I haven't posted a lot on Think Atheist. So I'll give you all a little info on me.
It has been a gradual process realizing that I no longer believe in a "god", and just recently I "came out" to my wife, family and church leadership that I was an atheist. Which I understand that all this is tough on the people closest to me, especially my wife and daughters, my wife thought she had married a "good christian man". I had been a Christian for over 20 years and heavily involved in my church (which I still go to occasionally with my family). Well that's the shortened story.
Today I posted the video from YouTube "Science Saved My Soul", and immediately got a response from member of my former church, who I consider a friend. Her response really upset me because she post items she finds interesting that line up with her views and beliefs. The video was one of the few item I have posted that really displayed what I thought since becoming an atheist. Here is the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Me via Facebook: I really like this video! I get choked up when watching it. Just realizing how far we have come, and thinking about how much more we can achieve if we don't destroy ourselves first. (posted a shortened one on twitter)
Friend via Twitter:
@john_alley // we get it your an ATHEIST NOW!
Me: WOW! So if someone has differing views than you, they should keep them to themselves. While you post whatever you want. Got it!
@john_alley //not at all. You seem you want 2 make a point of your new life. Still love you & still pray 4 your restoration
I guess this was my first experience of how people have a hostility toward Atheist and I was taken a little aback. I wanted to write more especially in regards to my "restoration", but didn't want to be a dick since my wife is pretty good friends with her.
Any advice for when situations like this occur?
I haven't "come out" to people I know besides my girlfriend, but I don't think there's much else for you to expect.
Whenever someone disagrees with me on anything, such as politics or what have you, I usually just take the "kill them with kindness" approach. Let them explain their side, you explain yours, try to do it as amicably as possible while knowing that you're going to have some people who just are idiots.
Telling my wife that I was an atheist was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. It was followed my weeks of near silence. But I could no longer pretend to be something I wasn't. Telling people was actually like a weight be removed from my shoulder.
I try not to be rude and respect everyone's beliefs, which is hard at times. But this situation just got to me for some reason.
Avoid those who are vexations to the spirit.
I agree with you. But as I mentioned after over 20 years of being a christian, most of my friends are believers. It is annoying because pretty much all of them are good, intellectual people; with a couple of idiots mixed in for good measure.
Wil Wheaton's motto "don't be a dick" rings through my head whenever I find myself faced with a situation like yours. I would advise you to take a deep breath and remind yourself that by simply admitting your atheism your present a real threat to the preconceived conclusions held by your religious friends & family. Be true to yourself, be honest, and allow others to do the same. You are not responsible for other people's thoughts and opinions, you can only continue to plant the occasional rational/skeptical seed and hope that something positive eventually results. Many people genuinely don't care for the truth when it means they would have to let go of comforting delusions. You said that you were a Christian for over 20 years and that leaving religion behind was a process; likewise, you must allow others their own process. You can explain why a word like "restoration" is perceived as an insult, but also remember that your friend most likely didn't intend it as one. I applaude you for coming out and hope that you will ultimately find the experience as freeing and empowering as I have... :)
Thanks! Yes, I am quite familiar with Wil Wheaton's motto. I actually want to get it on a shirt.
“Science saved my soul” is one of the most awe inspiring things I have ever seen. Kudos to the guy who created it. My advise – I wouldn’t spread atheist enlighten to your Christian family. There are some people who can’t be “saved”, who don’t want to be “saved” , who reject logic and reason. My family is the same way. Don’t try to influence them. It’s like pouring fuel on a fire. They don’t care if they are wrong. That they have wasted their life praising a fictional character. They don’t care. Plus these people live by Pascal’s wager. To them, they have nothing to lose. Their moral compass doesn’t view faith/worship as an evil virtue…. And that’s exactly what they are.
It's funny you mentioned Pascal's wager. When I told my pastor at the time, he wanted me to come before the elder's of the church (seven men I have know for over five years, some of who I am very good friends with) and tell them myself. Well, one of the things one of the elders brought up was Pascal's wager, asking if I had read it, which I had. So I asked if they viewed belief as a get out of hell free card, and brought of the fact that the wager is more like a roulette wheel. How do they know if they have their chips on the right god? Since so many religions think their god or gods are the right and only answer. Of course they started quoting the Bible.
Thanks for mentioning that video. It was new to me and I really enjoyed it.
UPDATE: In addition to what I posted already. Another member of the church I was a member of posted this little piece of wisdom shown below. Now if you they want to have an intellectual discussion about how our views differ that's fine, but I just see this is school yard name calling. Plus, I never liked the woman anyway, so I didn't care. What hurt was that my wife replied to her by writing "I love this!" Maybe the people who love you would prefer you to continue to lie about who you truly are in order that they continue to feel comfortable.