We live in a culture that is shaking its fist in rebellion against God. More and more, people in our society are choosing to abandon the Bible as the ultimate authority and embrace the self-centered, godless philosophies that the Apostle Paul warns about in Colossians 2:8:
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
One of these deceitful philosophies is atheism. And in today’s culture, the atheistic worldview is being pushed not only to adults, but also to our children. At Answers in Genesis, we chose the theme for the next two years “Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids.” Why? Because secularists know that if they can win the hearts and minds of just one generation, they will win the culture.
In a recent article titled “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” the guest writer (who remains anonymous), a mother of two teenagers, explains why she no longer tells her children about God.1 She lists a series of objections to believing in God and attempts to defend them, and she directly states the intent of secularists to capture the coming generation: “We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up.” Sadly, the point of her article is to share her atheistic views and how they have affected her parenting, in the hope of influencing others in a similar way.
“Lying” to Our Children
The writer, who apparently has held an atheistic worldview for a long time, characterizes her interactions with her children while they were young as “lying” to them and “brainwashing” them. She writes that when her son was three years old, he had questions about heaven:
For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. … I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him in to believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.
The writer goes on to explain that she decided to stop telling her children things she didn’t believe herself. Her concern was that if her children discovered she had told them “an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa,” that they would no longer trust her.
Of course, that’s a legitimate concern. As parents, we should be truthful with our children. And at Answers in Genesis, we advocate that children should be taught to think critically about the claims underlying any idea. However, how truthful is it to raise our children entirely “without God”? It’s not, because God has not only revealed Himself in Scripture, He’s also revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1). To withhold this information from our children or to prevent them from examining it for themselves is not only untruthful, it’s the very “brainwashing” that this woman is so concerned about.
Atheism and Parenting
The atheistic worldview has had a very unfortunate effect on the writer’s parenting style. She puts forth in her article all of the reasons why she thinks telling children about God is inappropriate, leading to a conclusion that leaves the lives of her children fairly meaningless. In all of this, her hope is that she and others like her will be able to “lower our nation’s religious fever.” It’s hard to imagine anything like a “religious fever” in a country that is every day abandoning the authority of Scripture and embracing sin and death.
While the writer lists a variety of objections to a belief in God, this article will only address some of them. The first objection the writer gives is the claim, “God is a bad parent and role model.” She creates a straw man picture of God, saying that He “condone[s] violence and abuse” and doesn’t “step in and guide” His children. In fact, throughout her article, this mom argues that God has not made Himself known and has made no attempt to teach and guide us.
How does she explain the Bible? And what about Christ’s earthly ministry? This woman has been blinded by the “
god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). She can’t see that God has indeed given us guidance and wisdom in the form of Scripture and that He’s provided the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that God is not just a good parent; He is the best parent, a Father who loves His children perfectly (Hebrews 12).
The writer’s next objections concern the tragedies we see in the world today, such as the recent school shootings. The writer says she does not teach her children about God because “God is not logical” and “God does not protect the innocent.” By these, she means that God does not stop murders, abuse, and other atrocities from happening in our world. However, on what basis does she claim things are illogical or immoral? Based on her own atheistic worldview, the author cannot support that claim because logic and morality come from God.
Understandably, those who are lost are searching for the truth and meaning that only the gospel of Christ can bring. Based on her objection, what the writer does not seem to understand is the Curse and its effects on the world. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, then sin, death, and suffering entered the world (Genesis 3). God’s “very good” creation was cursed. We experience tragedies, defects, and other forms of suffering as a result of man’s sin.
In another objection, the writer claims, “God is not fair.” But in her godless worldview, who determines what is “fair”? Once more, in defense of her position, the writer cites the disease, suffering, and death in the world. She asks, “Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others?” Scripture, however, has already answered this question: sin. While we do not know how much or how little God intervenes in situations, because His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), we can say that sin has marred man’s relationships and caused many illogical situations, such as the one described in the writer’s question.
Additionally, there is a very significant way in which God is not fair: He did not have to make a way of salvation for us. If God were “fair” the way humans understand fairness, He would have left the entire human race to spend eternity in hell. But He didn’t! He did something very unfair—He came to Earth as the God-man, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life, died a criminal’s death, and rose again three days later. Why? To offer man the free gift of salvation in Christ, a gift that we could never merit, deserve, or earn.
Atheism and (Lack of) Purpose
While the article has many more problems than the ones mentioned above, the saddest part is the conclusion the writer comes to. She explains that she does not necessarily want religion to go away, but she contradicts herself when she gives her definition of “truth”:
When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth—we are no more special than the next creature. We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machine—whether that machine is nature or society—the influence we have is miniscule. The realization of our insignificance gives us a true sense of humbleness. … I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.
What an incredible lack of significance and purpose this woman must live with and is passing on to her children. Her worldview is ruled by “nature” (presumably evolutionary ideas) and man’s philosophies, rather than by the Word of God—and it shows in the way she treats belief in God.
With regard to her statements about decision-making in our government and schools, we would say that morality and significance did not simply appear by chance processes. If morality had come about by evolutionary processes and murder was not always considered wrong, wouldn’t humanity have become extinct long ago because no conscience existed to judge killing as immoral?
But humans are still here and still understand morality. The reason we have universal morals, such as our knowledge that it is wrong to murder someone or to take what is not ours, is because they come from God. If we abandon biblical authority, then what objective standard can the government base its decisions on? How can they define “justice” and what is “fair” without drawing on what God has given us?
In the coming weeks, look for a more detailed response on our website to this atheistic mother’s article. And remember, as believers, we find our significance in Christ. We at Answers in Genesis sincerely hope and pray that this mother and her children change their minds, believe the gospel, and receive the free offer of salvation through Christ.