Spare the Children

I was a Christian when I was a child.  Wait, let me take that back.  I was raised in a Christian home, indoctrinated in the Christian faith, and told to do what the bible says.  I didn’t question any of it – I was a child in a Christian environment.  But children are too ill-equipped to become a follower of any religion.

Most of us don’t shop around for religions.  Whatever your parents believed, you probably also believe.  If your government mandates a religion, that is probably what you believe.  If your friends all share a faith, that is probably what you believe.  If you were born in a different country, to different parents, you would probably have a different faith.  Your God didn’t find you.  You are a victim of circumstance.  Probably.  We’ll get to converts in a moment.

First, let’s look at an example of indoctrinating children.  In countries that celebrate Christmas, a lot of children are taught the myth of Santa Claus.  It’s presented to them as fact, even though we know it’s a lie.  The story of Santa Claus is fantastic and full of inerrancy that even children easily pick up on (“So how does a fat guy fit through the chimney?  What if we don’t have a chimney?”) but we continue to lie.  We tell them that Santa has magical powers that allow him to pull off the unbelievable things he does like visiting the entire world in a night and building their toys with a legion of elves.  We tell him that he has to be believed with faith because you can’t visit his home (it’s in the unreachable North Pole) or see him while he delivers his goods (otherwise you won’t get any).  And it works.  Children believe it, because we present it as unquestionable truth.

Eventually, the magic wears off.  As kids grow older we stop lying to them, and they see the reality of mall Santas and Christmas sales.  Their peers don’t believe in Santa.  They realize it was all a lie.  But what if they didn’t?  What if we continued to teach them about Santa and his magic on a weekly basis…  perhaps in a Church of Santa?  What if all their friends were told to respect their faith, because it was sacred and holy?  What if children were raised to believe the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was complete fact?  What if children were told that anyone who confronted their Santa belief was merely testing their faith?

Children are impressionable.  They are programmed to listen and learn, otherwise they’d have a much tougher time surviving.  Anything we teach them will be learned and repeated.  They don’t try to figure out a political affiliation – they share their parents’ views on politics.  They don’t gain racism unless it is taught to them.  And kids will follow the leader when it comes to religion, too.

Religious parents don’t see this as harmful – indeed, if they are to be missionaries to their faith, why not start at home?  Because your children will buy it blindly.  If you are religious and don’t care about children learning your faith, remember that there are many different faiths and children being raised in all of them, being led in a direction you don’t agree with either.  And it’s hard to unlearn.  Kids are lucky enough to disbelieve Santa because we stop peddling it once they hit a certain age.

Now to converts.  It is possible to undo this learning.  When a child reaches maturity (around 18 or so) they can be taught contrary opinions.  It’s common for college professors to “reteach” students’ opinions and even undo propaganda (or teach new propaganda).  College students are impressionable on another level…  they can balance 2 beliefs and find their own.  And I know that they can even come to conclusions without being prodded, as I did.  Nobody taught me to be an atheist – it was just the natural path after my questions about the bible led to doubt and finally to disbelief.  Why believe in a different God when the one I had worshiped my entire life no longer existed to me?  I knew it was possible, even likely, to get fooled a second time.  And I believed I’d been fooled without a single person pointing it out to me.  I was very, very fortunate.

So now I challenge you, the reader, to do the unthinkable – pretend your faith is optional.  Did you know you can actually choose a different religion, or give it up entirely?  There is no faith that has you for life.  I was told “once saved, always saved” but that simply isn’t true…  it’s just a method for trying to retain membership (like the Catholic christening of babies, which I can’t even discuss with a modicum of kindness).

I chose to be an atheist. Once I stopped chasing false hope, stopped trying to cultivate a one-sided long-distance relationship, and stopped feeling guilty about stupid things like private thoughts I found I can enjoy life for what it actually offers.  Real freedom comes with making your own choices.  And if you choose to keep believing what you’ve always believed – that’s okay too.  Just make sure it’s your decision.*

-S Nova

*I know I’m offering an easy way out.  Changing your faith means changing your morals, your routines, your opinions, your life.  It can make you a pariah among your family and friends.  It’s not easy to make a life change.  I hope you don’t just blow this off with a quick “Nope, I’m fine, thank you” just because it’s easy, and actually take the time to consider who chose your belief system.

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About starcrashx

I love statistics. They drive my poker playing, my reasoning, and my research. As Penn Gillete said "Luck is probability taken personally". There's no such thing as luck... but I wish you positive chance. View all posts by starcrashx

6 responses to “Spare the Children

  • One Soul's Journey

    As a child of a Christian home myself, I can relate to what you’re saying. When you presented with an idea as truth by those you are dependent on and look to as ‘experts’, it’s difficult to see that there are other options out there.

  • Micah

    So by your own admittance, you would not teach your child your ridiculous beliefs? Sounds fine to me. But what I can’t understand is why you’d let her be brought to church by her grandparents. The only reason I can come up with is that you’re too lazy to watch her yourself. Call this ad hominem, or whatever you choose, but you’d just be denying facts for the argument of personal feelings. Sometimes the truth hurts. Suck it up. Be a man.

    Anyone guy can have a child, but it takes a real man to be a father.

  • starcrashx

    This is so close to being personal abuse, I almost edited the whole thing out. But I’ll respond.

    I’m sure you’re well aware that I work until 6 in the morning on Sundays and go back into work at 2 in the afternoon. That leaves me 8 hours in between, usually with an hour’s walk home and back, which leaves 6 hours for sleep if I do nothing else, such as take a shower. I obviously don’t have time to watch my daughter on Sunday mornings.

    It’s true that she is brought to church by her grandparents, and this is out of necessity because of the bad timing of her visit’s end. If I feel that she is being taught the bible as truth, I’ll teach her otherwise. I’d rather that she grow into adolescence before being presented with any religion, but there’s only so much control I have over this.

    I don’t see what this has to do with being a man or not. I think your argument is petty. I could say any guy can have a child, and only an abusive father would take advantage of his child’s naivete and lie to him in such a way. While I believe this to be factual, this is still just insulting. I think the above blog explains sufficiently how I feel about this subject.

    However, there is something I failed to mention because it wasn’t a conversation topic at the time I wrote this. In a few states, a non-devotional bible course is being taught… that’s a class that teaches children what’s in the bible without teaching them that they have to believe it. I support this. After all, we teach kids Greek mythology without asking them to believe it, and it has worked well.

    Teaching your children to believe in the truth is always a good thing. Teaching them history is good. Teaching them your opinions as fact is wrong. I’m not planning to instruct my child in an atheistic worldview, but if it’s necessary because she’s being taught your religion as fact, I will.

  • Micah

    So you’ll lie to her to counteract a supposed lie? I love it when you say things like, “that is wrong.” I’d like to know how you come up with right and wrong. Logic doesn’t solve the problem. Hitler was an evolutionist acting out his own view of right and wrong.

    Her grandparents would never lie to her just like they never lied to you. I’m willing to go out on a limb and assume they’d like her to come up with her own beliefs based on her convictions. That’s what I want for my own child as well. Of course I’ll instruct him in what I believe, but he has to have his own convictions for it to be a benefit to him.

    Many parents work every night and have to come home and watch their children while their spouses go to work for the day. I know a few myself. They do it because they have to. You only have to once every-other weekend, but choose to spend your time alone. What a sad life. Perhaps it’s all this alone time you have that affords you the opportunity to research useless trivia to fill pages of blogs. How very sad.

    • starcrashx

      This is perhaps the best response I’ve heard to any of my blogs yet. It seems well-reasoned, and while it’s still insulting, doesn’t succumb to personal attacks. While I disagree, I’d like to compliment you on your thoughtfulness.

      Yes, I would teach my daughter to be an atheist if it meant that she didn’t become a Christian. I don’t feel that I’d be lying to her any more than you feel that you would. Of course, I’d rather that she choose her own beliefs when she’s old enough to discern between them. Why would you want to push something on your child that they don’t want? If they want it, they’ll seek it. You may be tempted to argue that we push things like “eat your broccoli” on our children despite what they want, but in that case we’re talking about their health, which is our responsibility.

      Speaking of responsibilities, I am also responsible for teaching her morals. You asked where morals come from. I’ve answered this question a few times before, but I wrote a new blog because it’s always a long answer and I’ve been asked this far too much.

      Hitler did believe in evolution, but it was his hatred of the Jews that led him to genetic cleansing. It’s also clear that his belief in God (http://nobeliefs.com/hitler.htm) did not deter him from this undertaking.

      I know that her grandparents aren’t lying to her on purpose, but they haven’t made any effort to discover if this is truthful. Would you respect them for passing on their beliefs in the Greek Gods, if that was their faith? You’d equally find it foolish, I imagine. Our father was a Catholic as a child, and it’s obviously not because he wanted to be. Was it a good thing that his parents raised him as a Catholic?

      I know we don’t talk much about my personal life, so you probably don’t understand it much. I’d love to have Gracie every minute I could, but the courts have decided what time I get to spend with her. When I had a week’s vacation, I filled it with time playing with her. Almost any father would.

      Yes, my life is lonely. I still haven’t had a girlfriend since Ashley, and that was 2.5 years ago. I’d certainly love to have a girlfriend, but I lack the money, car, and attractiveness to get one. You’re right… it’s a sad life. I don’t doubt that you’re right, that all my time alone affords me opportunities to research and think. In fact, I spend most of my time walking to and from work (an hour each way) just meditating on various philosophies, often religious. I wish everyone could have this time – it’s not lonely or sad at all.

      I don’t find these views useless or trivial at all, though. If your beliefs are factual, how come you haven’t spent the time proving them? Why aren’t you debating your religious views with many unbelievers, seeing as you view them all as fodder for Hell (and believe that God can change this through you)?

      I’m glad that you at least found the time today to debate one of my topics, and I hope you continue to do that.

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