What is the best way to.....

Brittany - posted on 10/03/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )

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explain Atheism to my children? My oldest asks a lot of questions about Religion and one he has asked in the past (and recently) is why do some people not believe in Jesus?

I have explained to him that some people choose not to believe in Jesus the same way you and I believe in Jesus because, that is a choice we all have in life.

Then he asks "Well if they do not believe in Jesus does that mean that Jesus does not love them?" (This is always the one that makes me a little nervous)

I tell him that Jesus loves everyone, even those who do not believe in him.

This is usually followed by "What if I tell you I don't believe in Jesus would you and Jesus still love me?"

I then tell him of course Mommy will always love him no matter what.

Then he says "What about Jesus?"

I tell him that Jesus will love him no matter what.

I find this conversation to also be somewhat hard. We do not have it often and sometime I get different questions. I even once got the question "What did Jesus do to make that person not believe him?" That was hairy.

So to ease these conversations, Atheist Moms, what do you all I suggest I tell Caoleb when he asks?

Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Wiccan Moms (and any other Religion (or lack of) I am forgetting because, I have been up since 5 am.), chime in to!

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/04/2011

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I think it really depends on how you want to raise your child. I believe you said you are Catholic, and if you want to raise them hardcore Catholic, just teach him the fundamentals of Catholicism. I firmly feel that children should have an understanding of other belief systems though. I would attempt to give a brief over view of other religions:



Catholism believes that God almighty placed his son on earth through immaculate conception through the vessel of Jesus' mother Mary. His job was to enlighten people, and die on the cross for our sins. He rose 3 days after his crussifiction, and joined God in heaven to look down on his followers and love everyone. He died to cleanse humans of our sins.



Buddhist pray to Buddha in search of a higher level of enlightenment through spiritual meditation (prayer) (really no easy way to explain Buddhism...it is more of a sense of spiritual enlightenment through structured studies....any Buddhists in here that can explain it better??? I know there are different forms)



Jewish faith believes God is the one and only creator, and that Jesus was just a man, not God's son.



Atheists do not belief their is a God at all, nor do they believe in organized religion. There beliefs are based off of hardcore facts and evidence, such as science.



Agnostics belief their may be the existence of a higher being, but without evidence to support it, are skeptical of specific organized religions claiming the "truth". Without foundation of proving the existence of higher deities, they do not have sufficient grounds whether to say the existence of God is true or false.



This is just a starting point. I am for teaching beliefs of other religions, and I am also prone to scientific fact. I am teaching both, because personally I feel there is place for both. Soo......in turn, this is exactly how I am going to explain different organized religions (obviously I will include more, this is just a spring board of the discussion.) It really depends on you, and how much you chose to teach your child.



*Edited to add* You could also explain to him, with all the religions in the world, some people have a difficult time believing one specific religion is correct. That is also why some become Agnostic. We do not have the answers, and often people follow an organized religion to feel at peace with the comfort of someone looking over us.

Kylie - posted on 10/03/2011

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I say tell him the truth without the bias. Tell him there are many gods, religions, religious texts and people all over the world believe in different things. Tell him atheists find sense in science and the evolution of earth and that they think religion is man made. Tell him you believe in Jesus and the Christan god and WHY. I'd also say to him, dont worry about what Jesus thinks because we will never know, we are not him. Just try to be like him, loving and accepting and kind. That's all that matters.
We are a family of no religion, when my daughter ask why some of her friends believe in God i tell her i think its because their parents believe and it's part our western culture and history. I've told her people find comfort in faith and when she is older if she wants to find out more about spirituality i will help her anyway i can. She has had a 6 year old girl tell her she is going to hell because she doesn't do religious education at school(shes goes to the art room instead) and that is exactly i dont want to expose her to that doctrine at such a young, impressionable age. We can teach her about love and respect without the bible or koran or any other religious text. I will not share my strong opinions about religion with her until she is much older and wiser.

Krista - posted on 10/04/2011

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I find this conversation to also be somewhat hard. We do not have it often and sometime I get different questions. I even once got the question "What did Jesus do to make that person not believe him?" That was hairy.

So to ease these conversations, Atheist Moms, what do you all I suggest I tell Caoleb when he asks?


First of all, how old is he? That dictates the tone of the conversation.

But in general, I would just say that a lot of people believe different things. That there are people who believe in God and in Jesus. There are people who believe only in God. There are people who believe in a different type of god, or even multiple gods. And there are some people who don't believe in any gods at all. And that this is okay -- everybody has to follow their heart and be true to where it leads them, when it comes to something as important and as personal as faith.

Jenny - posted on 10/03/2011

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I suppose telling him there is no evidence is off the table lol.

I would suggest saying something along the lines of faith not being enough for some people. If he asks questions of Jesus loving him ask him what he feels the answer is so he can form his own conclusions. That's what I do with my kids so I am not feeding them the answers.

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Tam - posted on 12/01/2011

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Hi there! I know I am coming late to this conversation but it kinda struck a chord in me, and I just explained my arrival at my atheist views in another thread. I hope you don't mind the repost, but it feels pertinent. And I'm sure if you like my input, it'd be easy enough to translate into '6 year old' from overly wordy 'grown-up'.

I came to my beliefs through years of introspection, analysis, research, and soul-searching. The result I found was that religion and spirituality is simply not for me. Yet I do not sit on my laurels, thinking that my conclusion is absolute - I am an autodidact and I constantly yearn for knowledge in all aspects. I am not - I repeat, NOT - anti-religion. In fact, I still go to church occasionally. Many different churches - Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Nazarene, and a few other temples that are not within the realm of Christianity. By extension, my children are also exposed to other modes of thinking and other philosophies. It is my intent to allow them to come to their own decisions, just as my husband and I did, and continue to do so.

I personally find it hard to accept something as a universal truth without the weight of proof behind it. I have seen hypocrisy on all sides of the age old religion argument, from atheists that turn the lack of belief in a god INTO a religion, to self-professed persons of faith who go directly against the edicts of their holy texts. I have met people who are fantastic individuals who have my utmost respect, who I hold up as mentors and something to strive to emulate, and they are very devoted and religious. I've also met quite the opposite. I've had people express absolute shock and recoil away from me when they find out about my personal beliefs - which I do not advertise, by the way - as though it were some sort of contagious disease. I've encountered those who express shock that I am the type of person I am without having the foundation of religion to base my morals on.

That is a small part of how I came to my present frame of belief. Ultimately, I have found that your character is what is most important and religion does not have a monopoly on morality. Many people gain their moralset from religion and that is absolutely great. Mine come from how I would prefer to be treated, and therefor I treat others accordingly.

Faith, religion, and belief is a deeply personal thing, in my opinion, and my beliefs are no more wrong and no more right than the next person. But they are what is right for me.

Brittany - posted on 10/04/2011

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Caoleb will be 6 on Monday. He is a very very loving child. He does not see the fault in someone, instead he will only pick out the good.

I am Catholic but, I would not say that I raise my children in a strict Catholic environment. Maybe I could be considered a new wave.

I talk to Caoleb a lot about Jesus because, he came to me first. I did not force him or make him. My other two children do not inquire as much as Caoleb does. They know who Jesus and Mary are (I have some nice pictures on my counter) but, they have not asked so much.

We are currently working our way through The Begginer's Bible. The stories in there are more about the people and not so much focused on God. I do not recall coming across the words "Because, God said so".

Some may and some may not know this but, I do freelance study Religion. I am not expert and I have researched a lot. Even cults. Often my children are near and I will speak to Caoleb about different things different people in different religions do. The two youngest might be within ear shot but, I am more focused on Caoleb right now, since he is asking so much.

He does not seem to ask a lot about other Religions and I am now starting to wonder if he has put together, in his mind, that Atheists do not have Religion because, of their lack of belief? Could that be why he is asking so much, because it is radically different then his own belief?

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I teach my girls about all religions. My father is Atheist, most of my family are variations of christian, my oldest is catholic, my 2nd oldest is just christian, and I am pagan. My two youngest haven't decided yet. I teach them about every holiday as it comes around for all religions and we cover atheism during each of them. For me it is all a matter of keeping an open mind and just teaching my girls about each religion. Especially since I allow them to decide what they want to believe in or not believe in.

Debby - posted on 10/04/2011

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My son asked these questions when he was small...and I reminded him that when Jesus told us to be fishers of men, he gave us a net and not a stick of dynamite. Then we talked about free will ( he started asking at 6).
As he grew, he learned to ask people of different faiths what theirs taught ( his best friend was an 'atheist' who asked for a Bible for Christmas one year as they learned from each other!) We were blessed to have people of other Christian faiths, Paegan, Wiccan, Jewish, Agnostics in our lives and had open/ respectful conversations with all. One thing I impressed was "don't believe what a 'Lutheran' tells you about what 'Baptist' believe--find a Baptist and ask".
He's a college student now, a firm Believer, and reads books of all faiths for the philosophy! Says it gives him a better understanding of the world as a whole :)
Wishing you luck aka blessings!

~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/04/2011

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If you feel stumped, and do not like anyones ideas, you could also have him simply write down all of his questions over a period of time, and if you are a practicing Catholic, he can approach a Priest who hopefully will be well equip with answers from ALL perspectives. I would hope at least.

Isobel - posted on 10/03/2011

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you know what's funny though (and you are bound to hear it over and over until Christmas is over 'caaaaauuuse...tis the season")

the day that Quentin asked me while passing a house with a gigantic nativity scene on the front lawn and said "hey mom look...jews" to which I responded...yup.

The people INSIDE the house...not so much ;P

Isobel - posted on 10/03/2011

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oooooookaaaaaaaay...I suppose I have told my kids to follow what they believe. I have explained to them, the very fundamentals of each major religion and allowed them to make their own decisions/

Last winter, Eve asked me whether God "really" existed. My answer was that a lot of people thought so. She then asked me what religion I was, and I told her that I had my own personal system that didn't fit within a "church"

FINALLY, she cornered me and asked if *I* believed in god...still no help to her as I believe that "god" is the earth, cause the earth is a living being unto itself...no help to a 10 year old...I hope she remembers it though

Johnny - posted on 10/03/2011

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Well, there is the response I would give to an adult or a child not raised to believe in Christian dogma. Then there is the response I'd give to your son....

Perhaps you could make it a bit easier for yourself by pointing out that atheists may believe that Jesus lived and taught, but do not believe he was the son of God. Now many atheists aren't too sure that Jesus was really one person, since there is a sad dearth of historical evidence pointing to that, but I don't think he sounds like he is requiring those sorts of details. Perhaps also this might be an opportunity to share with him that we each form our own beliefs about things, and that as he grows up he will find his own too. I don't know, for some people that's too risky, for some, they are willing.

Tonight my daughter informed me that Carson was her favorite on Dancing with the Stars. Definitely one of those moments where I just needed to stand back and let her hold her own beliefs, no matter how ill-informed and warped they may be.

Isobel - posted on 10/03/2011

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If I say that the toothfairy doesn't exist...will she still love me???

no joke...that would be EXACTLY my question...

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When my oldest asked about that, I told him the truth... there is no evidence and I personally believe in facts... but that DOES NOT mean he has to believe what I do, and he doesn't. He believes in jesus/god. He has asked me point blank why I dont and I, again simply tell him the truth. I try to explain that everybody has their own different beliefs and not one is ever better than the other.



I do not encourage him to believe what I believe, I try to get him to think for himself. I do however strongly encourage him to look at all the facts and then form his own opinion. If he just starts rambling about it without really knowing anything about it or without knowing why he believes what he does, I don't listen to it.Because to me, you should ALWAYS be able to back up what you say.



I also encourage him to think and be curious about other religions as well.



P.S. Atheists are not bad people.

Brittany - posted on 10/03/2011

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Yeah the no evidence thing is out the window.

I have had him answer some of his own questions before and that seemed to help him understand.

Just sometimes the questions get really out there and I am not sure what exactly to say. I do not want to lie to him and say something like "Atheists are bad horrid people who will go to Hell!"

1. That is very wrong to say
2. I am not supposed to condemn someone to Hell, according to God condemning someone to Hell is like committing murder.

(yes, yes I fore see the Jesus is a lie coming on but, it is a belief!) LOL.

Thank you very much Jenny for your input. It is noted.

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