Listening to the stories it holds being read to me by my Dad before bed, it really has had a massive impact on my life. Even now, with two young boys myself, I find them often pulling books from our shelves that are religious in their material. Maybe it’s a parable with pictures that someone bought us or the Bible for Children that I purchased for our eldest when he was born. I wanted my children to know God’s word as deeply as I know God’s word.
I find this abhorrent now. Was I going to indoctrinate my children with the fables of religion? Was I going to tell them that they were created special, that there is a place for them when they die and that the One who created them knows them and loves them deeply? Was I going to saturate my children to the same level as I myself was saturated? It’s been hell coming out of Christianity, did I want to place hell upon the shoulders of my children in return?
I want them to step into this world with their eyes open to as much as they can. I want them to make their own informed decisions about everything that they come to, and I want to help them to seek truth and reality at each and every stage.
The truth is that if one day they start to follow the Christian God, I will still love them and want the best for them. But I want them to make their own decision, and not feel coerced or pulled in any direction by a parent or loved one. Though I am sure that my religious (or lack thereof) affiliations will have an impact on their choices, for better or worse. It all depends on which ‘side’ you take.
I think the biggest thing for me is being able to stand up and say, ‘I don’t know what is true and what is false, the more I look at the Bible and the out-workings that I witness around me the less I am convinced it is from a God and the more I am convinced it is created by man.’ Finding myself in this place of doubt, being agnostic towards faith and finding myself upset at how completely certain people are of the beliefs they hold, will, of course, have an effect on my children.
My wife is a Christian. She wants to read our children the stories I mention above, she wants to pray with them and for them, and she wants them to attend church. I understand how someone can look at some of the teachings Christians share and think they are helpful things to be teaching the young people within our church. For example, that smoking isn’t healthy or that lying won’t do you any favours in the long run. But to accept them at the expense of giving up any rational belief in the world and the laws of nature is a step I don’t want. Ok, so many Christians will say that they don’t let reality step outside when they engage in their faith, but you need to suspend rational belief in the supernatural because, by default, super-natural is something that is super (or extra) natural, we can’t test, check and evaluate the supernatural, because it isn’t here with us in a practical and tangible way.
For clarity, I am fully aware there are good arguments as to why smoking and lying are bad things to do without needing to invoke God.
If my children grow up and don’t have a ‘personal relationship with God’ (whatever that means), I know that some members of my own family will think that I have led my children straight to hell. I see it all over Facebook, people proudly showing videos, articles or photos of their children making some bold commitment to God. Statements from doting parents saying things like, ‘Joe got baptised today, I am so proud of them for taking a bold step with Christ in their life. It hasn’t been easy but seeing the transforming work of God has made such a massive difference to them, and us.’ What does that make me? A rubbish father? A terrible parent? A hell banishing Dad?
How can people be SO certain of their personal beliefs being right, and therefore so scared of the afterlife that they deliberately indoctrinate their young? I mean no one can be 100% certain about anything. Sure, we can be more certain about gravity working right now (drops a pen in front of myself), than we are about Arnold Schwarzenegger being a literal terminator. Our beliefs work on a sliding scale and the world around us provides the best testable examples of what is and is not worth believing in.
Why am I saying all of this?
I am saying all of this because I fear that too often we attempt to believe something we can’t test or prove even partly, deciding therefore to suspend rational belief in the favour of hope and speculation about supernatural events and realities that don’t actually impact the world we are in right now. If we hang fast to these supernatural beliefs then we will force our children, whether we mean to or not, into a belief system around something they can’t prove.
The truth is we don’t do this for anything other than religion. Surely, we should be encouraging the next generation to step back and ask ‘why’ over more than just our politics or economic situations. Surely, we should allow them to as ‘why’ over everything and come to their own coherent decisions, which they can act upon in a realistic way.
Our children are our future, and they should have the freedom to poke and prod at every facet of life as they grow up. I won’t indoctrinate my boys, but I will ask questions of them and of the belief systems of the world, and together we can see what we think.
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen via YouTube. Dave and I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
If you want to connect with me, then you can get in touch via any of the social media links that can be found at the top of the page. If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer – the links are to the right.
I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂