In a fit of open-mindedness, it is easy to suggest that we should allow our children to believe what they will with only a minimum of guidance from us. Our children should be allowed to attended religious services and not be subjected to hearing us say religion is mere superstition until theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Ã¢â‚¬Ëœold enough to understandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think this is the right path. I think the right path is to be honest with children. My dad, for all his insanity, never shifted the responsibility when it came to our questions nor did he let us believe whatever we wanted. If we were wrong, he told us why were wrong.
Looking back, it is my dad I have to acknowledge. He brought up evolution, the cosmos, the Bible itself, other religions and so much more. He bluntly laughed at some of our more outrageous claims (Hell comes to mind). He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make us attend church and when we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to go he agreed we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to.
On the other hand, our mother was the one who was content to send us to church and let us believe whatever. Talking snakes, mules, food dropping out of the sky, walking on water, and coming back from the grave Ã¢â‚¬â€œ you name it and she did not challenge us. There was no talk about anything. In fact, by the time the oldest three of us grew out of it, she was starting to believe it herself.
Now that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a parent, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve went a bit further than my dad. The only church my daughter has been in is a Unitarian church and that was only after I verified that it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just watered down Christianity. Yes, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still young but I had years to study and come to understand that Sunday Ã¢â‚¬ËœschoolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is one big bait & switch. Other churches are completely outlawed until sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s at least ten.
In short, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m teaching my daughter that the rational position is atheism. I do not think there is anything wrong with this. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not teaching her to respect religion. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not respectable. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an ancient superstition that has killed and continues to kill many people. It canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t solve our problems because it is one of the primary sources of our problems.
I will not lie, by omission or silence, to my child about this. Snakes and mules do not speak Ã¢â‚¬ËœhumanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. There are no such things as unicorns and goat-men. There was no Garden of Eden. Humanity was not created. The Bible is not worthy of respect. Jesus was not real and even if he was Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he was not this thing called Ã¢â‚¬ËœGodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Dead is dead, not resting. The universe does not care that we exist. There is no ghost/fairy/beast monitoring us somewhere up there.
As William Shakespeare put it in his play Hamlet:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This is what I want to teach my daughter. In the grand scale of things, religion is silly and empty. Why should I let her believe otherwise?