Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oh no, we can't talk about religion!

I was recently visiting my home country and was at dinner at my brother's house with his wife, our mother and grandmother.  My grandmother told me to pray for something or other (I forget what).  I told her that I don't pray.  She told me that I should, because it gets results, then told my brother's wife that she and other people were praying for a successful birth of their baby (they're expecting).
On the way home in the car, I told my grandmother that I am an atheist and asked her to not tell me to pray anymore.  She said that she already knew I was atheist.  I didn't know for sure if she knew or not.  The conversation escalated a little until I started challenging some of her beliefs.  It was then that both my grandmother and mother told me to stop, and that religion was something that shouldn't be discussed, for fear of making people angry.

What the fuck?!

So it's OK for them to send me to Catholic schools to be indoctrinated into their superstition, it's OK to give me a rosary and Bible, to baptise me, send me to first communion, first reconciliation and confirmation?  It's also OK to tell me to pray and to discuss their religion with others right in front of me, on the very same night of this incident?  But when that little boy is grown up and can think for himself, and wants to challenge it, it's off-limits?  When he gets tired of listening to you talk about it, when he gets tired of being told to follow it, we shouldn't talk about religion in front of others?

I at first thought what they really meant is that religion shouldn't be discussed unless everybody was more-or-less agreed, but then I remembered that they both already knew that I am an atheist.  So what they were really hoping for is that the atheist would keep his mouth shut.  My mother even told me so, asking why I just couldn't have left it alone and not said anything.

I think they're just intellectual cowards, with no argument that could be put forward.  They can only hide in their faith, hoping nobody ever challenges them on it, and also hoping they never have to answer or take responsibility for a failed attempt to indoctrinate a family member.


Gordon said...

"We cant talk about religion" always seems to mean the believer can make casual or overt reference to their beliefs but you cant question them.

I guess it isnt "talking about" it until you disagree.

Jim said...

It's a clever little social policy that no one is allowed to talk about religion if they are questioning it. But if you agree, then by all means, discuss.

ANTZILLA said...

"It was then that both my grandmother and mother told me to stop, and that religion was something that shouldn't be discussed, for fear of making people angry."

FUCK THEM! (not your mother) so what if people get angry. It funny how theist get angry when you ask them about there beliefs. They must know it sounds stupid, it's rather confronting for them when stupid beliefs are said aloud.

Theists, KILL atheists remember.

Jim said...

Yeah, they don't mind making us angry with their genocide and pedophilia, and cult-like tactics used to indoctrinate the young, do they?

Feki said...

Jim, I think you are right, but to me that policy is cowardly, not clever!

On several occasions I have seen people from different christian denominations discussing religion, so it is obvious that these folks CAN talk about religion, but only among similarly deluded people.

More convenient or cost-effective perhaps?

Jim said...

It is cowardly, but you have to admit, if it were socially acceptable for no one to be able to argue with you, there is a fair amount of cleverness involved. And these people use this defend pedophiles! And it works! As horrible and dishonest as this may be, you gotta admit, it's a good card to hold in your hand.

Anonymous said...

While many are unshakable in their beliefs, others who are not so sound can be easily swayed by open discussion, which is why I argue in school so much, despite the teacher saying that she will never be swayed. One other guy has started to speak out now, in terms of logic, which is good, and I know that many people say nothing but agree.
Then we get someone saying how everyone in society is allowed to express their opinions except the religious, the example given that a man who said he was religiously opposed to same-sex marriage be branded a homophobe was somehow wrong.
They are on the defensive.

Jim said...

The greatest threat religion faces is logic.

Which is ironic, because logically, their best defense is taking away logic thought.

Alice :) said...

I suppose I was fortunate in that I wasn't indoctrinated at home and school as a child, my father is an atheist and I went to a regular school with many Muslim and Hindu kids as well as other Atheists and Christians. So I feel very sad when I hear all the anger that people have about their religious indoctrination, used as fear and control – I find it quite sickening to think about. My Grandmother had the same, going to school with nun’s running the place like wicked tyrants. So I have compassion for those who have suffered from those who profess to be ‘do gooders’. These so called theists, are only pushing the same domination and control as many other power figures in our society – they just like to blame it on God. I bit like going to war in Iraq for a ‘just war’ for the good christian god – never mind that the enemy has their own good god.

Understanding the causal nature of the universe and human genetic nature, we can realise that we are all fully caused to be who we are, via our internal (genetic) and external (culture/events) environment. Therefore we can begin to see that Theists are simply acting out their own fully caused lives. Our only hope of changing that, is to appeal to their reason, and aim to educate them differently. We can start by telling them how we feel about what happened to us as children, and then talk about how what happened failed to meet our needs for love, acceptance, protection, autonomy and so on. If we show understanding of their needs also, they are much more likely to respond compassionately when we express our own feelings and needs.

In the example with the Grandmother – we could ask her if she feels scared that things might go wrong, and so she payers because that meets her need to feel safer that things won’t go wrong. Even if it’s not true, it doesn’t matter – what matters is that you are showing an understanding of her feeling and need. Once you have been able to successfully show that you understand her need, she may be more open to hearing your need.

Anger is born from judgment. You judge them for doing wrong – they did you wrong when you were a kid, they did you wrong by being hypocrites now. Whether you judge them as right or wrong, is irrelevant from the fact that everyone is fully caused to do what they do, and so could do no other way.

Expressing your feeling and need, would be way more powerful and honest, than expressing denial of “what is – and could be no other way” with blame through anger. I sense that you felt hurt, when they asked you to pray, because you need respect for who you are, and you need autonomy to choose your own values in life – and you getting your needs met, for respect and autonomy in your values – doesn’t need to stop you from meeting their need for family harmony, reassurance and understanding of their position.

Over time, they may come to understand your perspective better. What will get you to this position more quickly? Anger or compassion?

Alice :)

See "Non-violent Communication" by Marshall B Rosenberg.

Admin said...

I vent here so there is less need to be angry when I talk to them.

I went to a Catholic school, but no nuns.

"Understanding the causal nature of the universe and human genetic nature, we can realise that we are all fully caused to be who we are, via our internal (genetic) and external (culture/events) environment."

This is debatable at best. While it might be true, I will not go along with any assumption that it is. Because much of your outlook seems to stem from that point, I cannot accept them. Personal choice is important, and nobody has been able to demonstrate that choices are not really our own to make. They certainly appear to be our own.