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Posted: 19 April 2010 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi guys!

Its an honor to post here, as I must confess that I feel a little intimidated by some of the great minds that post on here. Its an absolute delight to read your posts. Get’s meh thinkin!

Either way, to give some background about me, I am a former conservative Christian, with heavy biblical training and a bible college degree. I used to be deep in ministry with alot of professors and pastors mapping out my future, so I really handed over alot when I abandoned Christianity and became an atheist (actually, I started out as an agnostic, and progressed toward atheism). There, that’s me.

I’m currently married to a beautiful and loving woman who happens to still be a Christian. She also has a bible college degree from the same school as me. As you may guess, we’ve had a number of “fallouts” over my new views on life, and this has been a stressful time for her (and sometimes me as well). While she has agreed on many occasions to discuss the issues and be as open-minded as possible, she has devised a number of ways and reasons to avoid sitting down and seriously discussing the issues. Without going into a long-story, I was finally able to corner her into promising to discuss the issues with me, and she has agreed to allow me to pose questions/challenges to her views, which she is responsible for answering, which should lead us to a serious discussion about the issues surrounding that subject. I am ecstatic.

However, my wife is far from being a rigidly logical thinker, and she can easily get overwhelmed by too many questions at a time (just like the rest of us). Things have to be taken slow with her, and she needs me to be extremely patient and kind. This also means that my questions need to be basic, and not complicated, and she at least wants a few days, up to a week before she has to answer that particular question, and then we can discuss her answer from there. I’m guessing this is because she wants to do her own personal research before she answers. This probably means looking up a response from a big time apologist and seeing how he answers it first. While I wish that she wouldn’t go that route, she is not doing anything essentially wrong by doing so, so I can’t worry too much about that.

The reason why I am posting this is because I want to ask you guys for your advice on my first ice-breaking question. I have thought of a number of questions, but the one that I am really considering asking right now is:

What is a miracle? Can a miracle be proven to have taken place? If so, how do you prove it?

What do you think? Is this too much? Too little? Or would you recommend something else?

[ Edited: 17 September 2011 07:28 AM by Cloak ]
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Posted: 19 April 2010 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My advice?  Assuming there are no inevitable conflicts just ahead (eg. what to teach children), apologize and don’t ask these kinds questions yet.  Thank her for being willing to discuss her beliefs - something she obviously is uncomfortable doing - and tell her you love her even with her beliefs (assuming that you do).  Let her know that you are willing to talk about this in any way she wants to bring it up on her own.  Let her bring the argument to you.  Tell her again that you love her.

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Posted: 19 April 2010 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I read your post with interest, thinking this could evolve into an interesting thread.

I am still hopeful,
however, since we’re being nakedly honest here - I believe you displayed a tad too much condescension towards your wife…
please proceed with caution, you may be another one of those cats who turns out to be our own worst enemy.

Before coming to those thoughts I was thinking you & your wife might find the struggles of Darwin’s wife with Darwin’s science worth learning about.  Nova did a nice program on Darwin last year that touched on those aspects.Darwin’s Darkest Hour  You folks might find it interesting.

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Posted: 19 April 2010 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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the PC apeman - 19 April 2010 03:32 PM

My advice?  Assuming there are no inevitable conflicts just ahead (eg. what to teach children), apologize and don’t ask these kinds questions yet.  Thank her for being willing to discuss her beliefs - something she obviously is uncomfortable doing - and tell her you love her even with her beliefs (assuming that you do).  Let her know that you are willing to talk about this in any way she wants to bring it up on her own.  Let her bring the argument to you.  Tell her again that you love her.

hey apeman, you posted this while I was writing mine, but I thought I’d let you know I agree with your reasoned thoughts. 
(though the potential-infused monitor still scares me grin)

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Posted: 19 April 2010 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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PC Apeman,

Thanks for your response. Actually, this has been how I have proceeded since we got married (actually I told her a couple of months before we got married, and despite it being a traumatic event for her, she still wanted to marry me because she loves me). This whole time, she has used my patience to avoid the issue, because she doesn’t want her beliefs challenged. However, we are at a crucial point where it really needs to be discussed now. She is 12 months pregnant. We have always agreed that this would be a difficult issue, because she is adamant about brain-washing our child by teaching him/her the Bible, and taking him/her to church regularly, and even witnessing to him/her. I have tried to discuss this with her, but she has continuously avoided the discussions. So I have had to get more aggressive (yet still kind and respectful), and confront her directly on the issues.

Look, even if I don’t ever get her to change her views, I’m fine with that. She has the right to believe what she wants. But she needs to know that her beliefs are not indisputable, so that she will at least agree with me on letting her child decide on his/her own when he/she is old enough to think on his/her own. This is all I have wanted to get her to agree on for so long.

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Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

- Bruce Lee -

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Posted: 19 April 2010 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The Traveler - 19 April 2010 03:49 PM

But she needs to know that her beliefs are not indisputable, so that she will at least agree with me on letting her child decide on his/her own when he/she is old enough to think on his/her own. This is all I have wanted to get her to agree on for so long.

It seems you have already done the first part of this and I assume you’ve let her know that you will be telling your children a competing story as well as teaching them critical thinking skills - in age appropriate ways at all ages.  I’d take her silent response to this as acceptance.  If she objects, then you have something to talk about.  You can match her objections tit-for-tat on emotional levels and no doubt better on rational levels.  Do you really need an immediate, decisive, and complete victory and submission?

EDIT:  Wait.  What?

The Traveler - 19 April 2010 03:49 PM

She is 12 months pregnant.

In any event, was this your choice too, knowing what you did about the consequences?

[ Edited: 19 April 2010 04:16 PM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 19 April 2010 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Traveler - 19 April 2010 03:49 PM

...... However, we are at a crucial point where it really needs to be discussed now. She is 12 months pregnant. We have always agreed that this would be a difficult issue, ......

I sort of agree with PC Apeman.  “Winning” means you stay happily married.

There are probably other religions that your wife doesn’t believe in, and something that was convincing for me was that there were religions like Scientology or Mormonism which I knew were not “real” and yet well educated and/or ‘famous’ people believed in them.  What has to happen is that there has to be contradiction between reality and belief—until there is a contradiction there really isn’t any lever.

But I think PC Apeman is right—there really isn’t any reason to stress out about it right now.

To lighten things up a little—do you mean “9” months pregnant…

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Posted: 19 April 2010 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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citizenschallenge - 19 April 2010 03:45 PM

I read your post with interest, thinking this could evolve into an interesting thread.

I am still hopeful,
however, since we’re being nakedly honest here - I believe you displayed a tad too much condescension towards your wife…
please proceed with caution, you may be another one of those cats who turns out to be our own worst enemy.

Before coming to those thoughts I was thinking you & your wife might find the struggles of Darwin’s wife with Darwin’s science worth learning about.  Nova did a nice program on Darwin last year that touched on those aspects.Darwin’s Darkest Hour  You folks might find it interesting.

Thanks for your honesty. I would be much appreciative if you could direct my attention to what part of my post gave you the idea that I have displayed condescension towards my wife.

And thanks for the reference…it sounds very interesting. I’ll check it out.

[ Edited: 17 September 2011 07:21 AM by Cloak ]
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Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

- Bruce Lee -

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Posted: 19 April 2010 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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the PC apeman - 19 April 2010 04:12 PM
The Traveler - 19 April 2010 03:49 PM

But she needs to know that her beliefs are not indisputable, so that she will at least agree with me on letting her child decide on his/her own when he/she is old enough to think on his/her own. This is all I have wanted to get her to agree on for so long.

It seems you have already done the first part of this and I assume you’ve let her know that you will be telling your children a competing story as well as teaching them critical thinking skills - in age appropriate ways at all ages.  I’d take her silent response to this as acceptance.  If she objects, then you have something to talk about.  You can match her objections tit-for-tat on emotional levels and no doubt better on rational levels.  Do you really need an immediate, decisive, and complete victory and submission?

EDIT:  Wait.  What?

The Traveler - 19 April 2010 03:49 PM

She is 12 months pregnant.

In any event, was this your choice too, knowing what you did about the consequences?

Lol….I’m sorry. I meant 12 weeks pregnant! lol

While I know that I don’t need an immediate decisive victory, I am trying to see if there is a way to avoid the future conflict while our child is here, and at least being able to say we discussed these issues before the conflict starts.

Besides, I’ve been totally supportive about her views. I have not pressured her. Heck, I’ve been living a lie in front of all our friends and family just to keep her world intact, because this is all we’ve known for most of our lives, and our whole world is “Christian”. I understand what she would be giving up, because i gave it up myself. I’ve sat with her in my arms for many nights, crying with her because she wished that things were different. I love my wife, and while we have had our arguments, I have still been patient with her. I go to church with her. I talk “Christianese” around our friends and family. Bibles and theological textbooks are lined up in my library, so people can see them when they come in.

I recently asked my wife when she will feel comfortable talking about what led me to where I am, and asked her if she is ready to discuss both of our views, but she then advised that she has done her own “private research”, and she thinks I am wrong. Mind you, she had promised countless times that she would involve me in that journey, yet she all of a sudden decided that she was finished thinking about it, and decided that she was going to teach it to our children. I advised that she is being unfair, and that if she is not willing to discuss the issues with me, that is okay, but she shouldn’t expect me to keep living a lie just to make her world comfortable, because its not fair to me. She couldn’t argue with that, and finally agreed that she would try her best to be as open-minded as possible, and hear me out.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my wife like crazy, and I want us to continue to be happily married (yes, we are very much in love with one another). But SHE has agreed to discuss these issues, so I’m asking for all of your advice so that I can go about it in the most appropriate way.

And about the question:

“In any event, was this your choice too, knowing what you did about the consequences?”

Forgive me, but I honestly don’t understand the question. Could you either rephrase or clarify it? Thanks!

[ Edited: 17 September 2011 07:29 AM by Cloak ]
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Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

- Bruce Lee -

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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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My advice - being a random stranger on the interwebz?

Go gentle.

It’s very hard for people to give up such fundamental beliefs. You won’t “win” the argument in first instance. Don’t get caught up in the desire to win, or achieve a big breakthrough. That will take months if not years.

Remember your own experiences, and proceed with empathy. Those of use who have given up “faith” recall that existential terror the initial thought that “God is not real, I will die and there will be no after life” created.

Treat it as the first in an ongoing conversations about faith, the meaning of life and how one can achieve happiness.

As a secular humanist confronted with religious people I emphasis that human well being - happiness - is the ultimate goal. We all want to live a life of fulfillment. Suggest, however tentatively, that for some people irrational thoughts can be a trap. Secular humanism is about personal responsibility and living an ethical life: try and defuse all those things ultra-conservatives demonise “use” with.

Even if she never gives up her faith, helping her recognise that a non-religious view point is a genuine alternative for some people is a good place to agree.

Suggest as parents that you both have things to teach your child, and that ultimately that child will become and adult wanting to make their own decisions. Choice is something we should all have a right too.

Good luck mate, I hope it is a fruitful discussion.

[ Edited: 19 April 2010 05:03 PM by Mike from Oz ]
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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I sort of agree with PC Apeman.  “Winning” means you stay happily married.

There are probably other religions that your wife doesn’t believe in, and something that was convincing for me was that there were religions like Scientology or Mormonism which I knew were not “real” and yet well educated and/or ‘famous’ people believed in them.  What has to happen is that there has to be contradiction between reality and belief—until there is a contradiction there really isn’t any lever.

But I think PC Apeman is right—there really isn’t any reason to stress out about it right now.

To lighten things up a little—do you mean “9” months pregnant…

Sorry, as I said earlier, I meant 12 weeks pregnant.

This is not about “winning”. I gave up that battle with my wife long ago, because she matters more to me than whether or not she continues to choose Christianity.

I’m very interested in your post about “contradictions between reality and belief”. Could you explain it to me a little bit more?

Traveler

[ Edited: 19 April 2010 05:15 PM by Cloak ]
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Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

- Bruce Lee -

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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Mike from Oz - 19 April 2010 05:00 PM

My advice - being a random stranger on the interwebz?

Go gentle.

It’s very hard for people to give up such fundamental beliefs. You won’t “win” the argument in first instance. Don’t get caught up in the desire to win, or achieve a big breakthrough. That will take months if not years.

Remember your own experiences, and proceed with empathy. Those of use who have given up “faith” recall that existential terror the initial thought that “God is not real, I will die and there will be no after life” created.

Treat it as the first in an ongoing conversations about faith, the meaning of life and how one can achieve happiness.

As a secular humanist confronted with religious people I emphasis that human well being - happiness - is the ultimate goal. We all want to live a life of fulfillment. Suggest, however tentatively, that for some people irrational thoughts can be a trap. Secular humanism is about personal responsibility and living an ethical life: try and defuse all those things ultra-conservatives demonise “use” with.

Even if she never gives up her faith, helping her recognise that a non-religious view point is a genuine alternative for some people is a good place to agree.

Suggest as parents that you both have things to teach your child, and that ultimately that child will become and adult wanting to make their own decisions. Choice is something we should all have a right too.

Good luck mate, I hope it is a fruitful discussion.

Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll take it to heart. And just to let you know, I have no expectation whatsoever to “solve this issue” in a couple of discussions. We have both agreed that this is going to take some time.

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Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

- Bruce Lee -

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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Okay, I just figured out what was meant about my choices concerning her getting pregnant. I did consider the consequences, and felt that our desire for children outweighed the consequences. Besides, she had always agreed to talk to me about the issues before we had children, yet still avoided it. The timing of the pregnancy was not planned. Now that we are pregnant, I’m asking her to discuss the issues.

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- Bruce Lee -

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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The Traveler - 19 April 2010 04:59 PM

And about the question:

“In any event, was this your choice too, knowing what you did about the consequences?”

Forgive me, but I honestly don’t understand the question. Could you either rephrase or clarify it? Thanks!

I’m assuming you were clever enough to foresee that there would be significant disagreements with your wife over how to raise children vis-a-vis religion.  So without an established workable degree of communication on the issue, why did you go ahead and agree to produce a children with her?  Is she objecting to you telling your future children your views and teaching them critical thinking skills? Have you told her [that you plan to do] this?  What does she say?  Perhaps you want yours to be the only story your children hear?

[ Edited: 19 April 2010 05:17 PM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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the PC apeman - 19 April 2010 05:14 PM
The Traveler - 19 April 2010 04:59 PM

And about the question:

“In any event, was this your choice too, knowing what you did about the consequences?”

Forgive me, but I honestly don’t understand the question. Could you either rephrase or clarify it? Thanks!

I’m assuming you were clever enough to foresee that there would be significant disagreements with your wife over how to raise children vis-a-vis religion.  So without an established workable degree of communication on the issue, why did you go ahead and agree to produce a children with her?  Is she objecting to you telling your future children your views and teaching them critical thinking skills? Have you told her this?  What does she say?  Perhaps you want yours to be the only story your children hear?

Questions! Questions! Okay, lets see here…

As I said, the timing of the pregnancy was not planned. We both wanted to produce children, but both agreed that we would talk about the child’s upbringing first.

She has objected to my method: I have asked that we give the child some time before submersing her in a world of christianity. She wants the child to go to church regularly, and learn Bible verses, she wants to take the child to private Christian school. I want to wait until the child is at an age where we are comfortable that the child can think on his/her own. If the child decides to go to church then, fine! But if the child is too young, I’m not sure that I want to be competing with my wife’s evangelism, church teaching, Bible studies, private Christian school, etc. I don’t think that’s fair, but we need to be able to discuss these issues, and she doesn’t seem interested in it. She just knows what she wants for the child. Which is why I’m trying to get her to see that her views are not as indisputable as she thinks, which is what she believes. If she can at least realize that there are other legitimate positions, then maybe she will treat the issue more fairly. That is all I want.


-Traveler-

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Posted: 19 April 2010 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Okay, does anybody here have any answers to my original question, or is everyone still hung up on making assumptions about my marriage, and on how I treat my wife?

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Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

- Bruce Lee -

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