I talked to my dad on the phone the other day. Somehow, we got onto the topic about why he doesn't really talk to his dad much and his strain with his parents and sister. His parents were atheists. I never knew this. He said, when he turned his life around, his parents and older sister made fun of him. So, he stayed away. He later became close with his mom, who passed away from lung cancer 6 years ago. I asked him, if my Grandma was a Christian. He said, you know, I don't know and said, I probably shouldn't tell you this, when we at the hospital towards the end a priest came in to ask her religious preference and she said, I don't believe in a God. They said, well, are you sure? She said, yes, when I die, I believe that will be it. While looking at my dad and said, no offense. That's when I told my dad, that I kind of believe the same way as they did and that's when I got a pretty good insight on what my dad thinks about atheists. He told me that I really needed to be baptized and open up and read the bible. He tells me, the only reason why there are atheists is that something bad happened to them and now they're cold hearted. He even tried to bring up that my husband, probably isn't a good influence on me, he's an atheist, but was out as agnostic and they didn't like it much and didn't even want us to marry, because of it at first. He still didn't get it. He was still explaining to me how everything works and quoting the bible to me and how it's "abnormal to be an atheist" as well as bringing up if it weren't for Christianity then, what's to stop people from "euthanizing old people" and eventually spread it to killing everyone. I still expressed doubt and he told me that The Church follows what science says and doesn't dispute it, "but science is always trying to dispute God" he ended with he'll be praying for me and to follow his advice. The thing is he never yelled or anything, I could hear pain in his voice. I almost wished he was yelling or something, but he seemed really sad and all the things he were saying were in a calm quiet voice, trying to talk me out of it and concerned. I wasn't expecting that. He thinks I'm confused and now I feel a bit awkward, but at least I tried. To be continued. 

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Four years ago, when a quartet of Jehovah's Witnesses showed up at my door, I let them know up front that I was an atheist.  One of them asked me if I had always been an atheist or if something had happened to cause me to be one.

Yeah, something happened, I told her: common sense.

As for your father, ask him to consider the following little nugget:

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
-- Stephen F. Roberts

I hope as time passes your dad gets used to the idea. At least atheism is nothing new to him. It sounds like he loves you. Love overcomes msny challenges. He may also be in some need of reassurance that he still has a daughter, and you may need reassurance that you still have a dad.

He may not become atheist, probably never, and you probably wont become theist. Its like coming out to ones parents as gay. They dont have to become gay themselves, just get used to it and realize you are still you and have your own path in life.

Don't forget that xtians get points for dropping their family - jeebus said so somewhere in the new testament: who ever wants to go to heaven must drop his family and follow me. (cannot remember the King James wording) .

"...who ever wants to go to heaven must drop his family and follow me."

I like this wording better than the King James!

Your dad appears to be the one who had something happen here. In turn it has made him delusional. Theists often say that atheists are the way they are "because something happened." I was trained as a minister and what happened was "common sense." I'm afriad that has ended my theist days forever.

For some reason religious people insist on equating being an atheist with being a psychopath. In my opinion the best thing to do is to continue being the same smart, thoughtful and wonderful daughter that I am sure you are, while holding strong to your free thinking values and convictions. Maybe one day he will realize you are not likely to go on a killing spree just because you are an atheist.

"if it weren't for Christianity then, what's to stop people from "euthanizing old people" and eventually spread it to killing everyone."  Theists like to think that civilization began with them.  But for early humans to live together in communities, thousands of years before Christianity, they had to have rules, or morals.  Rules against killing, stealing, adultery, etc. came about out of necessity, not because some god commanded them.  It was our developing sense of humanity that established budding civilization.

Kudos to you for being direct!!! Wow. I may never be able to pull that off, and I'm middle-aged!

My family probably has a suspicion, starting with our wedding that lacked a priest and any religious references (no church, just fun and festivities.)

My husband's family knows that he's atheist; they seem to have assumed I was too, but only last year did I "come out" when my nephew asked if I believed in evolution. I was like, "OH yes, completely and absolutely." I don't ever bring it up, but certainly won't hide it, and will be happy to answer questions.

"... I could hear the pain in his voice."

That's the worst. You are very brave though, Dani. My dad died recently, and looking back, I realize that it freed me to admit my atheism - even to myself. I did not want to face his disapproval and the pain and worry it would cause him.

I'm not sure that there is any way around this, but it helps me to think of the believers I love as infected. Your dad is clearly infected with the God virus. The virus has evolved to survive any way it can, even at the expense of important, loving relationships. The infection is making him go against his natural loving instincts toward you, and his respect for your judgment. Hopefully, his loving instincts will win - at least every once in a while!

It's probably better to have it out in the open for your own benefit though.

1. You could point out that the reason people aren't generally killing each other is because living in a society demands that we comport ourselves in ways that make life for both us and the rest of our society as easy and trouble free as possible. Also, many non-human animals, who worship no gods, display moral behavior to each other for the same reasons.

2. You could point out to him the many, many, passages in the Old Testament where the god of the Jews both commanded and participated in cruel and evil deeds (if you don't know of any such passages you can find a wealth of them online). You can also point out that Jesus was not the paragon of virtue everyone makes him out to be. For example, the god of the Old Testament, as evil as he was, at least limited his punishment to this life only, for example through genocide; Jesus, however, extends divine punishment to all eternity with threats of neverending torment in hell. And he said that he hadn't come to send peace on earth, but a sword, and that he came to turn daughters against mothers, and sons against fathers,etc.,etc.

3. You could ask him some pertinent questions about God, e.g., why God never heals amputees, or what is his own best argument/evidence that God is real.

4. You could point out to him that if this universe and this world were the products of a perfect designer (God), then he made a shoddy job of it. If God were both real and perfect, then anything he created would not be capable of becoming imperfect. Whatever God created would be as unchangingly perfect as he is unless he wanted it otherwise. West Nile virus, avian flu, intestinal worms, diabetes, cancer, earthquakes, tornadoes, famine, drought, and so on, are plain indicators of bad design, if the universe is, indeed, designed.

5. In a related vein, you could point out that omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence, are incompatible traits that cannot exist in one person at the same time and in the same respect. If God is omniscient (knowing infallibly all future events), then he knew before he created man that man would sin, yet he created man anyway, and so making God responsible for all the evil and suffering this world has endured for millennia. And, were God omnibenevolent (all loving), he would not have permitted any of this. And were he omnipotent (all powerful), he would have been capable of not allowing things to turn out the way they did. You can also present him with this succinct rhyme that goes straight to the point on this:

"Can God omniscient, who knows the future, find, the omnipotence to change his future mind."

Also see, Epicurus' Riddle.


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