Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

"It was just a test of your faith, honey. And guess what? YOU PASSED."

I'll just +1 everything NSMike said; that was an awesome post.

I have nothing to say other than I hope it is something you both can work through with honest conversation. Is this the first time you both have had a real conversation on faith, the afterlife, and other matters of religion or mysticism?

Personally, I cannot fathom the theological divide some people experience. Typically my Muslim and Protestant friends cannot and would not marry outside of their faith; even that they might be disowned by their families for even openly dating outside of the faith. I know Catholics and Jewish families that raise their children in both faiths-attending church and synagogue as a family, receiving sacraments and Bar/Botmitzvas. I know Pagans with Christian spouses. Hell, my aunt in Chicago is not of any christian denomination but was actively Wicca and her husband is the son of a Baptist minister.

Then again, not having a deep faith belief has been a requisite of mine for a mate for a long time, and my wife and I are very happy to have found non-believing spouses. And I ended up breaking it off with my girlfriend before my wife when her belief in ghosts, spirits, and crystal power set my teeth grinding.

So I will never quite get why this can become such a dividing line.

Thanks for the post NS Mike. I am going to give her time to think, cool down, and hopefully be ready to talk. She is the one who stated that she doesn't know if she can be in a marriage without God. It is frustrating because I feel sue has gotten much more religious as I have moved in the opposite direction. I hope that she can come to terms and realize that I am not out to poison our children s minds and just want respect for how I feel.

Ultimately that's all you can do. I'm married to a non-devout catholic, and I never minded baptisms and the like. I don't mind religion in general and can see positive aspects in it. But I also wouldn't pretend to be devout for someone else, and I wouldn't expect someone I married to give up a belief in god. Hopefully things work out where you can both believe in what you want to believe.

That's rough, Yoreel. Sorry you're going through that. Did she know you were agnostic and thought it was just a phase or something, only to lose her sh*t when she found out you didn't believe at all?

IMAGE(http://i.qkme.me/3v9vhf.jpg)

Over the past few years I have slowly moved from agnostic to atheist. Although I think part of my hesitation in going all out was this exact confrontation. I have always been a big critic of religion and we had numerous difference of opinions on certain ideas but nothing this drastic. I think it was the added emotional impact of how I would interact with our kids combined with the acknowledgment of atheism. Me saying when you die that is it (paraphrasing) and that there is no God. In my opinion kinda pushed things to the next level. I guess time will tell how she will. Continue to react. All I can do is be patient and reinforce that I love her and the girls and that I'm not any different.

Yoreel wrote:

My wife randomly brought up the afterlife the other night

Randomly? Like, by a dice roll or from a deck of cards with conversation topics?

It was lurking in her brain already; why?

Yoreel wrote:

and how I would explain it to my daughters.

You, as the father, have the exclusive duty of religious education?

Yoreel wrote:

1.5 and 6 months old.

Their age suggests to me you have a bit of time; generally, metaphysical issues can wait until the matter of not sh*tting oneself is sorted.

6 months is certainly within the possible duration of postpartum depression.

Yoreel wrote:

she feels I will take God away from our girls.

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

Perhaps, by way of counseling, the two of you could speak with a mental health professional?*

*i.e. not a f*cking pastor.

My wife's parents are missionaries. As a result my wife is kinda meh on religion. In fact many "preacher's kids" end up this way because being told what to believe by your parents can cause kids to rebel. All of that is to say that you can raise the kids with Christian "values", send then to Sunday school and they can still turn out how they want to turn out. I can't imagine a parent trying to control this leading to anything good. Not that helps you, Yoreel, but maybe you mention that you plan on raising them with the values she believes in, but ultimately your level of control is low. As it should be. They grow up to be individuals.

Wife is out for coffee with friends, no doubt working through some of this. I'm hoping that she is ready to talk more when she gets back as I have been thinking about this all day ( slow day at work did not help)

HP, The afterlife stuff wasn't dice roll random, she had been reading about a local girl who passed away recently from cancer and was only 10, so the possibility of something tragic happening was somewhat in her subconscious. I'm hoping that we don't have to hit up counseling and I agree, the girls are still super young, and I solely cannot remove God from their lives. I'm hoping that the previous discussion was more of a knee jerk reaction to having her world shook up.

DS, thank you for the point of view. After thinking today, me having a low level of control in regards to their spirituality is something that I'm willing to discuss with my wife especially at a young age. I know my wife will not be filling their heads with extreme doctrine, as she is not extreme in any way. It will be God loves you, and always watches out for you kinda stuff, which I'm ok with, but personally cannot get behind. All I want is to be able to be a voice of reason that can expose my children to many types of religions and points of views to arm them as well as I can to make their own decisions when the time is right.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

Yoreel wrote:

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

*thumbs up*

Yonder wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

There is no god but Yoreel, and the name of his prophet is Yonder.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:

IMAGE(http://i.qkme.me/3v9vhf.jpg)

You owe me a new keyboard!

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:
Yoreel wrote:

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

*thumbs up*

Yonder wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

There is no god but Yoreel, and the name of his prophet is Yonder.

His name was David Yonderson.

Mixolyde wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:
Yoreel wrote:

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

*thumbs up*

Yonder wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

There is no god but Yoreel, and the name of his prophet is Yonder.

His name was David Yonderson.

His name was David Yonderson.

Jolly Bill wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:
Yoreel wrote:

Just finished talking. I think we made good progress. Lots of tears and hurt feelings but there is no worry about her leaving. Just going to need to work through my beliefs and hers and make it all work with the family. Thanks again everyone.

*thumbs up*

Yonder wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

And the father of a family has the power to remove God?

God is dead, and Yoreel killed him.

There is no god but Yoreel, and the name of his prophet is Yonder.

His name was David Yonderson.

His name was David Yonderson.

In death, a member of Project Atheism has a name. His name was David Yonderson.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
Jolly Bill wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

There is no god but Yoreel, and the name of his prophet is Yonder.

His name was David Yonderson.

His name was David Yonderson.

In death, a member of Project Atheism has a name. His name was David Yonderson.

Enjoy your 15 minutes of internet-meme famousness, Yonder!

Yoreel wrote:

After thinking today, me having a low level of control in regards to their spirituality is something that I'm willing to discuss with my wife especially at a young age. I know my wife will not be filling their heads with extreme doctrine, as she is not extreme in any way. It will be God loves you, and always watches out for you kinda stuff, which I'm ok with, but personally cannot get behind. All I want is to be able to be a voice of reason that can expose my children to many types of religions and points of views to arm them as well as I can to make their own decisions when the time is right.

My wife and I are in somewhat of a similar boat as you. I was raised Catholic and these days would probably be classified as an agnostic theist, while my wife wasn't exposed much to religion when she was young but found faith fairly recently and is now definitely Christian. She's argued that our kids should have a Christian upbringing because it's easier to decide that you don't believe it later on than to be ignorant of the details and have to learn it all first, and given our comparative childhoods I really can't argue against that.

Since she feels more strongly about this than I do, I'm willing to follow her plan. So we all go to church together, etc. When the kids ask me about faith-related stuff I do my best to answer truthfully and in a way that they can understand, and just like a lot of other things I don't offer any information beyond what they've asked about, since that tends to lead to discussions they aren't yet equipped to understand. We've had to deal with the death issue quite a lot, for example, and it took the kids months to work through it to a point where they felt like they understood it. By the same token, I don't believe in lying to our kids, so if they ever ask me about my faith point blank I'm going to be honest. At that point it will be "some people believe this" and so on, and my wife is okay with that.

I think one big issue for you is that your wife is concerned you'll deliberately try to undermine your kids (potential) faith. If you can get past that I imagine the rest can be sorted out. And I say "potential" because with young kids, church is just a place to play with other kids and sing songs. Faith doesn't really come up at all for little ones outside of the death issue, and even then it's not a subject that really has to be introduced. In fact, until kids learn that there are a bunch of different religions and people fight about what they believe, faith may not come up at all outside of whatever you two decide to tell them unprompted.

It bothers me that telling kids about atheism is seen as "undermining" their faith, while preaching religion at them is perfectly normal and acceptable. I'm no relationship expert, but if one person's faith (or lack of faith) is painted in a negative light like that then it seems like you aren't really approaching things from a position of mutual respect.

muttonchop wrote:

It bothers me that telling kids about atheism is seen as "undermining" their faith, while preaching religion at them is perfectly normal and acceptable. I'm no relationship expert, but if one person's faith (or lack of faith) is painted in a negative light like that then it seems like you aren't really approaching things from a position of mutual respect.

+1

muttonchop wrote:

It bothers me that telling kids about atheism is seen as "undermining" their faith, while preaching religion at them is perfectly normal and acceptable. I'm no relationship expert, but if one person's faith (or lack of faith) is painted in a negative light like that then it seems like you aren't really approaching things from a position of mutual respect.

Bingo.

By undermining I meant actively teaching the kid an atheist view rather than, say, presenting different viewpoints. But you have a point.

muttonchop wrote:

It bothers me that telling kids about atheism is seen as "undermining" their faith, while preaching religion at them is perfectly normal and acceptable. I'm no relationship expert, but if one person's faith (or lack of faith) is painted in a negative light like that then it seems like you aren't really approaching things from a position of mutual respect.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/hdHo9zn.gif)

We had this same impasse and we took the easy way out by not having kids.

Hm, I suppose it's worth stating the obvious and say that relationships are about compromise. Sadly, faith is one of the few things people aren't often willing to compromise on. I'm glad that in my case at least, I simply didn't feel strongly enough about the issue for it to become a problem.

Yoreel wrote:

Gut-wrenching family situation

I can't begin to imagine how upsetting that conversation must have been for you both. Really, really glad to hear that you're both on board with continuing to talk things through.

Wishing all you guys nothing but the best.

muttonchop wrote:

It bothers me that telling kids about atheism is seen as "undermining" their faith, while preaching religion at them is perfectly normal and acceptable. I'm no relationship expert, but if one person's faith (or lack of faith) is painted in a negative light like that then it seems like you aren't really approaching things from a position of mutual respect.

This is a discussion the adults can have, certainly. And it sounded like the adults in this situation DID have this discussion. But eventually if a couple stays together they have to go about the day-to-day business of raising kids and they have to roughly be on the same page. It's one thing to say, "Your mommy believes in God, but I'm not certain of this." It's another thing to say, "So that thing you leaned in Sunday school? It's imaginary. Your mom believes in a lie."

There is a compromise in there that doesn't compromise your beliefs. Maybe in a few years the couple drifts towards each other's beliefs anyway. When my in-laws say Grace, for example, I don't have to protest it or find a way to negate its power. I just stay silent for a moment out of politeness. I shouldn't have to do it, but being the "bigger man" is a small price to pay. Do this often enough and relatives often realize they're the ones being pushy about their beliefs.

Well sure, if you really are undermining what the other person is saying then that's bad. My point is that a conversation about atheism doesn't have to do that, and it's wrong to assume that it will. As you point out in your post, it's perfectly possible to have a conversation about belief where one person explains why they believe and another person explains why they don't believe without either person trying to prove the other wrong.

DSGamer wrote:

It's one thing to say, "Your mommy believes in God, but I'm not certain of this." It's another thing to say, "So that thing you leaned in Sunday school? It's imaginary. Your mom believes in a lie."

That would work as long as the mother was also telling the children that their father didn't believe in god and that he could be right that there wasn't any all powerful deity who saw and judged all.

But, unfortunately, faith doesn't work that way. It has to be presented as the absolute truth and something never to be questioned.

Again, it's the double standard and privilege factor of religion.

OG_slinger wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

It's one thing to say, "Your mommy believes in God, but I'm not certain of this." It's another thing to say, "So that thing you leaned in Sunday school? It's imaginary. Your mom believes in a lie."

That would work as long as the mother was also telling the children that their father didn't believe in god and that he could be right that there wasn't any all powerful deity who saw and judged all.

But this is not how religion works. Religion is faith and unquestioning at times. A couple should talk this through, but asking your spouse to give 100% equal time to the alternative viewpoint isn't compromise. That's the first step towards divorce.

Keep in mind that a couple of threads over we're talking about transgender issues and the right to respectfully be understood and addressed as how you choose to identify. I see these as related. I understand they're different. One is a matter of who someone is biologically and emotionally. The other is a matter of what someone believes. I still find a giant contradiction here. Are people free to self identify without fear of being bullied or ridiculed or not? Do we, as a community, actually respect the values of others? Or only as long as they're liberal values?