Re: introducing faith/religion to kids

On Mon, 09 Jun 2008 17:28:09 -0400, Ericka Kammerer <eek@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On the playground, it ends up being not much more than a situation of
"Yes there is a God! No there isn't! Yes there is!". Not very pleasant
to listen to ( or be a part of ), but ultimately not of much consequence.
The problem is that while it's well and fine to teach children to be
polite and understanding, I also want to teach them to be rational and
to stand up for their beliefs. If that ends in confrontation, so be it.
Confrontation is not the end of the world, nor something that must be
avoided at all costs - on the contrary, I subscribe to the belief that
most progress happens through confrontation on any number of
different levels. When my first grader encounters people presenting
creationism as fact, I darned well want him to believe that they're
utterly wrong. I also want him to deal with them politely, but if
he doesn't, well, that's just part of a seven-year-old being a
work in progress. :-)

Why is it okay for your son to potentially be rude to
them, but not okay for them to be rude to your son? Wouldn't
it be nicer if they were all polite to one another?

I expect the religious kids to stick up for their point of view
just as much as I expect my kids to stick up for theirs. It would
be an awfully saccharine and boring world otherwise. :-) But in
any case, I still don't understand why you equate offering one's
own opinion/beliefs/etc. as being rude. Of course we don't want them
yelling at each other, or engaging in ad hominem attacks. THAT would
be rude. But saying "I don't believe in God"? It's a statement of
fact, and facts are not rude.

Beyond the playground, kids have to deal with situations in which
significant decisions based solely on religious belief are being
made on their behalf, and that is a *huge* problem.

Though one beyond the scope of the kids. Adults need
to deal with that.

Adults who are taught to smile politely and murmur platitudes don't
tend to deal with it, though. We don't wait until people are adults
before teaching them math, science, or language skills. We also
shouldn't wait until they're adults to teach them to evaluate the
facts, form opinions, and speak about them. That should happen
right alongside reading "Henry and Mudge" and learning to write.

When school
districts implement anti-science programs and go to court to defend
them, then that's precisely the time when people need to stand up
and say "That's a load of crap" and set politeness aside.

They don't need to say "that's a load of crap," and
that's unlikely to be a tactic that wins them enough supporters.
They'd be better off saying that we need to confine what is
taught in school to that for which there is evidence, and let
families deal with the rest outside of school.

I disagree - there are times when saying "That's a load of crap"
is the only thing that seems to get people entrenched in their
own belief systems to accept that yes, there is serious disagreement
and that there are people who hold their beliefs and values just
as strongly as they hold theirs. It it usually necessary? No.
But sometimes it is, as distateful as it is to everyone

As I said elsewhere, if there's evidence I don't see
any problem with putting it on the table. I think you're still
obligated to have the talk about how we don't attack others'
religious views in polite company even when we think they're
ridiculous, but I think that's different from the situation
were there isn't evidence, which in my experience covers most,
though certainly not all, religious beliefs.

What constitutes an "attack"? If it's saying, "No, there isn't a God",
then I disagree with your definition.

It is quite rude to be saying that sort of thing
under normal circumstances. (I.e., it's not a rude thing
to say in a debate set up for the purpose of debating the
existence of God, but it's hopelessly rude as cocktail
party or playground conversation.)

Again, we'll have to agree to disagree. I see no rudeness
is stating beliefs, even strongly held ones, and even if the
person on the other side considers it an attack. If the other
person is as secure in their beliefs as they profess, then it
does them no harm. If they're not, it may do them some good to
find that other people hold different world views that don't
involve magical beings.

- Rich


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