Author Topic: New and need advice  (Read 388 times)

ablprop

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New and need advice
« on: October 13, 2010, 02:03:02 AM »
Hi,

I'm generally a happy atheist. Today I received a shock. My best friend, best man at my wedding, former roommate, and in fact cousin with whom I grew up, revealed to me today that he had a vision and is now a believer.

This is an especially hard blow because growing up there were three of us cousins, all around the same age, all interested in similar things. The oldest of us was "saved" when I was 12, and my relationship with him was never the same after that. I remember trying to discuss Cosmos, which had a deep and profound impact on my life, and he simply said "I'm not related to a tree."

Anyway, then there were two. My friend was the more vociferous of us, I the more calm atheist. Now he tells me that about a year ago he had a vision late one night, in which a large, glowing object asked him to "let me into your heart." He read the bible, started going to church, and now even teaches a Sunday school class.

I know it was really hard for him to tell me, and I listened carefully, working very, very hard not to scoff (once I realized he was serious). The whole time I'm listening, gently encouraging him to tell me about the vision and what came after, I'm thinking, "Here we go again. Things will never be the same."

My wife says he's still the same person. I'm not so sure.

It's my feeling that belief in the supernatural changes your worldview in a profound way. The message we can read by learning about the world - through science, through literature, through art - is misread when viewed through a supernatural filter. You miss out on some of the wonder. I know I can't be honest with him about the things I read, the things I think, the meaning and purpose I see in it all, because it frankly will be offensive to his new world view. I feel like a part of my friend is gone, and I'm surprised at how thrown I feel.

Has anyone here gone through something similar? Can anyone give me some advice?

Whitney

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 02:12:59 AM »
Welcome to HAF

How do you know he became a fundie rather than just a liberal christian?...not all believers are anti-science; I like to think most are even pro-science (not sure if I am right on that one).

I had one friend who kept on getting more religious to the point where we absolutely had nothing in common anymore...but she was also becoming weird about other topics too so I don't think it was just an issue with her religion (though it was annoying since she kept forgetting; or not caring; to tone it down around me).  But, I find it to be not that difficult to get over friends when we have grown apart...it's not like it would be productive or desirable to force someone to be something they aren't.

That said, I think that you are dumping the friendship a bit early since you don't seem to know how your freind's actions may or may not change.  After all, he's been at this church stuff for a year and you didn't even notice...must not be that big of a deal to your friendship.

ablprop

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 02:32:48 AM »
Hi Whitney,

Thanks for the response. I'm sure we will remain friends. He won't make a big deal out of it and neither will I. But I know there are topics I can't discuss with him anymore. That's what's throwing me.

Don't you find that, once you discover someone's belief in the supernatural, it affects how you can talk to this person? Just one example, discussions about the future of humanity take on a new tone. If you believe that either a) a supernatural being is going to fix everything or b) everything is working itself out according to a supernatural being's plan, then your world view is totally changed. It doesn't really matter if he's fundamentalist or liberal.

You're right about me missing the church thing for a whole year. He even wrote about it on Facebook, I think, and my wife said something, but I somehow ignored it. I'm pretty busy with work and various freelance writing projects, not to mention my wife and two daughters, so what I call my best friend many people would probably call an occasional acquaintance.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to write. Maybe I'll poke around the forum awhile and see if there are some interesting conversations of the sort I fear losing.

Whitney

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 03:19:20 AM »
Maybe he will surprise you and be able to have a stimulating discussion with you on topics that at one time you simply agreed on.

ablprop

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2010, 03:24:13 AM »
Maybe. Although I'll need to get over my own dislike of discussing such things with the faithful. It always feels sad to me, like telling a child there is no Santa Claus.

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2010, 03:30:49 AM »
Quote from: "ablprop"
Maybe. Although I'll need to get over my own dislike of discussing such things with the faithful. It always feels sad to me, like telling a child there is no Santa Claus.

My best friend was "reborn" in 1996.  I had already been atheist for 15 years, a fact known to him, who'd been my bud for 8 years or so.  We made a simple agreement:  "if we discuss each others views, we will do so respectfully and amicably.  If we cannot do so, we shan't talk about it at all."  You should make that sort of agreement, imo.  Tim and I had some wonderful conversations about the issue, and our ability to agree to disagree strengthened our friendship until his fundy-wife intervened.
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ablprop

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2010, 03:41:31 AM »
Thank you for that. An excellent suggestionl

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2010, 04:31:30 AM »
Quote from: "ablprop"
Anyway, then there were two. My friend was the more vociferous of us, I the more calm atheist.

Ye I had one of those, one day he came and told me of his preachers and hence his view, that humanism was at the root of all the worlds problems.  Reason never had much of a role in conversation after that.  If something didn't agree with his dogma his face would stiffen and he'd gift me with some religious platitude.

Welcome ablprop, hope you have more luck.

ablprop

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2010, 12:02:00 PM »
It is a little scary. Is my own worldview so uncertain that I could change like that? I certainly don't think so. But how can you ever really know?

The truth is, I know about myself. It's just the rest of the world that today seems much more built on sand.

madness

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2010, 09:21:30 PM »
Quote from: "ablprop"
It is a little scary. Is my own worldview so uncertain that I could change like that? I certainly don't think so. But how can you ever really know?

I've wondered the same.  Short of some god sitting me down for a little face-to-face talk, I don't know what would change my mind.  But it's one of those things that you can't predict - I've seen too many convert for "no apparent reason" to me.

It might actually make for some good conversations instead of lack of ones.  For the most part, I avoid discussions with religious folks.  But I have a few friends that are truly Christian that you can debate/discuss things with.

ablprop

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2010, 02:26:44 AM »
You know, here's the thing. I think I'm an atheist on two levels. And this probably proves certain theists' point.

There are atheists who say they wish god did exist, but they have to accept the reality that he doesn't. I'm not like that. I'm glad there's no god. And, what's more, if there were legitimate evidence of a being called god, I still wouldn't be his servant.

So I'm an atheist because I see no evidence for god. But I'm also an atheist in the sense that Satan was an atheist in Paradise Lost. Sure Satan knew that God existed. But Satan didn't worship.

If some being did create me, well, I'm still me. I'm still an independent entity capable and deserving of self-determination. And maybe that plays right into the hands of religionists who say that atheists are just rebelling. Well, I would, except there's nothing to rebel against. As far as I can see.

So while it's possible that I could lose my atheism in the first sense (no supernatural entity), I don't really believe I could ever lose my atheism in the second sense (I like my independence).

Thumpalumpacus

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2010, 05:10:59 AM »
Quote from: "ablprop"
You know, here's the thing. I think I'm an atheist on two levels. And this probably proves certain theists' point.

There are atheists who say they wish god did exist, but they have to accept the reality that he doesn't. I'm not like that. I'm glad there's no god. And, what's more, if there were legitimate evidence of a being called god, I still wouldn't be his servant.

So I'm an atheist because I see no evidence for god. But I'm also an atheist in the sense that Satan was an atheist in Paradise Lost. Sure Satan knew that God existed. But Satan didn't worship.

If some being did create me, well, I'm still me. I'm still an independent entity capable and deserving of self-determination. And maybe that plays right into the hands of religionists who say that atheists are just rebelling. Well, I would, except there's nothing to rebel against. As far as I can see.

So while it's possible that I could lose my atheism in the first sense (no supernatural entity), I don't really believe I could ever lose my atheism in the second sense (I like my independence).

Indeed.  As Zapata said, "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."  If the Christian conception of god is right, book my reservation to hell; I wouldn't worship him for anything I hold dear.
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jduster

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Re: New and need advice
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2010, 03:44:55 PM »
Welcome.

Perhaps, you are overreacting?

Assuming, he isn't a fundamentalist or extremely religious, it probably won't cause you too much problems.

Many of my best friends are religious.  We simply just leave that topic aside.