What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
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06-01-2014, 04:40 PM
What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
As an atheist, I'm just wondering on how to bring up my children if I have any, concerning the non-existence of God. Is it right for me to consolidate my beliefs of non-belief unto them? Wouldn't it be hypocritical for me to say it is wrong for religious people to bring up their children with their personal beliefs if I myself am teaching my children about what I think is the truth?


As you can already see, I'm faced with a dilemma on how to approach this situation. On one hand, I feel that as their parent, it should be my responsibility to teach them on how to be skeptical and think critically when it comes to philosophy and our place in the universe. This may help them not be myopic in general regarding theism vs atheism as they will be in an unbiased environment with no ''indoctrination' from me whatsoever. My thoughts are that this approach might hopefully cause them to see the truth themselves while also allowing them to think for themselves. On the other hand however, I feel that I should go further in this regard and outright tell them what the truth is. However, regardless of how right I feel I am, it should not justify me force-feeding them reality without letting them evaluate all of the other alternatives (no matter how outlandish), for themselves. I've always felt resentment toward my family for not letting me think for myself until I had the independence to. By that time though, it was very hard to get rid of all of the waste my parents put into my thinking and so I had to eliminate all of my bias, which was nonetheless, very difficult. Although... I will still be teaching them the truth, and it will be a more sure-fire way of guaranteeing that they will live their lives in touch with reality.


I will outline three separate ways I can go about teaching my children regarding this controversial topic. Please share with me (a, b, or c), which is the best option of the three I'm about to list. Also, if you'd like, please do not hesitate to speak your mind and tell me exactly how you raise your kids outside of my three points. If you do this, defend why you think it's a good way if not the best, to raise your children.


a) I raise my child or children from as early as possible, to not believe in God. When that time of Santa giving gifts and the Tooth fairy arrive, I immediately inform them that these are just mythical figures designed by humans to make children excited throughout different times of their childhood. To defend this way of raising them keep in mind of the following; It's not good to teach children that they are always being watched so they must behave. This kind of ideology that you need to be watched to follow the rules of society can lead to moral dysfunctional lifestyle. Although, I'm guessing Santa is a fun part of a child's life and I don't want to deprive them of that innocently naive childhood.

Eventually, I will inform them that God too, is like Santa, and that Religion is wishful thinking, and all that sort of stuff.


b) I do not introduce the concept of Gods, the thought of an afterlife, or false questions such as "what is the meaning of life" to them, at least not until they're older. When they are around the age of 12 or 13, I will introduce to them different styles of worldviews just by talking to them about it. I will encourage them to intensively study these things to see what they personally believe, and whatever they choose in the end will be fine with me, because their mind wasn't obscured immensely to lead them to their belief starting from childhood. I may not even mention to them that I'm an atheist, just so that I do not influence them to my belief as they may look up to me as a parent. Now, there are some basic things here I need to teach them - Such as that homosexuality is OK, and other subjects. I might need to take preemptive measures to insure they will not pick up homophobic ideology along the way. The last thing I want is my child to become some homophobic Marxist because I did not teach them about these types of things.

c) I completely stay out it. I do not influence them at all about religion, and avoid conversations concerning to do with it. It's their life, and as a parent I should not pressure them to do anything. Whatever they choose to believe, they choose to. If they grow up to be religious and then judge me for being an atheist infidel, so be it.


Bonus: Include own view of how to raise a child(children) with regards to this subject. You may share experiences, your personal feelings, and anything else you'd like.


Oh, and yes! Right now you may be asking.... "Where does the spouse come in in all of this!?!"" Well, that's another concern I have. I'm sure not many devout believers will partner with an atheist, but maybe some non-religious people wouldn't mind. If I do end up becoming involved with someone who shares opposite views in these matters, how do I contend with it? I'm worried it could lead to a divorce down the road because of the magnitude of the irreconcilable differences.


Thanks for reading; I'd love to know where you all stand on this issue.

Everyday is judgement day. Use your judgement, use reason.
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06-01-2014, 04:48 PM (This post was last modified: 06-01-2014 04:51 PM by Gilgamesh.)
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
Teach them formal logic early. That's all, m8.

Also, I don't see how telling them all religions that you know of are mythos is a bad thing, since for lack of evidence in objective reality, that's a correct categorisation.

"Everyone is alone. Everyone is empty. People no longer have need of others. You can always find a spare for any talent. Any relationship can be replaced. I had gotten bored of a world like that."
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06-01-2014, 04:48 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
I dunno. Do you want your kids to believe that there's a supreme personality who'll chuck 'em into an eternal pit of shit because they masturbated?

Beliefs have consequences and some people spend a lot of time undoing later on what religion did to them as youngsters.

Tell your crotch fruit the truth, brother. Early in the piece. That this is the one life they'll get so they should make the best of it now rather than betting on an eternity with Jerry Falwell and the crew.

-- Max

I came into this world screaming and covered in someone else's blood. I am not afraid to go out of it that way.
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06-01-2014, 04:56 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
Freethought:

Ignore C. Combination of A+B.

Teach them to question, teach them critical thinking skills even from an early age. Critical thinking games are excellent pedagogy.
Can even teach them Socratic style dialogues - even for small children. Don't under estimate child curiosity and ability to even play along with socratic style dialoges.

"How do you know that"
"How tell the difference between fantasizing and seeing"
hundreds of questions can be explored.

It is possible to teach children even at an early age scientific skilled thinking - I had a chemistry set, microscope and telescope at a very young age. (well, keep the chemistry set until a little later - they are hazardous !!!!)

Also can play with poetry and different literary styles too from different cultures. Children catch on quickly and you can train them to analyse and study literature with emotional depth to understand and empathise with other view points AND critical science like thinking. Detective stories are good literature for critical thinking skills.

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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06-01-2014, 04:57 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
(06-01-2014 04:40 PM)Freethought Wrote:  As an atheist, I'm just wondering on how to bring up my children if I have any, concerning the non-existence of God. Is it right for me to consolidate my beliefs of non-belief unto them? Wouldn't it be hypocritical for me to say it is wrong for religious people to bring up their children with their personal beliefs if I myself am teaching my children about what I think is the truth?


As you can already see, I'm faced with a dilemma on how to approach this situation. On one hand, I feel that as their parent, it should be my responsibility to teach them on how to be skeptical and think critically when it comes to philosophy and our place in the universe. This may help them not be myopic in general regarding theism vs atheism as they will be in an unbiased environment with no ''indoctrination' from me whatsoever. My thoughts are that this approach might hopefully cause them to see the truth themselves while also allowing them to think for themselves. On the other hand however, I feel that I should go further in this regard and outright tell them what the truth is. However, regardless of how right I feel I am, it should not justify me force-feeding them reality without letting them evaluate all of the other alternatives (no matter how outlandish), for themselves. I've always felt resentment toward my family for not letting me think for myself until I had the independence to. By that time though, it was very hard to get rid of all of the waste my parents put into my thinking and so I had to eliminate all of my bias, which was nonetheless, very difficult. Although... I will still be teaching them the truth, and it will be a more sure-fire way of guaranteeing that they will live their lives in touch with reality.


I will outline three separate ways I can go about teaching my children regarding this controversial topic. Please share with me (a, b, or c), which is the best option of the three I'm about to list. Also, if you'd like, please do not hesitate to speak your mind and tell me exactly how you raise your kids outside of my three points. If you do this, defend why you think it's a good way if not the best, to raise your children.


a) I raise my child or children from as early as possible, to not believe in God. When that time of Santa giving gifts and the Tooth fairy arrive, I immediately inform them that these are just mythical figures designed by humans to make children excited throughout different times of their childhood. To defend this way of raising them keep in mind of the following; It's not good to teach children that they are always being watched so they must behave. This kind of ideology that you need to be watched to follow the rules of society can lead to moral dysfunctional lifestyle. Although, I'm guessing Santa is a fun part of a child's life and I don't want to deprive them of that innocently naive childhood.

Eventually, I will inform them that God too, is like Santa, and that Religion is wishful thinking, and all that sort of stuff.


b) I do not introduce the concept of Gods, the thought of an afterlife, or false questions such as "what is the meaning of life" to them, at least not until they're older. When they are around the age of 12 or 13, I will introduce to them different styles of worldviews just by talking to them about it. I will encourage them to intensively study these things to see what they personally believe, and whatever they choose in the end will be fine with me, because their mind wasn't obscured immensely to lead them to their belief starting from childhood. I may not even mention to them that I'm an atheist, just so that I do not influence them to my belief as they may look up to me as a parent. Now, there are some basic things here I need to teach them - Such as that homosexuality is OK, and other subjects. I might need to take preemptive measures to insure they will not pick up homophobic ideology along the way. The last thing I want is my child to become some homophobic Marxist because I did not teach them about these types of things.

c) I completely stay out it. I do not influence them at all about religion, and avoid conversations concerning to do with it. It's their life, and as a parent I should not pressure them to do anything. Whatever they choose to believe, they choose to. If they grow up to be religious and then judge me for being an atheist infidel, so be it.


Bonus: Include own view of how to raise a child(children) with regards to this subject. You may share experiences, your personal feelings, and anything else you'd like.


Oh, and yes! Right now you may be asking.... "Where does the spouse come in in all of this!?!"" Well, that's another concern I have. I'm sure not many devout believers will partner with an atheist, but maybe some non-religious people wouldn't mind. If I do end up becoming involved with someone who shares opposite views in these matters, how do I contend with it? I'm worried it could lead to a divorce down the road because of the magnitude of the irreconcilable differences.


Thanks for reading; I'd love to know where you all stand on this issue.
First, kudos to you for being concerned about doing the right thing by your children even though you don't have them yet.

My thoughts do not fit neatly into a, b, or c so I'll just tell them to you in my own words. Your first paragraph was right on the mark. I believe the most important thing is to teach your kids to think critically. I wouldn't push any particular viewpoint, including atheism. Let them arrive at their own conclusion; it will be stronger that way. If you do a good job of teaching them to think critically, they will undoubtedly arrive at atheism as long as they don't have some stronger influence to gravitate to something else. So part of your job would be to look out for those influences (religious propaganda being snuck into school discussions, for example, or friends' parents pushing their religion, etc.) However, if they learn to think critically, they will also be less likely to be sucked into indoctrination if it's encountered without your knowledge.

I wouldn't avoid the discussion of gods. Bring it up in a way to find out your children's thoughts on the subject and to help them think critically about it as well. They will undoubtedly hear about "god" as they grow up so I think it should be discussed by you. Not to do so would allow all the discussion to be done by someone else (even if it's only for the first 12 years as mentioned in your option b). I would definitely inform them that there are many viewpoints on the "right" god(s). Doing so will help them to recognize that the matter is not clear cut and that should encourage them to think more carefully about which, if any, is "right" to them.

Finally, have confidence in your own atheism. The same things that lead you to it should also lead your children to it as long as they learn to think critically.

"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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06-01-2014, 05:03 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
Agree with impulse - of course they will hear about God when exposed to school, TV or anywhere for that matter.

Key thing is learning to question and think critically and clearly.

Discussing literature from different perspectives is a great tool eg taking a story and discuss it from the point of view of different characters.

Problem with religious fundamentalism is the opposite - its all myopic & narrow "through the eyes of the sky God" "What Mohammed knew" or "Jesus says"
What about seriously taking the view of the antagonists ? Bystanders ? Some guy 2000 years later ? View of a logician ? "Sherlock homes view" ?

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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06-01-2014, 05:33 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
(06-01-2014 04:40 PM)Freethought Wrote:  Is it right for me to consolidate my beliefs of non-belief unto them?
lol do you realize how stupid that sounds ? what are you gonna do ?? teach them NOT to believe ?? lay out a dogma of "Not believing" ? don't be ridiculous.
Quote:Wouldn't it be hypocritical for me to say it is wrong for religious people to bring up their children with their personal beliefs if I myself am teaching my children about what I think is the truth?
No it wouldn't be.. because parents always do what they think is the best for the child,in your case.. not indoctrinating them is the BEST choice.

Bring them up with critical and rational thinking that would be the best thing you could to your children.. from there they'll know what's best for them.
Quote:However, regardless of how right I feel I am, it should not justify me force-feeding them reality without letting them evaluate all of the other alternatives (no matter how outlandish), for themselves.
no that's unnecessary. that's like saying letting your children dip their fingers into molten lava just so that they can "evaluate" that for themselves,i would never let my children into the sway of some swindler evangelists.
Quote:a) Eventually, I will inform them that God too, is like Santa
Eventually?? what ? i thought you were raising your kids to not believe in any God.. why do you have to inform them about something that you never told them existed in the first place ? that doesn't make any sense.
Quote:b) I do not introduce the concept of Gods, the thought of an afterlife, or false questions such as "what is the meaning of life" to them, at least not until they're older.
It doesn't matter they'll learn about it themselves.. so you'd eventually be confronted about your views on life and death.
Quote:I will encourage them to intensively study these things to see what they personally believe
Why ? shouldn't you as a parent share your knowledge to your children ? i don't think its indoctrination to share knowledge with your children.
Quote:I may not even mention to them that I'm an atheist
you don't have to because you don't "believe" lol Atheism = non-believer(Of any faith)
Quote:I'm worried it could lead to a divorce down the road because of the magnitude of the irreconcilable differences.
dunno maybe she'll just have to deal with it like my family >Big Grin

Dreams/Hallucinations/delusions are not evidence
Wishful thinking is not evidence
Disproved statements&Illogical conclusions are not evidence
Logical fallacies&Unsubstantiated claims are not evidence
Vague prophecies is not evidence
Data that requires a certain belief is not evidence
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06-01-2014, 05:38 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
EVERYTHING!!!!

But as objective as possible.

There is absolutly nothing in the world that one should hide from children because hiding something from them will simply let them grow up as a bunch of utterly confused dribble.

It is simply important to teach them how to be objective and reasonable, which is in fact something that kids can often do better than most adults.

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06-01-2014, 06:16 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
With my kids I answered a lot of questions with "some people believe..."

My kids attended a lot of different churches with their friends. This often started their questions. But as it turned out two are atheist and one plays along with the religious around her but doesn't have any real belief to speak of.

It's best to tell the truth and help them research the answers they are seeking.

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06-01-2014, 06:19 PM
RE: What should I teach my children about Religion and God?
(06-01-2014 04:48 PM)nooneofconsequence Wrote:  I dunno. Do you want your kids to believe that there's a supreme personality who'll chuck 'em into an eternal pit of shit because they masturbated?

Beliefs have consequences and some people spend a lot of time undoing later on what religion did to them as youngsters.

Tell your crotch fruit the truth, brother. Early in the piece. That this is the one life they'll get so they should make the best of it now rather than betting on an eternity with Jerry Falwell and the crew.

-- Max

Crotch fruit? Really?
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