It's been about three weeks since I sent an email to Dave, a close friend, telling him about leaving the faith. Dave's a smart guy, and I have wanted to talk to him about skepticism for a long time, but I wasn't ready to talk to anyone about losing my faith. Now I'm ready. He's been sending me messages every other day, but I don't think that we've been too productive in our communication. What we really need to do is get together and talk in person.
This past week, I also got a message from Jeremy, the pastor of my former church. When I told my wife I don't believe anymore, she talked to Jeremy and Mark, the other pastor. Neither of them have talked to me, I think because they wanted me to come to them. Now that I've stopped going to church altogether, I think Jeremy wanted to talk to me to find out what happened. He invited me to get together with him. I'm thinking, it could be a good idea to bring Dave along with me. I know the same issues will come up, so I might as well have all of the conversations at the same time.
I really want to talk about evidence. What is considered good evidence vs. bad evidence, is the entire reason that I don't believe in magical/spiritual thinking. I think both Jeremy and Dave have a standard of evidence for their own beliefs that they would never accept for another's religion. The reason why I think this is because they have rejected all other religions other than the one they were raised in or first accepted. Why do they not accept other religious claims? What claims are they using to convince others about their faith? I think it can be an interesting conversation.
I also have a bit of a worry. I knew that losing my faith was going to cause problems in my marriage. It's such a difficult thing to deal with. I know that people should be free to have their own beliefs, but here in America, when you disagree with someone's deeply held beliefs, it can become heated very quickly. Many marriages have been destroyed by a spouse not accepting their husband or wife's beliefs. In my marriage, although, it was hard for my wife at first, she did come to accept that it's ok for my to have different beliefs than her. My concern is that it's possible for Jeremy or Dave to begin to see the same issues in religion that I saw. If Dave did change his beliefs he could have a difficult time with his wife. It would be worse for Jeremy. If Jeremy lost his faith, not only could his wife leave him, he would also lose his career. It's got to be so much worse for pastors. They are so invested in these issues of faith that to change your beliefs means destroying your entire life.
I know it's not my job to worry about the impact that beliefs have on other's marriages. But, I deeply care for both Jeremy and Dave, and I don't want to see them go through the problems that I did. I don't know if their wives would accept them as atheists. I hope that if they do see things my way, they don't lose too much. On the other hand, when they confront me about why I don't believe, I have to be honest with them. Chances are they'll never change their beliefs anyway. Most Christians are so ingrained in their way of thinking that no evidence to the contrary will ever get them to change their minds.