“I only teach my children the GOOD bits of my religion!” (Arguments For God Episode #3)Jean Kelley January 11, 2020 100 Comments
If you know anything about me, then you probably know that I am not too fond of the idea of Dogma, And I’m even less of a fan of bringing up children in any environment which parades it as a virtue. Now I don’t think I’m particularly alone in my view, and in fact, I would wager that most people when asked to would gladly denounce dogma and condemn those who are guilty of dispersing it. However, I am also of the belief that a large number of these people completely misunderstand what it means to be dogmatic and so are at risk of being entirely hypocritical. DISCLAIMER Yes, I’m talking about organized religion. No, it’s not the only type of dogma, and while I think it’s possibly the most damaging, that’s up for debate. But I certainly believe that religion is its most pestilential and life defining manifestation and also it’s most unwarrantedly permitted and socially forgivable form. I am fundamentally against the idea of state recognition of religion, and that means no religion in politics, no religion in public sector educational institutes, and no religion in societal expectation gets any kind of a blessing from me. If you’re gonna call your five year old son a Christian and send him to Catholic School, then to me you may as well be calling him communist and sending him to a Marxist school. A child who is told what to believe, how to believe it, and to never doubt its authenticity by his school teachers, parents, peers, and politicians alike is a child living under the influence of dogmatism. And here’s a peculiar thing: many of the adults who bring up their children in such environments are the same adults who claim to recognize the dangers of dogmatism. In fact, the most common criticism I receive when talking about this issue is, “Well look I am not like that. Yes, I bring up my child as a god loving Christian, but I only teach them about the good bits, the New Testament and omnibenevolent god, about Jesus and love and salvation.” So here’s what I say, Look , You may decide to teach your child your own adapted version of Christianity or Islam or Sikhism or Judaism. You may decide to omit the condemnation of homosexuality in the Pentateuch, or the castigation of nonbelievers in the Quran, or the mindless genocidal tendencies of the god of the Bible. That’s your decision to make. But here’s the thing. It’s still Dogma. Yes, that’s right. The defination of the word dogma doesn’t describe the nature of the principle being dictated as truths. Now dogmatism isn’t always as harmful as some fundamentalist or extremist forms. However, the fact remains that if you are presenting some idea or opinion as an unchallengeable truth It’s Dogma. “…what happened on the cross, in some small measure, actually happened for me.” Whether it’s religious, or political, or pseudoscientific, I say pseudoscientific because real science is always open to debate, and It’s irrelevent But okay, I just said that not all dogma is inherently damaging So surely our hypothetical “parent” situation whilst still dogmatic is A-OK right? Well, no. Not in this case, And here’s why. Take the example of gentle Jesus meek and mild. Here we have a god in the form of an earthly man who knows you perfectly, is without sin, and is the savior of all humanity. This is what we teach our children. Jesus, the spotless scapegoat with the ability of save mankind. Pretty good of him, hey. Well, say tomorrow I come to your house and frantically knock on the door. You answer, quite concerned, and ask me why I am there. And I reply, “Oh, listen, I’ve got some fantastic news.” “I’m here to save you.” What would be the first thing that you say to me? Would you rejoice? Would you thank me? Well, no, you’d ask me “Well, I’m sorry, but what on earth do I need saving from?” There are two sides to every coin. And if you place a shiny coin in front of a curious child, you’d be fool not to expect them to flip it over and see what’s on the other side. Your children will eventually learn that which you’ve been concealing. This method of censorship is unsustainable. There are simply too many questions that it leaves in a child’s mind, and it’s too significant an issue for them not to do their own investigations. And if they can’t find answers from you, or a teacher, or a priest, Well, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be able to find them on Google or Wikipedia. And when they do, they will sharply come to the unwelcome realization that there’s a reason that you’ve decided to misrepresent the truth for so long. That that which they need saving from is an enternity of hell fire, torment, and unthinkable agony bestowed upon them by the very maniac who offers their sole and only hope of escape. They’ll discover a god quite unlike the one from the story books that they’re familiar with, a god who puts a shot gun to your head and then has the temerity to expect you to kiss his feet in thanks for him deciding not to pull the trigger. I’m sorry. This is not the kind of moral teaching I wish to subject my children to. And look, I know it’s often used in defense of religious indoctrination, but it’s almost worse to only teach the good bits of any given religion or any ideology for that matter. By presenting your faith in its entirety, warts and all, and allowing your children to analyze it for themselves rather than from the perspective of your own personal interpretation, you’re gifting them the invaluable liberty of religious freedom. And this is the only way that someone can truly decide to which god or gods if any they wish to pledge their allegiance. If you still find yourself in protest, steadfast in the belief that you can eternally preserve your child’s ignorance of scripture, then please just take a moment to consider the following. If you are self-admittedly concealing specific sections of the constitution of the organization to which you subscribe and claim that you do so for it’s the only way to recruit new members, because if they knew the full truth they would turn and run, what does that say about your institution? A lot of people don’t like me for holding these opinions. It gets me a lot of flack from people that I know, but I know that I am not alone. I’m not saying let’s not teach our children about religion, I actually believe in quite the opposite. But when we do, Let’s not do so in such deceptive and disingenuous manner. If you don’t like the idea of certain parts of your religion being taught in, say, schools, then don’t look to the school, look to your religion. Schools should be challenging children’s beliefs. School should be educating them to the furthest extent and level of detail possible. In the words of Lawrence Krauss, “The purpose of education is not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it.” If you are somebody who defends religious indoctrination by claiming that you “only teach the good bits,” then maybe just take a moment to consider why you even need to make such a disclaimer at all. I’m Cosmic Skeptic. Thank you for listening and I’ll see you in the next one.