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  #21  
Old 28th February 2015, 01:23 PM
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

I have also never hidden my lack of belief but have not IMO forced it on my daughter. Imagine my surprise when she publicly announced : "My Dad does not think that gods exist."
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  #22  
Old 28th February 2015, 02:20 PM
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

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Goldenmane said View Post
I'm an atheist activist, and I've never hidden that from my kid.

I have never, however, told Bugalugs that 'there is no god'.

Rather, we have discussed the fact that I don't see any reason to believe in gods, ghosts, magic, and other forms of woo. When he was five, he asked me if Santa was real, and that provoked a discussion about fun little fictions.

His favourite podcast to listen to while we drive is Skeptics Guide, and they are always careful to be scrupulous about avoiding any sort of dogmatic position.

Sometimes he asks me questions, like the time not so long ago when he asked, "If you think gods and all that are bollocks, why do you have a Bible?"

That provoked a discussion about examining claims, evaluating evidence, and knowing what you're talking about. It also segued into discussing some of the ludicrous bullshit that resides within the leaves of that abhorrent tome. He was particularly not taken with the idea of a bunch of kids being mauled to death by bears for calling a man baldy - partly because his old man's a bit of a baldy.

Anyway, my point is that I don't really hold with the idea of telling kids that there is no god. I prefer to raise them to think clearly for themselves, because the very notion of a dogmatic sort of atheism is anathema.
There is probably no Loch Ness monster either, at least in the sense of a living fossil marine reptile. So long as one does not make it an absolute claim, I think saying that there is no god is legitimate. If one "primes" with an absolute rejection of absolutism, I don't think one has harmed anyone. There is no absolute proof of anything.
We can just reasonably assume no gods, unless or until evidence makes us reopen the question.
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  #23  
Old 1st March 2015, 10:52 PM
AisforAtheist AisforAtheist is offline
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

My answer to the original question is between 3 and 5 years old.

I was asked by my 2 foot tall terrorist 'where does everything come from' and spent 15 minutes on accretion, abiogenesis through to blokes in helmets building the road we're on, only to be told 'Duh dad, God made everything'. As far as a 3 year old is concerned, a much more compelling argument than I produced. At that moment I realised it wasn't going to wash to just come out and say 'Doesn't exist' straight up.

Herewith an excerpt of 'A is for atheist, a book for grownups aged 3 and over', authored by me.

M is for make believe. Make believe is the best fun you can have. Sometimes you want to play make believe firemen. And you want Ella and Luka to play make believe firemen with you. But Ella wants to play make believe fairies and Luka wants to play make believe cars. They don't want to play make believe firemen with you. They want you to play their make believe. Soon there will be an argument, then a fight and everyone will have to MOVE AWAY. This will be no fun at all. So it would be better if everybody just didn't play make believe but instead everybody helped each other to co-operate and play nice together and built a huge giant jigglyboggler out of Lego.

N is for No way no how will that jigglyboggler ever get made.

O is for Oscar! That's you. Your dad wrote this book for you, it's a pretty good book, but not as good as a dinosaur book or an Egypt book.

P is for pretend. Which is things that aren't really real even though you sometimes think they are. Somethings are just pretend, like dragons and pixies. Even Buzz Lightyear is just pretend, even though he is in movies and there's toys of him. He's not a real person, he's just pretend. Movies and books are mostly just all pretend. I LOVE them a lot even though I know they are pretend. Some people say they love God but I think he is just pretend too. It's ok to love pretend things .

Q is for quiet. If you stop reading this book and be really really quiet what noises can you hear? I can hear cars and also electricity buzzing.

R is for religion. Religion is when a lot a lot of people all play the same make believe game together. The make believe game is that they all have an invisible friend. Like if everyone in your old kindy all played make believe invisible friend dinbydob together, and they all pretended to talk to invisible friend dinbydob and listen to what he said. And if everyone at your new kindy played make believe invisible friend monkyponk at the same time, that would be another religion. Those could be dinbydob religion and monkyponk religion. But the religions that grown ups play are called Christian religion, Islam religion, Buddhist religion, Jewish religion. Some grownups don't like playing make believe religion because there's so many many rules, and it's not super fun. And some grownups always think their invisible friend is the best, and their invisible friend is really real and everyone else's invisible friend is just pretend. But really all invisible friends are just pretend no matter how much people say that their invisible friend is really real.


**Disclaimer. I have never actually shown or read the book to him or his siblings, but writing it did force me to think about explaining such matters in terms a 3 or 4 year old could understand, which was useful in subsequent discussions around the subject.

Last edited by AisforAtheist; 1st March 2015 at 10:55 PM.
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  #24  
Old 17th April 2017, 02:01 PM
Bruce Daly Bruce Daly is offline
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

Maybe this book of mine might be of some use
isthereanybodyupthere.com
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  #25  
Old 22nd April 2017, 09:04 AM
Banjo Banjo is offline
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

Perhaps ask oneself, "Should I deceive my child?".

Take it from there.

Also, perhaps ask about other gods. Does Sterquilinus exist?

The entire One God idea kind of goes against nature. There's no "one" of anything unless the species is about to become extinct.

I've been an atheist since 4. Actually my entire life. I feel it made me stronger. While in hospital for many months I watched the religious give up and fall into the arms of Jesus. Me? I had one life and so hung on.

Does one want a weak or strong child?

Up to the parent.
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  #26  
Old 22nd April 2017, 09:09 PM
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

Richard Dawkins's The Magic of Reality is written for 10 years old and up to any age. A classic. Evolution has the greatest explanatory power.

Actually Dan Dennett says Dawkins is working on a new book.
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  #27  
Old 9th May 2017, 11:01 PM
c2105026 c2105026 is offline
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

Gonna get flamed for this.

IMHO - don't.

To reinforce atheism in a child is ethically no better than reinforcing any other belief system. You might be completely 100% convinced that you are correct. So do the Christian and Muslim etc parents who indocrinate their children.

Let them go. By all means - tell them about evolution in an age-appropriate way, teach them about wonders of science - albeit at a simple level. God as a concept probably won't even come into it until the school years, when their peers may go to scripture - you opting out, obviously. By then, questions may arise about things on TV - concepts of death, an afterlife etc. give actual factual explanations of these.

If I had kids, I would only share my own beliefs, as they may be interested. They may follow these, they may not. I would phrase it as 'I don't think there is a god, as do many others, but other people and cultures do think there is a god'.
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Last edited by c2105026; 9th May 2017 at 11:03 PM.
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  #28  
Old 10th May 2017, 12:24 AM
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Goldenmane Goldenmane is offline
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

Quote:
c2105026 said View Post
Gonna get flamed for this.

IMHO - don't.

To reinforce atheism in a child is ethically no better than reinforcing any other belief system. You might be completely 100% convinced that you are correct. So do the Christian and Muslim etc parents who indocrinate their children.

Let them go. By all means - tell them about evolution in an age-appropriate way, teach them about wonders of science - albeit at a simple level. God as a concept probably won't even come into it until the school years, when their peers may go to scripture - you opting out, obviously. By then, questions may arise about things on TV - concepts of death, an afterlife etc. give actual factual explanations of these.

If I had kids, I would only share my own beliefs, as they may be interested. They may follow these, they may not. I would phrase it as 'I don't think there is a god, as do many others, but other people and cultures do think there is a god'.
Not sure why you'd expect to get flamed for this, Cnumbers.

As I mentioned upthread, I'm an atheist activist, but I don't impose that on my kid. I don't hide my opinions from him on any subjects, but I don't impose them on him either. I encourage discussion, and I encourage him to feel safe in both having a differing opinion on any given subject and in challenging me in such circumstances.

I agree with you if you are saying what I think you are, that insisting our offspring adopt our own views is entirely antithetical to both how we came to identify as atheist freethinkers, and how we would want our kids to live.

I've said it so often it's almost a fucking mantra at this point (which has acknowledged pitfalls): Dogma is the death of the intellect. I don't want my kid to think like me, I want my kid to think effectively. The only way I want my kid to end up thinking how I think is if the ideas I have and espouse stand rigorous fucking scrutiny.

I don't want my kid telling his mates that Santa doesn't exist, "because Dad told me he didn't."

The problem with making your kids think like you is at least two-fold: 1) If you're lucky, it won't fucking work; and 2) You've already lost all that youthfull flexibility. Kids shouldn't behave like old men, or you'd have been dancing the same fucking polka your dad was, and stoning the gays. No one would be able to program anything, and we would quite literally still be in the fucking trees.

So, yeah. If C#s is on the flamewalk, count me in.
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  #29  
Old 10th May 2017, 12:34 PM
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

I don't think there is anything wrong with canalising a child's thought patterns. Teach critical thinking properly, demonstrating it's value and power, will cause the child to come to the right conclusions.

It is not a matter of instilling particular beliefs [or non-beliefs], but giving the child the tools to think properly.

In the age of twatter and feces-book, people are encouraged only to "like" or "dislike" something or "friend" or "de-friend" someone. It is as if using reason, or considering evidence has become "sinful" [not just in a religious sense], but in a social/cultural sense. Shallowness is in fashion.

Yes, the religious are just as certain as we are that there is god or gods. Big fucking deal. They are certain of that because many people believe it, and have believed it for a long time. They don't believe it because there is evidence for god, they don't believe it because god makes sense. They believe it because they haven't thought about the matter. At least they have not thought with the tools used for thought, they just "feel" it. Which in my book, means an absence of thought.

We don't need to practice "cultural cringe" because we have method and epistemology for what we don't believe. Our best educated guess is that there are no fucking gods, and even if they are the characters on offer aren't worth pissing on, never mind worshipping. And why should one have to worship even a "good" god.

What the flying fuck is that?

If the religious have a better epistemology than playing with their bum custard like a gypsy reading tea leaves for their gods, then I am willing to listen.

OK kids don't have very sophisticated brains. But they are plenty smart enough to learn the basics.

What we can tell them is that no-one knows stuff absolutely, and anybody who claims that is either lying or deluded.

Religion is all about political and social control. Therefore it should have no sacred cows, and our children need to be aware of this.

What I would point out to them, is that religious beliefs [or the lack of them] can be dangerous, because most people don't think. So they should be careful when, where and to who they communicate their opinions.
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  #30  
Old 10th May 2017, 04:35 PM
stevebrooks stevebrooks is offline
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Default Re: When to tell a child there is no god ?

Quote:
c2105026 said View Post
Gonna get flamed for this.

IMHO - don't.

To reinforce atheism in a child is ethically no better than reinforcing any other belief system. You might be completely 100% convinced that you are correct. So do the Christian and Muslim etc parents who indocrinate their children.

This is not a flame BTW just something to think on.


You say "to reinforce atheism" and then "any other belief system."


It's a fundamental mistake in your statement, Atheism is not a belief system so you can't reinforce it, from the moment your child is born there is no belief in god. For some people that's neither a position of atheism or theism, for others they argue that everyone is born an atheist, but whichever position you take it comes down to this, a newborn child does not have a belief in a god or gods.


Their entire life, from then on, consists of relatives, politicians, priests, preachers, nuns, spiritualists and other various types of charlatans trying to impress a belief in god or spirit or soul, call it what you will. The two actions, stating there is no god or trying to impress a belief in god are not equal propositions.


Just saying there is no god is not reinforcing atheism at all, it's not anywhere even near equivalent to the pressures to believe that a child is surrounded with. If you just leave a child to the devices of others that child will believe and probably take most of his/her life trying to shrug off that influence of that belief, which in some cases can be very bad. In many cases it's neutral, in very few cases it can be good, but I have never seen a valid argument that the same good wouldn't still be around if belief in god didn't exist.


To claim that ethically they are equivalent is also not a supportable position, one is based on evidence, rational and logical thought, the other based on unproven assumptions and fairy tales, so no, in my opinion your point fails severely.
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