Secular Parenting

I’ve been in the Navy Reserves for 7 years now. I am a Seabee and have deployed once to Iraq which I am quite proud of. I am glad to have had the opportunity to serve in that capacity at least once in my life. No matter the different political outlook we all have. The things I did over there not only made our service members lives better but also local Iraqis.

Well, tonight I got some tragic news of one of the guys that I have served with. I learned that his daughter committed suicide at 18 years old. I hate to see one of my buddies go through such a thing. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine losing one of my own children who are still very very young to such a thing. Especially over mothers day weekend. That shit sucks.  I feel so bad for their family.

Today I watched my oldest son ride his bike most of the day, even in the rain. Yesterday, on mothers day, was the first day that he rode his bike for the first time without training wheels. It is so awesome to see your own kids take next steps in life. In any way imaginable. Be it sports, education, learning mannerisms, etc. It is great to see them grow and learn. We all want the best for our children. We want them to grow to be successful in whatever area they chose to go in.

This weekend we had the in-laws over. Over our mothers day lunch conversation, they non-chelantly offered to keep our kids for a week in June. At first I was delighted as my wife and I might have some time together, but the way they brought it up made me suspicious. Sure enough, the motive came forth in the next sentence. They wanted to take the kids to Vacation Bible School. My thoughts immediately were disappointment and I wanted to say no. No way did I want my kids to be exposed and indoctrinated for a week of Jesus stuff. I figured my wife and I would talk about it later.

We did talk about it after they left and agreed we did not want our kids to be trapped for hours over a week being taught non-sense and lies. Her parents were saddened and disappointed of course. Our oldest son doesn’t even like going to church with them once a month, much less a whole week of that BS. Our younger daughter doesn’t know any better, but I just wouldn’t feel right exposing her to a week of stories and doctrines that aren’t true. The objective of these schools is to get the kids while their young. To get them to believe their myths before the are able to think and decide for themselves what they believe or don’t. I would feel horrible allowing my kids to be subjected to that kind of brainwashing.

I’m not sure how all this ties into the first part of this post other than I just want the best for my children. I want them to learn for themselves what is truth and with my guidance (I am their parent after all) what is best for them. I guess I just think about being a parent in general. I do my best every day. I can’t imagine losing one of mine to such tragedy. And I know what a tragedy it is to try to tell them what to think as opposed to how to think. And that is exactly what these “Vacation Bible Schools” do. No thanks.

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What a prison

This week I spent some time on Twitter having discussions with believers.  It’s quite interesting and well…fun. I actually do learn, having to look up facts and understand my position more on different topics related to religion.

One thing that I try not to do is respond with my emotions or frustration. Sometimes this can be very difficult. Especially when you hear the same things over and over, like “if we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

But what I try to do more than anything is just ask question after question to the believers. By asking basic questions about their faith and religion, it becomes quite clear that some of them have done little to no research and all of them believe for no good reason their holy book and god is real. Ultimately it just falls on faith. Of course those of us who do not believe already know this about the religious. Its nothing new. “It’s true because the bible says! I know..that I know..that I know! You’ll never change my mind!” Says the faithful.

Another thing I find disturbing, (other than the fact that these Twitter believers think we atheist chatting with them are satan worshipping heathens. Then again, maybe my little dragon logo doesn’t help. Haha!) is how some refer to themselves. They call themselves wretched sinners, filthy rags, not worthy to live, not worthy of their gods love and grace. Yes, this is how some of the believers on Twitter speak about themselves! It is all certainly from the bible. How degrading.

When I see these people on Twitter credit themselves in such a way, it makes me think of the prison they live in. I feel genuinely sad for them. It is sad that the only value they place on themselves and others is what an imagined god holds for them. I lived like that for many years. Its just sad to think about really. I’m so glad I’m out of that bondage. It really is like breaking free of chains.

Another thing that I have to shake my head at that most christians do is give credit to their god when they accomplish deeds with their hard work or achieve goals. They will stand there after busting their ass on a project, or getting a job, etc and say, “god did this”. It couldn’t possibly be that you spent months, years or a lifetime hitting the grindstone to get where you are. Give yourself some credit folks!

The experience of either debating or simply discussing religion with believers on Twitter has been educational. I don’t expect to change anyones belief or minds and certainly I doubt anything will be produced to change my mind. I guess I see it as good practice in having the discussions in general and developing my own style of debating. Plus like I said, it forces me to know exactly how I see things and find evidence that I find convincing by doing the research for myself. I can say what I think and why I think it. Whereas, a couple of christians on Twitter that I’ve tried to pin down what they believe, why and where is the evidence just pointed me to other websites or just ended the conversation with their god is the one true god. End of conversation. They didn’t seem to care to tell me what THEY thought, but what others thought or just that god did it. Which I understand. I used to be the same way when I tried to believe, but had no good reason to.

One additional concern I have when talking to christians on Twitter is they consistantly seem to want the (I win) button, instead of furthering the conversation. They seem to want to end the questioning as soon as possible, let me know their god is the real god over all and can do anything. Bam done. Most of the questions I present don’t get addressed, which is not surprising. Or as I said earlier, they send me to some other web link instead of giving the answers of what they think themselves.

I will continue being open to conversations with christians or people of other religions. It really is fascinating. If anything interesting comes up, I’ll make sure to write about it here.

 

 

 

My final day

Last night, for some reason I was thinking about the last time I went to church. Well, at least the last time I went to hear a sermon. 

It was the weekend following the last devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma City, specifically Moore, OK. So it had to be at least two years ago.

It was at a time when my faith was being seriously challenged by my wife no less. She had already taken steps to unbelief and atheism. I was still trying to hang on to god, dragging her and the kids to church every sunday. Though my wife would usually get up, walk out in the middle of service and go get Starbucks.

We had been having discussions at home about god. Why she no longer believed and why I did. And of course her reasons made more sense than mine. I only “felt it in my heart” and had faith. But no real reason for believing.

So as my critical thinking skills and doubts started to kick in, so did my doubts about what my preacher was saying.

So it was the weekend after the tornado ripped up our city once again. Leaving thousands homeless and dozens dead, including children who drowned to death in the basement of their school. The pastor did a sermon called “Why?” It was to answer the question why god allows things like this to happen. It was meant to ease the hurt, suffering and anger people in our area might be feeling after such a horrible loss. I was genuinely interested in what he had to say. My wife had already checked out to Starbucks minutes into the sermon. I sat restlesslely in the back, hoping for something to strengthen my already doubting faith.

I don’t remember anything about that sermon except for the very last line that will always stick with me. He said to the crowd, “why does god allow things like this to happen? I don’t know, but I can say this, he is in control.”

I think it was supposed to be one of those profound moments. Where many of the belivers in the room just ate it up and said to themselves, yes it doesn’t matter that it makes no sense. God is god and his will be done. Praise ya Jeeezus!

But for me, that was it. That was no answer. Frustration boiled. I was done. I stood up then and there, never to return. It was at that moment I realized the god he was preaching about isn’t there and isn’t in control of anything.

My wife was happy to hear we would not be going back. We actually did continue to take the kids for a while longer as they still wanted the free donuts and enjoyed playing at kids church. But eventually they would lose interest too. Now we do family things together on Sundays.

Looking back today, I am very glad I went to that service and was able to see behind the curtain. For the first time the pastor that I had looked up to and though was so clever, was just as blinded as most who sit down to listen to him every week. I once was blind, but now I see.

A sad dinner

After several weeks of thinking on it and discussions, my wife and I have decided to put our dogs down. It’s sad but for the best.

Last night at dinner we decided to let the kids know and discuss it. It was quite emotional. Everyone was crying by the end of it as we talked about how the process is done and how we will miss them. We also talked about times that we had over the past ten years with them.

On into the evening, the kids wanted to share their beds, pillows and blankets with the dogs. It was very cute. They pet the dogs a little extra. And they talked about getting a hamster or a fish tank as replacement pets. I think in attempts to move past the saddness. We’ve decided against any more dogs in the future.

At bed time, my 5 year old daughter wanted to talk more about the dogs with my wife. She wished they didn’t have to get a shot and that they could live forever. We have believers in the family that still tell our kids about christianity and living eternally with god after we die. We aren’t the type of parents that tell our kids what they must believe or not. We allow them to discover things on their own, though we do let them know that we don’t believe and why.

My daughter asked my wife if they could pray for the dogs to live forever. And so she did that with her. She didn’t preach to our daughter in that moment that their probably is not a god there to listen. Didn’t tell her there was no point in praying. She let our daughter have her moment of coping how she wanted to and to have “the faith of a child.”

Its amazing being able to be open and honest with our kids about this stuff. We don’t have to pretend that the stories in the bible are true with them. We don’t have to worship a god that there is no evidence for. Yet, we can still let them make those determinations and decisions for themselves. I love talking to my kids about it.

Needless to say, our childs prayer for our dogs will be another one gone up in the air. We will still have a very sad day coming next month. This experience with my family is unique for us and one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

We finally made it through dinner all teary eyed. However we left the washing up for later and chose to go spend time with the dogs instead.

The understanding of Atheism

As I scour the internet on Twitter and various blogs on the subject of faith, religion and atheism, it seems I learn something new practically every day. Either some new fact about science, evolution, the bible, family issues.  Also from time to time I see tweets, articles and blogs from people who clearly have a misunderstanding about things like atheism and evolution.

Almost daily I see a re-tweet of some one that either doesn’t understand the evolution theory or just wants to reject evolution based on their religious beliefs. I see the same thing, “If we evolved from monkeys, whey are there still monkeys?” Granted, some of these people may not really understand what evolution says or are just making condescending remarks just to be annoying. I don’t pretend to understand evolution fully by any stretch, but I understand the basic premises of the theory. (I’ve included a link to the definition of theory. It shows the rigorous process that takes place in science for an idea to become a theory.)

Another misunderstanding that I frequently see from believers is what an atheist is. An atheist is nothing more than a person who is without a belief in a god or gods. That’s it. We say that there is no evidence proving the existence of any claimed god.  Atheism does not make the claim that no god could exist. We don’t know, and neither does the believer. There is not any evidence whatsoever that can prove the existence of god. Atheist do not declare that they can prove that god does not exist as this blog post goes on about. And no atheist claims to be all knowing or a god. The first argument in this blog comes from ignorance in the understanding of what an atheist is.

Yes there are a few rough edges in the atheist movement. But from what I’ve witnessed it is a small portion out of the rest of the reasonable people.

Their second argument for intelligent design is easily thrown out, as it has been time and time again with science. But the most damning fact is that 99.9% of the worlds species to ever live has gone extinct. This is the Folly of any idea of an intelligent designer that is absolutely not required for natures natural selection.

Of course christians and people from other religions will ignore the facts and insist on believing anyway. To them it is more important to just believe that to pay attention to real scientific facts.

Thanks to @perth_atheist on Twitter for bringing the Candid Apologetics site to our attention. Its still fun stuff to read and see what science REALLY says about the claims of those believing on faith.

Another Easter season

So another Easter Sunday has come and gone. Millions of believers in their thousands of denominations congregated to worship the mythical risen savior. Now I see what a prison that world really is. I am thankful to not have to live that way any longer.

As I woke on Sunday morning, I began to think about my journey towards Atheism thus far. I remember as a believer I avoided conversations with non-believers and sometimes even believers about my faith. I knew that I had no good reason for believing. I couldn’t tell you why I believed. I just had faith. Faith that the bible was true, that my pastor was speaking truth, faith that those around me couldn’t be wrong, therefore I would just continue to believe myself.

Then there finally came the day that I couldn’t live like that anymore. I couldn’t live under the umbrella of other peoples beliefs. I had to know what I believed and why! So I started doing my own research. My first step was just reading the bible from cover to cover. But I read it a lot more critically than I ever had before. As I did, I began to see things that I’d never noticed.

The first thing quite frankly being how tyrannical the god in the bible is. He directs and orders killings far beyond the scale of Hitler or Stalin. Even doing some of the killing himself. But I guess because he is god, he always gets a pass.

In further reading the gospel writings, other things didn’t seem to add up. I began to find multiple contradictions. One being the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke. Matthews version is during Herod’s reign when Herod orders all infants 2 and under to be killed. (Which can not be found in any other history writing.) Luke’s version is during the time of Ceasar Augustus where he decrees a census over the entire Roman world. (Another piece of history that can’t be confirmed outside of the bible.) Both of these accounts couldn’t have happened at the same time. Harods reign ended no less than 10 years before Ceasar Augustus took power. The problem here is obvious.

In addition to reading the bible, I began reading other books and listening to podcasts that were on both sides of the fence. The Atheist material started to make more and more sense.  The theist position seemed more like it was having to bend and stretch the truth to fit into their stories. All of this added up, led me to no longer believe in the christian god. My mind was opened to new possibilities.

I feel so much more free now not living under the oppression of religion. Not many of my friends and family know yet. It is tough to come out and for them to understand my point of view. Those that do know think I’m confused and Satan is deceiving me. Knowledge, questions and skepticism is the enemy of religion it seems. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the years to come. One friend thinks this is a temporary thing for me. But it is not.

I still love taking my kids on egg hunts. Even if it is church sponsored. We took the kids to a church down the road from our house and they had some fun. Of course the church members invited us for Easter services at the end and we respectfully declined.

Anyway, Hoppy Easter.

Doggie Prayers

If you used to be or are currently a believer, then you’ve probably been in one of those prayer circles. You know where every one holds hands and takes turns praying. These happen at churches, in bible study groups or most anywhere that believers gather. I remember when my wife and I used to attend a weekly small home group. They were friends from a church we attended.

It was at the time when my wife first started having serious doubts about god, faith and christianity. It was very difficult for her to admit it to the group. It was difficult for me to hear as I still wanted to believe. I just knew god was going to show her what she needed to continue to believe. The group prayed for my wife. We prayed for the “holy spirit” to come down on her and touch her. To give her the evidence she needed to believe and have faith. Of course…nothing happened.

I’ve never seen anyone more honest and open about god and finding what is really true than my wife during that time. She really wanted it to be true. She really wanted to hear from and feel god somehow. But now we know the prayers were just going to the air.

I remember comments from our study/prayer group. They would say things like, “just keep praying, god works in his timing not ours.” But I say if he truly comes after the one sheep that strays, then several years ago when all this took place would of been a good time to show up.

My mind was boggled again over the past weekend. Our family (my wife, myself and our three kids) have a couple of small dogs. We’ve had these dogs for about 12 years. We had the dogs before we had any kids.

Well, the dogs are getting on in years and are beginning to have health problems.  Their quality of life has started to be affected and quite frankly so has our pocket book due to the vet bills. So my wife and I have been contemplating “putting them down”. We have been weighing the pros and cons. Its not an easy decision as they have been part of the family for so long. But we have to face the facts that the time is coming soon to let the dogs go.

My wife called a relative to get their advice about it. They basically told her they didn’t want to tell her what to do, but that she should pray about it. (This family member knows that we both are not believers anymore) My wife was told that she might be surprised about the results of prayer and to keep an open mind about god. She politely said, “ok, I might do that.”

It boggles my mind that anyone that knows us doesn’t think we’ve gone through this process with an open mind. We’ve spent the better part of ten to twenty years as christians. Believing solely on faith. I’d say that a person who believes in a god only on faith and not evidence for that long and continues their journey as honestly as they can, no matter where the journey takes them, has an open mind.

After being a christian for around 20 years, I know now that it is the believer who needs to keep an open mind for what is true. But I also know that christians can’t allow themselves to have open minds. It is forbidden. Because any REAL truth would challenge their faith to much as to come to the conclusion of unbelief. I know most believers would never admit it however. Some may admit that at times, they have had doubts, but that is far as most take it.

They will just continue to believe on faith. Any little coincidence that could be explained by natural causes is enough for them to hold on to their beliefs and think something supernatural has happened instead.

I  guess we should thank him for his advice, but don’t think we will be praying about the dog situation. I guess we will just know in very natural terms when it is time to say goodbye to our furry friends.