Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raising A Child Without Acknowledging Religion?

It can't - and shouldn't - be done.
I started reading that op-ed piece expecting to disagree with everything this man was about to say.  I do not.  

Not that I agree with everything he stated: sectarianism might be on the decline, but only with increased animosity between the overarching religions, I disagree that “ethics classes should not be substitutes for scripture”, and I do not like the idea of a "religious" education.  However, I agree with the authors overall point which is that we live in a world surrounding by people who believe this thing.  Their lives are, supposedly, dictated by this belief.  Raising our children ignorant of this belief's existence is nearly as dangerous as raising them in it.     

My wife is a believer.  A month or so after we began dating and the god conversation started we nearly broke up.  I laid awake half the night staring at the ceiling thinking how much I loved the girl next to me, but I do not think I could marry someone who was a believer.  She apparently did the same thing.  I came to the conclusion that it didn't matter.  She did too.  We have since had multiple discussions, some heated, about my lack of belief and her insistence on holding onto hers.  I have never directly attacked her belief or faith.  I am not totally innocent as I have the tendency to belittle on occasion and it’s usually when I feel cornered.  Marriage. What fun!

As far as the kid and possible pluralization of’s messy, but it is real.  Luckily, in her “faith” you are not baptized until around the age of 13.  You have to choose to do this yourself.  To be honest, I at least respect them for that.  This makes it easy in the short term because we do not have to have that fight yet.  We would have had a fight if we had a boy.  I was very anti-circumcision since there is no (or very very little) medical reason to do it.  It is strictly some ancient scriptural rule that has no place in the modern world.  She didn’t want our potential son circumcised due to any scriptural adherence, but she was afraid of him being "different."  I see no problem with being different AND I don’t want to mutilate my child for the sake of an imaginary god (for the sake argument if there was a God, I agree with Hitchens’ insistence that he would tell any God “Fuck you!” that asked him to sacrifice his child.  I feel the same away about genital mutilation. Or any mutilation.).  Regardless we didn't have to cross that bridge since we had a daughter.  As far as Sunday school and whatnot, I agreed that my daughter can go.  This is for most of the reasons outlined in the article. I don't want her ignorant of that aspect of the dominant culture, family, friends, and her neighbors. As an anthropologist I find that wrong and limiting.  Also, as many an atheist say: ‘the best way to make atheists is to have them study the bible.”  It worked for me.  Ultimately though, I can’t make her not believe.  That would be as ridiculous as someone else’s parents trying to make them believe.  It doesn't work. ALL I can do is raise her with the cognitive tools to think for herself and question authority.

One last thing.  My wife can take her to church and Sunday school (daddy does not go), but I get to teach her science, philosophy, ethics, etc.  I did tell the wife the moment my little girl comes home and tells me that she is being taught that the Earth is only 6000 years old, evolution is a lie, etc.; she is out of there.  That day.  Never going back.  End of discussion.  My wife never says anything about this (I think it’s just because she won’t give me the satisfaction), but she knows I am right.  This is not likely a problem since to her knowledge (we’re new the area) that isn’t what her church is about and she wouldn’t like that garbage either.  Even though she has faith, she isn’t blind.


Nick said...

Aw, what a big softy!

Pj Corona said...

I understand you reasoning. I totally disagree you are commiting child abuse. At what point do you tell her santa clause or the easter bunny are not real? Would you let your wife take her to classes that teach tooth fairy ethics as long as you got to teach her science. Your compromise to marry(an outdated concept to say the least) a believer has also compromise your ethics. If you are looking for a gold star or congratulation because you are doing some service by letting your kid be indoctrinated into a belief system forget it. You are doing harm to you own kid and you are in a relationship with a delusional person. It seems you must be delusional if you compromised your ethics for, 'love'.

A atheist father am I.

Steve said...

I'm not looking for a gold star or congratulations from anyone and I don't give a damn if you agree with me.

Nice 'straw man argument' on the tooth fairy ethics. Try again.

My how superior you are by attacking me for my choice to get married! I must be completely out of my mind with delusion and secretly still religious for allowing myself to be locked in the shackles of such an archaic institution of control. Good thing I have you to tell me exactly how I should live my life and what I should and should not do.

Spare me the child abuse line. As much as I disagree with and dislike religion you trivialize actual child abuse by comparing your average religious household with an abusive environment. I grew up Christian in a Christian home. There was nothing abusive about it. I rejected religion because it makes no rational sense. Not because it harmed me.

Your hyperbole is irrational. Your judgmental attitude towards anything you disagree with is almost...dogmatic. Sound familiar?

Steve said...

I would also like to add that the whole point of the post is that simply acknowledging the existence of, and learning about, religion is not dangerous. Nor is it indoctrination. In fact it is critical to understanding why certain people think and behave they way they do.

By completely sheltering a child from the reality of this world you are, in effect, doing the same thing as an Evangelical Christian when the home school their child.

Pj Corona said...

Yea,yea call me dogmatic or strawman.
The facts sting a bitsy, eh?

Must of struck a nerve.

Playing the lotto with a kid growing mind? Way to much info on indoctrination. Use the damn internet and least be honest about it, to a random stranger on the net.

Live your life however you want. I could give a rat's asshole. You put on the web I get to comment. Don't get so pissy. It ain't personal and you're right it is MY opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. It does seem you got just a bit winny. Eh? Emotional reason, rational and intellect? Eh?

I ain't perfect. I make mistakes. Hopefully I am honest about them. Didn't mean to insult you. I retract the child abuse statement. Still think it is harmful indoctrination.


Some random internet person.

Pj Corona said...

Ah no. My kid gets to learn about all religions. My kids gets to make choice when she is of age(18). My kid get to become a critical thinker. My kid gets to know my OPINION is just that my OPINION, when she is of age. I TAKE IT BACK YOU A FRAKN CHILD ABUSER.

Erica said...

Don't fret Steve, it only took me til the age of 5 when I figured out that my Baptist relatives who were all drinking, smoking, cussing, dancing, and fornicating were also being fucking hypocrites on Sunday morning. That's when I told my grandpa I didn't want to go back there anymore.
Also, don't feed the trolls! Don't you know better? ;)