Would you marry a Theist?

I just finished reading Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris.

“The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation (John 14:6), or he does not. We agree that to be a true Christian is to believe that all other faiths are mistaken, and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. Worse still, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God. They too will languish in ‘eternal fire’ (Matthew 25:41). If the basic doctrine of Christianity is correct, I have misused my life in the worst conceivable way. I admit this without a single caveat. The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.” -Sam Harris

Sam Harris succinctly states his position (and my own as well) right on the first page. I am sufficiently unconvinced of Christian doctrine to not lose any sleep with angst over eternal damnation. Moreover, my skepticism directly influenced my younger sister’s Christian deconversion years ago (she is now an Atheist) as well as that of a former significant other who is now a pantheist. My current offline friends whom also attended Catholic schools right up until their High School graduation, are now Atheists as well.

“If I were to turn into a deeply religious believer, my wife has threatened to leave me.” -Richard Dawkins

Hearing him say the above, gave me a chuckle.

He brings up an interesting point. How important is it for an Atheist that their romantic partner be Atheist/Agnostic?

My first significant other was a Mormon who had done missionary work in Africa. The missionary work had the opposite effect on their Faith. When we met, I was calling myself Agnostic and they confided that they had been having serious doubts about their Faith for several years since. We had many discussions about Religion and by the time our friendship turned to romance, they were defining themselves as Agnostic as well.

The sheer terror they felt at confessing their Agnosticism to their parents–much less that they were dating an Agnostic–greatly disturbed me. The fear was justified. I feared for their life as well. In the end, that former significant other died without the family knowing of their Agnosticism–or my existence for that matter. I could not even attend the funeral.

It is baffling that in many parts of the world, one can fear for one’s life for simply refusing to believe in absurdities. That people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali must live under armed guard for the crime of reason, is disgraceful.

In my case, I cannot respect and therefore accept an individual as a potential romantic partner if they see enough justification for belief in a personal God. That level of cognitive dissonance greatly diminishes their desirability. Even with the ex that was a Catholic, by the time we began dating, Christianity was out the window.

So, for Atheists, how important is lack of religious cognitive dissonance in a mate? Would you date a Theist? Would you marry a Theist? If the answers to the last two questions differ, why so? In the mate selection process, does extent of religiosity make a difference? Does the type of Religion make a difference? Let us exclude Buddhism from the list as it resembles a philosophy more than a Religion.

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10 responses to “Would you marry a Theist?

  1. Pingback: What The Atheists Are Saying, Pt. 2 « Without Politicians

  2. Hey,

    Stumbled upon your blog from a wordpress mainpage. In all honesty, I did NOT read your whole “supposedly” atheist post for this reason:

    In your second paragraph you appear to claim an atheist victory for:

    1. Turning you sister from Christianity to atheism (which I doubt, form personal experience. I suspect she is agnostic, at best…)
    2. Turning someone to PANTHEISM…

    I trust you have the intellectual honesty to see my point: You are NOT an atheist…you are ANTI-CHRISTIAN. You do not claim a victory in all cases by turning individuals away from God, because your second point is about turning an individual from belief in one God to MANY gods. THIS is clearly not atheism. This is simply anti-Christian.

    Ironic as it may seem, the fact that the world we live in seems to be on a constant attack against Christianity…but defends the “peaceful” religion of Islam, or Witchcraft, or whatever non-Christian religion you choose…tells me that the words of the Bible are true, for God predicted as much. I can not pray in a school, but my children are taught “pillars” of character, a direct reference to Islam.

    So, in all honesty, are you truly an atheist? Or are you simply another anti-Christian / Agnostic?

    Just started my own blog recently, where I intend to tackle the study of God’s Word as well as personal issues. I would love to have you visit and share your thoughts -which I WILL post, as long as they are not profane.

    Hope to hear from you!

    Darryl, from laymanlearning.wordpress.com

  3. In all honesty, I did NOT read your whole “supposedly” atheist post for this reason:

    Then I suggest you take the time to read all of it. It would also have been prudent to have at least read one more of my entries on Atheism before concluding that I am not an Atheist but in fact, anti-Christian. Your Christian bias makes you think that I am against Christianity specifically when in fact, I believe Christianity to be as delusional as the other two Abrahamic religions and all others.

    In your second paragraph you appear to claim an atheist victory for:

    Atheists say they are Atheists because they do not believe there is sufficient evidence for the existence of God. I do not dislike all the teachings of Christianity, but I do not think the ‘good parts’ are strictly Christian. The concept/practice of treating others well, for example, is universal to various faiths too precisely because it is useful.

    As for a claim of victory . . . I cannot stress again the importance of reading the whole post. First, my sister went from Christian, to Buddhist, to Agnostic to Atheist. That you find it difficult to believe that she is not an Atheist will not alter her disbelief.

    Secondly, I was not claiming victory. If you have read Letter To A Christian Nation–or even if you had only read the quote I provide–you will see that the purpose for the quote is to provide an opening for my blog entry that illustrates how strong my disbelief in God is. Like Sam Harris, stating one has had an influence on the deconversion of friends and family is only to point out that if our disbelief were weak enough to cause us nightmares about our own supposed eternal damnation, then even more so if we caused the eternal damnation of loved ones. That we do not experience such torment, indicates how nonsensical we believe Christian superstition is–which by extension includes the superstition of other Religions as well. It follows to ask then, that if the belief of other Atheists is also as strong, would it influence their choice of mate such that they would disqualify a Theist from the selection process? This is the question I put forth and the purpose of the entry.

    By the way, I do not encourage individuals to go from believing in one God to believing in many. I consider both delusions. My Pantheist ex, is a naturalistic pantheist who does not believe in multiple Gods. In practical terms, it is Atheistic. They do not believe in a supernatural universe and supernatural beings. They believe in a natural universe, using the word God as synonymous for ‘universe’ and ‘nature.’

    but defends the “peaceful” religion of Islam, or Witchcraft, or whatever non-Christian religion you choose…tells me that the words of the Bible are true, for God predicted as much.

    There is no evidence to suggest that the Bible is the word of God and not the word of Bronze Age humans. The New Testament was written to accommodate the prophesies of the Old Testament in order to make it easier for people to accept Christ. This has been well documented by historians. You may want to research this as well as investigate other Religions to understand that Christianity in the way of ‘peace’ is not morally superior. It leaves much to be desired, and the most likely reason that you insinuate it is better than all others, is because you were possibly raised in it.

    So, in all honesty, are you truly an atheist? Or are you simply another anti-Christian / Agnostic?

    I am a strong Atheist. I am not 100% certain that there is no God. But, I am 99.9% certain just like I am 99.9% certain Zeus does not exist and neither do vampires, fairies, leprechauns or celestial teapots. I am anti-Theism because it presents faith as a virtue and encourages the beliefs of falsehoods. But, I am not anti-Religion. Children should learn about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and so forth, in the same way they should learn about other mythology–like Greek mythology–for the historical benefits and for educational purposes.

  4. the chaplain

    Well, when I was young and stupid, I was a theist and was committed to marrying another theist. No question about it. An atheist would not even get a date.

    Now, I’m middle-aged, a fairly new atheist, and pretty sure that I would have difficulty marrying a theist.

  5. the chaplain wrote:
    Well, when I was young and stupid

    Hehe. I like that.

    If I had met an open Atheist when I was younger, they would have been a breadth of fresh air.

    the chaplain wrote:
    Now, I’m middle-aged, a fairly new atheist, and pretty sure that I would have difficulty marrying a theist.

    I recently turned 27. This time last year, I was engaged to an Atheist. The relationship dissolved in the worst way imaginable and I am back to being single. But, until I met them, I never considered marriage. I was so used to being surrounded by people that had so little in common with me, that whilst I knew that statistically humans who were similar minded had to exist, in practical terms, I did not believe I would ever meet them. The experience made it possible for me to see what it would take for someone to completely enthrall my mind (most importantly) and body.

    Before that, I may have considered dating a Theist, but that is no longer the case. Many people make excuses. They fool themselves into thinking that they can compensate for a large discrepancy in the way in which they view the world and what is considered moral because it makes them open minded. However, when you consider marriage, being open minded about your options is not wise. We must ask for a lot and reciprocate in full. We must not settle for less.

    If a person out there exists that matches my views in the most important ways but happens to be very religious, that may be acceptable for friendship but certainly not for marriage. Statically, if such a person exists, so does someone who matches me in the same ways and is an Agnostic/Atheist. In other words, to marry the religious person regardless just because I met them first does not make me worthy of patting myself on the back for being supposedly open minded.

    It is not being open minded at all. It is about taking the first comforting solution that comes my way, even if it is not ideal. It is a decision based on fear. A fear that I may not ever meet someone who matches me in a better way, that my current reality is as good as it is going to get and no one else is likely to love me or see any reason to love me better than the person in front of me. It reeks of both low self-esteem and low self-reliance. That level of self-delusion and weakness is not at all acceptable. If not settling means that I end up unmarried until I die, then that is a price I am willing to pay.

    My biological imperative to reproduce has always been non-existent. I do not plan to ever have children of my own. However, I may consider being a parent in later years and under special circumstances, such as adopting an abused orphan.

    This world can be extremely unkind. If it is within my power to adopt, I would see it as a personal responsibility to make it better for someone who had the misfortune of having a horrible start at life. I could not in good conscience then, marry someone who finds it not only acceptable but perfectly moral to raise a child to believe in God. I could not adopt a child to make their life better, only to subject them to that just because I want to have the luxury of appearing open minded to people whose opinion matters not to me and whose sense of morality in this instance, is suspect.

  6. I loved the quote on top. This is something I myself told to a classmate one day when he sent me to hell after an argument with “Well… let’s say you’re right and I’m wrong, and when I die I’ll go nowhere… I have nothing to lose since I would have lived happily. Let’s say you are wrong and I’m right, and when you die you end up in Hell. Man, that’s a lot to lose”. To me that was like being told “The blue fairy will turn you to stone.” And my lack of fear just made him angrier.

    The story about your Mormon significant other is sad. Did they die because of their change in religious views? Or the death was an unfortunate but unrelated occurrence?

    I know at least in Colombia, people are not that deluded as to strongly impose their beliefs in other people. If much, they’ll just reject atheists and refuse to talk to them, but it’s scary to read about other places and cultures where religion is so important as to justify a murder or losing your family, or killing yourself.

    Now, referring to the main idea of your post, I think I would find it really hard to marry a religious person. Very recently I refused dating someone who accused me of doing so because he was a strong Catholic. I don’t even know if it’s the religion itself, but the patronizing look he was giving me when explaining “you’re too young to understand”.

    So, no. I don’t think I would be able to establish a closer, romantic relationship with a theist. Maybe if they are open minded and willing to reason… but if this is true, they would end up becoming atheists. If they stick with their beliefs, it would probably mean they have placed a wall against reason, because I don’t see how one would stay religious after seriously thinking about it. After all, isn’t questioning the biggest “don’t” of most religions? I couldn’t live with someone who has “don’t question” as their life motto.

    I’ve only had one boyfriend, and even for something that I myself knew from the beggining wasn’t going to last, he was an atheist too. I will always like him for questioning and thinking about everything.

  7. Hey! Ayaan Hirsi Ali has the same BIRTHDAY than I! 😉

  8. “Let’s say you are wrong and I’m right, and when you die you end up in Hell. Man, that’s a lot to lose”.

    Even if there is life after death and there is a place of punishment, you are just as likely to end up in the Hell of the Christians as you are to be tormented in Naraka, Diyu, Jahannam, Gehenna or Tartarus. As an Atheist, you may be safe from Naraka, as disbelief in God(s) will not get you there, and even if you do, it is not an eternal sentence.

    The story about your Mormon significant other is sad. Did they die because of their change in religious views? Or the death was an unfortunate but unrelated occurrence?

    It was unrelated.

    I don’t even know if it’s the religion itself, but the patronizing look he was giving me when explaining “you’re too young to understand”.

    It seems like a combination of his attitude and having a dull religion. If I were to get obsessive about mythology, I would skip Christian Mythology and go straight for Greek Mythology.

    Hey! Ayaan Hirsi Ali has the same BIRTHDAY than I! 😉

    As do these people.

  9. You ruined the nice warm and fuzzy feeling of finding someone else who shares my favorite day of the year. :/ lol

  10. Hi – stumbled across your blog whilst looking for other reviews of The Mist and saw that this was the previous post.

    When I met my wife (almost eleven years ago) neither of us were church goers. Her family are very religious mine are not. About three or four years ago she decided that she would like to go back to church and so she did. Since then I have seen a remarkable rise in both her self-confidence and inner peace (yeah I know it sounds woolly but I cant think of any other way of describing it). Last August we married and are now happier than ever.

    I am a non-believer (I don’t call myself an atheist because, as Jonathan Miller puts it ‘there isn’t a name for people who don’t believe in ghosts’) and there are things we disagree on but to rule people out as potential partners because of faith, in my view, is just needlessly restricting your own potential for life.

    The key to it is in being polite. Mrs CinemaScream is not pushy about her religion and can accept the fact that I believe it to be poppycock. We each feel that the other is mistaken but are able to leave it at that and don’t feel the need to lecture each other.

    …it also helps that Mrs CinemaScream is a rather ‘liberal’ Christian and feels that damning people to hell has little to do with the love of Christ.

    We have some ‘interesting discussions’ about evolution (the one issue on which her faith really annoys me) and raising kids might prove interesting but we are happy that whether they become religious or not they will be good people.

    This is gonna sound corny but you never know with whom or where you are going to find love so why deny yourself choices?

    I have big problems with religion but, at the end of the day, good people are good people no matter what faith.

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