Well, I’ve finally made it to “The ‘Stan”. So it’s time for another post. I would like to talk about the indoctrination of children into religion. This is a very big topic within the Neo Atheist movement. Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris, and other prominent Atheists believe indoctrination is just another form of child abuse. I have to agree. I will explain why I feel this way below.
There are many reasons why indoctrinating children is wrong. Probably the most horrible reason: Hell. Telling a child that if they don’t believe in god they will spend an eternity in a tortuous hell is just awful. Now maybe you will argue that god will judge you on your deeds and not your beliefs. Well, it’s the same thing. Telling a child that if they do not behave they will go to hell is just as bad. You are forcing your child to believe what you believe with the threat of the most extreme punishment imaginable. How can this be okay?
Another reason forcing your religion on a child is wrong would be the fact that you are not allowing them to think for themselves. You’re pushing your beliefs onto them. You’re teaching children to except what we don’t know as god and not allowing them to question everything as they should. Evolution has programmed us to follow the guidance of our elders at a very early age. We listen to and believe just about anything an adult tells us when we’re very young. This is very useful to our survival because in our early years, when we know nothing, it’s a good idea to believe an adult when they say that a fire is hot. You can insert any other example you’d like here as well. The point is, we as children trust those much older and wiser than ourselves. These same people are the ones telling us god is real so it is easy for us to be duped like they were. Nobody is immune to being fooled. If most religions weren’t so insistent on ensuring one does not question the existence of god this wouldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately, religion thrives because it makes such a big deal about having faith and not questioning something as powerful as god. So even when we do reach the age of reason we don’t think twice about how illogical and irrational religion is. It is because of this that you take all the freedom away from a child to think for him/herself. Who are you to choose the life a person will lead, regardless if they’re your child or not? That’s what you are doing. You are taking away the free will you claim to have by forcing a child into your religion.
My stance is this: present the facts and show the evidence and let the child decide. I have struggled with how to deal with religion with my 2 sons as they get older. This is my conclusion; there is no evidence that a god exists, however, there is tons of evidence that he doesn’t exist. So I will teach my kids the facts and allow them to come to their own decision about whether or not a god exists or not. I imagine they will see the logical rationality in Atheism and follow in their father’s footsteps. Just as most people would if they weren’t indoctrinated as such an early age. Richard Dawkins has talked about the religious labels we give children. We call them Christian, Muslim, or Jewish children. Why? They are their own person and deserve to decide that for themselves. We don’t call them Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian children. So what makes religion any different?
By not allowing children to think for themselves and form their own opinions and by telling them they will burn in hell for not following your beliefs is abusive. This should not be tolerated. If I ever find out someone has been preaching to my children they had better hope they are right in their beliefs because they will soon have a chance to find out what really happens (if anything) after death. I will not allow it and neither should you. If you believe in god, fine, but give your children the chance to figure things out on their own. Don’t force your beliefs on them. When they’ve reached the age of reason and can make those decisions on their own they will. If they come to a different conclusion than you then so be it. Maybe then you should take a good look at your own beliefs and question them as well as your upbringing that brought you to those beliefs in the first place.