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How do you stay patient with well meaning, but religiously-hyped, friends who attempt to convert you?

As an ex-atheist agnostic teen who once lived in a town that contained more churches than fast food restaurants—I’d like to ask: How do you deal with friends who are bent backwards trying to “save” you?

Posted: May 20th 2008

Eric_PK

It depends on what your goal is.

If you just want them to stop bothering you, then tell them to stop bothering you.

If that doesn’t work, try the following:

I believe in keeping an open mind, and there are a few things that I think would be good evidence for existence of god (I usually pick a few biblical miracles here – raising the dead, healing amputees, walking on water). Do you have an open mind? (wait for them to answer yes) If so, what things would cause you to believe that god doesn’t exist?

At that point you will likely get them into an interesting discussion, or the conversation will end. If you want to push, you can bring that up the next time they get after you.

Posted: May 23rd 2008

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SmartLX www

By understanding their perspective, and getting them to see yours.

You’re dealing with friends here, so you should know them well enough to figure out what’s happening. Why do they want to “save” you? Are they genuinely concerned for your wellbeing in this life and any other lives, or are they acting under peer pressure or out of habit? If it’s for any other reason than real concern for you, it’s not a very friendly thing to do.

Are they actually trying to work out what it is that keeps you from believing in their god, or are they throwing random propaganda at you and hoping something sticks, or are they simply threatening you by proxy (God) with hellfire and hoping you come round by yourself? If it’s either of the latter two options, you need to let them know that it’s not working, and will never work, for the simple reason that you have thought this through.

It’s not your place to be a passive target for conversion if you don’t want it to be. If your friends want to change the way you think, they have to risk themselves a little bit. They must really listen to your position, and address objections rather than just roll over them. They have to take the chance that some of your doubts might rub off on them. That’s the only way they’ll ever get you to listen to their position with an open mind, and outside of an adversarial context.

Once there’s a dialogue instead of a monologue, you can get to grips with each other and possibly come to an understanding. They will “save” you, or they’ll accept that they can’t for the moment, or maybe they’ll un-“save” themselves.

If your friends aren’t interested in making the effort it truly requires to get through to you, then they’re just making a show of it to look good in front of their church, or perhaps in front of God (who, if he exists, can see through the charade anyway). That’s a self-centered and inconsiderate thing to do.

Posted: May 21st 2008

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