/beliefs on me. It never worked, and just made me retreat more into what I believed. When people quietly sat down and treated me like another sentient being, and discussed their beliefs/philosophy with me, then I'd listen.

Talking to someone about what they believe, and not being a jerk about it is tough sometimes, especially when I believe that I am right.

Heh. The conviction of the True Believer!

I mostly want to encourage her just to think a little more about some of the stuff she says, but I don't want to be an asshole while doing it. It is a very fine line of discussion to walk, the nice thing is that we have continued to maintained this openness about our different beliefs, so a lot of the social tension (not all) around these subjects has been removed.

Yes, a very fine line. Someone, somewhere must have thought up some roleplaying, or posted dialog about how to have dialog with believers. If you find it, or anyone else does, I'd love to see it.
I'm an ex-smoker and an ex-pagan. From the sounds of it, my version of paganism was probably pretty close to your girlfriend's. When I met my husband he was a non-smoker and a non-believer. He never pushed me to quit smoking or to quit believing. When he started watching more videos about atheism, I watched them with him. We'd discuss the videos together and I'd go think about it. Once I took a careful look at myself, and came to understand why I believed, I was able to break free.

It was being exposed to new information and being inspired to think about it that did it for me. If I'd felt in any way pushed or manipulated I would have rejected the idea. Maybe you could open a dialogue/encourage some research by checking out this website together.
What a great website there Creature, I am not sure if she is ready for that kind of in-your-face information, but I have it bookmarked for situational usage.
I find The Skeptic's Dictionary quite useful.
If she's just meditating all is well. Nothing quite like it! But if it's more than that she is wasting her time and if she begins to subscribe too heavily then you should push back - hard.
I would just let her explore her beliefs on her own as long as it dose not hurt you or your relationship. Im sure plenty of Atheists could tell you that they searched for "what felt right" before coming to the conclusion that led them to realization.
What eroded my beliefs though is that a lot of the new age practices was not of it ever worked! I don't see anything wrong with meditation or things like yoga. I still practice yoga because its the only real way i can work out because of my horrible knees. Now if this alternate medicine is really putting her at risk ( i dont know if she has any chronic conditions) then as the man who loves her you should try to help but if she is just dabbling in other beliefs and practices, let her. I did some crazy things myself before i realized it was hurting ,more than helping.
I really like that you said "I don't want her to be atheist just b/c I think it's a good idea". I am married to a (not so serious) Catholic who just has a basic feelgood belief in God. I debate with him sometimes but I would rather he stay Catholic than follow whatever I do--and if it makes him happy, then in a way I want him to keep believing!

It's an open relationship and I am also dating someone who calls himself pagan. I started dating him before I left paganism. Now paganism evokes a negative response for me and sometimes I worry about that driving a wedge between us. I have told him about this and concluded by saying "I don't need a religion to tell me to love nature" and he loved that...so I guess I tried to find common ground or keep it positive.

When I was pagan/new age/spiritual (come to think of it I probably used to be like your girlfriend) I dated an atheist and I felt like he closed minded and we argued a little about it. I think this had a lot to do with his personality, b/c he was the kind of person who acted superior to other people.

If you think her medical practices are a serious risk, maybe you could tell her you are worried about her and give her some information about the "ancient" medicines being risky or unproven. Obviously a person is more open to a message of concern than one of "your beliefs are stupid" although they still could be defensive. It might also help to be understanding of why people believe in things like that (being "ancient" is appealing to some).

I had skeptical thoughts about pagan beliefs for years, but I guess I really wanted to believe in something. One concept that really made me start rejecting pagan beliefs was the "law of attraction". I found the idea very repulsive but in the back of my head I also realized if this was untrue than why were my assorted pagan ideas any different? I also was reading Carl Sagan at the same time which got me to think more scientifically (although I avoided reading the Demon Haunted World for years b/c I think I knew it would erode my beliefs). What kept me from declaring atheism for many years was being in a coven made up of people I had known for years, and I pushed a lot of my questions under the rug b/c I subconsciously knew that I would lose them. Once I finally did lose these so-called friends (due to the everpresent intercoven drama), the floodgates were opened.

So maybe it wasn't so much atheists I hung around who influenced me (although looking up to Carl Sagan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali helped) but hanging around pagans that kept me there. That makes sense b/c for many, religion is mainly a social occasion.
Well I have to thank you to everyone for all your advice, I am happy to report that she is doing it for herself.

I have noticed a trend in her recently, engaging more and more of her skeptical side, mostly in a reaction against her roommates even more out there ideas.

Her roommate is one of the biggest conspiracy nuts I have ever met (Zeitgeist, 2012, Ancient forgotten knowledge... to name a few) and is doing more to drive her from the fuzzy aspects of what she believes. I know it is driving her (my girlfriend) up the wall with false and obvious non-truths, but her roommate is an "expert" and so claims authoritative final absolute knowledge on any and every subject.

She even has started watching skeptical programs such as Q.I. and other such shows to combat her roommate. I think I don't have to be anything more then caring and respectful, and occasionally point her to accurate sources of information, because basically as I said she is doing it for herself. I am not sure if she will ever come all the way over, but I know that she certainly doesn't believe as much as she once did.
i joined this group to answer. For several years i ran with wiccan/pagans, but always keeping the p lower case, and Atheist capitalized. I was perhaps better then at compartmentalizing my thoughts about their silliness. They were alot of fun to go camping with. Nakeds around the fire with drumming and no sexual inhibitions. I only began to loose interest as i found more and more of them REALLY believed it. Taken metaphoricly, it's ok, tho the anti-western med bent IS problematic. If you're serious about keeping your friend, consider camping with the bunch. It won't do you any harm, the reverse psychology may do her good and you may even get a kick out of it.

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