He wants to be a jesuit priest. I told him I was an atheist, and he was a little surprised, but he thought it was interesting, and I thought that everything was ok and he was alright with it.
I think I was wrong.
He keeps telling me I'm not an atheist. I've tried explaining the difference between agnostic and atheist, and how I'm in fact an agnostic atheist, but he insists I'm simply an agonostic.
The other night he told me that if we ever had a falling out, it would be because of this. He said he's been doing research on it, and I don't know what to do when he gives it to me. I'll probably be able to refute it.
I don't want to lose him as my friend, but I'm worried he'll get so caught up in my disbelief that he won't be able to see past it. My current thought is to just say I won't discuss it with him, but I feel like that'll make the problem worse later on...
I have a friend that always tells me "I don't consider you an atheist. I'm just going to think of you as agnostic for now", even though we've had like a hundred in-depth conversations about the difference between atheism and agnosticism. The audacity astounds me. It really just leaves me speechless that these people have the nerve to think that they know my own opinions better than I do.
Your friend's response appears to make no sense. However, everything that someone does makes sense when seen in the appropriate context. In this case, as in many other cases in which people seem to deny reality, I think that the question you should ask yourself (and, maybe -- maybe -- your friend) is, of what is he or she afraid?
If I were you I'd reply to that with "Oh okay, I don't consider you a christian(I'm assuming), but an atheist who was indoctrinated from birth", though that might just piss him off & then fulfill his prophecy of your belief causing a falling out between the two of you.
Jokes aside you should just tell him since you aren't questioning his beliefs, he shouldn't question yours. If he continues to do that, then his beliefs are open game and then any falling out will not be because of your non-belief but because of his inability to accept it then constantly questioning your beliefs.
I had a good friend through Jr.High and High School. He grew up in a religious family, I did not. Through-out school we had countless open discussions about everything. We smoked a ton of weed, tripped out on the Astral Plane- and had a great time.
I went off to further schooling/ music and he got back into his religion in a big way. He went so far as to scratch and break ALL of his good cd's rather than give the Satanic things to us. At the time I didn't know how often this happens or how nuts they can really get, so it was a shock to me when I heard.
I know, oh wow, broken cd's? that's all? right. lol. But they were Frank Zappa and he still is my favorite musician/composer. It was unforgivable. lol. That was also when cd's were still a new thing. Just post-vinyl. lol.
I saw him one time a few years later when my daughter was just born. Said 'Great to see you...blah, blah, blah. I asked him to come over and see my girl and meet my (now ex)-wife'. He asked me if I still am the way I used to be (aka a pot smoking, non-believer, etc...)? I said well of course I haven't changed.
He said he couldn't come to my house, even to meet my 3 month-old daughter, because of that.
I said basically- It was nice knowing you. You can fuck right the hell off and have a nice life.
My daughter is now 21, doing great, getting married in Feb!!! - I will DJ her wedding. Woo Hoo!!!
I have been around the world and elsewhere performing music on cruise ships and doing artwork.
He ????? I heard he goes to some insane church- yeah which one? lol But whackier than usual.
Never seen him since.
Oh well... Next
The world is full of great people with great ideas. No time to waste on people and things that are not.
Over 6 billion people on the planet- LOTS of possible friends.
Russell, it seems like your discussion is stranding in semantics. Have you asked him what he thought being an atheist means?
Also, have you asked him what difference you being agnostic or being atheist made for him?
I think I got lucky in this regard, because my best friend (also since about age 6) began doubting his belief around the same time I did (independent from each other).
The fact he is in denial about your views on religion and says that his friendship is contingent on your position is a red flag, regarding your friendship with him. If he says that a falling out would be because of this, you should immediately question the future of your relationship with him.
The only way a resolution can ultimately happen is if you are totally honest with him and he can accept you or not. A friendship built on lies can never succeed.
I was in pretty much the same exact situation you are in now. The only difference being my friend completely stopped talking to me all together. To be honest, I can understand his point of view because in his beliefs you are going to hell. And that probably upsets him because yall are close friends. You have to establish you boundaries with him and if he stops talking to you or wont accept your guidelines then he wasnt really you friend in the first place right?
I am with you my friend! It's almost impossible for believers to accept an atheist. I myself find it very challenging telling people that I am an atheist. My mother, for instance, keeps saying that I am a mortal sinner not believing in god. She simply doesn't not understand or listen to what I say to her about me being an atheist. She just doesn't accept it, that's it!!!.
At least, I wish she would just respect my choice as I respect her being a catholic, but she doesn't seem to get a grip on it at all. I understand her ignorancy on the topic, being herself brought up in a very religious way and having gone to school up until the age of 9 years. They were victims of 2WW, like so many others at that terrible time. They were brought up that way and it's difficult to change their minds. So many other people, even much younger than me, can't accept the fact that there can be atheists out there. I have to put up with things they say, such as: "Oh I see! Being an atheist is a fashion these days! That's why you're one of them. You're following today's fashion"!!! Can you believe that? Yes! believe it!!! Oh by the way, do you know in which country I live? Well! Guess! I live in Italy. This is not a Republic country as they want us to believe. We live, as Margherita Hack (an Italian astrophysicist and popular science writer.) said: "We live in - The Vatican Kingdom, - not in Italy. She's so damn right, we are!!!
I think this will be down to him ultimately. :( You have presented your point respectfully and are now happy to agree to disagree. This is not gonna be his point of view. Coming from his perspective, he 'knows' that God is real and he feels he is called to be a priest - you are someone who means a lot to him and has expressed a disbelief in gods.You are now likely to become a project to him - he is probably praying for guidance on this and finding information to get thru to you and putting a lot of effort into this - he will feel this is God testing his ability to serve as a priest.
You are of course right that you will be able to refute anything he says and you are unlikely to change your mind. Once you disbelieve in gods it is almost impossible to take it seriously again. He is the one who will have to make the decision to accept your atheism or end the friendship. I think there will be a lot of stress on you before that happens tho. You will probably let him try to persuade you for a while until you become very uncomfortable with knocking down his arguments constantly and with him being so adamant that you do not know your own mind. Then you will may have to insist on dropping the subject and he will have to decide whether to continue the friendship or not. It is very hard for people for whom God is completely real to see that other people simply don't agree. Christians frequently accuse atheists of hating or rejecting gods when in fact we just don't believe in them. You could point out to him that you disbelieve in his God in the same way as he disbelieves in the other 29,999 but this may not get through.
I hope you come to some kind of agreement to disagree but he will feel that God will not want him to give up on you and you'll need to remember that he is being a pain because of good intentions!
I have this issue with my dad (he's a Hazzan). He continually tells me how I'm not really an atheist, just foundering and searching... what he calls an "agnostic".
I have to tell him how I'm both because they are not mutually exclusive. He won't hear it.
My advice is simple: don't be confrontational, but don't mince words, either. Be honest when he asks, but don't purposely insult him. Openly tell him exactly what you think, but make sure he understands that this is only what you think, and it has no bearing in what you think of him.
I'll go back to the whole thing between my dad and I. I've told him more than once that I find faith very odd. Obviously, I had it for years, but when I finally lost it, it became such an alien concept to me that now I can't imagine ever having it again. This does not mean, however, that I find people who have faith weird. It does not mean that I think Dad is weird. I simply find faith itself to be strange.
This is what I mean. Be both kind and honest at the same time. Don't insult him, but don't hold back when he asks, either.
Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest tests of friendship that exists. You will find out just how much he thinks of you and the friendship you two have in this.
Some are saying to just not talk about it. This is not possible. He wants to be a Jesuit Priest. That you are an atheist will plague him, and the idea of not talking about it will likely be a heck of a lot easier for you than it will be for him. Eventually he will feel like he has to talk to you about it... he has no choice. He will feel this way simply because he will feel the drive to save your soul... and chances are, if he doesn't succeed in doing such, he may just cut you out of his life all together.
Or, if he values your friendship as much as you value his, your friendship will take a turn that could end up being exciting for both of you. He might come to accept the challenge that you offer, and the two of you might engage in some lively, fun, and perhaps even enlightening debates with each other.
The direction it takes will ultimately depend on him, but not talking about it very likely won't be possible.
My best friends don't get it either, one is a super-orthodox Jew and the other spent his childhood doing missionary work in 3rd world countries with his super religious bible college professor parents (How the hell did I end up mixed in with a lot like that?)
The growing pains are a little stressful at first but after the initial shock and attempts at saving my soul I think they are getting used to it. We didn't become friends because of gods and I think that ultimately not many people want to choose a non-responsive imaginary friend over a flesh and blood loved one.
Thank you all for the wonderful advice and personal stories. I was feeling a bit alone here, seeing as everyone around me either believes in god or is convinced atheists are evil (don't worry, I'm working on disarming the stigma.)
Thank you guys for reassuring me I'm not alone in this and that there are other people that have gone through this. I'll be sure to post updates as they occur!