Testing the waters—and the waters aren’t good.

Testing the waters—and the waters aren’t good.

I thought I might come out as atheist to my friend a couple weeks ago, when we went on a camping trip. I decided against that, but did test the waters a bit, talking about creation and evolution. It did not go well.

I’d really like to come out to my family, and some of my close friends. I’m getting sick of hiding. I feel like I’m continually forcing myself into a shell (it really is like being in a closet, isn’t it?) and refusing to let myself speak out because they might find out what I think.

This is one of the very few friends I have. He invited me along on this camping trip, whereas I wouldn’t have gotten to go camping anywhere, at all, otherwise. This friend, it turns out, is also a creationist and proud of it. He thought I was, too, because I used to be.

He told me how he stood up for “the faith” on Facebook not so long ago. Someone had made fun of that creationist/dinosaur quiz that was making the rounds. My friend jumped in and told this kid off. He told him about how you need to look at all the evidence, and the evidence supports creation. He told me how proud he was of being able to out-argue this kid.

He said that whenever he talks with evolutionists, they don’t argue on the scientific facts, because they know they will lose; instead they talk about theology and attack my friend’s faith in God.

He was telling me about how important it is for us Christians to stand up for Christ, when finally I told him I do think the earth is millions of years old, not 6,000 years, and that evidence is pretty clear about gradual change of one form into another.

And wouldn’t you know it, he stopped talking about scientific facts, and immediately wanted to discuss theology and faith.

It was harder than I thought to admit to him I believed in an Old Earth. My original plan was to come all the way out and tell him I was an atheist too. But in that instant when I told him I wasn’t creationist, I heard confusion and a hint of accusation in his voice, and I choked. I wondered what would happen if I admitted something so earth-shattering right before we were going to be stuck together in the wilderness for four days.

So I didn’t go there. I reassured him that I believe in God…though not very convincingly now that I think of it.

I talked about facts. I told him about tiktaalic and about the fossilized footprints in tilted rock layers I saw when on vacation in Colorado—the layers wouldn’t have time to fossilize and tilt without millions of years.

He asked me what kind of unthinkable energy would it take to compress the universe into a big bang? I said, “So much energy that even 4 billion years later we can still see a little of the residual heat when we look out into the emptiness of space.”

He said, but where does everything come from? Matter isn’t just being created all the time. I told him how fusion within stars creates the heavier elements, and then spits them out into the universe again.

We got to the lake, with water so clear you could see 30 feet down, loons cackling back and forth to themselves, wide open blue sky and no visible pollution at all—and he said, “Look at all this! It’s beautiful!” Meaning that it couldn’t possibly exist without God. Even though I said nothing at all about if God exists or not.

He said he’s not comfortable with evolution because, quite frankly, he thinks evolution makes it too easy to not believe in God. He said atheists talk about evolution all the time as proof there’s no creator, and “Somewhere I have to draw a line in the sand for my faith.”

Another friend was along part of the time, a Christian who does believe in evolution. This friend bailed me out by providing theological arguments why God may have used evolution as part of his creative process.

So I made this tiny step, and it has made me afraid to go any further. I thought about sending him the answer to some of the science questions he had, that I couldn’t answer without research…but instead I just stayed quiet. We haven’t talked about it since then.

I want to tell him the truth, because I want to tell somebody. I want people to be friends with the real me, not with this fake me I put on to impress them. But from his reaction it makes me wonder how he would see me if he knew I was a dreaded atheist.

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I could give you the pat response, "If he's really your friend he will remain so if you level with him". I don't think that would be very helpful though. So I would suggest you make an effort to find new friends that you can be honest with from the start. I'm not suggesting you abandon your old friendship. I'm saying spend time around people you can talk freely with. Try it on for size, walk it around for a while, get comfortable with it, then think about whether you want to come out to old friends and family. You may even find what you need elsewhere and not need to jeopardize old relationships to alleviate that feeling of living in a closet.
There is no respect between the souls of two individuals if their minds can’t trust each other and there is no trust between them if their hearts can’t accept the truth of each other.

Anuj Somany~

It can be helpful to discuss with others you consider a friend what is the important elements of that friendship. There is much more to the bonds of a strong friendship than simply possessing similar thoughts about religion & gods. Friends who disagree on major topics of interest can still be tight with one another. But only if each individual has an open mind and heart.

What is a friend? I will tell you.

It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself.  Your soul can be naked with him. He seems to ask of you to put on nothing, only to be what you are.  He does not want you to be better or worse. When you are with him you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard.  You can say what you think, so long as it is genuinely you.  He understands those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you.  With him you breathe freely.  You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities and, in opening them up to him, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of his loyalty.  He understands.  You do not have to be careful.  You can abuse him, neglect him, tolerate him.  Best of all, you can keep still with him.  It makes no matter.  He likes you - he is like the fire that purges to the bone.  He understands, he understands.  You can weep with him, sin with him, laugh with him, pray with him.  Through it all - and underneath - he sees, knows, and loves you.  A friend?  What is a friend?  Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.

C Raymand Beran

...he stopped talking about scientific facts....

...confusion and a hint of accusation in his voice,....

...but where does everything come from?

...he said, “Look at all this! It’s beautiful!”

...evolution makes it too easy to not believe in God.

...and “Somewhere I have to draw a line in the sand for my faith.”

Physeter, your post reveals your care and concern.

Your "friend" has all but told you he is a frightened man.

Calmly, in a friendly and not judgmental manner, ask him what he fears and a dam might break.

If it's acceptable for me to reply this late....I do appreciate your input, there. He literally came out and said that he doesn't "want" to believe some of this, but acknowledged that saying what he "wants" to believe sounds pretty bad.

I'm slowly getting more bold on these kinds of things.

He said he’s not comfortable with evolution because, quite frankly, he thinks evolution makes it too easy to not believe in God.

That sounds like the kind of backward-working logic that had Kant declaring that God must exist or else some of the worst bad people and bad acts would go unpunished.

Sounds like you're not quite ready to exit the atheist closet. Master not just the scientific facts supporting disbelief but all the harm religion—and Christ-believers in particular—have done. Crimes not just against man but against rationality (their part in destroying the library of Alexandria, for example), the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the guilt-tripping of sex.

And modern patriarchy, teaching women not to be human. And supporting slavery. And in prohibiting divorce, giving one more weapon to help abusive spouses keep their other half from escaping.

It's easy for me to write about. It's not easy for me to talk about. Thanks for the advice.

Prepare yourself for a long and lonely road my fellow faithless friend.  Unless you happen to move to a city where religious types are fewer and farther between you will suffer this for the rest of your life.  Humans have a habit of assuming that if you have one thing in common you must have everything in common. I met some people at a science fiction convention and we hit it off great.  I eventually moved to their city because of the friendship.  I at first thought they were atheists like me because we met at a sci fi themed con.  Turned out the wife was a christian scientist and the husband was a bohemian stick worshiper in search of a stick to worship.  I still don't know what that meant.  However we managed to be friends.  We set boundaries and all was well.  However that was a rare situation.  Other christian geeks I have met didn't go over so well and if we hadn't shared a political party I think we wouldn't have hung out.  Even then we clashed over how much effort we should have put toward recruiting religious types.  

Now we live in South Dakota and my atheist son is constantly torn around his friends.  He doesn't want to lose them so he stays in the closet.  They think we are the non practicing christian types.  I am torn on putting godless bumper stickers on the vehicles and posters in the house because I don't want him to be ostracised in the small town we live in.  However on the other hand I realize by not opening the minds of young people to reality I do myself and the world a disservice.  

So I understand your pain.  Watching our friends waste their time and money on snake oil is painful.  If they were pissing their money away on some crack pot healers or pop psychiatrists we'd say something.  But since they do it along with the majority we are afraid to say anything for fear of losing a friend and being branded as some kind of godless heathen that no one should hang out with.  

Life sucks sometimes.  Anytime you are a member of a minority you have to be careful.  There will always be people who will discriminate against you.  Since we can hide our faithlessness and blend it's easier on us than on someone whose skin tone or cultural background cannot be hidden.

So what are we to do?  Hard to say. I've got little in advise for you on this as I am deep in the closet here in the heartland.  When I was young and only had my own life to screw up I was far more vocal.  Probably not all that effective, but I was vocal.  I had friends who were vocal atheists as well and we ran as a pack.  We dreamed of a world without religion.  These days I wonder if we can do it on this mud ball.  Maybe the goal needs to be Mars for Atheists.  Leave the mud ball for the religious and those who don't believe simply pack up and go to the stars.  Maybe not practical for a 40 plus guy with stage 5 renal failure but my son who wants to get degrees in geology and biology will make it off world and they can leave religion behind.  

Sorry to not have anything useful for you but I hope having people here you can open up to will help.  

Thank you thank you thank you. I don't know why I didn't come back to this thread and read this earlier. But your comments make me sad. I'm not that old, but I'm getting older...sometimes I feel like I have no hope.

Creationists are extremists.  I never speak to them anymore.  I would advise you to avoid this person and definitely don't tell him what you really think.  Drop some things for him to think about into the conversation if you must but for the most part don't talk about religion or creationism.

I was a creationist for a while. This is one of my best friends. I don't have a lot of friends, and I struggle with being social (notice how I didn't even reply here until today, because I filled my time with other things instead of talking with my internet friends). This friend is odd because he keeps saying evolutionists don't have any of the facts, but when you talk to him it's clear he has no facts himself. Just rhetorical points he got from watching Kent Hovind. I literally think the Hovind lecture series on evolution is the only thing he's ever learned about evolution.

Some tidbits on Kent Hovind:

Went to jail for tax fraud - rather extensive financial shenanigans.

In his most recent lectures on creationism (before going to jail) he said that natural selection did occur but falsely claimed it was not part of evolution. (That made me cringe.)

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