Footprints for Children… the Atheist Version

You’ve seen the popular Christian version of the Footprints poem, designed for the kiddies:

However, I think PhillyChief‘s Godless version of the poem is going to be much more popular:

Send it along to those you love :)



  • brad

    Do you think that the reason theists tell people about God is “simply to deceive?”

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    There is also a dangerous amount of arrogance in the line “For most choose ‘The Lord’ and you’ll have to carry them along.” Right, as if being religious makes one too crippled to carry oneself.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    The first poem, however lame, is an affirmation of faith. The second poem is just a bunch of negatives (don’t be deceived, don’t be ignorant). Can’t some atheist write a poem that promotes the virtues of reason and clear thinking rather than one that just trashes religion.

  • SarahH

    Other posters have already covered why I think the second poem isn’t exactly touching or helpful, but I am reminded of why I really take issue with the first poem (as well as the version for adults that appears on so many inspirational posters and such).

    The idea that God carries us through the hardest times in our lives is not only unfounded but unhelpful. Certainly, belief in God has been a comfort to people during hard times, but what really carries them through is their own strength, the help of others, the skills of professionals (in medical cases, for example), etc.

    The recent article Hemant posted about the girl in the accident – where the mother credits everyone who deserves it, instead of thanking God – is a great example of why the footprints poems fall short. They hand all the credit over to an imaginary figure instead of acknowledging the strength and goodness and intelligence and resilience of humanity.

  • http://agersomnia.blogspot.com Agersomnia

    Of course there are atheist poets, since time immemorial. Here follows a fragment De Rerum Natura:

    This terror, then, this darkness of the mind,
    Not sunrise with its flaring spokes of light,
    Nor glittering arrows of morning can disperse,
    But only Nature’s aspect and her law,
    Which, teaching us, hath this exordium:
    Nothing from nothing ever yet was born.
    Fear holds dominion over mortality
    Only because, seeing in land and sky
    So much the cause whereof no wise they know,
    Men think Divinities are working there.
    Meantime, when once we know from nothing still
    Nothing can be create, we shall divine
    More clearly what we seek: those elements
    From which alone all things created are,
    And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.
    Suppose all sprang from all things: any kind
    Might take its origin from any thing,
    No fixed seed required. Men from the sea
    Might rise, and from the land the scaly breed,
    And, fowl full fledged come bursting from the sky;
    The horned cattle, the herds and all the wild
    Would haunt with varying offspring tilth and waste;
    Nor would the same fruits keep their olden trees,
    But each might grow from any stock or limb
    By chance and change. Indeed, and were there not
    For each its procreant atoms, could things have
    Each its unalterable mother old?

    OF THE NATURE OF THINGS
    By Titus Lucretius Carus
    A Metrical Translation
    By William Ellery Leonard

    Read it full at Project Gutenberg

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com Justin

    So maybe the best thing a kid can read is mysteries? Sit your kid down with some puzzle that needs solving. They have to critically think through their steps, along with the story. Something that celebrates the question “Why?” a lot.

    Maybe the best pro-reason tools for kids are Scooby Doo (original series of course) and books like Encyclopedia Brown.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    And obviously there are poems and books created by atheists that are positive like this:
    An atheist’s creed

    I believe in time,
    matter, and energy,
    which make up the whole of the world.

    I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
    the only tools we have;
    they are the product of natural forces
    in a majestic but impersonal universe,
    grander and richer than we can imagine,
    a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

    I believe in the power of doubt;
    I do not seek out reassurances,
    but embrace the question,
    and strive to challenge my own beliefs.

    I accept human mortality.

    We have but one life,
    brief and full of struggle,
    leavened with love and community,
    learning and exploration,
    beauty and the creation of
    new life, new art, and new ideas.

    I rejoice in this life that I have,
    and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
    and an earth that will abide without me.

    But often there’s just a lot of reactionary stuff that amounts to “Don’t believe in God, stupid.”

  • http://youmademesayit.blogspot.com PhillyChief

    First off, why yes, feel free to use the image, Hemant. ;)

    Next, let me say this was a hasty piece made for fun, so I find it especially funny to see such serious responses. Hey, I can roll that way too, so let’s have at it then…

    Do you think that the reason theists tell people about God is “simply to deceive?”

    Largely, yes. Generally, I think it helps them continue to deceive themselves by getting others to buy into it, and who better than your kids?

    Right, as if being religious makes one too crippled to carry oneself.

    Not necessarily, but it is a handicap. Hey, good for you for being able to overcome your handicap, but some are more handicapped than others, and the worst part about that is it’s wholly unnecessary and curable. You tell me how a religious belief that’s so debilitating that it prevents you from valuing education and prompts you to reject, whole or in part, the discoveries of history, medicine, and the sciences as well as deny equal rights to others doesn’t warrant the rest of us having to carry you.

    The second poem is just a bunch of negatives…

    Oh right, we never teach children by giving them negatives like don’t talk to strangers, don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t touch that, don’t go there, don’t run in the house, etc. (rolleyes)

    But here ya go, Mr. Sunshine and Bunnies:

    Atheism is so awesome,
    it’s not all make-believe,
    it’s for those who think critically
    and aren’t that naive.
    Logic and reason
    side-by-side
    with gathered evidence
    Experience tells us,
    my child,
    that’s only what makes sense.
    So always stop to think
    critically
    Nothing could be more right
    and always ask questions
    little one
    for knowledge brings you sight

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    brad:
    Do you think that the reason theists tell people about God is “simply to deceive?”
    Yes. Oh, they may have deceived themselves, too, in the bargain — but they must make sure their children subscribe to the same exact myth. Think of how terrible it would be for the family if one person actually had a non-programmed thought in his or her head.

    J.J. Ramsey:
    Right, as if being religious makes one too crippled to carry oneself.
    It’s true. Religion cripples thinking. Take a look at the people who pray for their sick children to get well, rather than take them to a doctor. Or the idiots who insist that the bible (no evidence) trumps science (overwhelming evidence). Or the liars who rewrite American history, and then foist their false version on unsuspecting schoolkids. Or politicians who believe that some magical entity is looking after their country, which, therefore, must be right in everything it does. Everywhere you turn, religion stands in the way of critical thought.

    Darwin’s Dagger:
    Can’t some atheist write a poem that promotes the virtues of reason and clear thinking rather than one that just trashes religion.
    We atheists are not a monolithic group. But I’d suggest to you that there’s no point in teaching the virtue of reason to unreasonable people. The poem you quoted — aside from its being total garbage literarily — doesn’t really say anything positive, does it? Oh, yeah, it makes assertions about how majestic and grand and rich the universe is, but where’s the proof? It’s all blather, preaching to the choir. If one is already an atheist, that piece of drivel is no more profound than the footprint poem. If one is not already an atheist, the “creed” is just a collection of empty words.

    Maybe more atheists ought to learn how to sling the language in an interesting way instead of resorting to tired truisms.

    Hemant and the rest:
    Anyway, here’s my own decidedly unpositive version of the Footprint poem:

    The Lord will always walk with you,
    And Santa Claus will, too.
    The Easter bunny joins them both.
    They’ll all be there for you.
    And don’t forget the fairy, Child,
    Who pays you for your tooth.
    The monster underneath your bed?
    He’s also based on truth.
    But as you grow much wiser, dear
    You won’t be so naive.
    And soon those guys will disappear.
    They’re only make-believe.

  • http://madmansparadise.blogspot.com Asylum Seeker

    I think that this particularly rendition is nice and positive…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6UtPg9tte0

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    PhillyChief, what is your evidence that theists tell tall tales about God “simply to deceive?” References would be helpful, especially if they are peer-reviewed, or at least a review of the peer-reviewed literature.

    The Exterminator: “It’s true. Religion cripples thinking. Take a look at the people who pray for their sick children to get well, rather than take them to a doctor.”

    Show me that the people that you mentioned are representative of religious believers in general.

    The Exterminator: “Or the idiots who insist that the bible (no evidence) trumps science (overwhelming evidence).”

    Said “idiots” are also opposed by other religious people.

    The Exterminator: “Or politicians who believe that some magical entity is looking after their country, which, therefore, must be right in everything it does.”

    Show me that this is true in general for politicians, or at least American politicians.

    So far, to justify the claim that “being religious makes one too crippled to carry oneself,” you’ve made questionable sweeping generalizations. This doesn’t exactly help your case.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    By Edwin Arlington Robinson:

    CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT

    For those that never know the light,
    The darkness is a sullen thing;
    And they, the Children of the Night,
    Seem lost in Fortune’s winnowing.

    But some are strong and some are weak,—
    And there’s the story. House and home
    Are shut from countless hearts that seek
    World-refuge that will never come.

    And if there be no other life,
    And if there by no other chance
    To weigh their sorrow and their strife
    Than in the scales of circumstance—

    ’T were better, ere the sun go down
    Upon the first day we embark
    In life’s embittered sea to drown
    Than sail forever in the dark.

    But if there be a soul on earth
    So blinded with its own misuse
    Of man’s revealed, incessant worth,
    Or worn with anguish that it views

    No light but for a mortal eye—
    No rest but of a mortal sleep—
    No God but in a prophet’s lie—
    No faith for “honest doubt” to keep—

    If there be nothing, good or bad,
    But chaos for a soul to trust,—
    God counts it for a soul gone mad,
    And if God be God, He is just.

    And if God be God, He is Love:—
    And though the Dawn be still so dim,
    It shows us we have played enough
    With creeds that make a fiend of Him.

    There is one creed, and only one,
    That glorifies God’s excellence;—
    So cherish, that His will be done,
    The common creed of common sense.

    It is the crimson, not the gray,
    That charms the twilight of all time;
    It is the promise of the day
    That makes the starry sky sublime;

    It is the faith within the fear
    That holds us to the life we curse;—
    So let us in ourselves revere
    The Self which is the Universe!

    Let us, the Children of the Night,
    Put off the cloak that hides the scar!—
    Let us be Children of the Light,
    And tell the ages what we are!

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    J.J. Ramsey:
    I’m not saying that all religious people are necessarily non-thinkers in every area. But insofar as religion colors their thought processes, they’re crippled. Blind belief always entails a suspension of rationality. All theists will readily admit that when it comes to god (no matter how they happen to imagine him), one must have faith. Faith is the antithesis of critical thought. Therefore, faith hinders (or cripples) critical thought.

    As far as all American politicians ramming religion down the public’s throat — have you been watching the various electoral races throughout the country? Perhaps you’re so inured to references to “god” and “faith” and “my beliefs” that you don’t notice when they’re slipped in. But I doubt that you’ll be able to find a contest even for dog catcher in which the candidates don’t tout their religion somehow.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    We atheists are not a monolithic group.
    Thank Zod.

    But I’d suggest to you that there’s no point in teaching the virtue of reason to unreasonable people.
    Because unreasonable people never become reasonable, they’re just stuck being unreasonable forever and ever. All of those former theists who are now atheists, you don’t really exist.

    The poem you quoted — aside from its being total garbage literarily — doesn’t really say anything positive, does it?

    So the positive thing about the poem is that it is garbage literarily? Can you prove that? (Either that it is garbage, that it doesn’t say anything positive, or that the only thing positive about it is that it is garbage.)

    Oh, yeah, it makes assertions about how majestic and grand and rich the universe is, but where’s the proof?

    One cannot prove that the universe is either rich or grand or majestic, one either perceives that it is or one does not.

    It’s all blather, preaching to the choir. If one is already an atheist, that piece of drivel is no more profound than the footprint poem. If one is not already an atheist, the “creed” is just a collection of empty words.

    Those seeking some simple statement of their personal view of existence may find that creed an adequate way of expressing that view. People like expressing themselves (the existence of the internet proves that).

    Maybe more atheists ought to learn how to sling the language in an interesting way instead of resorting to tired truisms.

    That much is certain.

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    DD:
    People like expressing themselves (the existence of the internet proves that).
    But when people quote others, they’re not really expressing themselves, are they? For example: When theists chug out chunks of their desert anthology, we atheists call them on it because it’s a very empty-headed thing to do, completely propaganda-based. So perhaps atheists should be encouraged to voice their worldview in their own words. I get so tired of reading recycled Dawkins and Harris. Don’t you?

    In any case, atheists need no “creed,” and should not even quote one — even in a trivial context. When they do that, they make points for “the other side.”

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    The Exterminator: “I’m not saying that all religious people are necessarily non-thinkers in every area.”

    No, you’ve just been insinuating that they are morons. Nice to know you’ve backed off from that, though.

    The Exterminator: “As far as all American politicians ramming religion down the public’s throat”

    Don’t change the goalposts. You wrote, “Or politicians who believe that some magical entity is looking after their country, which, therefore, must be right in everything it does.” Show me that American politicians have been saying that their country “must be right in everything it does.” The religiosity of American politicians is annoying, but I’ve yet to see it tied into that brand of triumphal jingoism.

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    J.J.:
    I’d love to answer your questions, and so I invite you to visit my blog and/or Another Goddamned Podcast and feel free to take me on about any statement I may make. I’m not going to write essays here; Hemant can create his own content.

    I think your first question has been asked and answered. But I’ll do you the courtesy of answering it again: Whenever people turn to blind faith rather than to critical thought, they’re morons. The more urgent the situation is, the more moronic they are. It’s relatively unimportant if you turn to your deity to help you find your car keys; it’s devastating if you turn to your deity to help you justify invading another country.

    As far as politicians and their magic entity, I urge you to listen to our podcast #31, in which we discussed 9/11. I remind you that one of the first acts of Congress after the bombings was to stand on the Capitol steps and sing “God Bless America,” a performance of religio-nationalism that was sickening. A few days thereafter, Bush referred to our “crusade.” As I recall, his phraseology was not challenged at the time by any politician.

    I also urge you to read my post of last December 12, (it’s entitled “Christ’s Christmas Gift from the House”), in which I discuss H. Res 847, passed by a whopping 372 to 9, which basically implied: (1) America is a Christian nation; (2) America was founded as a Christian nation; (3) Christians in America are being assailed by secularists and need support; and (4) the United States has a mission to defend worldwide Christianity against its enemies.

    Obviously, on a freethinking blog, I’ve been pretty hard on Christians for being irrational. But you might enjoy “flipping” through my pages at random to see posts in which I’ve criticized ridiculous atheists, too. (For instance, see my essay of September 21: “Haven’t I Read This Somewhere Before?”)

    I’m done here, but I hope to see you over at my place.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    The Exterminator: “I’d love to answer your questions, and so I invite you to visit my blog”

    That’s not an answer. I’m not going to go on a fishing expedition just to do your job of supporting the claims that you made. If you don’t want to write essays here, then fine. That is why Tim Berners-Lee invented hyperlinks. Use them.

    The Exterminator: “Whenever people turn to blind faith rather than to critical thought, they’re morons.”

    You are stretching the meaning of the word “moron” like taffy.

    The Exterminator: “A few days thereafter, Bush referred to our ‘crusade.’ As I recall, his phraseology was not challenged at the time by any politician.”

    The key phrase being “at the time.” The whole “crusade” business was dropped pretty quickly.

    And you still haven’t offered evidence for your claim about believers thinking that their country “must be right in everything it does.

    The Exterminator: “I also urge you to read my post of last December 12, (it’s entitled ‘Christ’s Christmas Gift from the House’)”

    I did, and your claims about what it says don’t quite match up to its actual content. In particular, the language of the resolution was far too toothless to support the idea that “The United States has a mission to defend worldwide Christianity against its enemies”

  • http://youmademesayit.blogspot.com PhillyChief

    You know, I have a blog that I write and maintain, where I posted this graphic which I created, so if anyone has a comment for me, you can ask it there.

    Thanks

  • stogoe

    Humanist Footprints

    Two life-long loves found themselves looking back on their times together as if it were footprints in the sand. There were two sets that stood out the couple – sometimes they were side-by-side, sometimes they drifted apart, sometimes there was only one set, and even rarer, they disappeared completely for stretches. The couple looked closer, and they could see other sets, too, fainter, less distinct, dozens, hundreds of others who had walked the same path. One of them turned to the other and said, “I see that we are not the first to walk this path, that we have not walked it by ourselves, and that sometimes I have carried you, and sometimes you have carried me. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out the places where neither of us was walking. Where did we go? I certainly can’t leap that distance, and neither can you.”
    “Isn’t it obvious?” asked the second. “That was when our community supported the both of us. And here? Where our footprints are deeper? That is where we have supported others in kind.”

  • Girlgoneriled

    JJ: “Show me that the people that you mentioned [who rely on prayer rather than medical science] are representative of religious believers in general.”

    They believe what religious believers in general believe: That God exists, loves them, takes care of them, and answers their prayers. They’re just a little more honest and less hypocritical than those of you who claim to believe those things and yet rely on the fruits of naturalism and critical thought when you’re in trouble.


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