Second Letter From Edd to the Forum Members

1 One day an elderly couple gathered their four children, two sons and two daughters, together for a serious discussion. 2 When all were present they asked, ‘What are your views regarding the afterlife, religion, or spirituality in general?’

3 Now, it was known that the couple was in the process of drawing up their Last Will and Testament. 4 Over the years, their wealth had grown to an envious amount. 5 The children felt that their inheritance might be influenced by their responses.

6 But they were strong, independent thinkers and they all knew that their parents respected honesty, so each child resolved to speak the truth, no matter what the consequences.

7 The eldest son spoke up first: ‘Mother, Father, I have never hidden my feelings on this matter; I proudly consider myself an atheist. 8 All observable evidence supports the idea of a universe capable of running itself without the benefit of a guiding or creative hand. 9 And every god that I have ever heard of seems more likely to be wishful thinking, fable, or myth. 10 When supportable evidence is presented that indicates otherwise, I will reconsider my position, but until then, I will look to science to answer all my questions and solve all my problems.’

11 The oldest daughter responded next: ‘I respect my brother’s opinion but I cannot commit to such an inflexible attitude. 12 I agree that no evidence can be shown to prove a god’s existence but no evidence can be shown proving a god’s non-existence, either. 13 Without proof, reasonable doubt must prevail. 14 The world is full of many wondrous things in an arguably infinite amount of space; to say with conviction that something cannot exist is indicative of hubris.’

15 Without responding, the parents looked to the next son. 16 ‘I have not been shy in regard to my faith, either,’ he laughed. 17 ‘Anyone who would like to hear how I decided that the path I have chosen is the true path to enlightenment I will gladly regale. 18 Come to me with an open mind and the truth shall reveal itself to you. 19 Worry not about insulting me, my conviction is based upon a power higher than anything of this world.’

20 All eyes turned to the youngest daughter. 21 She sighed, took a deep breath and drew herself up, as if expecting an attack. 22 ‘Mother and Father, I love you very much, but you ask a question I find difficult to answer. 23 My beliefs are of a personal and private nature; so much so that it is painful to bring myself to express them, even to you. 24 I beg you, judge me by my actions, not my motives. 25 Do I not endeavour to help others and not harm them? 26 Am I not compassionate? 27 Have you found me to be cruel in any way? 28 What difference does it make what thoughts lie in my mind if my behaviour is commendable? 29 Any views I have should be considered as valid as the others, no matter what they are. 30 Leave me out of your will if you must, but that is my final response.’

31 The parents exchanged a shocked look. 32 ‘Leave you out of our will?!’ they exclaimed. 33 ‘We were merely curious! 34 Our will is already complete. 35 You will all get an equal share of the estate, regardless of your views. 36 We love you all equally. 37 Silly children, we only want you to feel comfortable discussing any and all topics with us.’

38 Verily the elderly couple had much of the FSM within them, for they understood that each of their children felt strongly concerning their respective viewpoints and not one was deserving of punishment or disregard. 39 When the sad day arrived and each heir received their one fifth share of their parents’ estate, they felt proud to carry on the legacy of tolerance and respect.

40 (And yes, the four children each received one fifth of the inheritance; the remaining portion was split amongst the household pets. 41 Unfortunately, the parents shared another trait of the FSM and were frequently intoxicated.)

42 May you identify more with the parents of this parable than one of the children (except for the ‘frequently intoxicated’ part).