What is the best way to stop your child becoming an atheist?

This is an old one, but I thought I’d share it just in case you hadn’t seen it yet. A couple years ago, somebody asked the following question on Yahoo! Answers:

What is the best way to stop your child becoming an athiest[sic]? I don’t want any of my children to be punished by God.

-JT (user no longer exists)

Most of the answers given were about what you may expect, following the “don’t scare them with religion/leave it up to them” route, but one particular answer must have charmed the pants off of everybody else, because it was chosen (by other users; not by the original asker) as the best one of the bunch:

Do not educate them, or expose them to critical thinking, logic or science.

Lie to them constantly about how the world works. Feed them a steady diet of mumbo jumbo dressed up like real knowledge – the jumbo jet in the whirlwind for example – and pretend that it is deep wisdom.

Make them loathe their own natural bodies and functions. Convince them they are small and weak and worthless and need redemption. Tell them everything enjoyable is grievously wrong to even think about, and that their only fun should be in grovelling to an invisible friend.

Ensure that they resent anyone who is not like them in every way – skin color, nationality, political opinion but especially creed. Make such people out to be evil and vile and give them – impotent minorities all – the fictional power to somehow oppress and persecute the vast majority who do think like you.

Teach them to laugh at and dismiss out of hand any faith but their own. Early – early mind you – make sure they are taught the difference between superstitious deadly error – that one raving lunatic in the desert told the truth about a vicious god who killed people, and divine eternal truth – that another raving lunatic in the desert told the truth about a vicious god who killed people.

Instruct them with all severity and import to never question for themselves – to never think for themselves – to never live for themselves – but to seek answers only in one – just one – particular set of semi-literate bronze age folk tales.

Above all – and this cannot be overemphasized – make sure they cannot spell, use correct grammar, or understand basic English words.

That should do the trick.

David M

I think the final sentence about spelling and grammar was a bit unfair. Sure, a lot of theists show a particular lack of finesse in that department, but so do plenty of atheists. But it is what it is; despite that unnecessary jab at the end, I probably would have voted it as the best answer as well. Here’s a link to the original question/answer on Yahoo! Answers, so you may read some of the other answers offered to JT’s question.

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Infinite punishments for finite crimes?

Dante and Virgil in Hell

Image via Wikipedia

Naysayers: this is not an argument against the existence of a god. It is an argument against the existence of a benevolent god, and therefore the Christian god. Today’s topic is Infinite Punishments for Finite Crimes.

Let’s agree on one thing: killing somebody is bad. If you kill somebody, you should be punished. Perhaps you should go to jail. Perhaps you should spend the rest of your life in jail. Perhaps, even, that punishment should be sped up a bit and you should be executed. In each one of these cases, the punishment is finite. In other words, it has an end. Even if the end is at the end of the criminal’s life, it still has an end. It is not infinite.

God, on the other hand, punishes criminals infinitely. Kill someone? Eternal punishment in a fiery pit. Maybe you agree that this would be an appropriate punishment for somebody who has killed another person. I must ask you, though – why? The crime is finite. Person A kills Person B, and so Person B is dead. That’s it. It happened once. It’s over. Yes, Person A absolutely should be punished. “An eye for an eye,” they say. So our legal system takes over and (assuming Person A was caught and tried properly) they are sent to prison and [perhaps] even executed. Great. Now we’re even. And that’s it. Right?

Wrong. God, who is allegedly benevolent, is going to punish Person A again. Not just for a while, but for ever. Person A will suffer like he has never suffered before; not for the rest of his life, but forever. This is not “an eye for an eye,” but more like an infinite number of eyes for one eye.

Maybe that’s a bad example. Killing isn’t just bad – it’s really bad. But what about one of those weirder Biblical laws? “Thou shalt not steal.” Almost all of us can probably agree that stealing is bad, and almost all of us can probably agree that thieves deserve some sort of punishment, but also that that punishment should be a bit milder than that reserved for a murderer.

Nope, not in God’s eyes. You broke one of his commandments. You go to Hell. You burn for eternity. Did God catch you wearing polyester along with cotton? You’re going to Hell. Even after a benevolent god who gave you free will (as though that even makes sense) and therefore the ability to doubt, do you doubt it exists? Sorry, what’s in store for you is far worse than a life sentence. God isn’t even going to kill you. He’s just going to torture you – not for life; not for two lives; but for ever. Ever, and ever, and ever. There is no end to the pain you will endure.

If the Christian god exists and what the Bible says about it is true, then it is not benevolent. And yet if what the Bible says is true, then the Christian god is benevolent. These statements cannot both be true. Either the Bible is only correct on one count, or it is correct on neither count.

If it is correct on the first, then I would hardly say a malevolent god is worth worshiping. If it is correct on the second, then I imagine a benevolent god would be perfectly okay with the fact that I don’t worship it.