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Once I said to a dear Christian friend: “Suppose there really is no God, and suppose I had it within my power to show you this truth. Would you want me to do it?” She took the question seriously and finally responded, “No; that would be very painful to me.” Question: suppose I did know there is no God and that I did have that power. Would I have the right to show her that painful truth anyway? Would I have the duty to do so? Or would it depend further considerations?

Wallace 7 Oct 17

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Nope, she just told you she needs her religion.


For the honest person the most bitter of truths is necessarily preferably to the sweetest of lies.

Succinctly stated!


I've been thinking, and my deconversion was very painful for me. I was really a devout Christian. It took me a year to get over it, no fooling. That said ...

I'm happier now than I was back then. I feel free. My belief was comforting sometimes, but really quite damaging in many, many ways, almost to the point of psychosis. And being an atheist made me a better person, too, in a way. As Thomas Paine put it, “Belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man.”


If you did have such proof, then you would perhaps have a duty to make it public knowledge, and thereby allow everyone who wants it to benefit. But there is a difference between, putting your spare flower seeds on a table at your gate, for the passers by to help them selves, and going out at night sowing them secretly in peoples gardens.

However, if you knew that she was actively suffering because of her belief in god, then perhaps offering to sow vegetables in the gardens of the starving, maybe.


If she clearly said I don’t want to know, then you have to respect her choice. Otherwise, why did you give her the choice in the first place. Additionally, forcing her to hear what you have to say would make you no better than those insisting on giving you the word of god. Duty? I suppose it depends on the level of your friendship, but even so, you can bring the horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink, and you shouldn’t.


For many, leaving religion is like a death, would you force that on anyone? When I was a believer it gave me great comfort to think my mom was in heaven and I would see her again. She died when I was 14, and events that followed were a huge blight on my life. Then I lost my first baby, and it gave me comfort to think of my mom caring for her in heaven. When I came to the truth that there is no god I had to mourn for my mom and my baby again. It wasn't easier the second time, I would never force that on anyone.

What if you could get them when they're young enough so they only have to mourn once??

@JeffMurray Ideally they will never have to leave religion as they will never have known religion. My children were brought up in the church, now two of them are openly atheist, the third was going to church with her dad pre covid but I think it was to keep daddy happy. The oldest and youngest have children, and the other is the favorite auntie. With the influence of Atheist Auntie, Grammy (me) and another uncle that is ardently atheist, the children (2 so far, will double next year) will grow up knowing not everyone believes in any gods, and why they don't, and will have opportunities to learn about all the options. Yes, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Ideally our schools should teach religious literacy, so everyone knows about other religions and lack of religion. I think it would make us better world citizens. Some people need that crutch, or comfort, of someone in charge and the possibility of a better/different life. Not all people will be logical. But everyone should be exposed to other ideas so they can make their own decisions.

@HippieChick58 That's all awesome, but not everyone has as much of a leg up as your children and grandchildren. So for those that don't, why don't you support conversion, especially if you can get them young?

@JeffMurray I wouldn't use the term conversion but when some of those Faithfools rattle on, I'm left with no option but to tell them to take their thumb out of their mouth and lose the ACT, they're grown up now, so no need to fear those fairytales when they were children, as it was exactly that - FEAR.

@TimeOutForMe What we call it is irrelevant. Should we do it is the question at hand.

@JeffMurray Yes , all children has a right to not be bullyed by their peers , so all religion should stay out of schools ,as someone quoted , its not a subject . and it is the ladys personally chosen she "can't handel the truth " has phobias poor woman

@JeffMurray Indoctrination is a parental right, as sad as that sounds. When you are the parent you get to make those decisions, and remember young children live in a rich fantasy world. My 3.5 year old granddaughter had a sleep over with me several weeks ago. She asked if there were monsters under my bed. I told her Grammy (me) was tougher and meaner than any old monster, they were afraid to come out. There is a very interesting book that my book club just finished. It is called: Relax, It's Just God: How and Why to Talk to Kids About Religion When You're Not Religious by Wendy Thomas Russell. Even when you try to bring your kids up atheist or agnostic you will still brush up against religion. The best thing you can do is teach your kids about ALL religions and the whys of those religions. Beside, cultural literacy will make them far better citizens.

@HippieChick58 I wasn't debating the methods of trying to make someone atheistic, just questioning your stance on your original reply to the OP question: do they have the right and/or duty to "prove" god doesn't exist if they could.

Some indoctrination, however, is not/should not be the right of the parent to perform. It can be very dangerous and costly.

@JeffMurray I don't think that is a battle you should choose. Short of killing the children, the laws are pretty much totally behind the parents. That doesn't necessarily mean it is a good thing, but parents do get to make those decisions. Yes, there are lots of people having kids that should not even be trusted with stuffed animals, but such is the society we live in. Whatever my or your opinions are, we cannot interfere with parental rights. ALL indoctrination however IS the right of the parent to perform, at whatever cost it is to society. Whether it is right or wrong, it IS.

@HippieChick58 So even if that is true legally, which most of the time it is even including killing the children (like JW and Christian Scientist), why do you not feel it is your right and/or duty to break the child free if given the means and opportunity?

@JeffMurray Are you a parent? What you have just suggested just chills me to the core. NO it is NOT my right nor duty to take children away from parents who think they are being good parents and following the teachings of their religion. What you are suggesting is heinous, and dangerous. Being in a minority what is to prevent the Religious Right from passing laws to take children away from Atheist parents or gay parents.

@HippieChick58 No, I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant break the child of their beliefs, not take them away from their parents.

@JeffMurray Do you think you'd be able to convince a child of something their parents told them was true? You wouldn't be able to with a young child. You might with an older child, but why set them up for tension in the family. They're dependent upon their parents usually until 18 or 22. Many children figure out the truth anyway and just learn to lay low while living at home. My kids sure did, it is only as adults that they push back to their ultraconservative Fox news watching daddy. But unless you know the family situation intimately, don't mess with family dynamics. You could put them in an stressful if not abusive situation.

@HippieChick58 I don't really worry about all that. If I see someone I think I can break of nonsensical beliefs, I try. I've been successful numerous times and any fallout that results is acceptable losses in my book.


If she declines the proof, I would tell her, "Okay, but let me know if you ever want to see the evidence. I'll be there to show you reality."


It would be nice if we could allow people to stew in their own stupidity. The problem comes when the stew starts to boil and they feel compelled to not just spread their delusions, but to insist that others bow down to their god. And, if you don't, they will kill you. If people are to be given freedom of delusion, society must also enact measures to protect the rest of us from them. Dissemination of lies needs to be controlled in some way, and when belief gets too extreme, it should become a public health issue. Extremists should be treated as psychopathic lunatics BEFORE they start a body count.


If I could add or clarify one bit though. I don't think it needs to get very far (like the example of a body count, though I don't think you meant that to be the start but rather a clear example everyone should be able to grasp). One's delusion preventing me from buying birth control or even alcohol on Sunday is a bridge too far. Tooth Fairy is probably a good example of the extent we should allow false beliefs to go. I can't think of a possible negative effect on others that results from children believing in the Tooth Fairy.

@JeffMurray Perhaps you've seen the news from Paris of the young muslim who thought he'd protect the prophet Mohammed from being shown in Hebdo depiction. The wacko searched out the offending teacher and beheaded him. Police killed the wacko after the fact.

@racocn8 I did. And I absolutely agree that things like murder, war, rape, honor killings, and genital mutilation are all very good reasons to not allow people to believe in their delusions. I was simply stating that it doesn't even need to be that extreme. I am for denying people the ability to continue to believe in their delusions for something as simple as them enacting laws that prevent me from buying alcohol on Sunday. Any thing that religious people do that negatively impacts others is a good enough reason to try to take their delusions from them. Hell, supporting a business that eats up property that doesn't contribute to their community because of the tax free status is a good enough reason to try to turn everyone atheist.


Further considerations might show that she NEEDS her big-sky buddy more than you may know and having that curtain drawn back might send her into depression, etc. Guess it depends on how much you love your friend.

Now...if she were an enemy? Heh, heh, heh


You can chance losing any friendship you want, but when she and her ilk begin expecting or demanding that you and yours pretend the same thing, that’s no friend.

Varn Level 8 Oct 18, 2020

No it wouldn't. Golden rule dude. Do unto others...they have no qualms in the reverse situation.


Sink or swim always creates some drowned people. Do you want that responsibility? Is it that important to you? Why? Why not just put an ad in the paper for swimming lessons and see who shows up?

skado Level 8 Oct 17, 2020


Same here.

@antireligious at 9 years old, I went to a ‘revival’ meeting and very few people were coming forward at the end of the service , when the call went out to come to the alter and ‘be saved!’ My friends were urging me on, but I resisted. The service ended and we went out and got on the bus to take us home, so my friends were still begging, pleading, telling me how this might be my ‘last chance, etc! So I finally relented and went back inside the church and ‘got saved!’ This made no sense to me then and I never felt the ‘pull’ that my young friends felt as we aged. Inside I was an imposter, but I kept trying to get connected to god and it never worked for me! I did keep going through the motions with church, until my 30s...when I chucked that belief and grew firmly into my disbelief!


It's fine to talk about no god, but you can't make someone give up religion or god. The person has to give up god or religion on their own terms.

You can lead a theist to reason, but you can't make him/her think.

It's a theoretical. There are people that you can be pretty sure would abandon their belief. In those cases, your claim wouldn't really apply.


As was once said, but unfortunately I cannot remember who said it, "Truth is always a painful thing to hear, especially to those who never want to hear it, BUT Truth, no matter how painful does far less harm than fiction does."
Hence, always be honest and truthful because the pain it may cause will often diminish but the lies will live on for ever.


I think it would be very disruptive to a person's psyche if they were a person of faith all their lives and you managed to somehow convince them that they were wrong. If you ever did it, it should at least be done gradually.

I'd say dont' try to copnvince, but just state the truth(s) over time.


I would not take it upon myself to expose anyone to my truth. I would offer suggestions that might lead a person to a greater knowing (in my opinion), but I would not use force! Mainly, because I can’t envision it working.


Let me ask this question in a different way. Suppose some intergalactic creatures showed up with all the advanced information they would have and need to be and do what they are. How would we deal with their (opinion) knowledge that our God does not exist?

I'm thinking Salem witch trials. 🤭


I was going to do a long story, thing is it is a solo journey of discovery and understanding. I can try to talk to a person, a family member or friend but unless they want to listen and talk your trying to relate a truth they do not want goes no where. Don't we see that with the evangelicals and the reality of what trump is?


If she's a good person outside of her delusions just let it go. That would causing unnecessary and unwarranted pain. Personally I would find that wrong. If, however, she's a pushy in your face God shouter wake her up.


It has long been known: Never mess with peoples' religion. They will hate you for it. Instead, you must wait until they get ready to make the exploration themselves.

I'm my experience, the people that realized they were wrong didn't end up hating me.


the action of attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another."

I know I don't like it when religious zealots to do it to me (proselytize); how about you? It's obnoxious to me when small-minded people think 'their' religion is the only 'right' religion, and all the others are wrong. If she is your "friend," (key word) why would you want it do it to her? How about just supporting her and letting her live her life with whatever beliefs give her peace and happiness? [Now, if she (anyone/anything) tries to impose her/their thoughts and ideals on you in an attempt to prevent you from living your life the way you choose, that's when you - ie all of us - need to have boundaries and not allow it, right?] As an aside, who knows 'truth' anyways? We're all just earthlings, unknowing or possibly incapable of comprehending 'what's beyond.' . . . And again, if we think we know 'truth,' that makes us rather self-important, doesn't it? and possibly obnoxious - depending on how we share it. Personally, I strive to be open-minded, and realize that spirituality is a personal jouney and we're all in different places on the path. (As a newbie here, I look forward to finding threads about truth and consciousness. It's all intriguing.)

Fmdg Level 5 Oct 20, 2020

Welcome, newbie. I used to live and work near Saint Cloud. Beautiful country (to my eyes). Love all the lakes, mostly. And of course, the sunshine.

@skado . . . and you got out! LOL (albeit it to Alabama - from the fire into the bible belt frying pan, I do believe haha)

I did, but not because I wanted out. I had responsibilities in the frying pan (apt analogy). Life has its way with us. But my memories of Florida are the best.

@Fmdg Please see my response to p-nullifidian above. And welcome to the group! Hope you find rewarding conversations.


Christopher Hitchens quoted a Christian that said if the Catholic church was wanting to validate the Shroud of Turin, then "he didn't want any part of it." I guess some people like the mystery and the idea of faith. The problem is that people from all religions have this in common. So what are the chances that you picked the correct religion/god?


Religion is her crutch. Let her be.


Wow, deep question. I think it would be good to enlighten those who wanted to be enlightened. Those who do not, would follow soon enough anyway.


That would make you no different than the Jehova Witnesses or Mormons. You have no duty to share your faith or lack of faith.

This is not true at all. This is the same argument as people saying hating racists is just as bad as being a racist.

@JeffMurray Not a valid comparison, more like if you denied jobs, education, voting rights, civil rights to racists, then you would be as bad as the racist. I chose not to waste my time hating or being angry, it only hurts the person hating or being angry

@glennlab Precisely. Saying that an atheist trying to convert people to atheism (seemingly, or at least consequentially, for the good of society) is the same as JW or Mormons is the same type of argument as saying hating racists is as bad as racism.

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