So much to say. I am very touched by the kindness and respect of almost all of the people who reached out here on this blog. This is our discussion; this is our issue to move forward. It’s obviously the right time. CNN told me that the essay that brought you here had the most page views and the most comments of any iReport. Every one of you has contributed to chipping away at the stigma (an appropriate word) towards non-believers, or even of those who have beliefs outside the mainstream.
I didn’t get a chance to read many of the comments on CNN. There were just too many, and there was a lot of fighting. But I did notice a common theme from the comments I’d read. Believers think that we aren’t giving our kids a choice. That’s just not correct. We can tell our children stories of the Lochness Monster. We can tell them the legends, the unproven stories of a water creature that would be discounted as hearsay in court. We would not be offering a choice; we would be convincing, persuading, or as some would say, brainwashing.
As a parent, we make many decisions for our kids: where they live, what they eat, the schools they attend. It is our choice to decide if we should pass faith onto our children. Faith is unsubstantiated. Faith, as we all know, is not fact. When our children are old enough to process and think through issues on their own, then they can make their own choices.
Before that, our children just need to know that we are honest with them. If we do not believe, why would we push someone else’s belief system onto our kids? That would be dishonest. This is not to say that Christian parents and parents of other faiths are not being honest. They are believers, so that is their reality. We are nonbelievers and this is ours.
First, I wanted to thank everyone who reached out here to share their experiences or their views. It is very encouraging to see the kindness of strangers. I was truly moved. Hopefully, by speaking up, we can all make a difference.
Has anyone seen the movie Compliance? If you’ve never seen it, it’s about a man who calls fast food restaurants, pretends to be a cop, and asks the managers to strip search employees. (Read more here.) If you’ve never seen it, and want to rent it, I won’t tell you too much. Sadly, the film is based on actual events. I’ll just share a few things.
When told that the caller was a cop, managers followed the instructions of the “police officer,” even though the requests were illogical or immoral. There were a few who doubted and refused to follow instructions, but there were many who did exactly as asked. I’m sure you know where I am going with this.
We are trained to respect authority, not to doubt, not to question. The caller in the film exploits that weakness. The problem is that we are so conditioned to accept what we hear as true, we oftentimes relinquish our common sense. Authority does have its place, bringing order and safety to society. But we have to keep our radar up at all times; we have to keep that sense, that small voice, which tells us something is not right, no matter who is saying it. The movie is frustrating to watch–I know becuase I watched it last night. We think, who would continue to take those instructions? Would I? I suppose until we are in a situation like that, we just don’t know.
But I do know that the radar, telling us something is not right brought us here. It brought us to the place where we’ve rejected the notion of god that many of our authority figures have held as true. We were not compliant.
In this CNN piece, If You Hear God Speak Audibly, You (Usually) Aren’t Crazy, author Tanya Luhrmann writes that talking to God, and hearing answers, is common in people who pray. She doesn’t affirm whether or not God actually speaks to people (thank god), only that the people who claim to hear God arent’ crazy.
I have to ask this: If you believe that God DOES talk to you, then don’t you feel a little bad that he didn’t answer the prayers of all those parents of kids who had cancer? What kind of God talks to you about your life, but allows an entire race of people to be killed, an entire country to be victimized, or a school to be terrorized? Who was praying when they were murdered? Why didn’t God talk to them and warn them? ”It wasnt’ their time,” ”it’s not for us to know” or “they went to a better place” are not good answers.
So, yes, if you believe God talks to you, you are nuts.