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How We Teach Kids Right From Wrong

June 27, 1993

"No Need for God?" (June 10) demonstrated the arrogance and prejudice that believers have toward atheists.

I am an atheist. I have not believed in God since childhood, when God was no more than the other superstitious nonsense children are forced to swallow.

Atheists do not make any apologies for their beliefs, nor do they need esoteric guidelines for behaving ethically. My wife and I have raised five children in a religion-free household. I would put my children's ethics against anyone else's. They are not perfect, but they know right from wrong. They are caring people, good parents, good to their siblings and to their parents and grandparents.

The problem of this world is not of the nonbelievers' making. We are too few to matter. The problem is the hypocrisy that is religion. Religion does not teach us right behavior but how to make excuses for getting away with bad behavior. Religion has succeeded in nothing but stirring up divisiveness and hatred.

RONALD H. SKRILOFF

Redondo Beach

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I was discouraged to read "No Need for God?" and to find very little interjection from Christian sources for the existence of God.

The church and God are not in the business of creating perfect people. By nature, we are creatures of sin and therefore aren't capable of living sinless lives. To suggest that the failure to do so by "highly religious people" is evidence that God does not exist is absurd and ignorant.

As long as parents and so-called religious experts continue to distort the truth about God, an absence of moral values will continue to prevail in our society. God as creator is responsible for everything in existence. This is the basis for our moral values.

JUSTIN W. ROBINSON

Seal Beach

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I have no doubts about the ability to raise moral, ethical children without God, but I wonder about how much of our cultural literacy that comes from knowing the Bible will be lost.

I was raised a Methodist, but in college discovered humanism, which is my philosophical home today. Do I regret the years of Sunday school? Not a bit. My general knowledge about our culture and religious history is richer because of it. We were introduced to the Old and New Testaments, so I learned about Judaism as well as Christianity.

I might even consider sending a child to Sunday school just for that cultural education.

LILITH--

Ventura

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I take exception to the article "No Need for God?" in that it implied people will only do what is good and right and humane if a fear of retribution by a god, or the concept of karma, looms large.

It seems to me that to elicit decency through fear is antithetical. Those who feel that belief in a religion or God is the only way to produce a moral society are conveniently forgetting the atrocities perpetrated by the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, opposing religious groups in the Middle East and the Jim Jones and Branch Davidian cults, to name a few.

Does a belief in God guarantee decency and morality? Let's ask Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.

ANGELA MASLUK

Long Beach

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As a 32-year-old who was raised by atheists and baptized Catholic this Easter, I feel somewhat qualified to comment. I agree it is possible to raise a child with a sense of morality without invoking a deity. I believe my parents, two wonderful people, were successful in doing so with me. The question of God need not raise its head when you are rewarded for doing good or even when you are ignored for doing good.

I was forced to face that question in a most horrible way. My husband of 11 years died suddenly. This was not like the loss of my sweet grandparents. This was the loss of half my being, the half I loved more than what was left behind. I don't know how atheists cope with that kind of loss.

The idea that my husband will live on in my memories is the biggest piece of drivel I can imagine. He was a living, breathing, thinking creation full of dreams, desires, experiences and humor. It is only the promise of being reunited with the actual, unique individual that he was which gives life on Earth any meaning.

To atheists such ideas sound like fairy tales. But I found the evidence for God in the depth of my love for my husband. I believe in evolution, but if it existed on its own, it would have long ago wiped out this ability of humans to love beyond themselves, for evolution is ruthless in getting rid of hindrances to survival, and the will to survive vanishes with the death of a loved one.

LISA KIJEK

Downey

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Religionists teach that they may be absolved of their misdeeds by virtue of forgiveness doctrines. We atheists enjoy no such luxury. We teach our children that the conscience does not forgive or forget.

MARTIN ZITTER

Pasadena

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It was suggested in the June 10 article that children who grow up with a spiritual vacuum may fall prey to cultists like Jim Jones and David Koresh. The point is well taken.

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