I was surfing through facebook posts today and ran across one from an old high school friend that said:
"I’ve noticed that children who grew up without a father or with an abusive father seem to have a much harder time believing in God when they become adults. For all the dads out there that love their children and have been there for their them throughout their lives, thank you for helping your children have the ability to believe in and have faith in the unconditional love of God. I wish every child had a dad that loved them..."
UGH. I want to respond to this because I want to share with her that I had a loving, present father and I am an atheist and - my husband also had a loving, present father and he is also an atheist.
On the other hand, do I want to ruffle feathers on father's day? Also I haven't outed myself to everyone yet - anyone else might read my post. That might create it's own set of problems.
I do so hate the idea that too many theists have that atheists must have had something bad happen to them to make them turn away from god - that atheists are all angry people that just didn't get enough love. I want to let her know that atheists can be loving and loved parents, daughters, sons, siblings, etc. Should I try to open her mind? is it worth it?
"Should I try to open her mind? is it worth it?"
Yes and no. It all depends on how comfortable you feel in "outing" yourself. If you think this is the right time, by all means go for it. Set the record straight with these people. They need to hear your message.
If proclaiming your atheism is going to cause significant problems for you which you're not prepared to deal with presently, just hold off until another time when you're ready. I'm sure other situations will pop up in the future which will need your rebuttal.
It isn't necessary to "Out yourself", as such. You could just "Tell it like it is". In other words, challenge ideas on evidential, logical and philosophical grounds. For example, on the issue of a poor father-experience and not accepting the supposed god, I'd be asking the person:-
What is the sample size?
What are the cases which contradict the conclusion?
Is this anything more than just mild speculation, or is it supposed to prove something?
Stuff like that. Do it for any topic which comes up and takes your fancy. It will probably become evident that you are atheist, and someone might well ask if you are or not. Then 'come out' to them.
If you do embark on a 'theisto-clastic endeavour', you would be taking steps towards declaring your atheism, and would have to 'wear' the consequences, as they arise.
And by the way, wouldn't we all want to say: "I wish every child had a dad that loved them..."
My father was a martinet and a bully, but I can say with fair certainty that he didn't drive me to atheism. I came to that conclusion by far too circuitous a path for him to have had any meaningful part in the process. I should mention, too, that being an atheist is far less about rebelling against him than it is about my asserting who I am.
That's pretty much the same thing a lot of christians say makes people gay. I think your friend was basically making that up out of whole cloth.
I can't imagine keeping up with other people who graduated from my high school when I did. I discovered there was a whole world out there.
The existence of abusive fathers is indeed one more bit of evidence against the existence of that presumed loving and powerful god... but you don't need to experience an abusive parent firsthand to reject theism!
(I'll join the chorus of atheists who had loving, present fathers! Mine happened to be a nontheist, and he took care to let me reach my own conclusions.)
As FA said, you know how "out" or not you want to be on Facebook.
I'll join the chorus of atheists who had loving, present fathers! Mine happened to be a nontheist, and he took care to let me reach my own conclusions.
It might be true that people who came from loving religious families are more likely to stay religious. Rejecting one's family religion might be part of how people from bad families try to grow away from them. I don't know if it actually works that way - people from bad families might cling to a fantasy good father instead. I had a very Christian friend whose father beat him a lot, many years ago. He was brought up Christian, but he became extremely Christian when he grew up. For him, the idea of a good heavenly father seems to have been an attempt to heal the past.
So the reasoning in the Facebook post is very simplistic.
The idea that having a loving father makes one more likely to believe in a loving Heavenly father, is possible.
Kind of sexist, but then the idea of a male God ruling everything is sexist.
Kind of sexist, but then the idea of a male God ruling everything is sexist.
Luara, a woman once told me that if she had heard any mention of a female deity she might have remained a believer.
BTW, on C-SPAN this past Saturday, a woman historian spoke of the wife and two daughters of Dred Scott. She used the word "coverture" to describe the wife's former legal condition.
It describes well a relation that many women seem to have with their gods. How sad.
Wikipedia is less opinionated than I.
BTW, if the SCOTUS case that some historians say led to the Civil War interests you, you can find and listen to the hour-long talk by going to c-span.org and
1) looking at Saturday's C-SPAN3 program listings, or
2) entering either Ginsberg (the SCOTUS justice who introduced the program) or Dred Scott into the search bar.
In short, the speaker said Julia(?) Scott's case for freedom was stronger than Dred's, and if his lawyers had used her case the Court's pro-slavery majority might have recognized Scott's freedom (from slavery).
One of my aunts was married to my father's brother, who was a very obnoxious man. Perhaps an alcoholic - at least, he got very drunk anytime there were visitors. He was predatory towards women, I was afraid of being sexually assaulted by him.
She was a very kind woman in some ways, although unkind in ways that were shaped by her conservative Christian training.
Before I stopped visiting, I would go to museums etc. with my aunt. She would do things like look at coffins and say she wished he was in them. She told me she'd thought many times of leaving him, that friends would take her in.
But she never did leave him.
He died when she was in her 70's or so, and I thought, she's free at last!
But it was too late. She developed dementia shortly after that and died in a few years.
I went to her funeral. One of my cousins told me she had been a Christian.
And I wonder how much her religion acted to keep her in a horrible marriage. It would have been hell so far as I'm concerned to be married to that man.
So did the pie in the sky console her and induce her to put up with it? Did she feel that God or Jesus didn't want her to leave him?
I don't know. But this has been true for millions of women.
They are making a scientific hypothesis. If it were me, I might do a quick look online for research about this hypothesis. It surely exists.
What is the family background of people who do not keep the religion of the family they grew up in?
How about people who grew up in nonreligious families and later become religious? Do they tend to people who grew up in abusive families and turned to religion for comfort? hm?
I was told something similar by a very Christian friend a long time ago. He suggested that I might find the Christian God healing, as a good father.
It's true, the idea of having a cosmic male in authority over everything is appalling to me. In Christianity, not only do men run the world, they're installed as authorities over the entire UNIVERSE!
But accepting this picture of things - thinking of the patriarchy as a cosmic reality - is likely actually destructive for women.
This guy had been beaten by his father as a child, and I think he was trying to use Christianity as self-therapy, with the image of a good father. So he was just recommending to me, what he was trying for himself.
For the post to have been true we would have to assume that people who got enough love would always believe in god. It would also follow that atheists are angry, and they are angry at god. Then we have that phrase about the "unconditional love of god" but we know this cannot be true if god sends you to hell. This looks like the flawed belief of most theists to me.
Getting into the main statement idea for real, I had a missing father that I never met, and was raised with a step-father. Religion came along thru him and my mother, and they both wanted me to be a minister. I studied for it but never fully followed into it, believing most of my life, and then I finally woke up to atheism 2 years ago. I'm 68 years old and very upset that god never brought me a pony.
Oh, wait. That was Santa Clause. Sorry god. (I had to add that one in there because the theist almost always believes that you are atheist because "something happened." Yes, I am atheist because I woke up!)