Monday, May 7, 2012
Let me back up. This Saturday was the "supermoon" full moon. I had put the kids and my wife to bed, then went out to close the back gate and saw the damned thing looming huge in the sky, like a ghost dirigible. So, me being a Dad and stuff like this being my job, I woke everyone up and we walked out on the second floor balcony to see Ms. Moon. After ten minutes or so my wife went back to bed, but the girls and I hung out for awhile, and I listened to all the goofy sh!t that bounces around inside their heads pretty much 24/7.
School. Mean kids. Dinosaurs. Boys. Tornadoes and floods. Cats.
And then we started talking about religion and church. My wife and I are not Christian, nor even particularly religious, but we're pretty open with the girls about their own beliefs, and we go to a Christian Church now and again, especially since the arrival of the Golem.
So we sat on the balcony and talked about things. They asked me what I believe in (we get this question on a pretty regular basis). I said I didn't believe in Jesus as the son of God, though he probably existed and was a great man. I said I believed in heaven in a way, that the atoms of are body will end up as the center of stars billions of years from now and be born again someday as something else. They understand that, but prefer to think of heaven as an actual place, with clouds and angels, pandas and unicorns and a giant Wii with limitless games.
Then they asked me if I believed in hell, and I sad no, unequivocally. I explained that I didn't believe in a God who would punish people just for not believing in him. That people had unequal opportunities to believe.
And they bought it. They almost never turn back on what they've learned in church, even knowing we don't believe it. But they bought the no-hell idea in a flash. There not being a hell seemed as natural to them as there being a heaven.
Youngest said this (and I'm doing my best to present it verbatim): I think people say there's a hell to scare them into doing things. Like, if you don't pray you'll go to hell.