It’s been an interesting change in perspective for my mother. She was raised Church of England (Protestant) in High Wycombe, England, and remembers, as a child, the first time she met someone who didn’t believe in god. The initial response was to cry. The secondary response was to think: “Convert!”. My Dad was an altar boy as a kid, but his family were not as devout as my mother’s. Irregardless they met, grew up, got married, and then immigrated to Canada.
I was born a couple of years later. By this time my parents, particularly my mother, were no longer as devout as my grandparents and other relatives, and going to church was not a regular part of our lives. However there was a large brass crucifix on the wall of our bedroom hall, I was sent to Sunday School for a while, and remember doing some praying by myself before I went to bed.
I figured out a quite a young age that Santa Claus didn’t make sense, and applaud my parents for being honest with me when I asked. I was also an early reader, thanks to my mother’s efforts, and not long afterward someone (I don’t remember, probably a relative) gave me a large, thick, illustrated, children’s bible. I read the whole thing, cover to cover. It was certainly an entertaining read, but my mother now proudly relates that after I finished reading it, that I concluded the whole thing was nonsense and told her so.
From then on I was an atheist, and so were my parents and younger siblings. In high school we covered the Greek/Roman gods, and read “Inherit the Wind”, which gave me ample opportunity to express my opinions. A female student made my day when her essay was read in class. It included a discussion on Mary and Joseph: “An angel makes Mary pregnant. What kind of excuse is that!? If I came home and told my mother that an angel made me pregnant…”
While studying at UBC in Vancouver, I attended the annual “Does god exist?” debates sponsored by the Campus Crusade for Christ. Usually I was disappointed in the debating abilities of the Con side, and wished that I was a better debater myself. I even heard about David Suzuki attending one and getting angrier and angrier at how the Pro side was misrepresenting science.
Years later I read about Richard Dawkins in Discover magazine, did some research, and started collecting books. Consequently I’m a much better debater and look forward to JW’s knocking on my door so that I can refine my skills. As I Science/Math teacher in high school, I also encourage my students to think for themselves, and not accept things as true because an authority figure – including myself – tells them that it is true without evidence.
Now my parents, particularly my mother, and I enjoy reading Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, and discussing the ridiculous and irritating things the religious do around the world.