May 12, 2010

Thanks, Mom

happy-mothers-day.jpgSunday was Mother's Day. I found myself thinking that I probably owe my atheism, at least in part, to my mother and the mistakes she made when I was a child. While she has been a great mother by most counts, she insisted on dragging me to church into my early teens out of an unfortunate conviction that it would be good for me. I certainly did not enjoy this experience, but it sometimes occurs to me that I might still believe in gods if not for having been through it.

To be fair to both my mother and to myself, I suspect that I would be an atheist today regardless of whether she had imposed church upon me. The way my mind works and my love of science from an early age probably would have led me away from superstition regardless of my church experience. Still, I do think it is quite likely that being forced to attend church over my objections helped me to escape religion at an earlier age than I would have otherwise.

Sitting in church and observing my surroundings amplified the hypocrisy of it all. I remember thinking things like, "That woman seems so pious, but I'm pretty sure she's the one who's been having an affair." But most of all, I remember how nonsensical my mother's emotional reasoning seemed when I begged to be exempt from church. No matter what I said, the response would be the same: "But its good for you!" She never bothered to explain how doing something I hated and that did not benefit anyone else could possibly be good for me.

I've never been much for regret. It isn't that I don't have my share of regrets, but I suppose I've always understood that dwelling on them merely wastes what time I have left. We are all shaped by our experiences, and I wouldn't be who I am today without going through much of what I went through.

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