“If only she weren’t Christian…”

Question from Fiak:
We’ve been best friends for so long. While there’s no evidence (yet) that she’s going to want to date me, I feel she is contemplating doing that. The only problem is that I’m atheist and she’s Christian. I’m just confused. Please help me convert her. There’s about 7 more years till I totally lose her to some Christian. I feel she’s mine tho. Help please!

Answer by SmartLX:
I feel you presume too much about “her” in general, but I’ll concentrate on the religion part.

I’ve been with a Christian woman for almost ten years, and married to her for seven. Trust me when I say the difference in beliefs is not a deal-breaker. Each of us is also the product of an atheist-Christian couple, and beliefs vary among our siblings as well. Those of us in the extended family who are atheists got that way either because they were never indoctrinated or by a slow, natural fading of belief in the absence of reinforcement. Like in any group of people with two disparate positions among them, harmony is better served by not focusing on our differences. My wife and I each hope the other will “come around” in time, but it’s not a big enough part of either of our lives that we feel the need to force the issue.

What you’ll have noticed in the above description is that there were no major de-conversion events to speak of in the family. (One branch loudly denounced Christianity after one of its number was jilted by a hypocritical evangelical, but I suspect their actual beliefs didn’t shift much.) If I were you I wouldn’t try to make an atheist of “her” within a set timeframe as it’s really not reliably done.

Here’s how I would approach the issue directly if I did decide to try: I would ask the question, “Why do you believe in God?” Once I had the answer, I would work with her to answer the question, “Is that a good reason?” Maybe she has structured arguments that you can look up on this site or elsewhere, maybe she had a “road to Damascus” moment years ago you can examine, maybe she’s never really thought about it and will have to get back to you. Either way, it’s likely to be a conversation carried out in pieces over several days or weeks, especially since if you’re not careful it will be seen as an attack on an integral part of her identity and she won’t be keen to continue. (I did start along this path with my wife, but I sensed how defensive she was becoming and I let it be.) Remember to be totally open about your own position if she asks the same of you.

When it’s over and you’ve made your point, the belief may persist even if she’s unable to argue back, because beliefs are not beholden to reason. Only months or years later might it sink in that something’s not secure about them. On ATA I may argue specific points forcefully but I recognise that people are very unlikely to comment the next day thanking me for ridding them of their faith; that’s just not how it works.

3 thoughts on ““If only she weren’t Christian…””

  1. i dont think it is possible, for either side. ours is founded on science that has not found god, so, until further notice there is god, and theirs is based on irrational fear of death. if they were rational there would be no irrational beliefs.
    so, i think you should take her as she is.
    i had married an alcoholic, and i spent 20 years in trying to convert him, and lost the war. then i left him.
    i dont know if you consider being an alcoholic and being religious equally unreasonable, but fact is both are based on emotion and on subconscience full of hurt and fears.
    so take her as she is, or leave her, if you cannot stand her. dont waste your time with her if you cannot stand her religion, cos you will not convert her. i could not stand a religious man as my mate, now that i think of it, not even friends, cos i regard religiosity as a form of mental illness or at least gross stupidity. so, can you live with a mental or stupid person. i would say that you can, being a man, cos men believe they are superior to women. i dont think so, but i still want him to be either my equal or superior to me in, say, mathematics, but not in intellect.
    tough call.
    sorry for the spelling and other errors, i am not a native speaker and am in a great hurry this very moment.
    good luck in finding a reasonable girl. cos, religion is not only about the origin of matter, its about having a daddy who takes care of you, so you can afford to be stupid and irresponsible. and women are mothers. tho wants a stupid irresponsible mother of his kids…

  2. If this lady is worth pursuing, she is worth pursuing as is. If you need/want her to change, then it’s already not meant to be. If she is determined to marry a “Christian”, then let her. There are 3.5 billion females on planet Earth. There are plenty of other women out there that you will find amazing and want to be with. If you still want to date this particular one, all you can do in regards to her religious beliefs is continue to point out the logical paradoxes, plentiful contradictions, and nonsensical nature of it all (in a nice way of course) and maybe she will realize the folly of it all. If she doesn’t, move on…

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