The “Dear Atheist” Letters

Dear Atheist,

The philosophies that you choose for yourself will be tested by your children. The previous generations have systematically pushed God out of their lives, choosing to live within their limited box of reason. However, all these choices may be tested at the kitchen table where your children will challenge your version of right and wrong. Children easily catch the incongruities in our lives, later deciding to reject them as bogus. All the intellectual prowess you have attained for your arguments against God will be tested and may be found disappointing. Like the saying “what goes up must come down”, the generation that removes God paves way for the generation who seeks God. They will seek to fill the void created by the inconsistencies of your chosen morality and your self-proclaimed truths. Will your philosophies stand up to THAT test?


9 thoughts on “The “Dear Atheist” Letters

  1. Dear Theist,

    I apologize about the lateness of my reply, but I have been out living life to the fullest and so I scarcely have the time to engage in trivial, antiquated theological banter. Since you, however, seemed to be genuinely concerned with the well being of me and my family, I felt obliged to pen this response.

    When I was a child, I too questioned the incongruities of my parent’s morals. I found that when I pressed to hard or questioned too deeply the mandates of right and wrong, I inevitably was met with the response–“Because I said so, that’s why.” Essentially, this is the Christian basis of morality. When one truly examines the reasons why something is right or wrong, the most basic, fundamental explanation is “Because God said so, that’s why.” This was hard enough to resolve within myself, but it became impossible once I noticed that even with this limited philosophy, my parents, teachers, and clergy routinely picked and chose which God-given mandates were relevant and which were not. Talk about incongruities.

    My message to my children is, and always has been, consistent with one simple philosophy–one shared by your book of faith but exercised through my choice of rationality rather than your fear of punishment. When my son asked me how we know what is right and what is wrong, I told him to simply treat others as he would want to be treated because that is the essence of respect–and respect is necessary for the human species to live together as a cooperative unit. That cooperative nature–and the intelligence to exploit it to the fullest–is our evolutionary advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom. To abandon it in favor of wanton destruction or gluttonous self-indulgence would be to abandon that which makes us human–our ability to reason. Funny, he didn’t seem too confused by that. I wonder why you are.


  2. John,

    “Because I said so” is not the end of it for most children whether they voice it or not. Children are sponges. They soak up what you say and what you choose not to say. If you are just arguing for the sake of arguement then fine. But, if in fact you are choosing to ignore history, then that’s another matter. Throughout history you can see change from generation to generation of children going against the accepted “norm” of their elders. This is not something that is in question. It’s actually quite a normal cycle.

    If, however, parents do a “good job” of logically showing their children what the parents want them to believe then perhaps the children will accept those beliefs.

    Whatever those beliefs are, the truth always shows through.

  3. Amie,

    Based on what you’ve said, I don’t think that we are in disagreement. I concur with you on the fact that “Because I said so” is a pretty lousy answer to give a child when trying to explain morality. Unfortunately, that is the answer given by Christianity to those who bother to question it’s mandates. I, as an atheist, feel that the morality of respect and critical thinking is much more consistent–and therefore more likely to be accepted by an adolescent that is just learning to think for himself or herself.

    I think that the most important thing that you said was “the truth always shows through”. On that score, Amie, I think that you are right–or at least I hope so.

    1. “Unfortunately, that is the answer given by Christianity to those who bother to question it’s mandates.”

      That does seem to be the line of response from a lot of fundamentalist Christians. I felt like it was when I was growing up in Church. But even as a child I knew it was wrong. To say something is true just “because I said so” is circular reasoning. Except it’s a really dull form of circular reasoning.

      But I don’t hear that type of thinking or response from any Christians I now know or talk to. I think partly because times have changed and many if not most churches have moved away from the patriarchal “if-you-question-me-you-question-God” mentality. We’ve come to find that true Christianity is found in questioning the areas of our faith that our natures make difficult to understand. So much good work has been done and written about human nature. And it can’t be ignored in the information age.

  4. Christianity may claim to have all the answers, but it does not. The Bible says, “We know in part.” No one can legitimately claim to know it all, especially to your own teenage child. However, if your life backs up your words, and if the child sees the consistency of the Bible lived out in your life, he may then choose to make God his God. But if it’s not shown to be real, well… I’m sure you already know personally how that reaction is lived out.

  5. Based on your theory, the previous generation that pushed God out of their lives (I presume you are referring to the 10% or so of Americans who self-identify as nonreligious) was once the children sitting at the kitchen table catching the incongruities in their parents’ lives and judging them bogus.

  6. So, there are incongruities to be caught in both the materialistic and the spiritualistic views of the world. I would agree with that.

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