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Is My Atheism Becoming Militant?


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So, I had a little moment today that surprised me, and now I'm trying to debrief. Hopefully a little public input will help the process :) .


My long-term girlfriend is a moderate Christian, and I usually identify as a strong agnostic or atheist. We began dating as two fairly solid Christians (I was going into seminary, after all), so she's been weathering my shift from Bible-believing Christian to heathen in the past year or so, and with a pretty good spirit.


Tonight, however, we got to the point where we discussed the nature of a "loving" God. Most of you on here know the arguments... how a loving god could create hell... how a loving god could let his creation fall into sin... how evil could exist in a universe created by a loving god. All of these questions arose, and she answered them with fairly pat answers. God's justice is different from ours. God didn't create evil. Ect. ect. I hate these arguments, having distrusted them even as a Christian, as they fail to answer the deepest questions I always leveled at God. Usually, I just let these kinds of easy cast-offs pass.


But this time, I snapped back. I questioned the rationality of these assumptions, and I touched off a powder keg. The gf was none too pleased that I would "disrespect" her beliefs like that. Shouting on her part ensued. I ended up apologizing for the sharp questioning, but then she asked me the kicker... "Is this difference in opinion going to be a problem?" And now I'm wondering that very thing.


Now, I never argued the existence or non-existence of God (knew that was hopeless, as I don't think there's any real proof on either side), just the probability of the Christian god turning out to be the right one. Was it wrong of me to push the line of reasoning? And should it even bother me that our opinions on god are so different? I used to say no, but I was surprised by the strong reaction tonight. I really got pissed for a moment or two there. I wonder if there's a problem there that my reaction just alluded to. Or, perhaps I'm being unreasonable... if you think so, I'd love to hear it.

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There is an old saying. The truth shall set you free, but first it shall piss you off. Sounds like you pissed her off; but that is inevitable with any believer.

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Just as long as it doesn't devolve to name calling. You can kinda think of it as a gentle push away from irrationality.

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My long-term girlfriend is a moderate Christian, and I usually identify as a strong agnostic or atheist.


but then she asked me the kicker... "Is this difference in opinion going to be a problem?" And now I'm wondering that very thing.

So what if she moves towards being a fundie at some point? Will it be a problem then? You made a dramatic change. It took a year or so and it hit the wall in this little exchange. Is this the only blowout or the first of many? If she moves further into xianity will that launch more arguments? If this is the only exhange, why? Will it because you will be watching yourself around her now? Will you not feel comfortable around her like before? Is this placing you both on guard? On eggshells?


Just a bunch of questions. No answers.



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Marrage/relationship is never conflict free. IMHO one should never marry until there have been a few fights to see how that's going to go. How shall we handle differences? is a good question to discuss now.

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It's only a problem if she can't explain why she believes what she believes, or if you go out of your way to bring up the topic. You should not be afraid to be who you are. I probably couldn't date someone who thought being asked the rational for a position was 'disrespectful', but that doesn't mean you're doomed. You either have to accept that you can't question her thoughts without offending her or teach her to critically think at the possible cost of the relationship. It's your choice how you want to live.

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Guest Davka

Sounds like she's a bit cracked, or possibly scrambled. Thus lending credence to the commandment, "thou shalt not be unequally yolked."


OK, all punning aside - if she cannot handle serious debate on the core beliefs of Christianity, as well as strong push-back against the pathetic "answers" provided by Christian Apologetics, then yes, there is going to be a problem. Expecting you to simply remain silent in the face of pablum is not reasonable, any more than it would be reasonable of you to expect here to remain silent in the face of your questioning.


She needs to recognize the difference between disrespect for a belief system (which she has, unfortunately, learned to parrot quite well) and disrespect for her. If she cannot make that distinction and learn to engage your questioning without feeling personally attacked, then yes, I'd say there's going to be a problem.

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I personally think that many christians are threatened by the beliefs (or non-beliefs) of their non-christian partners. Most of this has to do with the rubbish that Paul spouted about "yoking". They know that many of their christian friends and family will disapprove of the relationship as the unequal yoking might jeopardise the christian's golden ticket to heaven, and even worse the non-christian might "lead them astray".


I don't think you can really skirt around this issue. It's a very large elephant in a very small room. You might need to talk to your partner directly about this issue, and have an honest conversation about it. It's not an easy thing to discuss, but you don't want the issue to arise in the middle of a heated argument.

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Your post suggests to me that you have a variety of skills to draw upon and I suspect you and the gf can learn from this interaction.


Since you asked, I'll attempt some amateur (but I have some life experence) deconstruction of some things I found interesting in your post.


But this time, I snapped back.


"snapped" is the key word in this sentence. Regardless of the actual interaction and whether you were or were not calm... your use of that word in your post suggests to me that this is most likely what you felt emotionally at the time.


If this emotion lingers below the surface when you and gf talk about religion then you need to bring that to the surface and talk openly with gf about why you have those emotions.


If you feel betrayed by xtianity then you need her to understand that you feel betrayed. She does not necessarily need to understand why you feel betrayed. Don't confuse this. She also needs to know how strongly you feel about these emotions.


Now... if gf does not appear to be grasping this you may have a problem other than religion. Her response suggests she is attuned to the emotions of others and is capable of understanding your state of mind.


So in summary, this is just a matter of being honest with her about what you feel.


...I questioned the rationality of these assumptions...

Are you putting her in an unreasonable position? Did she feel like you are asking her to answer on behalf of all fucked up fundies and all stupid doctrine?


She likely felt attacked personally even though you didn't mean it in that sense.


...and I touched off a powder keg. The gf was none too pleased that I would "disrespect" her beliefs like that.

My wife has a weak xtianish and who-knows-whatish belief system.


The only time I get my back up on her beliefs is when they are based on ignorance and she spreads that to the kids.

This is when I assert that "X" is wrong and those that believe "X" are ignorant and ignorance can be cured.


I think ignorance is personal and individuals have a responsbility to be learned on important subjects.


But... that was not your avenue. You questioned (attacked?) her logic and hence her intellegence.


In my house I am known to say, "I don't see the logic in "X"" (this comment reflects back to me) or I don't believe them (bypasses my wife and indicates the problem is between me and the soothe-sayer that she's consulting. e.g. reflexologist


Shouting on her part ensued.

The best defense is an offence.


I ended up apologizing for the sharp questioning

"Sharp questioning" - your words and likely your emotional state that your gf is sensing.


...but then she asked me the kicker... "Is this difference in opinion going to be a problem?"

Your gf asked a fantastic question. She seems to be insightful.


However... don't assume that the question she asked is exactly the question she wants answered.


She may have already concluded... "If this keeps up, we have a problem." and might actually be asking "Is this what I can expect from you in the future".


My guess is that she wants to know what kind of person she'll be waking up to in the future and whether you'll be a crankey old fart in 25 years when your boss is a 30 year old wizz kid who knows nothing of reality.


Will you take out your anger with your boss on your gf in the same way, as she may feel, that you are taking out your frustrations with christendom out on her? It is a fair question for her to pose and an important one.


She may also be wondering who you will blame when the kids are misbehaving.


The essence of the issue however is not that you and the gf have a disagreement but one of how you deal with it. That I guarantee.



The essence of the issue is whether you and the gf have the emotional skills to agree to disagree and not allow this type of conflict to degrade into name calling and shouting and the like.


Agreeing to disagree requires a mutual respect for each other's beliefs and views. I think it means not holding the other person responsbile to answer to the other for holding them. I also think it means that in executing your mutual plans that each of your beliefs are respected.


This last bit is very hard for someone whose beliefs are of a fundamental nature or matters of right and wrong. This is why fundamentalists get along best with their own kind. It allows them to the luxury of not having to compromise on their beliefs.


This brings me to your gf. You need to ask yourself whether your gf is capable of compromising on her beliefs.


Let's assume that you and gf will get married. Will she insist that it has to be "before god"? Can you live with that?


When you and gf have kids, will she bring them to church and sunday school? Will she tell the kids "Dad really believes in god, he just doesn't know he does". (To which I calmly said several different times - until she stopped saying it - "That's a terrible thing to say about another person. It shows no respect for their point of view. I would never say that about you.")


Are you capable of dealing with rediculous things like that and not attack her personally? Can she?


And that brings me to the most important part of agreeing to disagree.


Can you and the gf agree to disagree and not let those disagreements become personal attacks?


Assuming that you are young it may be a difficult for you to be honest when you're nothing but horney(come on guys - its true so grow tf up!!!).

It is easy to say... "Of course we'll never let that happen to lovie and me!"


Reality is that that exchange is a window to future exchanges. Are there other exchanges that indicate a difficulty in agreeing to disagree? Is there a pattern? And if there is a pattern, can you develop the skills required to change it?


If you and the gf agree to disagree then at the end of the day you should both feel honored and respected by each other and not feel cheated or forced to compromise. That's really tough and requires a measure of maturity that comes with age and sometimes takes years of marriage to achieve. At the minimum I suggest this should be your goal. If you and the gf cannot agree that this is the ideal goal for how you and her engage each other and how you will work together to then I have two questions:

- What do you propose as an ideal way to agree to disagree

- Are you and her suitable for each other over the long run


Only you and the gf can sort those things out.


Remember - I have no training and just a lowly a HS diploma - I do however, have a half a century of living and a very strong desire to understand the world around me.



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Guest HourglassStargazer

:grin: Hi!


If I was a man in a relationship with a christian woman, I would take this as a golden opportunity to show her exactly what I mean about a loving god. I would point out the sexism in the bible. I would point out how women are raped, and how rape victims are to be handled in the bible. I would explain to her that her opinion is NOT going to be a problem in this relationship, because unlike what the bible would require- I would want my partner to be able to speak her mind.


Case and point.

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Trying to be frank and non-confrontational will help another person see your point of view .


Maintaining a positive attitude of dialog rather than verbal sparring will keep your differences from being an obstacle in your relationship.

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In any other situation, you may have been going to far. But the retarded "Everyone is going to hell but people who believe the same things as me!" is one of the few mentalities all non religious folk have every right to stomp upon. It's not militaristic to point out the flaws in a way of thinking that has caused countless wars, it's anti militaristic.


Problem is, Christians have a very difficult time processing just how terrible a doctrine the doctrine of hell is, partially because they often follow the delusion that non-xians secretly do believe and are just rebelling, so if we go to hell it's our own silly fault because we "know" ( :Wendywhatever: ) the truth™.


If I were you, I would ask one question and then leave it alone:


"If you died to today, and found yourself at the feet of another religions god...do you feel you deserve to burn in hell for all eternity for failing to pick the correct religion?"


For the sake of argument, a lot of xians would say yes...but I seriously doubt any of them would honestly think that way. Hell is a thought crime. You are being punished strictly for your beliefs which are based on your own personal life experiences much more than any choice. It would be like if someone demanded that you tell them what next weeks winning lotto numbers are at gunpoint, and then killed you a week later when they turned out to be false. The whole idea that this could be the "justice" used by an omnibenevolent being is pure madness.



I would also call her out on her bullshit. "God has different Justice than us" is an unverifiable claim which uses logic that could just as easily be used to defend the notion that 1+1=3. It's a cop out used to avoid having to admit that you haven't a fucking clue but are too pigheaded to accept the fact that you are full of shit anyways. Just as long as you remember to do it in a nice way. The trick with most intimate relationships with women is your tone. Not to sound sexist, but girls are usually more offended by your tone of voice rather than what you are actually saying. Keep cool.

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