Recently, my Catholic mother and I have been discussing my Atheism. She has known about it since I was a teenager, but has rarely made mention of it, and has never been combative. A short while ago I sent her some Bible verses which I had no idea about, and was curious about her take on them as a Christian. Surprisingly, she read the links and started a discussion with me. In return, she sent me this email:
I know you don't believe, but sometimes you just have to have faith. Take a look around you - and look at the beauty and wonderment all over. I believe only God, in whatever way one wants to believe, has created all this. I don't have anything to back it up - except my faith in God. He has been there for me to help me get through some really tough times. I wish you could find that faith....
I love you and I am very proud of you,
This included an attachment which showed the Bible's symmetry as proof of it's divine spirit. It centered around Psalm 118, which says "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."
I wanted to share my response to her, and I would be curious to know how others feel I handled this:
Thanks for this Mom. I know you love me, and I am happy that you get something out of your beliefs. Mostly, I am thankful that your beliefs don't cause you pain or suffering, or cause you to inflict pain or suffering on others. It is the religious extremists that concern me most. Unfortunately, what used to be considered extreme is becoming popularized, particularly in America.
I do see the beauty in the world, and more than most I think, I am and have always been captivated by the natural world. Certainly, you remember my fondness for Jaques Cousteau. I have watched just about every nature program that has ever been released, and now find myself delving more deeply into the amazing natural world through understanding and studying evolution. It's truly a wonderful thing, and you don't need to believe in God to revel in it.
I ask you this: why is faith such a wonderful thing, in general. Why should the belief in something without proof be exalted, while the desire to learn and the search for proof be so reviled? That is Atheism in a nutshell, and most people seem to misunderstand the non-theist point of view.
Regarding the Psalm verse: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." It begs the question, "why"? What is so wrong with trusting the tangible human race, as opposed to a mysterious unproven myth? I have no problem with people having their beliefs, but I just don't see how that is a superior way of looking at the world.
I love you, and I'm glad that we are able to have a civil discussion. At the very least I would like you to understand why I believe as I do, and most importantly, to know that I can live a moral, happy, and fulfilled life without the belief in a deity or an afterlife.