Here a question I get frequently. This one from Andrew, an atheist involved with a Catholic girl. I don't claim that I have THE answer to his concern, but thought I would share this with the community for more discussion:
I wrote you last week and told you how fascinated I was with your
book, considering I was only half way through it. Well I just finished
it yesterday, and I have to tell you again, it was fantastic. I'm going
to post my amazon review real soon.
I really loved when you
were explaining the guilt cycle, and how it sucks people into religion.
After reading that part, I think I realized why I am so happy to not be
religious. However I have a question, my mother, and my girlfriend both are what we would
consider cafeteria Catholics. In the case of my girlfriend, I can see
religion getting in the way if we ever got married, because she would
want to raise our kids as Catholics and her extended family would do
exactly what you said they would do if we didn't. And that is step
right in and try to infect the kids themselves. How do you deal with
that? Is it even possible?
Re: Half way through you're book.
Re: Half way through you're book.
Andrew: Thanks for the thoughtful note. Per your question,
I get it frequently. How would your girlfriend or her family feel if
you converted to Momonism or Islam and insisted that the children be
brought up in that manner? They might withdraw from you entirely. The
issue is every god virus seeks to perpetuate itself just like every
cold virus or AIDS virus. You would not willingly cause a loved one to
be infected with a cold let alone AIDS, would you willingly infect your
own children with a cold or a religion? That is the question you have
to answer for yourself. You can't force your girlfriend or her family
to disinfect themselves, only they can do that. You can make an
informed decision about whether you want to become a vector or not.
People can pass on cold viruses or other kinds of diseases even if they
themselves do not or cannot catch them. You can be irreligious while
still passing on the god virus.
Catholic god viruses use guilt to a huge degree. People infected with
the Catholic virus have many deep seated guilt based behaviors. Even
cafeteria Catholics display a lot of guilt. The god virus cannot
perpetuate itself without guilt. So, while you are obviously free of
the guilt, those who are infected will try and pass that along to your
children or make you feel guilty if you don't go along with their guilt
inducing religious indoctrination.
Having raised two children and watching my grandsons as they grow up. I
am amazed at how strong and forceful family members can be in forcing
guilt messages on children. I saw and felt it as I was growing up and
it took years to get over. I don't think my parents were more guilt
driven than most parents, but the rest of my family was.
I married into a fundamentalist (protestant) family and for 18 years
found myself fighting a losing battle with them over infecting my own
children with guilt. I love my children, but I can see the struggles
they are having today. One has escaped to a large degree, the other has
been totally sucked in. As a result (the fundamentalist) is making a
lot of mistakes that are easily avoided and she cannot understand why
her children are responding as they are.
All children are born atheist, they get the god virus from their
children. Which god virus do you want your children to have? Catholic,
Jehovah's Wittnesses, Moslem, Mormon? or would you rather they get a
good cross cultural religious education so they can make up their own
mind when they are 18. Children raised in this fashion rarely get
religion later. They see what infection does to anyone in any religion
and have the antibodies to avoid it. It is a wonderful gift from a
parent, if they raise a child virus free. For more on this subject see
Dale McGowan's two book on Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising
Ask your girlfriend, would she object if you raised your children in
any of these other religions I named? If she objects, then ask her what
her objections are? Ask her what objective criteria you might use for
evaluating the benefits of a Catholic upbringing vs a Baptist or Moslem
or Mormon? Why should her childhood upbringing dictate that of your
children. If she were born into a Baptist or Mormon family, she would
be insisting on that type of upbringing. It is nothing more than what
family you were born in. Is that a rational way to choose a life long
and life determining pathway? Once chosen, it is difficult and often
impossible for people to escape. Choosing to start smoking is a
lifelong and life changing choice and very difficult thing to escape.
We encourage children to make a rational decision about smoking. Why
not encourage a rational choice on religion as well.
Well enough for now. Hope this gives some perspective. Glad you enjoyed The God Virus and learned something useful from it.
All the best and thanks again for your kind note,