This is an excerpt from the bad people stole my god by Doug Philips. Philips was a devout Catholic for 40 years before becoming a “full blown non-believer.” The Kindle version of the book is currently available
for free. ***Edit***: The free trial has expired, but the book is still relatively cheap 🙂
Easily the most unexpected and ironic twists to my irreligious epiphany has been the barrage of a particular criticism that continues to land on me like wayward pigeon droppings. “You shouldn’t impose your beliefs (or your adult beliefs) on the children!”
The sometimes direct and sometimes overt implication from these criticisms is that by choosing not to teach my children unverifiable, supernatural mythologies, I’m somehow exposing them to something (reality) that they are not mature enough to handle. Far better for me to teach them that believers in the correct god(s) go to heaven and non-believers in the correct god(s) go to hell, but don’t worry my adoring child, our god is the RIGHT god — all those nice children around the world that are being taught about the WRONG god are going to hell; sleep tight.
Before I expound on what I consider to be a painfully obvious irony, let me first itemize what I do and do not impose on my children.
BELIEFS THAT I DO IMPOSE ON MY CHILDREN:
- When they ask me if I believe in god I impose on them that I don’t but I used to, and even though I don’t think that I’m wrong, I very well might be completely mistaken on the subject. I ALWAYS explain that their lives are their own and that they are always free to believe whatever they care to (except for Scientology because it’s just too expense of a nonsense indulgence). I explain that I’ll always be honest with them and I will always do the best that I can to explain not only why I believe the things that I believe but what other people believe and the reasons that I think that they most likely believe what they believe. And as I do on most subjects, I explain to them that despite my relative brilliance, I am an expert resource on absolutely nothing and that far better information can be obtained from far smarter people than dear old dad.
- I impose on them that most people DO believe in a god or a number of gods, and that it’s a very important matter to many, many people. I insist that they be respectful of other people’s beliefs and when they are old enough to understand I’ll explain why certain beliefs do not deserve respect (for — an exaggerated — example: a belief that human sacrifice can help bring a bountiful harvest; science clearly demonstrates that human sacrifice adds no statically significant bounty to harvests unless the corpses are used as fertilizer).
- When they ask me if I will go to heaven when I die, I tell them very lightheartedly that another life after this life would be great, but I don’t happen to think that such a thing happens; all I know for sure is that I’ll always be in their hearts and that’s all that matters to me.
- I impose on them that love, happiness and treating people with kindness are good things to focus on and that it’s a far better use of their time focusing on making their lives great than worrying about what happens to people when they die.
- I impose on them to the best of my ability that human beings evolved over millions of years just like all the mountains of empirical, testable and falsify-able scientific evidence suggest. If future discoveries disprove evolution or any other scientific knowledge, then all the better for whatever it is that humans have learned about the world in which we live.
- I impose on them that there are no such things and ghosts, monsters, fairies, witches, devils or gremlins. And I would tell them that Santa was bullshit if not for the backlash I’d likely receive from my wife and other parents. Seriously, how nonsensical are we thinking that Christmas morning would somehow be less exiting to a child if he knew that Santa was make-believe? There’s a reason that so many kids are afraid to sit on Santa’s lap in the mall. I’ve never understood why we feel compelled to treat children like morons. On a side note, is there anything more apropos than the fact that the two most seminal traditions in Christianity are most popularly associated with some of the most inane, nonsensical, secular traditions with which we indulge. A fat magic toymaker that, like god, perpetually oversees your behavior even when you sleep, and leaves presents under fresh cut forest trees that we prop up in our homes as we celebrate the arbitrary birthday (which is simply a rip-off of pagan solstice celebrations) of the CHILD of the being that created the universe. And an egg loving rabbit that sneaks into our homes leaving plastic eggs and candy on the day the that we celebrate the resurrection from the dead of said CHILD of the being that created the universe. We even incorporate these two moronic fictional characters into our religious celebrations to entertain the kids during our overcrowded, protracted religious services on the special days. The only thing more idiotic is how rarely an eyebrow rises at our ubiquitous infatuation with make-believe when we contemplate our religious convictions.
- That being said, I love imagination and make-believe (when it’s understood to be make-believe) and I also impose on my children that one of humanities greatest talents is creativity; I constantly urge them to stretch their minds in every direction. But I also impose on them that make-believe is make-believe and that reality is reality. Radical, I know.
- I impose on my children that earthquakes are caused be shifting tectonic plates. That hurricanes, tornados, lightening, hail, sun-showers and rainbows are naturally occurring and scientifically explainable events and not the whimsical play-toys of a maniacal sky-daddy.
- And I impose on my children that not knowing the answer is all right, but not seeking the answer is lazy.
THE FOLLOWING ARE BELIEFS THAT I DO NOT IMPOSE ON MY CHILDREN.
- If you choose the wrong god you will burn in hell.
- Gay people will burn in hell.
- Jews will burn in hell.
- Muslims will burn in hell.
- Hindus, Buddhists, and people that never heard of Jesus will burn in hell.
- Parents should kill disobedient children.
- Townspeople should stone blasphemers.
- People should be killed for collecting sticks on the wrong day of the week.
- If humans destroy the world facilitating the return of a certain someone; it’s a good thing.
- God made the first man from dirt and the first women from one of the man’s ribs, or at the same time as the first man, depending on which version you prefer.
- A talking snake tricked a naive couple to disobey God.
- All babies are born defected and need to be saved — thanks to the talking snake and the naive couple.
- A 500-year-old man collected millions and millions of animals and insects from all seven continents and somehow housed them on a boat for almost a year because God decided to drown every mommy, daddy, child, baby, grandma, grandpa, pregnant woman, sick person, elderly person, mentally challenged person, blind person, person that takes care of sick people, and every animal that didn’t get to go on the boat including puppies, kittens, bunnies, and froggies, because every single person I just mentioned was BAD except for the 500 year-old-man and his family.
- God DIRECTLY ORDERED many, many people to kill many other people, usually over real estate disputes, exactly as we read in the Bible.
- People live to be close to 1,000 years old.
- People can live INSIDE OF A FISH for three days and be jettisoned out smelly, but perfectly ALIVE.
- Jesus is God because God made Jesus’s mother pregnant without having sex, just the same way that many other gods were created before Jesus was even a glint in his mother’s eye.
- Jesus is God because he died and came back to life — just like many other gods did before Jesus and just like many other people did in the Bible.
- Many, many zombies wandered the streets after Jesus was killed and interacted with many people.
- If certain men (whether they molested children or not) say magic words, crackers turn into Jesus’s actual body and wine turns into Jesus’ actual blood and then people eat and drink Jesus.
- You can only be a good person if you believe what’s written in the Bible — even though almost no one has actually read the Bible, and even though if they carried out Biblical edicts they’d be arrested and/or be considered insane.
- People of a particular town tried to rape angels. A father, a man that God liked very much, offered his daughters to be raped instead. After God saved the father and his daughters and proceeded to kill everyone else in the town, the daughters each got their father drunk and raped him so that they could have babies.
Now I ask with a straight face; am I really the one that’s imposing beliefs on children? As ridiculous as this list is, these are real, undeniable tenets of Christianity and/or accurate summaries of real Bible verse. I didn’t make any of it up and this isn’t cherry picking; the list could literally go on for page, after page, after page, after page. Don’t believe me? Read the Bible and find out for yourself. I dare you.
What would you add to the two lists?