Quick, hide the Dawkins!

Have they gone yet?

The in-laws are coming to stay. This means that through a combination of pragmatism and cowardice, I’m tidying up my recent reading matter to ensure that they don’t see anything that would be likely to cause trouble. It’s not that I’m feeling guilty or ashamed of reading things that they wouldn’t approve of, but I’m not sure of myself, not ready to “come out” if I was, and I’d much rather keep control of how and when the subject comes up.

So I’m avoiding confrontation, playing my usual game of fitting in and keeping my head down, but on a much bigger scale. I hate it, I hate the way it puts me on edge, and I hate the way it reminds me of the things I go along with, and the parts of my life I need to sort out. Clearly, I can’t go on like this, but at the moment the few alternatives I can see look even less appealing, so I’ll continue to stick it out for the time being.

The funny thing is that I quite like them as people (as much as any man can like his in-laws), and I’m happy to disagree with them about various things, but I still get very uncomfortable when the conversation turns to religion. It would probably be easier if I were to meet them for the first time now. They first knew me as a young, enthusiastic (if rather green) evangelical, so I feel like they’ll consider it a disappointment that I’ve changed, and regard me as a patient, a backslider, or even a target for evangelism.

I’m probably being unfair to them and worrying over nothing, but as long as I’m confused in my own mind, I have a good excuse for avoiding the difficult conversations, so that’s what I do. One day, when I’ve got my thoughts together, I’ll have to work out a proper strategy, but for now, I’ll carry on “doing my thing” by gritting my teeth, keeping quiet, and avoiding the issue.

And hating myself for it.

Photo by .Larry Page, used under Attribution License

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

8 responses to “Quick, hide the Dawkins!”

  1. jonnyscaramanga says :

    Haha, great title! I can’t blame you. There are some things that only result in fruitless arguing. And atheism doesn’t require evangelism; there’s nothing to convert to.

  2. sixpointnineme says :

    Hahaha! Very nice cat. No one can tell you when is the right time to come out to your in-laws, only you that have swum in the waters can know how deep they are, so to speak. This is a very personal thing, take you own pace. What does your better half have to say about this?

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      We don’t discuss it as a rule. Some years ago, when I started seriously doubting, she got very upset about it. As a result, I find it easier to avoid discussion. She knows I’m cynical and dubious about a lot of claims, but as long as I’m inside pissing out, it isn’t a problem.

      That’s another thing that needs to be resolved, but at least I can be honest about my opinions, even if I have to stop short of any unwelcome conclusions.

      • sixpointnineme says :

        You touch a very important issue for the new non-believer or deconvert if I may use the term. As long as you keep to yourself, nobody knows what you think and it poses no threat to them. You can bash on them for being of Conservative Party, Labour or Liberal Democrat politics and that is OK, you can even end up having a pint with them. But don’t touch religion because that is a no-no.
        We all have to consider the price we have to pay for declaring our non-belief, for some there is practically no price to pay and for others it can be akin to social suicide. We all fear losing family, friends and possibly a job due to this, so we must carefully weigh the consequences.
        Through my adult life I was never religious but I never declared my anti-religious feelings.It took my a few years to first express my doubts, and then one day, I just felt the time was right, to declare myself a non-believer to my wife first, and then a short time later, on a one to one basis to my two kids.
        I wish that we all could express our thoughts with total freedom, but, alas, that is sometimes not possible.
        Use your blog as a form of catharsis and keep reading and overall, thinking critically. A slow but constant approach, like a drop of water on a stone, may be the way to go for you. Whittle her resistance down little by little. Mixed marriage is feasible.
        Also, you may use less confrontational terms like secular humanist, naturalist, bright, instead of atheist. Agnostic always worked for me, before saying that I am an atheist (well only 6.9/7).

        “…No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne

  3. Chris says :

    I’ve never ‘come out’… I’ve just not stayed in either. We don’t talk about it.

    I found the perfect solution though… start writing a dissertation on atheism. Then you *have* to read the stuff…

  4. Joan Barleycorn says :

    Your religion must have been\still is such an important part of your identity. Now you doubt, you are not just doubting the existence of God, or Christian doctrine but who you are. You are very brave to share this, even anonymously.

    From my reading of your recent blogs, you seem to thrive on logic. I’m a lot messier than that, though, like you, I have kept things to myself sometimes, for fear of hurting others or fear of disapproval or because I was in some kind of transition. It is not a good place to be. I don’t know your circumstances. Is your husband\wife a strong committed Christian?

    I hope you get the chance to say (as and when appropriate) that you’re having doubts without the sky falling in. People say ‘Jesus sets you free’. Even when my faith is strong (it varies, I have not been to church for months recently but could return) such slogans make me cringe. Because they are infantile. In your case it would seem the impact of Christianity on your sense of identity has left you in a metaphorical prison now it no longer works for you. I hope you find a way to outwardly claim your doubt and the confidence to handle it..

    Me, I intuitively feel there’s some important spiritual truth in Christianity but take a lot of its doctrines with a pinch of salt. However, as stated above, I sense you are hard wired for rationality and that accepting a degree of ambiguity when it comes to matters of faith may not serve..

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      I can easily accept a degree of ambiguity. It’s true that it’s not my natural mode of thought, but years of exposure to ambiguous and contradictory beliefs have had an effect, even if I’ve largely discarded those beliefs now. I’m enough of a pragmatist to value compromise, anyway.

      I like the prison image. It’s definitely my past that makes it so hard. My wife is a Christian, and maybe that’s a story for another day, but I know that she’s had doubts in the past. It’s just a matter of sorting out what to do, how and when.

      • sixpointnineme says :

        Compromise is a part of daily life, and it is up to you to decide how much of it is good.
        I would think that maybe your wife gets upset when you express your doubts because she is afraid that you will stir the beehive of her own past doubts.

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