This I Believe

Mark - Davis, California
Entered on February 19, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: atheism

I believe there is no god. At least not the god we’ve been talking about.

I believe that it is time for people like me to speak out. As a 12 year old boy sitting in a church sweltering in the heat of a Houston summer on a Sunday morning, I had doubts. But I kept them to myself. To be an atheist or an agnostic was to be an outcast, the last thing a teenager would want to be.

Since then little has changed. Polls show that atheists are the most despised among us. And forget about seeking elective office. Who would vote for the devil?

Best to just pledge alliance to one nation (mumble mumble) indivisible with …and so on.

This whole thing might have started at the funeral of an uncle. I knew him to be a man who would never set foot in a church. Yet, his wife invited a minister who had never met him to sum up the meaning of his life. Years later when my mother died I could not do this. She was a life long member of a fundamentalist church; so I invited some of the church ladies to sing her favorite hymns. But it was my duty to testify to what her life meant to me and to her family. It was the same when I lost my wife ten years ago. She was a Jew – and had been educated as one. But to me this is the least of what she was. She was an outstanding public servant, talented teacher, avid environmentalist, and devoted mother of our two daughters. God – whether Hebraic, Christian, or Muslim – had nothing to say about it.

I’m inclined to agree with Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist who is the current best-selling spokesmen of us unbelievers, that to raise children in a particular religion is tantamount to child abuse.

I think of that 12-year-old in Houston, about to embark on a voyage of intellectual discovery. But trapped, for then, on a church pew having ignorant certainties thundered at him from a pulpit. This, he thought, can only lead to trouble.