Author Topic: At what age were you properly introduced to science?  (Read 1823 times)

Amicale

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At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« on: April 28, 2012, 02:54:33 AM »
This is for ex-theists and never-theists. How old were you when you were first properly introduced to science? Specifically, biology, cosmology, evolution, etc?

For never-theists... did you just take this information for granted the same way you maybe took other learned knowledge for granted, or did it just further convince you that you didn't believe in a God, or was there some other reaction you had?

For ex-theists... when you were introduced to science, did it shake your faith? Cause you to consider atheism? Did it not bother you at all, and at the time, you were fine staying in your faith... or was there some other reaction you had?

For me, my first exposure to science as a child was fairly typical; I had a love of dinosaurs. I took for granted the timescale my books indicated - ie, millions and millions of years ago, but it didn't challenge my faith at all, at the time. In about 3rd or 4th grade, I started watching Bill Nye the Science Guy videos, and found them interesting... but again, it didn't challenge my beliefs, because my family believed that God was behind everything, including the creation of dinosaurs and other scientific facts. What really gave me pause to consider my beliefs was when I hit 9th grade in a public highschool, and I heard about evolution for the first time. I couldn't get enough of it! I read everything I could find, and for the first time, I started having some doubts about the creation model as it had been previously taught to me. For a long time though, I clung to theistic evolution, but it wasn't until 12th grade, maybe the first year of college, that I started reading all kinds of science books. Sagan, Dawkins, Hawking, etc etc... and that's when for me, it really started to click, and a secular worldview started to look like it made a LOT of sense. In the end, my deconversion was largely an emotional, personal one... but I was grateful I had the science I'd learned fairly late in the game, to help me along.

Curious about what the other answers will be. :)


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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2012, 04:32:14 AM »
It sounds as if you and I had a fairly similar journey. My introduction to Darwin and evolutionary theory was around 8th or 9th grade, and it caused significant disruptions to my tightly-held evangelical Christianity, and it's (less and less plausible) model of the universe.  I too clung for a while to a kind of poorly identified 'theistic evolution,' but once a Freshman in college, I began to read more widely in the area, and finally, after tackling a book with a hypothetical chapter on abiogensis, the secular model of the universe just made perfect sense, and my deconversion was complete.  I can't get enough of science these days.  Especially neuroscience...it's kind of a passion of mine.
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ThinkAnarchy

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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 04:34:38 AM »
I can't remember at what age I was properly introduced to science. But my conversion from Catholicism had little to do with scientific understanding. For me, it was a more philosophical transition that was due to religion classes.

Added:With that said, I was taught evolution and accepted it at a young age. I simply figured god created the world and allowed us to evolve. That in and of itself made me question the story of Adam and Eve. I was never taught "young earth creationism" though.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 04:36:39 AM by ThinkAnarchy »
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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 05:01:47 AM »
When I was a kid, I used to watch a lot of documentaries on the Discovery channel (back when the Discovery channel actually had decent programming). 
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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2012, 05:43:13 AM »
I heard through my parents, that I used to ask a lot of questions around age 3 or 4, like why is the sky blue, the grass green, etc, and that I had always been so inquisitive. That has not changed for sure! I'm sure, that my family just told me god made things the way they are anytime I asked these questions.  By the way, before me, no one else in my family had attended a four year university, so I can't really blame them for not knowing what to tell me. It was my mom though who introduce me to the idea of a god and she taught me one bedtime prayer,"Now I lay me down to sleep..." Then came my first communion and I remember praying a lot, mostly praying for my family, and of course for some toys and things like that.

Then, I distinctly remember being introduced to fossils, dinosaurs, the cosmos, scientific experiments, and the diversity of life, in the fourth grade. I instantly fell in love with it all.  The more I learned, the more I loved it! At this point my confused little mind started blending the religion I learned with the science. For instance, before fourth grade I probably thought of heaven as a place resting on the clouds above, with god on a throne or something, and lots of gold everywhere.  However, after learning about the deep universe in fourth grade, I began to think of god as floating somewhere in the midst of it all, between all the stars and galaxies, perhaps even outside the universe; by then I was left being more confused than ever.  ???  

So,  that was the starting point in my life when science started influencing me the most. I was first introduced to evolution in high school biology, then a little more in Advanced Placement Biology, and I ended up studying Biology in college, and that pretty much sealed the deal for me; I became an ex-theist. Of course I struggled with belief off and on for a couple more years, but it fizzed out.  I feel that I'm okay now :) I'm cured!!!

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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2012, 06:38:55 AM »
I can't even pinpoint when I was introduced to science as I think it was gradual from day one.  I grew up watching oeta (oklahoma public access) it included a lot of science/nature shows....i'm pretty sure that included Sagan/cosmos but I only remember it as being the space show.  Science wasn't a factor in why I left religion as I was taught that religion and science were not in conflict (and still don't think they have to be) and that science was god's gift to us and that it should be used to better ourselves...evolution wasn't even an issue.  As an example, I was taught about what males and females look like and then later the birds and the bees from a medical textbook...any question we had about life that could be answered with science was answered in depth like that and we always had the newest set of encyclopedias (this was before the internet was a household item).

Anyway, my reasons for leaving religion are purely philosphical; what sparked the inquiry was ethics of all things...I just couldn't reconcile a loving god with the idea of hell and then after I figured out a way to come up with a christian belief system that didn't necessarily require eternal burning in hell (AD should be able to explain that as it is a seventh day adventist view)  I had learned enough to realize that ultimately it was all just a big guess.

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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2012, 07:00:18 AM »
I do remember I had a chemistry set when I was around 9 years old. I had a lot of fun with it, but I don't think it taught me much. I also received some monthly picture book. They would send some pages to put in your book every month with the picture and description of a different animal. That one may have sparked something that made me question.
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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2012, 08:28:26 AM »
I'd have to say it was when I was 9, in my fourth grade science class.  This didn't amount to much more than learning a few terms, doing some very simple (and often unsuccessful) experiments and, the high point, handling a snake our teacher brought in.

However, like some of the others here, science had nothing to do with my atheism.  I think I can pin my problems with theism down to lack of a coherent story as opposed to lack of evidence (altho the lack of evidence for the supernatural certainly doesn't hurt my atheism).
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 08:42:59 PM by BooksCatsEtc »
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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2012, 10:56:15 AM »
Too early to remember, really...

I vaguely remember thinking that it was hugely unfair that when monkeys evolved to become us, they left their most practical tails behind. I couldn't have been more than four.
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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2012, 11:38:16 AM »
Just to note, grades mean little on a worldwide forum. Ages are much more meaningful.

Never-theist. Official introduction to science 12 at secondary school. Unofficial introduction 5? my dad always took time to explain all about everything in naturalistic terms. The BBC natural history unit in Oxford was also the unofficial biology educator of the UK with David Attenborough its head teacher.

Fortunately I never took institutionalised Superstition seriously. I was exposed to it by my mother but it never sank in. I suppose one of my formative experiences at secondary school was the difference in attitude between our Religious Education tacher and our Biology teacher. The RE teacher was everything bad in humanity, a bully, closed minded, dictatorial, a lying, mean spirited, evil, bastard. My Biology teacher was the complete opposite and an atheist too, although he never told us that I found out after leaving school. 
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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 08:33:17 PM »
I never believed in any gods beyond the convenient god of the gaps answers they provided (what can I say, little children like answers). When I was around 8 or 9 I just realised that it failed at that too.  Declaring that I didn't accept any religious explanations, of any theistic religions I had come into contact with, wasn't really a big deal. Just my wordy way of saying that I'm much more of a never-theist than an ex-theist. My parents brought me up in a secular household, but I did attend a public school with "creation science" and bible studies that preceded any natural science courses.

Growing up I also had a fondness for dinosaurs and astronomy, and would devour books on the subject. Didn't really have that much access to the internet back then...

I little later would come animals and especially animal behaviour.

I was only really introduced to what science is and how it works in high school though. That was like unearthing a valuable tool with which to put all the knowledge I had accumulated to good use. Religion never really came to mind, it was all myth anyway, and treated as such.



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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2012, 11:01:34 PM »
Interesting stories.

For me, I think I could say that I also got intoruced to different fields of science very early on, because as a kid I loved to watch all different sorts of documentaries from tv, such as what they show in "Avara luonto" ("Wide/Expansive nature") which I think are mostly programs from NatGeo and perhaps Animal Planet, that are dubbed in Finnish. And I've been watching those as my saturday tradition long before anyone even knew what a "Digital tv" was. Back then we only had 3 channels to choose from. 3! Now if I turn my tv on I have at least 9.... :o

Anyway, I also loved the "Once upon a time...Life"-cartoon series. I also was interested in astronomy and the dinosaurs, but my love for history in a way out played those. However, I was first taught about science in a more proper way from 3rd Grade onwards, as one of the school subjects that we have is called "Yleistieto" (roughly "General knowledge"), that combines the very thinned down basics of geology, biology (and hence evolution) and even astronomy. For example we learned the basics of some of our local species that live here, the different tree and rock types, the planets, their orbits and the phases of the moon etc. Then in 7th Grade that is replaced by the more specific classes for Biology, "Maantieto" (Earth knowldege; it's mostly geology with some basics about the different continents and countries), Chemistry and Physics. I also took some classes in Psychology and Philosophy in high school.

At this point I think I can answer the question: I pretty much took all of this for granted. I was actually a little confused and shocked when I first heard that there was such a thing a "creationism". And that was just about 4-5 years ago! And it took m a while to realize that there were people here in Finland that actually believed that stuff. The way I saw it was biology=evolution, no ifs or but's, and religion was..well religion. Those classes when we either read about these "apostles" that walked around the Mediterranean talking about Jesus (from which we get the proverb "Apostolin kyyti" or"Apostles ride"), or coloring images about stuff that they talked about in that bible-book. And then later it was about the church history and such. We were never taught that it was supposed to be taken seriously, and I think Hell was mentioned in only one class, and it was as briefly as possible. Kind of waste of 5 years, when we could have been learning about other religions and their beliefs and teaching as well, not just the last 2 years :-\

Perhaps it was that attitude, to take it all as granted that I wasn't really that interested about those things in school, as ashamed as I am now to admit it :-[ If I now had to go back to school, I think I eould have a much better appreciation to it all, but I still have this little bias that bites me all to often: if it's in a book, it's boring :P The teachers we had, even though they knew their stuff, weren't exactly inspiring either. I still love watching the odd document and such every now and then (apart from Avara luonto, of course), but my reading experience is rather confined to various sources in the internet. But I suppose that better then nothing ;)

So that's me. I'm actually thinking about going back to high school and finishing it (I dropped out last time after the first year, due to what I can only describe as lack of motivation and the stress of having to study so damn many subjects all at the same time). I just wish I didn't have to re-learn all that math and Swedish. Especially Swedish. Ugh. ::)

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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2012, 01:37:17 AM »
At what age?  I suppose that would be about 18 when I first went to college.  Rural, small town south Texas high schools aren't really the best place to get introduced to science.

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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2012, 05:50:57 AM »
I was always, always interested in science. I cant pin point the exact age. Probably 4 or 5. I watched Bill Nye. I read a lot of books on space, the universe, etc.  i was obsessed with dinosaurs! :)
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Amicale

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Re: At what age were you properly introduced to science?
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2012, 07:08:02 PM »
I've really enjoyed reading everyone's answers so far. It seems a lot of us have experiences in common. People who were never theists seem to have been exposed to science earlier in life, and people who were ex-theists seem to have learned more about the scientific method and evolution a little later, although science doesn't seem to be the primary reason most of us gave up belief. And it's definitely true that a lot of us who came from religious backgrounds didn't seem to have a problem with evolution, since we kinda mixed it into our beliefs.

Cool. :)

I guess a better question really would have been at which age we were properly introduced to skepticism.

For myself, I didn't even know atheists existed until I was about 14. (yes, I was a naive, sheltered kid). I knew other religions existed of course, but atheism just never came up until I was 13 or 14, and met a boy my age who told me he was both atheist AND bisexual, and I remember literally being a bit afraid of him.  :D I couldn't comprehend how someone could be so different, or at least ADMIT to being different. I think that's what mostly floored me. He was an open skeptic, as well as openly bi, and I couldn't figure out how he even dared to admit either.  :D

I laugh, looking back at it now. I've often seen the age of 14 or 15 to be a huge turning point for me. Not because of the guy I met really, but because a whole bunch happened at once during those years in highschool -- for the first time, I read a book called "2000 years of disbelief: famous people with the courage to doubt" ( http://www.amazon.com/2000-Years-Disbelief-Famous-Courage/dp/1573920673 ) and it opened my eyes big time. I also started meeting more and more people who were really into science, some of who were agnostics or atheists, who were gay or bi, who had different perspectives on right and wrong than I'd grown up with. It was truly awesome, and I loved that confusing period of learning. I was starting to open my mind more, and it was a little bewildering, but I wanted more and more of it.

I guess the breaking point was when a friend's little sister died in a car wreck, and his Pentecostal family went around praising Jesus that she was in heaven, and that she hadn't suffered, and that Jesus had saved the rest of the family from death even though he took her to be "his little angel"... and for the first time in my life, I called BS on religion and realized, "I don't BELIEVE this stuff..." -- I did still believe in God in a way, and did for some time after, but I started to seriously have doubts about the way I'd previously seen God.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 07:10:17 PM by Amicale »


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