Atheist reader Santiago has a friend (let’s call him Bob) who is a fundamentalist Christian… or used to be, anyway. After several years of the two men discussing and debating faith, Bob has finally admitted that his faith is under severe stress and that he has “very serious doubts about the validity of Christianity” — Bob now accepts evolution, among other things.
But this has led to a major problem.
The problem is this: he’s feeling miserable at the moment. He has a fundamentalist wife who will not be converting to atheism (or even moderate Christianity) anytime soon. Almost his entire family is also like this, as well as most of his friends. His parents already believe he is going to hell because of his belief in evolution.
You can probably imagine the situation, relatives calling to say they’re praying for him, and so on. In particular I think he is also devastated by the fact that he has made every major decision in his life based on what he thought was God’s will, but now finds that there is no comforting divine plan and that he may well have made important decisions in his life for the wrong reasons.
In short, he was much happier being religious. I think anyone would expect this, but the problem is that I don’t think he has found anything positive in atheism yet, and I think he’s finding it very depressing that there might not be a god. I don’t think that “better moral guidelines” and “seeing the universe as it is” can outweigh what could well be the loss of his entire family, at least not at this stage.
This is were I need some help. I’d like to give him accounts of other people who have gone (or are going) through a similar ordeal — maybe someone who can describe the positive things that they discovered about atheism, especially things that someone fresh from deconversion may find appealing or easy to understand. Anything that may help him feel less horrible about the past decisions he’s made would help enormously. I think that he could relate much better from people who have been on the same journey as he has, and who have faced the same problems.
I hope that my friend can someday feel happier and more fulfilled being an atheist than he was being a Christian. Hopefully, that day will come very soon.
What helped you stay positive when you left your faith?