The Midwestern Household is abuzz with excitement this week (or would be if we weren’t so sleep deprived) as we welcome our first child, who for blog purposes shall be known as Little Bigfoot. This fella joined our happy family last Saturday.
In thinking about all the things I want to do with him in the coming years (including sleeping more than two hours at a time), I’m faced with the conundrum every atheist parent must address: What in the world am I going to tell this kid about religion and god? The question is complicated, as it is for many, by the high level of religiosity among some of our family members (esp. Mrs. MG’s clan of diehard Catholics). Here’s the best I can come up with over breakfast:
- I absolutely will not baptize this child.
- I will educate him about religion. To critically evaluate religion, one must know something about religious beliefs. If one is to be an empathetic human being, one should also understand some of the motivations behind certain doctrines and belief in general. Moreover, no one can fully appreciate our society or art and literature without some knowledge of religion. Little Bigfoot will have the benefit of an introduction to major religious ideas and why people hold them, always with the caution that Mommy and Daddy don’t believe these stories are true.
- I will insist that our religious relatives not try to indoctrinate him. If I find out anyone has tried to secretly baptize him or encourage him to believe, there will be hell to pay, so to speak.
- Same goes for daycare workers, teachers or other school officials. Seriously, I will f you up, legally speaking.
- I will answer his questions about religion (and everything, for that matter) as thoroughly, honestly and age-appropriately as I can. If we are to encourage him to value truth, we should always speak the truth to him.
- I will encourage a love of and wonder at the natural world in his imagination.
I’m sure I’ll think of other things, but those are the points that jump to mind at this early hour. This will all become far more relevant with time, of course, so right now I think I’ll grab another cup of coffee and snuggle with my boy for a while.