Raising Atheists

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

Two atheists at City Hall, waiting to get their marriage license

Carlos: I’m nervous. Are you nervous?

Delores: Why should I be? It’s just a license.

Carlos: I know, but it still feels like a big step. When we get the form, what kind of stuff is on it?

Delores: I think it’s just identification and promising that you’re legally eligible to get married. Maybe there’s some demographic stuff on there.

Carlos: Do they ask what religion we are?

Delores: I don’t see why they would.

Carlos: For statistical purposes, maybe. What if we get a clerk who doesn’t want us to get married because we might fill the house with little atheists?

Delores: I sincerely doubt anyone cares that we’re not religious. Even so, we can let them know that our kids might not even be atheists, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Carlos: Of course our kids will be atheists.

Delores: You never know.

Carlos: How could I not know? Maybe when they become rebellious teenagers they’ll find religion just to spite us, but they’ll be atheists when they’re little.

Delores: Could be.

Carlos: "Could be"? Why is there even a glimpse of doubt?

Delores: They might choose to be religious. We’ll tell them about all the things people believe and let them choose. I’m not going to impose my beliefs on my kids.

Carlos: Why the heck not? Don’t you think you’re right?

Delores: Obviously I think I’m right.

Carlos: Do you think religious people are just as right as you are?

Delores: No, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion. It’s religious people that demand that their children follow in their footsteps, not atheists.

Carlos: I’m not worried about following in footsteps, I’m worried about giving our kids all the facts. What would you tell them about God?

Delores: I might say that science says that the universe began with the Big Bang, but that some people believe that God caused it.

Carlos: You don’t think that’s misleading?

Delores: It’s the truth.

Carlos: It’s only sort of the truth. Are you going to explain what science thinks came before the Big Bang?

Delores: That’s a pretty complicated subject, and there’s not a definitive answer.

Carlos: Right. So you’re going to tell our kids that they can choose between believing God created the universe and no answer at all.

Delores: That’s the truth, isn’t it?

Carlos: It’s a truth that’s too sophisticated for a kid. Obviously the kid is going to gravitate toward having an explanation. Are you going to tell them that some people believe in Heaven and Hell?

Delores: Sure.

Carlos: And that some people believe that they’ll burn in Hell for eternity unless they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior?

Delores: What’s wrong with telling them about that?

Carlos: The same thing that’s wrong with everything you’re saying. If you present these things like their either/or choices, kids will make terrible decisions based on their overly simplistic view of the world. How do you explain that God and the Big Bang aren’t even choices because the possibility of God existing is so incredibly small? How can you expect a kid to make the right decision when you tell them that if they choose incorrectly they’ll be tortured for eternity?

Carlos: You’re making it sound awful. I just want our kids to be able to make informed decisions.

Delores: They’ll be able to do that, but it’s our responsibility to tell them what we think is the truth of the world. We can let them know that people disagree and that we wouldn’t look down on them if they disagreed, but we can’t pretend like it’s an even playing field and everyone gets to choose the answers they like best.

Carlos: I think you’re making too big a deal out of this. What’s the harm if our kid decides to try believing in God for a while?

Delores: What’s the harm? How about "Daddy, I prayed and God told me I don’t have to go to school anymore" or "I didn’t break that, it was demons" or "I’m having nightmares because you and Mommy are going to burn in hell unless we start going to church." How are you going to deal with that?

Carlos: I’ll tell the kid that — wait a minute. If I contradict them, then I’m telling them what to think, which is what I said I wasn’t going to do.

Delores: Exactly. So if you agree that you’ll have to talk them out of religion if they do something extreme, why do anything that might make religion appealing in the first place?

Carlos: Do you really think a kid would try and blame things on God and demons?

Delores: Heck yes. I also think that if you go around telling our kids that it says in the Bible that animals sometimes talk but you don’t have an opinion on the subject, I’ll be spending a lot of time online telling people how stupid you sound.

Carlos: I need to rethink this.

Delores: Good, because I didn’t want to have to file for a divorce when we’re not even married yet.


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Posted on December 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

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