NFL Running Back Arian Foster Says He’ll Teach His Daughter About the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Arian Foster of the Houston Texans wrote an article for Yahoo! Shine explaining what he wants to teach his daughter Zeniah.

Most of it is what you might expect: Be kind, know your self-worth, handle money wisely… but then I got to the final item and did a spit-take:

6. The flying spaghetti monster. There are billions of people on Earth with hundreds of religions and sects that trickle off each other. I will never tell her what to believe in. I know parents are very influential on kids’ spiritual beliefs and that can be a positive or negative thing. I can give her a basic understanding of religions when she starts showing interest and asking questions. But I will remain silent otherwise. How can I make a young mind believe this is the truth for them when they don’t yet have the capacity nor the cognitive desire to delve into something like this? If she shows interest I would advise her to fully investigate a religion and see if it fits her. And if she chooses none of the above, I’ll be fine with that as well. The values I instill in her should guide her to her decision. What’s most important, I believe, is to support her decision no matter what.

Fantastic! Someone invite Foster to the American Atheists convention and have him join forces with Chris Kluwe.

And he plays in Texas, no less.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • mkbell

    More importantly, put him in touch with Camp Quest Texas. His daughter should fit right in (in a few years).

  • SeekerLancer

    Hurry! Call the Fox News culture warriors! Football is in danger!

  • Miss_Beara

    There is a War on Football! First there was an openly gay basketball player, then St. Tebow was cut and now there is atheist in the NFL?

    This is what happens when you take god out of schools and the country! DOOM I tells ye! DOOOOOOM!

    • Mitch

      Maybe I’m not up to speed, but I don’t know that he self-identifies as an atheist. The little bit that I’ve seen says that he considers himself to be “spiritual, not religious.”

      • Deon Garrett

        Yes, I believe I saw where someone asked him on twitter, “Are you an atheist?” and he responded with a very direct and simple “No.”

        • painperdu

          That makes sense. How can anyone score touchdowns without believing in God?!

          • Tye McElreath

            Very Easilie

        • Sanguinocrat

          Maybe he’s one of those atheists who does not understand that he is an atheist. I don’t even know who he is, so I’m stabbing in the dark here.

      • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

        no one ever said he was

        • Mitch

          I assumed that was what “atheist in the NFL” was referring to. If I am incorrect, and Miss Beara meant something else, then I apologize for misinterpreting her comment.

    • Jen

      Look out. Tsunami’s a-comin’!

    • midnight rambler

      Where once had risen walls of 300 cubits and towers yet higher, now stretched only the marshy shore, and where once had dwelt six millions of men now crawled only the detestable green water-lizard. Not even the mines of precious oil remained, for DOOM had come to Houston.

    • Agnostic Joe.

      If there is a god, I am sure if must agree you are an idiot.

      • ShoeUnited

        You see that 747 going over your head? That’s the joke.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Dammit…I knew I should have drafted him over CJ Spiller.

    • wolley

      Yeah really, CJ was a week 1 flop

  • Mitch

    I’m sorry, I fail to see how a father’s wishes for his child are related to mental disability. I applaud his decision to allow his daughter to grow up and make her own decisions instead of forcing his own beliefs upon her.

    • UWIR

      I don’t think that it’s quite correct to refer to retardation as a “mental illness”.

      • Michael W Busch

        The class of things that were once called “retardation” are now referred to by more specific and actually meaningful terms for a large number of different mental disorders. “mental retardation” had a specific meaning as a diagnostic term, but it is being replaced by the various forms of “intellectual developmental disorder”.

        So Mitch should have referred to “mental disorders” rather than “mental illness”.

        But, regardless, Keyra’s ableism is unacceptable.

        • Bob Becker

          Ableism? Good grief.

          • Michael W Busch

            In the event that your vocabulary is lacking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ableism

            • Bob Becker

              My vocabulary’s fine, thank you, and not much to be improved by adopting a term whose very advocates concede “lacks definitional specificity.” What also works fairly well on me is my touchy-feely silliness detector when facing attempts to define certain human conditions out of recognition by re- naming them. E.g. we don’t have old people any more, we have senior citizens. No blind people, only the differently sighted. Eliminating use of terms that are irrevocably pejorative and are often used a verbal clubs with malicious intent ( e.g. ” you retard!”) is an excellent idea. But taking that notion too far leads to giggling silliness like ableism.

              • Oswald Carnes

                Fuck you, jackass. Hope that wasn’t too touchy-feely for you.

                • Bob Becker

                  Ah, how could anyone not be impressed by an argument so cogently stated and nobly phrased in defense of toleration of difference….

                • UWIR

                  Insulting people because they who agree with you is neither a civil nor a productive thing to do.

              • ShoeUnited

                People don’t like to use the word retard because retardation is a real mental disorder and the word(s) retard, retarded have too frequently been used to denigrate other people. In turn denigrating people with a serious condition. Not unlike the use of calling everything gay. There are real people who are really gay and using the phrase as a pejorative not only hurts the people who are being called such; in the long run even those who are such end up suffering from the stigmatization of the word.

                Mental retardation cannot be helped. Being stupid can. It isn’t kind to confuse the two.

      • Mitch

        Agreed. My apologies, I didn’t check over what I wrote before posting. It has been corrected.

  • Svelaz

    Wow, From what he was saying it sure doesn’t sound like it would come from a football player. That’s one wise football player. Awesome.

  • C Peterson

    I’m always a bit disturbed by the “don’t tell children what to think” viewpoint.

    Children need to be taught what to think. There’s a way to do that with reason, and there’s a way to do it with dogma. I’m certainly in the first camp, but I do think it is part of educating a child. Children will typically begin asking questions about religion long before they are intellectually equipped to make up their own minds what to believe. A responsible parent will make a solid case for why a child should believe that the theistic concepts that underlie religion are factually incorrect, why much religious dogma is factually incorrect, and why it therefore follows that religion represents a false belief system.

    It is as appropriate to teach children that religion is wrong as it is to teach them that the Earth is not the center of the Solar System. I can’t imagine a parent saying “I’m not going to teach my child that the Earth is round, I’ll let her make up her own mind about it”. The same reasoning applies to teaching about religion.

    • Matt notmylastname

      Children need to be taught “how” to think. Not “what to think.”

      • C Peterson

        They need to be taught both. Knowing how to think is pointless if you grow up in a knowledge vacuum.

        I think a responsible parent teaches his child what to think, but does so using reason. That is, he presents the ideas that a reasonable person should believe (which are usually multiple) along with the “why” of it.

        • Art_Vandelay

          I think the idea is that if you teach them how to think, those critical thinking skills will almost always lead them to reject improbable propositions. Nobody picks up a bible on their own and concludes that it’s plausible. Religion’s greatest weapons are childhood indoctrination and confirmation bias.

          • C Peterson

            I don’t disagree, but we need to teach our kids one way when dealing with factual information, and a different way when dealing with matters of philosophical viewpoint.

            That there are no gods falls squarely into the fact category, and should be taught that way. From there, it follows from even rudimentary critical thinking that the bulk of religion is wrong, as well.

            I don’t see it as reasonable to tell a child to make up their own mind about the existence of gods. You teach them that the idea is wrong, and absurd.

            • Cory Duran

              Obviously you should teach your children facts. The sun being the center of the solar system is something you should teach your child, because that’s fact. Spiritual belief isn’t fact, and telling your children that Jesus and the gang are the way to go because it’s the one truth isn’t helping them, and it isn’t letting them take that path because it’s right for them. It’s just a parent forcing their religion on their child.

              • C Peterson

                That there are no gods is as solid a fact as the position of the Sun, and should be taught that way. There are philosophical aspects of various religions that are not fact-based, and people need to arrive at ideas around them on their own terms (which children are not typically prepared to do).

                Believing in a god isn’t really what I’d call a spiritual belief, rather it is a factual error.

                • Cory Duran

                  People who are certain god doesn’t exist seem as close minded as those who are certain he does.

        • James Stevenson

          While I have no comment on the ‘what+how’ to think as a whole (though I would emphasise how), I definitely agree with you at least in the case of moral thinking.
          A lot of ‘can’t be good without god’ arguments I read basically boil down to morality-as-authority. Occasionally that leads to extreme patriarchal families (ie father knows best, come here mum for some Christian domestic discipline etc) but in general I can’t help but think morality-as-authority by epitomising morality as simply what god says as anything but harmful.
          If I ever have kids (god forbid hoho :D) I couldn’t imagine raising them and teaching them morality by just adopting a ‘do as I say or I’ll hit you’ approach (ie authority = morality). You need to teach them what (being mean is wrong) by emphasising the consequences of it (how). As in to create morality by showing action and consequence, and I don’t really see that as possible without as you say not just being wishy washy about it and just going ‘decide for yourself’.
          Morality at least I believe if nothing else benefits from that approach. Even if we teach kids what to believe, it should exist alongside a framework of tangible assessed benefits and not ‘because god let me command you’. Also a good way to keep parents themselves honest, I’m honestly surprised at kids capacity to one-up adults at times.

      • RickRayFSM

        They not only need to be taught “how” to think but how to think in an evidence based manner. You know, facts that have been scientifically proven ! Don’t THINK I’m fooling here !

    • cary_w

      I completely agree with you, I always found the, “I’ll let my kids decide for themselves” attitude an unrealistic cop out. I always want to say to those people, “Really? So you’d be fine if your kids turn Mormon? Or join the Westboro Baptist Church? You’d be OK with it if they start saying gays are sinning against God and shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Or that abortions are murder in all circumstances?” I think what these people REALLY mean is that they trust their kids to be smart enough to investigate religions and come to their own conclusion that they are either atheists or mildly religious (like some kind of mainstream “nice” Christians or Unitarian or something) and that they would be OK with that. They certainly don’t mean they’d be happy if their kids joined a cult or started believing something really hateful!

      • SparrowJack

        I think any kid equipped with critical thinking skills, courage to question, basic understanding of scientific process and deep understanding that other sentient beings can feel and hurt (and that hurting anyone should be avoided and prevented whenever possible) will know, on their own, well enough to stay clear of likes of Westboro Baptist Church (well unless they are born a sociopat but then all bets are off anyway).

    • Travis Myers

      Yes. I so completely agree. I sometimes wonder whether I’m being too dogmatic by saying that I would flat-out tell my children that religion isn’t true, but I have yet to hear a rational argument for why it’s any different from telling them any other fact about the world that is backed up by overwhelming evidence.

      • JT Rager

        I think a good way to approach it is to say “I believe that religions aren’t true, and here are my reasons why:” and go on to explain them. That way you aren’t presenting something as factually true and something they shouldn’t question.

        • C Peterson

          I would also start with that approach. But the first reason I’ve give is fact based: there are no gods. So if a religion is predicated on that belief, it is necessarily on very shaky foundations.

    • Guest

      I think if my children (or my niece) asks about God, I will tell her that I think there is no god, and why, but I’d stop short of presenting it as 100% fact, and I’d leave it open for them to choose a religion if they want. You can’t prove with 100% certainty there’s no god. You can give the evidence that we evolved from apes without any assistence, you can show the Bible was written by humans, you can point out how the evil in the world contradict’s god’s supposed goodness, but god still might be out there somewhere, hiding. Besides, some people get a lot of comfort from religion. I wouldn’t want my kids (or niece) to be denied that if they needed it.

      • Rickster

        I just want to clarify that humans didn’t evolve from apes. Scientists believe that humans and apes have a common ancestor that we both evolved from. :)

        • Art_Vandelay

          Actually, we are apes. We have a common ancestor with chimps and bonobos but we’re all apes.

          • Cory Duran

            Rickster is still correct, we aren’t descended from modern apes, as some people posit, which is the most ridiculous thing. “I didn’t come from a monkey!” Yeah and no one is saying you did….

      • C Peterson

        Neither would I tell my child that it is 100% certain there are no gods, any more than I’d tell them it is 100% certain the Sun is powered by fusion, or 100% certain that humans are changing our environment, or 100% certain that humans evolved from other species.

        But in any reasonable practical sense, these things can be treated as facts. It is irrational to base beliefs on what we can prove, which is little or nothing. Beliefs are based on evidence, there is no evidence for the existence of gods, and good evidence against that. Children need to be told there are no gods in exactly the same way they are told there are no monsters under the bed.

        People who need false beliefs to comfort them have been raised badly. People take comfort in addictions, as well. That doesn’t make them good or healthy.

  • Tainda

    That’s fantastic!

    Probably won’t be playing for Texas after they read this

  • Edmond

    Does your religion teach you to use the less fortunate as a standard for insulting others?

  • joe smith

    A jock AND black dude no less. The sheer lack of non-believers of colour has always dismayed me. . Hopefully he isn’t gonna get hated on too hard.

  • LesterBallard

    Foster doesn’t seem to be your typical, or stereotypical, NFL player.

    • Brian

      You’d be surprised. You dont notice it because its not as publicized as much, but there is a wide range of types of players in the league, across the spectrum

    • ShoeUnited

      I think you’d be surprised how many players have masters or doctorate degrees in the sciences. Not all of the jocks that went to college on a scholarship were unable to count past 52-52-set-hut.

      • PinheadX

        Also, the anti-intellectuals who watch sporting events would be pissed off at those who “did all that book-learnin’.”

        I mean, just look at NASCAR. They hate on Jeff Gordon ’cause he’s not redneck enough.

      • green31OSU

        I went to college and worked on a couple projects with the starting long snapper for the Rams…he got his bachelors in aerospace engineering from Ohio State.

  • Jen

    How is this ‘retarded’ as you so eloquently put it, Keyra? He’s making the point that he wants his daughter to have an open mind, to think for herself and not to be indocrinated.

  • Jeff

    Hey, troll, haven’t seen you in the postings in a while. You stay out long enough that new folks, or infrequent posters, forget who you are, and you bait them. Hope things are well, your family is good. Your brilliant examples of illogical and insulting commentary has been missed. Welcome back.

  • the moother

    She’s ooooozing cuteness…

  • cary_w

    Keyra, please read this and think about what you just said.

    http://www.r-word.org/r-word-why-pledge.aspx#.Ui0p6Mu9KSM

  • usclat

    My new favorite team …. The Houston Texans! Well …. sort of ….

  • lindseybrackin05

    That is AWESOME!! Just another reason why the Texans are superior to the Cowboys! Arian, as a native born Texan, I must commend you for speaking freely and eloquently, hopefully this will be a huge eye opener to people in the South.

    • faxmachine

      he was born in ABQ, new mexico…do some fact checking next time please :/

      • Julia

        lindseybrackin05 was saying that she is a native born Texan, not that Foster is.

        • Brian

          Silly English language…always trying to mean different things at the same time.

  • Michael W Busch

    Cut the ableist slurs.

  • randomfactor

    Hope he leaves out the part about the “stripper factory.”

  • Bill

    Dammit, now I want him on my fantasy football team! ;) Well done Arian, well done!

  • Bill Snoot

    I wonder how the militant Jesus freaks in Texas are a’gonna handle that…..

    • Brian

      Most of em are Cowboys fans anyway.

    • Jesus Xrist

      We are gathering our rifles!

  • Guest

    A black man named Arian? Seems ironic.
    Anyway, good for him.

  • Phillip

    just per say that gays and atheists are going to hell (which they prob are, because nobody knows for sure), why not just let them be happy here on earth? If they’re going to spend eternity in eternal damnation, at least let them be happy before they have to go. Remember, Jesus taught one thing and ONE THING ONLY: Love.

    • evguy2

      Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children. (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)

      Love? Riiiiiiiight….

    • Derrik Pates

      34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

      Matthew 10:34-38

      What was that about “love”, again?

  • Paula M Smolik

    Well, he doesn’t think any one religion is right, so he will teach her about all of them and let her pick. So?

  • quickshot

    This doesn’t mean he is an atheist. Do we have any other confirmation?

  • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

    His little girl is so cute! :)

  • secular_orangutanist

    Glad to see he’s not a Christfag unlike that Tebow bastard.

    • baal

      Let’s not demean the ‘fags’ by associating it with that ‘christ’ word.

    • Michael W Busch

      Cut the homophobic slurs.

      And also cut out using “bastard” as an insult.

  • http://billybobsbibleblog.blogspot.com/ billybobbibb

    I’m going to see if we can get him to speak at Houston Oasis, and let you know how that goes.

  • http://www.kidswithoutreligion.wordpress.com/ D Mitchell

    Wow! I LOVE this! I have so much respect for Foster raising his daughter to make up her own mind!

  • Guest

    That is great to hear. You should teach your kids to think, not what to think. Smart man.

  • HowboutdemIggles

    Robert Smith of the Vikings is an atheist, as is hall of fame quarterback Dan Fouts. Well he’s a polyatheist.


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