What do atheists think of religious family members?

My brothers and I were all raised Catholic/Christian and while I have a very strong faith, both of them always went back and forth on things and just recently, my brother “came out” (lol) to me that he is, indeed, an atheist. Upon further discussion (granted, he was a bit intoxicated admitting this to me) he went on to tell me how many people only believe b/c of being told to or being “brainwashed” as children. I get that, why people or atheists would believe that, and I struggled with my faith for similar reasons, but, of my OWN reasons and accord, restored my faith and it is stronger. I’m not being a cheerleader for Christianity by saying all this, I just want to know if atheists see all Christians as people who were just brainwashed/taught things as children and hold onto irrational dreams? Because it hasn’t been spoken, but I feel like my brother thinks I just see him as a devil going to hell, and I feel like he just sees me as an irrational daydreamer who never grew up to realize Santa isn’t real. Can any of you relate to this scenario with religious friends/family members and how do you dodge the pink elephant once it is finally out?

Sorry so long and thanks for any feedback.

Posted: June 3rd 2011

Dave Hitt www

First, I think anyone who believes in gods is suffering from at least one significant delusion.

The same goes for anyone who believes Kenny G. is a good musician.

Second, in most cases it doesn’t matter much to me. This goes not only for family, but also friends and acquaintances. Are they interesting people that I have something in common with? Cool, let’s hang out.

Like everything else, it’s a matter of degree. I avoid the annoyingly religious – those who have to force some aspect of their faith into every other sentence. The only ones I can’t always avoid are family, so I generally put up and shut up, because it’s not worth starting a fight with potential repercussions down the line.

Everyone is wrong about something – what matters is how much they’re right about. Some of my favorite people, family and otherwise, are religious. I have quite a few friends that have a socialist bent. It doesn’t matter as long as I enjoy their company.

Posted: June 8th 2011

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Ophelia Benson www

Well, yes and no. It’s not exactly a matter of “people who were just brainwashed/taught things as children and hold onto irrational dreams.” It’s not as simple or as harsh as that. We all believe a lot of things “just” because we were taught them, at least initially. Later some of us learn that we can question and/or test those things, but not everyone learns that.

But at the same time…yes: I would guess that your “faith” was shaped by what you were taught as a child, and that your belief that faith is something it’s good to restore was also shaped that way.

Posted: June 8th 2011

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My view is that anybody who doesn’t have the same view on religion as I do is misguided. That isn’t any different from anybody else’s religion; everybody thinks that their beliefs are correct.

As for whether all christians were brainwashed and hold onto irrational dreams?

Well, demographically, the vast majority of christians had christian parents and the vast majority of those were taught to believe before they were capable of making such a decision rationally. “Jesus loves me; this I know. For the bible tells me so” is still stuck in my brain some 40 years after I first heard it, and yes, I was quite indoctrinated.

There are a few exceptions – people who switch religions – but they are rare.

And, if you ask them, the majority of christians can’t provide any justification of their beliefs at all. Those that do will end up with basing it on faith, which is irrational by definition.

So, back to your question. Yes, I do think the vast majority of christians were indoctrinated as children and have irrational beliefs.

As for your second question – how do you deal with it as a family? Generally, you deal with it by not talking about it.

Posted: June 5th 2011

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Blaise www

Unfortunately, 'brainwashing’ is probably the appropriate term for what religions do to children. Humans are hard-wired as children to blindly believe what those in authority over us say. It’s not entirely a bad thing. It keeps you from wandering into traffic or sticking your hand in a flame before you are mentally developed enough to understand why you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, the 'belief’ tendency also makes children susceptible to being programmed to believe all kinds of not helpful things as well. The parent who tells their child over and over that they are too fat/dumb/ugly/etc programs them to have low self-esteem all their lives. Likewise, the parent that tells their child over and over that there is an invisible man in the sky who’s watching them and will punish them severely if they do something wrong programs them to be religious.

Consider that every child is an atheist until someone tells them about gods and faeries, and people who grow up in families or cultures that don’t believe in such things never develop belief in them on their own (although they may occasionally convert after meeting religious people). I don’t think that the majority of religious folk are trying to brainwash children. I just think that’s what happens because of a fluke of human psychology.

Posted: June 5th 2011

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brian thomson www

You asked “I just want to know if atheists see all Christians as people who were just brainwashed/taught things as children and hold onto irrational dreams”.

My short answer: yes, and not just Christians, but all religions and dogmas. I need only look back at my own childhood, at the irrational things I took on board and believed, only some of which were related to religion, but none of which really meant anything in the real world.

2000+ years ago, people didn’t have the tools or the knowledge to investigate the nature of reality, but now we do. As a grown-up (allegedly), I try to see things as they are, not as I wish they were.

Posted: June 5th 2011

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