New Member First Post

Hello:

I am not here to debate. I am new to this forum. I a married man with kids and grandkids, living in a very religious community. I have recently had many doubts and am coming to the conclusion that i no longer believe in the god taught by my religion. However, I am too deeply into the lifestyle and cannot just pull out without causing major damage to my life and the people I love. I am posting to see if anybody out there is in a similar situation. Thank you

Hey Marc, welcome to the Atheist Republic.

Well, I’m not married or with kids but I do live in a country, society and family full of religious people. My circumstances were such that the pain that religion caused me was evident for years, in both physical and mental form. I was going to psychologists and therapists, psychiatric hospitals and whatnot.

The point is, I had to announce that I’m outta this shit when I was on the brink of suicide. So, everyone in my family knows this about me.

I don’t think pulling out should cause major damage to your life and the people you love (for example, in a Muslim marriage, if either spouse changes their religion, the marriage is nullified). You’re changing your beliefs, not theirs. Unless I’m wrong, and you mean more extreme by “pulling out”

Having a religious wife is not a problem as long as she knows, understands and respects your lack of belief. Have you tried to talking to her? As for your kids and grandkids, once again, I don’t think you should talk to them at all, unless they all live with you. I’m assuming your wife is the one who’s with you all the time so she’s the one to whom you should reveal your doubts first.

The best way to approach a family member about your lack of beliefs or doubts thereof is to NOT attack their beliefs, but rather take the neutral approach and become the questioner.

For example, “how do you know there’s evidence for god” instead of “you’re wrong, there’s no evidence for god”. Since I’m young (21), I didn’t try to change anyone in my family. They all know I’m an atheist and we respect each other now, but mostly I have to tolerate a lot of religious advice and stuff from them. But, so what? I ignore it. It doesn’t harm me, I don’t even believe in it.

On religious festivals, I have to sometimes perform along with the other people of my religion, not because I believe in it, but because I don’t wanna make my family feel like I’ve ditched them or something. I’ve adapted to them, instead of trying to make them adapt to me. I’m an ex-Muslim, by the way.

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Welcome to the community.

If you tell your family and friends. Yes. They will be upset. Yes. You will get harrassed for awhile over it before everyone in your life quits caring about it and they quit treating it like it’s an issue. Yes. You will lose friends and yes. It might ruin your marriage and it might now. But you will find out who your true friends are after it’s over.

I myself embraced my atheistic lifestyle when I moved out of my mothers house at the age of 18. Most of my friends did not believe in God and they were not Christian. They gave a lot of their influence and we had long discussions and made assertions about how we believed it was bullshit and that God was fake and all of the other gods and religions were fake. We talked about how the bible was bullshit and that none of it existed. We talked about how there was no evidence that Jesus was real. On and on we went with those conversations. I had maybe 2 friends that were Christian and they didn’t like that I separated myself from their religion. We’re no longer friends as a result.

I am 35 now. My family knows I’m Atheist and has known that for years. My mother and brother were deeply hurt and offended by it for a very very long time. It caused fights between me and my ex wife even though she married me knowing damn well that I was not a religious person.

What’s funny is after my divorce. My brother tried helping set me up with a few women for dating. He’d be like “I don’t think this one will work, she’s Christian and I know you’re not into that.” or on another girl he’d be like " she’s Christian" with his deep voice and I’d laugh. I always found his commentary on the subject rather funny.

Now my family don’t give a shit anymore which is great. They’ve accepted that is apart of who I am. Once everyone who loves you accepts the fact that you don’t believe in gods and fairy tales and they’re able to get passed all of the bullshit. You’ll find out who your true friends are.

It won’t be easy. BUT it is very very worth it. I think it’s worth the head ache rather than put up with years of being forced to go to church and pretend to bow and scrape before a god that you believe is imaginary.

I was raised in a very controlling religious atmosphere.
I left at 30 - over 20-some-odd years ago. It did “cost” me my family and friends since childhood and a marriage. I still live in the community and am treated by other religious members as though I am dead. In other words, I’m shunned.

Over two years after I left, I had two siblings follow me out. :stuck_out_tongue:

I had to get to a point where I would be OK truly on my own. I build a little support system through co-workers (kept boundaries, it’s not their job to “fulfill” my needs, but if I needed a beer after work, or could vent a little at work, I had some closer co-workers).

Anyway - each person depending on their circumstances makes the best decisions for themselves at the time. Circumstances change too…

Enjoy your time here! Welcome!

Loads of people have been and we see posts like this frequently. Many of the posters are stuck in Islamic countries where “coming out” can mean serious problems, even threats of death.

Whether or not anyone is currently sharing your situation, this is certainly a place to have some of your questions answered. Loads of very helpful people on the site and a wide array of different experiences. Welcome to the “AR.” Hope you enjoy your stay.

Hi Marc, welcome to AR.

At the very least you should find some like minds.

I don’t necessarily agree with the “it’s worth it” claims. Such an experience can be very painful and costly in terms of relationships.

From your post , it seems that at this point you only have doubts, but have not made a firm decision. Perhaps ask some questions about doubts you have. Here is good safe place. When you have enough information to make decision, do what feels right for you, without direction from others, no matter how well meaning.

Hi Marc

Welcome to the forums. You will find a kind, compassionate, forthright community here.

I cannot imagine what your life must be like in a community where outward conformity is necessary to avoid the pain and social isolation you describe.

Keep talking. it will help.

Thank you. It is true that I am not a “full blown atheist”. I have many doubts and have rejected the standard answers and beliefs. That does not make me an Atheist; I am closer to being Agnostic. However, the main point for me is that I don’t think it is a responsible act for me to just puruse my own “truth” regardless of the consequences to my loved ones.

Thank you for listening.

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Why not? And why would their be consequences? Can you be more specific?

I think you really need to elaborate what you mean by this pursuit of truth.

I did mention before that changing your belief does not have to change ANYTHING externally. You’re still the same guy, with the same body, same family and everything is the same. You’re changing beliefs and that is internal. Your beliefs are not physically affecting anybody. They can affect others mentally if you start forcefully imposing them.

I’m getting the idea that you fear that you will have to abandon your family, wife or kids if you sought out the truth? It doesn’t have to be that way.

You’re being hesitant. Please share everything so we can all help you together.

You have used “Agnostic” incorrectly. Everyone is Agnostic. Christians are agnostic. Atheists are agnostic. Anti-theists are agnostic. God is a non-falsifiable claim. There is nothing anyone acthally knows about god. Pin a theist down and all you will end up with is their last ditch effort to hold onto their belief, “Well… you gotta have faith.” Faith is not knowledge. There is no knowledge. (Hence… they are Agnostic.)

Atheism is about what you BELIEVE. It is a response to a single question. “Do you believe a god exists?” The answer is “Yes” or “No.” The answer may be “sometimes.” The answer can not be “Yes” and “No.” At this moment you either believe or do not believe. Atheism is about “belief.”

Agnosticism is not about belief. It specifically addresses what you know. What KNOWLEDGE you actually have. You are correct, you have no actual knowledge about any god that may or may not exist. You are just like everyone else. If you think you have some knowledge, please feel free to share. I would love to hear about it. You are definately Agnostic, but being agnostic says nothing at all about what you believe.

So Marc… “Does God Exist?” Yes or No? There is no middle ground. Whether or not you "know’ you do have an opinion. You do fall on one side of the fence or the other.

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I can understand the situation that you’re in, but you need to live your life for yourself first. I’m a life-long atheist that was forced to pretend I was Catholic until I was in my teens before my parents gave up on me. When my wife and I got married, neither one of us practiced any religion, but after our son was born, she became a Christian and lectured me for years about being a non-believer and what was going to happen if I didn’t accept jesus.
We fought about it for years before we “agreed to disagree” on the subject. We’ve been married for almost 40 years now, we have 2 kids and 4 grandkids. They’re all devout christians and I’m the family heretic. Being an atheist doesn’t have to change “who” you are, just what you “believe” on the subject of god. It’s like the old saying “religion and politics”.

If you have to hide your lack of belief and still participate in family rituals/ceremonies, you’re not being true to yourself and will end up miserable. If you choose to reveal this, talk to your wife first and just ask her what evidence there is for her "god’ other than faith.

There is also a you-tube channel called THE ATHEIST EXPERIENCE that features an ex southern baptist named MATT DILAHUNTEY that has a way of explaining his story and how he came to be an atheist after believing for 25+ years that makes a lot of sense.

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And if you choose to come out as an atheist, and if she divorces you, takes the kids, the house and the car, and the friends that you once had are all theists and on her side, you will also be miserable…

You are yourself whether or not you are ‘out’ as an atheist. You are yourself, as an atheist, staying quiet and keeping the peace, and you are yourself speaking out and dealing with any issues. You are always yourself.

So weigh your decisions as carefully as you can and then just do like the rest of us. Put one foot in front of the other, deal with issues as they arise, stop to smell the roses on occasion, try to have a few meaningful goals, and get through another day,