God musta made me this way, I guess...Just kidding. Actually, I can barely remember the few times I was forced to go to Sunday school and the one thing I remember about it is that I came away from those classes considering the stories just as I did my Dr. Seuss books. They were ridiculous. At whatever age it was that I could think critically about things is when I became an atheist. Though my husband and I are staunch atheists, we don't consider our 4 year old to be one as well. We will continue to teach him the knowledge that is out there. Certainly, he will be influenced by our beliefs, but we don't want to "indoctrinate" him in ANY belief system. I'll be surprised if he turns out to be anything but atheist, but it will be his choice/belief, based on actual knowledge.
Certainly, he will be influenced by our beliefs, but we don't want to "indoctrinate" him in ANY belief system. I'll be surprised if he turns out to be anything but atheist, but it will be his choice/belief, based on actual knowledge.
This is how I am raising my children. I am an atheist and my wife is a deist and so far the score is (I have 2 children 13 and 17) 1 atheist (the thirteen year old!) and 1 on the fence.
And I'll bet the one on the fence is a female (rather, a young woman - how does THAT make you feel, if it's true?). I say that because I think girls at that age are generally more influenced by their friends and perhaps a bit more introspective than boys. I don't know - maybe I'm wrong about that. Boys seem more direct, though - make a decision and roll with it. Anyway, nice to meet someone who agrees with the idea of teaching our children to believe they have their own choices. I'm a 45 year old woman who actually voted for Reagan my first voting experience just because my folks did (and they would again if they had the chance). Sounds like you guys are doing a great job on that head.
Thanks Vitomama - I will not force my beliefs on ANYONE - much less my children. All I can do is try and teach them to think critically. And I have a confession (not popular in atheist circles) - I voted for Reagan twice and might even again. Four years of freakin' Jimmy Carter (a close tie here with GWB as the worst Prez in my memory) I and my wallet were worn plumb out.
It's more amusing in the long version - which I reserve normally for personal encounters - but suffice it to say, I was accepted into a small local church, the congregation gave me a bible and I read it.
It struck me (I had gone through several other versions as well) that when god was referred to, one could replace "the human mind" in one of many forms - and the passage would read the same. I may note here that I was dabbling in hypnosis at the time as well.
One thing lead to another. At some point, I was in some church "encounter group" and the question was asked "What are some things that motivate people?" - answers were solicited around the table. My brother was to be third up, I was after. I saw what was in his mind: "What am I going to answer? I can't think of anything" - the first three answers were pretty obvious: "Love", "Hate", "Desire"....
He finally came up with something - I don't remember what. Then it was my turn - I looked the preacher right in the eye and hesitated not one microsecond: "FEAR".
The preacher thought it was GREAT! He put it just like that in BIG letters on the board - and COMPLETELY missed the point!
From that moment on, they no longer had me in fear of them. Later, while in the Navy, I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman who was an atheist, and explained the difference of Atheist and Agnostic to me. I had said "I don't know which I should call myself" and she immediately said "You are an Atheist." After years of thinking about that comment, I agree with it completely.
The full story is much more fun, but this will do as an introductory post to your list in the vain attempt to beat PZ in subscription rate! Good Luck with that!
"I don't know which I should call myself" and she immediately said "You are an Atheist."
I love that little conversation. On two levels. First, on the definition-of-an-atheist level. Second, on the "she-spoke-and-it-was-so" level. Now, goest forth and be the atheist you are ...because she said so....ha ha...she is a wise mentor.
Quite honestly, I was born that way, and have never had cause to change it.
My parents never forced my brothers and I to go to church, mostly because my atheist father wouldn't go. I'm sure my Catholic mother would have liked us to been members of the church, but I think maybe she was just happy to have brought up three good boys.
I was raised Methodist in the Bible Belt, and bought into it all until I actually read the Bible the second time. The first time I read it, I didn't really process it; I was just excited to do something I thought I should be doing. But the second time, I was a little older (in high school) and willing to really figure out what was going on, instead of merely making sure all the words passed under my eyes. The more I read, the more I realized I didn't even like this god, and I certainly didn't want to worship him. Whether he existed or not wasn't important. I just didn't want to have anything to do with him.
I spent the next few years looking for a better god, and not finding one. Gradually, god started feeling like a cop out. I realized I didn't need any gods to explain anything. I remembered a project I did on Greek mythology back in elementary school, where I explained that people used gods to answer questions they couldn't answer any other way, and I realized it wasn't any different with these other religions. I realized it's ok to not know the answer and also not assume there's a supernatural one.