I've been watching videos of David Silverman on YouTube and I like what I see. He argues that bringing people out of religion is good for them. Although I applaud his altruism, I'm not sure I agree that divesting the religious of their delusions is always the best thing. It's certainly been hard on me, almost to the point where I wish I could be religious again.
I've been operating under the well-tested theory that my mother is too old to change. If by some miracle ;) I managed to persuade her, I don't think she would be able to find a non-religious way to cope with the difficulties of life. So, after a decade of strained relations, I finally stopped trying to change her mind. I did this to spare her coping mechanism and to save myself from being disowned. We get along now (mostly), but because I am presenting a false self, I know my mother doesn't love the real me.
Not feeling loved for who I am is only the beginning. I am forced to present a false self so I can be assured of receiving assistance. Health problems prevent me from doing my own shopping, cleaning house or finding a job. My symptoms wax and wane, but are severe enough to disrupt every aspect of my life. Disability isn't enough to live on. I tried it back when my health was somewhat better. At that point, my mother disowned me. There's a very real possibility she would do it again, which would leave me at the mercy of our failing government.
While I attempt to preserve my standard of living and my very life by presenting this false self, I feel like my personality is slipping away. I didn't fully consider this contingency when I decided to stop the fighting.
So, I'm reconsidering my approach. David Silverman recommends this:
1) Don't be a "dick" [Don't attack the person, attack the idea. The person has been brainwashed/injured by religion. It's not their fault.], 2) Tell the truth, as often as possible [religion is a lie – all of it, gods are false – all of them, respect is earned, and religion hasn't earned any. Belief does not warrant respect.], 3) Don’t feign respect for the unrespectable (see point 2), 4) Don’t accept inequality (privilege) as acceptable, even if it is the norm (see Point 3), 5) If someone claims to be offended by the truth, it’s because they are used to privilege and inequality. Do not let "I'm offended by your words" silence you. Clarify that it's their beliefs, not the people, with which you take issue (See point 4), 6) If someone tries to limit freedom using religion, do points 1-5, only louder.
Doing this would start the war again and I'm not sure I can handle the fallout. Is there a way to preserve my identity without all the conflict? This has been weighing heavily on my mind.
That's just the beginning! If you were God and saw me stealing (or another sin) and decided that you had to kill your son to "make things right", not just kill, but torture. Exactly how does that horrible act help anybody? How does it "undo" my sin? What happened to "two wrongs don't make a right"? And which brilliant entity set the rules in place that this really cool son had to be tortured & die? (and of course I won't even get into the fact that the father & son are the same entity - it gets entirely too schizophrenic)
Being forced to attend a religious school, I too thought it ridiculous that I was supposed to be grateful to this "Good God" that tortured & murdered his son for me! Not only was I being born into some sort of debt I had nothing to do with, the whole story about how it came to be was right out of a horror show (with the script of a B-movie at best). Being Catholic, we showed our love for Christ & his sacrifice by celebrating communion, eating his flesh & drinking his blood (cuz that's what you do to people you love, right?). That's not creepy at all. And we're the minority in this country! Uhg!
You nailed it pretty well, Sky God. History has shown that if anyone doesn't see it your way they simply run off somewhere and start another denomination. The Catholics even have denominations. In other words, you can believe in god any way that you want to, just as long as you believe!
One god, two gods, three gods? But they are all the same person. Isn't it the greatest mystery? Well, it's hard to explain but our group has a handle on it. Rather than seeing through the god issues, many just keep claiming they now have the greater truth. Yes, they have the "full gospel."
I've come to this conclusion. More than once. XD I vacillate because truth is important to me, but so is common courtesy.
I don't hide my atheism. But I also do not try to push it on others. Both my wife and I have religious family members. I've worked with a range of people including a devout Muslim. As long as they don't try to push religion on me, I don't bother them.
A quick clarification: I said I "almost" wish I could be religious again.
1) Unfortunately, my basic makeup will not allow me to stop searching for the truth in every situation. If I hear something I disagree with, although I may seem to automatically dismiss it, I think about it and entertain the possibility that the other person might be right. This leads to a lot of internal conflict because I actually care about the truth. And because I care about the truth, wearing a mask is extra difficult for me.
2) In many ways I'm glad I'm not religious. It freed me from some of the perfectionism that still drags me down. I can enjoy books, movies and television that would have been denied me had I kept on with my beliefs. I wouldn't have been able to enjoy many of my current interests. I really love paleontology and evolutionary biology. My old YEC position would have made those interests impossible.
So, overall, I'm glad I'm not religious, but there are times when I'm so very lonely I yearn for the simplicity of belief. People who share the same beliefs can accept each other more easily than I can accept them, it seems.
I'm conflicted because my family's beliefs are causing harm. We all know the harm caused by religion. My cousin has New Age beliefs that are perhaps even more harmful in the short term. My six-year-old second cousin remains unvaccinated while her mother relies on astrologists and alternative "medicine" for her own health and that of her family. My cousin has been sick for six months with pneumonia (probably) and won't go to the doctor. Last time I visited her, I got an upper respiratory infection and, although it's unlikely, my own doctor can't rule out the possibility that my cousin is some kind of carrier. I'm kind of afraid to go near them.
Before I discovered the extent of my cousin's craziness, I thought I could start over, that I could have friends and family again. But I can't ignore this magnitude of stupidity. There's a big part of me that wants to accept them the way they are. Another part of me is furious with them. I am angry with my cousin for not taking care of her own health. I'm furious that she hasn't vaccinated her child. I am ashamed that I'm not able to love her in spite of everything. Most of all, I'm lonely. Desperately lonely. Loneliness can drive people mad, so it isn't any wonder I "almost" wish I were religious again. You might feel the same way if you were in my shoes.
If I had huge amounts of money, I'd leave and find a place on the coast. I'd stay on speaking terms with family, but I'd find out if it's possible to find friends with whom I can be mostly honest. Maybe there aren't any, but at least I would give it a try.
Conflicted feelings: That's what my original post is all about. I'm glad I'm an atheist, but I wish I were religious. I love my family, but I wish I could leave and never come back. I can't even understand myself, so it's no fucking wonder I can't understand others.
It might be something like Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac. By accepting the request, Abraham had in effect already sacrificed his son. By getting dead for two days (on the third?) Jesus agreed to die for the sins of all mankind who follow the rules. Of course, this would require an acceptance of this whole concept, which I find repulsive.
I found David Silverman a little wimpy at times, not all that rational and over-anxious at other times when in arguments and debates.
I can see him trying constantly to jump in when he is annoyed with somebody's comment, he is like my dog who wants to jump in and bite the heads off all dogs in the neighbourhood.
He's like a horse chafing at the bit, wanting to jump in and when he does, it is often a silly comment that I think he would have been better off not making.
That is something about Silverman that annoys me.
I've never heard of him
Having seen David Silverman in action multiple times, there are several adjectives I would use in describing him. "Wimpy" just AIN'T one of 'em!
Yeah, whatever else he is, he certainly isn't a wimp. I don't understand how anyone could come away with that impression. Any atheist that repeatedly goes into the lion's den at Fox News is no wimp.