A reader sent me the following message requesting advice, so I thought I would share his concerns and my response with dogma debate readers. Enjoy...
Thank you for your intelligent thought. I've shared these concerns with humanity's obsession with God for some time.
I hope it's okay for me to ask advice. I don't believe in God but respect any intelligent person who does. In fact my entire family believes including my wife who I have been married to for 2 years. We are thinking about having children soon and my wife thinks I believe in God. I haven't told her I do she just assumed I do.
I've always been okay keeping my non belief to myself but I wonder if what I'm doing by staying silent and letting her believe in God is wrong. If I love her should I try to make her think like me? Or is it okay for someone so close to me believe something so different?
We watched a show together called, "Through the Wormhole." in one episode they discovered believing in God (or a hereafter) was an "Evolved" ability because it helped early man remain calm and brave when faced with death which also made them better hunters and survivors.
The show found a certain part of the brain had to activate for a person to hallucinate a "God" experience like seeing an angel of some sort. She made hmmmm and woah sounds that made it seem like something had clicked. Easy to understand the "invention" of religion if some of us are genetically prone to getting "high" on picturing a visit from god.
I feel like not calling myself an Atheist because then it seems like I'm declaring some sort of proof God doesn't exist.
The pledge of allegiance where we say "under god" doesn't bug me. It's just political. I think we have to respect that like how we also have to respect social security and medicaid coming out of my paycheck.
Thanks for the post, Andrew.
I just wrote a book called "Baptized Atheist" that details many of these types of issues and how to deal with them.
One of my quotes from the book is, "Whether you're homosexual, Muslim, Christian, or Atheist, the closet is no place to live." That's what I must stress to you. Be honest and be yourself, or you're only setting yourself up for misery later down the line.
I would never say that you should make someone think like you, and I do know couples that survive different worldviews, but as you stated, how do you raise the kids? I'll come back to that in a moment.
While I too respect the rights of people to believe in whatever fantasies they choose, the "under God" mention in our pledge should bother you. It should bother everyone.
It's obvious that the god referred to is the Christian version. Everyone will tell you that. So how should Muslim Americans feel? Hindus? Agnostics? Native Americans? Atheists? Deists? Different and left out--that's how we feel--as if this nation isn't for us, while it gladly accepts our tax dollars.
The list goes on. This was never meant to be a Christian nation, it was designed to be a free country with a secular government.
Further, the original pledge was written without those words, and it was later added by Christians that were trying to force their beliefs on others. The same holds true for 'God' being on the money. It wasn't originally there, and didn't appear on paper money until the 1950's due to protests from Catholics--again forcing their beliefs on the country.
My point is, the mainstream public has been mislead and continues to mislead each other. They think this country was built on Christian values by Christian Fore Fathers. It was built by deists who wanted religion and government separated.
Most people think Jesus was born on December 25th and came to teach lessons of peace (see Matthew 10:34 for the opposite fact) and do a little research into the origins of Christmas, Saturnalia, and Mithra to understand why they mistakenly think Dec 25th is Jesus day.
Once we start looking into religions, we see that they have many psychological-modeling traits in common with other survival methods and social structures throughout human history. It can all be explained.
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Will you contribute truth to society and stand up for it, or will you allow the lies to continue into your own household and to your own children? Sometimes the worst thing you can do is remain silent.
For your children, what will you teach them? How can you explain Christmas without lying to them about December 25th and the true origins of the holiday? Shouldn't you know the ACTUAL truth before you try to teach it? Any research into belief and Christianity will most likely do for you what it did for me.
Not only did it show me that I had been lied to and that most people were clueless, but it also showed me that people who don't believe are often discriminated against. (Like not being able to run for public office in 7 states).
Children in nonreligious families can be treated differently. I chose to take a stand and speak out. If that's not your thing, then I understand, but just think about what you're contributing by remaining silent when there are so many people that need your voice of logic and reason.
One final thing: saying you're Atheist doesn't mean that you're claiming 'proof of no god.' A person who is a theist is a person who has a god they worship. One that is a-theist is one 'without gods.' So you're telling believers that you have not seen sufficient proof of their god.
So by being an Atheist, you're just saying you don't believe in or worship any god at all. It is not the atheist that has the burden of proof, it is the person making the claims to know a mystical being on a personal level that should provide the proof. Until that proof can be shown, science must assume a negative.
I really think you and your wife would enjoy my book. It details my journey from where she is today, to where you want to be in the future.
Here's my book: http://www.amazon.com/Baptized-Atheist-David-Smalley/dp/1578840082/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287185907&sr=8-1