Help-- not in the dramtic sense.

DrStrangelove
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Help-- not in the dramtic sense.

First, I apologize if this is in the wrong forum.  From looking around, I took my best guess as to the place so here I am.  I joined a year and a half ago-- had some good posts and then didn't get too involved.  It was nothing personal, I'm a message forum enthusiast, I just, well, I just had my atheist beliefs, came here and found a lot of what I think and that was that.

But I think I've finally come to a point where I need some advice from my atheist brethren (and sisthren).  Cause, Lord knows (I love doing that by the way), I can't find it in my regular circle of friends.  I won't delve into, and ask you not to do the same becuase I was converted before I read the words, the "wrongness" of critisizing anything "religious," but we all know it exists.  I can make fun of Santa Claus all day but the minute I, forget make fun of, question christianity I'm an asshole.  Discussion for another time.

So here's what I need help with.  If you haven't already gotten it-- I'm an atheist.  At best an Einsteinian pantheist.  But bottom line is there's no man (woman) and he's not guiding my life.  However, my wife and I agreed a long time ago that we understood and accepted some of the benefits of religion.  Look, the more I educate myself the more foolish a statement that sounds, but even Dawkins will allow that there are SOME benefits.  Although he'd go on to show that the bad FAR outweighs the good.  But I digress.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, my wife and children.

So, my wife... and to set the stage-- she has no problem with my atheism.  As a matter of fact from what I've shared with her, she probably gets what/where I'm coming from.  But... she is committed to that regular Sunday morning, good for the kids, communal... lets go to church, sing songs, go to bible school, see 99% of the other kids in our community thing.  And, at this point (children are 5 and 3) I'm not too bothered by it either.  I, admittedly, am a cultural christian and nothing's going to change that.

But... just yesterday I started thinking about guilt.  Religious guilt.  And I started thinking (I'm educated) that, holy shit, this is EXACTLY the time that this stuff will be imprinted on the psyche of my children.  I started this kinda idealistic thinking along the lines of Lennon (John) "Imagine there's no..." and thought, "Jesus (again I love to do that as an atheist), I have the power to save my children from this."

But then... it's back to my wife.  Again, she supports my thoughts.  Doesn't mind my not going to church or only attending special functions.  She knows that we won't give a DIME to the church.  Although once every three months she's responsible for coffee and donuts-- I'm okay with that-- I belong to a golf club and that's my responsibility once in a while too.  But here's the thing.  I'd love to bring her on board.  But, as much as I love her, she's not a thinker.

That's not to say she's dumb.  She's very smart.  Maybe I should have said "she's not a philosophical thinker."

I don't know-- we're far from trouble, I just thought I'd put it here as some of you must have had to deal with the same thing.  Thanks.

Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual character


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This seems kind of obvious,

This seems kind of obvious, but have you tried talking to your wife about the church thing?


DrStrangelove
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Wow.  What awesome

Wow.  What awesome insight.

No I haven't.

I haven't thougth of that at all.

I'm looking for an intellectual response that calls upon reason and realism.

I'm not looking to alienate my wife the woman I love.

I cna't be the only one who has deaalt with this.

Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual character


Eloise
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I hope you won't mind my two

I hope you won't mind my two cent contribution, I'm not atheist exactly but I can genuinely understand your dilemma.

The first thing that comes to my mind is that your answer really depends on what your church sunday school is teaching the children. I attended a christian church in the early eighties as a kid and I know, back then, the standard youth curriculum was kinda harmless and in some cases even pretty healthy; bible stories loosely made to fit a calendar year. The order, if I recall correctly was something like - Noahs Ark, a watered down Josephs coat, Samson, David and Goliath, Palm Sunday and an also watered down resurrection (to coincide with easter), The Prodigal Son, The Good Samaritan, then most of the second half of the year was spent on revision, feedback and rehearsing a nativity play.

As I see it in retrospect there was a lot of good in that system, positive themes like forgiveness, courage and kindness were given emphasis and the kids were encouraged to reflect on and question it all for a while as well. It's a rosy picture, sure, however I get the impression that a lot christian churches (especially in the US) don't teach like that anymore but instead focus kids on hell, taboos and aspiring to psychosis, and, frankly, I don't send my kids to a church Sunday School for that very reason.

I was invited to a christian church about two years ago and my kids came out of their class bemusedly holding "Little Lions for Christ" colouring posters with "Our life belongs to Jesus" or somesuch printed at the bottom. Suffice it to say that was the last time I sent them to that place.

So for me, I'd say, it really depends on what they're teaching the kids. There are some things that I would really put my foot down over like fundies arm wrestling the kids into life-long commitments in a private room, or staging hell plays and shit. On the other hand, if they're just introducing them to bible stories and parables I wouldn't be concerned about the imprint on their minds as I figure that's mostly good anyway.

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Nikolaj
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I don't have children of my

I don't have children of my own, but with all due humility, I do feel that my oldest brother's daughter is fairly close to a daughter of mine.

That is, they live very close by, and they have, since she was born, called upon me to help out with taking care of her, and, as a result, my now 7 year old niece, Felicia is someone that I have a very big emotional investment in.

Now, I live in Denmark, so obviously your problem could never apply to Felicia, but to clarify, if you wan't children to learn something valuable, and not believe some things harmful, the way to go about it, should hopefully be universal.

Now, I've always made a point of letting Felicia draw her own conclussions. That is, I don't tell her what's true, I just tell her what I think she needs to know.

That means: when not dealing with something obviously true, like the world is round, but rather something more subjective, like political or religious ideals, I tell her: "some people believe so and so." That allready puts the realisation in her head that not all people believe so and so, so for example if I tell her: "some people believe that the muslims are evil", then if she one day hears a grown-up say: "Muslims are evil", she allready have the mental framework to acknowledge that even though his a grown-up, he isn't speaking with absolute authority: he's just stating an oppinion.

And ofcourse, I am also quick to tell her what I believe: "I don't really think there is a God, but there are many people in the world that do."

I have enough faith (pun intended) in my own love for her, and her love for me, that she put's alot of stock in my words, so I don't want to tell her: "God doesn't exist, but many people falsely thinks he does", because if I just tell her that it is my oppinion, not the absolute truth, I know she trusts my oppinion enough to at least lean in my direction. I want her to come to the conclution herself. Not trust me blindly.

By the way, writing this, I realize I've written something like this before, so I'll just refer you to another thread, about kids and religion. I gave my two cents there, and many others too (people far more qualified than I, actual parents).

here:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/15183

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


Nikolaj
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My point would be, at any

My point would be, at any rate, that you counterweigh what your kids might learn in Sunday School by talking to them about it. No need to directly tell them: "The priest is a liar". But just ask them what they've learned and wether they believe it, and if yes: why? Remember, if they do believe it, there is likely just one reason: because a grown-up told them.

And all you have to do is tell them what you think about it, and not only will you then have neutralised whatever a priest may have told them as absolute fact, but you will probably have won them over to your side, because you are their father, and they'll trust you alot more than a strange priest.

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin