2/23/2007                                                                                       View Comments

The Atheist's Dilemma

By Justin Baragona

Religion is a very important element in the lives of the majority of people in this world, whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. The level of belief that one person feels to his or her religion varies, from casual recognition of your religion on major religious holidays all the way towards full blown extremism. However, it would be safe to say that the majority of people, at least in this nation, believe in a god and feel that there is a deeper meaning to their existence, that there is a heaven or some form of an afterlife, and that through worship of the god that they can attain everlasting happiness in the afterlife.

Then, you have the flip side of the equation, the atheist. The atheist came to a conclusion sometime in his life that there was no such thing as a higher being, that there is not an afterlife and that once you die that is all. Most likely, this happened while he was a teenager or a young adult, when his religious teachings stopped making sense to him and what he learned in school just could not be reconciled with what the church was telling him. Or maybe the concept of blind faith in a deity that he could find no proof of did not sit well with him. The atheist was able to find it easier to not believe than to believe. It was at this point that the atheist looks back at the history of religion, and not just necessarily the one that he stopped believing in, but the belief in god(s) in general.

He sits back and sees that early man used an unseen god to explain away the things he did not, or could not, understand. The wind, the sun, the stars, the rain…all of this was done by a god. And this god, or gods, should be worshipped and paid tribute to, especially if it was felt that the god affected their way of life. As man progressed through history, religion would be used as a tool of power to maintain order amongst the masses. Civilizations were built, in part or wholly, through the belief and fear of gods. Men of power would typically use the belief in the god to keep their position and to instill fear in the population. Sometimes, religion was used to stifle scientific and academic progress. The atheist looks back and bemoans the destructive tendency of religion and feels self-satisfied for knowing that he is above it all.

The atheist, however, sometimes concentrates on the negative impact of religion and forgets some of the positive contributions to mankind. Mostly, he tends to gloss over the development of a moral code that came from religion that would thus be the framework for a government and legal system. It was most likely necessary in the beginnings of civilization to have our laws be given to us by a higher power, to help create order and try to ensure that people would follow for fear of a greater retribution. Then there is another huge factor of religion that the atheist tries to ignore, but inevitably can't: It gives people hope and meaning in their lives. While the atheist might have been able to come to grips with the fact that we only have one life and there is nothing afterwards, it is still a depressing thought to think that this is all there is. The atheist's dilemma with life is to acknowledge that it has no greater meaning, that it is all just a chance occurrence.

Some of the wind goes out of the atheist's sails at this point. Not necessarily because he is depressed when he comes back to the acknowledgement that life has no meaning , but in knowing that it would be impossible to expect that most people would be able to accept this. He knows that people need a reason to go on with their lives. They need something to believe in and something to hope for. They need to feel that there is a greater power than them and that life is not the end all. So, the atheist must accept this, because most people need to believe in a god to get through their lives, to give them a sense of purpose. In the end, though, this should be fine with the atheist, as he is not looking to convert believers, as he does not belong to a religion and does not believe in any deity that he feels must be worshipped.

OK, it should be obvious to anyone reading now that I am an atheist. Personally, I feel that religion is a waste of time and prevents mankind from moving forward. However, as I seem to acknowledge in the paragraphs above, I also realize the necessity for religion, for the belief in God and an afterlife. For many people, it can be downright depressing to think that we do not have a higher purpose in life. I do not have a problem with anyone's personal beliefs, and do not care that they congregate to worship or celebrate religious holidays or anything else of that nature. What I do have a problem with is groups of people who feel that the laws and policies of this nation and its government should be dictated by their own personal religious beliefs. I do have a problem with people railing against science because it conflicts with text that was written thousands of years ago. I do have a problem with how people feel it is necessary that we can only elect someone to office once we know that they are a person of faith. I do have a problem with people who feel that their religion needs to constantly be reinforced and recognized publicly. I do have a problem with people using religion as an excuse for intolerance.

31 comments:

ryan said...

Just a brief response, Justin, and thanx for a fine and reasonable posting.

About religion providing a moral framework for any government......I am not a student of comparative religion--so I will refrain from commenting on religion in general--but xristianity is the antithesis of anything we would call democracy. Our Founders made this republic when they ditched xristianity. Any assertion that xristianity is the moral premise of this country makes me shudder.

And sir, I sincerly doubt you meant it that way.

ryan said...

Justin,after a re reading of your posting, I can see that you meant no such thing.

One more thing: to confront meaninglessness is a dilema we find in the existentialists (I always did like Sartre) but personally, I have never participated in this European angst. When I look out on the suffering of this world, it is a comfort to know that it has no meaning. To think that all this pain has a meaning--or more to the point, to think that some deity has orchestrated the whole bloody mess for his own purpose--would be more than I could bear.

I will now indulge in a bit of self-disclosure. Beyond what is required for debate, self-disclosure is usually bad form. I am a vietnam veteran, and while in that godforsaken country I watched teenage boys shot like so many farm animals, while the voters sat back and jacked off. More than 50000 good troops died for a tribe of stone age savages who didn't even have a word for freedom in their language. To start believing that it "meant" something would be to push my mental health over the deep end.

RickC said...

Justin,

IMO any hope derived from religion is merely an illusion. That illusion can bring comfort at times of loss or struggle as well as a belief that the future will be better and that past wrongs will be corrected. It is only an illusion, though.

Furthermore, I think the word 'illusion' means 'to lie with honor'. Hope from religion is merely a lie.

So, how do I (an atheist) obtain hope? Simple. I feel that if there is to be any meaning in my life or any hope for the future then it is up to me to create it (or do my part in helping to create it).

I may have evolved by chance, and my purpose (from the perspective of evolution) may be to survive, to compete, to pass on my genes, to support my progeny, and finally to die. However, I do not have to accept that definition.

If I am to experience heaven, then I have to work to create it here on earth in this lifetime.

If I am to have hope for the future, then it is up to me to create it (not only for myself but for others).

And no, the absence of god does not take the wind out of my sails. It only gives me a greater appreciatation for the life that I have right here and right now.

jim earl said...

Is false hope better than no hope? Not for me and my existence. I would rather have no hope than false hope. What good is having something great to believe in and put trust in, that in reality, is false?

I would rather go with reality whenever possible.

Ryan Scott said...

"moral code that came from religion"

whoops - religion came about as a way to enforce morals. It's been demonstrated that morals are innate and moral behaviour is documented in many species.

If we were not moral before religion, how did we survive as a species?

D Laurier said...

I Only ad to get yet ANOTHER google account to post this, and again i lost and forgot my original fucking post.

Jamie G. said...

" He knows that people need a reason to go on with their lives. They need something to believe in and something to hope for. They need to feel that there is a greater power than them and that life is not the end all."

I disagree with this statement. Not everyone feels this way. And as an atheist I don't have to accept this in other people.

I gladly accept my fate, whatever it may be. What is is what is, and no amount of hope or blind faith can change that, especially for me. The universe certainly owes me no favors and I am content to live if only for a brief second and then dissolve into nothingness. In the end it doesn't matter anyways. And this may all sound bleak and dark, but I don't belly ache that someday I am going to die, I got way too much living to do until then. And until then I am quite happy, life can be beautiful.

TastyPaper said...

Jamie - My sentiments, exactly. I love my life and I love living it and meeting it's challenges, I have no need of meaning or divine purpose.

carl_kaun said...

Justin wrote "Mostly, he tends to gloss over the development of a moral code that came from religion that would thus be the framework for a government and legal system."

Our moral code didn't come from religion, it came from man, from our innate responses as a social animal and from our growing experience with what works and what doesn't. For example, the bible doesn't seem to have a problem with slavery. People did, and eventually (mostly) ended the institution. Religion indeed adopts moral codes in recognition of their centrality to the human condition, but except for things like the first four of the commandments, does not create them.

spammail said...

I honestly do not see much positive impact to mankind from religion, unless you refer to control and rule of the masses by fear and brainwashing?

If anything, religion and its roots in superstition, fear and intolerance have brought forth some of the human race's ugliest sides.

Having never been indoctrinated or raised with any religion, I've always been an outside observer, not quite knowing what it's like on the inside. But from what I have seen through out my life, religion is an unfortunate crutch used by believers for a variety of reasons.

It saddens me when these people could be so much more, so much stronger, so much more.. of themselves, when they can stand on their own 2 feet, reach down and find that inner strength and confidence within themselves, no matter how difficult, painful and suffering-laden it may be. And even if they finally realize they just can't do it by themselves, they know they tried and it using all the power and knowledge from within.

Wind out of my sails? LOL. uh, no... I have never felt that way.. and I don't quite understand that view that seems to always be propogated only by those who have been religious or indoctrinated with religion before.

There is so much to explore in this world, so much to learn, so much to grow and improve upon oneself that it saddens me very much when someone declares that their life has lost all meaning without religion. Do these people not have hobbies, interests, goals? A direction for their life? There is so much out there, and religion and belief is the lala land is such a tiny, tiny, tiny aspect of everything..

Speaking of which, I've noticed everytime people wax all lyrical about the "afterlife" and "eternal existence" and the "meaning of life" they are never clear about exactly what they expect. Everlasting happiness?? no thank you.. that rather sounds like one loooong drug induced haze to me. Seriously, think about what it means to be happy. what makes you happy. Is it doing what you enjoy? socializing with your friends? A feeling of self growth, self improvement and a sense of accomplishment?

Anything I ever hear about the happily-ever-after always seems to be the status quo. Will there be a library of knowledge to study? How does one become "happy" and self-fulfilled if "everything is made clear in the afterlife" by just zapping the knowledge into your brain. That sounds rather like a moment of orgasmic bliss. But if you know everything, then what is there to do for the rest of "eternity"?

Eternity is a very, very, very long time to be bored. I have no desire to spend an eternity worshipping a god in the heavens - is that what they do?

When there are no disappointments, no suffering, no pain, no failure, how do you know when you've suceeded? And what room is there for growth once there are no setbacks?

It seems like as always, for believers, they just want the easy way out. Instant knowledge, instant bliss, for ever and ever and ever. Might as well put them to sleep now and out of their misery.

I believe non-believers find joy out of the fact that they exist. The experience of every neuron firing in pain or bliss. The rain on your face in a spring shower, the sweat, blood and tears put into accomplishing a task you set for yourself, the many papercuts received studying a library of knowledge by the light of a single candle.

When a person finds that their sole source of happiness and hope is the prospect of no longer existing on this earth, that is the ultimate sadness.

The sad thing is, that religion only gives those people one purpose. And before long that "purpose" which is dictated by a book or some prophet, or nirvana'd dead guy, overrides and controls every other aspect of their lives.

For those without religion, there is an entire feast of "purposes" out their to choose from. Choose several if you like. All are fair game and the ultimate choice is up to you. Prioritize them as you like, shift them if necessary, drop them if they no longer fit you.


In the end I think you've got it all wrong.. for someone who is born and raised without religion and superstition, life has never had any meaning, but yet at the same time it has always had meaning, and that meaning has always been what we make it.

That is the difference of discovery when an religious child and a non-religious child is raised.. a religious child is told that there is only one true purpose in their life. When they are cut loose, it is like they find themselves floating lost and aimless in the vacuum of space, not realizing that there is solid ground below their feet (being indoctrinated that the ground does not exist), and a vast starfield of possibilities about them. The non-religious child is born into the vastness of possibilities, never told that there is only one and the rest do not exist or are not worthy of his/her attention. And so this child grows up leaping into the air to reach for the stars in this awesome void.

The religious curl up in despair at the awesomeness of this "purposeless" void, and it is for them I shed a tear.

spammail said...

D Laurier said...

I Only ad to get yet ANOTHER google account to post this, and again i lost and forgot my original fucking post.


10 tries before i can post.. i hate this fucking new thing as well... tip: always copy (ctrl-v/cmd-v) your post before you go submitting anything in case the browser eats your post for lunch!

there seems to be a timeout on the word verification as well

Jamie said...

Spammail,

That was really beautiful, thanks for posting it.

SpaceMonk said...

An atheist comment on Youtube helped change my perspective on the 'hopeless-ness' of life.
They said, "The only hope we give up is false hope."

I like that.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

There have been some really good things that have come out of religion for a few. Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Bennie Hinn, Jerry Falwell, Joel Olstein,(until recently Ted Haggard) and others in their league have become filthy rich because of it, not to mention the power to control others. I think every religous kid should strive to be like them, and then their religion would have a real good purpose, but other than that, no there is nothing good that ever came out of religion.

I am waiting for someone to come up with an infomercial on how to con the masses and become a successful T.V. or megachurch preacher.

madbuni said...

I enjoyed reading your post Justin, it was very good, and thought provoking. I do not have as tolerant a respect for religion as you do. I am a fan of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, they seem to be writing just for me. (LOL)

I believe that religion, even in the most benign form is a very dangerous virus of the mind which is spread generation after generation in humans through parents, preachers and teachers infecting innocent children. I would love to see the virus cure in my lifetime, but know I will not. Sometimes I think it just might lead to the extinction of the human race. Sounds pretty dismal doesn't it?

All that said, I love life as it is, and live it knowing I will die and there will be nothing of me thereafter except in the memory of those who choose to think of me. I enjoy my beautiful children and grandchildren, some are religious, some are not, but I love them unconditionally. I have not one desire for a creator to worship, and am awe stricken at every new scientific development.

I am going to leave a quote from Richard Dawkins book "Unweaving the Rainbow" It almost brings tears to my eyes and gives me a greater understanding of why I am here.

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

...we didn't arrive by spaceship, we arrived by being born, and we didn't burst conscious into the world but accumulated awareness gradually through babyhood. The fact that we gradually apprehend our world, rather than suddenly discovering it, should not subtract from its wonder."

Peace.

Hellbound Alleee said...

If religion has come out of government or vice-versa, I can see how we need neither.

The idea of religion providing a moral framework for government is absurd yet somewhat accurate, in that only religion can see fit to rationalize the idea of "might makes right." We need neither religion nor government to tell us about the morality of actions. It's like saying we can democratically determine the moral course of actions. Ridiculous. Democracy can no more make things moral than monarchy can. Democracy is not the antithesis of religion--it's just another competing belief system.

A. F. said...

I think Justin has a point to a point, but I agree with the other comments thus far. Yes, Christianity does give people a sense of meaning to their lives. The problem is that it is based on a complete lie. I say this not because atheists believe the Bible to be a lie, but because preachers say things completely opposite to the Bible behind pulpits everyday. They teach that Jesus loved others, but then they gloss over hell or the time he overthrew the tables of the money changers in the temple. They say God is love, but then neglect to mention the Paul said to excommunicate repeat sinners from the church. Certainly, the Bible does make for a comforting fairy tale once you get past all the intolerance of the NT and all the viciousness of the OT.
At the heart of the matter is that people want to hear that THEIR life has meaning, but they don't want to have to work at it or want to consider others at all. For example, few people do half the things the Bible commands (such as really loving your neighbor as yourself). The people who do work at their salvation are often condemning of others, so they are guilty of not loving everyone too. But for some reason (e.g. delusion) both groups feel like they are going to heaven, not because of the Bible, but because a preacher, who probably makes several excuses for their "sins", told them so.

pan-kun said...

If morals came from religion then where did religion come from? A god wrote them in stone and gave them to Moses? No, religion is man's invention. So the point is irrelavent.

If I see some one in serious trouble who needs my help I help them because I am human and feel empathy for them, not because I am religious.

Anonymous said...

Justin
I know you mean well but believing doesn't make something true."Ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free". One of the few passages in the bible that atheists cling to.

ryan said...

Well thanx for reading my post, Alleee. I am flattered. You know a smart man when you meet one, hmmm?

When I use the word "democracy" I do not refer to what we experience in the present day. I refer to the visions of Tom Jefferson and Tom Paine; Franklin; Madison, and all the people we call the Founders.

You know as well as I, my dear, that the rights we enjoy are due to the work of a small group of freethinkers, and not to the will of god, not to his son, and sure as the fuck not to any seminary graduated who pretends to speak for either.

ryan said...

Excuse me, I meant seminary "graduate"

alanh said...

The atheist's dilemma with life is to acknowledge that it has no greater meaning, that it is all just a chance occurrence.

That's the atheist's dilemma with life as defined by a Christian. "Greater meaning" implies the existence of a "greater being" with a grand plan, and if you buy into that then atheism will always appear to be lacking. Any supernatural "greater meaning" is in reality a fiction created by man. The second part of the "dilemma," that life is a chance occurrence, does not follow from the first. The choices are not a) God exists, or b) life is due to random processes. We don't know yet how life originated, but we do have an understanding of evolution, and there's a lot more going on than just random mutation.

most people need to believe in a god to get through their lives, to give them a sense of purpose

Only because they have been taught to think that way. We can try to move beyond thousands of years of superstition and embrace reality, or we can sit back and let the delusion continue.

Anonymous said...

Atheist’s Dilemma = Life without meanings and hopes?
Theist(Religion)’s Delusion = Life with meanings and hopes?

If we don’t know death, we don’t know life.
If we don’t know misery, we don’t know happiness.
If we don’t know authoritarian ruler, we don’t know democratic ruler.
If we don’t know chaos, we don’t know order.
If we don’t know stupid people, we don’t know intelligent people.
If we don’t know immorality, we don’t know morality.
If we don’t know negative, we don’t know positive.

Could I say: If we don’t know theism, we don’t know atheism?

dano said...

Spammail,
Absolutely, love, the way you are able to think!

When I see the old evangelists like Billy Graham, who have grown old after repeating the Christian cliches over and over for a lifetime, I wonder, if at the end, it ever dawns on them how truly empty and meaningless it all was.

Billy was truly a victim. Christianity stole his brain, and the worse part he spent a lifetime inflicting it on millions of others.

You know that the lights had to come on at certain juncture on their lives, and they realized how irrational, and silly the whole thing was, but they just dug deeper into the cult until they end up like Billy, standing there with that big bible in his hand, old, weak and frail, repeating the same threats of hell, and rewards of heaven for those who will join him in his cult.
Dan (I am so thankful to be a nonbeliever. Virus! Be gone from me!)

10Matt39 said...

I think most young people come to the conclusion that there is no God for the same reason that they would like to say that there is no such thing as parents. They don't want anyone to be in authority over them. To seek God is to seek an authority over them. We're really kidding ourselves if we think we make some sort of unbiased judgment about whether God exists or not.

The only way we can come to grips with a life that lacks real meaning and real purpose is to invent something that pleases us then deceive ourselves into believing that our invention is real and is really something for which we ought to give our lives. The way we come to grips with that reality is to lie to ourselves. But as long as the only reality is the feeling, what does truth matter except to get in the way?

.:webmaster:. said...

Matt,

I'm not sure I'm following your comment. I'm 48 and didn't come to the conclusion that Christianity was nothing more than delusion until I was about 41. Surely you're not suggesting I only came to that conclusion in order to somehow escape responsibility in my life, are you?

No doubt, people who find their lives unsatisfying may find fantasy a better home for their thoughts, but my life was great. And it still is. I'm thinking that those who wallow in religion are more prone toward the denial of reality than those who embrace rational thinking.

Perhaps I just misunderstood you. Could you restate your comment a bit more clearly?

Thanks.

Jim Arvo said...

Matt said "I think most young people come to the conclusion that there is no God for the same reason that they would like to say that there is no such thing as parents. They don't want anyone to be in authority over them...."

Oh? That's very curious. Can you describe how you reached that conclusion? Is that what some of them told you? Is it possible that you are projecting that attitude onto them based on your own presuppositions? Please do elaborate.

Matt: "...We're really kidding ourselves if we think we make some sort of unbiased judgment about whether God exists or not."

I actually agree with you on that. I think we kid ourselves if we believe we reach any conclusion in a completely unbiased fashion. However, there are biases, and then there are BIASES. In other words, some approaches to reasoning are closer to being objective than others. Agreed? In my opinion, a crucial element in mitigating our biases is to question why we believe what we believe; that is, to examine what actually supports our beliefs, rather than insulating them from scrutiny. Needless to say, I feel that religions generally encourage insular thinking, and thereby exacerbate biases rather than mitigate them.

Matt: "The only way we can come to grips with a life that lacks real meaning and real purpose is to invent something that pleases us then deceive ourselves into believing that our invention is real and is really something for which we ought to give our lives."

Perhaps for some. Personally, I've never had to deal with "meaninglessness" or lack of direction. TO me life is full of meaning and endless challenges. I don't need some external invisible entity to grant me "meaning". I must say, though, that if I had read only that once sentence in your post, I would have assumed that you were talking about religionists. To me, it is they who invent things to believe in, and thereby give their lives "meaning".

Matt: "...as long as the only reality is the feeling, what does truth matter except to get in the way?"

Let's stop and look at your premise: "The only reality is the feeling". What does that mean? Is that your view of the atheist's position? Honestly, I can't make much sense of it. Can you point to someone who asserts that the only reality is "feeling"? I won't comment further until you clarify. Thanks.

10Matt39 said...

To the Webmaster:

You wrote, "I'm not sure I'm following your comment. I'm 48 and didn't come to the conclusion that Christianity was nothing more than delusion until I was about 41. Surely you're not suggesting I only came to that conclusion in order to somehow escape responsibility in my life, are you?"

I had written, "I think most young people come to the conclusion that there is no God ...". I was responding to Justin's comments which I saw as praising the world renowned wisdom of young people. Obviously I cannot comment on your particular motives.

TO Jim,

Matt: "They don't want anyone to be in authority over them...."

Jim: "Oh? That's very curious. Can you describe how you reached that conclusion? Is that what some of them told you?"

Yes, they did. Start the conversation by asking if they would like their parents to live near them when they go off to college. Watch the horror go across their faces. To them, God and religion is "in loco parentis".

Jim: "Agreed? In my opinion, a crucial element in mitigating our biases is to question why we believe what we believe; that is, to examine what actually supports our beliefs, rather than insulating them from scrutiny."

Yes, I agree.

Jim: "Personally, I've never had to deal with "meaninglessness" or lack of direction."

If you have purpose in your life without having to deal with it, then I presume that you mean that you never felt that your life was meaningless or without direction. Is that correct?

Jim Arvo said...

I asked Matt about his assertion that young people reject the notion of god because they do not wish to submit to authority. I asked how he reached this conclusion. Matt said

"...Start the conversation by asking if they would like their parents to live near them when they go off to college. Watch the horror go across their faces. To them, God and religion is 'in loco parentis'".

Matt, let me make this more plain. Has anyone said words to this effect to you: "I have rejected the idea of god because I do not like to submit to authority"? Your comment about having parents live nearby is not equivalent. Most people wish to distance themselves from their parents at some point; that in no way suggests that they will also base deep philosophical conclusions on this desire. Your assertion requires quite a leap on your part (which I happen to think is completely unfounded, and quite ridiculous).

I said "Personally, I've never had to deal with 'meaninglessness' or lack of direction." To which Matt responded "If you have purpose in your life without having to deal with it, then I presume that you mean that you never felt that your life was meaningless or without direction. Is that correct?"

I'm not quite sure what the "it" in your sentence refers to, but I can answer the second part of your question. No, I have never felt that my life had no "meaning", and I have always been driven to study and learn, so I've always had "direction". By the way, I continue to put those words in quotes to emphasize that you and I probably mean different things by them. When you talk about "meaning", you probably intend some cosmic connection that entails a grand design in the mind of god. To me, that's all make-believe, so my sense of "meaning" is rooted in personal objectives and my relationships with colleagues, friends, and family, not to mention society at large. Perhaps by your definition that is "meaningless" if not also tied to the wishes of some deity. If that is so (and I don't wish to put words in your mouth), then we can argue about whether that is in fact a reasonable definition. I happen to think not.

.:webmaster:. said...

Thanks for the clarification, Matt.

So, you are premising that most young people who begin to doubt belief in the supernatural are only doing so as a kind of rebellion against authority, or something along those lines. I realize I’ve added to your words, but this seems to be the direction, at least as far as I can understand you, that your thoughts are leading.

If I’ve misstated you, please let me know.

If this is your premise, then I believe you’ve made a gross generalization. I’d also call your analogy between abandoning faith in god and escaping parental authority inaccurate. I have three children, one is grown and married, one is in college, and the third is in the final year of High School. None believe in god, yet none are in open rebellion against their parents. This alone, in my mind, seems to contradict your idea.

However, even if all three of my kids were in open rebellion against me, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that to be a sign of them wanting to escape responsibility or authority. For instance, my first son is married with children and is currently serving as a US Marine. He joined up after high school and although I was against it, he wanted to be on his own, make his own decisions and be an adult. Still, he obviously answers to authority and has a significantly increased number of responsibilities above what he ever was burned with in my home.

I think it is perfectly natural for young people to want to cut the apron strings as part of the process of becoming an adult. I not only think this is natural, I think it is absolutely necessary in order to become a self-sufficient, emotionally mature grownup. Mama-boys and Daddy-girls are only endearing when they are extremely young. It is healthy and good for young people to want to strike out on their own. I’d be much more concerned if my kids didn’t want to leave the nest.

Implying that a healthy desire in young people for the opportunity of being responsible for their own actions is a craving for irresponsibility is not well thought out. Here’s why: Since emotionally healthy adults tend to grow into self-sufficient, responsible people, and don’t generally continue fostering a subservient role to their parents. Adult children become equals to the parents. Therefore, I don’t see how the transition from child to adult in any way relates to loss of belief in supernatural gods in the way you suggest. What you seem to be saying is that it is BAD for children to want to become self-sufficient adults!

Worse for you, what your unintended message is, is that abandoning supernatural, magical thinking is one sure sign that a child is becoming an adult.