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Having a dilemma - what to do?

  1. Oct 6, 2005 #1

    Galileo

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    I`m having a bit of a dilemma and I would really appreciate some intellectual minds on this matter.

    I have a friend I know for about 13 years. We met in early high school and have been the best buddies ever. We went to university together, I went to study physics and he went to study astronomy, so we'd thought to be in the same classes for awhile, but after half a year he dropped out. He says it's too difficult (my reassurances and motivational speeches didn't help) and has gone to study cultural antropology. This was about 3 years ago.

    Last year he got a girlfriend, an american girl who studied in the Netherlands for some time. I really am glad for him and respect the difficulties of having a trans-atlantic relationship (they see eachother a few weeks/year). She's a really nice girl too.
    Anyway, she's very religious and my friend wasn't. I guess she invited my friend to read a lot about christianity, probably for relationship-health reasons.

    So now, my friend, my best friend, who has never shown any religious interest, goes to church every sunday morning, prays every day and goes to some community stuff (not sure what). This is fine with me, but he actually, suddenly, accepts everything the bible says like how God snapped his fingers and created earth which was about 6000 years ago (he friggin' studied astronomy!) and goes to say there really isn't any evidence for evolution (!) and sounds like he's implying that I have been blinded. I have only seen the side of science, but science only shows one side of the story, religion the other.

    So now he invited me to go with him on a so-called alpha-course to 'broaden my view'. This is a course for people who are interested in christianity, who want to learn more, or who want to discuss ideas. It's an effort to popularize christianity.

    I've had a short talk with him over the phone about how I really don't feel like having a science vs. religion debate over at that course so I kindly rejected. I really, really hate to hurt a friendship over this, he sounded disappointed.

    Don't exactly know how to deal with it if a science-religion matter comes up everytime. I think it's important to talk with him about it, we're friends after all, but if he's too far gone I know he won't change his mind no matter how much reason or evidence I throw in his face and it will only hurt an otherwise good friendship.

    I think it's best to accept and respect each other's decision on this matter and leave it to rest.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. Analogous situations and anecdotes too.
    Oh, and a good no-nonsense site about the evidence for evolution which displays in an unbiased way the untenable position of creationism. Something a person uneducated in that field (like me) can understand. (It's a lot too ask, I know).
     
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  3. Oct 6, 2005 #2

    Astronuc

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  4. Oct 6, 2005 #3

    FredGarvin

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    I have a good friend that I have known since the 5th grade (lonnnng time). When he was in college and I was in the service, he too became much more religiously active than he previously was. He was your run of the mill Sunday worshiper, but nothing out of the ordinary. Next thing I know he joined a christian frat, is using religious phrases all the time and going to church almost every day. He was really going all out in his quest for the church. I will admit that it made my other friends and I a bit nervous at first, not knowing where he was heading. As it turned out, to this day he is very active in his church and religious persuits, but he has never approached any of us in the way your friend has you (maybe he knew some of us were way beyond help and no confessional would ever be enough). It may be a maturity issue with your friend, or he may be a bit over zealous. I would lean to the latter.

    If I had freaked out at my friend when I saw his big change, I wouldn't be talking to him today. I have a sneaky suspicion that, if he is indeed a very good friend of yours, that in time, he will respect your position.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  5. Oct 6, 2005 #4
    You were right not to go to the meeting. We cannot be seen to be encouraging these people.

    So long as you don't feel that HIS comments about your beliefs are comprimising your friendship, then perhaps you're best off staying away from the subject. If you feel they are, maybe you should talk to him about respecting each others' views. Born again Christians are like ex-smokers - the most aggressive preachers. If he's starting to challenge you or treat you differently due to your scientific background, and you're trying to avoid hurting his feelings, then it sounds like his new-found religion has made him value your friendship less than you do.

    Can I ask if his sudden shift in outlook followed attending a group such as the one he invited you to? It's not very pertinent, but I'm fascinated by brainwashing. To go from astronomy to believing the world is 6000 years old is a pretty interesting phenomenon. I've kind of always been interested in going to one of these groups just to see how they work. A friend of mine bought into it to, but we no longer speak.
     
  6. Oct 6, 2005 #5

    Gokul43201

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    Galileo, I can only sympathize. It must feel terrible to "lose" a dear friend this way.
     
  7. Oct 6, 2005 #6
    I have several really religious friends, they sometimes ask me to church with them. And I politely say no if I don't want to go. And they are still my friends.
    You just half to accept your friends, along with the changes they may go through. Friendship is not about science vs religion, and it shouldn't upset you that he now believes in God.
    You can find ways to change the subject, or just say no thanks, but do you wanna go catch a show/concert/movie/lunch/hang out?
     
  8. Oct 6, 2005 #7

    Danger

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    I'm in agreement with the transparent dude on this one. Avoid the subjects of religion and science like the plague. If you were so close in the past, then there must be dozens of other things that you can talk about and participate in that won't induce conflict. A couple of my very good friends are born-again types and we really enjoy our times together. Beliefs don't come up, other than the famous: "Everyone has to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer."
     
  9. Oct 6, 2005 #8

    Lisa!

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    I have no wish to discuss religion and politics with my friends and I usually avoid this kind of discussions.
     
  10. Oct 7, 2005 #9

    Galileo

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    Thanks for the input everyone, I really appreciate it.

    I think it's gonna be allright, we don't have to agree on religious or politic matters to be friends. He knows that too.
    I think what startled me the most is the sudden change. He really hadn't thought about larger things like 'life' or religion before a year ago (24 years). Heck, I thought most people had sorted that out after puberty.

    The change did came after he went to that alpha-meeting. There are several of them in the country and is something that flown over from america. Hmm, maybe I should investigate...

    I've decided to let this matter with my friend rest and just have a beer or two.:biggrin:
     
  11. Oct 7, 2005 #10
    Well, I'd be careful if you do. These people are brainwashers adept at spotting people in need of something to hold on to, some quick way of rationalising their lives. The friend I spoke of... his father committed suicide, and soon after that my friend's mother started attending one of these groups. Like your friend, the change was immediate. My friend was still living with his mother back then (probably still is now) and she convinced him to start going too. It's scary how effective these people are. My friend was about as far from a good Christian as you could imagine. Even afterwards, I don't think he changed so much in his lifestyle, but he bought the more non-behavioural aspects of the belief system. When he tried to convince me to go, I was tempted just to see how these people work. But I was quite young at the time and I'm glad I didn't go with hindsight.
     
  12. Oct 7, 2005 #11

    Danger

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    Once again, El has it right. Think of these 'meetings' as religion based Amway seminars. They are truly professional manipulators.
     
  13. Oct 7, 2005 #12

    Astronuc

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    Once when I was in college, I went to meeting, somewhat similar in nature, to which I was invited. Actually I was invited to a dinner by a couple at their place. Expecting the couple and a few friends, I was surprised to find a group of poeple.

    It turned out to be a group from the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. There were about 10 members, as I recall, and I had a pleasant dinner.

    Then the discussion got into their religion and beliefs. There was one group leader, who started telling me this and that, about the Bible and their movement. Fortunately, I could counter everything he claimed.

    After about an hour or so of discussion, they invited, actually it was more insisted that I join them in retreat - but they would not tell me where or how far. I decided going of with this group would not be a good idea, despite how friendly they seemed to be. So I thanked them and left. Although they lived in the same apartment complex as me, I never saw them again. I believe they disappeared and moved on shortly after my encounter with them. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Oct 7, 2005 #13

    Danger

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    There was one narrow escape, Astro! Although I suspect that you probably would have been too much for them to digest. (Sort of like that python/alligator picture of Ivan's.:biggrin: )
     
  15. Oct 7, 2005 #14
    I've met very kind and sweet persons who are also very religious, and what I've found is that you can't have any kind of meaningful conversation with them. Just try and see if you two can "click" despite his views, but be ready to have to cool down your relationship with him.
     
  16. Oct 7, 2005 #15
    Ergh. I don't like religious groups that go political. I have a great respect for the Christian groups who advocate enlightenment and personal salvation, but could care less about politics and trying to disprove science at every corner.

    Unfortunately those groups are few and far between, one has to sift through the "God Is Angry" anti-science groups to get to them.
     
  17. Oct 7, 2005 #16

    arildno

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    This is a very sad thing.
    Your friend is actually deteriorating mentally, he wants ready-made, bombastic answers to who he is, how he is to live, rather than to keep his wits acute by perennially trying to develop such thoughts and codes by himself.
    If you want to remain a good friend, try to keep his intellectual curiosity alive.
     
  18. Oct 8, 2005 #17

    Galileo

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    Thanks. I don't think it'll be that dramatic though. Curiously, I seem to encounter these groups all around now. There's even a mail going around for one these same groups to all students here. You'd think students are people with whom you can rationaly discuss these things (or am I overestimating?), so I might go for a look-see. Don't worry, I won't turn over to the dark side :tongue:

    Sadly, he isn't and never was a thinker. He never thought deeply about any philosophical matters either and is in my view unable to critically analyze his ideas and order his thoughts. I guess that makes him easy pray.
     
  19. Oct 8, 2005 #18

    Danger

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    Was that a deliberate pun, or just a typo?:devil:
     
  20. Oct 8, 2005 #19

    Lisa!

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    Good for him! I wish I wasn't a thinker. I always try to avoid thinking but it's almost impossible. I envy people who can accept whatever religion says and have faith to it. No, seriously don't you think he's happier than those who can not believe anything.
    Anyway I think your friend really like you. So he tries to take you to his heaven whether you want to go or not!:biggrin:
     
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