"Can I come with you to run errands," my teenager asked me the other day.
I should have been suspicious. What teenager wants to go run errands with their mom on a Saturday morning rather than sleeping in. We climb into the car and head to the Library with Michaels, Best Buy, Total Wine, and Target next on the list in that order. "Well, I wanted to talk to you about something..." he says as we are heading out of the apartment complex. I don't know what I was expecting. Perhaps he wants to share some intimate detail about his life that he doesn't want to share with husband. Perhaps he has a Christmas gift plan for husband and wanted to come along in hopes that we would buy it. Nope.
"Have you ever considered that God might be real." This insulting question has been asked before in my home by this same kid. "Ummm...I used to believe he was real," was my reply. "So yes, I considered it and believed it for a very long time." He then proceeded to try and convince me that because he was convinced there was a god, because he "just knows" I should believe too. I calmly explained to him that personal experiences are just that, personal. Just like I can't ever understand what he is going through as a kid in foster care, I also cannot form my beliefs around someone else's experiences. Now, I know (and you do too if you have been reading this blog for any significant amount of time) that this kid doesn't know shit about what he believes. Sure, he believes there is a god, but he has never read a single holy book, has never had a any kind of spiritual awakening or encounter, knows absolutely nothing about philosophy, theology, or tenant of faith. He hasn't attended a church in over two years and seems to be unconcerned about connecting to one. In fact, I would say that he has basically created his own religion that centers around horror movies, urban myths, with a smattering of Christianity thrown in there so we know which god he actually wants to believe in. So my respect for this kid's "beliefs" is admittedly low.
He then tried to convince me to take a six week Angel Course on-line that is only $147. I told him that it was a rip off and anyone who tells him differently is...wait for it...selling something. Do they have evidence for these angels that you are supposed to be in contact with? "They have personal testimonies." Nope, I need something more than that. I spent my whole life being told to believe in something that there was very little evidence for. I am not going to spend that much money on something, to do something that I don't even care about. "You don't care if you see angels?" he asks, shocked. Nope. If angels exist, which there is no evidence to back that up, I don't really see why it would matter if I did see them. Then I asked him why this was so important to him. "Because I am having doubts myself and I figure if I can get you to believe, then I will too." Ahhh. So I explained again that one's faith is very personal. That I cannot live his faith for him. If he wants to believe there is a god or angels or whatever, he can, but he cannot force me to believe them to make himself feel better.
Then we talked a bit about confirmation bias. You really want this stuff to be real huh? He nods his head. When you go online, you only seek out information that supports what you believe right? Another nod. Have YOU ever considered that you could be wrong? Or ever thought to look for information that doesn't back up what you believe? He stares at me in horror. No. Never. He would never read anything by anyone who told him that god wasn't real. Then you my friend are caught in a trap of confirmation bias. You only read things by people who agree with you, only surround yourself with people who believe like you, only frequent websites with people who believe like you. And you are doing it out of fear that you will lose your faith or that it could change.
Finally, I calmly told him that I know he didn't know me when I was a Christian, but I really really did believe. I had dedicated my life to my religion. I attended church several times a week, volunteered, was a mentor, sang on the worship team, led small groups. I believed all of it. And I surrounded myself with confirmation bias too, because I had been taught that everyone else was wrong and was just trying to lead me astray. You know what really led me astray though? He shakes his head. He doesn't want to know. I tell him anyway. The Bible. I read the entire Bible...again....and this time I was honest with myself about the things that didn't make sense. I don't share those things with you or husband because it is up to you to find those things yourself. I do NOT try to make you lose your faith because I know how important that is to people. How personal. And I'll be honest, I do find that your constant attempts to get me to believe what you believe to be very disrespectful of my beliefs. How about this? After you have read at least three holy books all the way through, and two books by authors who don't believe the same things you believe, you come back and talk to me. I'm sure it will be enlightening.
When I got home, I went to my room to vent to husband, because frankly I was pissed. I do not appreciate this kid who knows absolutely nothing about religion trying to convert me based on a "feeling that there is a god". It's insulting. Husband then tells me that son told him this plan and he has tried to dissuade him, to no avail. Did you tell him how rude it was? Yes, but he wouldn't listen. Did you tell him that I WAS a believer for longer than he has been alive. Of course, but he was insistent. I told him not to. I told him you wouldn't like it.
Son has not had this conversation with me since. He has not tried to convince me there is a god, although occasionally tries to convince me that ghosts, poltergeists, demons, devils, etc. are. I always just ask him to provide me with some evidence by a reputable source. What counts as reputable? Scientific studies, organizations that analyze data, photographs with clear images that cannot possibly have been manipulated by photoshop or CGI. So far, he hasn't even bothered to look. I am just glad he has stopped trying to convert me. We have had a few conversations about religion, but I always come at it from the standpoint that he believes this so here is what your religion says about that.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.