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Is it ever to late?

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:48 pm
by ravenflag
Just a quick question for you guys and gals.
I recently (2 month ago) lent my copy of the god delusion to my da, who is a catholic and in his sixtys.

He returned the book and when i asked what he thought of it he replied that he did not read it (he got as far as the preface).
He said the reason he did not read it was because he didnt like dawkins (fair enough).
I left it at that but i reckon he would not read it because he would have to question his faith and after beliving for so long it is something he is not willing to do.

My question is, is it ever to late to lose faith?
I dont think so but i dont know anyone who has become atheist in their fiftys or sixtys.
How about you guys :?:

Re: Is it ever to late?

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:43 pm
by FXR
Or an even better question: is it ever too soon?

I've observed a number of different people over the years. With my mother I noticed she'd almost unconsciously skip any newspaper story about Catholic priest raping children. I even took to leaving the newspaper open on the subject page beside her. But at the same time it does go in. She no longer even talks about going to Mass. She does read those little prayer books at night though.
My brother on the other hand thinks there is a "higher power". I gave him Hitchens "God is not great". He did not get through it. While I found it easy to read he thinks it a difficult book to get through.

I had a theory about the God Delusion which was that some people are "pre programmed" not to be able to read it.

Of course on the other hand if someone gave me a Catholic catechism my first reaction would be "Yawn, why wade through this shite".

Maybe believers being people don't want the prospect of something that disturbs the habits of a lifetime. In the case of people like your dad it's not just a religion. It's what he grew up with and what he associates with being a member of his peer group. If you're sixty or eighty you're less likely want to make a radical jump from a comfortable rut to seek new frontiers.

Imagine an man of sixty turning around in the pub after the weekly rendezvous in Church and saying "Lads what we've been doing for the last few decades is based on a lot of bollocks, I've just read a book about it".

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:33 pm
by ravenflag
ne
Maybe believers being people don't want the prospect of something that disturbs the habits of a lifetime. In the case of people like your dad it's not just a religion. It's what he grew up with and what he associates with being a member of his peer group. If you're sixty or eighty you're less likely want to make a radical jump from a comfortable rut to seek new frontiers
I totally understand that FXR,but what im asking is do you or anyone eles now of a person becoming athiest at a late stage in life or does it simply not happen?

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:31 pm
by FXR
ravenflag wrote:
I totally understand that FXR,but what im asking is do you or anyone eles now of a person becoming athiest at a late stage in life or does it simply not happen?
I'm sure it does though I can't name anyone off the top of my head. It's not the kind of thing that would neccessarily be obvious when it happens.

I think a lot of people have gradually come to realise that the whole thing is bollocks but don't go as far as declaring their wish for a non-religious burial out of consideration for wifes/husbands/children/friends. That's why its important to work to change things: like re-naming the 17th of March Paddies Day. When the overall atmosphere changes more people will voice the doubts they had all along.

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:11 pm
by paulamcnc
I recently asked an elderly relative I was visiting if she still went to mass, and she replied 'no, it's all rubbish, isn't it?'. I was kinda speechless, even though she was never a fanatic, I never thought she'd be the type to admit the crap she used to spout was, well, crap. She's nearly eighty.

I don't think it's anything she'd say publicly though....

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:49 pm
by Neesik
ravenflag
I totally understand that FXR,but what im asking is do you or anyone eles now of a person becoming athiest at a late stage in life or does it simply not happen?
I believe Julia Sweeney was around 40 when she ditched Catholisism, not that old I know, but not a teenager either.

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:33 am
by mkaobrih
Well if that well know atheist Anthony Flew changed his mind at an elderly age I don’t see why it can’t work the other way around – the main thing is that it’s deeply personal – so reading a book won’t cut it. It is something that you have to have thought about for a long time and it’s not a light decision. Parts of the bible are very beautiful but that won't make me a believer

Re: Is it ever to late?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:39 pm
by andrew
ravenflag wrote: He said the reason he did not read it was because he didnt like dawkins (fair enough).
My mother can't stand Dawkins either...not because she's read any of his books but because she sees him as a figurehead of the war being waged against religion. I think people of a certain age find it very hard to accept or even entertain any criticism of catholicism because it is so closely interwoven with their national/cultural identity. It's like the syndrome Fianna failers suffer from. They can't accept that Dev was mad, Cj was a crook and Bertie is a lair despite all the evidence piled up in front of them. My mother is an educated, well read, funny and clever person but when it comes to her religion she won't even entertain argument.
On a different point. Last year I stood by the bedside of my 90 year old grand uncle as he died. He was the most caring, selfless and thoughtful of all my relatives. He always knew what everyone in his extended family were doing and took a great interest in their lives. He was also a priest. ( We used to have great rows about religion but he never loved me less for being an atheist)
During the day, as he was dying, he was visited by countless nuns priests and a few bishops. It was all very Father Ted like. My grand uncle knew he was dying and was scared. He kept asking all the clergy who visited to read and re-read prayers with him. He said he was worried about where he was going to go...up or down.
Every time I hear a religious person speak of how their faith comforts them I remember my grand uncle's last hours and realise that no matter what nonsense one believes about death we're all dragged kicking and screaming from this life. Despite what we might think we know about death, deep down our bodies and minds know that when we die we die.

Andrew

Re: Is it ever to late?

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:01 pm
by paulamcnc
andrew wrote:
ravenflag wrote: He said the reason he did not read it was because he didnt like dawkins (fair enough).
My mother can't stand Dawkins either...not because she's read any of his books but because she sees him as a figurehead of the war being waged against religion. I think people of a certain age find it very hard to accept or even entertain any criticism of catholicism because it is so closely interwoven with their national/cultural identity. It's like the syndrome Fianna failers suffer from. They can't accept that Dev was mad, Cj was a crook and Bertie is a lair despite all the evidence piled up in front of them. My mother is an educated, well read, funny and clever person but when it comes to her religion she won't even entertain argument.
On a different point. Last year I stood by the bedside of my 90 year old grand uncle as he died. He was the most caring, selfless and thoughtful of all my relatives. He always knew what everyone in his extended family were doing and took a great interest in their lives. He was also a priest. ( We used to have great rows about religion but he never loved me less for being an atheist)
During the day, as he was dying, he was visited by countless nuns priests and a few bishops. It was all very Father Ted like. My grand uncle knew he was dying and was scared. He kept asking all the clergy who visited to read and re-read prayers with him. He said he was worried about where he was going to go...up or down.
Every time I hear a religious person speak of how their faith comforts them I remember my grand uncle's last hours and realise that no matter what nonsense one believes about death we're all dragged kicking and screaming from this life. Despite what we might think we know about death, deep down our bodies and minds know that when we die we die.

Andrew
A very elegant word picture of your uncles final day, Andrew. I reckon that dying must also be the loneliest thing we do as humans, maybe thats the scariest thing about it.