Hi,

I've got 3 boys - they are 9 years, 4 years and 1 year.

I love them all dearly.

The issue of God came up when my eldest was about 5 years old. I think it was because his friend was a Christian and had talked to him about God. I explained to my son that I didn’t and why. He thought about it and then asked his dad. His dad does believe in God – although not a Christian one, which although is semantics, it does make a difference to me, as the God he believes in doesn’t require him to go on about it or convert anyone else to his belief – it makes for a peaceful and God free home life. Which I more than happy about. So then my eldest son had a conflict of interest. When I asked him if he believed in God he said that he believed both of us, that there was a God and that there wasn’t a God. OK, fair enough, he was still very concerned about the implications of his beliefs with consideration of his basic needs being met…

About a year later, his Christian friend told him that because he didn’t believe in God he was going to BURN IN HELL. Great! So luckily he came out with this to me within about a week or so, and I was able to talk it through with him. I explained that Christians believed in God and Hell and that they also believed that if you didn’t believe in God that you would burn in Hell. I then explained to him that I didn’t believe in God or Hell and that it was all a bunch of crap and that when you died you were dead and that was it. He had a good laugh about his friend thinking he was going to hell, and then announced that he was an atheist. A job well done I thought.

My second child is only 4, so we are yet to get the question of God. We’re going through death at the moment and having great fun calculating roughly how many days we think we have to live. My second child was thrilled to hear that he had a potential 35,000 days to go. I was being generous, and hopeful of a long life for him :) - I always have been an optimist at heart.

Alice :)

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Welcome Alice. Delightful introduction . . .you handled the situation with your son well.

My middle son has been told he would burn in hell as well. Since he is 15 and already a staunch atheist he just laughed about it. The kid told him that after God came and took all the good believers up to heaven, everyone else would be left behind in lawless chaos. There will be no police and you will have to rush to get as many guns as you can to kill people before they kill you. My son had a very good laugh.

Hi Alice, thanks for introducing yourself. I don't think I will ever get why people think it's okay to teach small kids that they will burn in hell—such terrible imagery—for not believing in god. Anyway, glad your son can laugh about it.

Dejah, Dawn,

 

Thanks for your replies :)

 

It is a concern when children are told such things, and it's clear that with this child speaking to your son Dejah, that he was quite disturbed by the notion.  One thing that concerned me with this friend of my son's was that I wondered if he too might be scared about burning in hell.  As it wasn't long after that, due to another friend also being an atheist, that the Christian boy announced that he too didn't believe in God.  Before this happened, I spoke with his mum and said that she might reassure him that he wasn't going to burn in hell, as it could well be a concern for him and quite a scary concept for a child of 5 or 6 - well scary in the extreme!  She took it OK, and did what she did about it, I don't know what that was, she didn't tell me.

 

I think it's very scary for children to not understand the casual web of all things.  That in fact everything has a cause and is logically related to all events prior.  When they have this reasonable understanding of the world they are much more likely to feel safe about things happening in sequence, and not be frightened about random events appearing.  All the Theist children that I've come across suffer from nightmares or fear of supernatural or fictitious things such as ghosts, monsters and the like.  I wondered if it might be a logical suspicion as they are told about God, but they can't see him and he is said to have great power - and so from this to imagining no end of scary things just appearing out of nowhere is a strong possibility.

 

Alice :)

Interesting post. When our oldest (4) got scared of dying we drew little lines for each year, the difference between 4 and even her dad's 40 is quite profound not to mention the great grandparents 81...
Yes I was pleased that the method worked to turn his fears of death into celebration and joy of all that living!  A great thing to see.
Hi Richard,

I’ve been with my husband for 16 years now. He was involved with the Cult I grow up in with my mum. It was Indian and involved a God, that would come into the body of an Indian lady and we would all meet with God and he/she would give us blessing. It was quite nice, and reasonably undamaging for me. The lady was extremely loving and kind, and when she looked at me I felt overwhelmed by a sense of calm and love. It was quite powerful.

Any how, so although we had both left this Cult – my husband still held those beliefs, whereas I wasn’t so keen. My dad is an atheist and I also took a lot of influence from him in growing up.

So for the first 7 or so years of our relationship he would talk in terms of Gyan (Indian word meaning knowledge – meaning the knowledge of the Cult). After I had reflected and thought about it, and decided that I couldn’t believe it even if I wanted to, I came out and told him. Then I would get really angry with him if he continued with his bringing it up. After about 2 years he accused me of religious abuse.

At that point I decided to respect his views. Now another 7 years later – we don’t talk much about belief. We are happy with that, and it’s not that we don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that we both know where the other stands and that’s fine. We have 3 kids together, and want to provide a loving and stable home for them – and he doesn’t practice any of his religious beliefs as far as I know. He would be meant to be celibate, vegetarian, wear white and meditate and go to a class every morning and think of god continually. We eat meat, have sex and he sleeps in, and I really don’t think he thinks about god all the time. He never talks about god. It’s usually sex that he’s thinking of all the time – so go figure!

I read a book recently about Christianity. I talked to him about it, but he said, OMG are you into that shit – I’m over it, I heard all about it years ago and it sounded like a bunch of crap. So really, it’s a more like living with a Nihilist, than a Theist. And in recent months he has said as much.

Alice :)

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