• Atheist Parenting, Secular Values

    I was in the car today with my 10-year-old daughter, my oldest child. We were talking about her upcoming school year and we got to the topic of bullying, which fortunately seems to be taken very seriously by the school administration.

    I told my daughter that I expected her not only to not be a bully herself, but to watch out for people who were being bullied. I said she needed to be a good friend and to show courage if someone else was being bullied. I also let her know to come to me, her mother, or other adults she trusted if she was ever bullied. No one deserves to be bullied, I said.

    At no point in our talk did either of us feel the need to invoke God as a reason to oppose bullying. There was no necessary place for Jesus in the discussion. Reviewing the injunctions of Allah would have added nothing to the message or its meaning.

    I think about this because I keep hearing that atheists have no reason to care about other people. I suppose the critics think I, the atheist, should even have no reason to care about either my daughter or her behavior. Indeed, the critics say that the fact I care means I am a latent theist whose sponged theistic values.

    The theists keep saying that belief in God is necessary. It’s foundational for morality. But this is a lie, and all it takes to show the lie is to observe what we ourselves do and say throughout a normal day.

    I cannot think of even one teaching of any value that requires a theistic or religious component. Not one.

    Category: Home Life


    Article by: Larry Tanner

    • Zahra

      Suicide? How would you explain to your daughter that committing suicide is wrong if she were to ever be really depressed. I mean really really depressed (God forbid) and felt as though she had no-one to love her including you.

      There is a person and that person has society. If society leaves that person then that person has nothing left, no reason to live. They commit suicide.

      There is another person, that person has society and God. Society leaves that person, they believe in God, they turn to God, they know it’s forbidden to commit suicide. They don’t commit suicide.


      • lartanner

        Were my daughter ever to contemplate suicide I would try to persuade her (1) to seek help, and (2) to see herself as someone who is loved and needed.

        I don’t see how it would be at all helpful to tell a suicidal person that suicide is immoral. In fact, that seems like an absolutely awful and potentially counterproductive idea.

      • Ciro Galli

        Mythology characters are never a good idea to convince or dissuade anybody of/from anything. If you’re gonna talk somebody out of suicide do it with truth and reason, and not through fairy tales and fables about hijacked moral intuitions they didn’t even come up with themselves in the first place.

      • baal

        Having talked to a suicidal person recently; I emphasized thinking about what that person wanted to do tomorrow and the day after. The last thing the person needed was yet another person telling them that they have a defect or were not measuring up. That message of “you’re lacking” or “your immoral” or “you’re a sinner” is what got them into the depressive / suicidal mode in the first place.