Religion and kids

48


Discussion by: BizarreLondoner

My wife and I are both atheist but don't want to impose atheism on our two kids (3 and 5) as a dogma. We want to offer them the opportunity, that I personally didn't have, to read about it from a young age and we think that they will be embrace our way of thinking. I was sure about this before they were born and I'm even more sure now that I see them learning and progressing in their intellectual development every day.

I have been questioned by my older daugther a few times about why we don't go to church or why we don't pray in our home. My answer has always been that her mother and I do not believe in the existence of a supreme engineer who created everything around us. That was the time a 5 year old asked "why do we have the christmas lunch then?". I was both impressed and scared by this question.

I realized that in the past years I have lied to my kids about trivial things like the existence of Santa or the tooth fairy but I have been extremely sincere about my opinions on religion.

Maybe it's exactly because I consider a trivial thing telling them that santa brought the presents and a serious thing being an atheist but this adjustment of the truth shows some inconsistence.

I'm sure that even if I had lied to them and told them we believe in god and at christmas we celebrate jesus, at some point very soon they would have realized that the idea was just wrong and they would have agreed with us. But maybe they would have lived their younger years in a santa like ignorant bliss, enjoying more the bank holidays…

I sincerely don't know what the best approach is so am wondering if someone had a similar experience.

48 COMMENTS

  1. @ OP – That was the time a 5 year old asked “why do we have the christmas lunch then?”. I was both impressed and scared by this question.

    That is an easy question. People need a marker for the mid-winter turning point during the dark days, and Mid-winter festivals of Saturnalia (Romans) and Yule ( the Viking beer festival) were adopted by Xtians to take over those traditional celebrations. Santa also has his pagan gift-bearing forebears in these times.

    I commented in this earlier discussion:-
    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/6/16/texas-gov-rick-perry-signs-merry-christmas-bill-into-law#comment-box-14

    @OP – We want to offer them the opportunity, that I personally didn’t have, to read about it from a young age and we think that they will be embrace our way of thinking.

    If you want to introduce them to diverse religious myths and beliefs and some contrasting science, I suggest looking at this book (the hardback copy is better illustrated)

    http://store.richarddawkins.net/products/the-magic-of-reality-hardcover

  2. I think your situation will resolve itself. My experience was similar. I was raised Catholic but am now an atheist. My wife is Jewish (Reform) and is far more secular then religious. We have one son, now 10 years old. He has always known our position on religion, but (and even though Dawkins may disapprove, lol) we did decide to do the whole Santa thing, never really tying Santa to Christ. For us, Christmas and Hanukkah was (and is) always about being a good person and showing your family how much you love and care about them – and not about Christ or other superstitions. It wasn’t until the last year or two that he started to put the pieces together and realize that Santa couldn’t possibly exist. It was the only “magic” we let him believe in and over the years we got to have some “magical” holidays along the way. Now that he is getting older, he can outgrow Santa quite harmlessly, lol.

  3. Main reason to enjoy Christmas is that it’s fun. I also had an unbelievable time when a friend of mine took me to join in the Holi celebrations in London earlier this year. I didn’t have to pretend, or lie, that I was a Hindu for that either – everyone was having too much fun! I even say “touch wood” so as not to tempt fate, if a little ironically

    We run the the risk of getting Poe faced when it comes to festivals that are more part of culture than religion. Christmas cannot ever be described as purely Christian as it is steeped in pagan symbolism and ritual. You don’t have to be a Druid to kiss your partn under the mistletoe.

    As for your children, just as they come to lose belief in Santa or the tooth fairy, they will realise that Christianity is make believe too, just as long as you don’t treat it with too much reverence.

    I have nev told my children that god doesn’t exist any more than I have with Santa. My 6 year old daughter said to me recently that she was going to pray every day. I asked her if she thought if it would make a difference (with an amused smile). She screwed her face up thought for a few seconds before saying “Nah.”. Then she brightened and said “But it’s worth a try!”. Next week I introduce her to Pascal.

    • In reply to #3 by Zhap135:

      Main reason to enjoy Christmas is that it’s fun.

      All the fun parts of Christmas have little do to with god.

      1. gift giving
      2. decorations
      3. Christmas tree
      4. sister Daphne’s squash pie (the most delicious Christmas food, even for people like me who hate squash).
      5. flaming plum pudding.
      6. Christmas crackers, silly hats
      7. Carols (I have a section of my website dedicated to 100 carols) many of whom have no religious context.
      8. gathering of the clans
      9. party games
      10. the smell of Christmas
  4. Main reason to enjoy Christmas is that it’s fun. I also had an unbelievable time when a friend of mine took me to join in the Holi celebrations in London earlier this year. I didn’t have to pretend, or lie, that I was a Hindu for that either – everyone was having too much fun! I even say “touch wood” so as not to tempt fate, if a little ironically

    We run the the risk of getting Poe faced when it comes to festivals that are more part of culture than religion. Christmas cannot ever be described as purely Christian as it is steeped in pagan symbolism and ritual. You don’t have to be a Druid to kiss your partn under the mistletoe.

    As for your children, just as they come to lose belief in Santa or the tooth fairy, they will realise that Christianity is make believe too, just as long as you don’t treat it with too much reverence.

    I have nev told my children that god doesn’t exist any more than I have with Santa. My 6 year old daughter said to me recently that she was going to pray every day. I asked her if she thought if it would make a difference (with an amused smile). She screwed her face up thought for a few seconds before saying “Nah.”. Then she brightened and said “But it’s worth a try!”. Next week I introduce her to Pascal.

  5. This is a godd discussion topic and one that I’m sure many would agree on. KenRu is right by saying that this will sort itself out. I’m Christian, but not becuser it was forced on me as a child – I was not raised in a Christian home. In fact, I never really knew what my parents believed about religion when I was young. They didn’t force anything one me – they never even really talked about religion.

    Naturally, I will seek to teach my children what I believe but, ultimately, I know that they will choose what seems right to them. And this is evident everywhere. I meet people who have grown up in a Christian home and they keep the faith they were taught. Others did not, and they get a faith they didn’t have. Some never have a faith and others lose what they had.

    I think it’s great that you want to teach your children what you believe without imposing atheism as a dogma. Each person needs to be treated as an individual and come to their own conclusion – what ever that might be.

    Good on yer…

    • In reply to #4 by Lonevoice:

      I think it’s great that you want to teach your children what you believe without imposing atheism as a dogma.

      Just to clarify:- Atheism is an absence of dogma; – and an absence of gods.

      Each person needs to be treated as an individual and come to their own conclusion – what ever that might be.

      But first they need to learn how to think and how to use science and reasoning to seek truth.

  6. In reply to #4 by Lonevoice:

    This is a godd discussion topic and one that I’m sure many would agree on. KenRu is right by saying that this will sort itself out. I’m Christian, but not becuser it was forced on me as a child – I was not raised in a Christian home. In fact, I never really knew what my parents believed about religi…

    Whoops – I meant GOOD discussion.

    • In reply to #5 by Lonevoice:

      In reply to #4 by Lonevoice:

      This is a godd discussion topic and one that I’m sure many would agree on. KenRu is right by saying that this will sort itself out. I’m Christian, but not becuser it was forced on me as a child – I was not raised in a Christian home. In fact, I never really knew what my…

      Sincere apologies for the dreadful typing.

        • In reply to #36 by margana:

          In reply to #6 by Lonevoice:In reply to #5 by Lonevoice:In reply to #4 by Lonevoice:

          Lonevoice, you can Edit comments. Click the More link under your comment and select “Edit”.

          But only for a while. Eventually the digital ink dries, or the digital concrete sets, or it’s all been uploaded by the NSA and can therefore not be changed any more.

  7. Your children were born as atheists, so you won’t be “imposing” it on them. Teach them how to think, and they will stay atheists. And don’t worry about christmas. These days, the only thing religious about christmas is the name. As others have pointed out, the idea of a mid winter gathering is far older than christianity.

    • In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

      Your children were born as atheists. . .

      Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot state that they are born with a conscious unbelief.

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot state that they are born with a conscious unbelief.

        So how many do you think are born with an unbelief / belief in Zeus? in Anubis? in Amun? Horus? Xocotl? Quetzalcoatl ? Totochtin.? Centzon? Tezcatlipoca? Ixtab? Akhushtal?

        Are you suggesting that you cannot state that you were born with a (conscious?) unbelief in these gods? You were born atheistic towards them – having an absence of belief.

        “Unbelief” PRESUMES a particular belief!

        Children are born with an absence of belief in gods, and remain so, prior to indoctrination by whatever supernatural local culture is prevalent. Atheists are those who have rejected supernatural beliefs, or those who never held them in the first place.

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot st…

        Perhaps you could say that children are born without a worldview, but being born with a conscious unbelief! That’s a bit rich. The babies I know are not very conscious of anything, come to think of it. They’re certainly not pondering the existence of gods.

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot st…

        You’re really twisting logic, aren’t you? Children are born with no belief in god (or in anything at all). The absence of a belief in god, by linguistic definition is “a” (without) “theism” (belief in god.) You will find no agreement on this forum with the dreary fallacy that atheism is ‘just another belief system.’ Alan4discussion has stated it quite clearly, you have decided that YOUR god is the real one and atheism is the dogmatic denial of YOUR god, when in fact. infants and atheists are equally indifferent to Zeus, Anubis, Shiva, Ganesh, Thor, Jehovah and Jesus.

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god.

        Many people define an atheist as someone who holds no beliefs in gods. Then newborn children are atheists.

        There are other ways of defining these things covered here. Personally I would always just use “holds no beliefs in gods”.

        Michael

      • “Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god”
        That’s not really correct – an atheist is someone who does not believe in god rather than someone who believes there is no god. Children are born with no belief in god and are therefore atheists – they have to be taught how to believe in things that aren’t there.

        In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot st…

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot st…

        Atheism is a lack of belief and as such .. babies are Atheists..

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god. We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot st…

        Atheism is a lack of belief and as such .. babies are Atheists..

      • In reply to #11 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #7 by ShadowMind:

        Your children were born as atheists. . .

        Surely an Atheist is someone who believes there is no god.

        no. An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in god.

        We are all born as babies who know nothing of such things at all, so children can’t be born as atheists. Just because children are not born WITH a belief, you cannot st…

        I must admit I don’t think its a very useful thing to say. Parents probably seem pretty god-like so belief in god isn’t particularly difficult to bolt onto that

  8. The purpose of Santa is to teach kids you cannot trust others to tell you the truth, even if everyone conspires on the lie. It is a warm up for discarding the Jesus lie.

    The most important thing in talking to your kids is never to tell them anything you have no evidence is true. It is disrespectful to tell them lies you think would be good for them to believe.

    Today the evidence there is no god is a thousand times stronger than it was when I was a child. There are so many places we should have seen signs of this god, and we do not. The universe looks just the way it should if there were no god. The archeological evidence the bible is BS is also orders of magnitude stronger. Pretending god is an open question is as silly as pretending whether there are leprechauns is an open question. Affecting a neutral position is lying about what we know.

  9. On the Santa thing I’ve never understood why people think lying to kids about Santa is a good idea. IMO the most important thing between a parent and child is trust and I see no reason to damage that trust even a little by telling stories that they are soon going to realize are lies. I never told my daughter that Santa was real and we enjoyed Christmas just fine.

    I agree with you about letting the kids make up their own minds. That is what I did as well, I was always careful on religious questions to not say “here is what is true” but “here is what I believe and why”. Besides the principle of treating children as people with rights like everyone else I think there is also a practical issue. I’ve been close to two very religious people and both of them had parents who were atheists and in one case a father who really hated the church. On the other hand I was raised to be a Catholic and realized at a pretty young age that it wasn’t true. I think there is a natural tendency of children to often pick the opposite beliefs from their parents.

  10. As a parent it is irresponsible to impose dogma on your children. Therefore you should not force them to believe in the laws of physics or in evolution or that empathy and reasoning are the best way to live among other humans.

    Dogma happens, whether you like it or not. All that matters is that you make damn sure the dogma you preach to your kids is correct.

    Personally, I’d take issue with the idea that lying to my kids about anything at all is somehow beneficial to them, this is also a dogma that is unwittingly being bought into and preached. Not that I think you’re doing a bad job, or even that you’re wrong here to lie about Santa and religion and whatever, just that this is a viewpoint that is not open to question, and there are many others that you wouldn’t even be aware of, and so I think dogma itself shouldn’t be considered wrong.

  11. religious ideas are rediculous. anyone can see that, unless something stops them such as an ingraned fear of questioning authority and that has to be programmed.

    as for atheist dogma, i don’t think there’s such a thing. it’s perfectly ok to tell your kids what you believe in, and even to try to get them to believe it to, if you can do it using reason alone.

    for example, telling your kids not to use racist language is not any kind of dogma, you don’t have to frighten them into accepting, you just explain to them how it’s hurtful to people. teaching them not to be wasteful is not dogma if you can explain about the environment.

    as for christmas etc, it almost sounds like the questions have been instilled in them, maybe by kids from religious families because for starters, there’s nothing in the bible about celebrating christmas, it’s just a thing people do. they did it before christianity, under different names, but christmas is the common term. just as it might have been called the feast of mithras. if they want to know the reason for calling it christmas, it’s because it’s the name that stuck, that’s all. if you don’t believe me ask yourself why christians celebrating their god jesus christ coming back to life call the celebration easter? named after a pagan goddess! because it stuck!

    christmas is just a thing people do. in the us you still celebrate thanksgiving. that’s a secular celebration. it’s not necessary, you’ve got enough food to not die of starvation, you don’t need natives helping you out but is helps to have a day in the year all your family remember to get together or call up. same time every year, just because it helps you remember.

    as a xtian kitten, before i grew up, christmas had the following meanings: gifts, food (maybe sneaky swig of beer), time off school, cartoons, decorating a tree. the other stuff you’re supposed to claim it’s all about (including santa btw)kept the parents happy, not me.

    you’re an atheist because you’re too smart to believe the myths most others subscribe to. extend that fact to all aspects of your parenting and you can’t go wrong

  12. What do you tell them when they ask about ghoasts, and the Loch Ness Monster?

    Tell them that, no matter how many people believe something, unless there is evidence, they shouldn’t believe it.
    It’s a logical fallacy, and people can often be illogical.

  13. Even though I am an atheist, I think the whole Santa myth can be handled in a positive and morally reinforcing way – not to mention it can be a fun time as well. In our home, there is no religious theme to the holiday. It is simply a time to remember family and show each other how much we care about them. That is what we stress.

    Our “Christmas” tree doesn’t have any crosses or images of Jesus. But it does have Disney characters and even a King Kong and Godzilla that roar. It is a fun time for everyone (as previous posters have mentioned), with food, music, gifts and family. Very secular. Regarding Santa, is it a lie, yes. But it’s a white one, and quite innocuous as far as I’m concerned, with benefits outweighing the negative.

    Since we stress to my son the importance of thinking for one’s self and basing decisions on evidence (we do not impose our belief systems on him) it’s only a matter of time before he questions the reality of Santa, and once he does, we will tell him the truth. At this point we think he is starting to become very skeptical but has decided not to ask outright because he enjoys the “magic” of it and wants it to last a little longer. I don’t think he’ll be a believer this year, so unfortunately, Santa may be going the way of the Tooth Fairy. : (

    I think in this case, BizarreLondoner can have his cake and eat it too. So far, it’s been working well for us.

    • In reply to #20 by KenRU:

      Even though I am an atheist, I think the whole Santa myth can be handled in a positive and morally reinforcing way – not to mention it can be a fun time as well. In our home, there is no religious theme to the holiday. It is simply a time to remember family and show each other how much we care about…

    • are the peopl,e who run this web-site complete idiots? Latest great idea: truncate the quotation of the post you are replying to. I’ve copy-pasted in the stuff I want.

      In reply to #20 by KenRU:

      Our “Christmas” tree doesn’t have any crosses or images of Jesus. [...]

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a christmas tree with either of things on it!

      • KenRU said @ #20:

        Our “Christmas” tree doesn’t have any crosses or images of Jesus. [...]

        In reply to #42 by nick keighley:

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a christmas tree with either of things on it!

        I have. Traditionally, no, the closest thing is maybe an angel on the top, but the Reason For the Season movement pushed out a bunch of nativity and Jesus-oriented ornaments, including a topping Jesus.

        The Christmas Tree is a pre-Christian heathen symbol, I think Wotanic in origin, but I’m not sure.

      • In reply to #42 by nick keighley:

        are the people who run this web-site complete idiots? Latest great idea: truncate the quotation of the post you are replying to.

        The reply mechanism automatically truncates quotes if you don’t watch out. Rather than alienating everyone else by calling them idiots, try sending your suggestions to the RDN webmasters.

  14. I assume from your name you are a Londoner.

    My kids (5 and nearly 7) are at a state non-faith primary school in England and I have not opted them out of RE. I encourage them to learn about religions (it’s a pretty big part of our history and culture, is it not, whatever one believes?).

    Like you, we’ve always been open about not believing in a god, whilst saying (possibly not with great conviction) that we respect the rights of others if they wish to do so. We too have paid tongue-in cheek lip service to Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I’m pretty sure the eldest was never very convinced. We always celebrated Xmas with a strong underpinning that many civilizations have celebrated the shortest day, the days starting to get longer, the new year etc and no religion has any ownership of a product of the physics whereby the earth revolves around the sun.

    My eldest now says she wants to give up RE as “it’s all complete nonsense”. I’m a little torn on that one, as there’s plenty more to learn, and opting out will leave her inadequately equipped to argue against people later in life who might try to proselytize to her (‘as helpless as an American child’, I call it).

    She’s pretty smart for a 6 year old, I’ve spent most of the day explaining to her why light speed may be the universal speed limit and why she’s unlikely ever to meet any aliens for real, which has included a diverting foray into how a radio telescope works as giant ears and why our best telescopes have to be in space.

    A boxed set of Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’ for her birthday may be in order!

  15. My kids are 8 9 and 11. They are all atheists. They don’t believe in god. You could just ask them if you ever got the chance…No “dogma” or “indoctrination” required.

    Also nothing stops you (the parent) from telling the kids the truth about reality and still being able to pretend Santa exists or that magic is real or that a certain tradition is still fun. Being honest about reality doesn’t mean you can’t tell you kids stories and value myths and such. In fact I think these things (myth and pretend) are MORE fun when you know you are just pretending!

    Anyway maybe it’s easy to be non-religious where I live (relatively speaking) so this is a non-issue for my family.

  16. 7 year old wanted to know if Santa lives at the north pole or the south pole. I pleaded ignorance and asked what she thought. The south one is closer, but it doesn’t have reindeer. She heard some kids at school talking about hell and devils and stuff – they were boys – and she asked me. I said I’d heard stories like that too, but I didn’t tell them to her because I didn’t like them.

    She knows that stories don’t need to be true, or even consistent. What matters is are they good stories, do they have interesting characters, do surprising things happen, are they fun, do they make you laugh, or wonder, do you want to hear the next chapter, does it make you want to draw pictures or dress up and play.

    She didn’t think the hell story was much good. When she asked about god I said I’d heard stories about that too. I’ve long told her that many grown-ups don’t like to admit they don’t know everything, so when you ask about something they don’t know, they’re likely to tell you a story and pretend it’s true.

    So, by all means embark on Comparitive Religious Studies, find out the stories that different cultures and religions tell. And listen to the critical reviews from your kids, they’ll tell you which they find good bad or ugly.

    Moral of this story: never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And don’t mistake a story, however old, however popular in your neighbourhood, for the truth. Enjoy all the festivals. Christmas is great, it’s got so many layers of culture, not just the recent veneer of the roman church and its offshoots.

    A hardback copy of The Magic Of Reality wouldn’t go amiss, when they’re a bit older. Meanwhile, some David Attenborough documentaries are good foundation for any age. Brian Cox too, though I didn’t find him quite so easy to like at first.

  17. The plain truth always worked well for me. We don’t go to church because I see zero evidence for the existence of god, and lots of evidence against god’s existence. We still celebrate Christmas because it is a good, fun, time to get together with family. I do explain the link between Christmas and Christ, and older pagan winter celebrations.

    My main problem has been to keep the kids polite and not overbearing and rude when they were teenagers and talking with believers.The phrase “zombie Jesus” used to come up.

    • In reply to #26 by missbutton:

      Are you really atheist? I can’t imagine any atheist describing atheism as a ‘dogma’. Your children are already atheist, until they become indoctrinated with a belief system.

      It is the special pleading or would-be indoctrinators, that children should be taught flawed thinking processes in order to make supernatural mythology credible.
      This is a false equivalence which is made by pretending that atheist scientific rational thinking is a dogma, which can be compared with the ASSUMPTION of a particular local god and the local priest-led god-culture.

      Children need to be taught rational thinking and the value of the scientific method.
      A realistic view of the universe is not achieved by giving equal weight to fumble-brained thinking, or to the views of Flat-Earthists, and then letting immature children choose to believe the mythology of their choice. This is the ignorant “debate the pseudo-controversy fallacy”, which wilfully misleads the uneducated.

  18. I would certainly argue that it is your duty as a parent in a civilized country to teach your kids about critical thinking. Is that an ideology? Only in the sense that many in our nations believe in the ideology of absolute obedience.

    **Regarding Christmas Lunch ** (or any other celebration), it’s a cultural festivity that happens to be named after a god (much as Easter, and Samhain, which we now call Hallowe’en). As has been stated elsewhere, the seasonal turns are nexuses (nexi? nexes) of festivities and it’s only happenstance within the building of civilizations on top of other civilizations whether they are named after gods or events. (May Day is just May Day).

    The true cultural hero of contemporary Christmas is neither Jesus nor Santa, but good ol’ Ebeneezer Scrooge. His notions that Christmas was a humbug wasn’t unpopular when Dickens wrote his famous potboiler. Many companies didn’t offer the holiday off, and mostly it was an extra day of going to church. The Roman Catholic Church had made a big reason for the season push, and no-one (yet) liked to celebrate the joy of children.

    Dickens changed all that.

    If you wanted to present to your kids a dogma, Dickens’ Christmas Carol is one of the best ones I can think of. (And let your kids know it’s a fictional story like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, just with fewer Ewoks: Just because a narrative is fictional doesn’t mean we can’t apply it to our lives.)

    PS: A fair answer to all those existentialist questions (Why are we here?, Where did we come from?, Is there a God) is We don’t know. Because we don’t. No one does. Conventionally, atheism is the notion that we don’t need to know these things to live a good, fruitful, enjoyable life, and in the meantime, yes, we’ve had extensive scientific probes into the nature of the universe which have revealed a lot. There probably isn’t a god, and most certainly none of the gods described by popular holy books, but why we think this is a whole nother topic (in twenty-two volumes).

  19. It appears that I cannot even agree with a post without being jumped on.

    I would like to thank the poster who suggested that I should have said babies are born without a worldview. I agree that this would have been a better way to express what I was trying to convey.

    Oh, and yes, I do believe my God is the right one. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

  20. Lonevoice: “It appears that I cannot even agree with a post without being jumped on”

    It wasn’t your first post in agreement with the article that was criticised, so please don’t play the victim card here. You were criticised when you inferred that atheism is a positive assertion of disbelief, rather than a passive lack of belief. AKA, you played the “atheism is just another religion” card, which typically doesn’t go down well amongst atheists.

    Also, may I ask why you believe your god is the right one? Why not Marduk, Ptah, Brahma or Atum?

  21. We never played along with Santa or any of that in the sense that we never claimed they were real entities. We still talked about Santa and the Tooth Fairy etc but simply as rituals rather than actual beings. We celebrate Christmas in the same way we celebrated the Olympics or Bonfire Night: a national celebration. The kids’ nativity plays are simply a folk story and we treat Christianity similarly.

    Kids know people make things up – they make things up themselves all the time. Fanciful stories are the currency of a vivid imagination – my children can play along with Jesus, Mohammed, Shiva and Harry Potter in the same game and not give an ounce of credence to any of them. They’ve always been shown that reality is the stuff they can see, hear, touch and smell – not the stuff other people tell them is real yet strangely absent.

    I’ve always told them that if it became fun to celebrate Hanukah or Ramadan in our country then we’d do that too – we take a secular approach to having a good time: any excuse.

  22. atheism on our two kids as a dogma???

    R u srs? How can atheism be “dogma”? Atheism is not more than, or less than, or different to, an “absence” of dogma. It is the simple opposite of dogma! PLEASE go ahead and fill your darling kids’ pretty little heads with all kinds of atheistic, blasphemous, irreverent, ungodly, sacrilegious, heretical, moral thoughts! And never stop, safe in the knowledge you and your kids are co-operating brilliantly to make the world a better place.

    (Thanx to Merriam-Webster for the synonyms)

  23. You might find this book useful “Born Believers: The science of children’s religious belief” by Justin Barrett.
    Something from his introduction:

    An atheist mother from Oxford, was amazed to discover her five year old son had a firm belief in God against her best efforts

  24. I touched on this very issue a few weeks back (“The dead goldfish (or, ‘Atheist parenting’)”). I’ve added a small sequel since then. It’s a toughie, but as a proponent of free religion, I have to be honest. My kids do go to church (well, my littlest one does more often), but I try and give her the opposite side of things (ie, the truth) whenever possible (after learning from my mistakes with the dead goldfish).

    I hope for an atheist world, but I demand a secular one. That’s about as blunt as I can put it. Accept it whilst it’s here, and deal with it humanely, like an old, tired family pet that’s on it’s last legs.

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