Article

Refusing to Hide: Dialogue With a 12-Year-Old Atheist

1127l.jpg

This summer, two of my closest college friends and their 12-year-old daughter came for a visit. I hadn’t seen them in a decade. These guys, (at least, prior to the birth of their daughter) were atheists back when I was still unsure of my own stance. Although I called myself agnostic, I leaned toward a mystical world view. At that time I thought they just didn’t “get it”. I could tell they thought the same of me. But, there was enough mutuality in other areas to make humoring one another easy enough. Now, I was stoked because we were finally “on the same page”, and I was eager to talk about it.

Then it dawned on me that with a 12-year-old in tow, we probably wouldn’t be able to get into the political and philosophical implications of the subject, at least not in the length and breadth I had been fantasizing about. After all, young Megan was going to be surrounded by adults for the duration of the several week trip, and the least I could do was have some sensitivity to that. I remember what it was like to be invisible in a room full of adults, and I wasn’t about to put her through that. Little did I know…

This 12-year-old floored me on many levels. Not only did she have a facility with language, there was a sophistication to her thinking I certainly had not anticipated. She jumped into political and philosophical conversations with greater ease and fluency than many adults–even if her knowledge of the subject was at times somewhat spotty–and in need of refinement. She was trying, and in many places she truly held her own.

Still, I wasn’t so sure about broaching the subject of religion. What if my friends modified their views since becoming parents? We all know that happens. How had they oriented their child? Besides, I thought to myself, Megan would probably appreciate it if we just had some fun, and weren’t so heady about everything.

NOT.

Out of the blue, with absolutely no hint of religion in our conversation, Megan started talking about how she had recently been discriminated against at school for being an atheist. My jaw dropped. Here was the one thing I really wanted to talk about with her parents, and she opened the door wider than I had hoped! A 12-year-old speaking out as an atheist? I dove in with questions, and she was more than eager to speak out.

So with no further ado, I give you BSJ’s first young atheist, Megan H.

Morgaine: Welcome Megan! Tell us a little about who you are, how old you are, and your interests.

Megan: Hi! My name is Megan. I’m 12 years old. I like to write, read and play video games. I’m in a gifted and talented program for exceptional learners and, of course, an atheist.

Morgaine: What does atheism mean to you?

Megan: Atheism to me means the disbelief in any and all religious practice and the disbelief in intelligent creation or god. I do not believe in god or any other form of intelligent creation.

Morgaine: Would your mom and dad describe themselves as atheists?

Megan: I believe so. They have talked with me and referred to themselves as atheists.

Morgaine: Lets go back a little. At what age did the idea of religion/god become interesting or relevant for you? Was there a specific event that caused you to wonder about god or religion, or did questions arise spontaneously?

Megan: If I remember correctly, I was about 8 years old. I think I was talking with a girl in my lunch period. I asked why I was the only person who wasn’t invited to her party. She said only people her parents knew from church were asked. That night I asked my dad why we didn’t go to church. He told me that our family didn’t believe in a god and questions took off from there.

Morgaine: Did what your parents said make sense to you? What about it appealed to you?

Megan: They told me that they didn’t know why they should pray to a thing they can’t be sure of. They also said that they don’t think that god could exist and if it does it would be too busy to care if we prayed. I thought this made sense. It seemed very logical.

Morgaine: A few years have past since your first conversations and thoughts on the subject. Are your views the same or different than your parents? If different, how so?

Megan: I think that they are very similar. The only difference may be that we see highly religious people differently, but we agree it does not apply unless the other person wants it to.

Morgaine: Hypothetically, if your views were to change, how do you think your parents would respond? Say, if you told them you wanted to explore going to church, how would they react?

Megan: I don’t believe they would care. We actually talk about this a lot. That if I wanted to go to church, they would get me there, but would not participate any more than that.

Morgaine: Do questions of religion come up between you and your friends?

Megan: Not normally, no.

Morgaine: Do any of your friends share thoughts about religion that are similar to yours?

Megan: Yes, only one and he is my closest friend.

Morgaine: How about this friend’s parents…do they share the same view?

Megan: Yes. My friend’s parents do not believe in god.

Morgaine: Do you feel you are missing out on anything by not having a connection to a religious community?

Megan: Not really, though I do receive some ridicule.

Morgaine: So your views have affected friendships with those who are religious. Do you think the ridicule is a result of misunderstanding what it means to hold an atheist world view?

Megan: Yes. One of my friends refuses to bring the topic up. But most kids either push me away, or their parents do. Many people believe that the word atheist and satanist co-exist.

Morgaine: What would you like to them to know?

Megan: They don’t [co-exist]. I don’t believe in religion in general. I do not worship [god or] the devil.

Morgaine: You told me some stories about how identifying as an atheist caused some difficulties for you specifically at school. Tell us about that, and your response to it.

Megan: Yes. Somehow students discovered my beliefs or lack thereof, and treat me like a freak of nature, or devil. I have lost popularity, and feel that students pick on me in other ways because of the topic. It has caused depression.

Morgaine: I’m sorry to hear that. It’s never easy to hold a minority view especially on such a loaded topic as religion, and especially being so young. I think it’s very courageous. How do you deal with the discrimination and depression you’ve experienced?

Megan: I tell myself that the insults like devil or satan are all words that are used in religion. If I don’t believe them they don’t matter.

Morgaine: Has your school been responsive to kids picking on you? If not, what do you think should change?

Megan: No [they weren't responsive]. I think that ANY BULLYING is wrong and must be dealt with.

Morgaine: Have you had other experiences of discrimination like this at school or elsewhere?

Megan: In 5th grade a girl discovered my atheism and did every thing in her power to hurt me or change me.

Morgaine: Why do you think people lean toward a religious view of life?

Megan: Because it is comforting to think that when you die you will go somewhere and have a purpose. Also if you have been wronged, then maybe that person will be punished.

Morgaine: Religious people often ask how someone can find meaning in life without belief in God…that the wonders of the world aren’t sufficient to satisfy them. What would you say to that? What gives your life meaning?

Megan: The meaning of life can not be decided after death, in my opinion. I think the meaning of life is decided by the person living it–not some being that they don’t know. I push on by knowing that I will finish my book and become a doctor.

Morgaine: Do you see any dangers in religious thinking? Dangers to an individual? Dangers to the world at large? And do you see any benefits?

Megan: I think that religion will cause history to repeat itself. As long as there are different beliefs, people will fight and kill for power.

Morgaine: Some people say you can’t be moral or ethical without religion. What would you say to that?

Megan: No, religious people have started wars over it. If they call mass killing good ethics then I don’t know what to think.

Morgaine: What would you like to say to other young people who may struggling with issues around religion, who may be torn between what their parents say to believe and their own doubts?

Megan: Talk to them. If your parents really don’t want you to believe that way then get on with it. Go to church with them. Think of it as story…a fabulous fairytale. You don’t have to believe it. No one can make you do that.

Morgaine: Any other thoughts on religion, or atheism, that you’d like to share?

Megan: I don’t want any one to feel that they have to change. Just keep these thoughts in mind.

Morgaine: Thank you very much sharing your thoughts and time.

Megan: You’re welcome!

Although Megan is busy with school and her projects, she’d be happy to answer any questions, time permitting of course!

Stay tuned for future discussions with Megan, and other young atheists.

This website uses IntenseDebate comments, but they are not currently loaded because either your browser doesn't support JavaScript, or they didn't load fast enough.

Comments (90 comments)

overcaffein8d / November 13th, 2007, 9:47 pm / #1

That’s really cool. I de-converted at 15 (I’m now 16). And my girlfriend is 14 and also an atheist.

I was quite surprised to hear that she was an atheist… We’re a couple of the only in SC.

Engineer-Poet / November 13th, 2007, 10:17 pm / #2

Semi-OT, but look at this video from Too Many Tribbles.

Morgaine / November 13th, 2007, 10:25 pm / #3

Overcaffein8d- Thanks for writing. We are hoping this inspires more teens like you to come forward. Curious about your story … will check out your blog :-)

Morgaine / November 13th, 2007, 10:26 pm / #4

Engineer -Poet: thanks for the link. Very cool, very inspiring!

Engineer-Poet / November 13th, 2007, 10:29 pm / #5

You get the neatest stuff from Pharyngula.

BlackSun / November 13th, 2007, 11:07 pm / #6

@Morgaine, great post and great connection you made with Megan. I’m impressed that she wants to be a doctor. That’s very courageous and compassionate for a 12-year-old. I think humans naturally want to help each other when they are allowed to grow up in an environment where they are nurtured and respected. I’m sure Megan will have a lot of great thoughts to offer as she gets older.

@Overcaffein8d, good on you, you won’t waste your 20’s like I did. :-)

@Engineer-Poet, thanks, great link.

Morgaine / November 13th, 2007, 11:30 pm / #7

BlackSun, thanks. ;-)

As for Megan, yes, she is truly an extraordinary young person! And… the ‘acorn didn’t fall from the tree’, or trees in this case; her parents are also extraordinary people. Both have devoted their lives to “helping professions.” Just goes to show once again, that compassion and morality arise spontaneously within the human heart and thrive independently of god belief.

valhar2000 / November 14th, 2007, 7:03 am / #8

I remember, at the age of 6 or 7, asking my mother: “Why do they beleive in something that is not true? Are they stupid?”

“They” being theists.

Do I beat Megan? Was I the youngest atheist?

Seriously now, that was very good. She sounds a lot smarter than I did at that age, I’m sure.

justsaynotochrist / November 14th, 2007, 7:39 am / #9

Morgain,

It is good to see other athiest parents out there nurturing their children with critical thinking!! All three of my kids are atheist. Politics and religion are a common dinner table topic in our home. I have gotten a lot of slack about it, some say I am robbing my children of their inocence(did I spell that right?). I say bullhocky! I am preparing them for reality. Like you being suprised that a 12 year old can be a well rounded and well psoken about her beliefs, many are suprised when they talk to my kids as well. My 12 year old is a cheerleader and an honer roll student. My 14 year old speaks japanese(that she taught herself) and is in the exchange student program and my 18 year old is in college and maintaining a 3.7 average. He ruined the curve in his biology class(he wasn’t real popular for a while in that class. lol)
Yes, they have and still do get picked on for their lack of belief, and like Megan they do get depressed from time to time because their friends and mostly their friends parents have excluded them for their lack of belief, but they get over it. They have come to realize that religion is a mental disorder forced on people from one generation to the next and makes grown ups act very stupid and hurtful. I have never told them what to believe, but when people tell them things it is their responibility to think critically. Does it make sense, is it possible and so on…. My kids go to church with friends from time to time and I never say a thing about it, but it never fails that they come home and tell me EVERYTHING. We use our critical thinking and yes, we do have a good laugh, except the youngest. She went to church once and they scared the shit out of her. She came home somwhat confused and worried about people returning from the dead. lol I should have prepared her a little better, but after the fist two I figured she would just fall in line. At least her critical thinking was hard at work, but she said she felt like she was surounded by a bunch of people who had escaped from a mental institution.

Ok, I’m done rambling on. It has been so long since I have been online. After the move from Cali to Va we tried to get our net set up and the virus protection was crap. Our computer was invaded by over 30 trojans and one that no one could get off to save our lives, it just kept recreating itself. We ended up just wiping and starting over. Anyway it was time consuming and a HUGE pain in the arse!

I really missed you guys! :)
Amy

Morgaine / November 14th, 2007, 9:11 am / #10

Valhar2000, right on! I think it’s a tie…. but Megan DID get to BSJ first! ;-) LOL

This just adds to my curiosity about how many kids, (younger kids AND teens) there really are thinking these things, but keeping their mouths shut out of fear. How common is this, really? Any other teens or youngsters out there who want to speak up? We are here for you!

Morgaine / November 14th, 2007, 9:32 am / #11

JSNTC,

GREAT to hear from you! We’ve missed you!

I’m sure your kids and Megan could have some very interesting conversations. Sorry to hear about your youngest’s scare. Just goes to show…

It would be great to create a new resource for kids to dialogue about this. Hmm.

Gotta work. More later!

Cristy / November 15th, 2007, 12:20 pm / #12

Of course you can’t be a satanist and an atheist, they are mutually exclusive, but it would still be wrong for children to taunt and bully a satanist. Like atheists, satanists face a great deal of misunderstanding and discrimination in society. I have a good friend who is a satanist (the pagan type). Though I don’t agree with him (on matters of religion), it is wrong to persecute people based on their beliefs.

^BlacksuN / November 15th, 2007, 1:09 pm / #13

I’m an older generation teenager, Christian, and albeit I was taken aback by the comment of religion being an imposed ‘mental disorder’ or delusion, or whatever, I gotta say - I admire how individual that young girl is, she sounds remarkably intelligent for her age,

Never heard a christian associate atheism with sadism? Isn’t that a conflicting juxtaposition?

At that age, I was just learning why we celebrate Christmas…
The birth of santa..

caeious / November 19th, 2007, 2:41 pm / #14

Megan I too am an atheist but then again it is not that simple. I am all belief systems and no belief systems at the time. I realize that this may seem impossible but, it truly is. There is a universal truth connecting all belief systems on this planet. Everyone believes in this universal truth but each person puts their own spin on it. The problem lies in language and words. A person that believes in Jesus Christ is in a sense deluded because it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity is a religion that was created at the Temple of Nicia for the sole purpose of controlling the minds of the population at the time. So this person actually believes in a fantasy. And they would bully you just to believe in it too. It must be hard for you to deal with. You mentioned depression. We are living in an insane world that is highly inflexible. The key to survival and happiness is flexibility. If you see your classmates being inflexible in the mind then you must become flexible. Tell them that you believe in God. After all you really would not be lying because, all God really translates to is an energy source that powers all of our reality. Have you ever asked yourself : How is it possible that we are all alive and able to perceive and interact with this reality? What makes everything tick? The basic religious person would say it is God that allows everything to exist and happen. The metaphysician would say that it is the ether, quantum flux or hyperspace that allows everything to exist and happen. And you have to ask yourself are either one of these people wrong? Well yes and no. They are both talking about the same thing but using different words to describe it. A great skeptic would argue that we can not see hyperspace or the ether and for most all people that is true but high level mathematics have proven its existance. So ultimately being an atheist, christian, jew, muslim, buddhist, taoist, satanist, scientist, metaphysician, etc. is a lie. The best place you can be is with all of them and with none of them. We are all equal and we are all right. Bullying is not right but if you act the right way you will not be bullied. It just depends on how flexible you will allow yourself to be. You could end up being the most respected person in school if you get flexible. Good luck Meghan

Jeff / November 21st, 2007, 4:26 pm / #15

Great interview and discussion, but one comment steals the show for me: ^BlacksuN: “At that age, I was just learning why we celebrate Christmas…The birth of santa…” :) At roughly age 12, I just remember feeling guilty for nodding off in Catholic Church and not understanding or connecting with the priest at all.

About a year later, my mom got fed up with the church and how women couldn’t be priests, etc. I was, like, wow, cool, no church! Agnostic until about 32, then atheist. With a few spurts before 32 thinking I was Jesus Christ, but that’s a different story…Manic depression is touching my soul…I know what I want but I just don’t know…How to, go about gettin’ it…(J. Hendrix)

Eleanor / November 22nd, 2007, 7:14 am / #16

Thats really cool talking to a 12 year old about that, i feel bad for her having to deal with the people trying to convert her. I’m sure she’ll get better at avoiding the types the older she gets. I’m 15 and wow i couldn’t talk about my thoughts like that at such a young age.. i kinda feel stupid after reading this and thinking about how fast i came to my conclusion haha. aw well I’ll deal good luck Megan and you teach them bullies!

Ted / November 24th, 2007, 7:25 am / #17

I grew up in an atheist family as well and adopted my parents views, primarily because the explanations offered by my Christian friends didn’t make sense. I do remember being ridiculed several times. Once in second grade I was on the bus and we were waiting outside of the school for the morning bell to ring. Someone heard me talking to one of my friends about atheism and they shouted it out to the bus driver. The bus driver stood up and an interesting dialog followed:

Bus Driver: Who wakes your mom up in the morning?
Me: An alarm clock

Bus Driver: Who wakes your dad up then?
Me: The same alarm clock

Bus Driver: Who makes the sun rise?
Me (stumped) : …
Everyone Else: GOD!

Bus Driver: Who makes the wind blow?
Everyone Else: GOD!

Needless to say I dedicated some time after that experience learning physics and the laws of the universe. I took the ridicule of others and made it into a catalyst of learning. I have recently been accepted to a couple Universities with majors in computer science. I guess I have the bible and to thank for that…

Mathew Wilder / February 6th, 2008, 12:04 pm / #18

Wow! Thanks for this. It gives me more hope for the future than anything I’ve ever read.

Donald / June 2nd, 2008, 6:39 pm / #19

Such a smart and brave little girl. I wish I was more like her. She talks about being misstreated because she is an atheist. Isn’t it interesting how religious people can be so cruel to those that don’t share their beliefs?

KerryLee / August 3rd, 2008, 10:21 am / #20

I understand fully where Morgaine is coming from, even if I didn’t categorize myself as an atheist at 12. My mom brought us up with-out religion, but believed in god herself. I never did. I was THAT kid. The one who never believed in Santa or the tooth fairy and was always VERY upset when adults would not admit to the blatant lies. I lived in a very culturally diverse area of Toronto Ontario, where religious and racial discrimination was not tolerated under any circumstances. In grade 8 (age 12 &13) we had a 1 hour lesson on Darwin and evolution. ( a video with brief discussion afterward) I had heard of Darwin and evolution from PBS and my mom ( whom was currently attending university to become a teacher)
When the discussion started the question was raised l “who thought this makes sense?” or” has anyone heard this before?” I raised my hand feeling very smart as I had had knowledge of this for years. That’s when the ridicule started. Immediately in class I was referred to as monkey girl. I had class mates ( mostly baptists) wear shirts with scripture on them , I had a bible literally thrown at me. When i tried to get on a bus later that week for a short school trip I was called Lucifer’s agent. and heckled until i got off the buss and missed the extra curricular activity. Nothing was ever done. In fact, my mom who is rather opinionated and political never even went to the school to speak with the teacher or the principal. I’m a grown woman now, (age 29) this happened in 1992, but it still bothers me, still makes me angry. Nobody came to my defense, nobody did anything and I KNEW, just KNEW Darwin was right. It seemed only logical.
We do a real dis-service to our young bright minds, we must remember that their knowledge of facts and figures and philosophical ideas does not mean the are emotionally equipped to deal with the backlash of their notions and opinions. I was a closet Atheist for another 15 years because of the punishment I received from those classmates. Why should my opinions on life and the world around us be less valid than others? Especially since I was known as the “brain” of the class? So I guess what I am really saying is that we need not just to validate Morgaine’s ideas and opinions but to validate her right to have and voice them with out ridicule or punishment.

KerryLee / August 3rd, 2008, 10:27 am / #21

Correction called Megan, Morgaine :)

Micayla / August 3rd, 2008, 10:38 am / #22

I read the comment by Morgaine, “Overcaffein8d- Thanks for writing. We are hoping this inspires more teens like you to come forward. Curious about your story … will check out your blog :-)” and just wanted to drop a line saying that I, too, am a teenager who is an atheist. I’m 16, and will be a junior this coming fall. While none of my friends are atheists, and nearly all of them religious, I have never been a subject of teasing or rude behavior. The people I associate with generally just perceive me as a hippie-child: liberal, vegetarian, and strange. So there is somewhat of a wall between us, but I’ve never had someone say anything specifically rude to me directly.Hope this insight helps.
Also, thanks for the blog, I found it an interesting post.

Fatikis / August 3rd, 2008, 10:40 am / #23

This little girl R0X. She is an fine example of how intelligence in the human race is increasing.

Maybe in a few more generations atheism will no longer be a minority.

In my brother’s day he was the only atheist in our small school. In my day I was one of six. The numbers are increasing at accelerating rates. Things look hopeful.

Chris / August 3rd, 2008, 10:59 am / #24

Megan: The meaning of life can not be decided after death, in my opinion.

Just… wow…

Jeff / August 3rd, 2008, 11:22 am / #25

awesome…although i did not consider myself an atheist at 12 i was always skeptical. being raised Jewish, i was bar mitzvahed and shortly after that realized that im an atheist. however it was when i was 12 when i had most of the arguments with my rabbi on the subject of religion. it was never directly on religion, but about evolution, creation, and the need for rational proof. i spoke with him recently (he presided over my great grandmothers funeral) and he told me he knew i would end up losing faith…so ya 12 seems to be the magic age for reason =]]]

(im 17 now)

Morgaine / August 3rd, 2008, 11:38 am / #26

KerryLee:
Re: ” what I am really saying is that we need not just to validate (Megan’s) ideas and opinions but to validate her right to have and voice them with out ridicule or punishment”.

-This is so right on. Thanks so much for writing in. I am certain that Megan will resonate with your experiences and will very much appreciate hearing the similarities!

Micayla: Thank you for adding your voice! Every young person that speaks up now is widening the door for other hesitant youth to come forward.

Fatikas, Chris, and those I had not yet responded to : I will be sure to continue forwarding these comments to Megan. I know that each note of support for her is helpful validation.
There is indeed strength in numbers!!

Akolyte01 / August 3rd, 2008, 12:40 pm / #27

That’s a very sophisticated way of speaking for a 12 year old. Shows she’s very bright. No wonder she’s an atheist. ;)

Nolan / August 3rd, 2008, 12:45 pm / #28

Pardon my skepticism.
But a twelve year old is not articulate enough to say that
even if (as people on the internet seem to believe) that being an atheist gives them an intelligence boost. It’s kind of ridiculous to refer to becoming an atheist as “converting” If you are an atheist, you shouldn’t argue religious beliefs, nor should you harass other people for having them.

(F.Y. I. I don’t believe in a higher power, before this comment is harassed “cuz im a dum kristian”)

Morgaine / August 3rd, 2008, 12:47 pm / #29

Jeff: I totally relate. I too was born/raised Jewish, Bat Mitvah’d, the whole shebang. I went through the motions, but I deliberately dropped out of Hebrew School in my last year, just a few months prior to Confirmation, much to the chagrin of my family. The only thing I wanted ‘confirmed’ was that I wanted nothing to do with the hypocrisy I saw at age 12 within my own religion; One example that was my last straw- a perverse orthodox rabbi in my junior high called me a ‘deformed Jew’ in front of the whole class, ( instead of Reformed). It was humiliating, but when I took the story to the principal, at least it got the guy fired.( Evidently, he had been belittling other students too). Although he was not representative of most of Jewish people I knew, there were a few other similar incidents and combined with my sense that the bible was one big metaphor at best and a placating story at worst, I was done. It took me a while to sort out precisely what I thought , but I knew at the same age as many of you, that religion was not the answer. ..Good for you for having the ‘chutzpah” to confront your rabbi too!

Morgaine / August 3rd, 2008, 12:56 pm / #30

Nolan,

I have known Megan since she was born, and her parents since college., and have had spent many days hanging out talking with her. Not only are these her bona fide words, the interview barely scratched the surface of Megan’s intellectual sophistication .She’s a gifted kid for sure, and there are a lot of others out there. I take it you haven’t been around many gifted children.

Morgaine / August 3rd, 2008, 12:59 pm / #31

Meant to say…..have spent many days hanging out talking with her..

Morgan / August 3rd, 2008, 1:02 pm / #32

I would just like to say that Megan’s story is incredibly inspirational. I always love to hear about young atheists because I identify with them, being a young atheist myself. I first got into a fight with someone over whether or not God exists in second grade, when my best friend told me I was going to hell because I didn’t go to church. Needless to say, we were never friends again. Now I’m 18 and glad that I never gave in to religious pressure, and often times managed to turn people to my own view. One particular occasion (this is my favorite story to tell), a friend of mine was heckling me on the bus in her attempts to convert me to Catholicism, and I finally got so tired of it that I reasoned her into a corner. A few days later she announced her own atheism. Her parents called my parents and told them that I was “Satan-spawn.” That remains my proudest moment to date.

The biggest thing I want to say, though, is that as atheists we have to be careful to maintain respect for religious people if we expect to get it from them. I’ve found that the best thing I can do for my religious position is to be as non-confrontational as possible, and only make my beliefs known when they are directly attacked. This attitude has allowed me to maintain friendships with some of the most amazing people I know, like my best friend, who is Mormon. There’s already so much conflict in this world on account of religion, and for me, atheism is about freedom from that conflict. I find that by simply being atheist and not showing it off, I actually do a lot more for my cause, because no one can claim that atheists are militant on my account. Not to mention that I’ve changed a few minds about ethics with regards to belief in God.

I’ve been writing for too long, but for my last point I’d just like to encourage anyone reading this to stand strong as an atheist. We won’t be in the minority forever, and the world will be a better place for it.

Sam / August 3rd, 2008, 2:22 pm / #33

I don’t know how old I was when I figured out I was an atheist but it was definitely older than 12! I spent years thinking I should believe in god. I’m glad this girl has figured things out and has the confidence to believe in what she feels comfortable with so early in her life. It’s great that she’s got the intelligence and eloquence to vocalise her beliefs too.

Sarah / August 3rd, 2008, 3:42 pm / #34

@ Micayla - Wow. You actually sound just like me. I’m an athiest, centre-left in my political beliefs, vegetarian and very strange.

I’m 14 and I’ve been an athiest for probably five years. Before that I was agnostic. Luckily I’ve never had any problems with bullying (I live in England) as in my school many people are. However, I still find it amazing how many people are Christian as I find it very hard to understand anyone could believe the story of Christianity.

However, I don’t actually have a problem with people practising religion as long as it doesn’t impose on other people’s lives. I get irritated when people try to preach to me to change the way I think. I also think that many people who follow religions do not actually follow them completely. Often they overlook many elements to religion. For example there are many acts, including shaving, that are considered a sin, however I’m sure that there are plenty of Christians that ignore that.

Anyway, that girl is amazing. I’m glad she has the courage to be an athiest.

Jake / August 3rd, 2008, 3:43 pm / #35

I remember becoming an atheist when I was about in 6th grade, though I never told anyone until I entered High School. When I first told my parents “I don’t really believe in God”, the first course of action was to ground me and send me to a Christian counselor. Also, going to a rural Ohio High School I had plenty of “You’re going to hell!”s including one from a grandfather =/

That was in 9th grade, I’ll be a senior this year and things have changed somewhat. My mom no longer tends to disagree when we debate the subject (I think I’ve gotten through to her a bit). As well, there’s quite a few like-minded kids at my school that I’d never talked to until last year, quite a shame to have missed so much.

Anyway, I talk too much, this is a very interesting story. I could only imagine it being harder on a female, certain girls with certain indoctrination can be really vicious.

guitarMan666 / August 3rd, 2008, 4:35 pm / #36

I do not believe in any god nor do I describe myself as atheistic. I prefer not to associate myself with group identities, and I keep an open mind in my search for purpose and meaning in life observing religious rites and ceremonies for objective understanding.

I cannot comprehend what it may mean to be discriminated against and I applaud this girl for handling it so well.

Brian / August 3rd, 2008, 6:18 pm / #37

Megan, you are truly an inspiration for others to come forward about their beliefs in a country that discriminates.
Nice to see. Thanks

Micayla / August 3rd, 2008, 6:50 pm / #38

Sarah-
Wow! amazing the people you meet over the internet. :D

Dylsn / August 4th, 2008, 1:12 am / #39

About there not being many atheists in SC i am one
and i know of about 10 others.
theres hope xD
and as for young atheists i remember about the age of 5 my parents told me about god and i never really got it. i thought the idea was ludicrous. so i guess i never really believed in god.

Havvy / August 4th, 2008, 1:54 am / #40

I’m 15, gonna be 16 in about 3 and a half weeks. I have this to say on why Atheists/Agnostics (I myself included in these broad terms) don’t understand how people can look at the bible and think it is true.

It is because while people are smart, they take things for granted and they believe in false logic.

I’ll start with they take things for granted. This is basically the animal part of us. We accept things as truths without really thinking about it. It is naturalistic to not think of everything in a deep way, and not everybody can. Only those who get out and look at the world for what it really is instead of being force fed things from the government, media, schools, and other related areas where you have little to no say in the material think deeply, and not as animals. They may be able to recite a few facts, but it’s no more than a dog remembering where you throw the ball, and the best path to get to it. In fact, if they are suddenly shown a new fact of the world (hey, don’t you know? God doesn’t exist!) (Oil will some day run out), they’ll get defensive, and start trying to get logic that suits their needs. The mind makes up lots of little stories for why some things happen, and one of them is called religion.

The second is that they accept false logic. We are all animals. We can all be fooled into thinking something that isn’t true, even as a collective. Religion is one of those things, and a very strong one at that. Have you ever seen a dog bark at a TV? The TV tricked the dog into thinking something that wasn’t true, even though it did not mean to. While we have a stronger level of consciousness then a dog, we can still be confused. Snake Oil Salesman is a good example of it. You can make a dog think it’s really happy by treating it badly for the first few months of it’s life, and letting up 10% on it’s torture. Things animals learn when they are young are the things they are most defensive about.

Anton Tsvil. / August 4th, 2008, 8:02 am / #41

18 years atheist here (been all my life). My parents were agnostic and didn’t really push me in one way or another I just sort of took to the belief that made more sense. This girl really is a breath of fresh air, A sort of hope for her generation. It’s strange and sad that I can’t associate with being bullied for it though. Nobody was ever all that surprised by it, and most of my friends are in the same atheist/agnostic boat. If they’re not, they respect my beliefs as I respect theirs. If I had a child and they were being treated differently for their beliefs (whether or not they reflected mine) by any of her friends or friend’s parents, I would most surely tell her to think twice before calling them a friend if they can’t respect her opinions. The whole satanism thing is really ignorant, and doesn’t make any goddamn sense. You tell Megan that I said that she’s a brilliant person who can intelligently carry on a mature conversation (which is more than I can say for some adults).

Cheers!

Morgaine / August 4th, 2008, 11:38 am / #42

Morgan: I want to echo some of what you said about the value of some prudence in relating to others who believe- that it has allowed you to maintain closeness with some of the most amazing people you’ve ever known. Several of my dearest friends also hold elements of belief that I disagree with. And yet some of these individuals are some of the most mature, compassionate people I have ever met…AND a few are some of the most profound thinkers, (although cognitive dissonance usually shows up when we delve far into the religious debate). I would not want to sacrifice these enriching connections because of my own ignosticism. I know this is not a universally agreed on approach among atheists/agnostics; that many feel strongly that its a dangerous form of appeasement. And that’s OK. We can agree to disagree here. I still maintain , as you do, that people best learn through example, by a combination of respectful acceptance for where they are at, using just the right questions to expose the gaps in their thinking ( when the time is ripe) and demonstrating ones own grounded logic around the matter. These serve, in my experience, to slowly pierce the resistance to really questioning their own views, whereas ridicule or a patronizing attitude usually just lead to more heals dug in..It can be very slow going. And for some of my friends, we will go to our death-beds with widely divergent thoughts on the matter. But if we can maintain the conversation with a level of respect, (although I would ideally love to see secular humanism universally adopted)…this is,at least as I see it, a realistic model of a working world.

To all who wrote in yesterday: Thanks so much for your stories and supporting Megan’s effort to speak out! I am forwarding all your comments to her. And keep up the dialogue!
You are our future.

Luna / August 4th, 2008, 2:35 pm / #43

Its amazing to see the differences between our countries, in the UK religion is not a big deal in the slightest, in fact you’re more likely to be ridiculed for going to church than if you don’t, I was christened when I was a baby as my grandparents pressured my parents into it, but I am an atheist, my ex boyfriend is a hindu (his father is originally from India but his mother is english) and my best friend is technically a catholic but he’s agnostic, religion doesn’t come up in conversation unless we feel like having a deep and meaningful conversation and although I know a lot of religious people they dont try to push their veiws on me or tell me I’m wrong, I’m 8 months pregnant at the moment and although I live with my partner we are unmarried and the only time I have ever been victimised because of this was on an online site populated largely by americans. In the UK its a case of people getting on with being people, we are not ruled by fear of becoming an outcast of a religious society, which is the way it should be, as human beings we have been given freedom of choice and if you choose to believe in a god then that’s your right but thats where it stops, trying to push your views on other people who do not share them is the worst possible thing you can do in this country. Its the only thing about the UK that I still hold some respect for. The government we currently have is squeezing the life out of this once proud country but at least we dont have to deal with bullying in schools over religion, its one thing less that we have to worry about luckily!

Morgaine / August 4th, 2008, 4:28 pm / #44

Luna,

Yes, your country is way ahead of the US on this.
Were you by any chance one of the 390,000 who answered Jedi Knight on the census? ;-)

For others, a link with some interesting stats on religion in the UK-

http://www.vexen.co.uk/UK/religion.html

Luna / August 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm / #45

Unfortunately I dont know when the last census was, but I suspect I was too young to fill in a form or got my mum to do it for me! I’m only just 24 but I think we have another one coming up soon so I might keep that idea in mind, thanks for the suggestion! :)

Aubeard / August 4th, 2008, 8:23 pm / #46

I was thrilled to Stumble upon this. What a charming,intelligent and thoughtful child. of course, without the ability to think critically, there would not have been anything of worth to talk about with her. Kudos to her parents and all best wishes to her!

Jungie / August 5th, 2008, 12:36 am / #47

Wow, I was quite impressed by this interview. When I was that age I was also in the gifted program at my school, but I don’t think I nor anyone else in my class could have carried on as intelligent a conversation as Megan can. Heck, I don’t think I can do that now, at 26.

In regards to the religion issue, church was always a big part of my childhood. My grandmother was the regional head of the United Church Women, and my father became a minister in the United Church or Canada when I was about five. I suppose I lucked out, since the United Church is about as liberal a church as you can get. They have female and openly gay ministers, some congregations will support gay marriage, that kind of thing. So while I never really had a “coming out”, it gradually became obvious to myself and my parents that I didn’t believe what they believed. They were supportive, although I don’t think my mom has really accepted it. Mostly we don’t talk about it, which I think is the best thing for my situation. I also think that’s what led me to the “live and let live” philosophy. It would make me a hypocrite to attack some random person on the internet for their beliefs, while two of the people I care the most for share those beliefs. Some of the more militant atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens can be ten times more irritating than your average evangelist.

Also, side note to Morgaine: I have never seen anyone else use the term “ignostic” outside of Wikipedia before! This is how I classify myself; I think a lot more people would too if they knew what it meant.

Morgaine / August 5th, 2008, 10:51 am / #48

Luna: You are quite welcome! ;-)

Aubeard and Jungie, glad you enjoyed the article. Again, I will definitely pass your comments/support on to Megan and her folks!

Re ignosticism as an obscure concept-.good point Jungie. Perhaps this will help increase it’s circulation:

‘Ignosticism’ in short describes a type of atheism which holds that the discussion of god’s existence is meaningless since, a) we lack a universally coherent definition of the term and b) it cannot be empirically proven or disproven.

The term was coined in 1964 by Rabbi Sherwin Theodore Wine, a founding figure of Humanistic Judaism, (which advocates celebration of Jewish culture and history without belief in god and places faith in the power of people to solve problems and shape the world), in response to the controversy stirred when he publicly admitted being an atheist.

Wine went on explain that (from Wikipedia); his views were not precisely atheistic. Rather, reflecting his acceptance of the basic outlook of the logical positivists, he declared that it was not possible empirically to prove or disprove the existence of God and, therefore, the concept was meaningless. He referred to this stance “ignosticism” rather than atheism”.

Morgaine / August 5th, 2008, 10:56 am / #49

I meant to say…the CONCEPT is meaningless, since we have no definition and it cannot be falsified.

smizeverday / August 5th, 2008, 10:15 pm / #50

I like this very much. I came to be an atheist at the age of 15, i am 16 now and the only atheist in my town that i know of besides my brother and sister. My parents are agnostic, I believe they are leaning towards atheism though. Nice interview.

Morgaine / August 5th, 2008, 11:02 pm / #51

Smizeverday: Thanks! Have you checked out Yahoo’s variety of teen atheist groups? You just might find some comradery or discover some local connections through these.. For teens 18 and older looking to meet local like minded peers, it might be worth a shot to Google :atheist meet-up groups in (your area)…though folks in these groups do tend to be a bit older. But you never know.-you can check out the member profiles to get a sense of the age range.. Or, you can start your own meet-up for young adult atheists and pave the way for others in your area!

Jennifer / August 5th, 2008, 11:05 pm / #52

Kudos to this blog and Megan!!!

I grew up Southern Baptist…my mom is “devout” and when I finally discovered and accepted for myself that it was “ok” for me to think for myself, she told me I was going to hell. *shrugs* I’m 30 now, with a daughter of my own. Mom still thinks I’m going to hell and while it hurts that my own mom can be so hateful to me, it doesn’t matter that much anymore. I know where my head is at. My 5 year old also is gaining an understanding that I didn’t think was possible for kids so young. I have no doubt in my mind that Megan is as articulate and bright as she sounds.

I wish that I had had her confidence when I was 12. I would go to church and ask questions and be hushed or vilified. I totally drank the Kool-Aid.

Anyway… The very best to all of you. ;)
J

FerretGirl / August 7th, 2008, 7:36 pm / #53

I’m very lucky. I was never religious and have never been discriminated against for it. All of my classmates have always been not only tolerant but excepting and interested in what I had to say. Likewise, I was always excepting of them and also interested in what they had to say. Most of my friends are religious. In fact, we have theological discussions on a regular basis. It is possible to make it through life without hardship and to find people who like you for who you are, not for your religious views.

Morgaine / August 7th, 2008, 11:25 pm / #54

Ferretgirl:

Being able to have respectful, dispassionate discussions on atheism vs belief is pretty rare. You are lucky to have a circle of friends able to see beyond those differences.

A few online resources/blogs for all you teens who wrote in:

1)Teen Skepchick (be sure to check the calender which lists events nationwide for young skeptics and freethinkers. You might find something in your hometown).
2)Young Atheists,
3)Junior Skeptic (online mag)
4)Splendid Elles -specifically check the ” High School Freethinkers Come Out ” article for more young atheist related links.

Amen Sigala / August 9th, 2008, 7:57 pm / #55

Awesome comments and discusions!
I’m named after the God of Life by the way - Amen-Ra. Long story but my Latin family felt it was holier than Jesus for us latino people and gave my mom a hard time about naming me after the word that ended prayers because it had to be holier than Jesus’ name or even God since no one in Spanish history had ever named their child Amen ( Dios is a common last name in Spanish families, Dios really translates to deity not God). So for a while I was known as Armen, found out later it’s the name of a fallen angel and now a news reporter ; ]. I have found people in religion or not, will become upset about things because of how their mind is wking or moving at the time. My family didn’t give my mother their blessing or approval so she added an r to keep them happy.
This is what I see when children or adults become angery towards atheism when the very essence of Christianity is suppose to be Love and”Love thy Enemy”
A story in the Bible on Peter’s disaproval of Mathew theTax collecter being invited By Jesus himself to a gathering of some importance that most Jews at that time would have never invited such a Jewishman says it all. Jesus said to him what he did to answer and correct Peter’s disapproval ( I don’t have my Bible,as reference to quote, I’ll get bk to u on it ).
It’s actions like this that made Jesus so cool and famous. But Christians like Muslims get focused on other thinking that I don’t remember Jesus ever exemplifing or my Muslim friends who interpret Jihad as the inner struggle of the spirit not w/ the world! There are Muslims who openly critisize the fanaticle Muslims interpretation of the Quran. At the end my point is human self-rightousness and cruelity is in any one that it is existing in for whatever developemental reasons.
These condeming characters in the scene of life have always been. This is why I feel education of religions like mythology should be taught so there isn’t any of this inappropriet bulling, cruelty and misunderstandings.
Megan is a really cool girl and a future leader. And having experienced how it feels to be persecuted like religious people in history have been ( not at the horrific level they did, a more suble version of cruelty and memorable) has added to her already mature self something she can refer to in the future many times over.
To Nolan LIGHTEN UP MAN !

Amen Sigala / August 9th, 2008, 8:21 pm / #56

Forgot something - Macayla and Sarah Hey ! vegetarian too, always known to be weird/strange and refer my self to be what I call a redefined atheist, wether or not God exists is irrelivant his psychological make up is that of a jerk’s. I don’t believe in believing in God, it’s unhealthy for the mind. Everyone else is really redefined theists anyway when u think about. Most God believers don’t believe in the God of the Bible anymore. They believe in a God that fits their own psychology. It’s a pleasure to know ur out there !!! :o)

Amen Sigala / August 9th, 2008, 8:39 pm / #57

P.S the word Satan means opposer, thought ud all like to know that !!! H.P Blavatsky used it alote in her writtings. Ha! Under that definition that would mean we’re Satans ( pronounced Satons ) whatever, Lucifer had the right not to serve the human race if he didn’t want to. Mythologicly speaking of course : ).

Mike / August 10th, 2008, 9:13 pm / #58

I personally am a non-denominational Christian (i’m 15) but I admire you very much, for composing solid views, being able to back yourself up. I respect all opposing views on religion and can have a very peaceful debate and have fun while doing so. Atheists and agnostics don’t bother me and the discrimination is bs, my best friend is an atheist. So much of our youth is just consumed with ignorance and arrogance its pathetic, they don’t care what is going on in the world today, they just care about themselves and the shirt they are going to wear the next day. Many Christians today sicken me because they are so ignorant, I don’t even consider them real because they have nothing to back themselves up with, there just people who as you put don’t want to believe in nothing after they die. I believe in Intelligent design, I’m not a young earth Christian and I can support that with my own theory’s, thoughts and evidence. If you like I could give you a much more detailed discription of my beliefs I wish you the best and would like to here more on your views of religion as long as other political views. Feel free to check out my blog which isn’t just theism and politics is filled with fun stuff.
My blog

Shadus / August 15th, 2008, 3:30 pm / #59

A well reasoned 12 year old. She’s quite obviously put more thought into religion than most adults I’ve had occasion to discuss it with. I went through some rough times growing up in the bible belt as a non-christian and to Megan I can say this with absolute authority — 85% of the crap ends when you leave high school. Another 10% ends when you finish college. Stay open minded and tolerant, you’re a great role model.

CoN$'p1r@cY Jo 2012 / October 1st, 2008, 4:26 pm / #60

Personally I don’t what exactly to say or where to start, simply because there is whole a lot I could discuss. I am a believer in God or Higher Intelligence for the reason is I don’t believe in chance or random events, things just happen to be that way. I would like to believe in a Grand Architect who has systematically set up everything so we can co-exist in our realm of reality. Let me begin by explaining what I think God is, let me first start by saying I don’t think of God as a Humanoid Entity or some super powerful deity able to hurl lighting bolts striking down those who go against its wishes, even though I believe the essence of God resides in all living things in a sense We are God and God is Us. Let me ask those of who is the Earth alive? I would say yes. The Earth is connected to our Solar System in which is connected to Our Galaxy which is Connected to the Universe what I am trying to get as is the Universe in a sense a Living Thing, that would still be here even if Earthlings didn’t. The Universe in its entirety is God, The Universe gives all we need in order to survive, just like the Sun gives us light for agricultural reasons in which is part of the Universe, everything here on earth is set up so precise or else we could not exist. Now if creation could of came about on our simple complex planet Its logical that life could form on other planets Millions of yrs more advanced than our civilization, if they where to visit our planet in the most primitive stages performing “miracles”, give us valuable information, advance our civilization from cave man slouching over to the standing up Homo-Sapiens threw Genetic Manipulation. We people of that time would consider them to be God’s. but hey I have to cut this short because my gay ass step-mom is kickin me off the computer. the name is Joe n my email is holy420smoke@aim.com Peace..

Louis / October 2nd, 2008, 3:10 am / #61

I am a believer in God or Higher Intelligence for the reason is I don’t believe in chance or random events, things just happen to be that way…

…but hey I have to cut this short because my gay ass step-mom is kickin me off the computer.

A stronger argument for the presence of God… I have never seen… This can’t be coincidence…

Flummoxed am I.

…and slightly cheeky.

;)

Rebecca / December 14th, 2008, 1:51 pm / #62

That is down-right awesome, all around. Megan is my new hero. :D

John / December 22nd, 2008, 12:22 pm / #63

Where is atheism such a problem? It's very strange to read about fear of expressing atheism. Indeed I would not even be aware of the problem if I wasn't constantly running into pro-atheism websites via StumbleUpon. I teach at a school (post high-school, pre-U) in Montreal, Canada, where I recently asked some of my classes of 17-18 year-olds if they were religious. In one class, 2 of 30+ students lifted their hands; in another NONE lifted their hands. This was, of course, no surprise for me: atheism has always been the norm in this city. Religion is often viewed as bizarre. You can go weeks without seeing any indication of theism among native Montrealers (there are many visible religious immigrant minorities such as veiled Muslims though), only the now near-empty (!) churches of a much-resented religious past. A very different world…

BlackSun / December 22nd, 2008, 12:33 pm / #64

John, you're very lucky to live in a very secular place. What is it about the French and religion? They just seem to get intuitively that it's bunk. Which is probably why they have such a reputation for savoring the finer things in life.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of the world is pretty far behind. In the American south, the proportions in the classroom would be exactly reversed. Except the unbelievers wouldn't raise their hands for fear of getting beaten up or forced to withdraw from school. No joke.

John / December 23rd, 2008, 6:52 am / #65

There's a long history of repression in the province of Quebec by the Catholic Church. I believe it's also what makes the French so against any kind of institution, including (and, perhaps, especially) marriage. A lot of French people, even if they have children and spend their whole lives together,, never get married.

William Brookhaven / December 23rd, 2008, 9:07 pm / #66

I would like Sean to comment on the story and art of Akiane who is said to have atheist parents, who began having spiritual experiences at the age of 4 which initiated her painting career (at the age of 4). And who brought her parents to believe in God. I understand that the conversion of her parents was a combination of her explanations of her personal inner experiences, and the sudden flowering of her artistic ability. I am interested in hearing how the chemical based world view can be set forth to explain this.

A sketch of her life:
http://www.artakiane.com/akiane_life.htm

A gallery of her art (beginning at age 4):
http://www.akiane.com/akiane_art.htm

BlackSun / December 24th, 2008, 4:35 am / #67

William, what's remarkable is not when a child believes, it's when they don't. There's a lot of literature on the innate source of God-belief in the brain. You could check out Matthew Alper's book, or Andrew Newberg's. It's a longer discussion, but Daniel Dennett goes into this also in Breaking the Spell. So basically it's of little consequence what her parents did or did not believe, or what kind of art she produces. Belief is a common human state-of-mind.

The correct description would be "materialist" world view. It doesn't seek to explain belief, but rather that which can be observed and studied objectively. So what we know here is that Akiane is a young artist who believes in God and has formerly atheist parents who've now become believers. Nothing to explain, really.

If you asked me to speculate, I'd say the young girl found elements in the religious mythology which inspired her, and she took it from there. She's an art prodigy, and now some people have decided she's "seeing" alternate realities they consider to be real. Lots of artists have visions on lots of subjects. The unconscious mind is a fertile field full of archetypes. When we correlate those with commonly accepted myths, many people take that as evidence of a larger reality. I would say they are overreaching for a conclusion they desire.

Joey / September 10th, 2009, 5:22 am / #68

I am a 14 year old Atheist. i have been atheist for as long as i can remember. I do know that my dad was raised a catholic but later converted to atheism/agnosticism. I often wonder if it weren't for my parents not believing in god i would have been sucked into the lies.i have faced some discrimination because of my beliefs, but i am not afraid to say "i stopped believing in imaginary friends a long time ago." I have gotten used to just telling people that i would rather have the truth than be blindly drawn to believing in god just because someone tells me.

hfromspace / September 10th, 2009, 8:48 am / #69

"Think of it as story…a fabulous fairytale. You don’t have to believe it. No one can make you do that." WORDS OF WISDOM. jeez, I remember doing just that sitting in church as a kid.

Right on Megan.

Isaac / September 10th, 2009, 4:15 pm / #70

I became an Atheist at 8 myself, but my parents are very religious. I don't tell them anything, I just let them live in the delusion that I am a Christian. One more delusion couldn't hurt, right?

brett / September 10th, 2009, 10:38 pm / #71

I was very young when I first started to disbelieve, probably around 5 or 6. My extended family was all Roman Catholic. My mother and father however turned agnostic in their 20's before I was born. I grew up occasionally going to church with my extended family on major holidays, but I remember feeling skeptical, bored and annoyed during the services. I had always had a keen interest in science from a very young age, especially the field of paleontology. I was aware of the fact that the earth and the universe were very old and that the age of man was very short in comparison.
One evening around the age of 5 or 6, a friend of mine invited me to join him to join him at an Awanas meeting at the Baptist church near my house. He had described it as really fun, and promised there would be lots of fun games and stories. I naively agreed to go. His mother contacted my mother, who thought it was her duty to let me explore religion on my own, and thus allowed me go.
The first 10-20 minutes was great. We played tag with rolled up pieces of masking tape, and for a moment church didn't seem that bad. Soon, after I realized there was another side to this. After some awards were given to several of the other children for something ( I imagine bible memorization or something). We were handed little comics about jesus and a lady read it aloud. At this point I leaned over to my friend and asked when we started to play again. His response was we didn't. Now, I knew something was amiss here.
We were then divided by age group and sent to different classrooms.
My classroom had a small ark toy on the table, which the other children gathered eagerly around. The teacher began asking if the children remembered the story of Adam and Eve from last week.
The other children responed in unison ,"Yes!"
She then moved on to the Noah story and it ended with a "Who Built the Ark? Noah… Noah…" sing along. session. It took me a verse or two to memorize the simple song, but I was puzzled and the teacher seemed to notice this.
I asked the teacher why the toy ark only had a few species of animals. She responded that "the real Ark was much bigger."
my response was, "well weren't the real animals a lot bigger too? and weren't there more of them?"
I knew I had seen more types of animals in my backyard alone, not to mention the ones I knew from books and TV, than there were on the toy ark. Something wasn't adding up.
She just said "it was very big. Bigger than I could imagine."
"Bigger than a Battleship" I asked?
She responded with an affirmative "bigger"
"and he made it out of wood?" I asked?
"Yes" she said.
"How Long ago was this?" I asked, now very skeptical of the story.
"long long ago"
"like caveman times" I asked?
"no they weren't cavemen…" she seemed to want me to shut up at this point.
"Like in the Middle Ages?" ( I had recently returned from a trip to Germany, where I had become fascinated with knights and castles.)
"No before that."
"After Adam and Eve, but before Jesus"
"When were Adam and Eve?"
"At the begining of time"
"You mean like before the dinosaurs?"
At this point another lady grabbed my hand and asked me to come with her. She sat me down in another room. A short while later another lady came by and started asking me questions like, "where I went to church? how often I went? why my parents didn't take me?" I was all the sudden very freightened and uncomfortable. She told me that I had a lot to learn and that they wanted me to come back next week, but to just sit and listen.
That night I told my mom I never wanted to go to church again.
That is when I became atheist… or at least agnostic…
I'm now 32 and a strong atheist.
Thanks Awanas!

Alex / September 11th, 2009, 1:14 pm / #72

I’m a 19 year old atheist, have been since fourth grade. I’m the kid who refused to say the line “under god” during the required pledge of allegiance, and later did not say the pledge at all in fifth grade. I’ve not had much conflict with fellow classmates, just those who would have found another outlet for their cruelty.

However I wanted to congratulate Megan on her bravery and encourage her to continue to be who she wants to be. Children may be cruel, and indeed some adults still are, but I’ve found that as I’ve grown older, people have become somewhat more accepting of my views.

John / September 11th, 2009, 3:22 pm / #73

When I was 4, I spent a week or so believing in God, because my teacher told us to, then found out that my best friend didn’t so I stopped too. I think the situation with santa claus was almost identical, except possibly with a different friend.

Chamale / September 11th, 2009, 3:24 pm / #74

I protested against my baptism at age 5, citing atheism. I still believed in Santa and the tooth fairy until I was 7, though.

Tushar / September 11th, 2009, 6:17 pm / #75

Religion can causes war. Private prayer gives hope and solace.

CypressRun / September 11th, 2009, 6:43 pm / #76

Morgana would you also consider interviewing one or both parents? As a athiest/parent I would appreciate hearing some of their story. Megan seems to have parents who have showered her with their love and critical thinking. I wish more children were supported this way.

ZiggyD / September 11th, 2009, 7:16 pm / #77

Dont worry, I'm an non-theist and I live just across the border in NC. I know its hard, but keep ya head up!

Scargill / September 12th, 2009, 5:18 am / #78

Doesn't it worry the hell out of anyone that a country that is packed full of nuclear weapons generally believes
in invisible gods… I find the idea petrifying.

Rox1SMF / September 12th, 2009, 6:49 am / #79

Kudos to Megan, her parents and Morgaine for allowing this young lady to give voice to her opinions. Brava!

It's so nice to see intelligent, thoughtful young people speaking up and coming out… it gives me hope.

Teach your kids to read, encourage intellectual curiosity and don't talk down to them; that's pretty much the formula I've seen in families that have gifted children.

AnonOfCourse / September 12th, 2009, 10:14 pm / #80

valhar2000
no, i'm fairly sure the youngest atheist would be at time of conception, making everyone tied for youngest atheist.
Unless we start tracing back atheist/theist parents, then we would have halfies n whatnot, becoming very complicated.

Mezzobuff / September 14th, 2009, 12:44 pm / #81

I just stumbled on this blog… I am so impressed with all of the young atheist/agnostics commenting here. What a great example of critically thinking youth. Hang in there for those of you being discriminated or bullied at school: when you get into college it gets easier, for sure. Cheers to you all and thank you. You give this old atheist hope!

theadividual / September 14th, 2009, 3:52 pm / #82

Great post. My daughter has always been atheist, even before I was. She looked at the whole Jesus story and saw it as a big myth, which of course it is. I think this new generation of kids are encouraged to think more and won't put up with idiocy. So good to hear a 12 year old with such sophisticated views on atheism.

MsMsBurning / September 15th, 2009, 6:33 pm / #83

Very cool! Lil dudes and dudettes are far wiser than we adults give them credit! I've been an atheist since I was 6
and I wish so much I had an adult to look up to and converse with when I began to question the status quo.

Micheal WIsell / September 16th, 2009, 2:13 am / #84

Megan; You are to be commended for your courage and straightforward manner. It is disturbing to see the immensity of prejudice and animosity directed against you, but stirring and heartening to see you face it. Any of us who share your stance on this topic have similar experiences to share. I'm 52, but I was convinced of my nonbeliever status when I was about 15. It doesn't get much better when you're an adult, but you will have more learning, experience and knowledge to deal with it. My hat's off to you!
Mike

Madi / September 20th, 2009, 6:57 am / #85

I'm a 15 year old from Oregon, and atheist also. Many of my friends are Mormon, or Christian. I do get discriminated sometimes, but surprisingly not usually. I was brought up as an atheist (the main reason not attending church). I actually wasn't up until after my parents divorced and my mom met my now step-father that I actually decided I was an atheist. My step-father and I talked about evolution and religion. After doing a bit of my own research, I decided that I was, in fact, an atheist. This was when I was about 12, coincidentally. I believe in being an open minded person: I love learning about other religions in order to broaden my knowledge. Many people think that atheists are the spawn of the devil, or terrible people with no morals. WRONG. Religion is a reason for people to do good things. My family and I like doing good things BECAUSE they're good.

Grammar Nazi / December 17th, 2009, 6:54 pm / #86

Lets -> Let's

Frank / June 8th, 2010, 11:02 pm / #87

OMG YOUR SO TOTALLY THE DEVIL! YOULL BURN IN HELL!! VADE RETRO SATANAS!!

just kidding. :)
That's really great from a 12 years old girl, good job! I believe you live in America? In Switzerland (or more generally in Europe) there are actually a lot of atheists. It's actually not very common to find a teenager who truely believes in god. I think most of my friends are atheists, and we don't make fun of the few that aren't, and neither make they fun of us. It should be this way everywhere…

religionisrude / May 16th, 2011, 7:22 pm / #88

I have a very large problem with the fact that you are basically telling Megan (btw, you spelled her name wrong, that was a little rude, lecturing someone when you don't even have the decency to remember their name correctly) that unless she embraces religion (aka, becomes more flexible, no, you were not subtle) she will continue to be bullied. I am a fifteen year old girl who has experienced this kind of mind set regularly, and it continues to shock and repulse me every day. Pretending to believe in god and giving up your right to free speech is not a solution to bullying. It is a short term fix to what could turn into a long-term problem. it is also an awful way to spend your childhood. Lying is also something that is unacceptable to preach to a child, regardless of the circumstances. it is adults who lecture about this "solution" that sicken me, you are leaving a defenseless, vulnerable child to fend for herself and be bullied because we must be "flexible". No matter the circumstances, adults are responsible for making sure children are not exposed to that sort of thing, not encourage them to change so they will not be bullied. I would like to finish with the fact that I incredibly rarely comment on any sort of article, but your comment shocked me to a point I needed to respond.

Ark / July 7th, 2011, 1:41 pm / #89

I don't know if I believe in "God" I believe in energy that pushes the world but not "God" but just to deal with these wonderful people down here in the Bible belt "aka Arkansas" I say oh thank God and Amen and "God has been good to me" one day I will not have to hide inside of myself in this area because of the openness of the people around the world speaking out here and at other venues. Thank you all and I hope you have a GREAT day :D

Interview with a 12 year old atheist – The Good Atheist / September 4th, 2013, 8:10 pm / #90

[...] out this blog; there’s a great little interview with Megan, a 12 year old atheist who will knock your fucking socks off at how clear, logical, and educated she is. Here are a few highlights: Morgaine: Religious people [...]

Post a comment

Comments are closed for this post.