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This makes me want to punch right through my laptop screen. November 27, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, family, rants.
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Pardon my French, but fuck this shit. I haven’t gotten this upset over an e-mail in, like, ever.

This dates back to that time when my parents asserted that atheists have no moral code:

 

TA’s mother: “Well, I can’t encourage your atheism because I don’t know much about it, but I think it is very important to have a belief. It is religion that teaches us moral values, like humility, generosity, and kindness. I don’t know what values you learn from atheism, and it makes me very sad that you’ll be growing up without a moral compass.”

The following day, I emailed them these two articles, written by Austin Cline of About.com, to illustrate how it is possible that not all atheists are heartless, amoral cannibals.

They never got back to me, and the issue hadn’t been brought up since. Until today.

My father just emailed me links to the following two (asinine, moronic) articles, “Could God Exist, Theoretically?” and “A Holiday for Atheists,” along with this little note:

“Here’s a Christian perspective.”

I could type up rebuttals for both articles here, but I’ll gloss over that part instead; I’m sure you guys could handle it yourselves. Go nuts.

I’m angry. No, I’m wildly upset over this. Don’t tell me that we’re even and he’s just doing to me what I did to him, because what I e-mailed to my parents wasn’t a dig at Christians, or an attempt to get them to de-convert, no, it was me defending myself and what I believe in. What my father sent to me was downright offensive. It’s an assertion that “Yes, you are a bad person because you are an atheist, now come and see the light.”

Time and time again, I’ve reiterated on this blog that I refuse to bash Catholicism or any other religion, and that all I want is a world where people don’t discriminate at all, be it based on religion, sexuality, gender, race, or any other label. I respect people’s beliefs; however, I have zero tolerance for bigotry. And this, my friends, is bigotry.

I already had a pretty good idea back then, but this email has now made me 100% sure that I deserve better. I deserve better than a family who treats me with begrudging tolerance, while making passive-aggressive remarks or attempts to convert me. As Genevieve had said:

“Build your own family one day. Build one that’s a hell of a lot nicer to you. You deserve it.”

One day, I’ll find (or build) a real family, one that accepts me for who I am, and loves all of me, not just the few parts that they choose to love.

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Comments»

1. Ron H - November 27, 2007

I’ll use some words I haven’t used in a long time. Have faith. Don’t worry, explanation is forthcoming.

I was raised the son of a preacher. When I was 17, I made the move from ‘preacher’s son’ to ‘atheist’. It was a little rocky. By a little, I mean very. By rocky, I mean disastrous.

Now, everything is fine, especially with my mother. It took the better part of 10 years, but I think I’m accepted for who I am now.

I don’t know if it will take that long for you, but I’m certain that it will come. At the center of it all, they love you. Once they figure out that this is who you are, they’ll come to terms with it. In the meantime, just try to keep the paths between you smooth.

Best of luck.

2. Matt Svoboda - November 27, 2007

I definitely think that athiests can obviously have a moral code. I think it is ridiculous to say otherwise.

Here is the question that has to be answered, “Where does the moral code come from?” Why do our moral codes automatically tell us it is wrong for a person to kill another person in cold blood?

Thoughts?

Matt

3. Matt Svoboda - November 27, 2007

Just to tell you up front, I am a Christian. I am not here to try and convert you or anything like that. I think that logic and reason point me to a belief in God. Most people try to use the argument that Christians depend on faith and Atheists depend on logic. I think this is quite untrue… I would never belief anything or have ‘faith’ in anything if I did not think it was logical and correct.

I say that just to tell you that I would love to dialogue with about God, atheism, logic, truth, etc.. I have read through your blog and you seem to be a smart girl who isn’t just anti-god. Also I was raised Catholic and I thought God was a joke and that if he did exist it didn’t matter. After I abandoned church for awhile I started searching for truth, using logic and reason, and it pointed back to God.

Are you interested in some dialogue?

4. Dave - November 27, 2007

>>Here is the question that has to be answered, “Where does the moral code come from?” Why do our moral codes automatically tell us it is wrong for a person to kill another person in cold blood?<<

Because humans are designed to be social creatures that thrive when arranged in communities. Those communities break down when murder in cold blood is allowed. Our “moral code” comes from our natural instinct to encourage behavior which leads to orderly societies.

5. Najo - November 27, 2007

It’s hard to not hate your family.

I guess I’m lucky to have a considerate family. Mother Dearest knows [that I’m an atheist] (for 6 long years now, I’m 19, by the way, so that still makes me a teenager xD) but she has never accepted that fact. She still encourages me to go to church but not to the point of nagging. My siblings also know but it’s fine with them. I rarely argue with them because they rarely argue with me.

And I do go to church, but I don’t go to pray. Most of the time, it’ll be just to accompany my family, and show them that I still respect them even if I don’t share their beliefs.

My father died almost 5 months ago, but he died without the knowledge that one of her daughters was an atheist.

It’s hard not to hate your family. Maybe, I’m not in the position to tell you this but, they are still your family. 🙂

6. Nick - November 27, 2007

I only read the first article, “Could God Exist, Theoretically?”, and it immediately reminded me of a David Cross bit from his CD “Shut Up You Fucking Baby”, about the book ‘Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, because it’s a bullshit story that you know never happened, and is just another futile attempt to prove a point by putting words into some unnamed atheists mouth.

As for the family, try not to dwell to much over their opinions. I had a lot of the same problems when I first told my parents of my atheism, and though it took some time, I eventually learned to take all their criticism in stride. I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, and the path my life has taken. (Even though I’ve made plenty of mistakes, far too many to recount.) Discrimination, regardless of the form, is something that most every atheist has to deal with at some point.

YouTube link for the David Cross bit, in case you didn’t catch the reference:

7. evangelines - November 27, 2007

It’s so absolutely ridiculous for anyone to think that you cannot have a moral code/compass unless you have some religious belief. What about all those who purport to be religious, have some spiritual belief, yet proceed to act in the most uncharitable, unkind, unloving, hypocritical ways. One cannot say just because one has a belief in God that that makes them a moral person. There is enough evidence to the contrary if you look around at many churches today. If anything, the atheist is more likely to be true to their moral code as they do not have one out of fear of going to hell or something, and are more able to give you reasons why those codes are good, rather than just doing them out of blind ‘faith’ yet with no true understanding.

I can understand your anger.

I disagree with Najo – they may be your family, but that doesn’t make them right if they reject you because of your beliefs. Your path is your own, and not for them to judge.They are not following their own faith are they? If they are true Christians, they should not condemn you, but represent their faith positively by leading by example – by loving you still, being there for you without judgement. By acting as they do they are not really doing anything to make you want to be Christian as they are. Why should you if that’s how they present it?

“One day, I’ll find (or build) a real family, one that accepts me for who I am, and loves all of me, not just a few parts that they choose to love.” Don’t ever loose sight of that, or compromise for less than that. 🙂

8. Teen Atheist - November 27, 2007

Now, everything is fine, especially with my mother. It took the better part of 10 years, but I think I’m accepted for who I am now.

Happy to hear that, Ron, but do understand that it may not be the case for everybody. My father hasn’t come home yet, but when he does, I don’t plan on expressing any of my anger towards him. I’ll just bide my time until the day I can set myself free.

9. Teen Atheist - November 27, 2007

Matt:

I definitely think that athiests can obviously have a moral code. I think it is ridiculous to say otherwise.

Here is the question that has to be answered, “Where does the moral code come from?” Why do our moral codes automatically tell us it is wrong for a person to kill another person in cold blood?

Thoughts?

I’d like to direct you to the two articles by Austin Cline that I emailed to my parents. The links are in this blog entry.

I say that just to tell you that I would love to dialogue with about God, atheism, logic, truth, etc.. I have read through your blog and you seem to be a smart girl who isn’t just anti-god. Also I was raised Catholic and I thought God was a joke and that if he did exist it didn’t matter. After I abandoned church for awhile I started searching for truth, using logic and reason, and it pointed back to God.

Are you interested in some dialogue?

About anything other than religion, sure, but I generally do not promote theist versus nontheist discussion because it never goes anywhere. Still, if you have any questions for me (be it about theism or otherwise), you may get in touch with me through my Contact page and I’ll try to get back to you if I can.

10. Teen Atheist - November 27, 2007

Najo:

It’s hard not to hate your family.

Oh, you haven’t met my family. *grins* They make it pretty easy.

Evangelines:

I disagree with Najo – they may be your family, but that doesn’t make them right if they reject you because of your beliefs. Your path is your own, and not for them to judge.They are not following their own faith are they? If they are true Christians, they should not condemn you, but represent their faith positively by leading by example – by loving you still, being there for you without judgment. By acting as they do they are not really doing anything to make you want to be Christian as they are. Why should you if that’s how they present it?

Exactly, thank you. No, they are certainly not following their own faith. They don’t even go to church anymore; they just choose to judge me, because they can.

11. Najo - November 27, 2007

They are still your family != They have the right to condemn you

That wasn’t what I meant. What I meant was, your family will always be your family no matter what. There will always be this biological connection between you and them. Even if you try to break them, the probability of it actually breaking is very minimal. Regardless of having different perceptions of some concepts.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m saying things the wrong way. ~_~

12. Teen Atheist - November 27, 2007

No, Najo, it’s cool. It’s just that the statement doesn’t apply to everybody. Sure, blood may be thicker than water, but sometimes a kid has to realize that there is only so much condescension and verbal abuse she can take.

13. Genevieve - November 27, 2007

Wow. I love how just because the chaplain had “half-dozen degrees including several from” and “who himself had debated some of the world’s outstanding agnostics and atheists” he is automatically right in everything.

I hate how people make out that atheists are stupid, just because they don’t believe in God.

I’m…speechless. I mean it. Family or not, you do *not* deserve people this horrible in your life.

14. Thor - November 27, 2007

That’s a bit harsh of your father. By “harsh”, I mean “as wildly unfair as is humanly possible”.

And if they’re using the moral argument, just use this tactic: http://www.thadguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/proof-is-in-the-poseidon.png

15. Josh Charles - November 27, 2007

Even though I have a superficially peaceful relationship with my family, I think I know a little (and I really mean little) about what you’re going through. My sister especially believes all that shit about atheism and morality, but we’ve kept our relationship respectful. They like to make what they believe are clever jabs at things like atheism and evolution when I’m at home, that makes being there absolutely suffocating at times.

It’s the suffocating feeling I’m talking about. Like the world is collapsing in, and you just want to escape. To find people who will accept you, but even more than accept; agree with you and let you know that, no, you’re not crazy.

16. truthseeker1234 - November 28, 2007

………I don’t know what values you learn from atheism, and it makes me very sad that you’ll be growing up without a moral compass.”

I’m one of those new age spiritualists so here’s a tidbit of advice I can give you. I once read from channeled material to take truth as your sword and love as your shield. I think I’ve just found a concrete example in your situation in which to interpret that call to arms.

People are afraid you will grow up with no moral compass. Tell them truth and love are your compass. This in turn will result in the following:

1) If any of them deny you, and you are living truth, then by definition they are wrong. For if you lived truth and always spoke the truth to argue against this would be admitting falseness.

2) If any of them hate you, and you are living a life of love, then by definition they are not in love but in fear. For if you lived as a total loving being then any of those who hate one who loves must be living in a state away from love.

One aspect I think you can work on is learning to love those who reject you. People have the right to think what they want and believe what they want. Do you love your parents enough to accept their beliefs despite the fact they will probably disrespect your right to choose? It is another hard thing to do but by accepting their criticism and living your life the way you want you become a model of love. Maybe one day they will see that and realize they were wrong to enforce their beliefs on others. Even if they don’t though by getting angry at them you are no better than them. By being able to transcend the situation you will show everyone who doesn’t believe in you that you are indeed living in truth and love. By living in truth and love no person who chooses fear and ignorance can deny you.

17. John - November 28, 2007

TA: You obviously are never going to convince them, no matter what arguments you use. They are bigoted and small-minded, according to what you say. If this is the case, you have but one option: when you are whatever the legal age of adulthood is in your country, GET OUT. Don’t look back. As you say, you’ll have to find and build a new family elsewhere, but it can be done. The internet has made that a lot easier. But don’t look to reconcile them, or bring them around. You need to get away as soon as you’re legally able. I know it’s brutal, like cutting off a limb or something, but it’s the only solution. Stewing about it is counter-productive. Start making concrete plans for the day of your escape NOW.

Good luck.

18. Genevieve - November 28, 2007

(BTW…call me Ginny 😉 )

19. Ron H - November 28, 2007

truthseeker1234:
The idea that morals are derived from religion is a flawed misconception that has been perpetuated for centuries. The articles that TA linked in the original post are excellent arguments for that case. Relating morals to religion suggests that the absence of God would encourage immoral behavior. If you knew for fact that God weren’t watching, would you do something ‘immoral’? I would guess the answer is no, because you are, like most everyone, a good person at heart.

I’ve been an atheist for some time now, and I tend to feel that my morals are fairly grounded. I think murder, adultery, rape, cruelty to anything living, theft, lying, abuse, etc. are all wrong, and go against my way of life.

As far as ‘morals’ are concerned, I might be comparable to most any Christian… with the exception that I don’t need a fear of God to recognize those things as immoral. The same can be said for most atheists.

I’m sure there are some immoral atheists, just like there are immoral priests and the like. I personally don’t know any ‘immoral’ atheists. A few I can relate to the most kind and generous of Christians I’ve known. I suppose the ultimate point here is that morals are learned behavior, so everyone has the capability of good and evil, with or without the idea of God.

20. Atheist Morality « Josiah Concept Ministries - November 28, 2007

[…] I was glancing at this post from the Diary of a Teenage Atheist.  The combox discussion had what amounts as an admission that […]

21. Teen Atheist - November 28, 2007

Matt Svoboda: Deleted your comments. Read the disclaimer. Firstly, it’s off-topic, and furthermore, I do not promote theist versus nontheist discussions on this blog. There are tons of other sites to argue for the existence of a deity, and this is not one of them.

Also, did you even read the two Austin Cline articles? Nitpicking and basing your argument on Dave’s poor choice of words (i.e. “designed”) makes for a flimsy case, quite frankly. I could just as easily argue that the Harry Potter universe has also been intricately “designed.” Who could design such a complex, fascinating world? I submit that J.K. Rowling is God.

(However, I’m not a huge fan of Rowling’s, so I’m instead going to praise the beautifully designed melodies of Bjork and submit that Bjork is God. And Thom Yorke, and Dave Grohl.)

P.S. No, I’m not interested in discussing things any further with you given your debating M.O. (i.e. nitpicking). Don’t accuse atheists of “not seeking the truth” just because you chose the wrong forum to open up such a debate. It’s petty and immature.

22. Matt Svoboda - November 28, 2007

TA

I point out simple logic and you can’t defend it. But I see that you are upset so I will leave you alone. You call me petty and immature and yet you are the one that resorts to ‘calling names’… Think about it!

23. Teen Atheist - November 28, 2007

I’m not upset, just annoyed.

Although I referred to your actions as petty and immature, I didn’t call you any names. There’s nothing logical about your argument, and you have completely overlooked my rebuttal (re: JK Rowling, Bjork). You’re also making false accusations and generalizations regarding myself and atheists, which, again: petty and immature.

24. Ute - November 29, 2007

Hi TA,
I stumbled here through the atheist blogroll, and I have a few things to say to you.

It’s always sad to see when parents choose to “condemn” their own children. However, you need to see that people always do what they do because they don’t know any better. If they knew better they would do it. If a person has been brainwashed into religion from a very young age and never learned to question their belief in a fairy tale deity, how else do you expect them to react? To them you offended their faith, no matter if they go to church or not. When you feel offended, you defend yourself. To you their defense is wrong and insulting. To them it’s the only way they know to react. It is right? Of course not. But what are you going to do about it?

As for the moral compass… code… whatever you want to call it. Of course it has nothing to do with religion. People knew way before Christianity that to “get along” you have to follow a few rules. What I always find amusing is how Christians ask me about my morals… when the bible, their holy book is full of atrocities, of murder, rape, and slavery. Certainly modern day Christians can’t possibly have their morals because of the bible.

You might find my post on this interesting:
http://atheisthomeschool.blogspot.com/2007/11/talking-about-discrimination-and-other.html
It’s towards the end of the post… 🙂

Take care, and I’ll very likely be back.

25. Teen Atheist - November 29, 2007

But what are you going to do about it?

Know that I deserve better, and strive to find people who will accept me.

26. Ute - November 29, 2007

Well, yes, I realize that of course. But I’m sure you understand what I really meant. You are not going to change your parents or their reactions. You can only show them that an atheist is far more than a depressed, sad, little person. 🙂 If (while you still live in their house) they don’t come around and take you for who you are then you can at least say that you’ve tried.

27. atheistgirl - November 30, 2007

TA, I totally feel your pain. My mom despises the fact that I’m an atheist and my dad still doesn’t know. It’s wrong how bigoted people can be sometimes.

28. podblack - November 30, 2007

I’d send hugs, but instead I think I’ll point you in the direction of some more atheist-related news. Hang in there. Podblack.

http://podblack.wordpress.com/2007/11/30/bound-to-happen/

29. John Grabowski - December 1, 2007

Okay, TA, *this* makes me want to punch through the screen of my laptop:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071130/wl_nm/pope_encyclical_dc

I feel a blog article coming on!

30. Wildwing - December 1, 2007

Regarding what you said here:

“One day, I’ll find (or build) a real family, one that accepts me for who I am, and loves all of me, not just the few parts that they choose to love.”

You can, and likely will. I did, and have one comfortably atheist child and an equally happy atheist husband. Most of the rest of the extended family (parents, siblings, cousins, etc)are some flavor of believers or another, but we have one another and that’s all that counts in the long run. I’m also an ex-Catholic who, at the age of 46, is still dealing with that deeply-ingrained guilt but is comfortably surrounded by others of like mind. And though we may not be with you in person, you know we’re with you at least through here. Hope that helps 🙂

31. Wildwing - December 1, 2007

If Bjork is god, then what is THIS fine deity?! Do we have a golden calf situation here?? Should I be smashing Bjork CDs so you don’t worship a false god? 😀

http://www.venganza.org/

We often invoke the FSM here, although “oh, Cthulhu!” is our swear of choice when needed or required. FSM is simply too long.

32. Teen Atheist - December 1, 2007

It does help to know that, Wildwing. Thanks. 😀

And by the way, “Oh, Cthulhu?” Is GOLDEN. I’m so stealing that.

Jesus H. Cthulhu!

33. Karen - December 2, 2007

TA,
I agree with those who’ve suggested your parents’ acceptance of you might improve, but the time frame might also be very long. *They* have to come to the conclusion that they’ve finished raising you, they did the best they could (from their point of view), and you just turned out however you turned out. For some people, this doesn’t happen until the offspring are in their 30’s.

However, you can make it better by giving yourself some distance from them. If you can possibly accomplish it, DON’T live at home when you go to college. Even if you have to live in a dormitory and go home for holidays and summer, every little bit of distance helps.

Meanwhile, the best thing you can do is just refuse to be drawn into these discussions. When your parents say something or write something designed to be provocative, just shrug. Mind you, this is damn hard to do, and it takes practice. It sounds as though they’ll be giving you plenty of occasions to practice! But it’s a good skill to learn for dealing with difficult people in general.

When I was a teen attending Catholic church services, a popular hymn had the line “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love” — implying that actions speak louder than words. This is true for everyone. You can demonstrate that you have a good moral compass far easier than you can argue it.

Good luck.

34. Jersey - December 2, 2007

My family is the same way…atheists “supposedly” are amoral and inhumane. That’s why I’m in the closet about being one, I risk more than hurt feelings if I my family knew. It DOES hurt when they say we are amoral because we have nothing to base our behavior. Um…there is this thing called “secular humanism” aka just “humanism” that is about humans living in harmony together and the like without the need to base everything off of religion.

Plus, weren’t Spaniard Catholics the ones in charge of the Inquisition?!

35. jgrab1 - December 2, 2007

> It DOES hurt when they say we are amoral because we have
> nothing to base our behavior.

This argument has never made sense to me. Translated into reality it means they’re being upright and moral not because of the innate goodness of it, but because they’re being monnitored by this invisible parole officer, and if they slip up, it’s off to hell! So if said invisible parole officer were to disappear or turn his back somehow, they’d go off and be bad people. Needing said parole officer says something about *their* moral compass, not yours.

Not that most religious kooks could grasp an argument that “subtle.”

36. And where is this line I’m not supposed to cross? « Diary of a Teenage Atheist - December 13, 2007

[…] although I really wanted to voice a rebuttal. Why should I show respect for your beliefs when you haven’t shown any respect for mine? Besides, I’m showing enough respect by not talking shit about your […]

37. reynor - January 14, 2008

“One day, I’ll find (or build) a real family, one that accepts me for who I am, and loves all of me, not just the few parts that they choose to love.”

Its good what you are hoping for…and a good way to start is with the family that you have right now, a family that you should accept for who they are, and love all of them, not just the few parts that you choose to love.

38. Teen Atheist - January 14, 2008

You know what? No.

39. reynor - January 16, 2008

My religion teaches me that life starts where I am at right at this very moment, and every situation has more than enough to teach and prepare me for what lies ahead…in order that I would be living in the moment with happiness for what I have or i dont have and always looking forward for the future that is always better, provided I have exercised all that is needed at the present moment with the present situation, instead of suffering for what i have and do not have now with hope of having it better in a future that is always and will never be present. Because happiness is always there for the taking, not in some distant future but right here right now and we ought to be happy now and not some “one day”.

In any case, i respect you, as you are free to do as you will and my hopes remain that you will find joy and rest for the tired feet of your always-wandering mind, as soon as you are able.

40. Teen Atheist - January 16, 2008

Thank you, Reynor, I appreciate that you took the time to think out your comment this time.

41. Christina - May 5, 2008

I was excepted ,my mother didn’t even think she is not in organized religion she thinks there is a god , unlike other so call parents who say they love there child yet disown them if they were atheist or try to change them , she does not make that apart of her life she loves her kids and thats it. Unlike the family from my father side who would literally lynch me they have tried to get my mother to have me to go to church thankfully she respects my wishes even though my mother doesn’t even go to church let alone make her kids. Why religion thats just letting people, not this god they think is real , take over my life ,telling me whats right or wrong listen as long as the person is not a pedaphile, rapist or murderer you shouldn’t care that the persons is atheist. They say America is a free country then why religion why go to a place where they tell you what someone else wants and oh yeah the fact that if you say whats on your mind people would say your evil you know if you don’t agree with me your an evil person, oh yeah this is a free country ,the only thing that you should have in mind is education instead of wondering what will god want, its what you want. I love my family they don’t even mention religion we choose not to make that apart of our life as long as were happy healthy and we get our education theirs know need for god in our matter. And the whole what happens when you die , you die thats what happens your loved ones will have memory .I hate when I here how people had a near death experienced and say god saved them , no the doctors involved did and you were strong enough to heal unlike others .When you die its your time if you don’t and you survive then you were meant to live on. I am sorry if this whole thing might seem rude to religious people I guess I’m really yelling at the ones whove judged me .And the part when I wrote I love my family I am talking of the ones in my house hole their the ones who don’t judge we don’t even talk of atheistism of religion at home the ones who made me want to write this were exchange very religious relitives who I visit once in five years I hardly know so thats why I can’t really say I love them. Not that hate them or want anything to happen I just don’t know them and seeing how they react not excepting what I am and I how they try to change me, judge the person who raised me I really don’t want to get to know them.


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