I'm an atheist. My ex-husband is an atheist. Therefore, our son is an atheist. Seems reasonable enough, right? I mean, no one questions it when a Catholic mom and a Catholic dad have Catholic kids. But you should hear the shit I get from people when I say my son is an atheist.
"How can you say that? He's not old enough to make up his mind!"
"If you brainwash him like that and he dies, he'll go to hell."
"How will he learn morals if he thinks there isn't a God?"
"My kid believes in God, so tell your kid not to tell my kid he doesn't believe in God."
And so forth.
That's on top of the fact that at least three kids at school repeatedly tell my son he's going to hell because he doesn't believe in God. We're talking six-year-olds, people. So, apparently, it's perfectly fine to brainwash your kid until he turns into a tiny, Jerry Falwell-style, neo-conservative hater, but it's totally unacceptable to encourage your kid to think for himself. And can I just point out that it really should be obvious that "You're going to hell" is probably the most wildly ineffective argument possible when you're talking to an atheist?*
So, as the title of this post says, being an atheist is hard, and it's not just because we're going to hell. As an adult, I occasionally wish I could pass off various human atrocities and natural disasters as "God's will," and convince myself there was some good reason God wanted to kill a bunch of babies in a hurricane or whatever. Intellectual honesty and critical thinking take effort, and sometimes, aren't very comforting or fun, especially considering the current state of affairs in this country. But, in return, I get to have an open mind, an interest in science and keeping myself educated, and a deep appreciation for the genius that is Jon Stewart. Who should call me at his earliest convenience.
But the hardest part of all is teaching this style of thinking to a child. The day he watched Bambi and figured out that everyone is going to die, including mommy, I wanted to convert on the spot to any religion that would let me tell him that after we die, we all go somewhere great to eat unlimited macaroni and cheese while watching The Upside Down Show and making Lego robots together. But no. I had to spend several heartbreaking hours consoling a little boy who was learning to deal with the idea that one day, mommy will probably go away forever. That seriously sucked.
On the bright side, my son gets to learn that there are reasons for everything. The sky isn't blue because God made it that way or little fairies painted it when they were drunk. He knows that the sky is blue because, uh, something about refraction, I think, and . . . honey, let me introduce you to a great invention called Google.
And that's really the meat of the whole thing. Google has all the answers, so who needs God? Google will never smite you. Google is totally new testament.
*Explanation for those who don't see why this is obvious
Hello, Christians! See, atheists don't just not believe in deities. They also don't believe in all the stuff the deities supposedly (more of the not-believing, here) said in their various books, alleged (see?) appearances, visits with schizophrenics, and messages on trees or tortillas or toast. So, as an atheist, I don't believe in God, hell, the devil, angels, or lepers, and I'm kinda undecided on what I think went on with the whole Jesus thing. Just kidding about the lepers.