I’m entering Birthday Week with my kids. My son is turning 14 and my daughter is turning 11. Their personal holidays are a few days apart which causes the week of celebration. Being a Yankee-atheist, I don’t believe in showering them with gifts — in that sense I’m a non-materialist — but they do get extra doses of fun.
The upcome Birthday Week started me thinking about being an atheist dad, and I came up with 10 reasons I like being one.
10. It’s easy to explain the gays.
Not only is it easy to talk about the gays intelligently (more on that in a minute), but raising children in an atmosphere where homosexuality isn’t looked at through Bronze Age lenses creates an environment where kids ask questions about it without fear.
Now onto explaining the gay.
My two kids and I are in the car, and the topic comes up on how someone could find a person of the same sex attractive.
“What’s your favorite ice cream?” I asked my 8-year-old daughter.
“Strawberry!” she asserted confidently.
“OK, why do you like strawberry? When did you take a piece of paper out and do the math and decided you like strawberry ice cream the bestest?”
She gives me that Dad you’re crazy look.
“See, it’s the same thing about who you like.”
9. Not enabling well-meaning, Sunday school teachers to traumatize my kids.
This whole Jesus-on-the-cross torture porn that many churches peddle to really young children is insane. I’m not the first person to say that story sent me into a crying fit when I was a kid. I am happy to say that particular chain of dysfunction ended with me.
8. I’m not lying to my kids about what I think.
I’m in the I’m telling my kids that God doesn’t exist school of thought. God is a pernicious meme that works wonders with little brains (and big ones, too). If you want to hear more about that, you can listen to a talk I gave at Greater Boston Oasis.
7. Bullshit is bullshit whether the bullshit has been around for 2 minutes, 2 years, or 2,000 years.
I guess that’s a way of me saying that certain cognitive fallacies are easier to point out when you’re doing the atheist parenting thing.
6. Compassion is the key.
A lot of religion is about who you’re not supposed to feel too compassionate towards. Slaves obey your masters kinda stuff. Outsourcing one’s sense of deciding who really deserves to be a first class human being might be the easy thing to do, but I’m not going through the wide gate .
5. Religious holidays are easy to handle.
Christmas was a pagan holiday that had to do with the Sun. Christians whitewashed it. Easter? That’s like Christmas Jr with diabetes. No, we’re not going to church. Yes, Chinese food is on the menu.
4. Thinking thoughts isn’t punishable by death.
I got hung up on the Orwellian aspect that Gentle Jesus preached when I was growing up — especially when I hit puberty.
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Mathew 5:28
And like any good Christian I immediately thought of loopholes that would preserve my immortal soul from thought-crime. Maybe if I abstained from masturbating on Sunday morning. (Hey, I wasn’t going to sacrifice the whole day — all those fliers came in the Sunday newspaper and those had pics of women in lingerie.) I had dreams of being punished for thinking the sex. It was just crazy.
3. When I’m dead my kids won’t have to hear more about Jesus than me at my service.
I’ve been to funerals where Jesus gets more press that the deceased. That’s not happening in my case. My service will have an open bar, a meat raffle, and a sweet pinata.
No Jesus. No worries.
2. That Thanksgiving statement of thanks is pretty fucking short.
In the past (when I was married) we would all sit around the dinner table with the extended family and we would talk about what we were thankful for. To tell you the truth a lot of that sounded like humblebragging. You know, My life is great, let me tell you about it, and, oh yeah, I’m super happy about the current state of affairs!
Now I’m more in the I’m fucking lucky. A lot of people aren’t fucking lucky, and that bothers me as I’m about to fill my pie-hole camp.
1. Liberté, égalité, absurdité is a classier family motto than ‘In God We Trust.’
That’s just self-explanatory.