That’s What You’re Afraid Of…?!

“How to keep my child…” as seen on Google AutoFill:

(Thanks to @OlivawR for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • gski

    Stop and think for a moment, a mindless, nonhuman generated that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

      But enough searches about it have been done to where it’s up there in the top results.

    • http://twitter.com/FNwicked Glenn Barb

      Actually the largest factor in what determines what Google’s auto complete suggests to you are searches that other people make.  The more people that search the same thing, the higher up on the auto complete it shows up. 

      • gski

         You’re right, I should have stopped and thought for a moment.

  • GregPeterson

    At least the first website entry I ran into with this subject seemed mildly saracastic:

    What is the best way to stop your child becoming an Atheist?
    I dont want any of my children to be punished by God.I already donot educate them or expose them to critical thinking, logic or science.I also lie to them constantly about how the world works & feed them a steady Diet of Bible knowledge & pretend that it is deep wisdom. I also Convince them that they are small & weak & worthless & Need redemption from Jesus. I also teach them to resent anyone who is Not Christ-like like them in everyway. I teach them to laugh at and Dismiss out of hand any faith but their own.How else Can I assure my Child gets into Heaven?

    (Maybe more than mildly.)

  • Nathan

    As a Christian that is a very tough one. The most important thing for me is leading my family to the cross. I think it is searched a lot for the simple fact that most people really do believe in God and do not want their children growing up Godless heathens. I worry about other things as well and some are right there with that question. Like how to keep my child safe from pedofiles. That is extremely important but so is raising them up to know Christ. It’s a toss up really.

    Just offering another point of view on the subject.

    • NewAtheist

      The very idea that you think atheism is nothing more than being a “godless heathen” is ludicrous at best, insulting at worst. Just because atheists don’t believe in any diety does not mean they have no morals or values; does not mean they have no respect for law & order; does not mean they have no compassion for their fellow man; etc. etc.  Most atheists are kind, considerate, compassionate, charitable, raise children in loving homes, and guess what? We do all of that because we’ve come to the realization that it’s not only the right thing to do for the betterment of a peaceful society, but we did all of that without someone from a pulpit telling us to!

      I appreciate your “other point of view on the subject”, and the fact that you are a self-professed christian commenting on an atheist forum w/out being a troll is commendable, yet strange.

      However, you need to understand that the path to atheism is not a “gee, let’s see what will piss off my parents today” spur of the moment thing. Oftentimes, it’s a former christian, seeking for verifiable truth and knowledge, with an open mind, who comes to atheism. We’re not “godless heathens”, and if having your child become an atheist is the worst thing that every happens to you, count yourself lucky!

      • Nathan

        By saying I don’t want my children growing up to be Godless heathens, I honestly did not mean it to offend anyone. I rather meant it to discribe my children growing up a heathen, by which would tell you that I raised them wrong. Maybe “heathen” is a poor choice of words, and if I did offend you I appoligize sincerely.

        • Brian Scott

          Not to mention that heathen these days refers to those who follow pre-Christian Germanic religions, so it’s also somewhat of an oxymoron to say “godless heathen”.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Ya, it’s a peeve of mine too.  It has the secondary meaning of “un-kept, dirty, uncivilized”.  I know that’ s not what Nathan meant, so I’m not offended.

        • Spherical Basterd

          As I grew up in the Reorganized Latter Day Saints my brothers and I were always referred to as those ‘ little heathens’. I only became ‘godless’ once I took the time to think about it. Being unemployed with a lot of time to read is good for that. Thank you Wall Street.

          Otherwise Nathan, what you fear most is what your children become. What they fear most is becoming their parents..

      • Bo Tait

        Whoa, pump the brakes. There is no “the path to atheism.”  Maybe you had a path. An unfolding or evolving or whatever. But that doesn’t mean there some sort of right of passage or journey for everyone.
        It very well could be a ‘lets piss my parents off today’ type of situation. Or perhaps someone wakes up one days and its like the flick of a switch.

         As long as they lack belief in god, that’s Atheism. No knowledge test, journey, sign-up fee, defense of thesis, or ritual required.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I have to accept that my child may grow up religious.  My goal is to not get in the way of his natural inquisition.  What I’m afraid of is things like a “Good News Club” giving him all of their answers, at the expense of learning how to evaluate information.  One of the most important questions a child can ask is “how do you know?”

      (btw, your child is vastly more likely to be a victim in a car crash than a victim of a pedophile.  Both dangers, but in general we don’t put them in proper perspective)

    • Sindigo

      Good for you for coming here and expressing that view. I think it shows a real willingness to understand the beliefs of others and that can only be a good thing.

      For the record, I know how important it must be for you. I know because my parents wanted the same for me that you want for your family. It was a source of real disappointment for them that I turned out to be an atheist. However, they let me find my own path and now I get to prove to them that I can be the person they wanted me to be; just without God. I like to think that I’m doing that.

      I hope that you can find it within yourself to be as open to your family’s choices should they turn out to be different from your own.

      • Nathan

        I will love my kids regardless of their religion/beliefs yes. But I will feel like I failed them. I love all people, while some make it very difficult I enjoy being around all walks of life. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t enjoy conversation with people of different beliefs. I share my viewpoints hoping to get some feed back from another perspective. I appreciate the kindness you show as I have not received a lot of that from atheist of late.

        • Sindigo

          I know how you feel. I would probably feel the same should my kid become a believer. I’d like to say that as long as she’s happy, then I’m happy but really, a part of me would think I’d failed.

          I know that my Mother rationalises my atheism by trusting that God won’t damn me for following my reasoning as long as I am true to myself and I’m a good person.

          As for appreciating kindness, thanks and rightbackatcha. There’re assholes everywhere, unfortunately.

        • yoinkme

          Nathan, your comment about not receiving kindness from atheists lately is curious. I can only assume you’re referring to your treatment by atheists on atheist forums and blogs? To that I will say, you really should not be surprised to hear staunch atheist viewpoints calling out the bullshit of Christians while you’re viewing blogs and pages directly strictly at talking about atheism. If you’re like most Christians, I’m going to assume you don’t hang out with atheists in real life situations frequently, and if you do, you probably don’t even realize it. I promise if I hung out with you in person, you’d find me to be about as pleasant as any other human you’ve interacted with. Most atheists don’t spend every waking second talking about religion. But when we choose to come to websites about it, you can guarantee we’re ready to respond to Christians that dare to interact and give us the religion talk. We may come off as unkind since we’re most likely going to tell you that your beliefs are wrong and why. I applaud you for wanting to interact, but don’t forget where you are posting.

          • Nathan

            I am well aware of atheists and agnostics around me. My own mother considers herself agnostic. My dad is a believer but he still questions it and isn’t as devoted as I. I myself was an agnostic before I met the most loving and caring person I have ever met who converted me and I have many friends with different beliefs. My best friend from highschool is Jewish, several of my friends are agnostic and atheist, and several of my friends are Christian. So yes I do hang out with atheists. We obviously don’t talk about religious topics a lot for fear it could damage our friendships. I don’t try to convert people usually by mouth, I try and convert them by my actions. I want people to see how I do things and make them think, wow that is what Christianity is like? I want to try that. I want my kids to have knowledge of creationism and evolution. It is Gods plan for us to question out faith. If we didn’t question our faith what would be the meaning of life on earth? He would have just put us next to him and allowed us to live out our lives in paradise. He has to weed out the bad souls. The way I see it you are one of three types, good soul, bad soul, and lost soul. Majority of the population are lost souls. A very small percentage are bad souls, murderous and evil, uncaring and selfish creatures. Some of these are just lost, and only God knows the difference. We were put on this earth to show God we are capable of loving one another, and if we can do this we can have eternal life with acceptance of his one and only son who died for us. It is very difficult to be a Christian in this messed up world, the hardest thing I have ever done. But I think the risk and reward are much better then if I were an atheist or agnostic. If I die tomorrow and there happen to not be a God, I just die like everyone else. If there is a God, I get to spend eternity the way he intended. On the other hand, if I were atheist, I died tomorrow without a God, death again. With a God, not going to find out but I’m sure it is not pleasant. I have my thoughts about hell and what it’s like. Honestly, hell would be to die and never know anything else again. Just boom, it’s all done and gone. Wow, I just can’t accept the fact that I will never have another thought. It’s a scary thought, I’d almost rather have hell fire burning my rear and at least feel SOMETHING. Atheism is based on reason and facts so you say, but ignorance is bliss sometimes.

            • RandomOrator

              It’s obvious you’ve put thought into why you hold the position you do an I applaud you for saying so directly: the comfort provided by idea of an afterlife trumps the fear of the finality of death.

            • yoinkme

              Your last line pretty much says it all…you’d rather live ignorantly than face facts…fair enough.  You also tossed around a vague reference to Pascal’s wager…surely you’ve read the logical fallacies related to that line of thinking, but instead of going down that path, I’ll try to blow your mind by being silly:

              Unless you get to take your body with nerve endings and brain with you to hell, there’s no fear of feeling burning pain.  Soul’s don’t take brains with them, so fear not the eternal fire.

              Don’t be scare of death, you obviously have no recollection of what it “felt like” before you were born, and you won’t have the ability to ponder the sorrow or the yearning to be alive again once you’re dead.   People always say we don’t know what happens after we die…sure we do, surely you’ve seen someone who is dead.  They aren’t feeling pain.  It’s as simple as that.

              You say it’s God’s plan to question faith…well I say it’s to humanity’s benefit to give up faith and chase down knowledge.  We’re going to need a lot more if we have any chance of surviving as a species.  Spending needless time churning our brains worrying about invisible beings that we’re afraid will do things to us forever takes away precious time that could be spent making things better.

              • Nathan

                My point is, if we all just die, what is the meaning of life? I just do not understand the motive if this is it. Seems very pointless.

                • http://www.zazzle.com/political_atheist The Godless Monster

                   

                  Nathan,

                  If you can give a rational and reasoned explanation for why
                  there MUST be a “meaning of life”, that would be helpful to the discussion.

                • Tom

                  Take a look at your children. Would the love you obviously feel for them be meaningless or pointless if there were no afterlife? I think not. Life has no point or meaning but what one brings to it, and I think you have brought much.

                  Then some fool or fraud told you about an eternal afterlife and everything else suddenly seemed naught in comparison. You’re desperate to believe it because you fear having nothing, and yet that belief is what makes you think you have nothing when you truly have so much. True, it won’t last forever, but the healthy response is to appreciate it all the more, not to invent a pipe-dream that distracts you from it.

                  Religions like yours claim to give meaning to existence, but instead they strip it out.
                  How does your life, your family, stack up against infinite perfection? Now compare it to the void. See how much happier your life will be once you forget the fairytale?

            • Ken

              This reference to a ”
              loving and caring person…who converted me” is a bit of a tip-off to me.  I wonder how many conversions take place because of personal relationships, hormone surges, peer and family pressures,  and other less-than-Godly influences.  I’m not accusing here, because I really don’t know your circumstances and they are your own business; just wondering where your motivations originate.  Personally, I find the stakes involved to be too important to accept “Biblical Truth” at the expense of real Truth when there is a conflict of truths. If, on the extremely remote possibility that there IS a God-like entity, does he really want suck-ups who will swallow any load of crap just because it is in a book riddled with contradictions, fantasies and downright lies (like the promise that Jesus would return within his generation’s lifetime)?  Is such a being truly worthy of respect and worship?

    • Baby_Raptor

      I find it a bit disturbing that you see indoctrinating your kids as more important than keeping them from being sexually abused. 

      And yes, I take offense at your “godless heathen” remark. People who don’t agree with you are not innately bad or wrong. You really need to drop that attitude. And you definitely need to not pass it on to your children. 

      You’re not raising your kids wrong if you teach them to think and question for themselves, you’re raising them wrong if you teach them blind faith to what you personally believe. You’re depriving them of their right to decide for themselves, and you’re doing them a huge disservice by not preparing them for a world that doesn’t all believe exactly how they do. Make sure your kids know what you believe, yeah, but don’t drown out everything else. You’re not doing them any favors that way, and they’ll resent you for it later. I’m speaking from experience here, as I was raised that way, and I resent the hell out of my grandparents for it. Once I realized that there was actually something out there besides fundie Christianity and the baby making machine life they tried to force on me, I ran like hell from the entire religion and have been vastly better for it. 

      As to “most” people believing in some form of a god…So what? More and more people are dropping the idea. And that’s a really good thing. It’s not the end of the world if your offspring don’t end up holding your beliefs. 

    • Markus

      I love that you so casually equate keeping your child safe from paedophiles to keeping them from becoming atheistic. “It’s a toss up” between letting your children be molested and letting them think for themselves? Do you even realise what you’re saying?

      • Nathan

        You have to understand that I would do anything for my children. I love them very much. As a Christian however, we are taught its God first, our spouse second, our children third and then everyone else. What many do not understand is that the gaps between are almost invisible to the naked eye. Helping my children receive eternal life is the most important thing I can do for them. While keeping them safe from the horrible people of this world that want to harm them and exploit them is a very close second. So close as like my faith and the order of importance. I don’t expect many of you to understand, just respect my beliefs. It’s not that I don’t care about earthy things, it’s that eternity is just, and life is short.

        • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

           I’ll respect your right to express yourself and if you behave, I might even show you respect as well.
          There’s no way I’ll ever respect your beliefs, however.

        • amycas

           There’s the rub. Religious people tend to believe in an afterlife which makes this life pale in comparison. This tends to have the negative side-effect of making evils in this life seem insignificant. This attitude can lead to inaction in response to the real evils in life (such as child abuse).

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          ok, I’m going out on a limb here.  As in, I recognize that this is a contentious direction, but I’m going to push on.

          One of the youtube clips I often post is of Christopher Hitchens talking about his children, and then

          If I was told to sacrifice them to show my devotion to God, If I was told to do what all monotheists are told to do and admire the man who said “Yes, I’ll gut my kid to show my love of God”, I’d say “no, fuck you”.

          It literally gives me chills, because it resonates with my own innate need to protect my child above all else.  So I’m curious how an Abrahamic parent sees that.  Is it a man who loves his kids, or a man who is not right with God?

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQorzOS-F6w#t=5m22s 

    • Pureone

      Technically, Christians are godless heathens- At least to the polytheistic believers- and have been called as such. 

    • amycas

       Wait. Did you just equate keeping your child from becoming an atheist with keeping your child safe from pedofiles?

    • Glasofruix

      As long as your kids don’t end up being assholes they’ll be fine whatever magic fairy or basence of makes their boat float.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700851737 Sam Kay

    I can’t believe that one’s real!

  • eonL5

    Hey, I like the contributer – Hemant. Must be Olivaw as in R. Daneel, yes?

  • Sindigo

    I don’t find that strange at all. I’m about to become a father for the first time and, though I haven’t Googled it yet, “how to keep my child from becoming a theist” is right up there with, “how to change a nappy” and “am I ready to be a parent” (along with “why is my wife shouting at  me” and “how to ensure my child knows how to use an apostrophe”). 

    It must be comforting to think that if you can just ensure that your child believes in God and Christ then they’ll be fine.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

    It might be near the top because of this image that has been circulating for awhile among atheists. 

    • Deven Kale

       That’s awesome!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    How to keep my child safe from people who think a child has to be kept safe from coming to their own conclusions?

    • Mitch W.

      I thought Christians were all about “teaching the controversy?”  Maybe they actually have a different agenda?  :-) 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    How to keep my child safe from people who think a child has to be kept safe from coming to their own conclusions?

  • kagekiri

    One of the pastors in my church asked what I did specially in college to stop from becoming an atheist, to maybe give advice to new college freshman leaving their church.

    I didn’t really know what to say…don’t listen to atheist arguments? Believe what you were taught? Put extra skepticism forward when presented with things that contradict your faith?Several months later after the questioning, I did end up de-converting.  Partly because my faith was killing me, and partly because I finally took a hard look at the atheist arguments and evidence (for a fundie like I was, evolution was a part of the evidence of atheism), as well as finally examining the Bible contradictions I’d seen in the past without assuming it must have truth or real morality and justice inside it.

    • amycas

       My boyfriend attended a Bible college and he said one of his classes had an atheist come visit. He said he was disappointed because the professor pretty much just tried to convince the atheist that he was actually an agnostic. My boyfriend said he was irritated because the two things are not mutually exclusive, but the atheist they found for the class still seemed confused by it.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Wow, scary. It really seems that a great deal of fear is associated with Christianity in the United States. It’s like religious faith is something that needs to be propped up constantly; otherwise, people are in danger of losing it. Is faith really that fragile of a thing? If their religion is true, why are they so afraid of doubt and dissension? Why focus so heavily on indoctrinating small children? Why spend so much time trying to keep their kids from being exposed to alternate viewpoints?

    It’s not just children, either. The constant exhortations for Christians to engage in prayer/worship/fellowship/Bible reading strike me as a sign of people who are very insecure in their belief system. It’s like they want all followers (even adults) to live constricted lives, with no chance for them to even think outside the box, let alone explore religion on any kind of objective basis.

    As a lifelong atheist, I find it puzzling. My atheism is natural and not something that I need to try to stop myself from losing. I’ve never felt “in danger” of starting to believe in gods no matter what I see or hear or read. If Christianity is true and self-evident, then why aren’t they content to let people alone? Why spend so much time reinforcing faith? If they were convinced of the validity of their belief system, it shouldn’t matter if  they attend church on a regular basis or are “unequally yoked” with non-believers or decide to expose themselves to secular media.

  • Blanc_Slate

    Google, I’m ashamed of you

    • Tom

      You should be, but not for exactly this reason.  That the search term came up first is simply because it’s a common and a typing timesaver for the majority of users.

      What you should take exception to is google’s bubble effect, which is manifested not so much in the suggested search terms, although they are tainted by it, but in the actual search results served up.

      Search engines that bubble their users, like google, effectively make it less likely that morons wishing to know how, for example, to more effectively brainwash their kids, will ever encounter any dissenting opinions or be exposed to the notion that maybe they’re doing something wrong.  It’s kind of like a hellban gone horribly wrong.  Of course, there are engines that don’t bubble by default (I’ve heard good things about duckduckgo), but I don’t know how commonly used they are.

      Google’s intentions are presumably good, they want users to get more pages like what they usually look for, but this is naive, given the effect is ultimately to restrict the amount of new or novel information one is exposed to – anyone who values intellect should be very alarmed at this dampening effect on the ability to acquire new or, crucially, unfamiliar or counterindicative information.  I worry that Google and others, in their efforts to increase user satisfaction, have now constructed a search engine with built-in confirmation bias.  This is at least an understandable mistake – people subject to confirmation bias do, generally, seem a lot happier than those who see reality warts-and-all.

  • Deven Kale

    Personally, this is the search I would rather make. I especially like how 3 of the top results actually fit the search. :D

    We should google-bomb it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/briancposey Brian C Posey

    I did it on my computer and if you keep typing through the word “becoming” it only has two choices listed:

    · How to keep my child from becoming an atheist
    · How to keep my child from becoming gay

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I’ve noticed for a while now that if you type “homosexuality” into Amazon, the first result that comes up is A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality

  • James

    I’m surprised “how to keep my child from turning gay” isn’t the next one on the list.


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