Family doesn’t want to discuss religion anymore

December 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm 103 comments


To be quite frank with you Josh, I really don’t enjoy discussing philosophy, religion, evolution/creation, or similar things with you. Our worldviews are diametrically opposed and there is no way to reconcile them. That’s OK. We know where you stand, you know where we stand. Considering that we hold our views very strongly, discussing them with you has become both wearying and depressing for both Mom and I and has only seemed to lead to great frustration and anger from you. In other words, a waste of all our time and energy. Therefore, we will try our best to refrain from discussing philosophy, religion, and the like with you. We’d appreciate your not trying to discuss them with us either.

So the rest of us [family] met, and are choosing to spend Christmas Day focusing upon Christ and do presents at random other times during the holidays. If someone has a desire to give a gift, they can spontaneously present it whenever they choose. This will help remove the feelings of obligation to purchase gifts, and focus more on the joy of giving as each of us feels led to do so.


What do you guys think? Is it normal for me to lose all respect for my dad after this letter?

The very gall to insist that they indoctrinate us kids and then refuse to discuss the issues with us when we get older… the double standard is just ridiculous.

And then to claim that our difference in worldviews is “OK”? He is teaching my little sister that I am going to hell!

Am I right to be this upset?

– Josh

Entry filed under: Josh.

Morality: How it Works The Intelli gent ly Designed Post

103 Comments Add your own

  • 1. LeoPardus  |  December 16, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    My initial response upon reading this is tremendous “upsetness”. I will refrain from further comment until I have had some time to think about it carefully.

  • 2. vjack  |  December 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Yes, I’d certainly be upset too. The thing is, I think that many atheists will find that something along these lines is the only way they are going to get along with ardent Christians – simply agreeing not to discuss religion or religion-related subjects. In my experience, this only works as long as both sides are serious about honoring the agreement. I have been told similar things, only to have the religious folks continue to bring up religion and then get upset when I criticize it. For this to work, the topic has to be off limits to everyone.

    What I personally find most upsetting about this email is the “spend Christmas Day focusing upon Christ” part because I would take that as a big “fuck you.” Basically, that is saying that you aren’t welcome at their Christmas, and yes, that would certainly piss me off.

  • 3. Becky  |  December 16, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Actually, I think it is okay… basically it is saying that you all agree to disagree and to leave it at that….

    After having too many arguments with my family over religion, it has been better just not bringing it up anymore… like your dad said, you both know where the other stands and aren’t going to agree anytime soon.

    It is annoying that there are double standards… but at least you shouldn’t feel like you need to save or convert anyone 😉

  • 4. BigHouse  |  December 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I agree, Josh, that is upsetting. I envision having a similar conversation with my parents if I ever got to that point.

    So, let me turn it around to you in a constructive way: What reaction from your Dad would be the best/most appropriate for you?

  • 5. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm


    After 20+ years of being indoctrinated, I just want my dad to be open to learning new things and to admit when he is wrong or does not know something. I also want him to recognize just how much awful pain his teachings and behavior caused me to go through. I don’t even want him to necessarily leave the faith!

    I mean, it isn’t that hard, is it?

  • 6. amy  |  December 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I don’t know, Josh. I think I recall reading (either here or on your blog–sorry I don’t remember–I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately–it may not even have been you) about your own level of frustration regarding the discussions you’ve had with your dad over religion, how he shuts down and stops listening. Personalities generally don’t change much, and I can’t imagine future conversations in the same vein ever improving. And apparently they upset him as well.

    I can see how you would see the Christmas thing as a big “fuck you” as vjack said, but in a way it was good of him to give you a heads up–would you really want to be at that family celebration if they are making it all about something you no longer believe in and something that tends to upset you?

    I would try to look at it as an easy out for you not to have to worry about how to handle the whole Christmas thing–get some Chinese food and take in a film 😉

    Bottom line: yes, you are justified in your feeling of upsetness. But what does that get you? My advice is to try and let it go, as much as you can. Of course, that’s easy for me to say–my side of the family is the nonreligious one…

  • 7. LeoPardus  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Did some thinking over lunch after the roast chicken sandwich and fries and reading a chapter of “Rise to Revolution’ to clear the cobwebs. 🙂

    Our worldviews are diametrically opposed and there is no way to reconcile them. That’s OK.

    True but not OK.

    great frustration and anger from you

    If they are seeing you getting agitated, then that’s bad. You’re ONLY approach is total, intellectual calm. Let them get agitated, but you must be better. (“above reproach”)

    . In other words, a waste of all our time and energy. … We’d appreciate your not trying to discuss them with us either

    ’cause we aren’t winning.

    So the rest of us [family] met, and are choosing to spend Christmas Day focusing upon Christ

    Like other said, “BIG FUCK YOU”

    Is it normal for me to lose all respect for my dad after this letter?

    I think it probably is.

    The very gall to insist that they indoctrinate us kids and then refuse to discuss the issues with us when we get older

    THIS is one thing that I do think they need to hear back from you.

    And then to claim that our difference in worldviews is “OK”?

    Like I said, it’s not.

    He is teaching my little sister that I am going to hell!

    Case in point.

    Am I right to be this upset?

    Probably. Now to deal with it.

    So now to the main point.
    I really don’t enjoy discussing philosophy, religion, evolution/creation, or similar things with you.

    Of course he doesn’t. He gets trounced. And he ends up seeing his dearly held beliefs being shown as silly.
    You dad at least can say that you’re smarter and can beat him in any argument. But ya know; my wife is smarter than me by a good deal. (Her IQ is known to be in the high 140s.) She’s historically beaten me in most arguments. But when we have talked about this issue, she’s been trounced like a freshman undergrad being dressed down by a full professor. The problem is that the faith really is silly and infantile.

    Like your dad, my wife will not discuss this matter anymore. Why? Because she’s been brought right up to face the fact that the most important thing in the world to her is utterly empty, silly, baseless, etc.

    Do you remember the distress and horror we felt at the cusp of going into unbelief? Your dad and my wife have been brought up to that precipice by you and me. They got close, looked into the abyss, and quailed in complete terror. Then they pulled back, crawled into a hidey-hole and became angry with the ones who showed them such a terror.

    Toward the end of WWII, George Patton forced German citizens to pass through the concentration camps. Some were so grieved they committed suicide over what their country had done; some swore to make any amends they could; some turned their former love of the Führer to hatred; most returned to their lives shaken and with nightmares; and some, perversely, hated Patton. They hated him for making them face a truth they didn’t want to know about.

    You and I and other hereabouts are, to believers in our lives, like Patton was to those Germans. We bring them face-to-face with something there frightens the ever-loving shit out of them. And they don’t like it.

  • 8. Joe  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I am a Christian, so my view I will admit is swayed by that, but I actually hear a desire for peace in your father’s statement. He mentions your “anger” and we have no way of knowing what you have said to your Father and Mother—what is cordial? Was it insulting? We really don’t know.

    He is saying he does not desire to discuss religion as it will lead to argument. He says “the rest of the family” will center on Christ—as I take it they are believers. He is just saying that he will avoid discussion with you concerning religion, while holding on to what he and the rest believe.

    At leat that is what it sounds like. I see no reason to be deeply pissed off or offended by it. I can think of a lot worse vocabulary that he could have used if he intended to hurt of snub you. Again though, you have only shared a “bit” of your exchanges with your father, so it is hard to make decisions without seeing the full conversations.

    But I can understand your frustration.

  • 9. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Leo, that was an absolutely astounding and excellent response. Thank you.

    Do you mind if I just send that to me dad and credit to “a friend”?

    I can’t talk to him anymore without being obviously upset. Rational, but upset.

  • 10. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    He mentions your “anger” and we have no way of knowing what you have said to your Father and Mother—what is cordial? Was it insulting? We really don’t know.

    Truth is that it always starts out cordial, then my father reaches a point where he refuses to listen anymore (unlike you, Joe), and just stops responding.

    Then I get upset, and I confess my responses are generally very angry. Rational, but angry.

  • 11. atimetorend  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I have been in a similar situation. The problem from my perspective has been that it does not make sense for someone to say they do not want to talk about religion, and on the other hand to say that it is the most important thing in their life and, in fact, the only thing in life that really matters.

    Pragmatically though, a person in that situation just can’t handle the tension. Joe makes some good points in comment *8. Who of us really can handle things like that well over time? So pragmatically it can make sense to want to agree to coexist like that, but I share your frustration about not being able to hash things out.

    The only thing I have found helpful is taking the long-term approach to communication. Rather than working everything out in long conversations, communicating one little thing at a time, and hoping the conversations I want will happen, just over months or years rather than hours or days.

  • 12. Quester  |  December 16, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    It sounds to me, Joshua, that you are attacking your father at the very core of who he is and what he values as a person. You are attacking him where he is most defenceless, and you are doing so because you blame him for the pain you feel. Now you are choosing to lose all respect for him because he refuses to either be your punching bag or drop all his deeply held fallacies at the pace you would prefer. What in your experience has led you to expect any other response? Has your life to this point been filled with people capable of raising all their unconscious assumptions to the conscious level and changing them all- and their collollary branches- at the drop of a hat? If so, consider yourself blessed with miracles beyond and rational expectation I could ever manage.

    If you’ve gotten this far without learning that you can only interact with people starting with where they are instead of where you want them to be, and that changing people is harder than defying gravity (and the result rarley as successful) then look around and think about what you’re doing, why, and what the consequences are likely to be (in your experience, not in an ideal realm).

  • 13. Soulless  |  December 16, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Why can’t people just admit they are wrong and speak the truth like, “Our world view and Reality are diametrically opposed with no way to reconcile them. So you banging your head against our brick wall by pointing that fact out to us is making our delusions very uncomfortable.”

  • 14. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Soulless, exactly.

  • 15. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Quester, you did hit the nail on the head. Not sure what to do about it though. I suppose I could just shut up like he wants me to and just not talk about religion ever again and bite my tongue all Christmas day while they “focus on Christ”.

    Gosh, this is just ridiculous.

  • 16. Chris  |  December 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    My girlfriend is a Methodist, and we’ve talked about our differences on the subject before without incident.

    From my perspective, you’re justified in your anger. But thanks to my girlfriend’s perspective, I understand that (not knowing him, mind you) he probably didn’t intend that as an attack. Ignore the vocabulary and get to the message. He doesn’t want to fight any more. He wants to ignore the issue. Imagine how it would feel to put decades into raising someone only to have them tell you that it was all worthless. He’s also got every right to be angry about the situation.

    Keep in mind that your worldview colors your conversations, as does your dad’s. You should definitely let him know that you took issue with the way he said what he said, but you need to make sure that you’re not reading in something he’s not trying to get across. The “focus on Christ” stuff is built in to that worldview, so it’s not something most Christians would consider anything other than natural. Does that make sense?

    For full disclosure, I’ve always been atheist, I’m not a de-convert. I’m not a believer but I participate in my girlfriend’s church from time to time. (Granted, Methodists are probably the most relaxed group of Christians I’ve ever met.) I thought I’d share because I’ve experienced these sorts of communication issues with friends and family before. I would imagine that it’s hard to not be emotional when talking about it in your case. Just remember that even though your parents had indoctrinated you, the path they put you on has led you where you are, and hopefully you’re better for it.

    I hope I’ve been somewhat clear. 🙂 Good luck with whatever you decide to do from here.

  • 17. Joe  |  December 16, 2009 at 7:14 pm


    I’ve mentioned this before to another blogger, but thought I would share it again. On Christmas day you may want to use “Howard Leight MAX”. They are earplugs manufactured for use in factory type situaltions. They block out the worst noises. All you would need to do is insert them before entering the house, then just nod occasionally and smile. 🙂

  • 18. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    lol, okay Joe. Thanks.

    Guys, I seriously don’t know why I can’t just let this go. I want to, I want to just say “it doesn’t matter, move on”, but I feel like I can’t make myself do it. Maybe I’m just hard wired differently, or something. I don’t know.

    I’ve always been this way. Maybe it’s OCD kicking in or something, I just can’t let it go. Gah!

  • 19. Joshua  |  December 16, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    After heated discussion with my dad, I finally told him I didn’t care anymore. If he wants me to come home and bite my tongue, I will.

    There are more important things in life than being right.

    I give up, this isn’t worth fighting over anymore.

    Maybe we can come back to it in the future, but obviously it just won’t work right now.

  • 20. Matt S  |  December 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I have found that a strategy that works for me is to make a few comments that sort of praise certain aspects of faith, and do it enthusiastically. But then, if you’re really into keeping up the conversation or making points, go into something a bit less nice about (their) faith or say the enthusiastic thing in a way that reveals a secular reasoning behind it or something. Once, when talking to my high school-aged sis who’s a creationist (my parents divorced, dad married a wild woman turned fundie, I was raised by my secular catholic mom) I went on about how amazing the redemption story of Jesus was, but what made me realize that it was so great is that every culture recognizes the idea of redemption and had a myth about it – Theseus and the Minotaur, the Egyptian/Sumerian stories, all the way to South American tribes. You make your point that it’s not special, but it’s special/interesting/neat. Does that make sense?

    However, I’m far from having made my peace with my family. Like Josh, I”m kind of frustrated that we can’t openly and honestly have that conversation, and especially why they don’t even want to know why I became an atheist. My only guess is that it’s a fear of change thing or stereotypical conservative “we don’t talk about bad things ever” shtick, because I’ve never given an indication that faith differences or political differences would hinder my love of or desire to visit them.

  • 21. Joe  |  December 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    It’s kind of interesting to hear stories coming from the other end of the spectrum. I support a ministry in India and it’s amazing how families there will literally “disown” a child who becomes a Christian when they are a member of a Hindu or Muslim family.

    The Hindus are very upset as they believe in a “caste system” and feel that the poor of the poor (used to be called “the untouchables”) deserve to be where they are due to a past life. The Untouchables are embracing Christianity as they see clearly that the caste system is a lie, and that all men equally have a chance to be saved.

    But one normally doesn’t think of the other side of the coin where someone from a Christian family becomes an atheist, or embraces another faith, and faces ostracism also. That is very enlightening.

  • 22. Quester  |  December 16, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    I was about eight when I first realized that if my parents did not already believe something to be true, I could not convince them of it. I’ve had a few decades to come to grips with this. My parents want to have serious conversations about faith with me, the kind you want with your parents, Joshua, but if I relent and even approach the topic, my mother breaks into tears and angrily “apologizes’ for not being the best mother, and my dad tells me to stop upsetting my mother. They literally can not hear what I say to them over the sound of what they know/fear to be true. They are wonderful, loving people who go out of their way to help my wife and I, and anyone in need. I will celebrate Christmas with them, talk about work and extended family and shared memories. I will dodge their attempts to reconvert me and thank them politely when their patience slips and they tell me why my deconversion is my fault. I will do this because I love them and owe them for all they’ve done for me, and continue to do for me. Then I will go home with my wife, ranting while driving. When we get home, I will thank her for listening, apologize for ranting, and go online to cheer myself up. On another day I will go out with friends who I choose to be with and can honestly talk to. And it really won’t be noticeably differnet than any other Christmas since I’ve moved from home, except the issue will be my deconversion.

    That’s where I’m coming from, Joshua, and maybe why I’m so easily angered by your expectations of your parents. I envy anyone who can even hope for such rational discussion while I have spent my life trying to learn how to speak within other’s worldviews in order to avoid unnecessary conflict. And it’s nearly all unnecessary.

    What should you do, Joshua? That depends on what you want, and what you can reasonably expect. Do you want your father to look back on every memory of his trying to comfort and teach you and see them as nothing but setting you up for your current pain? Do you want him to share your pain? To reflect it back on his parents? To see that the core of who he is and what he knows to be true has, instead of strengthening and helping, caused such devastating pain to his beloved child?

    If you want to hurt your father, continue as you are. If you want your pain acknowledged as legitimate, come to this site, or see a therapist. If you want to spend time with your father, recognizing what he intended instead of what he achieved, ask him about the rest of the family, and collect the off-handed barbs to deal with later.

    Maybe i’m projecting too much of my situation onto yours, but that’s all I have to offer just now.

  • 23. Blue  |  December 16, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Josh says: Guys, I seriously don’t know why I can’t just let this go. I want to, I want to just say “it doesn’t matter, move on”, but I feel like I can’t make myself do it. Maybe I’m just hard wired differently, or something. I don’t know.
    Josh I have similar reactions with my mother who’s very super Christian and its simply impossible for us to talk about anything with Christianity. And I can really empathize with not being able to move on when you see they’re wrong, or have knowledge that what they taught you is wrong. I have a friend who deconverted to a pagan faith and she’s as strong in her feelings as you seem to be from your writing. I’m not as much anymore, but I think that’s just time. However I wonder if this passion to win the argument with your dad is a remnant of your Christian beliefs and upbringing. In modern American Christianity there seems to be a teaching to hammer the argument home. Don’t let the unbeliever alone, get them with cunning arguments that trick them, never let it go. And then get upset when there is no change. I’ve seen that on this blog from many Christians who comment. Heck Joe used to never let an argument go (though he’s changed drastically and is a treat to read now). I guess I would ask is it better to be proven right, or to be happy with your family as much as you can? Best of luck in any case with this, I have a feeling this is just a first step in a lifelong sore point with you and your dad. At least it looks like he’s trying to avoid conflict at least, just doing it in a really asshole way. I agree with Leo’s view on Christmas day, your dad should be given a big FUCK YOU for that. I also see Quester’s point, do you really want to try to destroy his worldview? What a mess though man. I feel for you.

  • 24. BigHouse  |  December 16, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I think that’s great advice, Quester.

  • 25. paleale  |  December 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Josh, I’m sure you’re starting to get tired of all these random ass people jumping in to give you advice, but here’s my two-cents-worth anyway.

    I am BEYOND grateful that I can go to my parents house and not talk about religion. Every now and then my dad will get into it a little bit but then we walk away from it. Let me tell you, it’s really nice to just sweep it under the rug and talk about how much ass New Orleans is kicking this year in football.

  • 26. Quester  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Re: 22,

    Apparently I’ve been more bothered with that than I’d realized. Sorry for the outburst. Take what’s useful out of it and discard the rest.

  • 27. Monty  |  December 17, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Dear Joshua,

    For me, one point in particular stands out: Your father blathers on about diametrically opposed worldviews, and says there’s no way to reconcile them, but that’s OK – let’s not talk about it anymore. Then all the while he tells your little sister you’re going to Hell.

    Josh: Dad, is it true you’re teaching Little Sis that I’m going to burn in Hell forever?

    Dad: Josh, I thought we agreed not to discuss religion.

    You have every right to be furious! What a horrible thing to teach a young person! I feel for you and wish you all the best.


  • 28. Kawlinz  |  December 17, 2009 at 2:56 am

    I’ve gone through something similar with my entire dad’s side of the family (and I just told this story to someone in email correspondence), and I don’t talk to them anymore because of it. They’re heavy believers in the KJV version of the bible, and after repeatedly being told that if I don’t get saved with them that I’ll burn in hell, I’d had enough. They’ve said that they’re only doing it because they love me so much, and I was willing to accept that, so I had a few questions for them.

    1. If I disagree with god, is it just/fair/correct that I go to hell according to god? They answered yes.
    2. Do you agree that the bible is the perfect word of god, and that god himself is perfect? They answered yes.
    3. Do you agree with god 100% in all of his choices? They answered yes.
    4. Do you think that I deserve to go to hell and be tortured because I disagree with *you*? —

    They’ve tried weaselling their way out of saying yes to that, but that’s what the logical conclusion of their beliefs is. But oddly enough, they didn’t say “no” either. I don’t hang with people that won’t give me the decency to an answer that should be answered in a heartbeat with a resounding “no, of course not, that’s absurd”. And it’s not like I stopped talking to them right afterwards. I’d talked to them a few times afterwards and I still couldn’t get an answer from them, so I knew where I stood with them. That’s all I needed.

  • 29. Outsider  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Joshua,

    I’ve been quietly following this site and posts for months now, and I really empathize with you. I really appreciate how raw you are in your blogs.

    While I was not raised in a religious family, I have been affected by someone very close to me, who for the life of me, I cannot understand why for such an intelligent person could be so misled. I understand the frustration you feel. The reason you are so heated up is because you genuinely care about your family. You wish you could just shake them into reality. From their viewpoint, they are trying to do the same with you. You have been fortunate enough to wake up and see reality for what it is…For your parents, who have made this their way of life, who have embraced this value system, it is incredibly difficult for them to see otherwise. Try not to be so angry at them. What they teach your little sister is delusional. If you pose an example of an angry person, she may have more notions that something is wrong with your “spirit”. Hopefully, when she get’s older she may realize what is right or wrong for herself. You definitely have the right to tell your parents to leave your little sister out of this. It’s unhealthy for you and her.

    I don’t really know what is best in your situation. Every family and person deals with things differently. Maybe you can lead by example. Show your parents that you can live your life in peace and with meaning. You don’t have to make this your primary “mission” in life. Take your time. Don’t fuss so much about the details at this time. Try to enjoy your time with them as much as you can.

    As difficult it is to convert a non-believer, it is as difficult to de-convert a believer. Both can be a life-long process…You may never come to an agreement. As you know, you can’t rush someone into believing the “right” things; It’s a personal process.

    Emotions can run high especially with the people you love, and sometimes we need to take a step back and take a break. From time to time, we all let our emotions get the best of us. I for one know what that is like, and it takes a while to realize that I am responsible for my actions and emotions. I allow my emotions to exasperate my actions/reactions.

    Take a breath. Enjoy the holidays.

    Best wishes,

  • 30. LeoPardus  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm


    Anything I post around here is ‘free and open to the public’ as far as I’m concerned. So go ahead and pass it along. Glad you liked it. Hope it helps.

  • 31. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm


    I don’t have anything specifically planned for Christmas day yet. However, it is Christmas day. We are Christians. There will be talk and discussion of the meaning of Christmas. We will probably read Scripture and pray. That’s what we do. If you can’t tolerate that, then stay away. My only desire was to inform you of our plans so that you wouldn’t think we were blindsiding you. Our goal is not to belittle you, or to make fun of your different beliefs, nor argue about them either. That wouldn’t be nice.

    We would expect you to respect those desires. If you can’t, or won’t, then Ill expect you to not come. I dare say you wouldn’t go to a friends house and start an argument over a tradition their family keeps, in the midst of their celebrating one. That would be horribly rude.



    “I dare say you wouldn’t go to a friends house and start an argument over a tradition their family keeps, in the midst of their celebrating one.”

    Well of course I wouldn’t! Traditions are beautiful things.

    But I thought this wasn’t just a tradition? You actually believe this stuff and are teaching my little sister I am going to hell because I don’t believe it.

    If it is not just a tradition, I am wearying of your sophistry and beating around the bush.

    Am I or am I not going to an eternity in hell because I disagree with you and are you or are you not going to be worshiping the God who will send me there on Christmas day?

    That would be horribly rude.




    Listen, I wouldn’t be telling you all of this if I didn’t honestly care about my family. If I didn’t think our family was worth defending and protecting and if I didn’t think truth was worth seeking.

    I also understand just how painful it is to hear this stuff… trust me, I know.

    Do you want me to just back off, give you space, and keep quiet about my worldview? You don’t seem to have a problem imposing your worldview on those around you… even rejecting and kicking out old family friends based on what you believe – and telling others not to contact them!

    Why can’t I behave with the same brash, imposing, judgmental behavior that you do?

    “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~ Jesus



    I’m probably handling this all wrong…


    I appreciate you being honest about your feelings. I’m surprised you haven’t figured out by now that I thoroughly enjoy it when people are upfront and honest about what they feel – even if they are saying I am wrong.

    I don’t mind being wrong. And I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. Every word of your advise considered.

    I’m sure I am now being as much of an ass as my dad.

    But that is sort of the point.

  • 32. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I cannot comprehend how my parents beliefs are not, by their very nature, belittling of me, insulting to me, and inciting to argument.

    It’s just ridiculous.

    Josh is a miserable sinner who is going to hell. Oh, and we are going to teach his little sister that. And oh, we don’t want to discuss these things with Josh because we do not “enjoy” it.

    What the fuck?

    My parents used to celebrate – regularly! – the offensive nature of the gospel and talk about how they shouldn’t water it down but should teach about hell and Satan and the sinfulness of man without qualm.

    Well, now they are going to know how they make others feel.

  • 33. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    When I was little, I once woke up from a horrid night filled with doubts. This was about the time I started to have nightmares and bad dreams and feel demonic presences and have voices in my head.

    I woke up one morning and had this gut feeling that I shouldn’t go to church. Something was constantly telling me that something was “wrong” with going to church.

    I finally mustered the courage to tell my dad, and I was crying and so upset and frustrated and confused and just wanted him to sit down and talk it through with me… to just care.

    Instead, he beat me. He kicked me in the bathroom to get me to behave… and then apologized. But he still never sat down and really worked through the issues with me.

    He still won’t do it.

    I feel a very righteous anger at this point.

  • 34. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    My fucking dad beat me to get me to behave to go to church.

    And now he won’t listen when I am explaining that my hunch that morning was accurate.

  • 35. dloughin  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm


    For what it’s worth I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s incredibly hard.

    That said, I think your reasoning is OK but your responses have been high on emotion, for sure. Nothing kills the ability to discuss and compromise like heat and emotion, coming from my experiences where it screwed me. Maybe it’s worth taking some time to think through everything and write your Dad a lengthy, well-thought out response that presents exactly what you’re thinking, feeling, dealing with while presenting it clearly and not in anger (whether it’s perceived or real).

    I only say that because the tone of everything seems to be reason mixed with feelings, which in turn makes the reason seem like an attack and a way to try to definitively corner them rather than to work through this.

  • 36. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm


    Already did that… dozens of times. Never did a damn thing.

    Here is an example:

    “Hey Dad!

    So I am going to make an attempt at beginning to explain how it is
    that I ended up leaving the faith. As time has progressed, I realize
    that my doubts began a lot earlier than just a year ago.

    The first doubts I remember were when I was young boy – probably
    around 11. I remember asking you how can we know that Christianity is
    true, when so many other people believe differently. You pointed out
    Josh McDowell’s treatise and I remember thinking “Wow, any book that
    big must be right.” And that was that. So I vaguely remember flipping
    through the pages to try and get a better understanding but it was so
    much over my head that I figured what he said had to be true.

    The second big doubt I remember was probably a year later when I was
    reading some information on Answers in Genesis and evolution. I
    remember reading about evolution and thinking “Wow! This is so
    absolutely brilliant! It makes so much sense.” Then the thought popped
    into my head that it must be the devil who was planting those
    thoughts, because we know from the Bible that God created the world in
    six days. This doubt continued to haunt me for quite some time, so I
    carefully read up on Answers in Genesis and other creation literature
    to prop up my doubt and to build my faith. I even sent a
    letter-to-the-editor into AIG once and got it published when I was 15.
    I was so proud to be a part of the few people in the world who were
    still holding on to the truth of God’s Word. It was quite exciting to
    be on the Lord’s side, standing for truth against the liberal
    propaganda of the world. Deep in my heart, I knew this was not about
    evolution / creation, it was about the gospel and making disciples.

    I really started to have doubts about my salvation. I firmly believed
    that Jesus Christ died for me, but some things just were not adding
    up. For example, in services at church the pastor would say that if
    you had never had a moment where you experience, say, the feeling of
    complete brokenness, you were probably not saved. Or he would say, if
    you cannot remember the moment when you were born again, you are
    probably not saved.

    This always bothered me because it felt like the pastor was trying to
    actually instill doubt, to get people to second-guess themselves. And
    this I did. I did not have a “moment” I could remember when I felt
    exactly like the pastor had said. What if I was not saved? I didn’t
    remember a date. Was it not enough that I believed now? Sometimes the
    pastor would say things like “Even if you believe you are saved, you
    may not be, so make sure.” What if I was one of the poor souls who
    just thinks I am saved but am not? How could I possibly know?

    Around this time, though, I was reading the Bible quite extensively.
    If you remember, you and mom would have us read the Bible for half an
    hour so that we could play computer for one hour. Because of this, I
    had read the Bible several times by the time I was probably fifteen.

    I would often read the Bible for comfort and encouragement. But then I
    started to come across passages of Scripture that made my doubts even
    stronger. The passages about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit really
    disturbed me. As did Hebrews 6 and 2 Peter 2:20. Jesus said that the
    person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age
    – or the age to come. So when pastors would say that that passage only
    refers to the first century when Christ was on earth, it seemed like a
    contradiction of what the passage actually said. Furthermore, what was
    the point for God to inspire a passage in Scripture that did not mean
    anything after it was written? If it only applied to when Christ was
    on earth, then this means it did not apply for the last 1900 years.
    Why would God inspire a passage like that? On the one hand, a pastor
    would say that we need the entire Bible – every word – for our growth
    as Christians, but on the other they were saying that this passage did
    not necessarily apply today?

    So, in my mind, it seemed that pastors and teachers were actually
    contradicting Scripture when they would explain it. I felt like
    pastors were ignoring what the passage actually said and instead
    paying more attention to their theology. On the one hand, the pastor
    would say at the pulpit that if he ever said anything that
    contradicted scripture, the congregation should trust scripture. But
    then when the congregation (me) thought scripture was saying something
    different, the pastor would just say we were not interpreting it
    right. If we knew the context, and the Greek, etc. we would
    understand. Until then, we were just supposed to accept their
    interpretation and not worry about it.

    One day when I was reading the passage on the Holy Spirit, a voice
    popped into my head and said “The Holy Spirit is a bitch.” Well, I
    just about died. I thought I had just blasphemed the Holy Spirit and
    that was the end of it. If I had blasphemed the Holy Spirit, did this
    not mean I could never be forgiven? And if I could never be forgiven,
    I might as well die.

    Now, keep in mind that it did no good for someone like you to say
    “Joshua, that is not what the passage *means*” because I was thinking
    “Dad, that is not what the passage *says*”. It occurred to me that you
    would often ignore what the passage clearly said because it
    contradicted your theology. This did not make sense to me. I was not
    trying to follow you, I was trying to follow the Lord. Yet I was being
    asked to trust your interpretation, not what I thought the Lord was
    saying. What was I supposed to do?

    The answer – which you have already wisely given – is study. And so
    study I did. I remember pouring over any sermon I could get on these
    passages. I remember spending hours reading the passages (though I was
    terrified of them) trying to figure out what they meant. I read as
    many commentaries as I could get my hands on (many of them online).

    What bothered me is that none of the commentaries could agree on what
    the passage meant, but they all agreed on what it did NOT mean. This
    seemed to me like everyone was trying to hide something. What is the
    point of being able to say what a passage does not mean but not being
    able to say what it does mean? At this time, I began to realize all
    the pastors I had studied interpreted the Bible through the lens of
    their theology, they do not get their theology from the Bible. It
    never occurred to me at the time that they have to do this because the
    Bible passages do not agree with each other (I know you do not agree,
    but bear with me!) Because the passages disagree, they pastors have to
    pick the one they agree with and then make the other passage appear to
    speak their theology. I didn’t notice this at the time, but it makes
    sense to me now.

    An example. What I saw was that if a pastor believes that a person
    cannot lose their salvation, and then reads a passage which indicates
    that a person can lose their salvation (2 Peter 2:20, Hebrews 6:4),
    the pastor will say that the passage “cannot mean that”. In other
    words, the pastor is making the passage fit their theology. They start
    with the presupposition that a person cannot lost their salvation (a
    theological / doctrinal claim) and then either avoid the passages that
    seem to contradict this or try to offer alternative rational
    explanations for why the passages clear meaning is not what it clearly
    says. So Hebrews 6 is just “hypothetical” or 2 Peter 2:20 is not
    talking about someone who is “really saved”. This seemed like
    equivocating to me. It seemed like isegesis.

    Another thing that bothered me was speaking in tongues. I was raised
    to believe that speaking in tongues was a gift that had “ceased”. Yet
    when I studied the passage (in 1 Corinthians 13) that pastors would
    use to cite this, I could not believe just how “out of context” this
    interpretation appeared. Once again it seemed like the pastors I knew
    were reading their theology into the text. In my mind, they did not
    speak in tongues, and did not want to be like the “whacko” Christians
    who do, so it was convenient for them to believe that the gift had
    ceased because then they could judge everyone who did speak in

    Not all Christians are like this, though. Some of them would say
    “well, this issue is not important and I do not let it cause
    divisions”. This is definitely a more humble (compromising?) approach.
    But this does not make any sense at all in my mind. Either tongues
    exist as a gift today or they do not. I cannot see an in between. Why
    is the Scripture unclear enough on this point to allow so many
    believers to have so many differing views? And why is the Holy Spirit
    so absent that there is not a consensus on this issue? If He was sent
    to lead us into all truth, should we not be able to get a peaceful,
    clear, resolution on something like this (especially if God is a God
    of peace and clarity)? After 2000 years of the Holy Spirit’s
    involvement on earth, He still had not been able to clear up some
    basic truth issues like this?

    As I grew in the faith, I began to take the view that the Holy Spirit
    is not absent, it is just our sinful nature and lack of knowledge
    about the Word that cause us to have disagreements like this. I just
    trusted that despite the varying views, the truth would stand, and
    time – combined with diligent study of the Word as the Psalmist says –
    would be the tools needed to lead me at least into a better
    understanding of my faith.

    Well, that’s enough for now, I’ll continue this later. Feel free to
    respond if you want to ask any questions.



    “Thanks Josh,

    This really helps me understand you better.



  • 37. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I have dozens of letters like the previous one in my mail box. I have written him kind, continuous volumes of information – at his request in many cases! – and was always fair and even and kind-hearted and gentle and considerate. That doesn’t work with him apparently.

    My dad’s response was either to say nothing at all after I would take hours to write him, or to give pat little responses like the one in the previous comment that demonstrated he didn’t really give a shit… he would just read, listen, and dismiss. And then I would hear nothing from him. No questions. No further inquiry. Nothing. I would wait weeks… months… and then contact him again – normally after he would make some stupid decision related to his faith and hurt some people around him.

    I have been continually hearing from people who have been hurt by my dad that he is one of the most arrogant people they have ever met.

    He’s a complete asinine douche. He doesn’t listen. And now he is going to get what he deserves and I’m going to treat him the way he treats others just so he can know what it feels like.

    I was the nicest, kindest, most fair little kid – who was trying so hard to be good, to understand the truth, and to apply it. To follow my dad and trust him.

    And he treats me like shit. Just like he does everyone else around him.

    And then he writes me shit like this?

    “To be quite frank with you Josh, I really don’t enjoy discussing philosophy, religion, evolution/creation, or similar things with you.”

    He doesn’t “enjoy” it, so he just wants to stop discussing it?

    What the fuck?

    I’m sick and tired of being nice. I’m tired of pretending like my dad is a kind, humble, and gentle man when he is destroying lives and tossing people who love him aside.

  • 38. amy  |  December 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    And why do you want to spend Christmas at his house, exactly? At some point you are just going to have to give up on this guy. Or you’ll turn into him.

  • 39. Outsider  |  December 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Joshua,

    I know it is difficult, and you are hurt, and no matter how anyone says they understand, you know they don’t. Coming from us outsiders, everything we say may sound sugar-coated. You do have a right to be angry for all the things your Dad did to you. Parents may not always know what is best for their children. It doesn’t seem like he understands what he did wrong. The emotional and physical abuse is definitely unacceptable no matter how clouded one is. It is unnecessary and horrible.

    It seems your father cannot think straight. You can’t reason with someone who is unreasonable. Likewise, your emotions can deter you as well. It isn’t healthy to feed fuel to the fire. What benefit will this do you?

    It seems you have really gone through an extensive thought process and tried to communicate with your dad endlessly. Maybe take a break? You’ve gone through so much. Again, I don’t know what is best, but you can’t keep on pushing yourself. You can try and try and try…then what?…Maybe you just have to stop and just realize the problem is on other side. You can’t change someone unless they are willing to accept change on their own.

    Don’t allow people to break you. Take care of yourself first. I know, everything is easier said than done.

  • 40. amy  |  December 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with Outsider.

    Take a deep breath; it seems you’re snowballing with this anger. You have a right to be angry. You have a right to defend yourself when attacked.

    What is the outcome you are envisioning this herculean effort with your dad will produce? That he will admit you are right and that the paradigm on which he has based his life is false? You’ve provided lots of evidence here that indicates he is not the type of person who will listen, and to me it seems the likelihood of that occurring is slim to none.

    If you want to be right, come here and vent; people will back you up and let you know you aren’t a fool. If you want him to admit you’re right, I think you’re going to be disappointed.

  • 41. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    What is the outcome you are envisioning this herculean effort with your dad will produce.

    Eh, just finally getting it out of my system.

  • 42. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    You know I’m basically directly applying Matthew 7:2 in this entire incident.

    “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    I’m starting to wonder if this is honestly the only way to deal with fundamentalists.

    They say “Agree with us or go to hell.”

    I’ll say “Think with me or I’ll give you hell.”

  • 43. amy  |  December 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Eh, just finally getting it out of my system.

    Oh. Well in that case, have at it! 😉

  • 44. Outsider  |  December 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    We hear ya. It is easier to teach than to follow.

    Vent it out!

  • 45. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Yeah… you know what is so ironic about this?

    I’m doing all of this with the intent of restoring family relationships – as much as it appears it could harm relationships.

    The truth is that the harm is caused by unjustified beliefs that are asserted as fact.

    Fundamentalist Christianity teaches that these unjustified truth claims will rip families apart, so they almost expect it and don’t feel like they have to do anything about it. They just figure someone is sinning and it’s their fault and God will take care of it.

  • 46. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm


    So what would you propose?


  • 47. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    “Before I say anything. Get the freak over yourself!!!!


    First, listen to me!

    That means realizing I am not trying to hurt you and I can actually help you.

    Second, grow some balls.

    Stop being such a coward. That means realizing that even if you are wrong, everything will probably be okay. The world isn’t collapsing. Life isn’t falling all to pieces.

    Right now, you don’t even make it to the men’s room. You think you are being humble, but you’re just being an ass. And hopefully my behavior right now is helping you to see the type of person you don’t want to be. That is intentional on my part.

    Third, give me some time.

    You have pissed me off so bad that I can’t even think straight without being emotional. I am so angry at you and the way you treat people and don’t ever want to admit you could be wrong that it is almost turning into full-blown and pure hatred of you. I think you have gotten comfortable with being able to be an asshole and have people forgive you for it. Well, forget it douchebag. You’re not going to get away with it anymore.

    Fourth, get the freak away from the bad influences in your life.

    Your friends are complete assholes. They are spiritual bullies who don’t have a clue what they are talking about. I could literally rip the theology of John MacArthur to shreds in front of your eyes without so much as a few sentences, simple questions, and scripture passages. But you are too brainwashed to listen to me because it makes you uncomfortable. That’s how cults work. They make themselves appear strong, but they aren’t. They just ignore opposition, like you are trying to do.

    Oh boo hoo! Did my daddy get his feelings hurt because he can’t defend his faith?

    Get over yourself.

    I’m not going to let my father be an asshole or a coward. Sorry, it is just not going to happen. You are going to be a courageous, kind-hearted, and critical thinking individual if it kills me to get you there.

    “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!”


    Wow, even I can’t believe I wrote that.

    Haha, emotional cat just crawled out of the passive-aggressive bag. Oopsie!

  • 48. Outsider  |  December 17, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Yeah…emotions make all of us say/do things sometimes…but you let it out, and it’s okay. It was at the heat of the moment. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Part of the fundy mentality is believing that they are “right with god” and by doing so, much opposition (demons) is bound to fight back. It’s so absurd, and it hurts you that people allow these doctrines to control them. Until they see the absurdity, I’m afraid your emotional words will fool them to think it is you that needs help. They can’t blame their god, so they have to blame you. Try not to take it personally. The more you argue with them, the more heated you get. I’ve been there…It’s frustrating.

    Take a break. It’s hard, but try not to get too caught up. Don’t go crazy.

  • 49. Joe  |  December 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I mentioned before that it took a long time for me to realize that many people on this blog REALLY don’t believe any more. I didn’t want to accept that fact for a very long time. I thought many were just in denial, but still believed. I finally realized that there were many who REALLY did not believe.

    Josh–could it be the opposite is true of you? You know they are believers, but don’t accept that they REALLY believe it.
    Perhaps Josh you need to try to grasp a bit more that your Dad and family REALLY believe. To you it is hogwash, but to them it is very real.

    You mention your sister being taught you are going to hell. If it really is just “hogwash” then realize that your sister will form her own opinions soon, and very possibly will not share a belief in hell at all.

    Imagine if I as a Christian visited my Hindu family during a Hindu celebration, and the whole time argued about reincarnation being bogus, or mocked their belief? Soon my family would not enjoy my visiting at all. When they would hear I was visiting they would foresee arguments, etc., and not look at my visit as pleasant.

    Perhaps I would even have some very bad memories from chidhood also about how they treated me even though I really didn’t believe in Hinduism. Perhaps my Dad slapped me for something I said against their “religion”.

    But what if I could just accept that to me it is “hogwash” but to them it is very real? Couldn’t I just visit and keep my mouth shut? Why not? I KNOW it’s bogus, but I don’t have to spoil their festivities as a result. So you think your family are “religious loonies”—–many people have familiies that are filled with “loonies” whether they are religious or not.

    I agree with a post above. Why not visit, and “honor your father and mother” in your own way. Show that you have just as much peace (or more) than they have, and can act in the most civil of manners. Just my two cents.

  • 50. BigHouse  |  December 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Josh, one thing that is evident to me from your many writings on this thread is that you and your father have a lot of issues to work through, even beyond differences in theology/philosophy. Perhaps it would be best to mix them up together and instead, tackle them separately.

    Also, if I may, a comment on something you wrote above:

    I’m not going to let my father be an asshole or a coward. Sorry, it is just not going to happen. You are going to be a courageous, kind-hearted, and critical thinking individual if it kills me to get you there.

    You have no more right to make your father something he isn’t or doesn’t want to be than he has to impose his theology onto you. Perhaps this is your biggest problem, you want your father to be someone he isn’t. Guess what, it appears he wants the same of you and it pisses you off to no end.

    BTW, I hope pouring your guts out onto this thread is helping you through it. And I hope we have been helpful and supportive of you. It sounds like you need it.

  • 51. BigHouse  |  December 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Perhaps it would be best to mix them up together and instead, tackle them separately.

    NOT mix them…

  • 52. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Haha, you guys don’t really have to worry about me… thanks for all your help.

    If there is one thing I have learned how to do, it is how to release emotional tension and retain a rational outlook of the world.

    You can’t go through hearing voices, having visions, feeling condemned to the point of suicide, and then learn how to look at the universe rationally and reject all of that – including voices you were still hearing at the time! – and not come out a decent person who is probably very resistant to genuinely going crazy.

    Most of my interaction with my dad right now is intentionally turning off the rational part of me to reveal the raw emotion. I could switch back to rational Josh at any moment.

    I find this highly amusing, quite frankly.

  • 53. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Oh, and Joe.

    Don’t be silly.

    I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my dad really, really believes it.

    Heck, I once really, really believed it.

    But why won’t they change their belief in light of new evidence?

    This reveals where the delusion really lies.

  • 54. Joe  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    There was a Twilight Zone episode where this man says “Why can’t everyone just be like me? Why can’t they think like me?” He saw people as cattle, on a bit lower plane than he was in his elite understanding of things. I was reminded of the episode Josh when you said “why can’t they accept new evidence and change their beliefs”? Change their beliefs to what?

    To what you want them to believe? Isn’t that exactly what they are requiring of you? Why be on that same level?

    One has to be careful when one puts themselves on some superior pedastal of knowledge and thinks of everyone else as stupid if they don’t acknowledge what we believe to be true. Many Christians display this fault, and as I have noticed on the board, many atheists display it also at times. The Christian can believe he is superior “spiritually” and the atheist can believe he is superior in “intelligence”.

    I think one can disagree with family vehemently, but still show the kind of respect to them that you would want them to show to you—-even if they are not giving it. Take the high road.

  • 55. Joe  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    I forgot to mention that in that episode the whole world became filled with people who all looked and acted like him. He got so sick of himself he couldn’t stand it any more. 🙂

  • 56. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:08 pm


    There’s a difference between seeing evidence and willfully ignoring it and seeing evidence and incorporating it.

    If being able to see new evidence and incorporate it rationally into your current perspective of the world means more people like me… then yes, I want that.

    Is that asking too much?

  • 57. Joe  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    But what you see as “evidence” may not be evidence to someone else at all. For example there are those who state (because a few scientists have stated so) that there is no soul. The “evidence” they use are these scientists “experiments”.

    Yet there is no place you will find an actual scientific “fact” in an encyclopedia that says “It is a proven fact that the soul doesn’t exist”. And why? Because the “evidence” is only held by a few—while many others still refute it or question it. It is not really a proven fact at all.

    But to the person arguing there is no soul it is “evidence” enough, and he can’t believe that they can’t grasp the truth in it and simply accept “facts as facts”.

  • 58. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Joe, you can’t prove or disprove imaginary things, because they are invented by imaginations and only exist there.

    As such, they should be said to be what they are: imaginary.

    Why project imaginary things into the real world?

    You would agree that the idea of a soul “exists” in the imagination, right? We imagine a disembodied “blob” or something like that existing “out there”.

    Okay. So, we can both agree – and prove it exists in ones imagination.

    Now then, if over time we have shown that a whole host of imaginary items have no correlation whatsoever to the real world (monsters in the closet, childhood imaginary friends, etc.) why do we allow some of them to still be considered real despite the fact that there is no direct correlation between them and the real world other than interpretations that only exist – you guessed it – in people’s imaginations?

    Like demons, hell, or God?

  • 59. Joe  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:46 pm


    Sounds cut and dried. But again if it is so cut and dried then why isn’t it in an encyclopedia as fact? Because it isn’t so cut and dried. The soul to you is an “imaginary” thing—but to many others—and scientists also who continue to do experiments, it has not been disproven.

    Yes–many myths have been disproven. But many say that myths are based on reality in some form. You don’t see scientists or explorers out to disprove Santa Claus—but many scientists stil focus on the soul, and if there could be such a thing.

    One cannot call someone stupid for thinking or believing there is a soul. In my opinion you are calling them stupid because they don’t agree with YOU, not with established fact.

    I’m not saying you are calling anyone stupid Josh—I just meant hat it is possible to think of others as less intelligent than one is concerning “facts” (we call them facts) that really have never been substantiated.

  • 60. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Joe, one of these days it is going to click for you. You’ll go: “oh.” And then you’ll go “shit.” And then you’ll go “wow. This makes more sense than I ever dreamed.”

  • 61. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    But again if it is so cut and dried then why isn’t it in an encyclopedia as fact?

    First of all, why would whether it is in a dictionary / encyclopedia or not determine its validity? Dictionaries are not inerrant sources of information. They only report the definitions of words at the time the dictionary was invented and as such reflect the culture’s interpretation of the world at that time. That’s why we have to update dictionaries. They are not absolute sources of information.

    Second, it IS in the dictionary!

    supernatural: Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.

    magic: any art that invokes supernatural powers

    Therefore, according to the dictionary:

    God and Jesus are magic.

  • 62. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Reality FTW!

  • 63. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Heck, let’s throw everything in there:

    prayer is magic
    miracles are magics
    seances are magic
    inspiration by supernatural powers is magic

    Joe, it is super cut and dried.

  • 64. Quester  |  December 17, 2009 at 7:18 pm


    I can’t imagine anything you could possibly want that you can get by pursuing the path that you are on, except causing pain to your family and yourself. But maybe that’s what you want. If so, enjoy.

  • 65. Joshua  |  December 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Dude, Quester. The pain was already there. I just choose not to ignore it.

    I don’t understand that view at all. That you would hide your atheism from those around you?


    Ignoring who you really are and what you really think fixes things?

    People pick up on cues… their curiosity rages… just let it out. Be honest. Open. So that people aren’t confused by the contradictions between your behavior and what they believe to be true about you.

    Come out.

  • 66. BigHouse  |  December 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Josh, you’ve gone beyond wanting to be accepted for who you are to wanting to hurt your family with words for who they are not. You may well be justified in your mjind for lashing out like that but let’s call a spade a spade here. You’re on the attack, not standing up for yourself.

    Again, it’s your choice but you are increasingly coming off less well in the exchanges. If you don’t want 3rd parties dissecting it like that for you, then maybe you shouldn’t post it.

    And if you don’t want mine, I’ll stop posting it.

  • 67. Joe  |  December 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm


    I said encyclopeda not dictionary.
    I said soul not supernatural.

    I just said if there was an encyclopedia that says “It is a proven fact that the sould does not exist” then I would most likely not believe in a soul, unless they discovered otherwise.

    That is why UFO’s, the soul, black holes, etc. are still pursued by some real scientists. There is enough there to concluded that SOMETHING might be there even though no one has actually seen one.

    That was all I was saying, But hey, I see where you are coming from and appreciate your struggle with family—it’s got to be hard. Hang in there.

  • 68. BigHouse  |  December 17, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Joe, it’s a bad analogy. The encyclopedia is not an exhaustive list of everything that is not true.

    But like many things religious, those that hold views based on faith demand that others prove they don’t exist. But you can’t prove a negative.

    So I turn it onto you. What’s the evidence that souls exist?

  • 69. Quester  |  December 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    The pain was already there. I just choose not to ignore it.

    Pain was already there. Immense pain, by the sounds of it. You’ve chosen to add to it.

    I don’t understand that view at all. That you would hide your atheism from those around you? Seriously? Ignoring who you really are and what you really think fixes things?

    1) Atheism does not define who I am. It (partially) defines who I’m not. I am not a theist or a vegan. I am neither particularly athletic nor financially savvy. It’s not so much that I hide any of these facs, than that I don’t brag about my lack of them when in groups that identify with these characteristics. I also don’t go up to the people I supervise at work and underscore the fact that some of them have kids older than me. This would not make for a happy working environment. I prefer to be vague about my age at work. Keep it “hidden”, if you will. It does not define who i am, but would make certain interactions more difficult than necessary.

    2) Fix what things? What’s broken that waving around my lack of theism could possibly fix?

    People pick up on cues… their curiosity rages… just let it out. Be honest. Open. So that people aren’t confused by the contradictions between your behavior and what they believe to be true about you.

    Or just learn how to relate within others’ worldviews enough to satisfy their curiosity without upsetting them. It’s quite easy. People readily see things that match their preconceptions with little effort on our part. Then find people you can be honest with, and spend your time with them.

    Come out.


  • 70. Rover  |  December 17, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I can sympathize with your Dad. Of course he indoctrinated you. That is what Dad’s do. You will indoctrinate your children with your way of thinking. Perhaps one day they will become Christians and pity what they percieve as your lack of insight. Your Dad probably feels like a failure. He must be wondering where he went wrong. He loves you and from his point of view, you have lost your way. I think it is reasonable for him not to want to discuss religion. He is not ready to consider the possibilty that his faith may be incorrect. There was a time in your life when you were not ready. He may never be ready. At least he wants to have a relationship with you. We all have differences of opinion, Maybe you should except his worldview and stop trying to “convert” him. Gotta go, Oprah’s coming on.

  • 71. amy  |  December 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I don’t understand that view at all. That you would hide your atheism from those around you?
    Ignoring who you really are and what you really think fixes things?

    Not every single idea, perception, opinion everyone has needs to be shared. There are lots of people in the world who are just fine keeping personal issues like their political views, their religious views, their dietary habits simply that, personal. Just because you don’t try to shove your views down someone’s throat doesn’t mean you aren’t being true to yourself or that you are necessarily hiding. I think you are confusing being true to yourself with forcing your views on others. Not the same at all.

    It’s almost as if you’ve gone from being a Christian fundamentalist to an atheist fundamentalist. Maybe it’s just in your nature. I notice my own tendency is to be more middle-of-the-road in both situations–I was moderate as a Christian, and now I’m moderate as a non-Christian. I never felt the need to tell everyone about Christianity, and I don’t feel the need now to tell everyone I think religion is just made up. Maybe Christian fundies end up being the most vehement, angry atheists. Of course, it sounds as though you have reason to be angry, whereas I don’t. So I’ll shut up now and leave you to your anger-fest.

  • 72. LeoPardus  |  December 18, 2009 at 2:21 am


    Don’t discuss religion with them. You’ve been given a pretty direct pronouncement from them that they don’t want to. Flip it around and picture the newly converted evy/fundy who has to talk religion with his atheist parents. It grates on them after a while.

    Give them space. Let them have time (like years and years) to see you being a normal person and not being an angry atheist. Invest yourself now in changing the man in the mirror. Become peaceful; learn to vigorously assert apathy; take up weaving (or whatever); and let them be.

    When my wife became a Christian, her atheist parents thought she’d be a freak. When we became Orthodox, my fundy parents thought we’d be freaks. Over the years, both parents have decided that we are not freaks. (Of course their utterly wrong on that point, but that’s beside the point I’m making here so don’t go off on that bunny trail.) Point is: Give ’em time to work it out. How much time? Dunno. Rough estimate: 10 years, give or take a century.

    Remember what Covey said about ‘sphere of influence’? Right now yours doesn’t include them at all. So work on yourself and let them be. …. let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, seeking words of wisdom, let it beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    My I’m musical tonight.

  • 73. Joshua  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:01 am



    Hey all,

    Thanks to everyone for all your advise. Yesterday I got a lot of shit out of my system and it was fantastic. I feel great today.

    I also feel great because last night I decided to call my dad and begin the conversation by apologizing.

    It was a fantastically weird conversation. Apparently my emails didn’t even phase him – at all. He didn’t mention being really hurt or confused or frustrated and sounded perfectly like nothing happened. It was a little weird.

    So I decided to just let him know how hurt I was all those years and apparently he had No. Clue. What. Was. Going. On. Even though I thought I had made it clear a million times.

    We talked about the whole voices thing and I explained (what I thought was “again”) how I started to have voices when I was young and how much it hurt to not know what to do and that I wasn’t sure who to be angry at for the voices.

    Then I discussed how I got rid of them and how I figured out they were not real by using basically the scientific method.

    [Keep in mind we are both completely avoiding any direct reference to faith at this point… I didn’t want to bring it up… I felt like I had ‘evened’ things out with my email tirades.]

    Anyway, he was – for the first time! – actually genuinely curious about them and how they started and what they were like.

    Then I was able to explain how discovering that the very real voices in my head were not real put me into a massive epistemelogical crisis because how could I trust anyone who claimed to be hearing from… anything (God, angels, demons, Holy Spirit, ufo’s, dead people, etc.)? He actually understood and I mentioned this was still an issue. He was slightly disturbed by this for a second and then said “I don’t know [praise Jesus for those three words]… I’ll have to think about it [praise Jesus for those six words]”

    Then he dropped a bomb on me. Well, it came as sortof a bomb because suddenly a ton of stuff started to make sense left and right.

    He told me that all growing up he had been trying to live vicariously through me… to make me the spiritual person he had always wanted to be. He had put massive pressure on me to be perfect spiritually and to be perfect in his bicycle shop business. This sortof blindsided me because I had never honestly noticed this. He used as a reference a mutual friend who was doing the exact same thing to his son over the last 3-4 years and his son (also named Josh) just went severely ballistic. Apparently my dad saw this and put two and two together and realized that is what he had done with me.

    He apologized.

    What threw me off so much about this was that I honestly had never, ever noticed this. I honestly always thought it was God who was putting all the massive pressure on me… but I realize now that it was basically the aggressive / passive-aggressive tendencies of my dad to try and be perfect through me.

    A huge piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. I’m still trying to make sense of all this.

    The only weird thing is just how my dad’s tendency to live through me meant he was completely oblivious to my actual desires, wants, and thoughts. He admitted he suppressed them all and is starting to see the connection between the way I have acted the last several years and the way he treated me.

    So we discussed how I didn’t want him to raise my little sister that way and he said that they were intentionally not discussing hell with my little sister but were just saying that I believed differently than they do. I obviously asked him how that would work since she could pick all that up via church on her own… and he wasn’t sure how to respond to that. But I was really, really impressed with his attitude. It was completely different than what I grew up with… so I feel a lot better about my little sister’s future now.

    He told me that his attitude with me was basically “Josh can think for himself when he leaves home.” He changed his attitude and he is now trying to let my siblings think for themselves while still at home.

    It sucks I had to be the failed guinea pig, but whatever.

    Anyway, I wanted to say this was a MASSIVE triumph for:

    * Letting your emotions known
    * Being honest and open
    * Being willing to apologize and discuss the hurt and pain openly

    lol, the irony…

    So there we go Quester, that’s why you should come out. If there is one thing I have learned through all this it is that you really might not even know how the people closest to you will respond. So far, they inevitably surprise me.

  • 74. atimetorend  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Wow Josh, that is fantastic. Sounds like you did the right thing getting off on the right foot by apologizing, great job.

    If there is one thing I have learned through all this it is that you really might not even know how the people closest to you will respond. So far, they inevitably surprise me.

    That is a great lesson for life, it has been my experience too.

  • 75. Nathan  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:16 am

    It doesn’t sound as though you were “discussing” religion, but more trying to argue the correctness of your/your parents views. I think religion/philosophy/politics are hugely important. They affect nearly every facet of our lives and therefore should be something that we discuss routinely. However, when the conversation turns from discussion to debate it becomes frustrating.

    I think you are right to be upset. Your father of all people should be the person you can turn to for “life” discussion. If he can’t handle those conversations then the family suffers for it. Hang it there man.

  • 76. Outsider  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I am glad to hear that your father is finally starting to open up. It’s a great feat.

  • 77. Joshua  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:40 am


    Well, he isn’t open to religious discussion, but it means a great deal to see that he is open to seeing how his teaching and attitude can influence others 10-15 years down the road. That’s a start…

  • 78. Joshua  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I’m starting to think that I wouldn’t recommend my approach to everyone now. My dad is apparently a special scenario.

    I mean, my emails didn’t phase him at all.

    How weird.

  • 79. Zoe  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm


    This might seem weird but I’m going to give you a cyber hug Josh. (((Joshua))). I have a son named Josh. He was raised in a Christian conservative evangelical environment as well.

    All I want to say as I have tears in my eyes is say, we parents are human too. Sometimes we know not what we do, thinking we are lovingly doing our best.

    Life is so short Josh. So very short. The communication that is now opening up between you and your dad is wonderful. It won’t always be comfortable, but the two of you apologizing to each other is great. It opens the door to future conversations with greater understanding for each other. Look what you’ve learned from one another already. You’ll be seeing one another with different eyes now. Be patient with the process.

    Your major post # 73 is so encouraging.

  • 80. Zoe  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:29 pm


    Regarding comment # 78. There is no specific method for each and every one of us to use. We each have our own path(s) to make. It’s not a black and white thing. Lots and lots of grey is in there.

    Quester has his story. I have mine. You have yours and so it goes for all of us. 🙂 Some of us fly by the seat of our pants…others mess their pants…others clean up the mess :mrgreen:

    You never know. In hindsight your letters might start to make sense to your dad.

  • 81. Outsider  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Babysteps. It s a good start.

  • 82. Joe  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm


    Kudos to you for the apology. Often that is very hard to do—but can open up amazing doors sometimes. I really hope you and your father can find a common ground to stand on.

    I would mention that e-mails, though sent with all sincerity, will never have the effect a human voice can have, or better yet, a voice speaking with someone face to face. An e-mail leaves out voice inflections, facial expressions, etc. and one can be easily misunderstood.

    It is great you called your Dad Josh. I hope all works out!

  • 83. Quester  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I’m glad I was wrong and that it all worked out for you, Josh.

  • 84. Joshua  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Quester, under normal circumstances I think your advise was pristine.

    After 20+ years I think I’ve discovered my dad is not a normal circumstance.

  • 85. Blue  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Glad its working out for you Josh. Huzzah!

  • 86. Joshua  |  December 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm


    Honestly… I’ve never found apologizing very hard to do. Guess after years of apologizing and confessing every sin to God (including every single lustful thought) I just got used to it.

  • 87. LeoPardus  |  December 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Dads living through sons. Old, sad story. Your dad deserves some kudos for having the vision and courage to see that he was doing that and then admitting it.
    Glad this worked out for you as it did. Might be the first step in a long series on a journey towards healing some things. Gonna take a lotta time though.
    Happy for ya.

  • 88. amy  |  December 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    So happy things seem to be moving in a positive direction for you!

  • 89. Joshua  |  December 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Dads living through sons. Old, sad story.

    At least 2000 years old.

  • 90. LeoPardus  |  December 18, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Post 89 took me a second. BAAAAD! 🙂

  • 91. CheezChoc  |  December 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Agreeing with what amy said.

  • 92. kerrin  |  December 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm


    I think you can be glad for the victory of your parents no longer engaging with you on religions topics. I can certainly identify with having a burden removed once my father-in-law, a pastor, acknowledged he could no longer “keep up with” my knowledge.

    This is a question that I’ve been pondering recently: by trying to disrupt someone’s beliefs and replace them with mine am I not doing the very thing I dislike that was done to me? In other words: if they aren’t asking the same questions I did about my faith why is the burden on me to change them, to get them to believe as I currently do?

    Of course the issue of your sister aside, hopefully you can be there for her when/if she starts to question the indoctrination.

    My current thinking is that if people are at peace with their beliefs, however delusional they may be, why not just let them be? Anyway, I’d like to hear your thoughts about this topic.

  • 93. J.J.E.  |  December 22, 2009 at 5:41 am

    @ Joshua

    I lurk 90%, but I’m just dropping by to drop a few words of encouragement and thanks. I’m somebody who de-converted years ago and still haven’t “come out” to my family, though they probably have strong suspicions.

    Anyway, I look forward to the day that they will engage with me as far as your Dad has with you, but I doubt I will invest the effort soon. Your experience gives me a taste of both the costs as well as the rewards of doing so. And it may indeed hasten that day. Thanks for sharing!

    @ Joe (since I’m temporarily de-lurking anyway)

    Thank you for your consistently (persistently?) respectful and open minded tone. I wouldn’t reply if you had been anything but sensitive, namely because I would’ve felt my argument would fall on deaf ears. So, please see this as constructive. For my part, I have one gripe about one assumption that you seem to be making. You seem to casually assume an equivalence of “belief” and “lack of belief”. I realize in reading you in this and other posts that you may not realize that you are implicitly making this equivalence. But it may come off as extremely condescending, and I doubt that is your intended goal.

    Joshua’s (and my) lack of belief in Christ as such is no different than your lack of belief in Ma-tsu. Certainly Joshua and I are intimately acquainted with some of the details of Christ belief and you are unlikely to be acquainted with Taiwanese/Fujianese sea goddesses. But in all other respects, they are very much parallel. It is the theist that is making the extraordinary claim, whether they be Hindu theists or Abrahamic theists, et cetera. The burden of proof for any claim is on the person making the positive claim.

    You have (perhaps unconsciously) reversed or at least shared the burden of proof and implied that presence/absence of god/soul/etc. are claims of equal stature. And in doing so you ask Joshua to treat his lack of belief in a soul (for one example) as perfectly symmetrical to your belief in a soul, despite the absence of evidence for a soul. Indeed, the soul is sometimes defined as to preclude the possibility of ever adducing evidence.

    I dare say you agree with me unless you consider belief in Santa Claus or elves as reasonable as belief in Allah or Krishna. To attune your sensitivity to this asymmetry that you appear not to recognize, I’ve highlighted a few below:

    #21 “It’s kind of interesting to hear stories coming from the other end of the spectrum. […] The Untouchables are embracing Christianity as they see clearly that the caste system is a lie, and that all men equally have a chance to be saved.

    But one normally doesn’t think of the other side of the coin where someone from a Christian family becomes an atheist, or embraces another faith, and faces ostracism also. That is very enlightening.”

    Here you suggest that exchanging one supernatural claim for another (Hindu -> Christian) is the same as de-converting from one supernatural claim (Christian -> ∅). In the first example, there are similar burdens for Hindu and Christian beliefs. And indeed, both belief systems seem to lack empirical support to similar degrees. In the second case, as there is no burden of proof for an absence of belief, a Christian really must do the heavy lifting. This issue need not be brought to Spaghetti Monster-level theology to get that point across does it?

    #49 “I mentioned before that it took a long time for me to realize that many people on this blog REALLY don’t believe any more. I didn’t want to accept that fact for a very long time. I thought many were just in denial, but still believed.”

    Is it really so hard to believe? After all, don’t you readily accept that Buddhists lack a belief in the divinity of Christ? Do you not lack a belief in Ma-tsu? Are you surprised that Muslims don’t seek salvation through Christ? I could understand how you would find it incredible that anyone believes in Ma-tsu or Allah or whatever, as I agree. But to find lack in a belief in Christ surprising, even from a de-convert? That exposes the bias I’m talking about.

    #54 “There was a Twilight Zone episode where this man says “Why can’t everyone just be like me? Why can’t they think like me?” He saw people as cattle, on a bit lower plane than he was in his elite understanding of things. I was reminded of the episode Josh when you said “why can’t they accept new evidence and change their beliefs”?”

    This post is what encouraged me to write this section of my post in the first place. In short: It is the believers imposing their beliefs on others.

    Everyone is born an atheist and only comes to a particular belief upon indoctrination. How many Koreans or Chinese adopted into Christian homes become Buddhist versus those raised by their genetic parents in Buddhist households? Joshua communicating to his Dad the idea that it is the THEIST that is imposing their ideas on others does not constitute a spreading of his own view in the way that you assert. In general, it is merely requesting that the theists bear the burden of proof that is rightfully theirs. Of course, Joshua may go further with his Dad, but I very seriously doubt he is doing anything more than challenging the veracity of Christianity on evidentiary or philosophical grounds using exactly the same types of thinking as he’d use if he were falsifying any issue in science. It isn’t as if Joshua has an atheistic doctrine.

    Post #57 in its entirety

    The person who makes a positive claim is the one that bears the burden of showing it. By claiming something is “supernatural” or “beyond observation” is shirking that burden.

    #59 “One cannot call someone stupid for thinking or believing there is a soul. In my opinion you are calling them stupid because they don’t agree with YOU, not with established fact.”

    Theists make claim of a fact and then clothe it in language like “ineffable” or “supernatural” or “divine” etc. An absence of such belief is the default state, not a claim of established fact.

  • 94. Samanthaj  |  December 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    just one comment… make sure YOU tell your little sister repeatedly that she doesn’t need to worry about you going to hell – and that no matter what they tell her – you will not go to hell. She will probably still struggle with it… and she probably has very real fears and concerns for your soul.

    I was told my whole childhood that my own father and brother were going to go to hell – and a lot of pressure was put on me to help “save them”. I worried about them – A LOT. Looking back… it was so manipulative and ABUSIVE of my mother and other “Christians” to put me in that spot. It makes me very angry with them when I think about it. I know that THEY thought the were right, and being honest with me – but, I don’t see how anyone can NOT realize how cruel that is at the same time to a child.

    My father told me he wasn’t going to hell. I wanted to believe him. Eventually, I did. Thankfully.

  • 95. Joe  |  December 22, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    JJE (#93)–

    I still have a lot to learn. Thank you for your comments.

    Not sure if you celebrate anything, but have a great New Year!

  • 96. beerfan  |  December 23, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Josh, you have every right to feel how you feel. You should not be surprised about this result though, however frustrating it might be.

    Your father, like most religious believers, is dogmatic. He believes what he believes because he wants to and no amount of discussion will change that. His world view can not be changed unless he desires it. You have to come to terms with that. It sounds as if you have tried to press the issue based on the comments about the holidays (Christmas is fundamentally a pagan holiday after all so there really is no reason not to celebrate it) and, as reasonable as your position may be, forcing your worldview on someone is not much better than indoctrinating a child.

    I sympathize with your frustration and I wish you luck. Alienating your family seems a harsh consequence of standing up for your beliefs. Choose your battles and make sure the goal is worth the losses.

  • 97. luthieneponine  |  December 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Josh, haven’t talked to you for a while, but read your post and the followup and am glad that you resolved some things with your father- especially finding out that he had put an undue amount of pressure on you.

    I just got a letter from my dad too- I think I told you, after I came out, he didn’t talk to me directly about religion for almost a year. He made some generalized comments of disapproval about my decision to not get married, but nothing that actually confronted what I’d told him about no longer believing. My parents were out for a visit a few weeks ago and he left me a letter. He wanted to talk about arguments for the existence of god and intelligent design more than about the specific tenets of Christianity.

    Since this is our first correspondence, I wanted to respond thoroughly and give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s willing to hear an opposing view. I think that his situation is like when you read the Answers in Genesis- he went to some apologetics conferences and you know, everything sounds like a really great answer when only one side is presented against a bunch of strawmen. I don’t think it’ll change his mind, but I hope that he can accept that it’s not a case of air tight evidence, where anyone would have to believe if he could only be clear enough.

    I don’t know how he’s going to respond, but if you’re interested, I can find somewhere to put up what I’ve written.

    Did you decide whether to go home for Christmas, given that things have become more peaceful between you? I hope you have a good holiday break either way.

    Molly in Denver

  • 98. Mystery Porcupine  |  December 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Joshua, I hate that your family is having such conflict. I really feel for you and I definitely understand a lot of what you write.

    This is the thing…you are now an adult. Your parents are adults. Though you were raised by them, and their faith has obviously greatly affected your life, their faith is NOT about YOU. It is about what they need to believe in order to feel secure and okay with life. What you have been saying is obviously threatening to them, whether you mean it to be or not. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. So why get pissed about it? You are soooo angry.

    Look, you are not the only one in this situation. My husband and I are sitting in my Christian parents’ home. They hope that we are in a “phase” of unbelief or doubt. This is the third Christian home I have stayed in so far this holiday season, and I have just had to suck it up. Why? Because I love these people, and they cannot make it without their god. If I force the issue, I will lose my family. So I let it go.

    No, it shouldn’t be like this, but it is. And yes, maybe you are justified in your anger, but are you happy in it? Does being angry and right make life better? Life is a series of compromises, one after another, greater and greater ones until we die – whether we are compromising in our expectations of other people or of our own situations. If we want peaceful family relationships, we just have to let go of things that are not about us. ..which is almost everything. People will usually do what they think is best for them, whether or not it is good for YOU.

    Yes, maybe they are teaching your sister that people like you (and even you) go to hell. But your sister will grow up and think for herself. She will probably judge you based on your actions and your words. If you want her to question what she’s being taught, model things in a loving way, so that she sees that it’s not just Christians who can be loving and caring. Goodness, I even prayed for my godson in Jesus’ name last night, because that is HIS language, and it makes him feel safe, and he wouldn’t understand my language yet. But one day he will, because I am living my language in front of him. And when he learns that I don’t believe one day, he will see a life of love anyway, and maybe, just maybe, the truth will click with him. Maybe the fact that we are nonbelievers and we are loving will make a huge difference over time. That is what I hope….

    Look, coming from someone who has already had cancer and lives with physical suffering – life is too short for unnecessary mental suffering too. Let it go. Observe the things that make you angry. Sometimes just noticing what makes me angry tells me a lot about my triggers and about how to keep from being triggered. Obviously, it hurts you to think about what your sister is being taught. But she is not being taught that because of YOU – she is being taught the same things you were taught. It isn’t personal (even though it is), and you don’t have to take it that way. People grow up and see the light – you sure did.

    And by the way – just because they indoctrinated you does not mean you have earned the right to pick apart their faith. Nope. Doesn’t. What you want doesn’t really matter as far as their lives are concerned. If they admit their faith has caused you harm, then they admit that there is something wrong with their faith. Why would you expect them to do that? I think losing respect for someone, in most cases, is arrogant silliness. Respect people because it is a kind and good thing to do to treat people with respect and dignity. In some ways, they will exceed your expectations, and in some ways they will fail you. Big deal. Your life is not about your parents unless you allow it to be. This is how I’m dealing with things, anyway. Maybe everything will blow up in my face, but I am avoiding it as much as possible. I don’t think god is worth the havoc, since I don’t even believe he exists. 🙂

  • 99. Deb  |  January 22, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Regarding your sister – I spent many years (most of my life so far, actually) feeling awful because I believed (and was told) that my beloved grandmother would not be going to heaven because she wasn’t “born again.” Which of course meant she would be going to hell.

    Now that I don’t believe in hell, I am relieved to feel that she is NOT going there. Of course, since I don’t believe in heaven either, this means there’s no way I can look forward to seeing my deceased loved ones again in heaven, which is sad. But at least none of them will be burning in hell forever … I hope.

  • 100. Kira  |  March 7, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    After seeing (and experiencing) families which implode over issues like this, I agree with porcupineperson above – why don’t you just accept that fact that your Dad tried, he’s not perfect, and try to love him and your family by obeying his request of you? Seems like most these days go the route’s of either severing the relationship, or locking and loading and the end result is the same. Let it go and not only keep your family ties, but do something more – surprise them with some sincere, concerted effort to connect with them on another level, then let us all know if it worked!

  • 101. Kawlinz  |  March 7, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    …And by the way – just because they indoctrinated you does not mean you have earned the right to pick apart their faith. Nope. Doesn’t. What you want doesn’t really matter as far as their lives are concerned. If they admit their faith has caused you harm, then they admit that there is something wrong with their faith. Why would you expect them to do that?…

    Because he’s their son and they claim to love him? If what Josh wants is not of consequence, and they value their faith more than they value the feelings of their own son, then what else can Josh do? Especially when he’s tried having conversations with his parents, and it’s gotten to the point where they don’t want to talk about it anymore. They value holding onto their fiction more than resolving a dispute about having that fiction inflicted upon him as a child, and his sister. It’s disgusting behaviour from his parents.

    The feeling must be devastating.

    …why don’t you just accept that fact that your Dad tried, he’s not perfect, and try to love him and your family by obeying his request of you?

    Josh is trying, I don’t think he claims to be perfect, so maybe his dad should obey his request and not teach his sister that he’s going to hell. If effort + falling short of perfection = compliance from others, then surely the parent be expected to live by the same standard.


    Josh, if you feel angry, I think you have good a very good reason. I saw your update, but I’m curious if your father still believes that you’re going to Hell. I know he’s not telling your sister that, but does he still believe it himself? I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but I’ve gotten many pseudo apologies from my parents. So this could just be me projecting my experiences here, but I don’t know what your apology was for, since I don’t think you did anything wrong. At the same time, what has changed since your father has apologized to you?

    Genuinely curious, because my experience of being honest with my parents is excruciating and I am not sure how much longer I’m actually going to beat my head against the wall.

  • 102. Robert  |  March 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Yes, Josh, I think you are right to be upset about this.

  • 103. Sharon  |  September 26, 2013 at 3:28 am

    My husband abandoned me and the kids for 8 months, and refused to come back because he got hold up by a woman whom he just met, myself and the kids has been suffering and it has been heel of a struggle, but I decide to do all means to make sure that my family come together as one again. I went online there I saw so many good talk about this spell caster whose email is so I had to contact him and explain my problem to him and in just 2 days as he has promised, my husband came home and his behavior was back to the man i got married to. I cant thank the spell caster enough for what he did for me, i am so grateful and i will never stop to publish his name on the internet for the good work he has done for me. Dr Oye you are the best of all.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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