Why Your Kids May Become Atheists No Matter What You Do (and Why That Shouldn’t Discourage You)

by Natasha Crain

My 5-year-old and I were playing the game Connect Four the other day and, for the first time ever, she was in a position to beat me. I absolutely won’t let my kids win a game for the sake of winning, but when I see that they’ve gotten into a position to win on their own, I’m willing to point it out (yes, I am that generous).

All my daughter had to do was put her checker in a specific spot and it would guarantee a win on her next turn.

I excitedly explained, “You’re going to win! You did it on your own! I didn’t let you win at all! Look. If you play right here, you are going to win on your next turn no matter where I play next.”

She looked at it a minute and realized I was right. A guaranteed win if she played where I showed her.

Then she played somewhere else.

I was flabbergasted that my little girl, who has long been desperate to beat me at Connect Four, didn’t take the guaranteed road to victory. I literally couldn’t understand it.

I blurted out, “What are you doing?! You FINALLY could have really beaten mommy! WHY didn’t you play where I showed you?”

She shrugged, then replied, “Because I wanted to play over here.”

Reminder: Our Kids Aren’t Purely Rational Creatures

My daughter’s response was positively maddening because it was so illogical. Why give up the win just because you “want” to play somewhere else? It didn’t make sense.

But it made me reflect on the fact that humans are not purely rational creatures. There are all kinds of reasons why we make the decisions we make, and that includes the decisions we make about our spiritual life.

This is precisely why, no matter what we do, our kids may become atheists.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m passionate about equipping Christian parents with an understanding of secular challenges and helping them address these with their kids. I strongly believe that if we aren’t intentional in how we disciple kids today, we are failing them in the most important area of their lives. So does it sound contradictory that I’m now saying no matter what we do, our kids may become atheists?

It shouldn’t.

It’s simply an acknowledgment that even when we line up the checkers of truth and point clearly to how our kids can “win” spiritually, they may choose to do something else.

Dr. Gary Habermas has offered a framework that further illuminates this reality. He suggests there are three kinds of spiritual doubt that people deal with in determining their faith…

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Why Your Kids May Become Atheists No Matter What You Do (and Why That Shouldn’t Discourage You)