For as long as religion has dominated culture, opting out of religion, saying “I don’t believe it,” has been seen as abnormal to the point of unthinkable. Tolerance has usually meant accepting the rights of others to worship a different god, or to worship god in a different way. Many paths to god, that sort of thing. But what about a path that doesn’t end at god? In most places and times, that has just been…abnormal.

In recent years, that has begun to turn around. Our kids are way ahead of us in normalizing disbelief. It is just far less common for religious belief or disbelief to be a big deal among high school kids. In more places than ever before, it matters much less than it did a couple of generations ago.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.