A Letter I May Never Have the Courage to Send Out

Dear Mom and Dad,

As you have known for years, I am an atheist. I'm not the strongly worded, well educated physicist that you imagine when you hear that term. I know less of stardust than the strongest voices of the movement.

I am not "angry at god" I am not "trying to justify a sinful life." I am as boring as I ever was, and my typical day has less to do with my lack of belief than trying to get my son to sit down and do his school work.

Do not take my lack of rage as a lack of conviction. I do not believe in a god, I will not mold my son into a religion I do not have spiritual stock in. I know that this argument is on the horizon, I can see it every time I change the subject away from my son's future religious development.

I know you are both Catholic, but I have to tell you that you unknowingly set up the foundation for my disbelief.

Dad, you taught me to question everyone and to argue with logic instead of emotion, and mom you taught me to learn all I could about the church I was raised in. You both taught me to speak my mind and encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on.

Dad you introduced me to George Orwell's Animal Farm. Mom you introduced me to apologetic arguments.

But really, if you wanted to keep me in the church you missed a major opportunity. Remember when I was six years old and I proudly came to you with my clever idea that perhaps God was the same for everyone, and that everyone's way of worship was just their version of the same practice. That God, or Allah or Zeus were just the same name in different languages.

You should have said anything other than "No."

If you had given me some possibility for that there would have been SO many excuses made by me in my times of doubt. I would have seen god in everything instead of limited to the hearts and minds of his believers. I would have never connected the dots of "If they are wrong could I be wrong?"

You lost that chance, and I am no longer that six year old girl asking you about god. I am a thirty year old woman who does not believe. A thirty year old woman, with a six year old son who will hear "Yes son, all gods are the same...false."

-Carol

Views: 143

Comment by onyango makagutu on March 17, 2014 at 2:16pm

If I could say it so eloquently to my old man, I would.

This is well written.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on March 18, 2014 at 12:37am

That comes off a bit angry and condescending, rubbing it in their face that they sewed the seeds of your atheism. I'm sure they won't take it well. I hope you don't give it to them.

Comment by Carol Foley on March 18, 2014 at 7:42am

Kairan, it isn't written in a condescending tone, though I'm sure it can be interpreted as such. As with many of my posts on here I wrote this to narrate the feelings I have towards a situation amongst my fellow non-believers. I speak to my parents with very much respect, because faith not withstanding, they were both very caring people. 

That being said, the issue of religion is a tense one. So it is better to vent here so by the time I speak to my parents I have sorted through my emotions well enough to explain myself without yelling. 

Finally, I don't see those seeds as something to rub in their faces, I am thankful for them because whether or not it was their intentions, it started me thinking critically about religion at a very young age.

Comment by Corri on March 20, 2014 at 8:57pm

Carol, you literally just said everything I want to say to my parents, with very little differences in our stories. It's amazing how they can raise us to think for ourselves, be independent, learn everything we can, and question the world around us, but get so angry when we find the answers we are looking for rather than swallowing the information they tried to spoon feed us. I don't believe your letter was condescending at all. It's a response to the guilt they put on us for not choosing a life they've planned for us, after they promised us we could choose any life we wanted to. It isn't rubbing it in their face that they planted the seeds that sprouted our freedom, but rather a valid question. How can we not be good enough for them anymore when we became exactly what they wanted us to be? 

Good luck to you and your struggles with your family and the rest of the world. :)

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 23, 2014 at 10:23am

Carol,

I think this is a good subject for discussion. Many or most of us have loved ones who are true believers.

Just as you and I were subjected to really scary stories from authority figures when we were young, so were your parents. As was the case years ago when they were in Sunday School, no one ever questioned the teaching, and everyone just went along with it.

On the one hand my parents are in their golden years, I don't feel like I need to discuss my atheism with them. If the subject comes up with them, I'll just tell them that as far as an afterlife is concerned, they don't have anything to worry abo9ut.

On the other hand, I have a nine year old who recently asked me if there were dinosaurs in heaven. I'll been providing her with plenty of good science lessons to strengthen her common sense and reasoning.

I'm sure you'll be fine Carol. You can only do so much to remove the scary fairy tales implanted in your parents' minds from such a young age.

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 23, 2014 at 10:27am

Animal Farm is a good example how infallible doctrine changes (all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others).

It's also a good example of how infallible doctrine is used as justification for murder (poor Snowball).

You can also look at the example of the puppies taken from her mother to have their young minds twisted.

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