General Question

rojo's avatar

For those of the Atheist persuasion, which is the worst case scenario? (details inside)

Asked by rojo (24159points) November 17th, 2014

Your child comes to you and says they can no longer accept your way of thinking regarding God. Which would, in your opinion, be the worst choice they could make in deciding how to proceed with their lives; to become agnostic or to become religious? If religious, which would you consider the worst choice of the myriad available they could make?

Please note there is a separate question for those who are religious.

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47 Answers

longgone's avatar

I wouldn’t consider either of those bad choices, per se. I would be worried if my children decided to join any kind of group with extremist views. Religion, on its own, I would not consider a concern. Many people are religious without it affecting their lives much at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would accept whatever they want to believe.

ragingloli's avatar

“Becoming an agnostic” would just mean that it is ignorant of the terminology.
Becoming religious would mean a complete lack of critical thinking skills, which would mean that I would have failed as a parent.

longgone's avatar

Out of the edit window, but I have to add: I would consider a sudden turn to religion cause for concern insofar as I’d interpret it as my kid “looking for something”. The choice wouldn’t worry me, but the need to choose would.

sahID's avatar

While I would support whatever decision they ultimately make, I would feel greater inner relief is they said they were becoming agnostic. Should their decision would be to become religious, the extent to which I could support such a decision would depend entirely on which church they were becoming serious about.

canidmajor's avatar

For those of any persuasion, the worst case scenario (IMO) would be if my child were to blindly feel/believe what I do, simply because I do.

I want my child to question and explore all possibilities. That is a better indicator of critical thinking skills than keeping the doors closed.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Their beliefs are their business. I’d talk to them about how and why they’ve come to their decision, but I wouldn’t try to convert them to my way of thinking. As long as they don’t expect me to start saying prayers before eating or attending church with them, I’m perfectly okay with them having their own beliefs.

talljasperman's avatar

Joining a cult that doesn’t treat her/him with dignity.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I would expect them to simply accept my views to begin with. I’d hope they’d come to their own conclusions. If those conclusions led them to religion I’d have no problem with that so long as they didn’t try to convert me to their point of view.

LostInParadise's avatar

Being an agnostic would be fine with me. There is a very fine line between agnostic and atheist. I consider myself an atheist. There is nothing that I do that takes into consideration the possibility that there may be a God. However, I would not say that I am 100% certain there is no God. To do so would make me guilty of the same type of faith shown by those who are certain of the existence of God.

ucme's avatar

There would be no bad choice, they went there own way & that’s good enough for me.

Darth_Algar's avatar

“I would expect them to simply accept my views to begin with.”

Too late to edit my above post, but this part should read “would not expect”, not “would expect”. I would not expect them to simply accept my views.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s their choice, not mine. As long as they have rational reasons for believing what they do I would fully accept their decision not to believe what I do.

josie's avatar

I would tell them to read this book and get back to me, which sort of cancels out your false alternative.

JLeslie's avatar

I would be completely fine with my child believing in God. Believing in God is different than being religious in my opinion. If they became religious I would be pretty disappointed if their beliefs included thinking only their religion is the right way. If they became very judgmental it would really bother me. If their religious beliefs had them believing I was going to hell it would bother me too.

talljasperman's avatar

Well the worst I could be sacrificed in the middle of the night to bhaal.

seekingwolf's avatar

I know that ultimately, I would have to respect their choice and I would but honestly, I think personally, I would struggle with it. As someone who has never believed in God despite being raised in church, I struggle when my close loved ones tell me that they believe in God and/or are religious “just because”. Of course, I don’t reveal this to them, just smile and nod, but yeah, it affects how I see them and probably to some degree, how much I respect their opinions when it comes to this subject. again, nothing I’d say to their face.

Ultimately, I’d have to shrug and put up with it and keep my mouth shut, but it would be a real shame for me to raise a child who would grow into a religious person and I could only hope that maybe someday they may grow out of it.

kritiper's avatar

It would be a choice I would allow them to make for themselves.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Since I am not a parent, this is difficult to answer. I think I would accept most points of view as a difference of opinion, although I would want to maintain an open dialogue to discuss how and why they came to a different conclusion to myself. As long as they continue being a decent human being (and therefore a poor follower of their religion), I could accept it.

Of course the worst possible scenario would be if they became a radicalised Islamist. Any form of Islam is bad, but what we call “radical” is the most horrifying form of religion. I cannot imagine accepting those beliefs from anyone, let alone my child.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Is Islam synonymous with Muslim for you? Are you saying all Muslims are bad?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie No. Good people can have bad ideas. The vast majority of Muslims are great people, but like many belief systems that is despite their beliefs rather than because of them. Usually, people’s humanity stops them from following their professed beliefs too closely.

Thank you so much for asking. Too many identify criticism of ideas with criticism of the person.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I believe that people should be allowed any crutch available on the rigorous journey through life, as long as those seizing the device are not required to beat the rest of us with it. I would ask the kid to defend his choice in front of me, but whether or not he chooses to comply with my request is again, his choice.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I fail to see how Islam, in itself, is any worse than Judaism or Christianity.

rojo's avatar

From previous threads, I thought that the worst case scenario would be to become a Scientologist.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar Christianity evolves. Once upon a time, Galileo was put under house arrest for his belief in heliocentrism. Now the Pope has affirmed the truth of evolution and the big bang. Islam refuses to adapt, and therefore more effectively crushes critical thinking skills. Most predominantly Christian countries believe in the separation of church and state, which makes Christian belief more personal, and less likely to impact others. Islam is decidedly political, hence why a relatively progressive nation like Indonesia still has laws regarding the practice of religion, and makes atheism dangerous.

Judaism does not encourage active proselytising. They’re far more worried about defending the Jewish people than converting people. That makes it more benign, and less likely to impact the lives of non-Jews.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yeah, you’re right. No Christian has ever shot up an abortion clinic, bombed a public gathering space because they didn’t like the government making laws contrary to their beliefs, tried to inject their religion into school curriculum, put their commandments in court houses, protested funerals because of “fags” or otherwise tried to push their beliefs onto anyone else.

ragingloli's avatar

the animal of christianity has not been domesticated. it has been put in a cage and now acts cuddly in order to be let out again.
occasionally you can hear it hissing, betraying its true concealed nature.
and the hissing is getting louder and more frequent.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar and @ragingloli I don’t recall saying that either Christianity or Judaism are all about happiness, cuddles, and rainbows. They’re both horrifying in their own way. But in a game of top trumps, Islam wins every time.

The vast majority of Christians believe in the New Covenant, which allows them to accept Jesus’ more hippie teachings, reject the disgusting teachings of the Old Testament, and ignore the more dubious ideas in the New Testament, without too much cognitive dissonance. It’s still not great, but at least they’re trying to match their archaic beliefs to somewhat modern ethics. Islam rather sets itself up in opposition to modern ethics.

I was careful to address the beliefs themselves, not the actions of followers. If I had any effect as a father, my progeny would act on the beliefs themselves, rather than in accordance with the behaviour of other believers. But @Darth_Algar since you bring up the violence aspect (which I have not yet mentioned on this thread, for good reason), I’ll suffice to say that for every abortion clinic shooting, there are a dozen suicide bombings, and for every Christian public bombing, there has been a deliberate massacre in the name of Islam.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yup, you brought up the beliefs themselves, in which case Christianity is just as repugnant as Islam (more so, in some aspects really. Having read both the Bible and the Quran I actually found the Quran to be the slightly more liberal of the two). And Christians only try to distance themselves from the Old Testament when one brings up the not-so-nice bits like a rape victim having to marry her rapist, or the inconvenient shit like not wearing clothing made from two fabrics. When it comes to other shit (like homosexuality) well, “we can’t pick-and-choose what parts of the Bible we want to follow”). When it’s inconvenient then the Old Testament somehow doesn’t apply to Christians. Otherwise then it’s “Jesus said “I have not come to abolish the law blah, blah, blah…””.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar I’ve read the Bible several times through, and most of the Quran also. There’s no need to tell me about the bad stuff in the Bible – I’m an ex-Christian for a reason. Well, a number of reasons.

It’s become easy to criticise Christianity. Sure, there’s the Westboro breed that are troublesome, but for the most part Christians “turn the other cheek” just like Jesus instructed. But Islam was founded by a genocidal warlord. It was spread through a degree of violence that would make the generals of the Hundred Years War blush. And that is reflected in the state of the religion today. Islam barely attempts apologetics, so if one criticises Islam, rather than a counter argument, you get riots. There’s a reason Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards constantly with her – criticism simply isn’t tolerated.

Darth_Algar's avatar

And the same things can be said or could have been said about Christianity. The two religions are just two sides of the same pile of shit.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hah! My son came to pick the baby up. The subject turned to hell because of something I said. I said, “Why would someone who has no body care whether the place was on fire?”
He said, “Don’t even get me started on religion. I’d probably really piss you off!”
I said, “I don’t think you would. I know where you stand, but you don’t know where I stand.” ;)
That’s the closest I’ve come to revealing my shift to any family member.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar Ok, then name me one country with laws inspired by Christian principles, in which it is illegal to not practice a religion. Or one where women are considered the property of their husbands or fathers. Or one where women are routinely murdered for pre-marital sex, even if it was a rape.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Part of the problem is that you’re wanting to compare Christians in 1st world nations to Muslims living in 3rd world nations. How about comparing Christians in 1st world nations to Muslims living in 1st world nations? Or Muslims living in 3rd world nations to Christians living in 3rd world nations. I think you’ll find extremism from adherents of both faiths in these impoverished nations, and “evolved” adherents of both faiths in prosperous nations. And then there’s a nation like Russia, with it’s charming Orthodox Church backed anti-homosexual laws, and where it’s pretty much become illegal to criticize the church, and where in recent years they’ve refused legal recognition of different religious groups like the Hare Krishnas and even Christians of certain denominations.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar Do you seriously consider Saudi Arabia or the UAE to be third world?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Despite the sheen that the royal families (who control most of the wealth) put on those countries, yes. When the majority of the workforce of those countries is comprised of foreigners, yes. Granted it’s hard to gauge just what the poverty situation is in those countries because their governments do not release such information and prosecute anyone who tries to investigate the subject.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar The fact that they practice a modern form of slavery doesn’t automatically make them third world. The citizens are largely wealthy or middle class. It may be institutionalised inequality to a degree the US can only look at with envy, but it doesn’t make the countries third world. They’re also not officially listed as developing countries.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

I’m not even talking about the poop migrant laborers who are essentially enslaved to do all the grueling physical work. The majority of workers in their business and financial sectors are foreign as well. But as I said, it’s difficult to gauge what life is like for the citizens there, in terms of poverty and financial stability, as their governments will not release such figures and prosecutes anyone who tries to investigate the subject.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar I think we’re going a bit off track here. Surely you must admit that, despite their wealth, well developed cities and facilities, economic ties with the West, and massive efforts to boost international appeal, these countries are far more oppressive than any Christian majority country. And that has to say something about the ideology that inspired their laws.

Or should we rather compare them to Peru, a decidedly developing country with a huge Christian majority, that was still amongst the first nations in the world to legalise homosexual marriage, and has constitutionally established separation of church and state? Or Brazil, which also constitutionally prohibits recognition of a state religion, despite its huge Catholic majority?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Or how about Uganda? There’s a nice example of a tolerant, “evolved” majority Christian nation for you.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar By comparing countries, I am showing that some Christian societies have adopted liberal principles, while Islamic countries are consistently unethical. Yes, Uganda is a largely Christian country with an abysmal record. But its laws are not inspired by Christian principles, and its constitution prohibits the adoption of a state religion (Chapter 2, Article 7). In contrast, Islamic countries regularly appeal to religious principles to justify blaming rape victims, restricting the practice of other religions, and sponsoring international terrorism at the state level.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Funny. A post or two ago I thought you were going by the religious majority of a country, not what their laws were based on. If you only want to count countries who’s law is based on a certain religion then why bring up a nation like Brazil (which, frankly, is pretty unethical itself when it comes to human rights)?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Darth_Algar Look back 5 posts, and you’ll see I’ve been talking about laws all along: “name me one country with laws inspired by Christian principles”. I brought up Peru and Brazil simply because Christian majority countries almost all have secular laws, and you have been unable to name a country with Christian laws with the institutionalised horrors of Islamic countries. And if we refer to countries with Christianity established as a state religion, we end up turning to Sweden and Norway, which are obviously not representative. So Peru and Brazil are the closest we’ve got if you want to compare directly to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and eliminate the questionable excuse of poverty being to blame for those countries’ pathetic treatment of their own people.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh The laws in Belize are extremely influenced by Christian values. Every shop is closed on Sundays, by law.Those that chose to stay open have to pay the government a fine bribe to operate on Sunday. Homosexuality is illegal (and horrible discriminated against.) Coming out can mean being beaten or worse, with little or no action taken against the assailant. While I was down there I read a newspaper that had a full page print that read ” Protect REAL human rights, not homosexual sinners!” Hell, even women’s rights are shit in that country in comparison to men’s.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@El_Cadejo Thank you, I was unaware of the situation in Belize.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Yea, it’s pretty fucked actually. While it’s a wiki page, it outlines the law and it’s issues being backed by church based ideologies pretty well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Belize

To add an extra layer of bullshit to the shit sandwich, it’s legal for women to engage in same sex sexual activity but for men caught it’s a penalty of 10 years in prison.

prairierose's avatar

I would be accepting of their choice. There would be one stipulation though, if the decision was to go the religious route, do not try to convert me and do not attempt to shove the religion down my throat.

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