NEED RESPONSE, Help a brother atheist!

CinnamonGhoul
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NEED RESPONSE, Help a brother atheist!

Okay, here's the skinny. I'm a lifelong student of philosophy, science, religion, etc. and becoming more and more devoted to the ideas of rationality, free thought, and atheism with every second I'm awake. Problem is, I'm married to a lady who is becoming infatuated with the nonsense her friends from the Christian community are continually spouting. So you can see the religion aspect is becoming a pinch point. I've been pretty tolerant so far, but here's where it gets interesting.

I've had some issues, and I'd like to think that I am working on them and improving myself. Recently my wife got mad at me and threatened to cancel our family's Disney World trip if I didn't admit to something or the other. It was all bluff and bluster as far as I was concerned, but in the interest of having our kids enjoy vacation, I agreed that I would go to some new counseling with her. Now, the gypsy switch...

Turns out, the counselors are a guy/girl team from a Christian counseling group for our marital issues, and the other counselor, for working on my issues of being sexually abused, is a pastor from the church we attend time to time.

Arrtghhhghghe!!!!

Now, I'm trying to be fair about this, and I promised I would go 'joyfully' to this therapy. I have decided that asking me to go to Christian mental health professionals is like asking you to get driving lessons from an alcoholic, or maybe skiing lessons from a Ponape islander. So the gloves will come off, joyfully.

What I want is for you folks to help me. The pastor is no prob, I've heard him speak and he is a moron. The standard arguments will shut him down in a jiff. The marriage counselors, though... I have a feeling they will be difficult. What are some good things to say, some good defenses against their malarkey, and what are some hard hits I can use on the offensive side. I figure for a coup de grace I can always demand an explanation of what happened to the Amalekites and why that is okay.

Please help! I feel like I'm getting to a better place in my life. I've recently become a Zen Buddhist, which of course mates perfectly with a free thought worldview(though some of you might disagree, but that's another topic). As part of my efforts, I'm turning to my spiritual community- y'all- for help in my hour of need. I'd love to be peaceful and tolerant, etc. but I am human and could use a push over a few of these speed bumps. Thanks for whatever you can offer, and I will of course accept critique with grace and equanimity. Thanks!

Jess G.


qwak
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While I don't have much time to give a proper response (it's late here, and I'm tired, got work in the morning), I can offer this advice:

If she wants counseling, sure, go for it, however don't let her pick the counselors. Tell her she needs to respect your beliefs as well, and that since marriage is a union, that the two of you should both decide together who your counselor should be. This will at least give you the opprotunity to have some input into the counseling your marriage is receiving. If it works, great, if not, oh well. I hate to say oh well, but I'm the product of divorced parents, and as long as it's handled properly there should be very few issues, and the kids should be fine. Plus if the marriage is that stressful, it can be worse for the kids than for you to be separated. (I'm not trying to imply that you should divorce, however the general idea I got from your post is that there are plenty of troubles in your marriage currently, and if it were to keep up would definately affect the kids as well as both you and your wife, while your own well being is important, I also feel that children are the most important part of a family, while you certainly seem to keep in mind what's best for them, I just wanted to reiterate).

-qwak

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CinnamonGhoul
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Re: NEED RESPONSE, Help a brother atheist!

Thanks, Qwak. You're right on with what you said, and it's all under consideration, ie everyone's well being. I just didn't want to make too much of a life story post out of it. Smiling Good reminders, though.

As far as the counseling goes, I have promised to go to these. Right now I'm making a stand as far as the integrity of my promises and clarity of responsibility, so I'm going. I just think the whole proceedings will be a farce and I'd like to keep it from being a celebration of idiocy. I figure, if I can take her to a travelling Buddhist artifact exhibit and she can have a panic attack, then there is nothing wrong with me calling a spade a spade in counselling.

Thanks again.


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Quote:
I have decided that asking me to go to Christian mental health professionals is like asking you to get driving lessons from an alcoholic

Bahahahahaaaa, sig material right there.

Take some control man, it is a union.

"Character is higher than intellect... A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


applesforadam
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Basic question here: if you and your partner cannot come to terms on fundamental convictions and ideas, why are you married? And staying married for the kids is about the most irrational answer that can be given, in case that was coming. I say fuck the counseling, decide whether you should even be married.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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the_avenging_bucket
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convert her...
or at least see people with good qualifications who arent christian...
even if you have to go see a hindu therapist, for example...

tricky tricky tricky
i think i'll make sure before i get married...

best of luck, hope it works out...


CinnamonGhoul
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the_avenging_bucket wrote:
convert her...
or at least see people with good qualifications who arent christian...
even if you have to go see a hindu therapist, for example...

tricky tricky tricky
i think i'll make sure before i get married...

best of luck, hope it works out...

In a way that's why I posted, to get some good things to say in a couple of therapy sessions that were dead before they were even born. Get 'em over with, then move on to something serious.

Thanks for all your input, everybody. It's a hard subject to think of, and divorce has been a topic of consideration for a bit, so we'll see. I don't want to break up my family, as I'm sure no one does, but we'll see if a healthy balance can be reached and maintained.

Here's a head scratcher. I used to look at interfaith marriage books, because there's always been a divergence of worldviews in our relationship. They're almost universally about christian, muslim, and jewish. No atheist, Buddhist, Zoroastrian. Why? I figured it out. When you throw logic and rationality into the mix, as I have in mine, it forces certain issues, and the theistic/irrationalist viewpoints just can't stand up to it. But then, you're on this board, right, so you knew that already! Smiling


applesforadam
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Yea, the key word in interfaith marriage is "faith." Atheism is void of that blind faith, so isn't recognized in such publications of cow manure.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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jester700
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My marriage (I'm an atheist since at least high school, wife was catholic forever - RC parents & extended family, RC high school & all girl RC college) was easier - NO KIDS! I dunno WHAT I'd have done if my wife was neck deep in it and we had kids. As it was I felt no pressure to convert her, so when she questioned RC, I suggested she...get this... find another denomination that better reflected her thinking.

...little did I know that would turn out to be the Mormon faith... For a few years, anyway. Eye-wink

Now, she's no longer theist. I can't say she's altogether atheist, but she's at least atheist WRT xianity.

So, theist & atheist marriage CAN work, but I think it takes special circumstances.


applesforadam
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It certainly does take special circumstances: the theist can't be a true theist and/or the atheist can't be a true atheist. We aren't discussing cohabitating with this person, we are proclaiming our deepest feelings of love and devotion to them as a whole person, their ideals included. For a true theist or atheist to do this with each other is simply a logical impossibility. I know I just made the emotion of love into an absolute, but I'd really like to hear logical reasons that it should be thought otherwise.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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jester700
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applesforadam wrote:
It certainly does take special circumstances: the theist can't be a true theist and/or the atheist can't be a true atheist. We aren't discussing cohabitating with this person, we are proclaiming our deepest feelings of love and devotion to them as a whole person, their ideals included. For a true theist or atheist to do this with each other is simply a logical impossibility. I know I just made the emotion of love into an absolute, but I'd really like to hear logical reasons that it should be thought otherwise.

Just as a scientist can hold to a theism that doesn't contradict his scientific mind, an atheist can love a theist whose particular faith isn't in opposition with a peaceful coexistence - and vice versa. I truly loved my "sorta-catholic" wife, my "mormon" wife, and now my whatever-she-is wife. Her personal beliefs (that may have differed from dogma, but that's common) were that as an atheist I could be moral, I could truly love her, and that I could possibly be "saved" by accepting jeebus after my death (she knew that'd never happen during this life, given my need for evidence).

When she "went looking" outside RC to eventually run into mormonism, it was NOT because she disbelieved in god or jesus (else why accept the mormon faith?). Only that she disbelieved RC dogma. I'm not saying she thought as deeply on the matter as I or many others do, but to say she wasn't a "true theist" is baseless. And I was certainly as true an atheist as they come; but I knew that I loved her, and that her happiness was paramount - and for that reason I never sought to deconvert her, because atheism can be difficult as a practical matter.

Since we never REALLY know everything about a person, and that personalities are moving targets with constantly growing & changing natures, I think your concept of "love" is unnecessarily absolutist and possibly unworkable for many in the long term. Had I found theism a dealbreaker at the outset, I wouldn't have chosen my catholic wife. After 14 years of happy marriage to my now non-xian wife, I'm glad I was more relaxed on the matter.

Now, again - this doesn't involve kids OR fundamentalism, in which case the game changes.


applesforadam
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Your situation conforms to my claim though. Your wife was not a true theist. Had she actually believed and practiced (this is the important part, since what value does any philosophy have if it is not practical) catholicism or any other theistic position, it would simply be a contradiction for her to truly love you. It would negate any value you could possibly associate with love.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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applesforadam
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Also, I would like to see any theistic view that does not fly in the face of science in some form or fashion. The notion of Deism may be compatible, but I have yet to find a theistic view that does not in some way contradict some aspect of science, thus making the idea of a theistic scientist a sort of paradox. I may be wrong though.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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jester700
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applesforadam wrote:
Your situation conforms to my claim though. Your wife was not a true theist. Had she actually believed and practiced (this is the important part, since what value does any philosophy have if it is not practical) catholicism or any other theistic position, it would simply be a contradiction for her to truly love you. It would negate any value you could possibly associate with love.

Well, I dunno what to tell you. As a Mormon for about 3 years, she spent 3 hours of every Sunday in church, plus extra events. She went to their temple a couple times with other mormons, which was several hours away. By all evidence she DID believe and practice, and truly WAS theist. Prove me wrong.

I actually went to the first hour of one xmas "meeting" because she wanted me to sing with her and 2 others in a hymn. I did so because I loved her. She left with me after the first segment because she knew I wouldn't want to stay - she loved me, too. So I'm not sure where you're getting those "truly"s that you're throwing around here. BTW - no kids, no external pressure to stay married (at this point, anyway), no financial issues - we are married simply because we want to be. I guess I dunno how to determine between what we've apparently been mistaking for "love" these 14 years and "true" love.

Mormons believe that a person can be "saved" even if atheist, through postmortem acceptance of jeebus or the proxy baptism of others on your behalf (again, postmortem). Maybe this belief made our theism-atheism mix compatible; I dunno.

I find it funny that, as a presumably evidence-based atheist, you're ignoring what most people would accept as excellent evidence of my wife's theism and of our love, because it doesn't fit the definitions of "true" theism and love that you're clinging to.

Can you better explain "it would simply be a contradiction for her to truly love you. It would negate any value you could possibly associate with love"? Else come back and talk when YOU'VE been married 14 years.

On science:
No theism that has a supernatural component doesn't dispute science in SOME way. So? The practical matter is, as long as the individual scientific and theistic beliefs one deems "important" don't conflict, people can work around the issue. Most people usually don't go LOOKING for conflicts in their own lives; they work around them as best they can. Maybe the lack of conflict is simply due to lack of knowledge about one's theism and/or science, so they're not aware of the contradiction. People often don't "do" religion for worldly explanations, but for practical reasons - community, social factors, etc. Few of my friends think this much about these things.


GrimJesta
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applesforadam wrote:
Had she actually believed and practiced (this is the important part, since what value does any philosophy have if it is not practical) catholicism or any other theistic position, it would simply be a contradiction for her to truly love you. It would negate any value you could possibly associate with love.

Untrue. Theism involves way more than Fundie Christianity, so a theist could easily believe in God, find comfort in the Bible, avoid going to church except on holidays, and be happily married to an atheist. No contradiction.

applesforadam wrote:
Also, I would like to see any theistic view that does not fly in the face of science in some form or fashion. The notion of Deism may be compatible, but I have yet to find a theistic view that does not in some way contradict some aspect of science, thus making the idea of a theistic scientist a sort of paradox. I may be wrong though.

There are indeed many Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scientists.

-=Grim=-

No Nyarlathotep, Know Peace.
Know Nyarlathotep, No Peace.


applesforadam
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When you use the word "theist," you are referring to a potentially wide range of values and ideals. I'm not referring to many "theists" as they are in the world today, as "sort-of" church goers or people who "kind-of believe" in religious text. That is why I refer to theists with the adjective "true." The people you are referring to are essentially not deserving of the title "theist," the more or less just deserve to be called "theistically confused."
When someone simply takes comfort in a religious text, it is not in the true vein of that theism. Being able to lay claim to true belief in a certain theistic view demands by definition belief in it as a whole. "Kind-of Christians" are not christians. They will kick and scream all day that they are, but by definition, they simply are not a christian if they do not believe the bible as a whole work, infallible, and divinely inspired. I think we only differ on the point of semantics, as you agree that my statements do indeed apply in the case of fundamentalist theists. My argument however, is that to be a true theist, you would have to be what we refer to as fundamentalist in the sense that you can't pick the theism apart and take from it just the parts that you are comfortable with. You either take the religion, or you leave it. For the same reason that a scientist who refuses to accept evolution in favor of his religious based views of creationism is no scientist at all. Just because society chooses to accept a lax-form of something as the real thing, doesn't mean it is the correct way to view it.
I'm not, however, making any comments directly against your marriage, just about the institute of marriage and love in general. If my statements took on a more personal tone, I apologize and did not intend that, but statements about my not having been married for 14 years have no bearing on whether or not my ideas are valid or invalid.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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applesforadam
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Actually, I'm going to argue with myself on a point. When I said that someone who picks and chooses what they wish to believe about a religion is not a true follower of that theism, a case could be made for the fact that since that very religion was founded on nothing more than man picking and choosing among beliefs, the person who takes what they need from orthadox religions and drops the rest would still be considered a theist. I made the conscious desicion to use the word theist, and I believe that may have been an error. I am not referring to someone who simply believes in a god, as a general blanket definition, I'm referring to belief in a god as having dogmatic ideals associated as in orthadox religion. My real argument does not lie on the person simply believing in some general god, it lies in the theist believing in a very specific, orthadox god such as the judeo-christian-islamic god. Along with such a belief comes a whole array of other beliefs that become necessary components of the religion. By saying true theist, what I really meant but failed to word correctly was true Christian. That goes for the idea of scientists as well, although grim specifically spelled out the three main examples already so I'll work with that. If a scientist holds a general belief in god that can be shaped and molded by new scientific discoveries, then no. There is no contradiction. But if the scientist claims belief in an orthadox god with definite attributes, a contradiction arrises. I gave the example of creationism over evolution earlier, another one could be found in the catholic belief that the communion literally turns into the flesh and blood of jesus. Whenever a scientist ultimately abandons reason in favor of blind devotion to an ideal that is not supported by science and reason or is in fact contradictory to current scientific knowledge, he has lost the privilage of calling himself a scientist. I'm not referring to what his colleagues may call him out of respect, or what society may wish to refer to him as, I'm talking about what it means to be a man of science.

"It's not so much staying alive. It's staying human that's important." - 1984
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