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...




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First question I have for you:  how old are each of you.  I know several men of 30+ who were once pledged to become priests and are now atheists.  I also know of men and women who went from drug addicted callous teens to Bible-thumping Christians.


I'm CERTAINLY not accusing you of being a drug-addicted late adolescent person who will someday repent for your sins, (and guilt) by joining a monastery! But I'm saying, at my old age, about 64, that I've seen a lot in my life, longer than yours, I suspect.  


When I was a teen, one guy and I used to play naked, wrestling around, having a great time. He, now devoutly religious with a ministry, me, an atheist gay man, who lives 20 miles from him.  We respect each other, but never will we be close again.  Some things in life you cannot avoid, we accept life as it lays down before us.  You will NOT lose your friend forever if you respect him as a human being and he does the same with you.  More likely, he will discover his faith is flawed than you will suddenly see a Christian light.  Hang in there with him, just give him the space to explore his world, as you have given yourself that same opportunity.  


Worst outcome, you simply don't agree, but remember your wonderful times together when you were younger.





we're both 18. 

i feel that even if I wanted to believe, I've read too much about atheism to allow religion to control my life again. But who knows. 

I respect him more than anyone else I know.


thank you for the reply!

More than happy to remember being 18 and sitting in my best friend's red convertible in his family's driveway, at 12 midnight, and having discussions like this, both of us sober, both of us too young and not in college yet, and discussing sexuality, (him straight, me gay, and not "out")....


We thought that would split us up, this was 1965........being gay was super NOT cool then.......religion NEVER bothered us then, him raised Catholic, me Protestant.


Then there was our mutual friend, the atheist, fellow student, high school senior, we liked his perspective on life, openness to inquiry.


You and your buddy are best friends because you are probably the most honest and open guys with each other.  THAT'S what you both respect about each other, your honesty. Pity there's so few 18 year olds so open and honest in your neighborhood.. but at least you have each other.


Remember you two probably only met in the last few years, and didn't spend that many hours a week together, he spent more hours with his family, church, whatever, to get him to where he is in that thinking.  You're not about to reverse 18 years of his indoctrination in a few hours of late night talks.  You both like and love each other, don't spend a lot of your time at 18 years old talking about this stuff, there's a world of discovery for BOTH of you in the next 10 years.  Spend your times together at the beach, at parks, playing fund games, being physical, going skiing, waterskiing, playing BBall, whatever you love to do together, even chess, whatever!!!!!  Enjoy being 18 together, my young friend............more important than philosophy, which becomes much more significant when you're facing your first tragic loss in life, as we all face someday, sometime,  my dad died when I was 21.......that was the beginning if adulthood for me, enjoy those last few precious moments of being kids together.....the rest will resolve itself, because you are well on the way of figuring out what is best for YOU!!

I've known him for about 12 years now actually. We've spent every weekend that we were both in town together for the last 12 years. His dad died last year in the middle of the night, and my uncle and grandfather both died around the same time. So we've had to face the cruelties of life. 


does that change things?

Like the guys 24l284qv8z3p7 referred to, I thought I was going to be an Episcopal priest when I was 18. All it took was a year of college to turn me around completely.


I think a lot of people who are calling themselves atheists are taking a position that is actually almost a religion in itself. Their hatred of and disdain for religion may be forcing them to take the extreme position since they couldn't launch the same campaign from the far more reasonable and defensible agnostic position.


If your friend wants to call you an agnostic and you prefer the position I take, "atheistic agnostic," what's more important, splitting hairs the way you want or keeping your friend?

Pretty cool and sound advice, I'd say.  Nelson said it in much fewer words than I did.  Same message as mine, but I just added, the momentum is in favor of your buddy coming around to your way of thinking, more than the chance you'd go HIS way.  


But Nelson is right, keep the friendship, save the discussions of this topic, for the price of the friendship, if need be.

Whoa, I just had a daja-vu moment reading that. lol  :)


Seriously though, he seems like the intolerant type. So if you value the friendship, it will be best if you can just get him to agree to disagree. However, if he presses you then you will probably have to address what he comes forward with. If you just ignore it, he'll claim that you're close-minded or be quick to cry that you aren't taking him or his faith seriously. That you just want to sin, sin, sin... So that option leaves you looking bad to him, and he may just change his attitude about you fully. And not in a good way. Conversely, you could also seriously reply to what he presents you. Remain honest and factual, pull the arguments and fallacies apart, but remain respectful. With any luck, he will see that you are serious, know  the subject, but still value the friendship. However, my gut tells me that he'll react to any corrections as if they are persecution, that you are doing the Devil's work or just plain making stuff up. Again, the friendship will be on shaky ground (from his end). Damned if you do, damned if you don't. My suggestion would be to try to agree to disagree, but getting him on board may be a challenge. Good luck!



My best friend from 4th grade through high school, was(like me) an atheist.  We discussed, argued, and debated constantly about everything.  In his second year in college he reconverted to catholicism and is now a apologist for the catholic church.  He dropped me as a friend, would not respond to my missives, and would give absolutely no explanation of why he relapsed.  I miss my friend, but I do not miss what he became.

You seem to represent something in his life for which he has regretful feelings.  Perhaps there was some lust on one of your parts?  Just speculating, not accusing.  There is a certain comfort in absolutes, not available to atheists like me, (us?). 


I would advise finding people more important to replace him, (if not in your life already), and to let this go.  He is presently un-reachable... for whatever reason.  A strange turn of events,  probably without explanation for you or any of us.  This happens often with those who were once close, and later return to their fantasy world, for no rational reasons we can imagine.


Religion is mostly a psychological device, working her wonders upon the deep psyche's of our friends and family, for unexplained reasons, probably having to do with childhood trauma, deep sense of loss, whatever. We will probably never know why people return to their religion, or deeply embrace and cloud themselves in another religion.   One of my childhood friends grew up Christian Scientist, left that for a floozy right wing religion only practiced by a few thousand in the USA, I will never know why, but he's on his fourth wife, second in that same religion, something there??? Not sure.

The issue, for me is resolved, but I would like to know what made him reconvert, my suspicion is that he is someone who becomes that which those around him reward and support.

People handle problems differently but I would remind him of his dream and tell his you supported him and never threatened the friendship over it because it does not change who he is.

   The truth is that as we move through life people come and go. Even the best of friends fade with time. The best thing to do is let them go on good terms. I've had many friends but only two like the one you describe. One is no longer around but I check on him from time to time on facebook but we just sort of drifted apart with time.

   Don't allow him to pull the moral high road mess and stand your ground. This is when you find out just how good of a friend he really is. Your going to see his morals and loyalty soon but I wouldn't compromise mine to accommodate his. Remember the person you need to be happiest with is you. Good luck.

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.


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