Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Resurgence: 8 things that didn't compel me to reject Jesus.
The Resurgence is an attempt from Christians to restore faith in Jesus in America- as if there is a serious lack of faith happening here. We're one of the most Christian countries in the world, and the most religious first-world nation outside of the Vatican.
So we're got some resurging to do apparently- they've written a blog post about 8 things that might compel you to reject Jesus. These are listed below, with appropriate responses from me of course, being that this is my blog.
I'll be going through it, let's see if they can't save my soul by the end of the post, shall we?

1. Theology
This argument is rather weak- the quote is "Don’t reject him theologically." I am not sure exactly what they're trying to accomplish here; the paragraph has little meaning. The point is that Atheists reject theological teachings being that they aren't based in fact, but in speculation about ancient literature.

2. Control
The author attempts to make the point that people in Nazereth were desperate for miracles and divine intervention, and sought help from Jesus when he came by. He declined to do miracles and that was because he didn't want them to believe they had controlled him- and that this opinion is carried over to today, where, when Jesus or God aren't what we want them to be (kind, all-loving, consistent in their instructions?) then we get mad and throw a fit.
The supposed situation in Nazereth brings up an excellent point. People were poor, hungry and suffering from plagues. What they did was ask for help from someone who they were told, could help. If your child was dying of a disease and you had no hope of saving them, and a mysterious stranger rolls into town claiming to be able to heal the sick, what is the first thing you're going to do? Beg for help in the way you know how to, or that is culturally appropriate to you.
This is apparent given the hysteria surrounding the Autism Spectrum, people are jumping on the idea that vaccines cause Autism because we want something, anything to blame and some kind of control over the destiny of our children, and feeling like there is nothing that could have been or ever could be done is absolutely shattering. 
A desperate situation, and the savior of mankind walks in to town and is offended by pleas and demands for help? Especially when he seems to be uniquely in the position to lend support? 
Humans want things. We want to be able to live, and we want to be happy, and we have a strong desire to reproduce. These drives are what cause the cooperation of our civilization. If your neighbor had a cure for a disease ailing someone in your family, and he didn't share it with you, or tried to coerce you in some way with it, he would be regarded as an evil person.  Yet, when someone who claims to be God Himself refuses to help- this act isn't evil, it's him trying to teach us an important lesson about control.
The analogy drawn with Christianity is generally the parent-and-child one- so let's use it. If your child is trapped screaming under a pile of rocks, this is not the time to teach him to use his inside voice.

3. Greed
The foundation of society is Greed. It's the reason we have capitalism. Most of the Christian right hates socialism with a deep passion that rivals only their faith in the creator, but we'll try not to lump all Christians in one political pot for now.
Fighting against your strongest instinct- self-preservation- is hard. It's usually only possible when the life of your child is at risk, and so "to eat of her final meal before she starved to death." is an illustration that might be... inaccurate, to put it politely. But hey, it's a tenet of your religion, so let's work with that principle too.

So let me get this straight- Some guy tells you he's God. He won't help you not starve to death, and he seems to be a bit down on his luck. He also says not to be greedy, yet he takes food from a starving widow. In what universe does this make any sense at all? Let me reiterate- Jesus Christ Himself visits a town stricken with poverty and disease and uses as his ultimate test...hospitality?

Would you go to Haiti right now (sorry to use you like this Haiti... Please text 'HAITI' to 90999) and base your support on whether or not people hand over their food and water? Go from town to down with secret bags of rice and gallons of potable water but not hand them over until they pass a personality test?
What kind of horrible human being could do that? I forget- the capacity of God is infinite.

4. Selfishness
This paragraph, really, is just a repeat of the last one. Greed is literally a synonym for selfishness. It's used in the definition. So you'll have to forgive me for not wasting your time. See above.

5. Familiarity
I believe what's being stated here is the staycation phenomenon that's sweeping the nation. Grew up in your hometown? Great! Why not visit it through the eyes of a tourist? New yorkers can have a lot of fun, but people in Waco, Texas aren't as lucky.
Basically, this deals with belief that already exists, or people who grew up in church culture that ultimately rejected it. 
I'd love to go into the fantastic amount of detail and environmental, physical, emotional and geographical variables that lead into a decision to reject Jesus, and perhaps I will- or maybe you can just head over to and read some stories of why people stop believing.
Just know that it's almost never "I just didn't get excited enough".

6. Comfort
I'm sure for some people, it's easier to just be an Atheist. Maybe up north, or out west. I live in the bible belt. I live in Dallas Texas. Within a mile of my house (and I live DOWNTOWN) there are no less than 38 churches. That's just google maps- not every church is listed there.
I have lost jobs, friends, family and even lovers to prejudice. I have been spit on, slapped, kicked out of cars and had bibles thrown at me. My cousin was left at school for three days until child protective services came and picked him up, and had a long talk with my aunt, because he said he didn't believe in God.
Being an Atheist isn't easy. You can't do something bad and ask for forgiveness- you have to live with that guilt until you die. Knowing you're going to die, and that there isn't anything after that is terrifying. Knowing that shit could go south at any moment- the sun could flare, a rock could hit us, a disease could kill us, a supervolcano could block the sun and we'd all freeze or starve- the certainty that Christians have- the ignorance is something I wish I could capture. But I can't. I know how science works, and that a healthy skeptical attitude has saved me from many an ill. Honestly, I don't see what's so hard about being a Christian, except believing in something you have no idea is true or not. Living by a book that's a good 7 or 8 empires old is hard enough, but no one (including the author of "The Resurgence") lives by ALL of it... they pick and choose what is and isn't important. Honestly, if I could be a Christian, I might try it out. But I can't- they haven't met my threshold for proof (which is apparently pretty low- I do believe in evolution after all...) and so I stay abstinent from theology.

7. Embarrassment
Again, apparently NO ONE is a Christian and it just SUCKS. They're completely persecuted and they never get 'cool points'. Oh No. I feel SO sorry for you.
Try saying "No, I don't go to church, or believe in God" at your next job interview. Go on, try it.

8. Religion
I absolutely LOVE when Christians try to make it seem like their faith isn't a religion. It's not a religion, they say, it's a relationship. 
Yeah, quacks like a duck, has feathers and a beak. Floats on the water. 
It's a religion. 
Religion: a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny;
Relationship: a relation between people;
Which one of these defines what you do every Sunday, and what you talk about in scripture, and the book you read from? You're not speaking to a physical person, you're describing how you feel about an abstract concept(infinity) that was supposed to somehow be represented somehow in a person who could be killed- through some arbitrary rules He Himself made up, about how He had to die in order to save us all. 
This is not a relationship- this is a religion- and it makes no damn sense.
And that is why I reject Jesus. 
That, and people who write stupid posts like these.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Disproof of one theory does not validate another.

This is a common logical fallacy committed by Christians, Creationists and other religions the world over. Disproving an aspect(or attempting to disprove) of someone else's theory does not suddenly give yours more credence. This is the fallacy of the False Dichotomy- the idea that there are only two choices. This usually goes hand in hand with the idea that two things are inseperably related - "Are you a patriot and do you support the war, or are you a terrorist and you are against it?" is a common theme, but there are others. "Do you reject God's Teachings and believe in evolution or are you a righteous person and reject evolution?" is another.
These are loaded questions and serve no purpose other than to confuse the listener into believing the proposition.

Tearing down someone else's argument does not validate your own- for all you have actually done is proven them wrong. This does not mean your idea has any validity- proving that one religion is false does not prove that yours is true, nor does attacking evolution create a case for creationism.

Many people believe Creationism is the "default" and that evolution is the one who must bear the burden of proof, when this is not the case. Creationism has no proof behind it- there is no evidince of design or forethought to any genetic structure or to any creature's actual biological structure. Even if evolution were to be torn down and discarded as a theory, creationism couldn't be accepted on these grounds as they have offered no proof of their own.

Because of this, the current "Teach the Controversy" method of getting Christianity in the classroom will fail because it lends itself to this falacy. Upon giving precedent to theories not accpeted by mainstream science being taught in the classroom things will certainly go very arwy for science classes, as equal time must be given to other unaccepted theories.

As you can see, this kind of thinking is dangerous because it does not take into account any kind of diversity of thought at all, as well as having the unfortunate tendancy to lump people into categories they would not typically fit into.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Words from on High: Morals, or How Convert an Atheist: Part 3: The Reckoning

Sequels are fun. Trilogies? Only for epics- and what is more epic than saving souls?

So- you've got this religion. So far, you haven't found a miracle, and none of your prophecies stick to the wall. Fear not, as I propose a third option among my list of conversion techniques, and it's a doosey.

Item the Third: Morality
Conversion Status: Absolute, and it should stick
Ease of Evidence: Easy- all you have to do is armchair philosopher me into a corner. Or should I revise that to "Harder than it looks."

All I purpose for you to do is to find me a religion that is absolute in it's morality. From the beginning.

Being that morals are tricky things because morality is defined as : "concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct"- but since good is defined as "Morally Admirable" and evil is defined as "Morally Wrong" we find ourselves with a circular definition that leaves the true meaning subjective. So we'll go another route, as this one will take us toward every known religion on the planet.

What I am looking for is a religion that not only sticks to it's convictions but also has absolute moral values that one can use in every situation- a religion that does not contradict itself morally. Once wrong, always wrong and once right, always right. A religion that does not allow itself to be marred by the precedent of evil being tolerated, one that speaks from a creator that has absolute goodness in their heart.
I will follow a religion that has a true north moral compass, that will point it's followers undoubtedly past the eras of bloodshed, beyond underhanded tactics such as deceit, slavery and genocide. These followers will be admired among their peers, a testament to humanity- for all our flaws a moral guide that could not be misinterpreted to condone hate, killing or torture, a religion that outright denies the animal taint in human benevolence and rises above our humble roots to truly transcend our humanity, bringing us as close as possible to godhood.

Now, I know what you're going to say- "My religion is moral! It's the only morality" or some variation of such. Allow me to give you a checklist, see if your religion matches all of these criteria. I won't fault your followers, but the actual texts of the religion must have always stated thus:

  • Must not ever discriminate between human beings. Sex, Race, Sexual Orientation, Disability. Humans are fundamentally the same- a creator and truly good being would not only mention this, but make it a tenet.
  • Human Rights Violations are right out. Killing, Slavery, Rape, Violence. These are all violations of our rights and must never be tolerated
  • Deception by individuals, or by the Church. A true religion needs no lies, cover ups, conspiracy. Let the light shine in and reveal pristine cisterns of truth.
  • Must be written in a transcendent language understandable by mankind. Something that is clear, concise and translatable through the ages. A creator with foreknowledge of the future would know that this is paramount to the success of human kind.
  • Must protect children, and those who cannot speak for themselves. There is nothing about child abuse, pedophilia, the rights of those who are invalid or in a comatose state in any holy book I have read, and in many places calls for horrendous crimes to be done against them.
  • Must account for the environment, and the future. Morally, we must assure our great grandchildren have water to drink and air to breathe- it is through inaction we commit indirect violations of their rights to the pursuit of happiness.
Now- most objections to this is that these were the morals in the context of the society the books were written in. This is, while true, not a valid argument. Killing, Rape, Slavery, Child Abuse, Incest- these things have been wrong to do since we developed complex central nervous systems and are wrong today. They have always been wrong. The people who suffered, the planet that was damaged and the trauma that was done will not go away because of the ignorance of the times or the will of the culture- a truly good God would have given these laws to man as soon as we could write them- they would ensure that ignorance would never be an excuse to harm others and have made it abundantly clear that these things were taboo from the start.

Now- since these are subjective terms, I shall give you a sporting chance. Give me a book or a creed that is consistent all the way through- then argue why it is morally absolute. Please be aware that I shall go over this statement very thoroughly and more than likely, you will lose. Why? Because there is no such text.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to convert an Atheist: Part Two - Miracles

Today I will be dealing with a contested subject among Atheists and Christians alike.
This proof that will indeed convert me very quickly is extremely difficult to produce depending on your definition of a miracle. Since you're trying to convert me specifically here, we'll use my definition and then I'll go about converting the rest of those stubborn unbelievers.

Item the Second: Miracles
Conversion Status: Absolute until proven false
Ease of Evidence: Difficult

Well you're off to a good start- every religion claims miracles were done(and usually are the basis for the religion in the first place), and that miracles happen frequently still.
I'd like to see one.
Here's how you do it: Predict when and where a miracle will occur(you can use prophecy here for a double whammy) and get me there to witness it. OR if your particular religion grants YOU the ability to perform one, simply throw one down right there.
But Liz, you ask, what miracle would you like us to do? I can speak in tongues or attest that the sun rises every day- isn't that enough to inspire your faith?
No. Let's define a miracle, shall we?
"A miracle is a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that can be explained by divine intervention, and is sometimes associated with a miracle-worker." This is from Wikipedia, which is a website I can only assume Christians have seen and had a chance to edit- thusly it's the accepted definition.
I have previously defined what does not count as a miracle- things that have explanations you just don't understand, or things that are mundane but "good" (finding your car keys or overcoming a disease) and things that have been proven not to be miracles, but are established phenomena of the human psyche or emotional reactions.
So- while your mother overcoming cancer is not a miracle, everyone in an entire hospital suddenly overcoming their ailments with no medical explanation might be.
Here are some examples:
Amputee Limb Regrowth
Verifiable Resurrection (not just brain death- but total cessation of life processes and decomposition begins)
Translocation or Transmutation of objects(again, verifiable only please)
Demonstration of abilities not possibly possessed by an individual- heavy investigation required

Things that do not represent a miracle-
Things that have no apparent cause(investigate. Don't draw a conclusion first, then test for it.)
Mundane Occurrences
Occurrences that through denial of established scientific fact, then lack a cause
Things that have a natural or explainable cause

Proofs I will accept for a miracle:
Witnessing it personally
Testimony of multiple witnesses that were not in a highly-emotional state, at least one who is/was a skeptic, with correlating evidence(pictures, video footage, the end result of the miracle) - this will be investigated thoroughly.
Cataclysmic evidence (IE, mountains that have actually moved, geological evidence, must be material)

Proofs that I will not accept:
Your personal testimony
Testimony from ancient texts
Testimony from a large group of people in a highly-emotional state
Testimony from individuals unable to think critically about other things
Video evidence alone, or pictures alone, or transmogrified object alone.
Proofs of non-miracles, or miracles that could be fakes(stigmata, speaking in tongues, telepathy) - you will have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true, due to the ubiquitous nature of falsehoods surrounding these.

The idea of a miracle is however, difficult to maintain. As the late, great Arthur C. Clarke once said- "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." and rightly so. I could travel back to any point before 200 years ago and perform magic with only the knowledge of today- not even the technology. Miracles performed in ancient times could only be the result of lack of knowledge about the world around them leading them to believe in a supernatural cause.
Do not be surprised if a miracle you have come to believe in gets debunked or explained- this is only the march of progress. It does not disprove your faith, only fails to affirm it, and returns to you the burden of positive proof, a reason to believe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And I give unto thee, a LIST. How to convert an Atheist: Part 1

So- my Christian (or any religion) readers, are you up to the monumental task of converting an Atheist?
The reward: saving a soul from eternal damnation. And the satisfaction of proving yourself right, which is always fun.
Atheists: If you disagree, or have additional caveats to these challenges, please post below.

For the next few days I am going to post a guide to converting Atheists. Giving these proofs will, depending on the category of the claim, convert us there on the spot, or will give us serious pause.

I'll post the stats for the claim, and then you must read all of the conditions(as in, don't stop at the title.). Post in the comments, e-mail me or blog about it and link to my blog(which will provide a trackback url so I can see it) and we'll get to the business of my(and many others) salvation.
Please note: I began this list inspired by this video- but I am adding a substantial amount of information as well as rejecting some, and adding my own.

The first thing that could convince me you're on the money about this whole God/Holy Book thing is the question of Prophecy.

Item the First: Prophecy
Conversion Status: Absolute
Ease of evidence: Difficult

The first thing that would probably convince me that your book/ideas are the genuine article is a prophecy. Let me first define a prophecy:
A prophecy is a prediction of the future that relies on information not available to the prophet at the time, is clear and concise about its predictions and gives accurate results. It also has a lot of specific information attached to it, so it cannot be interpreted to apply to more than one event.
Now, exclusions:
A prophecy is not vague and does not rely on heavy symbolism to describe the event. Descriptions of prophecy can be a little off, as someone from another time would describe technology of today(steel birds are airplanes, horseless carriages are cars, etc.) but things like "a great darkness upon the heart of man" or "a savior will deliver us from evil" are very vague. They could apply to Jesus, Barack Obama and even Hitler. "Evil" is a very loosely defined word and "deliver us from" could mean anything. "A great darkness" could be the evils of society, or a disease that attacks the cardiovascular system. Any of these could be interpreted to also pertain to multiple events- it must be either a one-time occurrence or something date-related.
A prophecy cannot also be self-fulfilling, as in "the Jews returning to Israel" or a statement made about someone specific about their destiny, and then that person doing their best to fulfill that destiny. This is of course perfectly fine in the case of performing miracles, or other supernatural occurrences.

As for prophecies in the past:
Prophecies have to have undeniable proof to have actually happened. Prophecies such as the ones predicting Jesus, or aspects of his life or later events in the bible(not counting things that have not happened, like revelations) could easily have been written to fit each other, like Jesus being written about to fit information in prophecy previously written about, or prophecies in the old testament that have not been verified as to predate Jesus that could have been inserted later.

Actual evidence you must present:
Historical documents that prove the authenticity of the prophecy, as in letters from the era regarding it, or historians(that are credited and respected among the general historical community) that attest to the document's authenticity, and why they attest to it. Carbon dating is also accepted- but only on older documents as things that occurred less than a few hundred years ago are difficult to pin down.
Photos or evidence of the documents themselves.
Evidence of the event(as long as it's not happening now, or recently, where we might have video evidence).
Evidence that the event is not applicable to other events in history, or that the interpretation has not been stretched to the point of metaphor.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Comming out of the Chapel: How to tell your parents you believe differently.

We've all seen this video - but there does not really exist a good guide that goes over dealing with the consequences of your decision, and the fallout you might face from your family- for people still living with their parents.
This topic is intended for people under or around 18 who still must live in their parents houses, and who still have to deal with their parents rules, but do not want to "live a lie" so to speak, or go to church.

The first step you have to do is define what you believe. As an Atheist, I find that using the word "Atheist" does not really accurately describe my beliefs as well as many people think it does, due to connotations imposed by society and training most people receive in order to "deal" with us.
So this is the first step. It is OK to say that you don't know what you believe, but we'll get to that.

Take out a piece of paper(or open notepad++) and start writing. State what you believe about several key issues, as you will be asked these questions and you want to get your story straight.
First, write down if you believe in God, and if so, define what you think God is and why you believe what you do/don't about it.
Second, if you are coming/going from Christianity, explain your thoughts on Jesus.
Key points are whether he existed, whether he was the son of god and what he said. Also under this topic, address the bible and how you feel/don't about it.
Third, address what you have changed about your world view, and what actions/implications this has. If you suddenly find yourself religious, explain the new morals and laws you must live by. If you have become a Freethinker, explain what Freethought is and why you now accept it. I'll create a specific guide and give a template for Freethought later and you can take what you need from that.

Write these down and then, print them out. It is very important to write them in a way that is not purposefully offensive or snarky, as you're not trying to incite your parents, you are merely bringing them up to speed.
Write the declarations as you would if you were writing them to your best friend. You might even have to write one for your friends if you are coming out of the church and so, you might use the same one for everyone (maybe leave out the jokes and slang for your parents though.)
Then, read them aloud to someone you can trust that shares your viewpoint, and then someone who does not. Gage their reactions. Ask if there is anything you should add or take out. Practice on your friends.

Then, mentally prepare yourself. Something you are probally beginning to realize as you get older is that your parents really are just people, and they make the same mistakes you do and have the same emotions. The main reason they act as they do is because they watched you grow up. They have seen you do stupid, disgusting and hilarious things and it is hard to adjust to age- our brains really aren't built to handle it. People that change over time usually do it slowly after they grow up, but watching someone grow up is a different matter entirely.
Also, when you have a child, you have certain goals and ideas in mind for that child and having them go against them/you is a very difficult process to watch. Teaching someone something and then having them not only disbelieve you but turn all the way around and go in a different direction can be very emotional and leave you wondering where you went wrong.
Another thing, your parents have been around longer than you, and have seen more things than you have. It's hard to accept advice from your younger siblings or children you know, so why should it be any different for your parents?
Also, keep in mind that faith/lack of faith happens over time, and even slower for people once their brains stop growing (around age 20) and so you aren't going to argue them on to your side.
It's not like arguing the difference between digital cameras or cars. It's an entire way of thinking and a lot of their lives are usually consumed by it- so there is no magic gotcha statement.
These things are good points to include in your speech, that you understand them and want them to understand as well.

Also, make sure you mention why you are telling them, what you actually want to come of it. Of course, being closer as a family due to openness is the best reason, but maybe you do/don't want to attend church and maybe you do/don't want to be called upon to say grace at the table- and lastly you would like the chance to honestly talk about your faith/lack thereof with people who are close to you.

Now that you have your speech, and you have practiced it in front of friends, family or the hate machine of the internet(you can also e-mail me and I will take a look, even for people who aren't Atheists) you are ready to give it to your parents.
This might seem like something that is scary, or it might seem fun- but either way its not something to rush into. Showing constraint and doing this the right way will show maturity, and make it easier for them to take you seriously.

First, tell your parents you have made an important decision and you want to talk to them about it, but you want to do it when there will be no interruptions and with just them. I strongly suggest not having siblings around when you do this(unless they are toddlers or younger).

Make sure you have the answers to most of the big questions that they will ask ready. Looking uncertain will usually make you look like you haven't thought this through as much as you have and will cause you to lose credibility.
Make sure your attitude is under control- do not be snarky or subversive, as you don't want to send the message that you are just doing this to rebel. You want them to realize this is not just a phase and you are really serious- and that you will not be swayed by threats or punishments, or additional time in church. What you believe and why comes in very, very handy here.

Read your speech. Be honest, and open. Explain why you believe what you do and that you are not doing it for any other reason than your quest for the truth. Tell your parents it is important that they not interrupt and ask them to save questions for the end. Tell them that you have prepared a speech for this reason and that their questions will probably be answered if they allow you to finish your whole speech.

After the speech is finished, there will probably be an emotional reaction of some kind. They may get angry and threaten to punish you- take things away, kick you out of the house, etc. Realize that this is an emotional reaction and that you should wait for them to think about it. Most likely, they will say things out of fear or anger that they do not mean, much like you have done in the past. Remember we are all human beings and we make mistakes.
Ensure that, just in case, there is someone who will let you stay for a few days- but do not leave immediately if things get tough. You can retreat to your room if you want to escape yelling and/or derogatory remarks but don't leave as you might lose valuable opportunities for really constructive dialogue- and if you leave without their permission you will lose a great deal of credibility. It might be extremely tempting, but riding through the storm will be worth it in the end, in most cases.
If you are in fact in danger of bodily harm, do leave and give them time to cool down. But make sure it is not just a gut reaction and that you are actually in danger- it will not help at all if you act just as irrationally as they do.

You might have consequences as a result of this decision- like seeing a counselor/church leader or being grounded. There's not much you can do but stick to it, and it will end eventually.

The other thing that might happen is that your parents close themselves off- and you reach a very anti-climactic finish. Don't be tempted to argue just because you were expecting to- but read my earlier post about talking to your family.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Talk to your family

I have come here today to discuss something uncomfortable, because you need to get used to it.

Your family shares genes with you and you grew up with them- so no matter how different you might feel, they are almost exactly like you. Only more indoctrinated.
This is of course, assuming you are a deconvert.

Families that have to deal with differences of opinion usually arrive at the same congruent conclusion- just don't talk about it.
Well- you need to talk about it. You need to talk about it until you are blue in the face and they are quite red. Talk and talk until they understand.

For most people, they are born into a belief system and then come to question it as they get older. They either go through a phase of questioning and come back eventually, but some people do not. Some people break the mold and then branch off into a different avenue of thought. Sometimes they become Atheists. Sometimes they become Christians. Sometimes they become Moonies.
You might become active in your religion/lack thereof and try to bring your family around- but they most likely won't come to your side of the fence so easily. What happens?
We shut up.
We silence our viewpoints so as not to start fights(because its about the art of not arguing isn't it?) and to keep the peace- but we might rail on a stranger for ever and ever just because you know that if you mess up, your relationship won't be permanently effected.

This is our greatest fear: commitment. Committing our relationship to be harder than it was- but in doing so we rob ourselves of the depth that could come of it.
Some of the deepest places on earth are rifts that were torn open by tidal forces, then laid bare is the core of the planet- glowing for all to see.
This is the nature of your relationship with someone you really care about. You have that friend who you can fight with and then immediately stop when the commercials are over. You can scream and accuse and call each other names and then when the check comes(or the manager asks you to leave) you can offer to pay the check and ask what time the movie is.
People who you can be truly honest with no matter what their belief are your greatest allies because they accept you for who you are.
This is what I am getting at with your family: They should be these people. They should be the people that you can share with and yell at and cry in front of without losing ground or losing face. But more often than not we lose that connection when we deconvert from their belief system and go off on our own. Instead of ripping down the walls we just build them higher and thicker, stronger and firmer.

I understand that it is hard to talk with your parents when they are so emotional. When they yell and you try to stay calm- but the truth is that it is an emotional time. You have to let them yell. You have to let them cry and scream and try to punish you for your beliefs.
But you also have to do the same thing.

Remember: You are not having a formal debate with your parents or your friends. Your siblings are not going to grade you, and you can mess up and change your mind. They might call you on it because they want to win- but you can do the same thing. You watched them grow up- you watched your parents mature from frightened child-adults to seasoned human beings and you know they and their opinions aren't perfect- so why should yours be?

And listen. Listening cannot hurt- especially if you have true conviction for your worldview. Remember: learning new facts does not nessecarily change the whole foundation upon which you've built everything, but shutting everything else out weakens the whole structure- makes it stiff and brittle.
What your family has learned in their time in the world is no less valid than what you have- they have simply gone in a different direction. It is OK to not realize things about the world- there is only so much you can focus on.

This, of course, applies to adults who are not living under the same roof as their family.
Shortly I'll post my Guide To Comming Out of the Chapel- How to tell your parents you believe differently.