And no religion too

Turns out it’s even harder to explain we’ve no religion than no children. Everyone seems to be asking at the moment, “are you a Muslim?” they say, or “are you Christian or Muslim?” One old man sitting next to me in a shared jeep asked “what is the status of Jesus in your religious thinking?” Oh my.

These kinds of questions are tough to answer for three reasons. First because we’re not used to taking about religion. It’s pretty taboo to ask someone at home, unless you’re wearing a name badge that says Latter Day Saints and knocking on doors. So we’re not practised.

Second, it’s not like we’re fiery atheists who’ve both thought long and hard about the case that there’s no God. We’d both say we’re agnostic which means our general view is “meh”. That’s not all that easy to articulate, though.

Finally the idea that we would actually have no religion is so foreign, so implausible to the people that ask us. They don’t ask whether we’re religious, they ask what religion. Seeing the bewilderment in their eyes I’ve been casting about for an analogy for how strange they find it. The best I’ve got is this: imagine if someone told you they had no family. Not that they were adopted. That’s just a different kind of family which, while weird, is conceivable, probably deserving of some sympathy and worry, but conceivable. That’d be like Christianity, then. No, having no religion is like having no family at all, growing up with a fundamental part of life, community and identity just missing.

The best answer to these religious questions we’ve come up with was actually initiated by a young woman who was doing the asking. “So you believe in… science,” she said. Um, yes, that we do.

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