Hello, everyone. This is my first post. I'm looking for some advice. I'm quite torn.
For a number of years I've co-hosted a podcast that is similar to "Christian and Atheist" which was formerly called "The Believer and Skeptic Show" but is now called "Alarm Clock." I co-host it with my best friend, who is a staunch Christian. So far, though, the format of the show has shied away from the predictable Crossfire-like confrontations, and instead we've spent more time going after the problems we see in our own respective communities. He'll spend a lot of time talking about the frightening and ridiculous hold of right-wing Protestant fundamentalism in the country and I frequently criticize our own community for its extant racism and misogyny (yes, alas, I'm sorry to report that these things indeed exist).
We are united by a generally progressive political world view and we often format the show around the "same conclusion, two vastly different ways of getting there" idea.
The problem is this. He's my best friend. I have a great deal of personal affection for him. He's had a very, very difficult life. He is congenitally blind and grew up in an abusive family. When you say that people are using religion as a crutch, that's him, and very obviously so. Over the years, I've tried rather gently to explain my own divergence from his view, but he keeps hoping I'll come around because I too am his best friend and he wants us to be pals forever in Heaven.
The other reason he absolutely will not give up his faith and see anything resembling reason is because he honestly seems to believe that Jesus is going to cure his blindness. There's no hope, at least not with today's standards of modern medicine. He's told me as much--- that I'm going to eat my words the day Jesus cures him. And that he will see forever in Heaven. I once pressed him on this because I felt like it was a "be honest or cop out completely" sort of moment, and I told him, yes, I believe one day he will see. But it will be because of the advances of medical science. That, I believe, is his very best hope to see. And who knows? Maybe someday science will be able to reform his disfigured optic nerve. I don't know enough about it to say.
He is also going through an enormously bitter divorce from an abusive soon-to-be-ex-wife. So this is very much not the time to kick him while he's already down. Our podcasts mean a lot to him, as does the camaraderie we enjoy putting the podcast together. Heretofore, we thought we were doing a good thing, "modeling respectful dialogue between disparate world views" and all that.
Here's the problem. The more I immerse myself among *like-minded* people, the more contempt I feel for religion itself. All of it. The less and less I feel like modelling anything resembling respectful dialogue. I listen to the Brass-Knuckles approach of a show like Scathing Atheist and, to paraphrase one Barry Goldwater, in my heart I know they're right. I'm very sad to admit this, but I am beginning to feel contempt for my best friend's oh-so-sincere, oh-so-reasonable-seeming religiosity. There's a part of me that would never want to take away his hope that Jesus will make him see again. But there's another part of me that respects him quite less as a mind because of that patently absurd belief.
Ours is a productive partnership. We write a lot of music together that has nothing to do with religion. But on the podcast, as long as I'm dealing with my partner with kid's gloves instead of going after him like a pitbull, as long as the goal of the podcast is to "model respectful dialogue," I feel like I'm just an accommodationist tool. And oddly enough, he thinks that the bare-bones line of challenge that I bring to his views on the rare occasion that I feel the show needs a little punching up--- he thinks he can't even handle that much satisfactorily in defense of "his side." He has no idea--- none--- what he'd be up against if I unleashed a fully prepared, ready-to-rumble Rob Gross up against his piety. But I don't want to do that to him. It would be kicking him when he's down. And it might also be a bit of a bait-and-switch, since I *agreed* to the "modelling respectful dialogue" premise.
I suppose I'm framing a false dichotomy--- it's not a choice between being milquetoast or being absolutely savage--- but the more I immerse myself in the atheist community writ large, the more savage and contemptuous I feel of this obvious absurdity that captivates the minds of most people on earth.
In the larger picture I worry about what my contempt for religion will mean for our friendship long term. I get very tired, very weary, of trying to keep up that "respect" muscle in my brain that is eroding while the "contempt" muscle builds larger and larger. I know I don't want to lose this friendship. But I also don't want to cave in to *anyone's* demands that I pretend to be something I'm not--- that "something I'm not" increasingly becoming someone who is more "tolerant" of religious perspectives.
We don't want to miss you!
James, I am currently using the latest version of Firefox on a Windows 7 platform and am having no such problems. The only time I have difficulties is when I leave a browser open for too long (sometimes as little as half a day, depending on the level of activity). Closing the old browser and opening a new one generally clears the problem, plus clearing out the cache perhaps once a week or so.
Your prose, deathless or otherwise, is VERY MUCH WANTED HERE ... so please don't quit! If there is anything I can do to help with your technical problems, do please give a shout.
James, I use Firefox on three laptops with Vista, Win 7 and Win 8. The problem you describe is an occasional event.
It happens regularly when a post is to the Hang With Friends" thread.
It happens irregularly when a post is to a blog.
It hasn't happened when a post is to a "multi-level dialog".
I've done no record keeping to identify a specific correlation.
James, if you do leave, please let me know where I can read your material. I understand your frustration with the process that isn't serving you well. I have left other sites for that same reason. I don't think I am having the problem you describe, however, if I do, I will let you know.
I've changed my reading habits for exactly the problem you describe. I read only the strings that interest me and I go to the most recent post on that string, track back to the last comment I made and then read the present. It was just too many conversations that I had trouble following.
I've paid attention to what happens when I click a link from an e-mail, and I have not had any problems. Sorry I don't know a solution.
When I click on the words "replied" or "commented" in the Top News feed, it goes to that reply or comment. (The more obvious links, with the name of the discussion, go to the first page.)
You have described a difficult problem, one that defies resolution in any simple way, but I see one possible—although difficult—way forward based on the fact that you have been friends a long time and have worked on at least one project together. Arguing to a final resolution seems hopeless at this point—you both have firm positions you cannot afford to sacrifice since they are portions of your indentity.
What you could do is to work on a project together to which you could both bring something from your positions. To give an example: the philosopher Alvin Plantinga claims that evolution if correct provides an irrefutable argument against naturalism, the idea that everything happens through natural processes without supernatural influence. He makes this argument in his book, Warrant and Proper Function. Those arguing against his logic have produced a book, Naturalism Defeated? in which they mount counter arguments. Assuming that this would be new territory for both of you, you might get the book and agree to work through it together to see if jointly you could resolve the issue between you.
The point is that you are best friends, you have worked together, agreement is not a possibility at this point, but working on a project together again, might be. You probably have other and much better ideas of things you might wotk on together, but the point is to get away from fruitless argumentation as long as you are living in the same household.
Thanks for your thought. I think, though, I just need to carve out my own space and work on a pro-atheist creative project that is entirely mine for awhile. We've been collaborating really intensively the past few months.
That has the great advantage of keeping him out of your hair for a while.
Allan, I like this idea. The goal is not to change either one's mind, but to give voice to the different points of view on the same topic. That exercise replaces the need for agreement.
My very best experiences include just such an activity. My cousin and I stand on the opposite sides of politics, and we voice our differences very easily together. One thing Paula and I learned includes making certain we each understands the other's point of view. When we get together at her home, her husband enjoys the format but does not want to participate. I guess he feels intimidated by each one of us. We are both Denoo girls.
I was treated like a subhuman too for being disabled as a child. I know what he has been through. Let him know, it's better not to believe in a god who had making people disabled in his plan. That's not too cool of a plan from an all knowing, all loving god.
Were you always an atheist? If not, maybe share with him the path you took. Ex. Quotes, deductions, examples that specifically changed your mind. Not to "convert/de-convert" him but just so he can understand you better. Sometimes it's easier to digest "what happened" than to comprehend "I don't believe."