Daddy, why don’t you come to church anymore?

I knew the question would come eventually. I have been kidding myself for ages that my daughter would accept the status quo and not question it until she was an argumentative teen. At that point we could discuss the issue properly. I don’t desire having a deep conversation with a pre-teen about how god is a lost concept and the combination of science and logic have reduced the chances of his existence to little more than highly improbable.

To be honest I have been afraid of this question. Afraid because I simply did not know how she would respond to the only answer I could give. That is, “Daddy doesn’t believe in god any more darling.”. I have pondered on what lies I could tell to divert the issue, but one thing that the limey daughter is good at (along with pretty much all children her age) is perpetually asking “why” until she gets the answer she is seeking. So the fear of being caught trying to lie my way out of that one has been there too.

So here I am, thinking back on the conversation we had had yesterday and my current situation. I am still out of work, life at home is occasionally stressful, the worry about how much longer we can manage before things get really serious is present and looming larger. The depression that I mentioned at the start of the year (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/good-riddance-2013/) is still lingering in the background ready to swallow me up at the slightest hint of trouble. If there is one thing I desire to avoid, it is to add the fate of my eternal soul to the imagination of my daughter, there are other more pressing matters that we face daily.

Until the point she asked the question, it had been a great day. We found a way to purchase a cheap Kinect for our XBOX 360 to replace the one that broke a mere 2 months outside of its warranty. This is a purchase guaranteed to add pleasure to the household; it also served to clear the unused Wii and Wii Fit Board from my office as they went in part exchange. In addition, daughter and daddy were on their way to a ski centre to have a ski lesson and toboggan session at a bargain offer price. These things need grasping when there simply isn’t the freedom to spend money on days out.

So, after a few seconds of utter panic, not helpful when driving, I answered with the truth, that I no longer believe in god. She asked why I don’t believe. I knew that would be the next question, I panicked for longer and said that I don’t think it makes sense for there to be a god. I could have gone on about how I think the science of evolution makes the god hypothesis impossible. I could have explained how I used to believe in a literal creation. I could have said lots, but I wanted a short conversation because the subject of the limey daughter’s own beliefs is still a subject that Mr and Mrs limey are processing. Making our daughter the battleground for our conflicting worldviews is not somewhere either of us wants to go.

The limey daughter does get evolution though, science is something she has great interest in and recently she has been hovering up the Horrible Science series of books in the school library. These are her bedtime reading of choice. It is not unknown for her to come out of her bedroom and call me from the top of the stairs so that she can share a science fact she has just read. I can get cross with her she does that at a time when she is supposed to be settling down to sleep. I want to encourage excitement in nature and the workings of the world around us. If I use her thirst for scientific knowledge to explain how my faith was undermined, who knows what the result will be? If only I could tell the future.

Daughter accepted my explanation and the conversation moved on, we continued to talk about the upcoming ski lesson. We had a wonderful two hours together, getting very hot and tired. Afterwards we came home and enjoyed some more XBOX time, using the new Kinect of course, since mummy limey had and evening at work. All in it was a great day we had together, but I am wondering what she thinks of my non-belief and when she will raise it again. I fully expect her to and more than anything, I want it to be something that she feels she can raise. The worst result will be if it is seen as a taboo subject.

As I type this on Sunday morning, a time normally reserved for me to have my alone time at home, to write, or study or read or whatever, daughter is in the living room playing. She decided this morning that she didn’t want to go to church. Mrs limey thinks it is because she is still tired from yesterday, that’s possible, but I can’t help wonder if there is another reason.
So, the question I have been fearing came, yet the world didn’t end and life has not changed. If only all my fears could turn out to be so harmless.

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22 thoughts on “Daddy, why don’t you come to church anymore?

  1. This is a tender sharing, or at least it feels that way to me. Your love and your caring come through. I know for me now my answer is, “After years of research and study I realized I didn’t believe anymore.” I’m not sure if that is age appropriate for a pre-teen. Depends on the child I guess.

    When we left the first church we were in as a family (the one where we were in youth ministry) our then 7 year old daughter was angry with us. It was when she was older that we learned to her young mind the “Jesus stuff” never did make any sense. What hurt her was the loss of play with her friends. She missed the social aspect. I think she was a pre-teen when she said, “Oh I never understood the Jesus stuff.” Who knew?!

    You know limey, who knows what she’s thinking but it might not have anything to do with you. She may be sorting this out on her own.

    And limey. You’re right. Stay. She needs you. :heart:

  2. I suppose one short, honest reply, and one which wouldn’t quite as much risk, making “our daughter the battleground for our conflicting worldviews,” might have been to state that daddy no longer believes going to church is necessary. Childhood isn’t the time to be finalizing a worldview, not when there is yet so much of the world a child hasn’t experienced or even discovered (through books, films and personal investigation). Have faith in your child and her intelligence. Encourage her to draw a circle big enough to embrace her fellow humans and the various worldviews they cherish. That, it seems to me, would be a better place to start than the question of whether or not God or gods exists. I’ve grappled with that question my whole life up to now (54 years of age), and can’t say I’m ready to finalize my worldview. So many things are yet unclear to me. I wish now I had started earlier, in childhood, examining the various ways people throughout the world look at the big picture. Such an approach might prove very helpful in keeping out the conflict of you and your wife holding different worldviews. We can agree to disagree and still love and respect one another. I believe love is greater than knowledge. I wish you well, my friend.

    • Thanks Doug. Considerate and thoughtful as usual. I have a personal issue with patents sharing things with their children that goes back to my own patents divorce when I was young. It’s a demon that this situation touches. I like the honesty Road but I also recognise now why my parents didn’t always come clean with me.

  3. As I type this on Sunday morning, a time normally reserved for me to have my alone time at home, to write, or study or read or whatever, daughter is in the living room playing. She decided this morning that she didn’t want to go to church. Mrs limey thinks it is because she is still tired from yesterday, that’s possible, but I can’t help wonder if there is another reason.

    In effect, you just gave her permission to begin questioning religion. And that’s a good thing. Perhaps she has been questioning it for a long time, and has just gone public with the questioning. Or perhaps she still has a long time of questioning ahead of her.

    • That is possible Neil. I don’t wish to push that just yet and currently I have reason to doubt it. That’s doesn’t mean you are wrong though. Certainly I welcome the permission to question position. I have long felt that everyone should question their beliefs, even those based on evidence. This is something I wish my daughter to hold dear to as well.

  4. I don’t know how old your daughter is but I suspect that if she’s extremely interested in science and reads as avidly as she does that she has questions in her own mind. I wish I had been so keen to learn about those types of things. I would have questioned the creation account and the flood and the myriad of other things the Bible claims much earlier.

    I like what DougB says about encouraging her to draw a wide circle. She may be grappling with her own beliefs but it’s never wrong to accept and to love others.

    I can only imagine the panic that went through you as the inevitable question was asked. Even moreso when you’ve had time to consider that it would and still didn’t know what to say. I don’t think any of us know exactly what to say. On a much larger scale, but it’s like when your 5-year-old asks where babies come from. And how they get from mommy’s tummy into the world. Hard questions to answer when you know the child might not be able to comprehend the answers.

    You and your wife have navigated this beautifully so far. I can’t imagine that changing now.

  5. I think you handled the question well and I appreciate your desire to not make things more stressful. I have a son who battles with this, a wife who believes, children who ask serious questions, and how to answer the questions honestly without causing conflict with his spouse. He chooses to be carefully honest.

    • Thanks Bruce. One thing that has occurred to me is, why do people in my position assume they are the baddie and take that role to the point where fear informs their actions? I think that creates a potentially unhealthy scenario which if not handled right will result in more heartbreak. Subject for another day me thinks.

  6. Forgive me if my post seems blunt and to the point. The internet unfortunately doesnt allow you to hear my tone of voice, but it is in gentle reproof not harshness or anger that I say this to you:

    Its sad to see that you still hold to a view of pseudoscience, such that – in your mistaken definition you believe science can or has ruled out the existence of God.

    Science cant investigate the supernatural, nor draw any conclusion about the existence of God.

    You know that. Its been explained to you. Yet, for some reason you want to ally your view of evolution with atheism when they really have nothing to do with one another. Even if your view of evolution were 100% correct, it wouldnt prove anything regarding whether or not God exists.

    That is likely the source of much of your anxiety regarding the conversation with your daughter, because you know you arent being intellectually forthright.

    The sooner you stop misusing science as a crutch for your nonbelief, the easier it will be to have an honest discussion with your daughter.

    How many times must it be said “Science is the study of the natural, not the supernatural” ?

    Science is a tool and when you use a tool, you must use it for its purpose. We dont use a stethoscope to measure ohms, nor a telescope to hear the whales communicate.

    (On an unrelated note, I’m very sorry to hear that you are still unemployed. I know how difficult that is, having experienced it. I hope you find something suitable very soon. I wish I knew more of the economy over there so that I could at least attempt to assist. But I know really nothing of the conditions there. Take care.)

    • It could and would certainly prove that certain expressions of God don’t exist. (i.e. the young earth creationist God as literally revealed in an inerrant, inspired religious text) Now if you are saying science can’t prove a deity of some sort does not exist then I have some sympathies to your point of view. Since science is about probabilities rather than certainty, it is certainly possible a deity of some sort exists. Probable? No. As far as the current gods that humans worship, we can indeed judge their truthfulness through what science teaches us. ( especially those that are text based) What we can’t judge is their value to an individual since this value is quite subjective.

      • Bruce,
        If you are going to assess the ‘probability’ of the existence of God, then you must cite data/evidence which would support your supposed mathematical calculation, yes?
        The problem with this is that you have no data with which to make such a calculation. None whatever. Science can provide no data on the supernatural.
        You’ve cited no data/evidence or basis for calculation of ‘probability’ and its easy to see why.
        Which part of ‘can draw no conclusion’ is hard to understand?
        “Science doesn’t draw conclusions about supernatural explanations
        Do gods exist? Do supernatural entities intervene in human affairs? These questions may be important, but science won’t help you answer them. Questions that deal with supernatural explanations are, by definition, beyond the realm of nature — and hence, also beyond the realm of what can be studied by science” http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/whatisscience_12
        ““Supernatural entities, by definition, operate outside of natural laws and so cannot be
        investigated using scientific methods” (American Association for the Advancement of
        Science [AAAS]
        “science is precluded from making statements about supernatural forces because these are outside its provenance” National Science Teachers Association http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=5787&page=124

        • You seem to miss the fact the many of the major religions of the world think that their particular God exists and works in real time, that his works can be observed and understood with the senses. To this degree, God is observable. So, when a Christian, based on the claims made for God is a written text, says that their God divinely healed them of _____________, then it is within the realm of science to ask for proof of this claim.
          Now, if you are talking about the purely metaphysical claim that a God exists, then I agree with you. But, once this God is reduced to texts, creeds, interpretations, and the like, science can, and should, address these claims. When a Christian makes a claim that their God created the world there is no way to refute such a claim. However, when they say that that same God created the world as recorded in Genesis 1-3, that the earth is 6,000 years old, that evolution is a lie, and that a universal flood covered the entire earth a few thousand years ago, these claims can, and should, be investigated by science.

          • Bruce wrote: ” these claims can, and should, be investigated by science.”

            I’ve provided statements from mainstream scientific organizations, explaining that science cannot investigate or draw conclusions about supernatural causes.

            And you’ve provided your opinion to the contrary. You are among a small fringe that holds this belief. But I thank you for providing your input.

            Bruce wrote: “many of the major religions of the world think that their particular God exists and works in real time, that his works can be observed and understood with the senses. To this degree, God is observable”

            Here is where, I think, your confusion is. You conflate “God’s works” with “God”.

            Yes, God’s works in nature can be seen.

            But that is not the same as saying that science can either a) detect God as the cause or b) rule Him out.

            It cannot do either.

    • Hi Tim, no offence taken and thanks for your honesty. I did for a long time take the view that evolution does not negate Christianity. Nowadays I am a bit more blurred on that.

      I consider the Christian God no more likely than any other god or mythical beast. The evidence is pretty much the same and there is nothing that can count as irrefutable. As such the honest position is that none exist until otherwise proven.

      I won’t take your word that there is a god for the same reason I won’t take anyone else’s word for the existence of an invisible pink unicorn.

      • ” As such the honest position is….”

        No, the honest position is that using words and concepts like ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’ to lend a scientific air to one’s unbelief isn’t really intellectually honest at all.

        “I won’t take your word….”

        I don’t ask you to.

        But I do ask you to avoid misuse of science. Rhetorically ‘donning a lab coat’ to declare one’s skepticism isn’t a proper use of science.

        God is a spirit and isn’t physically testable. Any honest reading of the scripture makes that plain.

        So, all this ‘well you have no natural proof of the supernatural’ is just a shameless strawman, because nowhere does the Bible say that you will be able to physically test, contact or reach God using the five senses.

        • All of which means that the only scientific view of the supernatural is the null hypothesis.

          To object to that is to misunderstand the scientific position.

          • Again, let’s understand that attempts to apply scientific standards (such as the concept of the null hypothesis) to the question are badly misguided.

            Science itself is agnostic, not atheistic. Those aren’t scientific positions, they are philosophical positions.

            Science’s answer to the question “Is there a God?” is “I don’t know. And due to the limitations of the scientific method, Science will not be able to find an answer to that.”

            It’s not “There’s no God unless you can provide scientific evidence that there is.”

            There are many things you accept every day without scientific evidence.

            The supernatural is outside the realm of science. So attempting to apply scientific standards to the question is a misuse of science.

            But modern scientism has a hard time accepting that the scientific method has such limitations. Its a form of idolatry, really. An attempt to make Science omniscient , or at least potentially so.

            Millions of scientists believe in God. But you are convinced somehow that these millions do not really understand that relevance of the scientific method upon their belief, and only you and the small fringe group of hardcore atheists really understand it.

            Again, there are lots of things that the scientific method cant measure or analyze. Beauty, justice, honor, loyalty. Are we going to argue that since these things affect our world that science MUST be able to quantify them?

            Once more, I’ve cited reputable, mainstream scientific sources that say the supernatural isn’t in the realm of science. You’ve cited……….your opinion to the contrary.

            I’ll go ahead and let you have the last word on it. Have a great day.

  7. Hi limey. This is my first comment on here and it has been prompted because you seem to be running on a frightening parallel to myself. Over the past year to 18 months I have lost my faith (after living and breathing it for most of my life) and have gone through the raw and swinging set of emotions that brings.
    But having raised my kids to be Christian and encouraging them for all of their small lives to go to everything church related, I have been dreading the very same question. They are too clever to miss what’s going on.
    The issue has come up… my 6yo asked me why we no longer went to church and I fluffed it. I reckon I’ll continue to fluff it because I just don’t want to explain something at a level which will confuse them more than clarify and I’m extremely fearful that I am, in fact, wrong and that I could somehow or other put them at risk by tacitly encouraging them to follow in my footsteps out of the faith world. I understand that’s verging on creepily paranoid, but when you’ve been taught to fear the idea of hell, it’s petrifying to think that something you do could end up sending your kids there!
    As you can see, I haven’t quite reached the point of comfort with my loss of faith. I won’t even say atheism because I still have ideas that there is something beyond, but I’m not in any way convinced it fits the Christian model I’ve grown up with.
    But just a thank you for recalling your experience… it has been a very useful read.

    • Hi nirouleur,

      Thanks for your comment. It can be very frightening when you beging to question and step away from the christian view. It does get easier and the fear fades as time goes on and you get more confident in your new position.

      I have discovered that the process of blogging about it and reading the blogs of others who have made a similar journey is extremely helpful.

      It was a while before I embraced the word atheist, not everyone who steps away from Christianity goes that far. Wherever you end up, I have no doubt that it will be a better place than the uncertainty that you are in now. I hope you stick around and please do read the blogs of those who have commented here.

      I am happy that I have been of any help to you. I hope that continues.

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