Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dennis's Conversation: A Non-Deconversion

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I suspect most open atheists experience that phenomenon where we are the Atheist Friend for some believing people. I'm quite open and approachable (I guess) because I believe I represent atheism to many people both online and in real life. 

One guy who lived in my old neighborhood when I was a kid seems to have cozied up to me on Facebook as his favorite atheist. I will call him Dennis. Although Dennis was a part of the beautiful freedom when I recently unfriended about a hundred people from my friend list, we seem to be able to still communicate by FB messages. I mention this because I got an interesting question from him the other day in a FB message.
When you at one time you read your Bible did you ever look at God has the Redeemer ? God can make a bad situation good God doesn't do it by doing miracles in the Old Testament He does it by entering into a covenant relationship. This is just a thought they I had. The covenant start with Gen. Chapter 12

My conversation in FB messages with Dennis has been going on for a couple of years. Part of the time he's totally over religion and the mind control while the other part of the time he's trying to explain his continued belief. I know he struggles with breaking out of the brainwashing and with trying so hard to find ways to maintain that belief. It's all complicated by the fact that he makes his living as a minister.

When he is out of belief he is incredibly angry at the church, at the teachings as brainwashing, at all authority within the church for spreading lies, at the emptiness of it all, and at the nothingness of prayer. When he is in belief he genuinely accepts the words in that religious text that so many believers venerate.

I know you can forgive Dennis's spelling and other writing errors for his sincerity:
God wants a relationship . Their's evil in the world but on the side God is the way out because God is the provides the way out by redeeming us
Obviously, the other day was one of those days when poor Dennis was trying to reconcile some pretty bad stuff going on in his life with the supposed fact that God is good and will make life better for his believers. Both Dennis and his wife have some quite awful chronic pain and physical handicaps and, in spite of major dollars spent they are both still in a great deal of pain.

His question for me, about whether or not I have a relationship with god, is his usual way of trying to figure out why he believes what he does by asking me to figure it out, tease it out, explain how it makes no sense to me. Sometimes, after I've given him my thoughts on the subject that he presents, he will reveal his own doubts and other times he will post continuing rhetoric usually spoken by believers in conversations such as this.

This time I replied:
Yeah, [Dennis], but you seem to have forgotten something extremely vital to this discussion. I don't believe in ANY gods, including yours. So having "a relationship" with a fictional character doesn't make any sense. 

Furthermore, I don't believe that the way to "Good' in the world will come from having a supernatural connection to something.
Good will only come from choices that HUMANS make to improve our world.
His congenial reply:
Very true it was just a thought. [My wife] is in remission from the pain . So each pain free day is a blessing from God. The seizures have all calmed down. I deeply believe it's all by the Grace of God

I referred Dennis to The Clergy Project, a confidential online support community for current and past clergy who no longer hold any supernatural belief, a couple of years ago and he thanked me profusely. Now he's back to belief. 

For some people, the road to deconversion is a supremely long one. Others never find their way entirely down it. But I understand the pain and struggle...which is why I'll always remain open and welcoming to anyone who needs to have that one single Atheist Friend.

You might also enjoy these posts:

An Unexpected Benefit of Deconversion
It Takes More Faith to be an Atheist
You Deny God Because You Want to Sin

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