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.