Still plugging away…

I continue to make my way through and respond to the comments. I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to reach out. Yes, there have been some negative remarks, especially on CNN’s site, but I am floored by the overwhelming good will from people of all beliefs. It is so interesting to read about other’s stories, struggles and views. 

I know that CNN had a problem with people flagging the piece as inappropriate. I think that some folks still fear that a lack of belief in God means that there will be lawlessness, lewdness and immorality. A shift in an important paradigm such as faith in God is unbearable for some because belief provides such a strong underpinning and moral compass. I do understand. I guess the only thing we can do is remain true to our ideas and principles, too, and the agnostics/atheists/free-thinkers will gain the same acceptance. (I’d like to see atheist or agnostic as an option to check on college applications…)

At least we have the freedom and rights in this country to speak out, and we are lucky to have news venues that allow us to present other views. Although we have very vocal extremes in the US, at least we don’t have radical religious groups taking hostages….

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165 responses to “Still plugging away…

  1. Though I disagree with you on many points, I appreciate your willingness to write your thoughts and then share it with the world. I believe in our right to free speech, even when that speech is contrary to my beliefs. Your post was certainly not “inappropriate”! It may be “uncomfortable” to others, but I must wonder just how strong are they in their faith if they believe your posting your beliefs was inappropriate on a website committed to sharing a variety of points of view.

    • @Structuredbiz Thanks for taking the time to comment. I just the people who flagged the report as inappropriate are just fearful of their value system being undermined…

  2. Thank you for putting a voice to some very rational beliefs. I agree 100% with you. I have been struggling to respect my parents beliefs while still trying to answer my 6 year olds resulting questions in an honest manner. It’s very challenging. I don’t want my child to feel that she has to blindly follow silly mythology but explaining this means belittling her grandparents to some degree. Six is both too young to explain my lack of belief and also such an impressionable age that really sucks up those crazy bible stories. Sigh.

  3. Thank you for your insight and courage to say something that goes against main stream. My wife and I too did let our children grow up without religion. There were times and to a certain extent still are times when we feel like we are salmon swimming upstream.They asked questions and we answered to the best of our ability. They are free to persue any beliefs they want. We did not want them to be brought up in a world as you described. Thank you for that refreshing and honest essay.

  4. Being a sincere Christian, I am sorry to see my brothers and sisters miss the point that, and this is assuming I’m right here, God can take care of himself. And if someone does believe you don’t need God to raise children, then that is perfectly fine. I like you blog by the way:)

    God bless.

  5. Thank you for sharing your voice! We need more vocal, respectful, intelligent atheists out there. Thank you, again! ;)

  6. It’s rather ironic that Christians fear we will have no moral compass without a religion because the Bible itself says (Romans 2:14-15)
    New International Version (NIV)
    “14 — Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 — They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. ” :)
    Anyway, once again I’d like to say how happy I am that I’ve found you. You seem to have the right temperment to handle the hate and keep a level headed response:)

  7. I decided to follow your blog. I’ve enjoyed all the blog entries I’ve read so far!

  8. I second everything Trishia stated!

  9. It was interesting to read your views as someone living somewhat as an outsider in the Bible Belt. We now live in Northern Florida — NH transplants — and while we love the weather, we just didn’t realize how pervasive organized religion is in life down here. The most common question we were asked as newcomers was “Didja find a church yet?” In the northeast that was a much more personal matter — no one asked. We raised our daughter to be a free-thinker, and it was quite easy to do so there. Personally, I am not an adamant “there is no god” person. I am more about realizing I don’t have all the answers and am willing to accept that I don’t know what — if anything at all — comes next. I have always tried to learn from mistakes…apologize to individuals and the “universe” when I’ve screwed up…and be a decent neighbor to people and nature. I don’t need a god or any other father figure to do that — and I’m not fond of the intolerance towards others (and the disregard of the natural world) often expressed by “religious” people.

    • @Peter As an agnostic I lean this way, too.

      Personally, I am not an adamant “there is no god” person. I am more about realizing I don’t have all the answers and am willing to accept that I don’t know what — if anything at all — comes next.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. And, yes, I’ve lived in the northeast and religion is much more personal…

  10. I just became aware of your blog yesterday. When I read it, I was so pleased to see how you were able to express in words things that I have felt for many years, but have been unable to express so succinctly as you did. I have kept my atheist views and feelings hidden from my peers, family and business associates for fear that I would become an outcast once I expressed them. It is not right that I should have to feel that way, and I want to thank you for expressing your (my) beliefs, concepts, reasons and justifications so eloquently. I look forward to following and commenting on your future posts. Thank you for your bravery and for your willingness to “put yourself out there” for others to critique and criticize. Knowing how intolerant most religious believers are towards atheism, I’m sure you must receive very critical and disheartening replies and comments. My one reply to you represents what millions of others feel and would say if they took the time to respond. Thanks again, and very best wishes.

    • @Steve Olson. Thank YOU for taking the time to write and share. I hope that you will be able to discuss your views and feelings with your peers, family and business associates without the fear of being outcast. I say this, but let me also tell you that a lot of people who know me, still have no idea that this is my stand. I just am afraid to speak up with some people who I know might take a big offense…So I understand.

  11. After being very impressed by the approach, tone, and balanced-thinking presented in your treatment of the issue of children and God, I sifted through a few previous TXBlue08 writings. If such viewpoints weren’t rejected out-of-hand so often, or perceived as urgent threats to other people’s sense of self-worth and security, I have no doubt that it could positively impact almost every other area of discussion and teaching – including those we are not yet having but need to begin soon. It’s so refreshing to learn that a compelling and different appeal to sensibility is so easy to access. Please keep it up! Rob Partridge

  12. I just wanted to say a friendly “hello” and that I really enjoy reading your blog. I did find you through CNN, and I am so glad that I was at the right place at the right time. Growing up in a very conservative and christian family didn’t allow me to be outward on my disbelief without the criticism that follows. I never heard god. I never felt that prayers didn’t hurt, but were pretty useless when there is a world of opportunity to do good with your actions. Everything you say in your blog is a reiteration (and sometimes cracks me up), of many points that led me to my disbelief back in my early teens, and I really commend you for talking about this so publicly. I just hope that people who may be hiding how they feel about god will also accept themselves and what they believe or disbelieve, while still being respectful of others.
    I look forward to more of your posts :)
    -Karly

    • @Karly Noel Franz Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. I look forward to reading more of your comments, too. Looks like there are a lot more of us than I ever suspected!

  13. I read your iReport on CNN and really enjoyed it. It is empowering to see that more people are speaking out. We need more people like you to come out and let everyone know we have a vocie and will be recognized and respected.

  14. So happy to have found you through the CNN report. I’m going to sign up today to follow you as I’m a new mom in the lovely state of Texas and figure I can use any and all advice on this topic. Thank you for having the courage to share!

  15. I, too, raise my children without God. I am glad there are other parent like me. Let your children decide.

  16. Thank you thank you thank you for writing this article!

  17. I think people are flagging because of your comments on narcissism. Nevertheless, I think it was a nice piece that reaches an audience that typically doesn’t get that perspective.

  18. :) a friend just pointed me over to your blog and I wanted to say that we too are raising kids with moral compasses, without a religion. Thank you for standing up for other families like your own!
    Hope you don’t have too many creeps and trolls. :)

    • @mlhoenig I am not familiar with Mangasarian, but I did check it out. Very, very interesting, and I will go back to it. I also thought it was intersting that it started in such a conservative place-a dorm room at A&M. Thanks for sharing that with me.

  19. TXBlue08, I sometimes ask people “Which god don’t you believe in?” But you made it clear: you don’t believe in the old, bearded man who has the power but fails to exercise it logically or compassionately. Neither do I, but I am unwilling to say “I don’t believe in god.” I’ve struggled for years to define, just for myself, the idea of divinity. I’ve scoffed at people who feel “led by god to . . . .” People who pray for victory over other people. People who own god, and their god doesn’t love Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Democrats, Gays, Blacks . . . or whomever the person doesn’t love. “God” can be used by the despicable to justify evil. Right-to-Lifers, for example, who kill doctors.

    I don’t know what god is or isn’t, but for me, it’s a word I’m willing to use to cover a spectrum of concepts. My god is all that is transcendent, awesome, miraculous, lovely, compassionate, mysterious, un-nameable. When I don’t have a person to thank, I am willing to “thank god” for whatever causes my sense of gratitude to rise up. I like the idea of trying to be mindful to “see the god” in you, and others I meet, especially when it would be too easy to see that person as “other than myself.” Maybe my god is “goodness,” or “compassion,” or “gratitude.” I believe in those things. I hope your children are encouraged to believe in the ineffable, things that cannot be measured or seen, but that, when we really pay attention, are within us, directing us to be kinder, better, more generous and more grateful. What can that be called? Why not, “god”?

    • @ Kate Forster…well said. I do believe that god can also be conceptualized as just a life force, as the transcendent oversoul of nature…as whatever you want to call it/him/her. Most people do not understand that. Yes, what I wrote was rather simplistic, but I live in a society who sees god as an old, bearded man.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  20. christina spivak

    I read your article on CNN.com and loved it. I was a bit shocked at the backlash- but I guess that just proves your points. Well done! (So glad to find your blog too!)

    • @ Christina Spivak I was not shocked at the backlash, but I was shocked by the number of people who feel the same way! Soooo glad to find you guys. Thanks for taking the time to cmment.

  21. Just found you from CNN. Glad to find another parent who is raising their children without religion!

  22. I am happy to have found you and your blog (thanks to CNN). I am from NY and LA and now live near Dallas and I’m having a hard time here with this very issue. Thank you!

  23. Well written article on CNN. I am grateful to others like you in my camp for speaking out. Religion does not have a monopoly on values. It is certainly possible to live a decent life without god in it. You undoubtably are getting a lot of push back on this, but know that you probably have a lot of support out there from people who think similarly. Logic, fairness, responsibility for ourselves. Ironically, I believe that a more decent and moral society awaits when we can grow out of our immature religiosity.

    • @ Anonymous who wrote this:

      Logic, fairness, responsibility for ourselves. Ironically, I believe that a more decent and moral society awaits when we can grow out of our immature religiosity.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. There was a lot of pushback on the CNN site, but here, people have been much kinder and more supportive of our ideas. I, too, how that we can grow into a more decent and moral society, one that accepts all believers and nonbelievers.

  24. Thank you for speaking out on these issues. I agree with you and have thought about what to tell my daughter when she asks (she’s only ten months old now). It’s comforting to know others deal with the same issues and to hear how another meets those issues is helpful.

  25. Thank you. Just thank you.

  26. Your article could have been written by me. I am officially out of the closest as an atheist because I was tired of living in the shadows. Our daughter is being raised as an atheist. Some of the points that you make are the same ones that have been driving me nuts for years. I was furious over the religious furor following Newtown. I wrote an essay about that on my blog here: http://thinkandponder.com/2012/12/18/epiphany/ How wonderful to find a compatriot! I live in Alabama so I need all the community I can find.

  27. I have to keep my non belief to myself around my family…The first thing I noticed a few years ago when I decided to be more open about being an atheist though is that I’m definitely not alone and that I’m sure there is an enormous amount of people out there who don’t realize that. I donate a lot of time and money to atheist/humanist groups around the world because of this…

    I worry that someone will live their whole life not knowing they have the option to not believe what their parents told them and the existence of your post on cnn makes me hopeful that things are changing.

    • @ Michael Adams Thanks for taking the time to comment…I had no idea how many and how passionate the non-believers were. I’m glad to know that there are so many others, but I think that a lot of people still live in fear that family or friends will reject them if their non-belief is made known.

  28. Wow. I just read your piece on CNN. I also have been raising my child without god, in Texas! A difficult road to walk but well worth the work. I am so happy to have found your blog and plan to keep following it. Thank you. I don’t feel so alone in my journey now.

  29. This is great. I really needed this today. I live in the bible belt and am fed up.

  30. I just want say Hi! And – THANK YOU! As a fellow Texan raising children without religion, I am glad that I am not alone. I have never responded to a CNN ireport before, but when I the window popped up that your article was flagged inappropriate, I had to mark it appropriate to counter the previous feedback.

    - Sarah

  31. Thank you for your wonderful blog! I think you have some great ideas about parenting and I’ll definitely continue reading. In your CNN iReport I especially appreciated the connection you made between god and Santa. Just this last Christmas I caught myself telling my two year old twins that Santa was coming, and I immediately thought to myself “Why did I just lie to my kids?” Luckily, they’re too young to understand, but next year they’ll be asking and I’m planning on telling them the truth; a lot of people believe in Santa, but I don’t. I’m sure we’ll have to have the same conversation about god sooner or later as well.

    I think you communicate very well that morality lies within us as humans, not in our fear of god. The more people embrace their own instincts of empathy and compassion, and not their fear of punishment, the better the world will be.

    Thanks again for your great writing!

    • Hi Lindsay. Thanks so much for your kind words and for sharing your story. I remember being the place you are now with Santa. It can be fun, but when they start asking, I agree that they need to know the truth!

  32. i have read your essay on CNN and i gotta say yo have my full support. i applause you for your courage in writing about atheism on news site such as Cnn. keep up the good work

  33. I am curious as to why, if you hope (like I hope with my child) that your children will be independent thinkers, you tell your children that there is no God. If your children determine that they believe in God, does that make them conformists and illogical? Or would you accept that?

    • @ Todd B

      I am curious as to why, if you hope (like I hope with my child) that your children will be independent thinkers, you tell your children that there is no God. If your children determine that they believe in God, does that make them conformists and illogical? Or would you accept that?

      I actually don’t tell my children, “There is no God.” I have told them I don’t think there is. I have told them I don’t have any evidence there is. I have told them I have no idea for certain. I have asked them what they think. If they one day choose a religion or a god, they also know it doesn’t matter to me. They’ve arrived at that point through much thought, study and self-reflection.

  34. I appreciate your article on CNN. It was a very good read and it is obviously making some people very upset. But for every upset person there is going to be a set of people who start questioning what they believe in.

    I am not religious and do not come from a religious background. The thought of giving someone or something that much power over my life is atrocious. When I hear that someone has given their life over to a ‘god’, it shows me a weak person who cannot and will not stand on their own.

    We will never be better until we embrace the fact that we are it. We are the reason good and bad things happen. We are the reason our species decided that the trees were old school and tools were necessary. We control our environment and our future.

    It is not an egocentric or proud stance. It is reality.

    Again, thank you.

    • @ Mike I totally agree with you here:

      We will never be better until we embrace the fact that we are it. We are the reason good and bad things happen. We are the reason our species decided that the trees were old school and tools were necessary. We control our environment and our future.

      It is not an egocentric or proud stance. It is reality.

      THank you for taking the time to write and share your views.

  35. I thank you very much for saying what you did in your article. I gave my children a choice to believe in something. I even told everyone on my social networking site about you, because I agree with everything you said. I never understood religion. Everything contradicts itself. I’d much rather be spiritual!

  36. Just found your site through the CNN article. You are right, this is a lonely place to be sometimes and I’m glad to have come across this. My family stands with you – keep up the good work!

    No response necessary – I suspect you are a busy woman.

    • @ Chimay….Thank you for taking the time to comment and for the supportive words. I’m glad to know so many others are in the same boat. If you took the time to reach out and comment, I wanted to write back. Sorry it took so long!

  37. I have one question….. Where did we come from? And where do we go after we die? WE are afterall souls in bodys!

    • @ Anonymous I have no answer for your question here:

      I have one question….. Where did we come from? And where do we go after we die? WE are afterall souls in bodys!

  38. Read the CNN article and was hooked. What a refreshing perspective. I had the same struggle as I raised my son. Being a “recovering Catholic,” I found it hard to give him a religious background when I didn’t believe it myself. He’s now grown into a well-adjusted, open-minded, caring and tolerant adult. I’m glad I chose the path I did for him (and me). So looking forward to your future posts.

    • @ Anonymous who wrote this:

      He’s now grown into a well-adjusted, open-minded, caring and tolerant adult.

      Those of us who are still raising children without religion are glad to hear this. I’m amazed by the number of nonbelievers (including me) who were raised Catholic. Of course, Catholicism has a huge following. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  39. I am a Christian but I am not closed minded. I am always willing to teach my children about other ideas and beliefs. When they ask questions, I tell them what all types of religions or people might believe and then ask them to form their own opinions. The only thing that concerns me about your CNN report is not including the idea that maybe we can all believe in different ideas and be at peace while doing so. I believe that we should offer our children the ideas of different cultures and beliefs. Do you agree?

    • @ Amy THnaks for taking the time to comment. Do I agree with this:

      The only thing that concerns me about your CNN report is not including the idea that maybe we can all believe in different ideas and be at peace while doing so. I believe that we should offer our children the ideas of different cultures and beliefs. Do you agree?

      I absolutely do, and I have raised my children this way. We need tolerance for all belief systems.

  40. I think it is great what you wrote on CNN. I also think it’s great that you are not expressly anti-religion — obviously it seems to bring comfort and community to some in this world. But I’m glad you are sharing your views, because the way in which you raise your children is yours to decide.

    I’m an atheist and I’m a scientist. I always questioned my Catholic upbringing. I read an interesting book recently, called The Faith Instinct by Nicholas Wade. It takes an evolutionary psychological perspective to the origins of religious beliefs in humans. In a nutshell, one idea is that we’re wired to think in a religious being watching over us in a way to keep us line. In a time when humans existed in small groups without organized government and without laws, or police, etc., you could imagine that this was advantageous to the overall group if everyone cooperated and lived peacefully. In today’s world with the presence of government regulating society, it’s almost useless to have a God, because ultimately you will answer to the laws of your government and not God’s laws.

    If it helps people grieve about tragedy, that’s fine. But grieving through religion isn’t the only way to grieve. I don’t understand the CNN comments directed to you asking “who you are going to turn to” if something really bad happens.

    In any case, I think more atheists/agnostics need to speak up like you. While religion does do some good, there are many unwanted negative side effects. I commend your bravery in posting such a thoughtful essay on a site that honestly is probably not prepared for that sort of thing.

    • @ Christian Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to comment. I will look at the book you suggested, although probably not for a few weeks.

      Some of the very first gods thousands of years ago were God-Kings who used the fear of the unknown to bring law and order to their rule. I completely agree with your statement here:

      In a time when humans existed in small groups without organized government and without laws, or police, etc., you could imagine that this was advantageous to the overall group if everyone cooperated and lived peacefully. In today’s world with the presence of government regulating society, it’s almost useless to have a God, because ultimately you will answer to the laws of your government and not God’s laws.

      Religion and belief in god is becoming obsolete.

  41. Your words are poignant and really well thought. It just makes sense.

  42. I came here from Bruce Gerencer’s blog. Thank you for articulating things that I’ve thought about and never really tried to put into words.

  43. Hello, I came across your blog post on CNN flagged as inappropriate– how silly!

    I’m the mother of three young children and a former atheist turned agnostic. Just wanted to say I bookmarked your page for future reference to the tough questions my children will ask one day. My husband and I plan on raising our girls without religion and will let them decide if they want religion in their lives (or not) if and when they want to. I do plan on teaching them about all the religions in the world along with why some don’t believe if they want to know why as part of a well-rounded education. I have always maintained, like you, that religion provides comfort to many for unexplainable events and ideas and I understand why many people are religious.

    I always was envious of my friends who were active in church when I was a child, and I would like my children to have a good sense of community. I wonder is there any non-religious groups that provide that same community/united feeling and activities etc for children? Do Friends/Humanists etc have church like events that are about community as opposed to religion? I haven’t researched any of this and really know nothing about those groups… My children are young, not even school-age, so I have no idea if a natural transition into a “community” will occur later or if something I should seek out for us (we are new to where we live).

    • @ Lauren Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. To answer your questions, yes there aer humanist/free-thinking groups out there that meet regularly and have “church.” Try Googling them. If you don’t have luck, write me back, and I’ll see what I can find. This is a fun age with your children… :) It goes by so fast!

  44. I also wanted to say ‘thank you’ for posting that article. It’s not easy to open yourself up like that because, well, people on the internet seem to raise crazy to a whole new level sometimes. It’s hard for those immersed in religion to understand that you don’t need to be scared by the thought of ‘hell’ to be a good person…seeing the benefits of being a productive member of society is not really a stretch. In fact, it seems pretty obvious.

    What I also find curious is just the lack of understanding of the Bible in general. We know most of those stories were copied from other religions in the area (Noah’s Ark, the birth of Jesus, etc). These stories are well documented and yet no one seems to care. We know that the greeks and romans swapped lots of stories of their gods and we call it fiction. How is this different???

    Again, thanks for the article!

    • @ Chip R And thank YOU for taking the time to comment and to offer support. You’re so right. I wonder about the following, too. Thanks for posting this:

      What I also find curious is just the lack of understanding of the Bible in general. We know most of those stories were copied from other religions in the area (Noah’s Ark, the birth of Jesus, etc). These stories are well documented and yet no one seems to care. We know that the greeks and romans swapped lots of stories of their gods and we call it fiction. How is this different???

  45. I just came here to let you know you’re not alone! I support you and your article wholeheartedly! As a 24 year-old atheist Texas native, it fills me with such joy to see someone like you make headlines. There are many atheists here where I am! We need more vocal individuals such as yourself. Don’t let these mentally-chained people keep you down. They are in complete denial though I cannot be angry with them. I feel sorry that they never got to experience the true beauty of the world via their upbringing. Religion is a circle of hate.

    • @ Anonymous….the 24-year-old Texas native and atheist…Thanks so much for stopping by to comment and to offer words of encouragement! I, too, am not angry with all those people who wrote nasty comments. They feel afraid. They do not understand.

  46. Porter H Watson

    Very well expressed, and I congratulate you on your independent thinking and action. I grew up in Texas, and I know the tide of opinion you have to buck there. Good for you!

  47. Your report on CNN was linked to a Pastafarian (non- religious) group I’m in on Facebook and I just had to tell you that I too am an atheist, mother of two teens, living in Texas. I hide my non-religious viewpoints because I’m afraid. I’ve had people find out and I’ve lost their friendships. My children have been banned from playing with other kids if their parents find out we don’t believe in a God. Just wanted to say thanks for sticking your neck out. I know the costs involved in that.

  48. Just wanted to say “thank you” for so eloquently putting in to words my feelings on why I, too, am raising my boys without “God” (your CNN article). Well done. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out here. Cheers from Seattle.

  49. I just read you article on CNN, and I just want to say THANK YOU. You nailed it. I am a mom of seven kids – and atheist (I know, I know, incongruous!) – and raising my kids without god for the exact reasons you outlined. Good work! I’m going to add your blog to my Google reader :)

    • @Lisa…7 kids? OK, I already know you must be amazing! That’s a lot to juggle! Your house and your mind must be like a beehive. :) Thanks for commenting.

  50. you rock! I have never read anything more profound and reality based.

  51. Terry the Atheist

    Fabulous essay (on CNN) … worth every word. Congratulations!
    Wish we could all be as bold as to assert ourselves in “public” as to our true beliefs. Need to go watch “religulous” again. Get cleansed!

  52. Thank you. Lost friendships from Christians is one of my wounds from following similar beliefs growing up in Tennessee. I miss and still care deeply for them, but I also understand the difficult awakening they avoid. Fortunately there is no such fear and social forces of exclusion for my two little girls in Germany. Think about the historic irony of that.

    • @ Paul Houghton….Yes, very ironic. I’m sorry for your hurt. I hope you have found a good group of friends for you and your family in Germany. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  53. I loved your CNN article. So commendable to take on a brave and complicated topic! And you live in Texas? That’s even braver.
    I know so many people who border on fanaticism when it comes to religion. I whole heartedly agree with you, that religion and belief in God is extremely personal and should be left at home. I’m amazed when people want to teach the Theory of creation in schools. It’s extremely insulting to students practicing other religions.
    I commend you on being honest and open to the universe and with your children.

    • @ S.C. Yes, I live in Texas and am still alive. haha. I, too, am amazed to heaer that people want to teach creationism or slam evolution. Frustrating. Thanks for taking the time to reach out and comment.

  54. California Parent

    Thank you for a very courageous article on CNN.

    My wife is a recovering Catholic, and I stopped going to church as soon I was old enough to put my foot down at home. (about age 15). My son never heard about God until he entered Kindergarten, and when other kids told him about it, he thought they were nuts. He came home and expounded (he’s very verbal) on how ludicrous it is.

    He still believes in Santa, though. When asked why he believes in Santa but not God, he cites a long list of “facts” to support Santa. Eventually, he will vet his facts, and figure our Santa. It’s an exercise in metaphysics in our house. We don’t ever lie about Santa and say he’s real. But we do things like eat the cookies my son leaves out on Christmas eve, creating facts which need to be considered and conclusions which must be questioned.

    We do specifically explain to him that most of the world is filled with people who think there is an invisible man in the sky watching over them, and they can be very nasty when their myths are not believed. My son is specifically instructed NOT to talk about God at school, to avoid the wrath of the religulous. (Funny how so few Christians practice what is preached.)

    • Hi California Parent! Thanks so much for commenting. Yes, I feel the same about Santa. And, yes, I tell my kids the same about talking religion at school. As you noted, unfortunately, this is not a 2-way street. There are many kids who will push–as least around here–for kids to engage in talk or join their youth groups.

  55. As a non-believer I appreciate your candor and courage to speak out and to be honest with your children. I read your piece at CNN and found it to be clear, concise and rational. Thank you for expressing so well the result of your intellectual struggle. The fact that your search for god was fruitless disturbs the faithful and for this you must suffer the slings and arrows of many.

    If you are interested, here is what I believe about Christianity:
    The Old Testament was a great history/story/guide for well being book which explained the mysteries of nature and worked to get ancient people socialized so they would work hard, live longer and stay healthy and behave for fear of god’s wrath.

    The New Testament gave us the life of Jesus, whose teachings I live by even as an atheist. Jesus was based on the Greek god, Dionysus. He was someone ancient people loved. He had similar festival themes; he dies in winter and is reborn in spring with the budding of the grape vines etc. These similarities kept the people interested and connected. The New Testament provided martyrs and fear of damnation and a way to buy the soul into heaven. By giving money to the church the world’s first bureaucracy was created. Remembering that the prime-directive of every bureaucracy is self-preservation puts the power of organized religion in perspective. (The Knights Templar were the first multinational bankers and we know what happened to them.) The Catholic Church kept revising the New Testament until Gutenberg developed the printing press. Once the people had access to the text theology was sealed and the rest is bloody history.

    Suffice it to say that it is time for people to live like this earth, our home, is heaven; our one chance to live in peace, love and harmony between all people. It is time to realize that this earth with it abundance of fresh water and clean air, with bountiful resources for everyone, is all we have to pass on to our children, to all children: a safe and heavenly home. Only we can make it so …

    • @ Margaret Jones. Yes I am interested in your thoughts, and thank you for taking the time to reach out and share. I do agree with everything you’ve said…I can tell you’ve done a lot of reading and thinking. Have you read the book Christianity and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas? If not, I think you’d like it.

      Love what you wrote here:

      Suffice it to say that it is time for people to live like this earth, our home, is heaven; our one chance to live in peace, love and harmony between all people. It is time to realize that this earth with it abundance of fresh water and clean air, with bountiful resources for everyone, is all we have to pass on to our children, to all children: a safe and heavenly home. Only we can make it so …

  56. I jsut read your iReport on CNN and i just can’t thank you enough. Living in the Theocratic state of Utah i find it very difficult to respond to people when they find out I’m a non-believer and raising my children that way. Especially my own family who are very devout Mormons and which this is a VERY touchy subject. You are very eloquent, and you and your blog have made it much easierfor me to explain my position to others. Again, thank you.

    • @ Scott in Utah. You have your work cut out for you there, I know. I can only imagine the challenges you face being part of a Mormon family. Thanks for reaching out and sharing.

  57. Living on the West Coast, it’s odd to me that one would go to the lengths of writing this article and publishing to CNN. But, I’ve never lived in Texas. For me it is summed up in you don’t believe and have a number of intellectual hurdles that keep you from faith. I am a believing Christian but frankly it seems silly to me that you would feel obligated to give answers to your son you simply didn’t believe. In some sense, it is the Santa Claus story to you but on a grander scale. Clearly you have been exposed to Christianity in a way that somehow you believe it is a triumph to simply say on a global scale you don’t believe. In this day and age, that is no shock; at least for the largely un-churched that I live in. However, I would caution that you make pronouncements that also show a lack of understanding of the whole story. Just one example, is the notion that God doesn’t make kids good because apparently one way someone tried to motivate you or people you know was the stick of “God is watching.” If you dive a little deeper you’ll also find a scripture that says if “if you love Me, do my commandments.” This approach is quite different in the sense that a believer (child or adult’s) motivation comes from love for Jesus. Ironically, yes the notion that sin also results in death is in operation but I don’t see how that hurts a child. The reality is that there are consequences in life and the duality of being motivated simultaneously by love and avoiding a consequence is very much consistent with many modern child psychology theories, for example “Love and Logic.” The are more examples of this in your writing. But my sense is somehow your beef with God has less to do with the intellectual challenges and more do with some emotional experiences that have driven you away from your current concept of God.

    • Hi Jon Ruiz, First, thanks for taking the time to write. I didn’t go to any “lengths.” I’m introverted, and writing has always been very easy for me and my preferred way of communication. CNN picked up that piece I wrote as an iReport (I write many articles, columns, blog posts, reports, etc), and I’m glad they did. I had NO idea how many people were out there and were looking for others in the same boat. I am far from un-churched and un-learned. I am not “emotionally damaged.” Quite the contrary. As to your comment here:

      However, I would caution that you make pronouncements that also show a lack of understanding of the whole story.

      We ALL have a lack of understanding of the whole story. Only, some of us are willing to acknowledge that, and we’re ok with what we don’t know.

  58. Thank you for this article. Well thought out; sincere; and captures many of our same thoughts and parenting challenges.

  59. I have a hard time understanding your piece on CNN. You tease an exposition on the reasons you do not believe in God, yet only give what disagreements you have with your perception of the Christian God. Is there a place you actually wrote out why do you do not believe that any god exists, or do your posts merely reflect your bitterness towards one set of beliefs towards one particular god or even those belief systems that speak of several gods or no real god at all but merely some spiritual “force”? I would certainly welcome an actual atheistic argument instead of the usual “Why I hate Christianity” rantings (and this includes the works of Dawkins and other well known atheists. I have a hard time determining if you truly do not believe in God or if you just hate Him.

    • @ Ben Sukovich. Thanks for taking the time to comment. To clear things for you: I do not “hate” God/Gods. I don’t hate people I don’t know, and I do not know any God/Gods. Actually, I can’t think of anyone I hate. No bitterness. Just frustration at not being heard or understood and with the hypocrisy of those I see that claim to be Christian but yet act so unkind or disrespectful to others.

  60. I just read it (linked here from CNN) and want to thank you for speaking out…I am a fellow mother (and blogger) who shares your beliefs. The negative response is startling (although not shocking unfortunately) and makes me think twice about sharing my thoughts in any public forum. I applaud your bravery and hopefully someday we will not be such a minority.

    • @ Susan. Thanks for taking the time to write. Yes, the negative comments, especially from people claiming to be Christian, are unnerving. However, I am comforted by all the people who have reached out–like you.

  61. I read your article on CNN. Your writing is clear and in my view what any independent thinker and intelligent person should think deeply about. I appreciate your thoughts. I’m a scientist and when you begin to understand how much of nature’s functioning, like the behavior of electrical circuits, mechanical systems and even chemical bonding and the structure of atoms, is explained with essentially identical mathematical equations it makes you realize that everything has a secret mathematical identity and the equations are basically all of the same form. There is a beautiful unity in nature’s functioning, especially at the deeper levels. As a result of what I’ve come to understand I don’t think of god as any religion defines him/her, but I think of nature as something with great creativity, organizing power and uniformity regarding natural laws that seem to unify the way atoms and molecules behave in forms and structures of endless variety and complexity. Maybe if we choose to think of it this way god is a kind of impersonal organizing power or mathematical principle. But in the human realm in my view there is no god in operation as you say. It’s up to us to make the world better and more just. Personal integrity and caring is everything. The only right any of us have is the right to become wise through self-effort. Kindness and compassion usually unfold in the process. Thanks again for sharing.

    • @ daj I loved your comment-thank you for reaching out. I totally agree with you on all points, but thought this was stated especially eloquently:

      As a result of what I’ve come to understand I don’t think of god as any religion defines him/her, but I think of nature as something with great creativity, organizing power and uniformity regarding natural laws that seem to unify the way atoms and molecules behave in forms and structures of endless variety and complexity.

  62. I applaud your honesty and common sense. I too posted one of my blog entries to iReport on CNN about myself as a former soldier endorsing Gun Control. I was immediately branded a fake and a pretender and my loyalty to my Country was brought into question. As an Athiest myself i can only imagine what your comments looked like. I subscribed and would welcome you input on my blog as well. Keep it up. -hetkey.com

    • @ Christopher Hetkey. Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out. Sorry to hear about the response to your iReport. I will check out your site soon and get back to you. Thanks.

  63. Thanks for speaking out! No kids, but as a gay man I’m tired of hearing I’m a sinner and going to hell (as I always say, I’ll be sure to pack shorts). I went to a Catholic university and had the chance to study history and be a free, rational thinker and logically became an atheist. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a great episode of “Through the Wormhole” on the Science channel. From wikipedia:
    10 “Did We Invent God?” 8 August 2012
    Our belief in a God above explains all we can’t understand. Where do religious beliefs come from? Some experts believe God may exist only in our brain, that we are wired to worship the supernatural and that faith in a higher power gives us an evolutionary advantage. Is it possible that God is really just a neurological accident? And does that make Him any less real? Did God invent humanity, or did humanity invent God?

    • @ BobG Hello and thanks so much for sharing. Truly, I’m sorry that anyone has to endure being called a “sinner.” Of course, they’re not judging you, you know only God can do that. ahem. I watched Through the Wormhole (and the one that came before or after that) when it first came out. Loved it! I love this, and agree with you here:

      Our belief in a God above explains all we can’t understand.

  64. I applauded your courage to state your feelings on CNN’s blog and those that think it is inappropriate don’t understand the nature of discourse. I would, however, challenge you to critically and open mindedly evaluate the logic of your reasoning expressed on the CNN post. Specifically, you have stated that god does not exist because…

    1. god is not a good role model
    2. god is not logical
    3. god is not fair
    4. god does not protect the innocent
    5. god is not present
    6. god does not teach children
    7. god teaches narcissism

    While each of these, (assuming these notions of god are true) demonstrate that god is a really deplorable being, they do not in anyway refute the fact that god does or does not exist. It is not logically valid for people to say God must exist and we should all be Christians because if he didn’t exist and there were no Christians the world would be in shambles. Likewise it is not logically valid to say that god does not exist because he is a deplorable being.

    I like the tag line on your blog that says “Raising kids as independent, logical thinkers.” Keep doing that, please I beg you. Our society needs people who think with reason and logic and not emotion. We need people to believe things because they rationally come to a conclusion they are true. We do not need people who come to conclusions because they like the conclusions, the conclusions make their lives easier or they make them feel good. But by using incorrect logic like the 7 points above they may actually become Kids With Religion.

    • @ Joe K Thank you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts. Actually, the piece I wrote did not in any way argue that God does not exist. I simply stated why I am raising my children without God and religion. I didn’t want to get too complicated as I think people will tune you out.

      No one can prove or disprove God. (This is an old argument, as you know.) I can only tell you that, for me, I see no evidence in this life of a surpreme being as Christianity portrays him. It is possible that “he” is out there or did at one time exist. It is possible that it is not a he, but a she/it/thing/collection. Who knows?

  65. I saw some of those negative comments on CNN. I am sorry to see that side of people. We are all human and Christian or not fall short to a greater expectation of others and ourselves.
    I can really understand where you are coming from, as much as it takes faith to believe it also takes faith to not believe. I was where you are. I have been changed and I am grateful. I won’t even try to explain it because others did to me at various points in my life and I didn’t even want to understand. I do want to say we all have free will. One of the greatest gifts from God. There is evil and without evil we would never know what good really is. God does answer prayer. Something I did not believe, but many miracles have happened to me and around me. When prayers go unanswered there is a reason. God, as our heavenly Father knows what we need before we even ask. He will do good with bad(bad that we at our own free will often create). Raising kids with Jesus in their heart does not make them self-absorbed and almighty. Absolutely not. It teaches them to reach out to others and love others, because we are all God’s children and no one is perfect except Christ. I took some serious time learning about the Bible before I wanted to teach it to my kids. I needed to know I could trust it and believe it. I can tell from your blog, you don’t have a true understanding at all. I don’t say this with disrespect, because I didn’t understand it either, I get it. Just know, Grace is how God works. He loves you even now when you don’t believe in him. Thank you, If you took time to read my comment. The best to you and your family. : )

  66. You are a breath of fresh air, you are raising your children as I wish I had been and my nephew and niece would be. As I watch my young nephew and niece being indoctrinated and brainwashed into a religion I weep for them, they will have years upon years of painful deconversion or will live out their lives in a fog of wish-thinking.

  67. Thank you for a fantastic article, well written by breaking it down *clearly* for those theists that are curious. (you know they must take a peek!) I shared it on my FB page.

    I absolutely share your views 100%! Glad I found your blog through this article.

  68. Thank you for your courage. Isn’t it sad that we are afraid to speak out with all the hate and violence around us? People just don’t think and I try to tell myself that to explain it. I think relgion promotes a feeling of beonging like the gangs in Chicago do for those kids. I have no problem with people’s beliefs, but I do have the problem with the hate by anyone.

  69. I am thrilled my sister directed me to your blog. I am also a Texan trying to raise my kids with logic and freethinking in an area that seems to shun knowledge. What has happened to my great state is very upsetting to me and I see in your blog that I am not the only one that believes this way. I was raised in the Methodist church and am comfortable around religion (many of my friends are religious, of course) although I now consider myself an agnostic for the reasons you outlined and for the ridiculous culture the fringe evangelicals are trying to create for the rest of us. I believe in ‘something else’ (but as to what there is no evidence; it’s just a guess), and that goodness matters, but that’s as far as I can go. The Bible isn’t a science book and is flawed by simply being written by humans. I am comfortable in not knowing what’s out there and am freed by the thought that I can change my behavior and I can do my best while not laying problems and excuses at the feet of a God that “knows my path”.

    Due to the alarming cuts in the state education budget, I naively enrolled my children in a private Christian school last fall (secular schools are twice as expensive) and lasted 2 days. I had no idea that the first history lesson would be about “How evolution is a false theory propagated by people who don’t believe in God” – this in the 5th grade. During the first science lesson the teacher held up the textbook and said, “This book goes against God and we will talk about all of the parts where it’s wrong.” My son had to sit there and listen to kids say dinosaurs were on the ark and listen to the teacher equate evolution with failures in crossbreeding. My son finally raised his hand and said crossbreeding and evolution are two entirely different things and that there were no dinos on the ark. Minutes later he was told by a few kids that they couldn’t be his friend and he sat at lunch alone. I was stunned and devastated. I took pictures of the books because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The experience soured me as I was told by the (otherwise kindly) principal they were “a TRUE Christian school”. We felt we had been misled during the admission process. I’ve thought about taking the story to Texas Monthly, but I’d prefer radicals not firebomb my house. :) It speaks volumes that your CNN post was ‘flagged for inappropriate content’ by many who don’t even want you to voice your opinion. I am truly befuddled by this type of behavior.

    Sadly, this wasn’t the way it used to be. My father and grandfather were deeply religious, but they were geophysicists and knew there was a difference between faith and science. That creationists sit on our education board and are trying to get creationism and prayer in public schools makes me shiver. As I heard Neil DeGrasse Tyson say at a recent speech I attended, “You don’t see scientists picketing churches!”

    Anyway, I could write a novella and have about 1,000 other points to make, but wanted to offer my support to a courageous woman.

    • @ RobsinTX Thanks so much for sharing this with me–and for your words of support. I would say take your story to the Texas Monthly, but then again, I DO know the fear you speak of. What I was most amazed about was your son’s experience. I can’t believe that school’s approach to science and evolution. Very, very sad for those kids “left behind” to quote the book series!!

  70. I disagree with your thoughts, but thank you for at least opening a door where (some of us) can openly discuss our differences and further get a better understanding for each other. I’ve also provided my own response, sometimes the comments section is limited in letting me articulate my point of view. Good luck in your blogging! http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-911770

  71. Oh dear one, if only you would open your eyes to see what you are doing is one of the two worst things you could do for your children. The only thing equally bad is to teach your children that they just need religion.
    Oh dear one, the only hope in this life is for God to work miracles in people’s hearts and show them the truth, forgiveness, love, found in Jesus Christ alone. If not, men will find Christ after death but that will be too late. They will only find Him as an unpardoning Judge and punisher.
    Mayyou and your children find Him despite your efforts.
    God have mercy.
    Love
    Jamie

    • @Jamie. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I believe my eyes are open. But I do understand where you are coming from, and I think you don’t mean any harm. Peace.

  72. I really enjoyed your article. As a parent of two kids, I have pretty much the same approach. When they ask me about God and heaven, my response is “many people believe in both, but I dont believe in either. When you’re older you can read about it, and decide how you feel about things. You dont have to decide now.”

  73. I am glad you shared your thoughts publicly and I didn’t find what you said inappropriate at all! That being said, I disagree on many points, particularly the free will one. If you step in when your kid is doing something wrong, is that his/her will or yours? It’s good parenting to step in, but certainly not free will on the part of your kid! If God gave us free will, that’s what it is-free will! We can use it how we please, although he wants us to use it for doing good things like helping, respecting, and loving people! Something interesting to think about!

    • Thanks for commenting, Leann. If I step in when my child is doing something wrong, then I am teaching him. It’s my responsibility as his parent. He had the free will prior to that and will have free will to learn or do it again…

  74. My husband read the article on CNN and immediately texted me the link because he understands how isolated and frustrated I feel being an agnostic in a very small, very Christian town (his hometown). He has an amazing ability to simply disregard the Christian overtones of every activity and interaction we experience here….guess he’s just used to it and it rolls off like water off a duck’s back. I, on the other hand, am keenly and increasingly aware of the lack of other independent thinkers here. I have always tried to be open-minded and tolerant of those with differing views and except for the rare extremist encountered here or there, have generally perceived the same from others – until moving here a year and a half ago. I have come to feel trapped in “the closet” and hide my views from everyone for fear of confrontation and discrimination. Every single person that I have interacted with here has overtly demonstrated their Christianity in one way or another. A couple of weeks ago the principal of the public school that my child attends said a prayer during a school assembly. I nearly came unglued when I found out about it! I feel very strongly about not wanting to indoctrinate my child, but in this community I seem to have my work cut out for me. I just want to say how grateful I am for your article and your blog. I feel inspired and reassured. Thank you!

    • @ Julie I’m glad you found your way here. I hear you, and you’re not alone. I have felt this way, too, and I suspect many of us have:

      I have come to feel trapped in “the closet” and hide my views from everyone for fear of confrontation and discrimination.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your story.

  75. Thanks so much for your CNN article and your blog. People need to know that there are different and valid perspectives out there. I’m also a parent raising two young children to be good without gods. There are millions of Americans doing the same but their voices often aren’t heard because I think we generally keep to ourselves. Sometimes out of fear of the vitriolic, judgmental, and hateful responses of some religious individuals. Many people wear their beliefs on their sleeves but a vast majority lead quiet lives with dignity and ethical clarity. Humanism is a moral philosophy that I think everyone can get behind, regardless of religion. Be good to each other because we’re all in this together.

    • @ CincyKev I love what you said,

      Many people wear their beliefs on their sleeves but a vast majority lead quiet lives with dignity and ethical clarity. Humanism is a moral philosophy that I think everyone can get behind, regardless of religion. Be good to each other because we’re all in this together

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  76. OK, here is the thing. I believe in God. My Bible teaches me that those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day go to heaven. I’m guessing you believe that when you die, that’s it. How do you comfort someone who is, say, dying a slow death from cancer? Do you tell them, “I’m sorry you are in so much pain. Soon this will be over and you will cease to exist. You will be a pile of dust and bones in a box.”? Isn’t it totally depressing to live thinking you have a few more decades on Earth and then, that’s it? Here’s one other thing to consider. Let’s say I’m wrong and you are right. There is no God or afterlife. If this is the case, I become a pile of dust, and that’s it. If, however, I am right, and there really is a God, my Bible teaches that those who do not believe will suffer forever and ever in hell. It seems like you have a lot more to lose by being wrong than I do. If I am going to err, I want to err on the side of caution.

    • @ Jen If God gives you a brain to think with and free will to choose, then why would he send you to hell for using it? If that’s the kind of capricious god you believe in, then maybe we’re all going to “suffer forever.” Your bible is not my bible. It’s specific to your religion. There’s no truth in it for me. If it brings you comfort, that’s great. Really, it is. If it brings you comfort to believe in heaven, that is great, too.

      No. I don’t tell the dying:

      Do you tell them, “I’m sorry you are in so much pain. Soon this will be over and you will cease to exist. You will be a pile of dust and bones in a box.”?

      That is a little silly, and I’m sure you don’t believe nonbelievers say things like that. It is not totally depressing to think life is finite. It goes back to the narcissism point I made: this world was not created solely for me, for you, for humans. This is my belief and I see no evidence to the contrary.

      We take our turn, then we move on so that others can have a chance. What a gift to have this opportunity to be here on this planet, at this time in its history. So what if it’s transitory? What have you ever known that is permanent?

  77. I am enjoying reading your blog after having found the link on the CNN article.

    Speaking as a follower of Christ, even though you and I would not agree on every answer, I think you ask very valid questions and raise great points of discussion. Seems to me that a lot of Christians, or people who claim to be so, are scared to ask the questions that you ask; that somehow, by asking these questions, one is committing heresy. But, I really don’t think God minds when we ask questions. I like that you have not blindly accepted what you hear and see as truth. I wish Christians would do the same.

    After a couple of hours of reading back as far as page 7 into your blog, I share so many of your frustrations that you see within the church. I often shake my head at quote-pictures shared on Facebook and church marquees (you know, those corny, stupid sayings); I am often broken-hearted with poor prioritization and fearful responses to culture, among other things. As a humorous aside, one of my friends, also a follower of Jesus, has been known to say on occasion, “Jesus, save me from your followers.”

    I look forward to reading more.

    • @ Teresa Ulrich…Thank you for stopping by and for your respectful comments. I like your humorous aside, and it reminds me of a quote attributed to Gahndi: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If you’ve read back that far, please accept my apologies in not remembering what the heck I might have ranted about….Hope I didn’t offend. THanks again…

  78. Thank you for a wel -thought-of and well-versed text.
    I am nothing short of appalled about the amount of hate you have received in the discussion. It seems that there is little love in the pious corner.

    What this all boils down to is that many religionists have their faith on so shaky grounds that even a slight suspicion shatters it – thus the viciousness. OTOH it seems that the freedom of religion applies only to different christian denominations ie. one is free to be any kind of christian :)

    I wish nothing but the best for you and as a parent to another – strength to carry on.

    • @ saab93f Thank you for reaching out and for those kind words! All the hate mail doesn’t really bother me because I figure–as you said–it’s just people’s insecurities and fears coming out. Obviously, they don’t know me and I don’t know them (well, I do know that they get vicious when other people state opposing ideas!)… :) Thanks, again, for the sweet words.

  79. I think you really have something here. Good common sense is what the world needs. You are a great voice to have on our side of things. A voice of reason. I hope someday that free thinkers will organize themselves into a community of people so that others will not be afraid to seek out the answers that religion have failed to answer. Someday I would love to share the very moment when I chose to put the “good book” down forever. It a nutshell, they say there are no atheists in the foxhole. That’s exactly where I became one. Keep up the good work!

    Cheers!

  80. I’m a believer in Christ, but I’m not religious about anything except cigarettes and morning coffee. Your post is interesting and probably exactly what’s wrong with our society. So, your child has questions and you don’t have answers that you have any conviction in. That’s pretty common, but do you actually leave it there? Is your response, “I don’t know”; “No one can know”; “It doesn’t matter”? Aren’t those questions, the perfect opportunity for you to seek answers? Everyone should have a reason to believe what they believe and they should be able to give anyone an answer on why they believe it.
    If you think that Christ is a myth then you should be able to back it up.

    We never wanted our kids to believe in Santa, but we certainly explained the history of Santa. Yes, even to a 6 year old. Santa is fun, there are children’s movies and cartoons about him and Rudolph and Frosty the snowman. To explain why it’s fun and harmless but not true isn’t difficult. Don’t you owe them that much?

    Six year old children tend to think their parents know everything and won’t question you unless it doesn’t make sense to them, or until they have other adults, like teachers, tell them a different tale. Wouldn’t you at least want to give them the ammo they need to explain why they believe what you believe?

    Forget religions or churches or your acceptance of a phantom morality, but have you ever wondered why you are here, where you came from or where you are going? If you have a conviction about those answers, then you have no dilemma and no reason to create a blog that’s titled “Raising kids without religion” subtitle “Raising kids as independent, logical thinkers.” It sounds like you BELIEVE that religion and logic are mutually exclusive. You’d be wrong, but that’s your issue, not mine.

    Is it logical that humans are at the top of the food chain? What other animal takes 18 years to leave home, or even 2 years to feed them selves and run away from predators. What other animal needs to eat 3 times a day and weakens without a good nights sleep? Why don’t humans get new teeth, like sharks or hibernate through the long cold winter? Wouldn’t those be important traits for survival?

    You’ve posted why you can’t respond to a six year olds natural questions, but you don’t really explain why you haven’t searched for answers for the two of you. ‘I don’t know’ may be the appropriate response when you don’t know, but my next question would be, why don’t you try to find out.

    Even if you have no faith in your parent’s advice or beliefs (a natural human response), why would you throw the baby out with the bath water? Just because their religion seems ‘unbelievable’ to you, doesn’t make it illogical or mythical. Me thinks you protest too much – and probably should not suppress his natural desire for answers.

    My kids grew up in a Catholic environment, which I have a lot of trouble with, (and they’ve all abandoned it), but when they asked those natural questions, we hit the books. “Well, that church teaches ….. but some people believe ……, while others believe ……” And I didn’t give them any preconceived opinions, but I had already gone through that as a teenager and knew exactly why I believed what I believed. There was no hocus pocus or it’s true but we can’t prove it crap, cause no one can KNOW, but you can and you do believe SOMETHING.

    When I see a baby and with basic biology understand how that’s created then I know that the birth was against all odds. So, if I’m walking through the woods just humming a tune and I see a stack of bricks compared to random pebbles and rocks, I take notice. Stacked bricks are not random rocks which washed up from the river or broke off from the mountain. I know that those bricks have a purpose. Perhaps an abandoned project or a reason to be where I am. Would I ignore the bricks? Wouldn’t it be logical to ask myself what are the bricks for, who put them there, am I free to take them, what can I do with bricks, why are they uniform in size and shape, etc., etc. That’s all your child is doing. He stumbled into your home and he wants to know why.

    Is there a reason why he can always count on you? Why you’ll love him no matter how many mistakes he makes? Why you would change your lifestyle to meet his needs over your own? Why you’d give your LIFE for him?

    • @askmieke Thanks for taking the time to get your thoughts down here. I’d address them, but your prose is too discursive, and from what you’ve written, it appears you’ve missed the point and/or added assumptions that just weren’t there. One of the biggest assumptions people seem to be making is that I have no knowledge of religion and/or of the history of religion. This is not true. This subject is not easy. Your faith and my disbelief are not simple. I spent many years reading, thinking, reflecting, talking with others and taking courses. I did not come here lightly, and I do not take any of my jobs, including that of being a parent, lightly. Having said that, I should tell you we DO have one thing in common: I am religious about my morning coffee.

  81. I am impressed by your amazing ability to respond to so many people. I tip my hat to you for that, I don’t think I’d have the patience for it.

    I think you may have misunderstood my point. I was not trying to refute your belief or disbelief in a god. Your tagline says, “Raising kids as independent logical thinkers.” Yet the reasons you provide, while they may be true, they in no way justify raising children without religion. I say this not because of any belief in some deity or any inclination toward belief, but because you should raise your kids to not believe in god because, “he” doesn’t exist. The seven points you bring up are all things you don’t like about god, not logical justifications for “his” non existence. Using your seven points are akin to saying that you want to raise your kids to think they can put their hand in boiling water because you are not happy with the consequences of burning your fingers. Do understand what I am getting at? Put simply, we should raise our children to follow truth wherever it leads them not only to the places they like or feel comfortable with. Raising kids to follow truth where it feels comfortable, as opposed to what is objectively true will only provide them with a false sense of comfort. And that false sense of comfort will crumble when the consequence of avoiding truth eventually decides to rear it’s ugly head.

  82. Dam! You got a lot of people reading your stuff!
    The Church is probably going to take away my Jesus Freak card for this but, with this many people in need of support have you considered maneuvering this attention you’re getting from your CNN post to get people together into support groups? The mom’s alone seem to need something more than just a couple of posts. If I were in your position that is what I would do because as a Christian I know my God does not like me to stand by when I can help people. Just my 2 cents.
    God speed,
    God bless,
    God bye:)

  83. Christians are afraid of what they do not understand. Heck, people in general! These Christians see us (nonbelievers) as a threat to their way of life, often seduced by Satan himself (or herself, what do we know!?!). I saw that it was flagged when I read it first, and just laughed. Seriously? We are bombarded with prayers, god, religion, the like every day (currency, pledge, HELLO!?!?), yet we deal. Maybe we don’t like it and want to do something to change it, but perhaps in a more productive manner.

    What Christians don’t understand is that we nonbelievers are many, and are educated. We are often victims of their abuse, trying to make us feel as if we are lesser humans because of our lack of beliefs. The truth is, anyone who wants to make others feel bad because of what they believe (or don’t) is a hater. And quite frankly, I don’t think Jesus would approve.

    Keep fighting the good fight! You’re an inspiration to many.

  84. I support you 100% and even put your write up on my facebook. You are not alone. Thanks

  85. I was very pleased to read your wonderful blog on CNN.

    I just want to thank you for your courage.

    I fully support your point of view and as a father of two, my wife and I are raising our children with the same honesty.

    It seems that many American are ready for a new age of enlightenment. Your public blog is a testament to this growing social movement.

    • @ Christian Thanks for taking the time to reach out and comment. So glad to hear there are others in the same boat…although I think we now have a couple of large cruise ships.

  86. Thanks for the response and you are spot on. I did have to look up the word ‘discursive’, to know that, but I agree and apologize. They were random thoughts about your post, your CNN ireport and this blog. I didn’t really catch what it is you actually believe or teach your children. It’s clear what you don’t believe, at least about God, but not so much what you do believe. You seem to believe that you MUST reject God and religion because only agnostics, atheists, and humanists are free thinkers. I would challenge you to read a little CS Lewis, especially ‘Mere Christianity’ and perhaps ‘Don’t waste your sorrows’ by Paul Billheimer.

    I’m glad that you titled this post ‘Still plugging away’, because I don’t see that you have many answers yet. You may not hear speeches and sermons about your anti-religious and anti-God views, but they are much more common than you may realize. So common that it exists in every church as well. It is easy to buy into the morality of our society. We are a comfortable and docile people. When comfortable and not threatened or barely inconvenienced, it’s easy to develop a morality that would be acceptable by most rational people and at once call it law and truth. We are generally a good people aren’t we?

    I am a believer in the biblical God that you don’t like, so logically, He can’t possibly exist. I can at once see the fallibility of your logic though you can not. If you’ve only experienced the morality of our modern Western society then isn’t your worldview tainted and your observations too limited for discourse?

    I am still assuming some things about you, but they are based on the conclusions you’ve drawn so far.

  87. Wow. I think I may have just spent a few hours reading through your blog entries, and in some cases, the comments some of your entries have illicited, after seeing a brief mention on CNN. Fascinating discussion. I too am a Texas (DFW area) mom with two young children. My oldest is 4, and he attends a Montessori school where he is exposed to many different religions and cultures. I love that he is learning to accept his fellow students, who currently represent Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindu, etc.

    My husband and I were both raised strictly in the Christian church, but as adults (and quite frankly, upon further education about religious history in general), have both decided and agreed that we no longer connect with the Christian faith or story. We’re saddened to see so many in the Christian religion lean towards intolerance for others, which absolutely is not an attitude that we would ever want to project onto our children. The closed-mindedness that another person’s faith or religious beliefs (or lack thereof) do not merit consideration simply because they are different (but surprisingly, so very similar in many cases) is simply not acceptable to either of us as parents. We don’t feel comfortably lying to our son, so answering his questions about God have been a challenge. We have become okay with explaining that “yes, Grandma believes in this, but we do not”, or “you know honey, I don’t know the answer to that question, but it’s something we can try and learn about together”. The thoughtfulness of his questions always makes me smile! He will find his own way because we are enabling him to find his own way.

    I saw a few comments asking what in the world would you do if your kids decided to believe in God? These almost had me laughing out loud. The answer is so simple, why does the question even need to be asked? As if it would have any impact on the love I have for my child!? I certainly wouldn’t send him off to an eternally burning, fiery hell.

    It seems that if more religious persons lived by the “Golden Rule”, they’d practice less of their religion and simply be more HUMANE. That’s one rule I can actually buy into, and the one that I put the most importance on as a parent. Thank you for sharing your article.

    • @Cyndi And thank you for reaching out and sharing your experiences. I scratch my head, too, and thought the same as you here:

      I saw a few comments asking what in the world would you do if your kids decided to believe in God? These almost had me laughing out loud. The answer is so simple, why does the question even need to be asked? As if it would have any impact on the love I have for my child!?

  88. Deborah,

    Interesting read – you are a very talented writer! While I don’t agree with you on some points – I think there is value in helping like-minded people realize there is a support structure for them out there.

    I would hope that you might change one thing in your future writings. I notice your tendency to describe religious individuals’ “need” for the comfort that comes from belief in an afterlife. Unfortunately, I see this as a common mistake by atheists.

    To some extent – sure, there is a level of “need” regarding some religious beliefs. Compare, for example, the experience of love. Do I need to be in love? Well, I sure like it. It brings a lot of positives to my life. But do I need it? I guess that depends on your definition of “need.” Will I cease to exist without love? Well, not likely no. But I guess you could argue some level of “need” regarding love.

    To say that the religious “need” the comforts of religion denotes that they are clinging desperately to a single ray of light in an otherwise cruel, degenerate, meaningless and otherwise horrific existence. Obviously I’m exaggerating a bit here – but can you see how the use of the word “need” can demonstrate at the least an inaccurate description of the role of religion in someone’s life?

    Sure, the “need” for the comforts probably does play at least some role for almost all religious people. But there’s a whole lot more than that. There’s enjoyment, fulfillment, opportunity, etc.

    Anyways, all the best!

    • I just have to say – what a thoughtful, well-reasoned reply from a believer. I, too, would use the word “need” and think nothing of it, but you have made me, at least see a different point of view from your eyes.

  89. I linked to your blog from CNN not wanting to comment among the polarized maniacs there. Thanks to you for spotlighting the fact that non-religious and/or atheist people are regular, typically decent and moral folks who love their children, too. I commend your decision to raise your children according to your beliefs despite ubiquitous pressure to do otherwise. After seeing the headline for your iReport on CNN, it occurred to me that atheists, especially atheist parents, are vilified to the point that we are often compelled to keep our atheism a secret.

    Your respect for those who hold religious beliefs is refreshing. Let’s hope someday that respect will travel a two-way street. Again, thanks for representing the rational, loving, morally sound atheist contingent.

  90. Thank you.

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