This I Believe

Dan - East Hartford, Connecticut
Entered on February 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

When people find out I believe there is no God they ask if I believe in anything. Of course I do, and like everyone else I’m not always right. I’m open-minded enough to say I may be wrong. Does that make me an agnostic rather than an atheist? People have made that argument to me, and I always reply, “Does that really make a difference?” I’m just admitting I don’t know everything.

I sometimes get accused of being immoral (or worse, amoral) because I don’t believe in God. While I don’t believe there’s an ultimate morality in the universe, I am not amoral. I have the same morals and ethical codes everyone else has, I just leave God out of it.

I believe we should care about the welfare of others. Those of us with a surplus should freely give to those in need. I believe we should treat others the way we want to be treated. I believe in equal rewards for equal work. These and many other good values are in the Bible, the Koran, and any other religious document you can name.

My wife is Roman Catholic, so she and I are raising our children as Catholics. My atheist friends are horrified; how can I lie to my own kids? My Catholic friends, on the other hand, are bothered by my unbelief. “You are spoiling their Catholic education,” they say, and sometimes worse things. I’m sorry, but one of my beliefs is that we should consider all sides of a question before making a decision. I’m only giving my children the ability to see all sides to a position rather than just one side. There is tremendous good in God-centered religions. There are also holy wars, racism, abuse of women and non-believers, and more, all in the name of God.

I try to give my children an historical perspective on the Christian faith. I teach them the good in the hope they learn to be good citizens. I show them the difference between a demonstrable fact such as gravity and a “fact of belief” such as an immortal soul so they learn how to make intelligent decisions. Finally, I try to show them a person’s beliefs have value, but beliefs are a personal thing. If we all felt that way, perhaps we could all get along peacefully and not fight violently over what amounts to a difference of opinion.

By fully educating my children in religious beliefs I hope to allow my children to find their own spiritual path rather than forcing my personal unbelief upon them. I like to believe that makes me a better father.