An atheist hypocrite?
from what i’ve read on here, you really are helpful. i stumbled into this site while searching for the correct definition of an atheist. i think i might be a “weak” atheist? to start off, i was raised in the church (my father was a deacon). like many young children who’ve been brought up in church, i hardly thought in depth about “God” and hardly measured religion’s relevance to my personal views. after i graduated high school, i started to pay more attention to the sermons every sunday. although many of the morals and lessons presented were, in my opinion, “benificial for people,” i was turned off by most of the church members. most of the christian that i’d meet at school seemed nice up until they came across a person with a different faith. at times, i was ashamed to say “i’m a christian” just because the majority of christians i knew were quick to judge, quick to gossip, and quick to contradict themselves with preaching their daily scripture and their lifestyle. i found it annoying, all the hypocrisy. and not too long ago did i finally examine myself on a religion spectrum. came out (as an atheist) to my sister and she was surprised but understanding. i doubt there is a “God,” but there isn’t proof, for me, that there isn’t one. i am currently reading the Bible just to understand Christianity better. i still don’t know how to tell my mother though, she drags me to church still, every sunday… that would make me a hypocrite too? going to church every sunday but not believing in a “God?” i’m stuck between a rock and a hard place… peace out!
I certainly try to be helpful. Thanks for noticing!
You do sound like a “weak” atheist (although I really dislike that term). I state my belief as “I see no compelling evidence for the existence of deities,” and I agree that there is no proof that deities don’t exist, so perhaps we are in the same boat.
I’m sure I don’t need to point out to you that the hypocrisies of the Christians in your life is not proof that Christianity is an incorrect philosophy. However, it sounds like this hypocrisy is what led you to examine the beliefs you were raised with so your atheism is the result of thought and research. This is excellent.
I also applaud your desire to read the Bible and understand Christianity better. If you want to further your learning after reading the Bible, I would recommend reading books on the Bible that are written from both a religious and a neutral or atheist perspective. I find that I learn more reading apologist literature (and listening to Christian podcasts) than I do from reading atheistic materials, because it challenges me to put my reasons for disagreeing into concrete terms (assuming I do disagree).
Finally getting to your question — are you a hypocrite because you go to church with your mother? Maybe, but I doubt it. If your mother is still able to “drag” you to church, then I assume you are a young person. This means that you do not have as much autonomy as you will when you are older. If you are going to church because you have no choice or because it will make your mother happy, then you are not a hypocrite. But I think that you are morally bound to try and turn this into a more “honest” situation — it is hard for an atheist to justify taking communion, for example, since it is a profession of faith (you might want to consider asking a priest what he thinks of this, perhaps in the context of the confessional where the priest is morally bound to keep your words in confidence).
How can you move forward? Since you are already going to church with your mother and reading the Bible, I would recommend using these as a springboard for discussion. Talk to your mother about the doubts you have about religion and see how she responds. Over time, she will see your doubt progress and she will probably realize that you are an atheist before you come right out and say it. But if she does not see it, or if you realize that she’s actively denying the implications of what you are saying, then when you do tell her you are an atheist she will at least be able to see that this is something you have been considering over time.
You will know better than I could, but in many situations it is far better for a parent to see their child slowly changing beliefs than it is for a parent to see a sudden change. When confronted by a what appears to be a sudden change, parents tend to look for someone to blame for your change rather than accept your beliefs. (And for what it’s worth, I’m a parent, so there’s no insult to your mother intended in any of this.)
There is nothing dishonest in any of this. You are still learning about religion and still firming your beliefs, so it is natural for you to share your doubts and thoughts with your mother. Odds are than she won’t change her overall religious view, but she may look for answers to the questions you bring up, and finding such answers can only increase her intellectual rigor.
By the way, my parents experienced my going through the process of moving from Catholic to atheist, and they eventually both became atheists. Of course, your mileage may vary
I hope this has been of some help. Please feel free to write if you wish to discuss this, or other atheism- or moral-philosophy-related issues, further.