I think I lost an internet friend. Way to go, T/A. :(

So I've had this friend for about four years now. We met on an rp site. Many of our nights were spent in nerdistic ecstasy killing drow, orcs and other fantasy evil-doers. We'd chat over IM pretty often in the midst of our epic questing, just the usual things: Work, families, dating woes and the economy. He knew I was atheist. I knew he was first a student of theology and now a pastor/private school teacher. We talked about demonology, angels, mysteries of the Bible and other fun but neutral religious topics. Never did he attempt to convert, never did I attempt to debunk. I liked this guy so much and have always been so impressed with his depth of knowledge that I invited him here soon after the creation of Proselytize Point in the 'discussions' category.
Now, while some of the other mods no doubt saw this as a trash bin for all the well meaning but fleeting internet trolls, I really wanted it to be a place of mutually respectful conversation. I believe as atheists the one thing that makes us better than the hordes of the indoctrinated is our resistance to conviction. Please don't mistake the word passion for conviction. Passion is the breath of life we give our arguments, it's the light and truth we seek. Conviction, on the other hand is a dirty word, much like faith. Conviction, in my mind is the unreasonable belief of rightness despite facts to the contrary. It is a baseless, cowardly thing.
If we do not open ourselves to challenges, we are no better than believers. Atheism is a process, much like science. Through re-analyzation, questioning and learning, our awareness of the universe evolves. Religion is a belief. Lack of religion is a law. It must be tested, modified and held up to peer review again and again until all disputes are proven false.
That is why I welcome opposing opinions. That is why I participate in debates.
My friend feels the same way. He welcomes mutually respective talks. His answers are always thoughtful, interesting and rational. When I invited him here, it was with the promise that our relationship as fellow geeks would not change.
Only it did.
The last time I spoke to him, he was browsing the sight and reading arguments. He voiced exasperation on how many of the 101 Bible Contradictions were merely quotes taken out of context.
I told him to counter it. As long as his posts were polite, filled with passages to support this 'out of context' argument and rational, he'd be met with equal respect. As a warning (because I really didn't want to see him smeared) I reminded him that everything he took on faith or for granted would have to be backed up with quotes or evidence out of the Bible, because most of us here could quote it back word for word out of the very same books he learned from. Faith wasn't a legitimate argument, because it was subjective. He went quiet for a moment, then said he'd need more time to consider joining the discussion. Then turned off his IM.
That was weeks ago. I haven't heard from him since.
When I send him a hello online, he doesn't respond. When I see him in game, he doesn't acknowledge me.
It's been a few weeks now, and we've obviously gone from talking a few times a day to not at all. No reason was provided.
I've since given up and stopped messaging him. For some reason, I've yet to hit the delete button, though. I'm not sure what stops me. Perhaps it's.....faith.
If some bit of reason sank through, his entire life, career and direction have been destroyed. I can't imagine how hard that would be. So I guess I'll keep his name on my contacts list. Even if there is a small chance he ever needs anyone to talk to, I know I'll be there.

Views: 27

Comment by Jim Turner on June 15, 2009 at 11:19am
I remember from my time as a Christian that if anyone pressed me too hard on why and what I believed, I tended to back away. Putting your faith on the line in an atheist forum is tough for most believers, in fact there are only a tiny minority who can deal with the 'attack' on their faith and stick with it. Maybe when he came here and looked around the site he realized that you were really serious about your atheism - after all, if he thinks through your position to its logical conclusion, you basically think he is not only wasting his life as a pastor, but is also leading other people astray at the same time. It's tough to maintain an honest relationship when you realize that, however friendly you were at one time.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on June 15, 2009 at 11:37am
Oddly enough, we've talked about that. I'm atheist, not anti-Christian.
I honestly believe he does good works. Charity, social programs, urban clean ups... those are awesome things. If we lived in the same country, I'd volunteer and work with him myself.
Even when it comes to his beliefs, I like the fact that he followed his heart enough to set aside material wealth and do something he's passionate about. I honestly do not believe his life is a waste, and I've told him this on numerous occasions. The only time I've got a problem with religion is when it becomes a choice between faith and civil rights/human rights. He's always pretty much been live-and-let-live. So am I. Always assumed that's why we were always cool with each other......I dunno. It's confusing and sad.
Comment by Serotonin Wraith on June 15, 2009 at 11:50am
If he hasn't deleted/blocked you from whatever online messenger you're on, there may be hope. If he really didn't want to bother with you I expect he'd have done that.
Comment by Reggie on June 15, 2009 at 12:01pm
Definitely keep his contact information. You can't know what he is thinking, but you can always be there with a friendly hand if and when he decides to resume your friendship.

An interesting point about his life being a waste. You don't see it that way because you value the works he does. He may see it differently and remain unconvinced about what an atheistic message means to him and his meaning in life.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on June 15, 2009 at 12:03pm
I dunno if he has or not. You don't get a notification if you've been deleted or blocked, the messages just stop being visible to the in-coming party.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on June 15, 2009 at 12:06pm
Well, I can't really counter what he thinks except for what I already told him (what I posted to you)
And I told him that long before the T/A invite came up... reinforced it plenty of times in day to day conversation.. asking about his projects, rooting him on, ect.
I just don't know. I don't even know WHAT he might be thinking......weird and sad. :(
Comment by Godless Girl on June 15, 2009 at 12:29pm
Perhaps this is an example of what can happen when religious views come before relationships. I also encourage you to keep his info for a future time. I hope he gets back in contact with you. I remember cutting off contact with one online friend when I was a Christian because I was influenced to think that atheists could only being me "down to their level" and were an unhealthy influence on me. It may not be the case here, since you and he have obviously met in peace quite often w/o differences being a problem. Still, give him time and try not to worry about things out of your control. I hope it gets resolved.
Comment by Reggie on June 15, 2009 at 12:47pm
Hope it works out for the better, Misty.
Comment by noisician on June 15, 2009 at 2:20pm
It may well be that your rationality is starting to sink in with him and it's shattering his world view.

As an aside, Matt Dillahunty, the host of the weekly TV show (and podcast) The Atheist Experience was a Southern Baptist for many years, and only after studying to be a minister in the seminary for several years, did he see the light of reason and begin to doubt his faith. Finally he came out as a non-believer only days (I think) before he was to be ordained. Very interesting to hear him talk. Highly recommended show (the TV show has been running for over 10 years!).

Unfortunately, your friend spends enough time away from you and tries not to think too hard, it is very possible he'll be able to repair the cracks you've made in his faith.
Comment by CJoe on June 15, 2009 at 10:07pm
So, as an ex Christian, and one who had many Christian friends, I'm going to let you in on the "group think". *

Doubt is the ultimate threat to a Christian's faith. They will avoid EVERYTHING that may cause doubt, which is why they're so against reading much besides the Bible and "literature" stamped "Christian". They boycott movies and novels like The Da Vinci Code because things like that cause doubt. They realize Satan's talons can dig in and drag them away with very convincing "lies" at any time, so instead of putting themselves in a situation where they can "fall", they shut down and cut out whatever it was that was causing them to doubt.

I've decided that doubt=intuition. It's a survival instinct. They've completely stunted its growth in their brains. They don't even know what to do when it kicks in; their eyes just sort of glaze over and the dialog seems to come to a complete halt. It's pretty amazing. Maybe his brain will kick back in soon...


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2020   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service