Atheists not raising their kids as atheists
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04-12-2014, 09:50 PM
RE: Atheists not raising their kids as atheists
What does my head in is atheists raising their kids religious... It seems to happen a lot.

From what I've read... Nick Clegg, the UK's deputy prime minister is an atheist, but he's raising his kids Catholic.

My guess is that his missus has a lot to do with it... But I don't get how he can be cool with it.

But then he's a Lib-Dem, so he believes in tiptoeing round religion and handling it with kid gloves.

Either that, or he just wouldn't get any pussy if he didn't agree to it.

My money is on the latter.

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05-12-2014, 07:20 AM
RE: Atheists not raising their kids as atheists
(04-12-2014 03:33 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  Further, rather than say kids are born atheist, or theist, I would say, they are born with some propensity to seek and find God and--this is why life is a toughie--also the propensity to dim God in their knowledge. I would say mankind is a bunch of Jekyll and Hydes, not purely sinners and not perfect saints either.

I wouldn't say that they are born with a propensity to seek god but rather that they are born with curiosity and a propensity to seek answers. When the answers aren't immediately obvious it is easy to make up a god to fill in the blank. The problem is that "god" is only the answer if you are willing to stop looking and pretend. It doesn't explain anything better than "magic" or "because" does, it just sounds better if you agree not to look behind the curtain.

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05-12-2014, 09:59 AM (This post was last modified: 05-12-2014 10:03 AM by Mr. Boston.)
RE: Atheists not raising their kids as atheists
It's the job of children (well adults too really) to figure things out. As infants one of the first things they figure out, before they can even communicate verbally, is who takes care of their needs. If they're hungry, or have a full diaper they cry and someone, most often one of their parents, fixes their problem so they'll be comfortable again. From that point on they learn to trust their parents. The next thing they figure out is what objects are food, and what objects aren't. Everything goes in the mouth. They're tiny little scientists at this point, conducting experiments. The older they get, the more complex concepts they try to grapple with. When they become verbal the incessant asking of questions starts: Why does it rain? Why did my old doggie die? Why is that kid at pre-school mean to me? Why do you drink coffee? Why can't I have dessert before dinner? Why do I have to go to bed? Why does the snow melt? At first these questions are to understand things they simply don't know, because they trust you and assume you know more than they do. You are essentially "god" to them. Later the questions start to become about refining their own hypotheses about the world, or trying to debunk what they've been told: Can Santa REALLY fit presents for EVERY boy and girl in the world on one sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer? Can he REALLY visit every single house in one night? The child has doubts and is trying to get at the real truth. And this is an enterprise most parents applaud - my child is smart/mature enough that "magic" no longer seems plausible to him. You might be somewhat sad that they're losing their "innocence" to a degree, but for the most part I think parents are happy about this; their kids aren't gullible any more. UNLESS the questions turn into: Can two of EVERY animal REALLY fit on one boat? Did an old man REALLY part the Red Sea so that thousands of people could walk through it? Is there REALLY another life after we die - and can I REALLY get to Heaven instead of Hell by worshiping Jesus? These are no-no questions; asking them is defying god. These are the fairy tales that grown-ups wish were true.

We fill our kids' heads with all kinds of ridiculous ideas, or society does it for us. Eventually kids figure out that Batman, Santa Claus, Scooby Doo, and the Tooth Fairy are just pretend; and I think it would be nearly every child's instinct to follow that same logic pattern to the probability that God is just pretend too. So, as an atheist, why am I not specifically raising my kids to be atheist as well? Because I have "faith" that they'll reach an age where they firmly understand what make-believe is, and that even made-up characters or stories can have value. At that point if they ask me, I'll tell them that I think God, Superman, Woody and Buzz, the Muppets, and Luke Skywalker all came from people's imaginations and that it's not about them being "true" or "real" it's about how they make us feel and what inspiration we can get from them.
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05-12-2014, 10:12 AM
RE: Atheists not raising their kids as atheists
For me, it's not about raising a kid as an atheist, but raising them to think critically on all issues (religion included). I want them to take stances on stuff they have reasoned out for themselves, not believe simply because I tell them to. I believe that critical thinking is a neccesary tool to equip future generations.

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05-12-2014, 12:36 PM
RE: Atheists not raising their kids as atheists
(04-12-2014 08:13 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(04-12-2014 03:33 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  I do follow your logic but would say young children are confused, learning and subject to change--therefore this thread exists to ask whether atheist parents are indoctrinating, playing by ear, etc.

Yeah, I'm not denying that. Just, in the strictest definition of the word, they're born atheist.


(04-12-2014 03:33 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  Further, rather than say kids are born atheist, or theist, I would say, they are born with some propensity to seek and find God and--this is why life is a toughie--also the propensity to dim God in their knowledge. I would say mankind is a bunch of Jekyll and Hydes, not purely sinners and not perfect saints either.

I'd say you have to prove that. I'm not saying you don't believe it, but I see the idea as nonfalsifiable. Furthermore, the biggest determining factor in a person's religion seems to be where they were raised and what they were taught. Even if they do have a propensity to seek God, it seems to be weaker than cultural bias and stigma.


(04-12-2014 03:33 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  This last still adheres to your logic, for while no person can be both atheist and theist--I agree--MANY people go back and forth, forth and back. Like adults are children and vice versa!

True. I almost added an "at one time" qualifier, but I didn't.


(04-12-2014 03:33 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  May I ask a personal question? When you were contemplating leaving Christianity--something you wrote you did after a long period of study and contemplation--during that time, did you go back and forth between atheism and theism, steps one way and the other?

Thanks.

Honestly, I don't have a very solid answer for you. When the whole thing initially happened, it was gradual enough that I can't tell you when I went from "Christian with doubts" to "non-believer". There was a period toward the end where my stance was "I don't know what I believe". It was during this time that I was pretty sure I didn't believe it, but I still wanted to.

Anyway, there were a few parts there where I was "experimenting" with atheist thinking, so to speak. I'd allow myself to run things to logical conclusions I normally wouldn't. It's possible I was flip-flopping at some point. Again, it's hard to honestly evaluate it, because I was just beginning to get into some genuine introspection. I had been pretty dishonest with myself before that point.

Thank you for sharing all of that with me.

I would say looking at the human condition, now or historically, with all our struggles, conflicts and problems, and also our altruism, kindnesses and charities, speaks eloquently to the state of mankind as good and bad, mixed.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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