“You’re just going through a phase” is probably one of the more infuriating things we hear from the religious.  Strangely, it doesn’t only come from our parents, although they are a rich source of it.

As a parent myself I can assure you from bitter experience that saying this to anyone about anything is just about the least constructive thing I can imagine.  “Going through a phase” is something pediatricians like to say to parents struggling with their three-year-old’s tendency to throw tantrums in the supermarket.  Arriving at a logical epistemology and a fact-based worldview isn’t really in the same category as a meltdown on Aisle 4.  But the person who says, “You’re just going through a phase” is being every bit as dismissive of your genuine thoughts as the dad whose refusal to buy Fudgesicles has precipitated a mini-crisis.  That dad does not think his son has a position that needs serious consideration, he just wants the kid to quit making a scene so he can get out of the store and avoid further embarrassment.

Oh yes, embarrassment.  One of the much-touted benefits of religion is that churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. provide families with a larger community.  Well, one of the features of most communities is, judgy neighbors.  And when a member of a religious family comes out atheist?  The other members of that family get to experience another major benefit of religion: shame.  A desire to re-establish some of their standing in the community can be a root cause of shunning and worse.

And by the way, suppose “You’re just going through a phase” is meant in the best way possible: not as “I dismiss your ideas as unworthy” but as “I think this is not your final position, you will change your mind at some point soon.”  Well, what’s wrong with changing your position?  Feel free to do so as often as the facts and your thought process require it.  That logical epistemology and fact-based worldview aren’t just for show!  Take them out for a spin, whenever new evidence or ideas present themselves.

This is #9 of a series covering the top ten goofy things religious people say to atheists.