We nonbelievers probably hear a lot of similar arguments and claims from believers. I usually just smile and change the subject, which means I have decades of responses bottled up. So here they are, uncorked.
“You’re sending your children to hell because you’re not teaching them faith in [the Christian] God.”
I’m amazed that Christians are willing to love a God that would banish children to an eternal existence of pain and suffering for their parents’ “sins.”
“How can you not believe in the Bible?”
I believe in the Bible. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and am certain of its existence. What I think you mean to say is that I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God. First, I don’t believe in God, which would mean I can’t believe the Bible is the word of God, so I’m not sure why we even talk about this. And secondly, if I were to believe in any God, I wouldn’t want to believe in the one portrayed in the Bible. He is a merciless, angry, vengeful, illogical, inconsistent psychopath who sanctions the rape of women, the theft of property, the killing of children, women, men, and so on. But if you want to believe the stories in the Bible represent your God, all the power to you.
“May I give your boys children’s Bibles?”
First, thank you for asking and for wanting to teach my boys about the Bible. I want them to be religiously fluent, which I think it’s important that they understand the teachings of many religions. We are working on this with them in a natural way. However, I don’t want them learning watered-down Biblical stories that have been cleansed of all violence and atrocities. Those stories are untrue depictions of the Bible and of the Christian God. So when they are old enough to be exposed to the entirety of the Bible — horrors and all — I will gladly buy them a Bible and welcome you to sit with us as we talk about it in detail.
“You’re not raising your children with any morals because morality comes from God.”
The argument that religion is not the only source of rules to live by is so overdone. (Not to mention the fact that there’s a whole lot that’s taught in Christianity that I find completely immoral. See above.) So rather than go down this well trodden path again, I’ll say only this: my children make decisions about what is right and wrong based on their capacity to think, consider others, empathize, and understand the consequences of their actions. And they are learning to respectfully question the status quo and authority when they see something wrong in the world, or that something can be better. Maybe you want your children to make decisions based on what an invisible being tells them is right and wrong, but I place more value on teaching them that they should do good because it’s their responsibility to be positive contributors to the world.
“I can’t imagine how you feel to not believe in God and eternal salvation. That’s so sad. I hope one day, you’ll open your heart to Jesus so you can find the happiness that only he can bring.”
To those who’ve said my lack of belief in God is sad: I am very happy. I have a great life, a beautiful family, and a rich world I love discovering. Religion makes me sad. It’s confining and limiting, to me. I’m happy you’ve found comfort in religion. We are different people and need different things to be happy. There are a lot of happy people in this world who don’t believe in your god or any gods. Some are happier than you. Some are not. To think you have found the only true happiness is egocentric. But then again, Christianity is amazingly egocentric. So I suppose this is a losing battle.
“The Bible says…”
I’m fine with talking about the Bible. But using the Bible to prove God’s existence makes absolutely no sense to me. That’s like using a Stephen King novel to prove the existence of aliens. Entertaining, for sure. But not proof of anything.
“There’s no evidence that God doesn’t exist.”
There is also no evidence that unicorns, dragons and elves don’t exist but we (generally) accept their non-existence. It’s impossible to prove a negative. Therefore, the burden of proof is on believers. Before you say that it requires faith, save your breath, because now we’re not talking about evidence or logic and you’ve just taken the easy way out.