One of the things I am most grateful to my parents for, is the fact that they never forced any one religion on me. Growing up, we were not made to read the bible, or go to church weekly, but neither were we forbidden from it. I attended church many times with various friends. I knew of Christianity, I knew the stories, and I guess I kind of believed by default for part of my childhood just because I had never sat down to think about it. When I was about eight years old is when I knew, with out a doubt, that those stories were just that, stories. I didn't label myself an atheist (openly and proudly) until well into my adult years, but I knew I was one.
When I had children of my own, I knew I wanted to give them the same open freedom of religion that I had while growing up. Although my kids have never been to church, (they have been to Buddhist temples) they know of god, because our society is saturated with religion. They know of heaven and hell, angels and the devil. They both have told me that they believe in god, and I have never tried to discourage that. But neither have I hid the fact that I do not believe in god, heaven, hell, or angels. We have had open and frank discussions, and always have I left my children free to find their own beliefs.
Last night I had an interesting conversation with Nico. He tells me, "By the way mommy, I'm religious now." It kind of caught me off guard because it was so out of the blue. I asked if he knew what being religious meant, and he said yes. So I asked what makes him think he is religious now, and he said because he no longer believes in god.
"No, no, no honey, you're confused. Religious is when you do believe in god, and you follow a specific religion, adhering to their tenets and following their holy text. I think you mean you are atheist now, because that is when you don't believe in god."
"Oh, yeah, I'm an atheist now."
"So what makes you think there is no god?"
"I just don't see any proof anywhere."
"So you've been thinking about it, and looking for proof?"
"You know I was about eight years old when I realized that I was an atheist."
"Well I'm just under that."
Here's the thing. He's only seven. He has a long life to live, and many, many more years to think and study religion. The significant thing to me, is that he is thinking about it, and coming to his own conclusions.