My gf and I had this pretty spirited debate over dinner two nights ago about my atheism. She seems to be increasingly concerned with me (she's catholic) as our relationship grows. I worry that my atheism will grow between us. Or to say, her problem with my atheism.
She brings up atheism more than me and gets increasingly angry as we discuss, while I stay level-headed. The subject of this discussion was "Why are Atheists so noisy?"
I tried to compare our out campaigns with gay right, black rights, women's right all of those things, which to me are pretty comparable, but she's black and got kind of offended when I compared our trials and tribulations with that of african american struggles. I changed it up and only compared it to homosexualtiy and women's rights.
She then countered that we don't need to come out because we can't change anything, there's too few of us. I told her that we are trying to get a wider following, trying to encourage freethinkers to come out.
She then asked something that kind of hurt, she said "Why do you need to come out? Just live your lives like everyone else and be happy with it. You don't need to be so loud about your atheism and cause problems for yourself."
I was at a loss for words. I wanted to express that it's not fair to need to hide, it's important to live our lives but she honestly doens't see a point to our cause.
I'm wondering what you guys might have said in my shoes, or why you personally think our cause is a noble one? I still believe it is but I am curious about what we are hoping to accomplish. I wish I was much more active in the atheist movement. all I seem to do is retweet and come on this website. How could I get more involved?
This is an excellent choice as a reply. I watched this the other day. Greta gets an A+ for laying out the most egregious of religious transgressions in modern times in a concise, clear and spirited manner.
Sit your girlfriend down and have her watch Greta lay it down, in no uncertain terms. Maybe, just maybe, she will begin to understand.
I'll preface my reply by saying that I feel that living in the UK has spoiled me in regards to how understanding people can be.
I think it's great that you can have a spirited debate with someone so close to you, I certainly know in some relationships any kind of disagreement can lead to tension. However I can see how frustrating it would be to have your worldview (I almost said beliefs) dismissed so readily. I might have asked her how she would feel if you asked her why Catholics had to be so noisy? I may have also tried to explain that attitudes like "There's too few of you to make a difference" didn't stop Women and Homosexuals from getting the vote and being regarded as actual people. You are absolutely correct when you say it's not fair to have to hide who you are. I also don't think it's fair for her to dismiss the argument about African-American struggles as a comparison as someone's belief (or lack therof) is just as much a trigger for prejudice as the colour of someones skin. In fact Atheists are regarded with more prejudice than African-Americans, point in fact: you have a black President (I'm assuming you're American btw). Do you think there will be an openly atheist President in our lives?
Freedom of religion goes both ways. It also means free not to be religious. As a citizen of the United States we all have equal rights to express our religious viewpoints without threat of violence or losing a relationship.
Keath, I hate to say it but with everything here you shared and the way you worded/described, and if I were you, I would start considering what exactly you are doing with her. I mean, that probably is a posit out of ignorance of your experience and relationship with her, but I would at least consider the perspective that there are a lot of great women out there that can appreciate you for what you really care about.
The main reason I say that is because if I were in your shoes, I wouldn't have time for this crap. Namely, increasing irritation at who you are, increasing concern, and the seemingly extremely ignorant quips. And, really, the fact that it is escalating. I would take that as a clue. It doesn't sound like she respects you at some level. Maybe it's something to sort through with her first, but it sounds like a serious problem either way if, as you word it, your relationship is growing. I've learned this the hard way multiple times. Seriously.
And in the case of fundamental thoughts and concerns with this reality, and the consequences of 'believing' certain things that have had enormous impact on so many people's lives, your thoughts and conclusions aren't 'coming out'. It's rather a statement of fact and presence where you are.
And by the way, why would she be so sensitive to her racial background, but not so much over her gender's background in history, when you changed it up and it sounds like that was ok? They both directly concern her equally.
But aside from the rant... I would have said that atheists are 'noisy' because they care, and they care about what they think. They care about what sorts of impact these fundamental issues of what reality really is, or rather how random religious beliefs about deities have affected people's lives in an arbitrary and extremely damaging way. (For some easy examples, I would read both of Hitchens' books "God Is Not Great" and "The Portable Atheist" if you haven't already) And by and large, the issues that are the hot topics of the day are important, when you have people combating and affecting others people's lives simply because they think there's an invisible Bronze-Age dude that lives in the sky for example.
Does she not have thoughts of her own that she feels are important? If not, and she can't understand why you would... seriously, I would move on and allow the possibility of being able to spend time with someone who does.
And "that we don't need to come out because we can't change anything, there's too few of us." That's an ignorant statement and an extreme insult to history. And perhaps you can't say this, and it's rhetorical. But if I really spoke my mind in this situation, I would say, "You know, would you like to live in a society where you were someone's property simply because of your skin color? Or live under a tyrannical monarchy dictatorship (insert god or a king here)? Well you could have, but you don't, because others with the very same principles that I accept in my life spoke up about what they cared about." And don't even get me started on Catholics, and Christianity as a whole.
I would want to ask her:
Why do Catholics have to wear a symbol of torture and murder around their necks?
Why does there have to be a bible in every hotel room drawer?
Why do the words "In God We Trust" have to be on our currency?
Why do the words "under God" have to be in our pledge to our country and flag?
Why is it only acceptable for specific segments of the population in this country to speak out on their beliefs in so many different ways and through so many different mediums, but atheistsmust keep silent?
Then I'd point out that the First Amendment affords us both freedom of and from religion, and the right to speak out about it.
"Mene mene tekel upharsen" you have been weighed on the scales of life, and found wanting. Read the writing on the wall, dude. Move on!
I like that quote, what language is that?
It's from the bible actually, in Daniel. It can be used against itself so easily. For example, the first phrase in Hosea 4:6 is fitting (and proves they're not even doing it right), and then there is the nonsense problem of the rest of the verse.
That's brilliant! Thanks for sharing.
I would ask her how we would ever have a chance of having the pope arrested for conspiracy and collusion in a giant sex scandal and coverup if we just keep quiet. I might also ask her if she is just that ok with religious mutilations of young male infants and pubescent girls. Perhaps another question about sundry gods being good with slavery. Follow that up with some choice probing on the catholic church's embrace of misogyny.
She might also like to explain to you why all churches, like junkyards and stuff, couldn't be hidden behind big fences so that the rest of us don't have to know about them.
You might also point out to her that her religion prohibits premarital sex, birth control, abortion and divorce.
Actually, maybe you should ask her why you should hang out with someone who implicitly condones child molestation and rape and find the door.
Wow, I was going for a slightly more "Softly, softly" approach to the viability of the relationship as a whole but from others points here I suppose I'll throw my hat in too. For me the occasional debate is great but constant arguments about why Atheists need to be noisy or that there are not enough of us to make a difference is pretty insulting and basically a deal breaker. But like I said, that's just me.