I’ve mentioned in various places that I was raised without a religion. I’ve described my father as an atheist and my mother as an agnostic, although she sometimes uses the word atheist as well. When I read blogs written by people who call themselves atheist, it seems that almost everyone has a post describing how and why he or she became an atheist, everyone except me. So I’m feeling a little left out of the party. Furthermore, it seems that there are fewer atheists in the United States than I would have thought, so I thought it might be worthwhile to describe for everyone how my parents became atheists. This is the story as it was related to me.
It might surprise everyone to know that my sister and I were both baptised, however I have no recollection of this event. I understand that’s typical. One Sunday morning some years after the aforementioned baptisms, my parents were lying in bed sound asleep. The alarm went off. My father, a light sleeper, awoke immediately and shut off the alarm. Now he had the difficult task of waking my mother. “Sweetie,” he said nudging her, “Wake up. It’s time to go to church.”
“Ugh,” my mother groaned, “but I don’t even believe in God.”
“Well,” my father said, “I don’t believe in God either.”
“Does that mean we can sleep?”
“I guess so.”
“Good,” my mother replied.
Now that I’ve recounted this, it seems rather anticlimactic. Everyone else has these deep posts about science, doubt, morality and a path or journey towards rejecting religion. I have a sleepy mother.
Also, I’ve seen other posts where people have talked about how to raise children if you’re an atheist. I don’t think my parents really thought much about it. They just did. We continued to go to school and not much was made of it one way or another. There were a lot of other things to do and to think about and, except when someone else brought it up, it simply wasn’t there and I barely noticed. I went through a phase in my late teens and early twenties of being curious about religion. Almost every religion I investigated seem silly after a certain point.
My mother might have felt slightly self-conscious about not imparting a religiously tinged morality. From time to time she would make odd statements. When the kid up the street blew his hand off making a pipe bomb, my mother said, “See, going to church every week didn’t do anything for his sense of right and wrong.”
My sister won’t even countenance the subject of religion. “When I hear an adult talking about God,” she told me one day, “it’s like hearing an adult discuss the existence of the Easter Bunny. I just can’t take it seriously.”