Friday, April 20, 2012


I have an atheist friend who is antagonistic towards me sometimes. It makes me feel disconnected from him and small. I don't know how to handle it. I wish he was softer. I completely understand that my mystical views are weird to him. I come from the perspective where I embrace things I don't understand all the way and I like to wonder a lot. I think that this is really strange to him and I feel like he doesn't respect it. But I need him to respect it just like I feel I respect what resonates with him. But if he wants concrete answers, he's not going to be able to get them from me because I see things in a way that there are things beyond my understanding and I have peace with that and also curiosity towards that. I feel like he thinks I'm a total dumbass for thinking that way. I really like exploring what the meaning could be behind things that I don't understand. I often have a strange peace when things don't tie up in a tidy knot but I completely understand that is not the way it is for him. Anyway, the root of my grief here is that I feel like he doesn't respect it because he doesn't understand it. I wonder how I can communicate this to him without him freaking out. I don't know how to approach it. Thoughts?


Kara said...

Maybe just tell him exactly this.

It's clear you value his friendship and respect him. I'll bet he values the friendship too and might hear you if you're just vulnerable and honest about it. If not, more to grieve - but at least you've been real about it.

Still Breathing said...

I agree with Kara, you need to talk to him about it. There is a chance that it isn't anything he is doing intentionally and will be upset that this is how you perceive things. On the other hand it won't hurt to get this out in the open so you can talk about it openly.

God bless and PFATP

yup said...

When I'm confronted with people who think in such a different way, I usually end up talking about different types of intelligence (logical, intuitive, interpersonal, spatial, etc.), different personality types (I'm a huge nerdy fan of the Meyers-Briggs), or different cultures as a way to point out how differently people can understand truth. If someone pushes for only logical or factual arguments as justifications for why I believe in something, I nicely try to point out that it might be foolish to think that one way of knowing is the ultimate way. Then again, someone who is more bent toward "objectivity" and "scientific" answers might never be able to understand or respect another way of thinking.

If I can't convince them that the way I believe is a valid process (and there's a difference between accepting something as a valid point of view and accepting it as your own point of view), then I would ask him to soften his approach rather than try to convince him of something.

I've had people come to respect me with this approach and had some people just write me off. But it hasn't hurt to try - as long as I am being respectful in my approach, OF course. And then being respectful means something different to everyone you talk to.. haha.

Hope this helps!

Heather said...

Post your thoughts on your blog, hope he reads them, and then hope he realizes you're talking about him...?

Wondering about the positives of your friendship. Maybe there's something in there that would help the hard parts.

Cat said...

Well, his antagonism towards you for not thinking exactly like him sounds just as patronising and militant as that of a fundamentalist Christian. I somehow don't think he'd want his atheism flavoured that way.

Sadly, you can be a fundamentalist Atheist just as much as you can be a fundamentalist Christian.

In both cases, I think that the fundamentalism is motivated by an inability to deal with uncertainty, which is probably something your belief system can handle and his can't.

Simone said...

I want to leave a comment but I'm about to board a plane! I'm sitting at the kiosk and keeping my eye out and the line shrinks away from me! I have thoughts, obvs.

Okay, maybe I have time. I agree with what Cat said about there being fundamentalist atheists as much as there are fundamentalist Christians. I just watched a documentary on the plane talking about how the way they arrived at the Big Bang theory could be wrong. It certainly wasn't offering god up as a solution, but rather pointing out that there are all these other elements that we don't yet understand about it and the standard formula used to come up with that may be incorrect. I'm too dumb about science to explain it in any more detail, but indeed, there is plenty unexplained about science so that is why I think atheists need to be more generous and understanding about people pursuing the unknown.

Having said that, something I see among all the comment threads and questioners is a lot of questioning within the faith y'all were raised in, but not much more outside of that or opening up to science or other faiths as much so that can be a little frustrating to an atheist. I'm not saying he's right to be condescending but maybe it's coming from a frustration of seeing people wanting to be skeptics but not going the whole hog. As we talked about in the last Dongtini, I see a lot of questions, but they are often contained within the originating faith which doesn't seem very qustioning in the big picture. Maybe it's kinda like being prick teases but with skepticism and not weiners.

I hope you can reach him and make him see that he's going about this the wrong way. I also hope this doesn't mean me and you substitued "she" for "he". Lulz!

Okay, I gotta board!

stephy said...

LOSing! No it's not you! It's actually a friend back in Texas that I only interact with on Facebook. I don't think he can handle either of my blogs anymore so he probably won't read this (but hi if he is!) and he's far away and we don't interact much anymore bit we have a lot of history and I still care about our friendship. I agree with what you say about people emerging from Christianity not being able to explore further very often. I wonder if those people are in a transition space where they'll be more unconditioned with time. I do know some former pastors who are atheists now, so I know that's possible. Anyway, this could be a fun Dongtini topic? I'm pretty sure my Texas friend doesn't listen to it but oh well.