Friday, January 8, 2010

Raising An Atheist or Why Do People Believe In Things They Can't Prove

I had just picked up my boy (Will is age seven though he will tell you he is seven AND a half) and driving to pick up his sister from school.

Me: What did you talk about in school today?

Will: Animals and their habitat.

Me: So what's our habitat?

Will: Our house. Some people don't think humans are animals.

Oh-oh. You always have to be aware of a stray enemy meme (Ways to understand memes: as gene is to chromosome so is a meme to an idea; it's a unit of an idea that can be transmitted from one person to another; some memes are very, very bad).

Me: Those people are wrong. Humans are very special animals.

Will: Angels are only around during Christmas?

Me: Angels, which aren't real, are supposed to be around all the time.

Will: Heaven isn't real.

Me: That's right.

Will: What's it supposed to be?

Me: It's a place where people go after they die. It's a good place.

Pause. He took some time to chomp that down.

Will: People become angels after they die?

Me: No. Angels were made by God, that make pretend guy, to do his work.

Will: If it isn't real why do people believe in it?

Now here is the rub.

There are lots of reasons why people believe in things that they can't prove. One of my favorite cocktail quotes is from that crazy Nietzsche guy "People believe in God because they are afraid to live in a world where there isn't any." A more in depth reason may be that some of us are have the G (God) gene expressed more strongly than others. Don't laugh! There have been several books by really smart people with letters after their name (PhD) supporting this idea.

I probably didn't answer in the nicest way (coming from me that says something). What's worse is that I gave an Atheist knee jerk response.

Me: Churches want your money to do what they want with it. They convince people God is real.


Me: It's a bit more complicated than that.

One of my goals is not to use cheap rhetorical devices to make a point with my son.

I'm going to have to work on that as he gets older.

Will: Maybe they just haven't figured out a way to prove he exists.

Socrates would be proud of my boy.

Me: People understand gravity more or less? And other stuff like how a plane flies, right?

Will: Right.

Me: How long have people been around?

Will: A million years.

Me: A long time. Don't you think if God exists someone would have proved it by now?

Will: Yeah.

We were pulling up to the school.

Will: Who are priests?

I wasn't going to give him my smart-ass answer to that. I'd have to explain what a pedophile is.

Me: They are men who do God's work.

I stopped the car. We got out. Parents and children were bustling about.

Me: The thing about God not being real...

Will: Dad, we can't talk about it out here.

And he was right.


  1. I wonder about that G-gene...I have one son who's scared that God is watching him while he's sleeping (thanks grandma)and the younger who is telling his brother, "There is no God" with no prompting. Wendy

  2. God has been proved by the miracle of the Qur'an revealed to Mohamed. There is no contradiction to the majesty of the Qur'an, as scientific rules are discussed therein, which science discovered recently, and is still discovering.

    1. Jahweh has been proved by the non-miracle of the Buybull revealed to Jeebus. There is great contradiction to the majesty of the Buybull, as modern scientific rules are not discussed therein, which science has not discovered within the last 100,000 years that man has existed, and will never discover.

  3. There is alot that you can neither prove nor disprove. Fundamentally speaking, you can't prove gravity, any of the basic 'laws' of thermodynamics, relativity or any of the rest. A theory is the most elaborate form of consistent scientific knowledge that cannot be disproved. A theory can never be 'proved' only 'disproved', because of the fundaemental lack of complete knowledge of all things at all times. That said, everything we believe is not 'proven'. Until someone developes a cogent, logical, experiment to disprove god, or aliens or the flying spaghetti monster, these all remain valid.. my point being you are going to kind of mislead your kid on what science and engineering are by using testable scientific theories to support your unttestable theological opinion.


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