Nerdfighters

Well some of you may remember a discussion I started a while back asking for advice. I am a 15 year old atheist living in a family of Catholics. The original discussion was about weather or not I should tell my parents about my beliefs. If I recall correctly things where about half and half for telling or not telling. I decided to tell my parents. As the title of this discussion may have revealed things did not go well. I told them and they told me that I was not old enough to make the choice. They told me that I had to get more life experience. They also told me that I could not make any assertion like that. I told them that was stupid because I used to assert that I was catholic and they had no problem. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? Are they right?

Thanks,

Joe

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Replies to This Discussion

If you're not old enough to decide you are an atheist, then you can't be old enough to decide you are a Catholic. It's like saying you're not allowed to say you like yellow, but you can say you like green.

Also, 15 is plenty old enough to decide you're an atheist. By that age, you have the capability of reason, and are more than able to understand the arguments made by either side. Therefore, you can come to a decision.

So, yeah. They're wrong and extremely hypocritical on both counts. Not that it really makes much difference. Your beliefs are not dependent upon theirs. They depend on the evidence you have available to you, and on your ability to reach a reasonably conclusion using that evidence. Whether anyone else is willing to accept that you have reached whatever conclusion is entirely irrelevant.

Not that this has anything to do with your age, but this reminds me of the Irish comic Dara O'Briain.  "I wouldn't be a very spiritual man, right?  I don't believe in God, right?  Still Catholic."  Very good bit any you might relate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVNZFylTdo

People get very worked up over the word "athiest", especially in the US, but when we set names aside, there's not a whole lot that separates people.  Motives, rationales and priorities may vary, but most folks tend to embrace similar ideals.  

Don't hurt people.  

Be nice.  

DFTBA.  

It sounds like your parents are trying to protect you from what they see as a horrible decision.  Parents do that.  It's part of the job.  They're supposed stop you when you want to jump off the roof or pet a crocodile or become a supervillain.  

To them, deciding to deny the one and only creator of the universe might pretty much the same.  Or they may be fine with your belief but worry about the way America sees atheists right now.  They might be perfectly content for you to become the cliched Lapsed Catholic.  I don't know them, so I don't know what they're afraid of, but I am fairly certain they see something dangerous in the words "I'm an atheist."

For what it's worth, I was about your age when I had a similar discussion... many, many years ago.  I was met with shock and surprise and a little bit of the "Oh, no you're not!" that you seem to have run into.  You know what.  They got over it.  And in the meantime, we did our best to leave the labels aside.  We weren't believers or athiests.  We were (and are) family.  

Your parents don't get to decide what you believe.  No one does - not even you.  But they are entitled to their feelings, and right now, they're afraid for you.  I suppose my best advice would be to remember that they say and do these things because they care about you.  

Hope this helps.  

I don't think you're too young to assert yourself as an atheist. I think you are too young to deal with the repercussions of it, especially with your family being Catholic.

I feel like I need to explain my story here. I decided I was atheist when I was 14, and moreover, that I hated all religion. My parents are very different in that my mom rejected Catholicism in her 20s and became spiritual and my dad is borderline atheist, so my religion has never been an issue. However, my dislike of religion and anything associated with it made me angry and dismissive of anyone else's beliefs. I missed out on some really amazing friendships because I couldn't get past their religion, I got in fights constantly with my classmates, and for a really long time I hated all of my family members outside of my immediate family, because of their extreme Catholic and Baptist views. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized that as long as I was secure in my beliefs, what anyone else believed didn't matter, and couldn't-and SHOULDN'T-affect me.

That said, my mother worries constantly that she didn't do enough to instill spirituality in me, and that's related to depression and anxiety about the world and my place in it. As silly as I think her argument is, I understand it, and I think that may be where your parents are coming from. They're your parents. They love you. They're probably afraid of a lot of things, and not all are religious-that you're going to be hurt by other people because of this belief, that you're going to have to struggle to answer questions on your own that religion can help with. It's hard to have to question all of existence at 15. I know, I went through it. 

If I were you I would only bring it up if other people asked you, and above all, be respectful. Even if you don't believe the same things, try not to dismiss their views or laugh. I know it can be hard, but really try-think about how it feels when religious people try to argue with you.

I remember you from another post, where you were asking people to prove God. You seem like a really angry kid, and I understand why, because believe me, I've been there. I would like to save you some of the heartache I went through, if you are inclined to listen, and if you would like to talk please message me. I think people tend to underestimate how hard it is to open up to your family about something like this, and I wish I'd had someone to talk to (who wasn't as angry as I was). 

And if I'm totally wrong and you aren't angry at all, please don't be offended, because I'm seeing through the lens of my own experiences. :)

To me when you are making a decision you have to be prepared to say it out load, but also to say that you have changed your mind if you have. Personally I think 15 Is old enough to express your personal beliefs and that it isn't up to your parents to say whether or not you are right or wrong because  you could be right or your parents or someone else could be. We have no way of knowing. So, say what you feel personally but also respect that your parents think your wrong but don't let them change you.

People here have given good advice, so I'm not discounting that, but it also sounds like to me a very similar experience I had when I was your age.  Fear not,  I'm now twice your age, and the reason why I don't get on with my parents has nothing to do with religion.  Here's what happened with me:

  • Age 11: Got Confirmed.  You know the drill, pledge obedience to the clergy.  Went along with it, now my soul apparently is theirs.  But I questioned it anyway.
  • Age 15:  Decided to say "I'm an atheist".  Told my Dad.  He screamed "No you're not, you're a Catholic!!"  and I said "Think what you want, it doesn't change the fact that I believe otherwise - and that there is no God"  and he screamed "Not while you're living in my house!  You're a Catholic!  I send you a Catholic school and everything!"  and I yelled "Only because you want me to go there!  I never wanted to!"  and he sort of grumbled and we let it go.
  • Age 20-odd:  Found out that my Dad feared going to hell because I'm an atheist. Asked for clarification. Apparently, because my mother is not Catholic, and my father wanted to marry in a Catholic church, they had to sign a contract promising that all of the children of this marriage would go through all the rites, go to the Catholic schools, and, be a Catholic.  Dad felt that my atheism meant that he had broken a promise to the church, which meant he was going to hell.  He literally feared going to hell because I didn't believe in God.  You can imagine my reaction.  "Why on earth would you support an institution that claims you'll be punished for eternity for what I'm not doing?".  After some discussion, I think my Dad kind of caught on that even if there was a God, surely he'd be smart enough to know that's not fair.  I can't be sure if he's let go of the my-atheism-causes-him-to-go-to-hell thing, but we don't badger each other about it,  and he has to accept that none of his kids are Catholic anyway - they kind of learned from me that it's okay not to believe stuff that kind of doesn't make any sense.

My point obviously being that they've been indoctrinated, too.  And may be afraid because of it.  This has nothing to do with how much they love you, or what your relationship will be like in the future.  It's about you being honest, and them being lied to,  assuming they were told the same crap my Dad was.

And,  even if two, ten years from now, or whatever, you decide that there is an invisible sky faery and he listens to you when you visit the man in the black frock,  you'll still have parents to go there with, and I can guarantee you, they'll be happy to have you back in the flock.  

Just like, don't do anything stupid, like burning down churches.  Not that you would, but...you know...just be you and that's all there is to it.

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