Author Topic: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their children?  (Read 1365 times)

jduster

  • Has Received Bacon
  • *
  • Posts: 111
Is it right for parents to push atheism on their children?
« on: October 25, 2010, 06:32:46 PM »
Atheism is the correct view.  I do not doubt that.  The question I raise is: is it fair to push atheism on one's kids, not allowing them to attend church or engage in religious practices?  

I think the best solution to parenting is not to push atheism on the child, but to teach the child logic and let him/her choose.  With that, the child will most likely not believe in God.

Will

  • Global Moderator
  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2698
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 07:13:53 PM »
The only way to push atheism on someone is if they're already religious. No one is born religious, so a parent would only be maintaining their child's atheism.

One of the most important jobs as a parent is teaching your child how to tell fantasy from reality, teaching deductive reasoning, logic, science, and healthy skepticism. If the child learns these things, it's highly unlikely he or she will become religious.
I want bad people to look forward to and celebrate the day I die, because if they don't, I'm not living up to my potential.

Kylyssa

  • Pretty Sure the Black Cat Isn't in the Dark Room
  • ****
  • Posts: 1200
    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Kylyssa
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2010, 07:14:54 PM »
I didn't even know the word atheist until I was five or six.  My parents did not take me to church and they really didn't talk about religion at all.  

I was about five years old and I was reading a book in which a character was going on about God.  It broke my suspension of disbelief so I just had to show my mom the strange thing I had read. I asked her if people actually believed God was real or was the writer just making stuff up?  It didn't occur to me that God was something real.  She diplomatically told me that some people believe God is real.  I asked my father the same question and he stated that mom was correct, that some people believe in God and then he suggested I read through his library of books on philosophy, mythology, psychology, and anthropology.  Neither of my parents said anything bad about religion.  

When I was nine I wanted to go to vacation Bible school so they signed me up and I went.  I went mainly to please my sister who began attending church to suck up to a boy she liked.  I also went because I was curios about it.  I was fascinated by the experience and had to tell my mom every detail when I got home each day.  It was like a really awesome anthropology field trip.  Mostly I just listened and observed.  Everyone knew I was incredibly shy anyway (read as: almost non-verbal with anyone but my family) so I didn't arouse any suspicions.  

This began a series of discussions about religion.  At that point, my dad admitted that he didn't believe in God and my mom said she wasn't sure but that she didn't believe in the Bible God for sure.  Her reason was that she believed love to be the most important thing in life and the Bible promotes a belief that isn't loving.  I didn't feel pushed or coerced or forced to be an atheist.  Having enough information led to me being an atheist.

My parents admitted that if i had asked to go to church or Bible school at a younger age, they probably wouldn't have allowed it, simply because small children believe anything an authority figure tells them.  They wanted me to be old enough to decide for myself before being exposed to pressure to believe in God.

I don't think waiting for a child to be old enough to make decisions for herself before allowing her to go to church is the same as forcing atheism on her.  Of my siblings that made it to adulthood, my brother is an atheist and my sister is a believer.

I think that pushing atheism on children would be telling them, "This is what I believe and you have to believe it, too."  I don't think parents have any obligation to take their kids to church.

Asmodean

  • The Grumpy Lumpy
  • Administrator
  • Luxembourg Trembles!
  • *****
  • Posts: 14312
  • The GrayGod
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2010, 07:51:34 PM »
How can you push a lack of something on someone already lacking it?
In Asmo's grey lump,
wrath and dark clouds gather force.
Luxembourg trembles.

Davin

  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 6466
  • Gender: Male
  • (o°-°)=o o(o*-°)
    • DevPirates
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2010, 07:59:46 PM »
Quote from: "Asmodean"
How can you push a lack of something on someone already lacking it?
Isn't that what credit is?

Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

Tank

  • Fed up with stupid.
  • Administrator
  • Excellent and Indefatigable Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 28675
  • Gender: Male
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2010, 08:17:23 PM »
My wife and I are both innate atheists, we have never succumbed to religious beliefs and had to find our way out from under the comfort blanket of institutionalised superstition aka religion. We were both exposed to religion as children, I through my mother and my wife through her school. We have three children one born in '84 and twins in '86. At no time did we really discuss religion with our kids at all, it was a non-subject as they grew up. We never avoided or criticised religious actively, they simply didn't develop an interest.

I am quite proud of the attitude my kids display to ethnicity and those of a religious persuasion, for them these are also non-subjects. My son spent 6 months with a room mate at Berkeley who was a quite overt Muslim from Singapore. They were on the same course and just got to know and like each other. My son's long term American girlfriend is ethnic Vietnamese, both her parents escaping from Vietnam before '72 and meeting in America. My daughters can't wait till they have kids as they both think the baby(s) will be ultra cute  :hail:
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett

The Magic Pudding

  • The black swan of trespass
  • Blessing Her Holy Hooves
  • *****
  • Posts: 4913
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2010, 01:52:31 AM »
Tank's post seems reasonable to me.
But what happens if you live in a barking mad god bothering community?
Do you teach your children to pretend?

DropLogic

  • Knows What LætusAtheos Means
  • **
  • Posts: 361
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2010, 07:50:09 AM »
The only issue with keeping a child out of church is running the risk of socially alienating them.  Like it or not, the church does provide a good social service, especially for young children...except the ones who get raped of course.
I met my first friends at sunday school when I was about 4.  When the priest asked my parents to keep me home, I lost those friends.  Not really sure if there is a good way to approach this issue tbh...religious people make it so fucking hard.

AnimatedDirt

  • Banned
  • Has an Invisible Dragon in Their Garage
  • *****
  • Posts: 3211
  • Gender: Male
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2010, 04:03:13 PM »
Quote from: "The Magic Pudding"
Tank's post seems reasonable to me.
But what happens if you live in a barking mad god bothering community?
Do you teach your children to pretend?
I find this thread quite interesting in light of this being an Atheist forum.

How could any professing Atheist parent think twice whether to teach their child about Atheism or not?  It just seems odd and out of place.  Maybe someone can explain the reason(s) to better understand.

Thumpalumpacus

  • Not Defeated by the Dark Night of the Soul
  • ****
  • Posts: 1882
  • Gender: Male
    • Some songs I wrote.
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2010, 04:56:08 PM »
I have not taught my son -- he's 13 -- what to think, but rather, how to think.

I've also told him that if he finds he believes in god(s), that I will love him just the same.  I answer what questions of his I can regarding any subject, not just religion.  And when we disagree, I model the behavior I want to see in him, by asking for evidence, explaining how I analyze it, and admitting error when I'm wrong.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

AnimatedDirt

  • Banned
  • Has an Invisible Dragon in Their Garage
  • *****
  • Posts: 3211
  • Gender: Male
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2010, 05:28:22 PM »
Quote from: "Thumpalumpacus"
I have not taught my son -- he's 13 -- what to think, but rather, how to think.

I've also told him that if he finds he believes in god(s), that I will love him just the same.  I answer what questions of his I can regarding any subject, not just religion.  And when we disagree, I model the behavior I want to see in him, by asking for evidence, explaining how I analyze it, and admitting error when I'm wrong.
I tend to side with your 'managment' style, but on the flip-side.  :)

TheJackel

  • Rides the Sonic Rain Boom
  • **
  • Posts: 515
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2010, 05:47:19 PM »
You only need to teach them how to use their brain. Teach them critical thinking skills, how to be skeptical and ask questions, how and why you ask for evidence, or teach them the scientific method. Most importantly, teach them the basics of how the mechanics of brainwashing works in order to protect them from subliminal and manipulative emotional suggestions. This is of course on top of teaching them to respect and care for other people, and includes people that may or may not agree with them.

However, there is no need to ever bring up religion or a GOD. They can decide for themselves what they want to believe in that regard. I wouldn't love a child any less if they turned out to believe in a GOD or became apart of a religion. Though I would hope I had taught them well enough not to become fanatics, extremists ect.

DropLogic

  • Knows What LætusAtheos Means
  • **
  • Posts: 361
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2010, 06:17:30 PM »
Quote from: "AnimatedDirt"
How could any professing Atheist parent think twice whether to teach their child about Atheism or not?  It just seems odd and out of place.  Maybe someone can explain the reason(s) to better understand.

This idea has been explained to you dozens of times so far.  I'm not sure you can get past your own misconstrued judgments in order to grasp what Atheism is.  Certainly there are going to be extreme examples of Atheist parents who will teach their kids to condescend on believers, and from day one that there is without a doubt definitely no god...but they are outliers, and very few in number.  

The vast majority of Atheists rely on logic, rationality, and the scientific method to gain understanding of this strange universe, and our place in it.  I am on the same page as Thump, Jackel, and Tank.  Should my wife and I decide to have kids, or one comes along by mistake, we will allow them to make their own decisions on faith, just as our parents did.

I think what upsets you is that the stance we're taking is one that you were not afforded when you were being raised.  Let's be real, you're a well-spoken, intelligent person.  You post thoughtful responses consistently; yet you seem chained down by your beliefs, unable to consider changing your position, plus your arguments have turned into semantic battles.  Have you considered anything that has been said to you thus far as an alternative to your convictions?

AnimatedDirt

  • Banned
  • Has an Invisible Dragon in Their Garage
  • *****
  • Posts: 3211
  • Gender: Male
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2010, 06:36:34 PM »
Quote from: "TheJackel"
I wouldn't love a child any less if they turned out to believe in a GOD or became apart of a religion. Though I would hope I had taught them well enough not to become fanatics, extremists ect.
I'm assuming you mean that within religion there are fanatics/extremists and you wouldn't want them to go THAT far into religion and not that simply to believe in god(s) is to be a fanatic or an extremist.  Yes?

I am encouraged by these responses.  I would've thought the opposite.
Quote from: "DropLogic"
This idea has been explained to you dozens of times so far. I'm not sure you can get past your own misconstrued judgments in order to grasp what Atheism is. Certainly there are going to be extreme examples of Atheist parents who will teach their kids to condescend on believers, and from day one that there is without a doubt definitely no god...but they are outliers, and very few in number.

The vast majority of Atheists rely on logic, rationality, and the scientific method to gain understanding of this strange universe, and our place in it. I am on the same page as Thump, Jackel, and Tank. Should my wife and I decide to have kids, or one comes along by mistake, we will allow them to make their own decisions on faith, just as our parents did.

I think what upsets you is that the stance we're taking is one that you were not afforded when you were being raised. Let's be real, you're a well-spoken, intelligent person. You post thoughtful responses consistently; yet you seem chained down by your beliefs, unable to consider changing your position, plus your arguments have turned into semantic battles. Have you considered anything that has been said to you thus far as an alternative to your convictions?
I apologize for sounding upset.  I'm not upset at all.  As I stated above, I'm encouraged.  I admittedly had (and maybe still have to some degree) a skewed view of what an Atheist is.  Not surprisingly as most my interaction has been through forums where the premise is debate.  I have a few friends that are Atheist, but one in particular that I am close with and I've always known him to be nothing short of a better "Christian" than I am, simply without belief in Christ.

I don't feel chained down to my beliefs.  I'm changing my position on what I believe Atheists are, who they are, what they believe, and how they believe.  I find many things said to me compelling and thought provoking.  I don't pretend to know the answers to all things.  I consider and ponder many of the things that are brought up.

All I wanted to convey in this thread, and apparently it sounded upset, was that I'm surprised at my misconception and encouraged that while we may go in circles on debate and discussion of things we disagree on, the majority of you could very well be much like my good friend.

Thumpalumpacus

  • Not Defeated by the Dark Night of the Soul
  • ****
  • Posts: 1882
  • Gender: Male
    • Some songs I wrote.
Re: Is it right for parents to push atheism on their childre
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2010, 06:44:29 PM »
Fundamentalist atheists are much rarer than posited by fundamentalist Christians.
Illegitimi non carborundum.