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Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:12 PM

Atheist parents comfort children about death without talk of God or heaven

For Julie Drizin, being an atheist parent means being deliberate. She rewrote the words to “Silent Night” when her daughters were babies to remove words like “holy,” found a secular Sunday school where the children light candles “of understanding,” and selects gifts carefully to promote science, art and wonder at nature. So when she pulled her 9- and 13-year-olds together this week in their Takoma Park home to tell them about the slaughter of 20 elementary school students in Newtown, Conn., her words were plain: Something horrible happened, and we feel sad about it, and you are safe.

And that was it.

“I’ve explained to them that some people believe God is waiting for them, but I don’t believe that. I believe when you die, it’s over and you live on in the memory of people you love and who love you,” she said this week. “I can’t offer them the comfort of a better place. Despite all the evils and problems in the world, this is the heaven — we’re living in the heaven and it’s the one we work to make. It’s not a paradise.”

This is what facing death and suffering looks like in an atheist home.

As so many millions of Americans turn to clergy and prayers to help their children sort out the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, parents like Drizin do not. They don’t agonize over interpreting God’s will or message in the event. They don’t seek to explain what kind of God allows suffering, and they don’t fudge it when children ask what happens to people who die, be they Grandma or the young victims of Newtown.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/atheist-parents-comfort-children-about-death-without-talk-of-god-or-heaven/2012/12/22/4f59531c-4aeb-11e2-a6a6-aabac85e8036_story.html

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Reply Atheist parents comfort children about death without talk of God or heaven (Original post)
cleanhippie Dec 2012 OP
ZombieHorde Dec 2012 #1
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #2
Paulie Dec 2012 #3
Walk away Dec 2012 #4
NoMoreWarNow Dec 2012 #13
no_hypocrisy Dec 2012 #5
skepticscott Dec 2012 #6
Still Blue in PDX Dec 2012 #7
SunSeeker Dec 2012 #8
NYC Liberal Dec 2012 #9
Gman Dec 2012 #10
NoMoreWarNow Dec 2012 #14
Mariana Dec 2012 #17
Deep13 Dec 2012 #28
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #32
LARED Dec 2012 #34
Gman Dec 2012 #35
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #40
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #39
LARED Dec 2012 #41
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #43
LARED Dec 2012 #45
LARED Dec 2012 #46
LineLineLineLineLineLineLineLineReply !
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #47
LARED Dec 2012 #49
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #50
LARED Dec 2012 #56
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #57
Shadowflash Dec 2012 #55
LARED Dec 2012 #66
Shadowflash Dec 2012 #69
LARED Dec 2012 #70
Warren Stupidity Dec 2012 #36
LeftishBrit Dec 2012 #38
Leontius Dec 2012 #42
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #44
Leontius Dec 2012 #48
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #51
Leontius Dec 2012 #60
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #61
Leontius Dec 2012 #62
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #63
Leontius Dec 2012 #64
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #65
Leontius Dec 2012 #68
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #71
Leontius Dec 2012 #72
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #73
1ProudAtheist Dec 2012 #11
PADemD Dec 2012 #18
1ProudAtheist Dec 2012 #19
PADemD Dec 2012 #24
1ProudAtheist Dec 2012 #25
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #52
Promethean Dec 2012 #20
madmom Dec 2012 #21
mr blur Dec 2012 #22
Skraxx Dec 2012 #23
Warpy Dec 2012 #26
Deep13 Dec 2012 #29
Skittles Dec 2012 #30
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #33
Warren Stupidity Dec 2012 #37
AtheistCrusader Dec 2012 #12
NoMoreWarNow Dec 2012 #16
LiberalFighter Dec 2012 #15
abelenkpe Dec 2012 #54
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #58
Deep13 Dec 2012 #27
defacto7 Dec 2012 #31
Bjornsdotter Dec 2012 #53
cleanhippie Dec 2012 #59
EvilAL Dec 2012 #67

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:29 PM

1. Thanks for posting this. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:30 PM

2. Your welcome! Happy whatever-you-celebrate-or-not to you and yours.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:37 PM

3. Ramen

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:48 PM

4. I have been an Atheist for as long as I have memory...

and I have never felt the need for a god or a heaven to explain loss. When someone dies it's important to understand that life is limited to the time you spend here on Earth loving and living with your family and friends.

I find it so strange that people who believe in god and such, think Atheists have no way to cope with tragedy. We cope just fine. We simply have a love and respect for life as it actually exists. We don't need a mythology to explain the value of even the briefest time spent alive.

Religious folk seek their solace in prayers, crosses candles and life after death. Atheists find comfort in the wonderful fact that the person they love touched their lives and always will. Life is a beautiful, simple, perfect, closed circle and that is enough for us.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:14 PM

13. exactly-- well said

 

I agree totally

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 03:24 PM

5. And our secular training is returned to our parents.

My mother was dying of lung cancer in the hospital. She had just had the "death talk" with me, explaining that she was definitely going to die within a week and her wishes. It was worse than our "sex talk" many years before.

Mom asked me where did I think we went after we died. I told her we return to wherever we were before we were born. She was satisfied with that answer and that prospect and had some comfort.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 03:46 PM

6. I wonder if you'll get

an Excellent Post (r) or Good Read (r) award from any of the people here who hand them out so freely?

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 04:40 PM

7. Thank you for posting this!

I think I'm an atheist. I guess by definition that means I'm agnostic, but if there is a spectrum between believer at one end and atheist on the other end, I'm a hair's breadth away from atheist.

This was good to read.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:00 PM

8. K&R

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:04 PM

9. Believing this is the only life I've got makes me appreciate it more, not less.

And I can't just make myself "believe" something because it would be nice if it were true.

I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.

The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

—Carl Sagan

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:06 PM

10. How sad. They have no hope

Very sad story about how some raise their children.

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Response to Gman (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:15 PM

14. eh, what?

 

why is it sad?

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Response to Gman (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:21 PM

17. No hope of what, exactly?

What do you think the children should be hoping for? Please be specific. Thanks.

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Response to Gman (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:02 AM

28. Their hope is in their own hands.

They know they control how we live and are capable and responsible for making the world a good place. And they are freed from anxiety over what happens at the end. If we need to lie to our children to give them hope, then we are too pathetic of a species to deserve any.

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Response to Gman (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 03:37 AM

32. Whats even sadder about how some raise their children...

is how they rob them of critical thinking skills, instead opting for indoctrination into religion.


Sad indeed.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #32)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 08:53 AM

34. What is even sadder is that

 

so many atheists think there is a difference between religious indoctrination of children and atheist indoctrination of children.

Then have the hubris to imply a lack of critical thinking skills.

Merry Christmas

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Response to LARED (Reply #34)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:06 AM

35. Exactly! Thanks and Merry Christmas to all

Including the less than more intelligent than everyone else atheists! Peace.

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Response to Gman (Reply #35)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:28 PM

40. Great coherence, Gman!

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Response to LARED (Reply #34)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:27 PM

39. Perfect example of my point.

Maybe try reading something other than the bible.

Happy Saturnalia.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #39)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 03:51 PM

41. You had a point? NT

 

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Response to LARED (Reply #41)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:53 PM

43. Exactly.

Try reading a science book.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #43)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 10:00 PM

45. What is your problem?

 

Oh I forgot you believe religionists lack critical thinking skills and are devoid of scientific knowledge.

You are of course welcome to whatever fantasy floats your boat.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #43)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 10:22 PM

46. I am a

 

mechanical engineer, have a graduate degree in engineering management and am extremely well read. Even lots of them complicated science books you are suggesting.

How about you, ever read a theology book? I'm guessing no.

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Response to LARED (Reply #46)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 11:13 AM

47. !




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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #47)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 06:59 PM

49. I expected nothing less. nt

 

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Response to LARED (Reply #49)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:34 PM

50. One gets what one deserves.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #50)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 09:43 PM

56. I guess I must deserve a DU'er impersonating an arrogant thirteen year old.

 

You are older than thirteen? Yes?

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Response to LARED (Reply #56)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 10:26 PM

57. You are impersonating an arrogant thirteen year old?

That explains a lot.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #32)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:57 PM

55. Exactly. You don't 'indoctrinate' into Atheism

It's the default setting. Anything other than that, real or imagined, is taught.

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Response to Shadowflash (Reply #55)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 09:03 AM

66. Atheism is a default setting?

 

Do you have anything other than opinion to back up that assertion?

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Response to LARED (Reply #66)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 03:19 PM

69. Religion is learned not something you are born believing.

And which religion you learned was nothing but a matter of WHEN you lived and WHERE in the world you lived. It's taught by society and not something you are born with.

Feel free to disprove this.

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Response to Shadowflash (Reply #69)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 07:56 PM

70. I can no more disprove that, than you can prove atheism is the "natural state"

 

Humans have worshiped various things and people since before recorded history. Why is that?


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Response to Gman (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:31 PM

36. How sad you lie to your children.

A life lived with false hopes and delusions. How sad, how pathetic.

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Response to Gman (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:16 PM

38. Not expecting an afterlife does not equal no hope.

Not all religious people believe in an afterlife in any case. Many religious Jews, for example, do not actively believe in an afterlife; and even those who do, do not usually make it their key emphasis.

Perhaps one aspect of hope is to make this world better, so that the children may grow up to something better than they have now.

And to remember the good people who have died by trying to make the world more into a place that they would like.



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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #38)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:32 PM

42. And believing in an afterlife does not equal the surrender of control or meaning

of this life. I feel sorry for the fools who can't understand how someone can have both. I appreciate your understanding that people can have both. I second your comments of hope and would just add we should also remember those who just lived a life to make this world a better place. Peace and joy to you and yours on this day and every day.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #42)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:58 PM

44. Its not your personal belief in an afterlife that is the problem. Its when groups who believe

in an afterlife (and more) try to get their unfounded beliefs enshrined into law, taught in our schools, and demand everyone else give their beliefs respect at the expense of others.


Why is that so difficult to understand?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #44)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 03:28 PM

48. Do you have any idea of what this post was about?

Here's a clue the state was not mentioned personal beliefs and parents teaching their children was . Why is that so difficult to understand?

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Response to Leontius (Reply #48)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:41 PM

51. When one indoctrinates their child into a belief system that supercedes reality...

where is the freedom that child deserves to make up his/her own mind?

"Give me the child until he is seven and I care not who has him thereafter." - Jesuit Maxim

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #51)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 05:36 PM

60. Your prejudice is showing.

Why am I not suprised?

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Response to Leontius (Reply #60)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 06:07 PM

61. Your ignorance is showing.

No one is surprised.

Care to try again and speak to the topic or will you just toss around more insults? Come, leontious, make Jesus proud.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #61)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 09:02 PM

62. Again not surprised that you fail to take notice when your prejudice is pointed out

as to speaking on the topic you seem to have lost that long ago and when that and your prejudiced remark was pointed out you respond with a childish attempt at sarcasm and whine about insults. This is why fewer and fewer people respond to you. I know I am quite tired of the grade school playground antics you seem to embrace as a method of intelligent discussion. So if you ever feel up to having a discussion as an adult for more than two posts in a row I'm sure many here would welcome it, change can be beneficial it might lead to an enlightenment and the ability to be a freethinker.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #62)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:01 PM

63. Did you say something?

Because all I hear is whining. Please try again.


Jesus sure is proud.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #63)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:16 PM

64. Excellent instead of facing the challenge as an adult you respond with more childish pique.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #64)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:45 AM

65. Ha! Typical of you to try amnd turn it around. YOU are the one that went off the rails.

Maybe YOU should have tried to "face the challenge as an adult" instead of "responding with childish pique." Go have a look at the post where instead of responding like an adult, you chose to sling insults at me.

Hypocrite. Doesn't your bible have something to say about that? Jesus is just BUSTING with pride.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #65)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:39 PM

68. You know you're right there is something in the Bible about 'suffering the little children'.

I have, go play now.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #68)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:23 PM

71. Ahh, more insults. Yes, jesus is a proud Papa, I'm sure.



You are a true credit to your religion. Stay classy!

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #71)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 09:13 PM

72. And the hits just keep on coming

Why not stop now, the hole you're digging won't get you to China no matter how hard you try.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #72)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 11:27 AM

73. And Jesus just keeps getting prouder!

Yet Pride is a sin, right?

Houston, we have a predicament.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:09 PM

11. A Most Enlightening Piece

 

We atheists are often berated and despised because we choose not to buy into someone else's myths and insecurities. Trying to explain just how happy and satisfying that life is without being afraid to die, and without the fear of a hateful and vengeful imaginary manifestation, is my greatest joy. Life is for living, not for living in fear.

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #11)


Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:37 PM

19. Simple Answer

 

For me anyway. I base my morality on what I feel is acceptable and proper. After all, I am the only one that I ever have to answer to. I certainly do not need to pay someone to tell me what it is that I should do, should think, or should act like. We atheists do not belong to any cults that set down strict rules for outward appearances and proper behaviors. I am true to myself at the exclusion of all others. This probably sets my values much higher than those who need instructions.

By the way, I do take your question as a sarcastic insult. If you are serious about such things, then I suggest that you sit down and have a face-to-face discussion with an atheist. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared. If you keep an open mind, you surely will learn a great deal.

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #19)


Response to PADemD (Reply #24)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:18 AM

25. Perhaps You Feel That

 

those of the christian faith posess a far superior morality than do we atheists. If that is indeed the case, and the basis for your question, then I shall be remiss to not remind you of a couple of christians with really high morals.......Adolf Hitler and Timothy McVeigh.

I so do hate to burst your bubble, but one's morality comes from within, not from any external source. If you really do believe that hiding behind a house of worship somehow bestows moral values onto you, then you have very much left to learn about this thing that we call life.

It is my opinion that, just from this briefest of conversations, that you are in dire need of some help with your doubts and insecurities. I promise you that it is perfectly fine to have doubts. It is perfectly fine to ask honest questions. And above all, it is perfectly fine to accept facts and truths over myths and supersticions. The very fact that you felt the need to ask such a question is proof positive of your doubts and curiosities. I also promise you that no person need seek the definition of morality from someone else. Each and every person has those answers buried deep inside their being. Trying to live up to the expectations of others will always be a losing battle. Once you come to terms with who you really are and accept that for what it is, then others will accept you just as you are. You need not work at being something other than what you truly are. Ask yourself the hard questions instead of seeking the answers from someone else. When you get it all figured out, life will be much more enjoyable.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #24)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:42 PM

52. Hey, why did you delete and run away from your post?

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 06:01 PM

20. You base this question on the premise that religion or god is required for someone to be moral.

Beware what you say because the door swings both ways. Every person who makes this argument is also making the point that the only thing keeping them from doing unspeakably horrible things is the fear of their god. That from my perspective is a truly horrifying thought.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 06:05 PM

21. I'm curious as to what "christians" base their morals on, it

certainly isn't the teaching of this Jesus fellow.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 06:47 PM

22. Oh, haven't heard *that* one before...

And the answer is, same thing as everyone else does. We just don't pretend otherwise. Then again, we're not afraid to face the fact. Not much of an answer, but better than you deserve.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 08:05 PM

23. I Treat Orhers The Way I Wish They Would Treat Me

And the people I care about. Isn't that enough?

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:50 AM

26. What kind of world do YOU want to live in?

I'll bet it's the same kind I want, one where people are kind to each other and respectful of everyone's right to be different, one that's predictable enough and where people are rewarded for work so that they don't have to steal to survive, where people find joy with each other. Certainly a world where people don't go out of their way to harm one another in any way.

The only difference is that when you violate this stuff and make it a worse world rather than a better one, you get to put off judgment until you are dead. I have to face my judge every time I look in the mirror.

Atheists simply don't believe in a god or gods. Otherwise there is no difference between us.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:57 AM

29. Irrelevant, there is no god regardless.

Anyway, it's human nature. We project our morals into religion, not the other way around.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:59 AM

30. just doing the right thing?

it's not THAT hard

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 03:39 AM

33. On what do you base your morals?

Just curious.

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Response to PADemD (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:33 PM

37. We have none. We ate one of our kids for festivus last night.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:12 PM

12. I have no troubles with it.

My kid has no concept of angels or heaven or any of that mythology. He's just fine. It's unnecessary.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:16 PM

16. yep!

 

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 05:15 PM

15. I think this part needs to be stressed more. Especially for the religious.

I believe when you die, it’s over and you live on in the memory of people you love and who love you,

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #15)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:51 PM

54. +1000

"you live on in the memory of people you love and who love you..."

So simple, beautiful and true.

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #15)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 10:29 PM

58. I agree, but we both know that will never happen. Gotta keep the lie alive.

And that is what Sunday School is for.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:59 AM

27. right, just tell the truth...

It's not scarey. In fact it's rather liberating and empowering.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 03:08 AM

31. Great post!

That's the way we do it. Anything else is dishonest.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:44 PM

53. Great article!

Great article, thanks for posting!


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Response to Bjornsdotter (Reply #53)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 08:59 PM

59. Your welcome.

Please feel free to post any of your own. We need some new faces in here.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 09:48 AM

67. It's not easy

to tell your kids that when they die, that's it, they are dead. Or to tell them that when I die, that's it, I'm fuckin dead. It's confusing because of the whole "heaven" story. They don't even know what it is like to be alive yet and we are fuckin scaring them about death. I was kinda forced into the whole baptism/catechism/ confirmation bullshit by the grandparents of my daughter. Instead of fuckin arguing with everyone I went ahead and put her in. It didn't take long before she realized that going to school all week, then having to go to sunday school was a pain in the ass. She'd rather be playing and doing other kids things instead of spending an hour or so every Sunday learning about something she really doesn't care about. I didn't force her to stop going, but let me fuckin tell you, the day she said she didn't want to go anymore I didn't hesitate to say I had no problem with it. I asked her why, mostly because I thought maybe something bad happened and she was scared or maybe bullying or other bad shit and she just said she didn't want to go anymore. I asked her if she believed in Jesus or God and she said "I don't know, just seems phony" and that was it. She's 17 now and never looked back. I never even bothered enrolling my son, but again due to pressure from the grandparents, on both sides I should add, we had him baptized. It doesn't come up much anymore, I encourage them to read about religions and see how they influence their lives in good and bad ways, but that's about it. I would never disown them for their beliefs or lack thereof, but I think they get it.

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