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Atheist Community of Austin
Coming out.

Hi, all. So in the past couple of years I've come out to my large, Catholic family both as a liberal and as an atheist. My first question is, why is it that it was, and continues to be, much easier to talk to them about liberal ideas than it is to talk about my disbelief? They disagree with both views but accept more readily the one which is far more difficult to defend.

I'm thinking it's because when I call myself a liberal they can look back at my past behavior and say, "Hmm... yeah, he was kind of flaky that way", but when I call myself an atheist they see me as either a liar then or a liar now.

I ask that you believe me when I tell you that these guys are not stupid, but when it come to this issue they have absolutely no clue. One of my brothers worked up the courage to ask me about how my world view has changed because he was worried that I'd become one of these "humanists who only worship themselves". I was stunned that this brilliant man, who is capable of such depth, could be so transparently parochial in his thinking.

I was listening to TAE #548 (one of Tracie's best) and was moved almost to tears when I remembered Dumbo losing his feather and Timothy yelling, "Dumbo, come on. Fly. Open them ears. The magic feather was just a gag. You can fly. Honest, you can. Hurry! Open 'em up! Please!".

I wanted to call my brother and explain that I was just going along with the gag all those years and didn't realize some of us were taking it seriously but the fear and guilt came rushing right back.

So my second and final question is, how do I get past the guilt?

Thanks,

Jack from Concho, AZ

P.S. I'm reading "A History of Knowledge: Past, Present and Future" by Charles Van Doren (yes... as in 'Van Doren' Van Doren), and so far I highly recommend it.

Hello Jack,

Just wanted you to know that "coming out" can be one of the hardest things to do. This past year has been a nightmare at the workplace, on the phone, at Christmas gatherings and such.

Keep your hopes up and head high. I understand that it sucks when people who are supposed to love you no matter what start to grow distant because you believe something different now.

I am a Christian and while I have not gone through what you have, I have a lot of empahthy for you. I am 31 years old and I came to my sincere belief in God (and Christ) without my family. And while I am no genius, I am typically regarded as a smart person: I sing opera, I'm a commercial pilot, I've earned a photography certificate from a prestigous school in New York, and I am bilingual. And my belief in Christ has grown hugely over the last ten years. I was a huge doubter to a down-right practicing evangelist! What troubles me is that you have received insults from people who call themselves Christians. I'm sure you know by your journey in the world of Christianity that Jesus says to love everyone. You know: be nice, play nice, give, etc. Atheist, murderer, rapist, racist, whatever: we're supposed to love everyone. Obviously, I feel pain because I know your life won't be easy and don't believe in the same source of joy that I do. But, no amount of convincing can make you change your mind. You probably know that. But please keep an open mind and heart. And know that there are those of us Christians who still think you're worthy to be treated with dignity and respect. Hang in there.

Joseph said, "Atheist, murderer, rapist, racist, whatever: we're supposed to love everyone." You are a sicko, Joseph, and very confused to be lumping atheists into a group with murderers and rapists. Do you remember the Bind Torture Kill killer (BTK) who was a CHRISTIAN PREACHER who raped and murdered women, men, and children for decades? And the Bible was used for upholding slavery and racism until intelligent people (like atheists) said, "Enough!" Get your facts straight. What airline do you work for-I want to avoid it-I don't think I would want you flying me anywhere.

Joseph QUOTE: "What troubles me is that you have received insults from people who call themselves Christians."

What should they call themselves ignorant bigots who are demonstrating their bigotry and ignorance of people they don't know? I guess not.

Joseph QUOTE: "I'm sure you know by your journey in the world of Christianity that Jesus says to love everyone. You know: be nice, play nice, give, etc.

(Ex. 21:2-6) When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free, then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. As a guide to moral behavior the bible is useless.

Joseph QUOTE: "Atheist, murderer, rapist, racist, whatever: we're supposed to love everyone."

This is something that every bigot uses against people that they hate "negative stereotypes." I don't want to piss y'all off, but y'all really do need to stop those atheists KKK from wearing those sheets and burning those crosses on people's front lawns.

Joseph QUOTE: "Obviously, I feel pain because I know your life won't be easy and don't believe in the same source of joy that I do."

The nicety of Christian covering up underneath a facade of moral values doesn't do anything. It's better to know what you don't know than to think you know what you don't.

Joseph,

Do you not realize how condescending you sound? You speak of love and empathy and at the same time lump Atheist with rapist, murderers, and racist. You call that being nice? Like rapist, murderers, and racist, Christian bases their actions and beliefs solely on feelings and emotions. As an atheist I feel that no matter if you are a Christian, rapist, murderer, or racist you are not able to use reason and logic to dictate your actions. And like rapist, murderers, and racist you justify your actions using flawed logic and deny responsibility for the harm you have caused. I feel so sorry that you have lost the capacity to use reason and logic. It's too bad that among all the other thousands of religions you have embraced a Christian belief that has been distorted and manipulated and corrupted since the age of Constantine. And I do not believe Christians actually love criminals that do harm to others, but say they do because they think it gives them the higher moral ground at the same time condone revenge and torture. But because I'm an atheist, I don't have any obligation to love people who rape, murder, or who are racist.

Your Christian belief has been marred by atrocious evil acts in the name of your Lord. The Christian influence in the world has directly and indirectly caused wars, enslavement, and genocide in the past and presently undermining scientific progress that could decrease the suffering and ills of the world. It's sad that you choose to endorse a religion that uses such flawed excuses for a flawed God such as the Christian god. I feel sadness for you that you have chosen a belief that allows you to be apathetic with a God that allows eternal suffering and torture. And like an abusive relationship, I feel sad for you because you feel the need to give praise to a God that behave in such ways. But I have faith in you that you will wake up and see that the God that claims to love you really doesn't exist.

Leysin said, "It's too bad that among all the other thousands of religions you have embraced a Christian belief that has been distorted and manipulated and corrupted since the age of Constantine.

It is not matters of some religions are better than others, or some god is better than another, it is that the entire concept is fake. Religion is something that most people are indoctrinated into at birth, or at a very impressionable age, and is reinforced throughout their lives. People converting to a religion from non-religion are very much in the minority. It is much more common to find people who have rejected religion as adults, even though they were raised to have a belief in some religion. I recall a remark made under some pseudonym; something like (maybe some atheists could find a religion that they would like better) this of coarse indicates no awareness of the meaning of the term atheism.

There are many beliefs to choose from, and they are all based on myth. It is faith in faith, because none of them have any proof that their beliefs are true, and nobody is obligated to prove something about someone's spiritual illusions. Those who claim there is something supernatural need to prove it and nobody ever has. The proof of anything supernatural is nonexistent. The burden of proof is on anyone who makes claims. They all have a holy book that they think it is proof of their beliefs, but all that proves is that people fabricated their our own belief based on what suited them best. They all have a prophet who had visions in which things were revealed to them, but visions are not proof. The vision thing is important because it gives them the authority of the divine. One of the biggest selling points of any religion is the natural fear of death, so, that is one of the major selling points of any religion. Religion plays on people's fears and presents them with an alternative, along with threats of Hell, the frightful consequences of not believing. Most naive people always go for the religion option. Religion is a drug for the masses that atheists reject in its entirety. All religions are nothing more than a way to control the masses by enforcing rules and rulers, and their authority comes from a higher authority that is beyond challenge. Religion is a very effective method of keeping people under control, and is especially beneficial as a controlling factor in places where the population is living in poverty or some kind of oppression. The hierarchy of religions support those in power to convince the masses to accept their circumstance and believe that it is irrelevant, because their reward is in the next life and that is what they are concentrated on. No religion encourages critical thinking because if they did their members would immediately realize that religion is irrational and pointless, except as a means of control.

Atheists dispute the truth of all religions, and the dispute is about religion, not just about God. Atheists do not believe that any religion is true, as well as, belief in God (Gods). They are all based on a falsehood or fallacy, and there is absolutely no basis in truth for any of it. All religions are a man made social devises that has been bequeathed as the word of some god or spiritual leader that is beyond any question, but nothing should be beyond question.

So, you should bury your head in the sand, and accept bad things as something that God allows for some reason, but nobody can tell you why. It is no fluke that the countries that have the poorest populations also have religious strangleholds on the population.

Leysin said, "And I do not believe Christians actually love criminals that do harm to others, but say they do because they think it gives them the higher moral ground at the same time condone revenge and torture. But because I'm an atheist, I don't have any obligation to love people who rape, murder, or who are racist.

The concept that "God is love" or "loves you" can be found in all religions. When they endeavor to prove this they present beautiful images of peace, serenity and doves; by the way doves are very violent and aggressive birds. They never show a picture of abject poverty, starving people, war or any of the well known atrocities in third world countries to represent "God's love", because those things are saved for promoting altruism, and raising money. Many people only see the rose colored glasses picture of God's love, with "Him" taking care of everything, and they ignore anything to the contrary, but it is a one sided picture and is nothing more than propaganda.

Leysin said, "Your Christian belief has been marred by atrocious evil acts in the name of your Lord. The Christian influence in the world has directly and indirectly caused wars, enslavement, and genocide in the past and presently undermining scientific progress that could decrease the suffering and ills of the world. It's sad that you choose to endorse a religion that uses such flawed excuses for a flawed God such as the Christian god.

If you think that ignorance and atrocities are restricted to any one god, or any one religion, you are sadly mistaken. If they believe that their God/Gods are spirituality is responsible for everything in the world than they have to take the responsibility for all the bad things as well. Instead they put the blame on man for all the ills. I don't see how they can blame natural disasters or diseases on man, and not on God, who they say is all powerful. However, they do pick and choose what is "spiritual" or "God's" work.

Leysin said, "I feel sadness for you that you have chosen a belief that allows you to be apathetic with a God that allows eternal suffering and torture. And like an abusive relationship, I feel sad for you because you feel the need to give praise to a God that behave in such ways. But I have faith in you that you will wake up and see that the God that claims to love you really doesn't exist."

Religious belief obviously does not prevent any of these events from happening, but believers are waiting on "God" to prevent them from happening, and believe that he saved them if they don't. However, they never give him the credit when horrible things do happen. If they admitted that things just happen randomly without any actual cause they would have to admit that they are totally alone and they wouldn't have a security blanket. Nothing would really be different in the world without religions; with the exception of the lessening of antagonism and conflict.

There isn't one bad situation that I believe we couldn't address and do a much better job without the expense of religion. People are always better able to deal with things from a position of knowing the truth of their situation. Religion involves the perpetuation of lies. I do not believe that we are solving anything by investing a lot of time and money in myths that are being spread to keep people happy. Otherwise some of them might not so readily accept some of the deplorable situations that they have been relegated to until their inevitable death.

All religion is false. I hope this helps you out.

>> My first question is, why is it that it was, and continues to be, much easier to talk to them about liberal ideas than it is to talk about my disbelief? They disagree with both views but accept more readily the one which is far more difficult to defend.

It seems to me that one is socially acceptable to discuss (after all, news networks thrive on these kinds of debates) where the other is something that has always been assumed to be "off-limits" in your family's social circle.

Also, I find it interesting that you say your liberal stance is more difficult to defend than your non-belief. That made me lawl... and then feel sorry for God.

>> I ask that you believe me when I tell you that these guys are not stupid, but when it come to this issue they have absolutely no clue.

Amazing the extent to which people can compartmentalize, isn't it?

>> So my second and final question is, how do I get past the guilt?

I think this is something that comes naturally to someone growing up in a Catholic environment, no? It's the bread and butter (er... wafer and wine?) of religious indoctrination - to have you feel so guilty about your actions, no matter how trivial, that the only one who can cure you is The Church.

My advice - you had no way of knowing that people 'took the gag seriously' as it were. But now you are being honest with yourself, and with others. What more can you do?

Good luck.

QUOTE: "Hi, all. So in the past couple of years I've come out to my large, Catholic family both as a liberal and as an atheist. My first question is, why is it that it was, and continues to be, much easier to talk to them about liberal ideas than it is to talk about my disbelief? They disagree with both views but accept more readily the one which is far more difficult to defend. I'm thinking it's because when I call myself a liberal they can look back at my past behavior and say, "Hmm... yeah, he was kind of flaky that way", but when I call myself an atheist they see me as either a liar then or a liar now."

I'm not trying to be flip here, but where have they been for the past eight years? Talk about flaky, and how about Rush Limbaugh the ratings whore disguised as a man with ideas. Is anyone flakier? Just listen to any of these fools if you want to know what flaky right-wing crap is.

QUOTE: "I ask that you believe me when I tell you that these guys are not stupid, but when it come to this issue they have absolutely no clue. One of my brothers worked up the courage to ask me about how my world view has changed because he was worried that I'd become one of these "humanists who only worship themselves". I was stunned that this brilliant man, who is capable of such depth, could be so transparently parochial in his thinking."

I don't think they respect your opinions; I think they want your submission. Humanism means the study of the humanities literature, history, philosophy, and so forth. Humanism predates Christianity, and it was the Jews who were humanists who opposed the slavery of the Roman Empire. This is the reason they cooked up a "new religion" Christianity in order to overthrow the Jews and keep their slaves.

QUOTE: "I wanted to call my brother and explain that I was just going along with the gag all those years and didn't realize some of us were taking it seriously but the fear and guilt came rushing right back. So my second and final question is, how do I get past the guilt?"

There will always be plenty of criticism and intimidation because believers don't want non-believers to speak up or stand up and express an opinion. Indoctrinated fools are always certain of themselves. Fools and fanatics know not, that they know not, and so they look no further.

Quote: "There will always be plenty of criticism and intimidation because believers don't want non-believers to speak up or stand up and express an opinion. Indoctrinated fools are always certain of themselves. Fools and fanatics know not, that they know not, and so they look no further."

Those of us grounded in our faith do not feel threatened by 'non-believers.' The indoctrinated fool that you brand me enjoys immensely listening to some whose views are completely different from mine. At the end of the day, no matter how left-field I might believe them to be, I don't think of them as a fool. And as for not looking further: I'm reading your comments, aren't I?

All that you have done is put two separate things together and then personalized them. The type of behavior that the original post was describing is clearly someone who does not want to listen to another opinion. "There will always be plenty of criticism and intimidation because believers don't want non-believers to speak up or stand up and express an opinion." There must be a reason for personalizing this.

The other statement involves another possibility that happens when someone has become indoctrinated and can no longer think for themselves. I think it is very foolish for anyone to allow themselves to be used like a guinea pig. Even if people are love bombing them, pumping them up or using any of the various other techniques. "Indoctrinated fools are always certain of themselves. Fools and fanatics know not, that they know not, and so they look no further." Since we were discussing a scenario that involved someone else's problem why would you feel the need to inject yourself into the drama? Do you think that everything is all about you Joseph?

I hope this clears up a few things for you Joseph. And I will add in closing that you couldn't turn me in to an automation for Jesus with a blowtorch!

Jack why don't you believe in God? Have you tried taking a science or math class to help open your mind and get you out of your box?

This is beyond stupid! If he wanted to take the advice of "believers", that are not too smart, I would think that he would be writing to an apologist's message board. I don't think that he has as much trouble realizing what is imaginary and what is not, as you do. Pseudo-science is not science; and you don't know what he has read, you are making an assumption.

Nobody needs the help of someone who doesn't know what the average Appalachian (mountain dew) people know about science - telling them - what they need to read.

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