|Aunt Margaret’s bookmarks|
No Better Place: An atheist meets his maker. No, make that his end.
All we really needed to know about atheism we learned in kindergarten. We grew up in a nonreligious household with unobservant parents of dissimilar backgrounds. We celebrated Christmas with a tree and gifts but no religious overtones. The concepts of God and religion were completely unknown to us before we started school.
To parents who are themselves insecure in their faith and, like the nineteenth-century English radical John Thelwall, think it “unfair to influence a child’s mind by inculcating any opinions before it should have come to years of discretion, and be able to choose for itself,” there is an enlightening anecdote in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Table Talk for July 27, 1830. “I showed [John Thelwall] my garden, and told him it was my botanical garden. ‘How so?’ said he, ‘it is covered with weeds.’ — ‘Oh,’ I replied, ‘that is only because it has not yet come to its age of discretion and choice. The weeds, you see, have taken the liberty to grow, and I thought it unfair in me to prejudice the soil towards roses and strawberries.’ “