God is great, God is good…

November 29, 2007 at 6:10 am 46 comments

Thanksgiving MealIt’s been about a week now since Thanksgiving, and hopefully everyone has found creative ways to finish off all their leftover turkey! I love the holiday season, and the time I get to spend with my family, but one thing is always awkward—saying grace before the dinners. I don’t mind bowing my head and listening quietly while others do it, but I’m not too fond of doing it myself.

My family consists mostly of devout Christians—none of whom know that I’m an atheist. That’s right, I’m still in the closet per say. However, my sister somehow has this special ability to know just who to pick on when it comes time to say the prayer. We celebrated Thanksgiving dinner at her home, and as we all gathered around the table and bowed our heads in silence, I knew I was in for it. Before she even asked I could tell just by her look that she was going to pick me.

It was a test of sorts. Everyone in my family was waiting to see if I had lost my “roots” when I went off to college. It was their way of putting me back in my place, or that’s at least how they saw it. When my sister told (not asked) me to say it, there was no backing down. So, I took a deep breath, mumbled a few words, said amen, and began digging into the food! My family seemed pretty satisfied and began eating as well, and the chatter resumed once again. Whew…so I managed to pass! I know there is only so long that I can get away with it though before having to eventually tell them, but while everyone is standing there with their mouths watering and wanting to eat food it’s not the right time.

For a little while afterwards I felt a bit guilty. Is it unethical to say a prayer that you don’t believe in for the sake of pleasing others? At this point I haven’t been able to decide, so I’m curious has anyone else been in this type of situation? I’d like to know how the rest of you guys have handled it.

- LaShawn

Entry filed under: LaShawn. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Manipulating Others Into the Kingdom Total Depravity of Humanity – The Outer Darkness

46 Comments Add your own

  • 1. weemaryanne  |  November 29, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Strictly my opinion: Some day soon, you’ll have to come out and you know it. If your family are actually prejudiced against your college education before you’ve completed it, then they have a ready-made excuse: “Yes, sigh, LaShawn has gone over to the dark side, but at least we know it’s not our fault.” (IF that’s what they’re really thinking. Beware of projection.)

    As for the prayer, you didn’t do anything wrong; on the contrary, you did exactly right. Good manners is making others comfortable with you and that’s what you did.

    My tactic was to compromise: Continue attending mass with my family but refrain from joining in prayer and taking communion. After a couple of weeks, my parents asked why, and I told them simply “Because I don’t believe any of it anymore.” They exchanged a look of dismay but said little about it, either then or later.

    If your honest opinion is that it’s not yet possible for you to drop the Folks I’m An Atheist bomb, then that’s a valid choice. Just remember that every choice comes with a price tag. Good luck.

  • 2. keelyellenmarie  |  November 29, 2007 at 9:37 am

    You’re not the only one in the closet. Lots of us still mutter our prayers along with everyone else on the holidays, including me. And I don’t think you should feel guilty for not being ready to come out yet. I’m certainly not.

    But do yourself–and them–a favor. Its hard to have a healthy relationship with your family with lies this big in between you. So don’t obsess about it, but plan on telling them sometime.

    Believe me, I know that is harder than it sounds.

  • 3. Nekouken  |  November 29, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I agree. My philosophy was always “When in Rome.” My parents know I’m an atheist, but before I told my devout mother, I held hands, bowed my head and said “Amen.” I don’t consider it disingenuous because I’m not doing it for God, I’m doing it for Mom, to whom I actually am grateful for her efforts, if not in the kitchen, then in bringing everyone together for whatever occasion. I’m not a big believer in frank dinner conversation “ruining” a dinner, but making a stand during the preprandial prayer would actually do exactly that — family meals are rarely the ideal time to get out the soapbox. My family was never combative about it enough to have me say the prayer to prove something, but Mom’s the only one in the family who doesn’t stick with “God is great, God is good…” so it would be easy enough to fake if it came to that.

  • 4. writerdd  |  November 29, 2007 at 9:53 am

    You’ll come out when you’re ready. Saying a prayer at a traditional holiday dinner doesn’t make you ingenuine.

  • 5. liniasmax  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Hello LaShawn, I’m in a devoutly Christian family – my mother and brothers are Pentecostals – one’s a minister. We go to a mega-church where I play drums and co-teach a Sunday school class. We homeschool our girls, pray – do the advent ceremonies every Saturday during this time of season, etc. etc.. I deconverted in April from being a very vocal and “apologetic” Christian and then immediately told my wife…well that wasn’t a good thing, while being a good thing… you know what I mean? In fact she and my best friend, who was already an atheist anyway, are the only ones that know. It distresses her at times, then most of the time life is normal, especially as time passes and she sees that I still love her and the girls, and that mean more to me now than when I was living the delusion. But it was a little stormy that first month or so. I’m the only one in my family to get a college degree, and I went all the way and got a Ph. D. – even when I was “saved”, my anti-itellectual Pentecostal family had their doubts… this will just confirm them, IF I ever tell them. Whicjh I may never do. My advice to you, LaShawn, is to keep the peace – I can fake a prayer just like I used to fake praying in tongues. In the process of faking, you’re actually loving them (in my opinion, anyway). Contrary to what a lot of folks think – the truth is not always the best thing. Most of the time, yes… but why do you think we evolved such a propensity to lie… must be right thing at times – especially if no one gets hurt, and especially if someone is helped. As you can tell, I’m not one of the “religion poisons everything” agitators – peace to them – because what they do works in the PUBLIC ARENA. Keep on praying, my friend… keep the peace while enjoying your disbelief. Disclaimer: these opinions are solely of the author of this comment and do not necessarily represent those of this site or all the lovely people that visit here. And no, I’m not a relativist – I love Truth… now more than ever. It’s just that like a lot of you all, I’m still working out the details of living the deconverted life…
    Liniasmax (Bible-belt, USA)

  • 6. The de-Convert  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the prayer could be:

    Thanks to xxxxx for preparing this wonderful meal. Thanks to xxxxx for their hard work to earn the funds to pay for this meal. Thanks to xxxxxx for taking the time to come and enjoy this time together……

    Then the folks who really deserve thanking will be thanked.

    However, this is how you have to phrase it (in light of your current situation):

    Bless xxxxx who prepared this wonderful meal…. so in essence you’re indirectly thanking xxxxx through God without really thanking God himself. It’s an art :)

    Paul

  • 7. the chaplain  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:09 am

    I’m fortunate in that my mother always asks one of the men to pray over a big family dinner.

    I don’t intend to come out with either my parents (who are in their 80s) or my husband’s parents (in their 70s) because it would cause them all sorts of unnecessary stress. They don’t need that, and I live far enough away from them that it’s not any hardship to go to church with them when I visit them a couple of times per year. Besides, I know people at their churches, so I get opportunities to re-connect socially.

    As for the rest of the family, I will do it when appropriate opportunities arise. I’m not going to force the issue, but it will eventually arise.
    -ESVA

  • 8. Christ Davis  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:31 am

    I have to deal with this about ten times a month. I am an out Atheist in A.A.! I used to pass if I was asked to read or speak on anything with god in it, but after 9 years of exposure to the religion soaked fellowship the words don’t have any power. If I am in a particularly snarky mood on any one day I always demur if asked to read or speak on a god subject; I know that I will offend some friend unnecessarily. It is different with the family, I suppose, but I have known some of these people a long time and respect them more than I ever did my mere family.

  • 9. OrneryPest  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Hey, sounds like you did great! I’m a non-believing participant in the Episcopal church just to please the baby and keep peace in the family. I figure since the entire Christian religion is a morass of dishonesty I don’t have any misgivings about being dishonest with them.

  • 10. bob  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:54 am

    It has been a few years since I found myself in a meal situation and was asked to pray. I politely declined. Just couldn’t do it. Can’t really blame the lady. I had been going to church regularly with my girlfriend, but only so I could spend Sundays with my girlfriend.
    I find no fault in your action, but I think we all have to ask; When is the right time to come out? My dad knows I am an atheist, my mom doesn’t. My brother knows, and shares my lack of religion, but my sister does not know. My girlfriend of three years is a Christian, and knows I am an atheist, but her family does not know.
    I guess there is really no reason to rock the proverbial boat. Why offer an explanation unless asked to.
    I pretty much keep my lack of belief to myself unless asked, and I am seldom asked.

  • 11. housetier  |  November 29, 2007 at 10:55 am

    I refuse to say any prayers. They ought to respect my choice as I respect theirs: I endure their prayers so they can endure my rejection of same.

    I am proud to be atheist, everybody around me has to accept that. It is about respect, not superiority (on my part at least).

  • 12. mathaytacechristou  |  November 29, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I myself am a Christian, I do believe.

    However, i wanted to drop in a note. While your family may be unhappy with your deconversion, they are unhappy because they care. If they are any Kind of Christian, they will love you the same after deconversion as they did before.

    If they do not continue to love and care for you after deconversion. They are Lousy Christians, and I will tell them that to their face.

    We are told by our God to Love all men. He did not give us conditions. He told us to Love. Period.

  • 13. Richard  |  November 29, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Im impressed with the thoughts of those who have responded here and Im suddenly rather peeved at myself for not having asked this question here myself, because this is what I did for years and always felt vaguely ingenuine. So, LaShawn, thank you for raising this issue and thank you to others for your thoughtful answers. You have all been helpful to me!

    I had deconverted from fundamentalism for about ten years before circumstances forced me to come out to my family. My reasoning had been that do so would have served no purpose and would only have caused them pain. So I politely accepted Christian-themed gifts at Christmas and then went home and threw them away, and bowed my head at prayers, and simply kept quite during all the Jesus-talk. And then went back to my own life and cultivated my own friends, more like-minded.

    That only chnaged when I married a Jewish woman, and we decided to raise our children Jewish (as is important to most Jews). Even then it would not necessarily have been an issue except that my family, being evangelical, turned out to be more unpleasantly xenophobic than I had wanted to believe, and would up being rather hostile to us. At first it was simply “concern”, of course, coupled with a (to my wife) “youre-going-to-hell-dont-you-know” and an kind offer to share their beliefs with us. Wierdly, they thought and still maintain that we somehow dont really know or understand what they believe, I guess reasoning that if we *really* understood it, we would of course convert. My being a former fundy myself and, moreoever, living in a society of 70 million evangelicals does nothing, they think, to suggest we might already understand what they believe and just dont buy it.

    Anyway, when my family’s treatment of my wife and children began to be so condescending and hostile, then I felt I had no choice but to take a stand, and forcefully. It wasnt pretty, and is to this day not pretty. My relationship to my family is strained and may never recover. But I dont know that it could have turned out any other way. Ive more or less accepted this now, that their Us-vs-Them//take no prisoners mentality is to blame, and there never was much I was going to be able to do to make it turn out any better.

    So, I empathize, LaShawn. I think “faking it” to keep the peace is a honorable, and kind, and loving decision. You may very well be showing much more kindness and empathy to them than they will show to you, if you do “come out.” Your religious differences with your family may prove to be a unbridgable gulf between you, and that is tragic and frustrating, but may simply be something you have to mourn and accept. Remember that that is as much due to them, and what they choose to believe and how they choose to deal with difference, as with you and your behavior. Not all familys do what mine has done (I think this is an issue of psychology mainly) so, of course, hope for the best — but dont be surprised if things are never the same as they used to be.

    Good luck-

    Richard

  • 14. makarios  |  November 29, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Ugh, posts like this always make me feel bad that it’s people like me that make it so hard for people like you. Not that I would do what your sister did, but that I post insensitive blogs. It doesn’t last long though so “sorry” would be too strong a word.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  November 29, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    LaShawn:

    Thanks for bringing this up. I had no idea how many of us were still “in the closet”. I’m one of those. Only my wife and two online friends know.

    Our priest probably suspects, and our kids may be wondering why Dad never takes communion. I just don’t know any good way to tell the kids. They will be upset.

    As for the rest of the world, my parents, my sisters, workmates, etc. They just don’t need to know, and I can’t see that it would do them the slightest good.

    So the day will come when I’ll tell the kids. After that, the rest of the world will find out on a strictly need-to-know basis.

    And along with others I say that you did exactly the right thing praying over the dinner. To borrow from Ecclesiastes, “there is a time for everything” and as you said, “while everyone is standing there with their mouths watering and wanting to eat food it’s not the right time.” :)

  • 16. karen  |  November 29, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I don’t intend to come out with either my parents (who are in their 80s) or my husband’s parents (in their 70s) because it would cause them all sorts of unnecessary stress. They don’t need that, and I live far enough away from them that it’s not any hardship to go to church with them when I visit them a couple of times per year. Besides, I know people at their churches, so I get opportunities to re-connect socially.

    I understand this position and I agree, ESVA. I was fortunate in the sense that my deconversion began just as the older generation of my extended family was passing on. It would have served no purpose for anyone to come out to them at that point – not to mention I wasn’t clear what I did or didn’t believe at that point.

    The extended family I have left – except for my fundy sister who lives on the other side of the country – is much more secular. We’re all college educated and, though a few still attend church, it’s not fundamentalist church. “Grace” before meals pretty much died out when the patriarch (my uncle) died in the mid-90s.

    Nowadays, we thank the host and hostess and dig right in! :-)

  • 17. tobeme  |  November 29, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Interesting how the power of the group can make us stay hidden and even participate in something we do not believe in. The time will come when you will be ready to allow the world to know you for who you are.
    You will know when that time is right for you.

  • 18. Karen  |  November 29, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Here’s a positive atheist-among-fundie-family tale:

    My husband and I are both atheists; we were sort of in a gradual process of de-conversion when we married, 27+ years ago. His family were serious fundies at the time, and having been raised Catholic I was unaccustomed to their sort of god-talk anyhow, so I kept my mouth shut.

    Over the years, mother-in-law stopped going to church, and then later, siblings-in-law stopped, and wine began to appear on the table at important holidays, and even homosexuality and abortion stopped being the topics of periodic in-law rants.

    Family thanksgivings always required a prayer, though fortunately, my mother-in-law led it most of the time. Then, a few years ago, she decided we should go around the table and each one of us say what we were thanking god for at Thanksgiving. So, that was easy: “I’m thankful for ” was acceptable without mentioning god, though several people did.

    This year, she invited us to each tell what we were thankful for. No deity involved. And no one other than her invoked god.

    It’s getting better.

  • 19. HeIsSailing  |  November 29, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    We had a great Thanksgiving at the HeIsSailing residence. We invited several close friends over, albeit no family. Some of the friends who accepted my invitations were some old church buddies who don’t know the whole story of my de-conversion, but definitely noticed my absence from church this past year.

    Before dishing up our giant meal of posole, enchiladas, beans and chile (a typical El Paso Thanksgiving!), I decided to invoke the true spirit of Thanksgiving and give thanks. So we gathered around the table, and I thanked each person there, each personally and individually for being a part of our lives, and let them know how much they mean to us. My wife and I truly appreciate the friends we have, the blessings they provide and how they enrich our lives.

    I did not bow my head, I did not close my eyes, and I did not thank a God who I really doubt was listening, if indeed that God exists at all. I instead looked everyone straight in the eye and thanked them. I think everyone there understood what I was doing. Nobody objected. Everyone thanked me back, there were smiles all around, and we had a terrific holiday!!

    I’m already looking forward to Christmas!! Happy THanksgiving everyone!!

  • 20. imabbb  |  November 30, 2007 at 1:33 am

    I don’t blame any of you for being atheists if all you have to base your disbelief on is the Bible and the Christian church. The Bible doesn’t make sense half the time and the fundies seem so hypocritical…

    I just want to point out that you can disbelieve in the Biblical, Christian God and still believe in God as you see him (or her, as the case may be). You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    I believe in God, even after deconverting from fundamentalism many years ago. I just couldn’t reconcile what my mind was telling me with what the preacher and the Bible were telling me.

    Then I asked God, “If you really exist, reveal yourself to me in a way that I can understand and believe in.” I said it with an open mind and it was then that I began to have a series of experiences with God that led me to believe my way.

    I am one believer that will never look down on any atheist who has honestly searched for God and not found him. If you have never searched, you are not a true atheist. And if you have never questioned your faith you are not a true believer.

    Just my opinion.

  • 21. titus2woman  |  November 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I’m so sorry for this struggle within yourself and with your family! I have the same struggle in the opposite way~I am a very devout Christian to atheist parents. They do know this, and I get all kinds of newspaper clippings and stories in the mail that support atheist ideas. If I can accept them for who they are, then why can’t they accept me for who I am?

    As I raise my own children with a the goal of keeping the faith in mind, it would break my heart if they fell away from our beliefs. (I mean, we all believe what we believe~else we wouldn’t do it. I wanna see them in heaven!) However, NOTHING could ever take away my love or respect of who they are even. I hope and pray it won’t come to it, but I plan to never treat my children the way you’ve been treated. I heartily agree with what mathay said….. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  • 22. LeoPardus  |  November 30, 2007 at 11:20 am

    imabbb:

    Then I asked God, “If you really exist, reveal yourself to me in a way that I can understand and believe in.” I said it with an open mind and it was then that I began to have a series of experiences with God that led me to believe my way.

    Interesting. I said the same thing. Nothing happened at all. I concluded there is no god. Not that I miss it in the end, though there are times when I still wish I could believe so that I’d be “part of the fold” again.

    Ah well. To each his/her own. If some ‘god’ ever does decide to grant me some revelation of his/her existence, I’ll be sure to report it.

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  November 30, 2007 at 11:24 am

    titus2woman:

    You have evangelical atheist parents. Bummer. At least they leave themselves open to you telling them about your beliefs. I suppose openness both ways is good.

    I think all here understand your desire to see your kids keep the faith. I certainly thought it was of paramount importance.

    You could take a look at the “Outer Darkness” post by HIS today. Might be interesting to see what you think of it.

  • 24. Bob  |  November 30, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    There are many of us. Church is not so much religious as it is cultural in some areas of the country. Coming out as an athiest would destroy me socially, business-wise, etc. But I don’t have quandries with it as long as I understand it’s a social structure. I salute the flag when I don’t agree with the country’s policies, too.

    Frankly, I’m a much better “Christian” since I deconverted, since I don’t have to hate all those people and things the Bible told me to (and most evangelical Christians just ignore because of their political incorrectness).

    I attend church regularly, teach classes (I determined I would teach no doctrine – only morality based lessons) and perform in the orchestra. A lot of business comes my way between “Christian brothers”. I stopped short after being asked to serve as a deacon – I didn’t feel comfortable with that.

    Yes, one day we’ll all be outed, I assume. I am hoping it comes at a time when the world is a bit more receptive to us. I realize the quandry of the world not changing until more of us stand up and be recognized. I just don’t plan to be a martyr to the cause, so to speak.

  • 25. jazelle  |  November 30, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    I say tell them all, if they treat you harshly just ask say, “Now WWJD, what would Jesus do, would he treat me that way”?:-)
    Some Christians need a little reality check. I being one of them.

  • 26. HeIsSailing  |  November 30, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    jazelle:

    I say tell them all, if they treat you harshly just ask say, “Now WWJD, what would Jesus do, would he treat me that way”?

    Realistically, he would probably call all of us a brood of vipers, hypocrites and white-washed sepulchers. I don’t think he ever dealt with apostates in the Gospels, so that is as likely a guess as any.

  • 27. the chaplain  |  December 1, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Bob said, “I don’t have quandries with it as long as I understand it’s a social structure….” I still go to church too, and I’m viewing it principally as a social thing.

    I tried to remain in the choir, because the choir members are my closest friends at church. I was fine with mid-week rehearsals and Sunday morning services. But then we were asked to do some extra evangelical events on Saturday nights. There’s no way I’m going to evangelize and I’m certainly not giving the church any more of my time. Since I’m not willing to be involved in all of the activities of the group, I decided the proper thing to do was quit. I miss the music, but I can’t stomach the extracurricular activities.

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  December 1, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Chaplain:

    Maybe there’s a secular choir in your area. I know there’s a good chorale about 15 miles from my home. If I ever have time, I’d like to join them.

  • 29. jeroboambramblejam  |  December 2, 2007 at 10:27 am

    During college, I was a budding secular humanist rooming in a lovely home with a delightful couple. When the time came, I shared a blessing – a poem, really – that my dad had composed. I suggest that in such sensitive circumstances, we demonstrate by example how sweet, loving and respectful we can be in the face of such presumption. When they eventually discover the truth about us, the realization that we are sans horns and pitchfork can be very healthy for them.

  • 30. Fellow Atheist  |  December 2, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    LaShawn,

    As a fellow atheist, here are some helpers I can send your way based on my own experiences. Take what you need and dispose of the rest as you see fit.

    My recommendation is for you to be open wth your family about being an athiest. Until you do, you may constantly feel disingenuous around your family when it comes to saying grace, and other family matters where religion comes into play and you are expected to participate.

    You’ll feel much better after you’ve “come out” about being an atheist. I promise you will feel the 300lb monkey fall off your back.

    Those of us who are open about our beliefs have had a wide variety of responses from our families. At times we’ve had to weather the storms, but in the end of the dayit’s really about you feeling good about who you are and not just wanting to look acceptable in the eyes of others.

    Your strength and own identity is key here.

    It is also important to make some intellectual preparations before you divulge to your family and friends you are an atheist. By this I mean, read various literature on what it means to be an atheist and how to combat or defend against those who will attack you as a result, or those who don’t understand it and question it. This way, when or if your loved ones start asking questions you’ll have mature, intelligent answers.

    Remember to always keep your head on your shoulders, remain smart and calm in any discussion. Some people are highly emotional about their beliefs which can quickly lead any conversation into a verbal melee. Also, don’t allow anybody to drag you down to their level, if they start name calling, and labeling.

    Take the higher road and be patient with them. When they see you are sober and smart about your beliefs they’re more likely to leave you alone.

    My mother to this day refuses to acknowlege I’m an atheist. She says I’m not really an atheist…

    Many people of faith have a hard time with atheists because they just simply don’t know what it is. This can lead to fear and anxiety for some of these people. So be prepared for the fall-out.

    Also your parents may feel a sense of failure on their part in raising you. If you feel they were good parents them let them know that too. That way they don’t blame you being an atheist on some kind of emotional issues they think you may have.

    It’s been my experience with the faithfull that they instantly start asking me personal childhood questions if I was abused, etc etc. In their mind being an atheist can be due to some kind of anger or emotional upset you have. Show them this is not the case by just being who you are while being calm, mature in conversations. Resist being defensive or combative in any confrontation.

    Don’t walk on eggshells around their feelings and don’t feel guilty for who you are at anytime. Let them know you are open to any questions they have for you so they can better understand who you are.

    Remember, being an atheist is only that…you just don’t believe in a god, it has no other bearing of affect on your other ideals, behaviors, or even how your brush your teeth in the morning.

    Just expect less Christmas presents in the future!

    Oh yeah, there’s a part two to this…it’s under the title…”How to Let Your Christian Girlfriend Know You’re an Atheist.”

    Later for that…

  • 31. Fellow Atheist  |  December 2, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Sorry about the typos and mistakes on the above response…I sent the first draft instead of the corrected version..oopse!

  • 32. A.M.Brewster  |  December 2, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Hey, if there’s no ultimate authority you’re responsible to, then selfishness and lying are commended in your survival-of-the-fittest mentality. Why cause problems in your life because of a bunch of Bible-thumpers? Why add stress to your existence?

    Of coure I have one question. Did you feel guilty? If you didn’t, why do you care if you lie to their faces? Why would it bother you to hurt them? And why is it necessary for 31 other people to advise and counsel you on the topic?

    Guilt. Wow, Darwin never mentioned when that evolved. In fact, since there’s no real reason for it, I’m suprised it lasted the evolutionary process.

    If there’s no ultimate truth then you’d better stop feeling guilty. Otherwise you might make it seem like you did something bad . . . and we all know there’s no such thing as sin.

  • 33. LeoPardus  |  December 2, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    A.M.:

    When you know nothing about a topic, it’s best not to talk as if you do. Others who do know something about the topic will instantly spot your ignorance.

    You have been fed the usual, wrong tripe about evolutionary theory and hence have no understanding of it.

    Better for you would be to ask questions. Like, “How is guilt explained by evolutionary theory?” or, “Why would selfishness and lying be “bad” if survival of the fittest is really the rule?”

    That way you can learn something instead of just making everyone roll their eyes and dismiss “yet another egotistical, opinionated, ignorant Bible-thumper”.

  • 34. A.M.Brewster  |  December 2, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    You’re right, my sarcasm often paints the wrong picture. But to be honest, my deliberant flippancy brought about my desired repsonse . . . .

    No one has yet to answer the question (the way you stated it or the way I did).

    In an evolutionary framework, guilt is unacceptable. You can argue that it’s due to the cultural influence of Christianity over the past few centuries. You may posit a moralistic model for human development, but there will be no justifiable answer to my question. The author of this site should in no way feel any remorse, or guilt, or tentative feelings over his actions if he believes in an evolutionary model. We are not animals. We possess something they don’t . . . a spirit. There is no scientific explanation for it.

    I have studied evolution, my friend. I am intimately aware of the controversies, the in-fighting, and the lack of observable/repeatable data. The reason human beings possess a spirit (inlcluding its varied pallet of feelings) is the fact that we were created by a Spirit with a spiritual destiny.

    This statement is as deniable as evolution.

  • 35. Ryan Green  |  December 2, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Yeah, my family tells people that college has “liberalized me” and made me “grow away from the church.” They don’t seem to see that I grew away from the church long long long long ago.

  • 36. LeoPardus  |  December 2, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    A.M.:

    No one has yet to answer the question (the way you stated it or the way I did).

    The way you put it they sounded as if you thought them rhetorical questions. I’ll try to find time to answer them this week, lessen’ someone else gets to it before me.

    In an evolutionary framework, guilt is unacceptable. You can argue that it’s due to the cultural influence of Christianity over the past few centuries. You may posit a moralistic model for human development, but there will be no justifiable answer to my question. The author of this site should in no way feel any remorse, or guilt, or tentative feelings over his actions if he believes in an evolutionary model.

    That’s a tremendous lot of error and ignorance compacted into one paragraph. It will take time to parse it out.

    We are not animals.

    Depends on the definition you’re using.

    We possess something they don’t . . . a spirit. There is no scientific explanation for it.

    You THINK we possess a spirit and that animals don’t. You’re belief however doesn’t make it true.

    BTW we do possess something animals don’t. A mind with the capacity for rational thought. There is proof for that.

    I have studied evolution, my friend.

    Reading creationist books is NOT studying evolution. Nor is perusing evolutionist texts just to locate passages that support your presuppositions.

    Now do be careful. You’re on the verge of declaring yourself the resident expert on evolution here. And you don’t even know what background, and degrees folks hereabouts might have.

    I am intimately aware of the controversies, the in-fighting, and the lack of observable/repeatable data.

    No you are not. You are familiar with the stories you’ve been told by others with an agenda that happens to match your own. You are not intimately aware, To do that you work in the field. You read the peer-reviewed publications. You do research. You attend conferences. You probably publish and present.

    Again, you are trying to present yourself as an expert and authority. Which you are not.

    The reason human beings possess a spirit (inlcluding its varied pallet of feelings) is the fact that we were created by a Spirit with a spiritual destiny.

    Again. You wish to believe that. But wishing and making bald statements does not make it true.

  • 37. LaShawn  |  December 3, 2007 at 2:51 am

    A.M:

    Of coure I have one question. Did you feel guilty? If you didn’t, why do you care if you lie to their faces? Why would it bother you to hurt them?

    To answer your questions, no I do not feel any guilt. As others have said, I think I made the best decision for the given situation. I’m a bit confused as to why you’re drawing connections between lying and evolution. Especially here. I don’t have a “survival-of-the-fittest mentality” as you suggest. I love my family, and I want to do what is in their best interest..not my own.

    Also, I’m interested as to why you seem to have this idea that morality is something that only Christians are capable of and bound to. Let me ask you this: Do you only tell the truth because you’re afraid of God’s punishment? If the bible didn’t say “Thou shall not kill” would you go out on a killing spree? Hopefully your answer to both of these questions is no. The reason I do not like lying to my family (or anyone for that matter) is because I believe it is intrinsically wrong.

    When it comes to morality I like to think of Kant’s categorical imperative:

    I should act only on that maxim that I could will it to become universal law.

    Think of it as the equivalent to the biblical verse:

    Love thy neighbor as thyself.

    Lying isn’t something that I would wish for others to do to me. I don’t need religion to be able to distinguish what feels right from wrong.

  • 38. LaShawn  |  December 3, 2007 at 2:58 am

    Fellow Atheist:

    My recommendation is for you to be open wth your family about being an athiest. Until you do, you may constantly feel disingenuous around your family when it comes to saying grace, and other family matters where religion comes into play and you are expected to participate.

    I completely agree. It’s something that is kind of awkward to bring up, and I haven’t found quite the right moment yet. I know my mother will become upset, but she’ll eventually accept my decision.

    My stepdad on the other hand is someone I’m more worried about. He’s very stubborn and set in his ways when it comes to religion. He made my mother and I stop going to an Episcopal church that we were a part of for years just because they ordained a gay bishop. I personally did not have a problem with it, but stopped going just to keep peace within the family. I haven’t gone back to any churches since.

  • 39. A.M.Brewster  |  December 3, 2007 at 10:37 am

    I love a good debate. There’s nothing better for grounding yourself in your beliefs than having to argue for them.

    But please don’t forget, though you may not believe in God . . . that doesn’t mean you God. You have no idea what I’ve studied. You have no idea what background I come from. You have no idea the times I’ve “questioned my faith.” You have no idea the degrees I have (and my bio doesn’t tell you all of them). You have no clue who I am and what I kow.

    Please don’t be so foolish to tell me what books I’ve read, how I’ve interpreted those books, and to what degree I don’t keep up with scientific journals.

    And even though I don’t feel the need to legitimize myself to you, I will say that I have collegues nominated to a presidential board for evolutionary research. I’m up to date just fine.

    If you don’t want to believe in God . . . That’s fine. But ask yourself which person is more arrogant; the one who argues for his belief system/science based off his own research and studies . . . or the one who thinks he can read minds and constantly refers to the first as “arrogant”?

    I’ll be visiting your site from time to time because I enjoy the debates. But if things constantly dissolve into name calling and petty arguments with no sound basis, what’s the point?

  • 40. LeoPardus  |  December 3, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    AM:

    Without even looking at your web site first, then I’ll look.

    You have no idea what I’ve studied.

    You have not formally studied biology beyond the typical courses in high school. You may have taken a overview course post high-school, but it was most likely one with a creationist bent.

    You have no idea what background I come from.

    Fundamentalist evangelical. Best guess at denomination would be either Baptist or independent, non-denominational (e.g. unaffiliated community church)

    You have no idea the times I’ve “questioned my faith.”

    True.

    You have no idea the degrees I have (and my bio doesn’t tell you all of them).

    None in biology or science. Possibly something on the order of an associates degree in a general science overview curriculum.

    You have no clue who I am and what I kow.

    You are a fundamentalist Protestant who is absolutely convinced that he knows more about science that people who actually study it and thinks he can inform scientists about the “errors” in their fields. You actually know very little about science. And you are vastly ignorant about your ignorance.

    You are very arrogant and sure of your mighty wisdom. You respond defensively to criticism or anyone who questions you. You are more concerned with informing people so they can be a “right” as you are, but you actually don’t care to understand them, or try to show them you give a damn about them.

    You are a fine example of a Christian; reflecting Christ’s unconditional love to all.

    Please don’t be so foolish to tell me what books I’ve read, how I’ve interpreted those books, and to what degree I don’t keep up with scientific journals.

    You don’t keep up with the journals. Proof? Without using any internet search, name all the peer-reviewed research journals you read each month.

    I could hazard a guess as to the books you’ve read on evolution. I’d bet that i’d score a hit on several of them. I’d miss most of the more recent ones.

    What you can’t grasp is that when someone really is knowledgeable about something, one can quickly spot a pretender and assess the profundity of his/her ignorance.

  • 41. Rachel  |  December 3, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Leo,
    Sounds like you’re pretty spot-on. I would venture a guess that Brewster went to Bob Jones or PCC. I wonder if his evolutionary board colleagues work for that huge creationist institute down south…I forget the name of it but they’re spending millions of dollars to prove that there was a worldwide flood.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  December 3, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Rachel:

    You’re spot on too. I looked at his web site. He did indeed go to Bob Jones. I’d bet that you’re right about the evolutionary board too.

  • 43. HeIsSailing  |  December 3, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    A.M. Brewster claims:

    I will say that I have collegues nominated to a presidential board for evolutionary research.

    a presidential board for evolutionary research? You’re kidding, right? Are you talking about President Bush? If so, what is the name of this panel?

  • 44. LeoPardus  |  December 7, 2007 at 12:34 am

    Not too late. Found some time. So:
    A.M. Brewster:

    Search the facts and you’ll discover that evolution is impossible to prove using the scientific method. It is neither observable nor repeatable.

    The song of the scientifically illiterate. They think that science only proceeds by one method. Archeology is a science. Christians love to use it to support lots of Biblical claims. But it’s not observable or repeatable.
    You didn’t really need me to tell you that though. You already knew it. But you wanted to stick to the limited perspective of what Gish/Morris/Ham/Hovind/Jones told you about science. It fit better with what you wanted to believe. Now open your eyes and engage your mind.

    Empiric data fails us. And when “empiric” data is discovered, science undoes itself.

    No it doesn’t. Again, you depend on remaining ignorant to believe what you’ve been told.

    Argue as you may for carbon dating, helium dating dislodges the argument.

    What the heck are you talking about? Never mind. You don’t know.

    Search as long as you like; there are still no missing links.

    One of the favorite outright lies of the creationists. There are just so many sources (and fossils) to shoot this down it’s hard to know where to start. Try going to http://austringer.net/wp/ and look there for Transitional Fossil Existence Challenge. It’s just a starting point.

    And every hypothesis of “science” (to be sure, there are almost as many deistic/intelligent design scientists that aren’t Christians as there are evolutionists) is counteracted by an equally plausible theory of creation.

    Uh huh.

    To accept evolution you must extend yourself in faith. Only the object of your faith is your own mind.

    Fine. I can put some faith in my mind. Better than in your ignorance, or the words of known liars like Gish, Morris, Ham, Hovind…..

    I’m sorry, I’d rather put my life into the all-powerful hands of a God who loves me, and wants nothing but the best for me, than the capricious will of man.

    What about a capricious God? One who willy-nilly wipes out people, kills babies, allows young women to be taken as war prizes, kills a man’s whole family while proclaiming him a good man, let’s one family suffer horribly while supposedly granting another a new car and mansion.

    I’ve made enough decisions in life that lead to my own undoing. But, while following God’s will, I have NEVER made a decision I regretted.

    If you ever did, you just told yourself, “Oops. I must have mistaken God’s will on that.” Dude, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. A classic fallacy.

    Hey, if there’s no ultimate authority you’re responsible to, then selfishness and lying are commended in your survival-of-the-fittest mentality.

    Again displaying ignorance of evolutionary theory because you let other people (and known liars at that) tell you what it’s about.

    Guilt. Wow, Darwin never mentioned when that evolved. In fact, since there’s no real reason for it, I’m surprised it lasted the evolutionary process. …..
    If there’s no ultimate truth then you’d better stop feeling guilty. Otherwise you might make it seem like you did something bad . . . and we all know there’s no such thing as sin. …….
    In an evolutionary framework, guilt is unacceptable.

    Again displaying ignorance of evolutionary theory because you let other people (and known liars at that) tell you what it’s about.

    So to address head on your errors of the past couple lines:
    –Survival of the fittest, genetic propagation, natural selection, and other evolutionary drives do NOT operate on the individual level. (Lamark was silly enough to think so. Since he was shot down only creationist continue to be sufficiently silly.) Evolutionary drives operate solely at the population level. So any individual greedy, selfish pig, or liar, or guilt-devoid sociopath may do just fine in life. (We need look no further than televangelists to see this.)
    –BUT, guilt, selflessness, and honesty can all be seen to play a distinct and positive role in accomplishing evolutionary purposes. Guilt can prevent one from harming others of the species. (See here that the good of the species is the driver.) Honesty, by and large, makes life easier for all of us. (See again the good of the species at issue.) Selflessness may not preserve an individual’s life, but it may preserve other lives. (Once again, the species trumps the individual.)
    –What’s notable in all this is that much of what works to improve conditions for the human species can be distilled to a simple formula. “Do to others as you would like to be done by them.” The “Golden Rule” as it is known. And it’s interesting to note that that simple formula pops up time and again in human history. In the code of Hammurabi, in the teachings of the Buddha and Confucius, in the mouth of Jesus and many more places.

    the science of evolution isn’t science, it’s faith. The science supports creationism/intelligent design the more we learn about it.

    Given your demonstrable ignorance of science, this statement carries no weight whatsoever.

    The beautiful thing about de-conversion is you can successfully de-convert anyone from any religion . . . except Christianity. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, because it has nothing to do with me. No other religion promises eternal security. God tells us that once saved; always saved. A true believer in Jesus Christ may slide away for a time, but will always return. You can’t be de-saved. Once a child of God; always a child of God. “No man (not even a staunch atheist) can pluck [us] out of [His] hand.”
    If you believe you’ve ever de-converted anyone . . . I say to you that person was never a convert in the first place.

    DING! You win one point for your choice from the list of “Reasons decons must have left the faith”. It’s a lovely list of quick and easy reasons that can be tossed out to pigeon-hole ex-believers and thus save you any inconvenient need to understand them, or – perish forbid – actually consider what they have to say.

  • 45. HeIsSailing  |  December 7, 2007 at 6:32 am

    LeoPardus,
    AM Brewster has friends who were nominated to the (imaginary) Presidential Board of Evolutionary Research. ‘Nuff said.

  • 46. meatish  |  December 18, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    “Thanks to xxxxx for preparing this wonderful meal. Thanks to xxxxx for their hard work to earn the funds to pay for this meal. Thanks to xxxxxx for taking the time to come and enjoy this time together……”

    Haha… I’m a Christian and I totally agree with this. I’ve done it before, you shouldn’t thank God for cooking your Turkey, thank your parents and love your family, this will make you good in God’s eyes without even praying to him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 2,044,464 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 208 other followers