Talking to a cynic about religion


My daughter is a cynic and my conversations with her are very entertaining. This morning she said to me, “when one person hears a voice in their head it is called schizophrenia, when multiple people hear voices in their head it is called religion.” The conversation started because of her reaction to a book that she has to read as part of the curriculum she is following. We work at the dining room table and as I type blog posts she constantly interrupts my train of thought to exclaim about something she has just read in the book.

The hero of the book is meant to be an example of a good Christian. The theme of the book so far seems to be to trust in God.The problem my practical and logical daughter has with the character is that he ( and I quote my daughter here ) ” is stupid.” The character has taken trusting in God to extremes in her view.The examples she gave me reminded me of this joke. 

John, who was in financial difficulty, walked into a church and started to pray. ”Listen God,” John said. ”I know I haven’t been perfect but I really need to win the lottery. I don’t have a lot of money. Please help me out.” He left the church, a week went by, and he hadn’t won the lottery, so he walked into a synagogue. ”Come on, God,” he said. ”I really need this money. My mom needs surgery and I have bills to pay. Please let me win the lottery.” He left the synagogue, a week went by, and he didn’t win the lottery. So, he went to a mosque and started to pray again. ”You’re starting to disappoint me, God,” he said. ”I’ve prayed and prayed. If you just let me win the lottery, I’ll be a better person. I don’t have to win the jackpot, just enough to get me out of debt. I’ll give some to charity, even. Just let me win the lottery.” John thought this did it, so he got up and walked outside.
The clouds opened up and a booming voice said, ”John, buy a bloody lottery ticket.”

In the book the main character’s inability to take personal responsibility for anything is highly irritating to my daughter. In one chapter he manages to find work but his employer tells him on day one that he is very forgetful and likely to forget to pay him. The employer asks the character to please remind him. The character instead trusts that God will provide and when payday comes he has not been paid. After three weeks the employer finally remembers but cannot pay the character as he has already sent all his cash to the bank. Totally broke and hungry the character prays and amazingly a letter arrives that strangely contains children’s gloves. Puzzled he picks one up and a gold coin falls out of one of the gloves.

Throughout the book the character turns down help from others as he is determined to instead ” trust in God to provide.” He makes foolish decisions and then trusts in God to bail him out of his difficulties. My daughter’s exasperation with this character is quite comforting. I know that she believes that she is the author of her own destiny and that it is up to her to make good decisions. She understands that others find strength in a belief in God which in many ways is just another version of her turning to her inner strength when she has a challenge to face.What they call prayer, she may call thinking. What they call acting like a Christian, she may call being a good person.

I enjoy talking to my daughter because she still has the black and white certainty of youth. I used to be equally as certain about my beliefs when I was her age. As an adult I think very differently to how I used to think but I have more of a live and let live attitude and don’t feel that I have to prove others wrong in order to believe that my ideas are right.

I really do believe in freedom of religion as long as it does not impinge on anyone else’s human rights. Personally I no longer care whether or not God exists or not. I actually think it is more likely that God does not exist but was made up by human beings to explain what they didn’t understand. It was the historical existence of Jesus that convinced me when I was younger but now I know that our written history in any form will contain both inaccuracies as well as outright falsehoods. People wrote it after all and people are always biased and sometimes dishonest.

It concerns me when genuinely lovely people want to declare the bible and the koran for example as the authoritative word of God and infallible. No one in their right mind would declare any history book to be infallible let alone one written by multiple authors.It is simply not logical to make such a statement so that is where people’s ‘faith’ comes in I guess.

When I attended a Catholic primary and intermediate school I struggled with the concept of having faith. Intellectually it is quite a leap to put your life in the hands of someone when you can never know for sure if they actually exist. Like my daughter I have faith in what I know. I have faith in myself and I have faith in my loved ones. That is what works for me but I understand that religion and a belief in God works for others.My daughter has yet to accept that. She is as rigid as any fundamentalist follower of a religion. Her way is right and others are wrong. I have faith that she will not think this way forever.




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If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

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