Another annoying question: Are you teaching your son to be an atheist?

Yesterday a couple of people at work brought up religion to me again. I don’t know if I’ve invited this, if I have made comments to incite them by accident, but I’m giving them the benefit of doubt for now, and will try to make it as clear to them as possible that I do not want to talk about religion. Onto the question and criticism:

Are you teaching your son to be an atheist?

My answer: He probably will be.

The criticism: But I thought you wouldn’t teach him there is no god.

Since this conversation was uninvited, I was not kind in my answer, but I’ll expand it a little here… I explained to them that I am not teaching him that there is no god… I am teaching him to be a critical thinker. (“Encouraging” would probably be a better word here but they put me on the spot.) And if you are a critical thinker but would like to believe in god, the question becomes “Which god?” There are many that have been worshipped over the years, and if you are not indoctrinated, how do you choose one?

I suppose they didn’t understand the answer. Let’s put it another way… If you’re a Christian, you are brought up being taught that the Bible is the literal word of god. Gradually you accept that, and when you argue with a nonbeliever, your perception of god is coloured by your extremely narrow view of the Christian god. To you, that specific god, is the one and only true god. If you’re a Muslim, the Quran is the literal word of god. You’re brainwashed to believe in different dogma (although it’s not that different), and your perception of god is based on that dogma. When you say god, you mean Allah. But if you were brought up with some other religion, your perception is based on something else, and likewise, when you say “god”, you mean some other totally different thing.

On the other hand, if you are not brainwashed, there is no reason to accept any religion’s teachings as the literal word of god. You do not have this narrow view where your perception of what god is, is limited to that view. You will not likely be convinced by quoted words from any holy book. Moreover, there is no reason to accept any of the teachings as true. If you are not already indoctrinated, that is brainwashed to accept a specific religion and that religion’s god as being the one true god, it is likely that you will see no reason to prioritize one belief system over another. It is not likely that someone like my son, if not brainwashed to believe in any god, will end up a believer. Hence my initial statement that he will probably be an atheist.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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8 Responses to Another annoying question: Are you teaching your son to be an atheist?

  1. My friend was brought up this way. It was interesting to interact with him as a teen because he had never gone to church, thus didn’t know any Christian Bible stories. To him, all they were were stories he was unfamiliar with, not ‘the word of god’.

    My other friend, also atheist, her parents were Irish. One brought up Protestant, the other Catholic. They decided to bring their children up without religion, and they all came to be Atheist.

    Without indoctrination, there is no belief in God. It is simple as that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jerome says:

      I also had a couple of friends like that. In high school aged 16, I had a long conversation with a girl from Finland… people mocked her for not believing but I wanted to understand her point of view. It only took a few minutes because I already had my doubts. But once I saw the bigger picture, and understood that disbelieving was really possible, I think atheism was inevitable for me.

      I think the only time people convert to religion when they haven’t been indoctrinated, is when they are “broken”. Whether it is through addiction, abuse, or whatever… People desperate to find solutions to their problems can be brought to believe in religion. I recently wrote a post about spending a weekend with such converts… Honestly people like that creep me out. Their conviction is not normal. I am also connected to a few on FB, who found Jesus when they were in rehab with me.

      On the other hand, when it comes to critical thinking, I think that even people who are brainwashed can be critical thinkers when it comes to subjects besides their religion. It’s like their religions are huge blind spots and they are totally unable to see that they believe in absolute bullshit.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. essiep says:

    Children are born without belief systems, they learn as they grow up. It’s the learning process that makes them vulnerable to indoctrination.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. bbnewsab says:

    The default mode (so to speak) should of course be: “There are no invisible beings.”

    Then people may, if they like, add some beings to believe in, like angels, demons, gods, aliens, unicorns and so on. But I can’t say I recommend them to do so. Vestigia terrent.

    As a parent you should always try to cling to the following two principles: 1) WYCSHDOMIWYSBI, and 2) WYCNSNHDOMIWYSNBI.

    A third principle to follow is this one: JBIOASPF. This is the hardest one to follow.

    WYCSHDOMIWYSBI = What You Can See, Hear, Detect Or Measure Is What You Should Believe In.

    WYCNSNHDOMIWYSNBI = What You Can Neither See Nor Hear, Detect Or Measure Is What You Should Not Believe In.

    JBIOASPF = Just Believe In Or Accept Scientifically Proven Facts.

    As for you, Jerome, I think you try to follow all three principles listed by me above.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. notabilia says:

    You have a great knack for writing about serious topics with a good and hard though light touch. how could any sane person disagree with what you’ve written? Oh, yeah, that religious indoctrination thing.
    Seems like parents want to reserve the right to control/indoctrinate/supervise their own children only by their own standards, and are loathe to see anyone, anywhere challenge that imagined right.
    Children, however, will resist such propaganda, which is why some atheists parents will see their children become chicken-entrail readers, especially where the propaganda in favor of religious cultism is the strongest, like the US.
    Given how horrible has been the monotheists’ lash against their own children, out of panic that their children might not be little automatons of their inherited faith, it will do the world good to see atheist parenting on the rise. In view of the history and the numbers, I hope atheist parents raise squadrons of little antitheist hellions.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. pluviolover says:

    I apologize for my sarcasm, but did they expect you to take him to church every Sunday? You will explain to him your beliefs, but he will be confronted with others. Some will tell him how wrong, or even bad or evil you are. Best to remain calm. I recall my daughter crying after visiting a friend’s church one time, “I just want to know which one is the right one”, she said. Religion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      They didn’t, although my brother did… But it comes down to them assuming atheism is some other form of belief, and that atheists also indoctrinate their children. I guess what I was trying to do was make them understand that I am not indoctrinating him and that their religion is no different to any other. A hopeless prospect i suppose… they will never get it.

      Liked by 1 person

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