to fully understand why i'm so proud, i need to offer some background.
i met my wife about 7 years ago. at the time, her daughter was 5 years old. admittedly, i wasn't in the relationship for her, but after a year or so i got hooked. she certainly helped - she called me "Matty Daddy", and was just too cute to resist. we had a great relationship until she turned 10. something changed, and she started to treat me with hostility, and ultimately decided she simply didn't like me. undeterred, i went ahead and married her mother just over a year ago. things didn't get any better with my step-daughter, and things got worse between my wife and i. in October, we separated.
i've continued to be a part of their lives since then, but mostly with my wife. although separated, we love each other a great deal. i've seen nothing but indifference from my step-daughter, however. for Xmas last year, i got her some clothes, jewelry, a winter hat, and a book on evolution. to my knowledge she has not read it yet. i doubted that she ever would.
now, i've never discussed religion or evolution with her before. she's never been particularly interested in religion. she attended a nice, liberal church for a couple of years but stopped going. her mother is not religious, mostly Agnostic, but she too has never discussed these things with her daughter. until yesterday....
her grandmother is highly religious (Catholic). she prays, goes to Church, wears a cross, etc. she was in town visiting from Ohio. as the story was told to me, my wife, daughter, her best friend, and my mother in law were all in the car together when my wife flat out asked her mother if she believed in evolution. when her answer was NO, my step-daughter said "how can you NOT believe in evolution?" her friend asked her what evolution was, to which she replied "it's how all the animals have adapted over time to become what they are today. what do you believe?" her friend said that she believed in God, to which she replied, "well, that's not science."
now i don't know if she ever read my book. her mother thinks that she might have but would never admit it. i'm not sure how much they've studied evolution in school, if at all (she just graduated from 5th grade). somehow, though, she's familiar with evolution and knows it to be true.
when i heard about this, i couldn't have been more thrilled. i'm often so worried about kids and what they are being taught, and to know that the kid i know the best and care about the most has accepted science is like a huge weight being lifted from my chest.
their conversation extended to whether or not my step-daughter believes in God. she said not really, that the idea just doesn't make sense to her. she stopped short of saying she's an Atheist, although it's not a far leap from where she is now. i'm certain that this troubles her grandmother a great deal, and i'm a little concerned that she may blame me in some way. no matter, i've had zero impact on her belief system. in fact, her attitude towards me would likely mean that she'd take the opposite view of anything i posit.
i know she's a smart girl, but she doesn't take school very seriously. so the fact that this pre-teen girl who cares about no one but herself has somehow contemplated both evolution and god's existence really surprised me. and i'm delighted. i don't know if our relationship will ever be repaired, but perhaps we have more common ground than either of us knew.
quick tangent - my wife had been somewhat hostile towards my more recent vocal Atheism. she always knew that i was anti-religion, but she thought i was more Agnostic than anything. she claims Agnosticism, but she really is more spiritual than anything. recently, however, she's been more vocal herself about her disbelief in a deity. she has admitted that the idea of a personal God is incredibly silly to her. she's even perused Atheist websites and quoted me funny Atheist bumper stickers. i think she's starting to see what i've been so excited about. she too dislikes religion, and while she may never come out and admit it, i think she's just about as Atheist as i am.
a year ago, i never would have guessed that there were 3 Atheists living under the same roof. while we're split up now, it's possible that we've never been closer - at least concerning our shared belief system. i'm so very proud of my step-daughter for being an independent thinker, regardless of the pressures surrounding her. i hope she keeps it up.