My mother and I have never really clicked.
In fact, that could be the understatement of the century. But I accept it. It's what I've become used to.
What I cannot tolerate, however, is her sympathy. Her 'pity' for my godlessness.
It's the condescending, 'Oh, sweetheart, you'll see someday. You'll get over this radical collegiate phase,'
It's that, 'Bless your soul. I'll pray that you find the truth,'
Or, my absolute FAVORITE -
'Why are you doing this to yourself?'
And she rolls her eyes. Shakes her head. Appeals to heaven.
[Rinse with holy water, and repeat.]

The woman thinks I am dooming myself to a bleak worldview; she finds my lack of faith almost masochistic. Her line of thought goes something like this (be warned - it's based entirely on religious assumptions):
-------> God exists and He is good.
------>With his goodness, God has created everything in the universe.
----->Thus, good human beings owe their goodness to God.
---->Humans, then, who credit their goodness elsewhere (say, to their upbringing or personal moral compass) are self centered and ignorant of the larger picture.
--->This blind here-and-now humanistic worldview will result in the individual foolishly and blasphemously disconnecting his/herself with God.
-->Without contact with the divine, the individual will induce misery and bring about his/her own demise.
->Thus, I, as an atheist, am subconsciously, tragically dooming myself to depression and the pursuit of profane, fleeting pleasure as opposed to a lasting peace with God.

Right. Of course. Silly me. Because that's such tight logic, right?

On top of this, my uncle promised that he would pray for me so that I don't eternally burn with the sinners and heathens. He also called my brother a worshiper of the Antichrist because he listens to metal music.
Has anyone else encountered condescending sentiment similar to this, or is it just my Polish Catholic family?

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I appreciate you making me think of my parents' loins for a brief moment:P

In response to the last comment, it made me think of a point Dawkins made in 'The God Delusion' (I only remember it clearly because I finished it today). At the end of the book he criticizes society for perpetuating the idea that if both parents are Christian, the child is a "Christian child." However, he mentions that religion is the only idea/belief that has this unique ability to pass through 'loins'. If both parents are Keynesian, Liberal, or Marxist would society call children of these parents Keynesian, Liberal or Marxist children? Of course not, to do so would be absurd. There is no such thing as a Marxist boy or girl. Therefore there should also not be such thing as a "Christian child", rather a "child of Christian parents." Children have not matured enough to form their own beliefs and labeling them prematurely as having one particular point of view is unreasonable. Society typically makes such unique accommodations and exceptions for religious thought....

You mentioning the intellectually corrupt institution of religion reminded me I needed to sell some indulgences. Anyone? I'm probably in the wrong forum for it:)
My mother-in-law was convinced that my husband (and by extension I) would give up this silly atheist business once we had kids. Cause, really... how can you create life, and not be touched by the miracles of God?? We now have 1.33333 kids (#2 is reaching the end of the first trimester), and surprise! We still don't believe.

It's frustrating that so many family members assume the atheism stems from some perceived slight by God. My oldest sister felt "atheist". When she had her son, she just couldn't believe that "God could trust me with this new life after all I had done." Yeah, that's not atheism... that's hating/fearing God. If I felt that way, maybe my son would make me feel like God had forgiven me. But no, I don't feel I've done anything wrong. Yes, I marvel at the miracle of my son. But that's more like a Dawkins-esque awe - incredible that such a wonderfully intricate & beautiful process evolved.

Then there's my dad... he loves to try to find ways to prove that we're not REALLY atheist, because he earnestly believes that atheists cannot be moral. We are moral, therefore we cannot be atheists. My faves (that I've mentioned here previously) are that we celebrate Christmas, and that my belief that I will overcome depression means I have faith (implied to be faith in god).

Sorry... didn't mean to thread-jack. No, you are really really really not alone :)
No apology necessary; it's good to know.
I can only imagine how much having children will complicate things, but in having children (someday...maybe) I suppose everyone has a chance NOT to indoctrinate.
I think Darwinian beauty is so much more marvelous than...oh, I don't know, beauty based on lies. Because it can actually happen. Because it's real.
[Although, most of relatives call Darwinism false. I need more ammo to combat that.]

I've struggled with depression as well...along with EDs, self harm, the whole shebang...and I still do.
I think that's part of the reason my mother considers my worldview to be "bleak," another way of condemning myself...hurting myself someway. My nonexistent self esteem manifesting itself in the open, as if I don't think I'm worthy of a heaven or Godly love.
She doesn't understand. She doesn't know that it wasn't faith that saved me, it was paper and pen.
I've got your nice amalgam of psychiatric issues too! Severe Post Partum Depression, EDs (sadly, I wish it were the not-eating instead of the over eating type, but ED is ED), self harm....

My shrink gave me a FANTASTIC book called Bodily Harm... talks a lot about why we do it, what we get out of it, etc. Interestingly, the stereotypical self injurer is a white woman, in upper to middle class, and of especially high intellect. I loved reading that part :)

As for getting stronger evidence in support of Darwinism, spend a few hours on YouTube. There's a bazillion videos (both for and against) that are very educational. I have a great big soft spot for anything written or said by Richard Dawkins - he has a way of explaining things technically without going totally over the heads of anyone without a PhD in Biology.

The beginning of your original post reminds me of a story I wrote in college... I believe the line was "I said good bye to the mother I loved, but barely tolerated." It's sooo hard for people who have lead sheltered lives to understand those of us who aren't so lucky. The impression I get of your mom is much like my own. God love her, she tries. But she's just never seen the outside of her bubble, and as such, is completely thrown by the weirdness in my life (my best friend is gay, I'm divorced, my husband & I are very atheist, I've been suicidal, I've done drugs, etc.). Momma's a cradle Catholic - Dad's a convert & thus feels more compelled to defend his choice by refuting mine.
I'm making a mental note to myself about that book. I have so much reading to do! At some point I'll post the question for an essential list of atheist texts so I have something constructive to occupy myself with this summer...
I'll have to buy them for myself, though. My mom refuses. Maybe I'll use the Christmas money that she gave me ;]
If you want some help debating your Christian family, PM me and I’ll share some points I have learned from my Christian school debates. For one, you need to put them more on the defensive and asking questions they can’t easily answer. Not directly towards atheism, but a different direction of their faith. I found it more easily overcomes stubbornness and canned ‘church answers’. For example, ask your relatives why they believe Darwinism and Christianity are so incompatible. Why couldn’t God have created everything through evolution as science indicates, rather than spontaneously as creationists propose. It certainly would have been the easiest route and apparently God does not deceive (Titus 1:1-2). Please note that for this question I am making the assumption that your relatives aren’t crazy young earthers and have some reasoning ability…

One interesting you might want to share with them is this: however serious my college is about their faith, they teach Darwinism as fact. No respected scientist or intellectual in modern day society believes otherwise. In fact, my college was offered several million dollars by a Christian organization to NOT teach evolution and they flat out rejected the offer. It was one of the few moments where I was proud of my school.

Let me make the assumption that your mom considers your worldview ‘bleak’ because it lacks a purpose. Up until a few months ago, I would have agreed with your mom/family and claimed that without God, life cannot have purpose. It is one of those relationships that society establishes and is rarely questioned (much like ‘without God, there cannot be morality’). Not believing I had a purpose didn’t take away my atheism, but it did make me feel more hopeless and likely assisted my depression as well. Maybe you feel the same.

Now for my argument. The origin of something doesn’t determine its future nor purpose. You might want to read that again; it took me awhile at least. Whether Yahweh created you or the FSM, your life would not have been different. Here’s an example: The North Star is quite unremarkable by itself. Compared to the trillions of other stars, its origin is identical and unremarkable. It was created from dense molecular clouds, the same as all other stars. It also converts hydrogen to helium using nuclear fusion, the same as all other starts. However, the North Star is still unique, but not because of its origin or composition. The star has been given a purpose by mankind. If mankind were not to exist, or if there was another brighter star that also pointed north, it would not have the same meaning/purpose. It has its meaning purely through chance. Another example: you are out hiking and find a nice straight stick on the ground. By utilizing it as a walking stick, you are giving the stick a purpose where it previously had none. In the same way, your life has purpose not by how you were made or whom you were made by, but by what you chose to do with it. Perhaps you should ask your mom if the purpose to her life would have changed had she been born to different parents. It will at least get her to think outside the box.

Forgive the long response, but I really empathize with you.
Here some the basic questions I put to believers?

1. Who is this god you believe in? Why do you believe in “him” rather than know that he exist? Why doesn't “he” exist in the material world?

2. What has happened in your lifetime that you can contribute only to god for it happening?

3. Why have and do people believe in different types of gods?

4. If none of us asked to be born, why should we have to believe a god that can’t speak to us in the natural? Or damns us because we don’t believe?
I love the second one! It really corners them, no matter their response.
Thank you for these =]
I recommend picking up Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne and/or The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins for your evolutionary ammunition. :)

Plenty of videos on YouTube as well, particularly ones by AronRa, Thunderf00t, cdk007, djarms, and many more whose handles escape me at the moment.
Coyne and Dawkins are definitely on my list =]
I'm waiting for a class on atheism to pop up at school.
Well, everyone falls from grace.... He just doesn't think too hard about it. Cognitive dissonance? He's heard of it....

That's really my biggest frustration with my pop. I love him dearly, and there is so much that we have in common. It kills me that he's so blinded about this religion thing. It isn't the religion itself, but his muleheaded refusal to acknowledge that I actually have reasons for my beliefs, and that he, the man who taught me logical reasoning, is not capable of following the same path.
There's such a need to justify every suffering and credit every blessing with something above, outside of people on earth; even coincidence is excluded.
I honestly don't know what I would have done had I gotten that card - maybe a simple reply of "I was never lost," something simple and biting.
But would that be feeding into their perception? Probably. I wonder if some people are capable of change. I like how you call them "fundies" lol


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