How true am I to my views?
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11-10-2012, 10:36 PM
How true am I to my views?
This is a question I've been musing over for probably a year or two now and it refers to a very specific situation I occasionally find myself in.

As most of you know I work part time in my local primary school, I work with 3-11 year olds. I've worked there for about four years now and in that time I've been asked three times, by three different children, whether I believe in God. All three times I have chosen to not answer.

There are two main reasons that I don't answer. Firstly, and less importantly, I would not want to reflect badly on the business. Whether I like it or not, it's possible that a parent may be unimpressed by me getting into a religious discussion with their child, especially if it leads to a shift in opinion. If we lose children, and it impacts on the business, the belief that I haven't done anything wrong would be of little comfort to me. Secondly, and far more importantly, as religion isn't an important topic in most people's lives around here I strongly suspect that a lot of the children who believe in God may do so because their parents have used the existence of heaven as a tool to help them cope with bereavement. This presents an obvious problem in denying the existence of God and heaven.

Despite having two good reasons not to answer I always feel like I'm selling out my views on religion whenever I do so. This is not helped by the fact that most of the other staff do believe in God and I've heard two of them mentioning God to the children on occasion, not in a promotion of religion kinda way but when it's been relevant to a particular conversation. However they have spoken of him as though he does exist, not as though there is any doubt. This makes me think that surely it must be acceptable for me to do the same but from the other side of the debate. The thing that plays on my mind the most though, is that I've asked myself if I would refrain from answering if I was a Christian and I know the answer. I wouldn't have any qualms answering if I did believe.

I'm not looking for a definitive answer on how I should act in future but I would like to hear other people's views on the situation. If anyone can help me feel easier about the situation or make it clearer for me it will be you guys.

Best and worst of Ferdinand .....
Best
Ferdinand: We don't really say 'theist' in Alabama. Here, you're either a Christian, or you're from Afghanistan and we fucking hate you.
Worst
Ferdinand: Everyone from British is so, like, fucking retarded.
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11-10-2012, 10:45 PM
RE: How true am I to my views?
There is no shame in saying "I don't know.". If my nephew asks me if I am a believer, I would probably tell him that many people believe in different things. That for every different religion, there is a belief in a different god. Hopefully by this point he will lose interest in my explanation, however I would have to try to answer his questions as best I could. I think I would tell him that it is up to him to decide whether or not god exists and it is not for me to say one way or another what I personally believe. Hopefully I am vague enough to avoid pissing off my in-laws, but truthful enough to keep him questioning what he is told throughout life.
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11-10-2012, 10:55 PM
RE: How true am I to my views?
(11-10-2012 10:36 PM)Hughsie Wrote:  This is a question I've been musing over for probably a year or two now and it refers to a very specific situation I occasionally find myself in.

As most of you know I work part time in my local primary school, I work with 3-11 year olds. I've worked there for about four years now and in that time I've been asked three times, by three different children, whether I believe in God. All three times I have chosen to not answer.

There are two main reasons that I don't answer. Firstly, and less importantly, I would not want to reflect badly on the business. Whether I like it or not, it's possible that a parent may be unimpressed by me getting into a religious discussion with their child, especially if it leads to a shift in opinion. If we lose children, and it impacts on the business, the belief that I haven't done anything wrong would be of little comfort to me. Secondly, and far more importantly, as religion isn't an important topic in most people's lives around here I strongly suspect that a lot of the children who believe in God may do so because their parents have used the existence of heaven as a tool to help them cope with bereavement. This presents an obvious problem in denying the existence of God and heaven.

Despite having two good reasons not to answer I always feel like I'm selling out my views on religion whenever I do so. This is not helped by the fact that most of the other staff do believe in God and I've heard two of them mentioning God to the children on occasion, not in a promotion of religion kinda way but when it's been relevant to a particular conversation. However they have spoken of him as though he does exist, not as though there is any doubt. This makes me think that surely it must be acceptable for me to do the same but from the other side of the debate. The thing that plays on my mind the most though, is that I've asked myself if I would refrain from answering if I was a Christian and I know the answer. I wouldn't have any qualms answering if I did believe.

I'm not looking for a definitive answer on how I should act in future but I would like to hear other people's views on the situation. If anyone can help me feel easier about the situation or make it clearer for me it will be you guys.

Hmmm...

Imo, I think it's a good idea to keep away from that type of questioning in that type of environment. However, if you do feel compelled to answer, maybe find out what their parents believe first.
Parents can be extremely volatile when it comes to interfering with their offspring and their views in my experience (and also from being a parent myself).

What I might do (if I were you) would be to approach the other 'carers' and ask them not impose their own beliefs on the children.

You may just be asking for trouble if you start offering advice but as I'm not familiar with your situation and the people you work with, it may be wise to go with your own instincts 'cos you're a level-headed and quite mature young man (yeh, don't get a big head over it Big Grin - just remember you cheated on me Dodgy ) so I'm sure you will handle it well.

Humankind Dodgy (a total misnomer)
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11-10-2012, 11:03 PM
RE: How true am I to my views?
(11-10-2012 10:55 PM)aurora Wrote:  What I might do (if I were you) would be to approach the other 'carers' and ask them not impose their own beliefs on the children.

That's not really possible as one of the other members of staff I was referring to is the owner of the business. It's also further complicated as my Christian mother is a manager there and she is not a big fan of my atheism.

aurora Wrote:You may just be asking for trouble if you start offering advice but as I'm not familiar with your situation and the people you work with, it may be wise to go with your own instincts 'cos you're a level-headed and quite mature young man (yeh, don't get a big head over it Big Grin - just remember you cheated on me Dodgy ) so I'm sure you will handle it well.

To be honest I can't imagine ever answering the question. I care about the children and I don't think I could risk upsetting them. It could also put me in a difficult situation both at work and home.

I just wish I didn't feel so crappy every time it arose. It's one of those horrible situations where, however much I think it through in my head, there doesn't seem to be a positive option to take. I lose either way.

Best and worst of Ferdinand .....
Best
Ferdinand: We don't really say 'theist' in Alabama. Here, you're either a Christian, or you're from Afghanistan and we fucking hate you.
Worst
Ferdinand: Everyone from British is so, like, fucking retarded.
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11-10-2012, 11:20 PM
RE: How true am I to my views?
(11-10-2012 11:03 PM)Hughsie Wrote:  
(11-10-2012 10:55 PM)aurora Wrote:  What I might do (if I were you) would be to approach the other 'carers' and ask them not impose their own beliefs on the children.

That's not really possible as one of the other members of staff I was referring to is the owner of the business. It's also further complicated as my Christian mother is a manager there and she is not a big fan of my atheism.

aurora Wrote:You may just be asking for trouble if you start offering advice but as I'm not familiar with your situation and the people you work with, it may be wise to go with your own instincts 'cos you're a level-headed and quite mature young man (yeh, don't get a big head over it Big Grin - just remember you cheated on me Dodgy ) so I'm sure you will handle it well.

To be honest I can't imagine ever answering the question. I care about the children and I don't think I could risk upsetting them. It could also put me in a difficult situation both at work and home.

I just wish I didn't feel so crappy every time it arose. It's one of those horrible situations where, however much I think it through in my head, there doesn't seem to be a positive option to take. I lose either way.

Life is a lot like that, sadly Undecided

Try not to let it get to you...

Humankind Dodgy (a total misnomer)
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12-10-2012, 09:12 AM
RE: How true am I to my views?
(11-10-2012 10:36 PM)Hughsie Wrote:  This is a question I've been musing over for probably a year or two now and it refers to a very specific situation I occasionally find myself in.

As most of you know I work part time in my local primary school, I work with 3-11 year olds. I've worked there for about four years now and in that time I've been asked three times, by three different children, whether I believe in God. All three times I have chosen to not answer.

There are two main reasons that I don't answer. Firstly, and less importantly, I would not want to reflect badly on the business. Whether I like it or not, it's possible that a parent may be unimpressed by me getting into a religious discussion with their child, especially if it leads to a shift in opinion. If we lose children, and it impacts on the business, the belief that I haven't done anything wrong would be of little comfort to me. Secondly, and far more importantly, as religion isn't an important topic in most people's lives around here I strongly suspect that a lot of the children who believe in God may do so because their parents have used the existence of heaven as a tool to help them cope with bereavement. This presents an obvious problem in denying the existence of God and heaven.

Despite having two good reasons not to answer I always feel like I'm selling out my views on religion whenever I do so. This is not helped by the fact that most of the other staff do believe in God and I've heard two of them mentioning God to the children on occasion, not in a promotion of religion kinda way but when it's been relevant to a particular conversation. However they have spoken of him as though he does exist, not as though there is any doubt. This makes me think that surely it must be acceptable for me to do the same but from the other side of the debate. The thing that plays on my mind the most though, is that I've asked myself if I would refrain from answering if I was a Christian and I know the answer. I wouldn't have any qualms answering if I did believe.

I'm not looking for a definitive answer on how I should act in future but I would like to hear other people's views on the situation. If anyone can help me feel easier about the situation or make it clearer for me it will be you guys.
I do essentially the same thing with my own children. I'm a strong believer that people should make up their own minds about religion. As strongly as I believe no god exists, I recognize the possibility that I may be wrong. I don't believe that I am, but if in fact I am wrong and I ignorantly turn my children away from that truth, I would be as guilty as I view religions that indoctrinate their followers about a god. (Even if there is a god, they can't all be right so at least some must be indoctrinating about false gods.) So my approach is to strongly encourage my children to think about and learn about the details surrounding the question about whether there is a god. I also encourage them not to believe anything just because someone told them, but to make sure there are supporting reasons and evidence for anything they conclude (whether about religion or any subject).

In your situation, it would be hard to do all that in a brief passing answer to their question, so I think "I don't know" suffices. Or perhaps, "Honestly, I couldn't answer that question properly without a lengthy discussion that we don't have time for right now."

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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12-10-2012, 09:40 AM
RE: How true am I to my views?
I'm an atheist and so are my children. It bothers me when they go to school and some teacher starts blathering about religion. I think that's wrong. But to be fair, I accept that this is a two-way street; I think it would be just as wrong for an atheist teacher to start blathering about atheism in a school - the fact that I find this particular blathering to be in accordance with my atheism does not justify it as appropriate behavior on the part of the teacher.

Kids are there to learn about the 3 Rs, reading, riting, and rithmatic. The 4th R, religion, doesn't belong in schools, and neither does the counterpoint of atheism.

Leave that to the parents.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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12-10-2012, 09:47 AM
RE: How true am I to my views?
(12-10-2012 09:40 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  I'm an atheist and so are my children. It bothers me when they go to school and some teacher starts blathering about religion. I think that's wrong. But to be fair, I accept that this is a two-way street; I think it would be just as wrong for an atheist teacher to start blathering about atheism in a school - the fact that I find this particular blathering to be in accordance with my atheism does not justify it as appropriate behavior on the part of the teacher.

Kids are there to learn about the 3 Rs, reading, riting, and rithmatic. The 4th R, religion, doesn't belong in schools, and neither does the counterpoint of atheism.

Leave that to the parents.

Very well said.

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12-10-2012, 11:09 AM
RE: How true am I to my views?
Tricky situation.

I for one do NOT think you are any less true to your views if you don't take a side on those questions by young children. Same rules for everyone is the best path.

I think the best answer is something along the lines of "That's a great question. There are many different beliefs out there in the world. As you grow, learn and experience life, you'll choose the best one for you. What I believe is not important, what you believe is."
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12-10-2012, 11:17 AM
RE: How true am I to my views?
(12-10-2012 11:09 AM)devilsadvoc8 Wrote:  I for one do NOT think you are any less true to your views if you don't take a side on those questions by young children. Same rules for everyone is the best path.

I think the best answer is something along the lines of "That's a great question. There are many different beliefs out there in the world. As you grow, learn and experience life, you'll choose the best one for you. What I believe is not important, what you believe is."

Hmmm, methinks the devil for whom you advoc8 is a surprisingly egalitarian one.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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