My father is aware that I am atheist, And as a Deacon in a Baptist church he tries to confront my non beliefs on a regular basis. He just turned 81 years old today, And I know is time here is growing shorter. I love and respect my father and don't want to give him a shadow of a doubt of his own beliefs. Does anyone else here have this dilemma?
We choose our own path in this life. some people choose rather hard ones racked with fear and hate. others follow strict ones. the point is to find what makes you happy and content and make those around you in your little world happy and content. don't begrudge him the path he has chosen. smile and tell him how much you love him. address his concerns with a smile and a hug. it's all about loving and helping one another.
John, I have a similar situation with my soon to be 80 year old Pentacostal father, who is a loving person, though doggedly blind in his faith. My question to you is how your father confronts your atheism. Is it talking to you directly, or behind your back to others he hopes will put pressure on you? What he says and to whom could inform how you choose to respond.
My father periodically tells me directly that he worries for my salvation and hopes I will return to Jesus. I have become more blunt with my responses over time, but no approach I have yet tried has seemed to make any difference.
Rather than trying to shatter his faith paradigm, I have generally tried to show him that, if God exists as his scriptures describe, as all loving, all knowing and all powerful, then NO such being would ever condemn us to eternal torture for our sincere doubt , which God would know full well was not rebellion, rather the honest result of the limits of our feeble human understandong....as he created us, no less. I point out that the hell narrative of Christians is very murky and vague in scripture and makes absolutely no sense for an omniscient creator that knew from the beginning which of his creations ultimately would believe what. I also remind him that his bible admonishes Christians not to judge and to accept that, whatever he thinks he knows, is still only childish tiny fragments of the whole truth, if even that, so he should not concern himself too greatly with judging my honest perspective, as none of us has the "whole truth" figured out anyway. I remind him to reconsider what his gospels emphasize as central teaching, that is to love one another, practice kindness and humility and forgiveness of transgressions. I suggest that if I am doing that, I am actually fulfilling Jesus' central teaching, even if my honest doubts question the religious aspects of my father's faith paradigm.
I have said all that over time, and he does not know how to refute my reasoning, but he still worries I am going to hell. (Sigh)
The older/weaker/sicker he gets, I would tell him pretty much what he wants to hear. That's more loving than standing your ground. After all, it's not like he's going to resent you lying in the nonexistent afterlife. It's obvious you love him so make him happy and at peace.
Could you just say to him something like, "I love and respect you, and that includes your religious views, but it doesn't work for me. I don't want this to be a point of conflict for us, so I'd rather that we not discuss religion at all. I'd rather just enjoy your company"? Would he respond positively to that?