A question regarding our children

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Dylan George's picture
A question regarding our children

I am a non-believer, or better yet, just consider myself in the vein of the
late Hitchens, an anti-theist, in that I detest any and all forms the
idea of religion.

I’ve been divorced from my first wife, who is an evangelical Christian,
for a couple of years now, and we had two children together, two children
with whom I love very deeply.

Just the other day during my portion of our time sharing week, my children,
daughter who is five, son who is four, came home to tell me that they dare
not lie. That lying will send them to the “devil”.

I don’t even know how to sum up just how disgusted I was/am. The thought
of my two children having to grow up with fear for, and, unconditional
severality towards fictional beings.

Now that these seeds have unfortunately been planted, when and how would be
the correct time and way to explain to them that there is nothing to be
afraid of? When and how can I explain to them that there is no evidence to
suggest that they need to be afraid of an imaginary fireman underground who
knows when you lie?

Please help.

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CyberLN's picture
Hi Dylan,

Hi Dylan,

I raised four kids without any gods. Others in their lives had gods and I got questions about it. It’s inevitable.

The first I’d encourage you to make only “I” statements...”I think differently”. “I don’t believe that”. Etc.

They may or may not pursue the conversation further. Be honest. Keep it short and simple (at this age) then go out in the back yard and play...because, really, they just don’t give as big a shit about gods as their mother does. They are probably WAY more interested in legos and ice cream.

They may come back some anger from their mother in their pockets. If they share it with you, just let them know it’s okay that she and you disagree. Kids often experience some anxiety when their parents disagree so keep it light right now. It doesn’t need to be a big deal.

The proof will be in the pudding. They will grow up seeing you be a loving, decent, honest, kind person (hopefully you are those things ;) ) and that’s what will leave an impression...that someone can be decent without any gods.

Teach them to question things...give them that skill...you can do it with subjects other than gods. That way, they will learn the skill likely with a lot less anxiety.

Go for a walk in the park. Get a caterpillar and let them see it change into a butterfly....start introducing them to science NOW, in fun ways.

Keep at it. Be gentle. Talk with other non-believer parents of wee kids.

Trust yourself.

arakish's picture
⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ WHAT SHE SAID

⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ WHAT SHE SAID ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑

And @ Dylan,

My wife and I raised twin daughters allowing them to think for themselves, allowing them to seek knowledge for themselves, allowing them to answer their own questions, allowing them to be themselves.

The "god" questions/statements are going to be as Agent Smith put it to Neo, “It is inevitable.

You ain't going to be able to stop it. Currently, I am also writing a Treatise in response to this article I found in my Email In-Box: How Cults Made America because I feel some of what he has written in his article about that book is asinine, inane, risible, fallacious. As I am sure the book is also. Going to have to buy, read it, and write the author with the same treatise.

That is the biggest problem with America. Although its founding fathers, and the founding documents they wrote, are completely secular, as are most of the founding laws, you have to realize that America was initially founded by the religious rejects of Europe for over 350 years. Thus, the largest population group in America is still nothing more than the Religious Absolutist Rejects of the world. They infiltrated our government and converted it into a religious terrorist organization, just like Islam has done to so many countries.

As soon as ALL Free Thinking Rationalists recognize ALL religion for the Mental Disorder, Mental Disease, Treacherous Lies, and Treasonous Hypocrisy that it is, religion shall always have a strangle hold on the masses. Some of me favorite quotes:

Religion is not merely a tool to oppress the masses, it is a self perpetuating scam that leads the masses to oppress themselves.” — Micheal Sherlock

One of the greatest tragedies in mankind’s entire history may be that morality was hijacked by religion. So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn’t require religion at all. Religion is the most malignant of all mind viruses.” — Arthur C Clarke

Men rarely, if ever, manage to dream up a God superior to themselves. Most Gods have the manners and morals of a childish, spoiled brat.” — Robert A Heinlein

And something I have said many times here:

I publicly argue passionately against any religion. I publicly question any religion. I publicly laugh at any religion. I publicly shame any religion. I publicly resist any religion. I publicly defile any religion.

Why? Because I believe in something too.

There is no philosophical ideology more divisive than religion. Religion does nothing but pervert, demoralize, subvert, and bribe all persons with the belief that it possesses the one and only truth. And, the worst part of ANY religion is that it is an ideology that is implicitly and explicitly protected from any and all criticism from both within and without. Why should any ideology, especially religion, be so privileged? Can you not see how disastrous this way of thinking can be? And is?

I believe religion is, and has always been, tremendously harmful to Humanity. I believe that religions, and their way of thinking, and their theological disagreements, have created the greatest violence, destruction, injury, death, bigotry, harm, immorality, intolerance, wickedness, and abuse to the Homo sapiens species than any other cause. The main problem is not religious fundamentalism, but the fundamentals of religion. Religion’s loose version of “morality,” has NO place in a civilized society. In fact, religion itself HAS NO PLACE IN ANY SOCIETY.

Sure. You can argue that it is the extremists, not the doctrine. All this says to me is that you have never truly read the various doctrines. It is both. Extremists might be using it as an excuse, but it is an excuse that the religious texts readily provide. I firmly believe, and shall take this belief to my grave, that the human species would have been much better off had there NEVER been ANY form of religion.

I see NO evidence, whatsoever, of ANY gods, whatsoever, but plenty of evidence of religion’s harm.

And I am a lot more concerned with the welfare of my fellow human beings than I am about “offending” or “hurting the feelings” of people who choose to believe in the faerie tales of an obsolete, irrelevant, barbaric, savage, and unsubstantiated, immoral Bronze and Iron Age religious texts that are over 1½ millenia out of date.

Ultimately, it is Religion that is Humanity’s worst enemy.

Offended? So the fuck what!

Dylan, you may already think as I have written above. CyberLN gave you same advice I would. If your children ask questions, then answer them truthfully and honestly from the first-person perspective.

Do not tell them that your beliefs are the only true truth. Try to teach them as me wife and I taught our daughters. “Seek the answers for yourself. Investigate. NEVER accept anything at face value. Autopsy the damn thing. And if all fails, teach them the proper usage of the WWW (World Wall of Why).” Of course, try not to use the harsh language although I did with me daughters because I had no problem with anybody using the CORRECT harsh word for the CORRECT form of emphasis.

************************************************************

Here is something from my WWW site …

The Walls of Why
================

This was something that me dad started. No matter where we lived, me dad always built a large set of shelves which usually covered the largest wall of the house. Upon these shelves is where me dad kept all the encyclopedias, National Geographic, Scientific American, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, textbooks, science books, mechanics books, etc., etc., etc.

When I started really reading books (about 4 years old and anything NOT that nasty ass Bible), it was to these shelves me dad always told me to look for the answer to any question I may have. He always called this wall, the Wall of Why. Thus, if I ever had a question, he’d just say, “Check the Wall of Why first.” And if I did not find the answer after enough time, usually 30 to 60 minutes, then I could ask him for help. Hell, and this is something it seems no one else in this entire world can comprehend, I even found it interesting and fascinating to literally read the dictionary. Who in their right mind actually reads the dictionary and finds it fascinating. Only a true Geek.

Once I had me own home, me dad gave me all of everything from his Wall of Why, saying, “For your children.” And because I was collecting me own set of textbooks, magazines, and other books, I actually had to donate three walls for shelving in me first house, four walls in me second house. It was then I began calling them the “Walls of Why.” And I passed on the same lesson to me twin daughters. Of course, my three/four Walls of Why were more intimidating than me dad’s single Wall of Why.

Of course, when me daughters turned 13, we had a new thing that was just beginning: the WWW, or as I call it, the World Wall of Why. If properly done, anyone can now find the answers they want with a decently written search parameter at Bing. No. I do not use Google. I have always found what I was searching for faster, easier, better with any other search engine other than Google. The only thing I ever used Google for, before Bing came out, was for image searches. Hell, now I no longer even use Google for anything. I use Bing.

Why? Because Bing returns results based on "relevance" instead of "paid positioning" as Google does. My true honest opinion of Google? "Fuck Google." The only good Google has ever done is the Android engine based on the Red Hat Linux OS. Also an honest opinion, "Fuck Apple."

Anyway, perhaps some of you out there may get the idea of creating your own Walls of Why. Also “Teach Your Children How to Think Instead of Telling Them What to Think.” Although there is the WWW, I still prefer the old school method from when I was in college of actually hunting down a book in a library, photocopying a few to beaucoup pages, so I can “steal” its information for my References and Works Cited pages.

Copyright © 2018 by Concept Visions, LLC

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2018 by Concept Visions, LLC

Well, I have ranted enough. Got to that under control. Damnit! Sorry.

rmfr

many EDITs: misspellings, correcting HTML Entities, and bunches typos

Rohan M.'s picture
Tell them that they really

Tell them that they really have nothing to be afraid of (as there is no Satan), but also that lying is still generally not a good idea unless they have a very good reason to (and that such circumstances do exist despite the religious absolutist position).

Another thing that I would suggest that you do is have them actually read the Buybull from cover to cover (like they would read any other novel), in addition to having them read the scriptures of other religions, e.g. the Quran, so that they have a mode of comparison- something that is kryptonite to any form of religious brainwashing.

NeverHappened's picture
Sam Harris has argued that

Sam Harris has argued that there is NO valid reason to lie, ever.

The one lie everyone of us confronts is the need to say 'your baby is so cute'. (no matter what)

Cognostic's picture
@NeverHappened: Ha ha ha ha

@NeverHappened: Ha ha ha ha ha ha .... Sam Lied.
"Honey, do I look fat in this dress?" I want to hear him tell his wife that she looks like a pig. Ha ha ha ha ha .......

watchman's picture
@Dylan George ….

@Dylan George ….

I can do no more than agree totally with CyberLN …… she has pretty much nailed it.....

but ,perhaps just one point...… almost certainly at some point in the future you are going to be accused of being a poor parent/guardian/role model on the grounds of your atheism.

In order to prepare for this eventuality I would suggest keeping a "diary" of occasions where your children come to you with these theist memes of the sort that you mention. Thus enabling you to present to your ex with details of the times she has allowed your children to be traumatised by her superstitions. Other than that Cyber has it covered.

arakish's picture
⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ AND WHAT SHE

⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ AND WHAT SHE SAID ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑ ⇑

Hell, I just might would record such things visually (vidcam) and/or audially (digirecord).

rmfr

LogicFTW's picture
Hard to add to CyberLN's

Hard to add to CyberLN's great response to you, and she is an actual parent, (where I am not,) My parents separated when I was young, my dad being more religious and my mother being atheist. Fortunately my dad never really pressed the religious thing, but still, I was never even really close to being "religious" even with exposure to it.

Fortunately, (well depending on where you live) society as a whole is turning away from religion, even if people claim they are christian etc. Many people barely go to church and barely give it a 2nd thought 99% of the time. Much of popular media avoids the subject, and as long as the school your kids go to is secular (as it should be if it is a public school, separation of church and state and all that,) I would think even the kids mother's influence on this is fairly minimal.

Show your kids the rational evidence based approach to all things in life and hint that these same powerful useful tools also apply to religion. Kids are so smart, they can figure out for themselves the major flaws with the various religious ideas, you just have to nurture those ideas and tell them they are not wrong to doubt religion's claims. Without extensive brainwashing from the religious community it should be a fairly easy "trap" for your kids to avoid. I would say as long as you remain a major part of your kids lives, the chances that they will be atheist or close to it remain very high. Again a lot of this has to do with where the kids live, if they live in a rural community in the bible belt of the US that fight is going to be harder. Where if they live somewhere like San Francisco city, you probably would have to do nothing at all, the kids mother would be a lone "crazy" voice in ocean of rational minds that reject the unevidenced god idea.

Grinseed's picture
I found speaking softly and

I found speaking softly and plainly to explain things to my kids worked much better than lecturing. Both are now independent adults and atheists.

For an example my daughter was barely 8 years old when, in a debate with her older brother, she declared humans were not animals. She'd been attending after school care at the church next door. We allowed them the freedom to explore everyone else's ideas and values but encouraged questions on any subject. Nothing was taboo.
Her brother remonstrated with her but got nowhere.
I had been preparing a family meal, the wife on a business trip, and I spoke quietly from the kitchen. I knew they were both listening from the silence.
I used "I statements" just as Cyber LN (who certainly has nailed it, once more. Bloody good post LN!) has suggested. I mentioned the many ways we were similar to many animals, lizards, birds, every mammal, with one head, two eyes, two ears, a skeletal system that was largely similar and even our blood was the same colour. I finished with a simple I statement. 'I think we are animals, but our brains make us different from other animals in the same way wings make birds different from other animals. We can think about our relationship with them in ways they simply cant."
My daughter adamantly derided the idea. I left it at that.

A few weeks later, in a discussion with her friends I overheard her confidently asserting that we were all animals. Ever since she has been a staunch advocate for animal welfare. She's in her early 30s.

When I was her age I was adamantly religious, to my family's surprise. I use to voluntarily attend Sunday schools in five or six different local churches in turn and I took myself there with the purpose of finding God. I found a lot more than just that. My mother freaked out that I might become something other than an Anglican though she never went to church nor was overtly religious. What I eventually became was something she might have thought far worse than any nightmare, the poor dear.

Its a difficult position you are in. I assume you share custody. Don't worry about their indoctrination. Kids know bullshit when they hear it, they just need a balance of information.
They can work out the truth themselves, but only when they hear it. Just be there for them. The right moments for you to speak will come and when it happens, speak confidently and quietly, state your points and never argue. Kids only need arguments to reassure themselves that whatever idea they currently hold is the right one. Vindication through defiance or something like that. Just like a lot of theists.

It worked for me with my kids many times on many issues, like sex, death, war all the three thousand deadly sins. Perhaps it was because I was their dad or I kept constant in my approach, but when they understand what you believe, but not necessarily accepting everything you believe, they will come to you as a first source of information and advice.

Relax. Be the cool dad.

Cognostic's picture
I care for two step children,

I care for two step children, both girls, 12 and 14. They were raised religious. Their mother is hanging on to a belief in god but not in any Church sense and fully gets that the Church is a fucking con game that rapes the poor of all they own. She lives in the Philippines and everyone is aware that I think God is on par with Santa Claus.

Okay, what do I do. I don't take anything religiously stated as serious. When they go to church, I tell them to have fun talking with the magic people. The other day they brought up something about Jesus loving children and I asked why there were so many dirty starving children sleeping in the doorways down town. They had no answer so mom jumped to the rescue. "Jesus is testing them." I SHIT YOU NOT. My response, "Then Jesus is a fucking asshole." Literally! Probably the first time they ever heard me swear. What if you mommy takes you down town and drops you off to test your love? Are you crazy? That is not how anyone that loves you treats you.

Anyway, as they come up with statements or comments, I throw little barbs their way. They pray to God and I pray to the teddy bear. It's the same thing. I find ways to poke fun. I tell them they can not go to the bathroom or take a shower until God comes out of the bathroom, either he is everywhere and watching or he is not. I just have fun with the silliness of the beliefs. I do not tell them what to believe. I never told them that there was not a god. I just treat it like a silly idea and of course tell them that "I don't believe in silly ideas." I don't treat any of it with any degree of seriousness.

arakish's picture
@ Dylan

@ Dylan

And later, when they are old enough to understand and they ask, just tell them how irrational it is to believe in lies created by fallacious men, which is all that the Bible is. I spent 30 years traveling the Greater Levant region attempting to discover the truth of the Bible only to prove it nothing more than a collected anthology of lies plagiarized from myths and legends that are older than the Bible and Hebrew (Jews, Israelites, Whatthefuckeverites), many thousands of years older.

Notes:

  • BCE = Before Common Era, formerly BC
  • CE = Common Era, formerly AD

Start by showing them (when old enough) how the Noahacian Flood Myth (one of my specialty research projects) was plagiarized as follows:

  1. Noahacian Flood Myth written 450 BCE was plagiarized from the Epic of Gilgamesh.
  2. The Epic of Gilgamesh written 1600 BCE was plagiarized from the Epic of Atra-Hasis.
  3. The Epic of Atra-Hasis written 1700 BCE was plagiarized from the Epic of Ziusudra.
  4. The Epic of Ziusudra written 1900 BCE was plagiarized from the Genesis of Enridu.
  5. The Genesis of Enridu written 2000 BCE was perhaps the “word-of-mouth” passage of the true cataclymic flood that occured in 2900 BCE.

For a little further information on a sort essay I wrote (without citations) as a primer for the longer Treatise I am still working on, here is the WWW page: The Noahacian Flood Story.

Best advice, do some of your own research into the validity of the Bible and its religion. NEVER rely on what others may tell you. Prove me wrong before you even think of me being correct. Prove me to be the liar. I welcome it. Correct my mistakes.

Please.

rmfr

Rohan M.'s picture
Excellent essay. Very

Excellent essay. Very insightful and well thought-out. It offers a very interesting and revealing perspective about how the flood myth may have been originally inspired.

Randomhero1982's picture
Blimey, I truly consider

Blimey, I truly consider myself lucky with my partner!

Whilst she believes in some sort of God (she is C of E) she doesnt practice religion or go to any churches etc...

And we both agreed prior to having kids we would allow them to work things out for themselves.

So far I've only had our 7yr old touch base on theology once after his grandad passed away from a short and brutal 3 month battle with metastatic cancer last year.

He asked if he had gone to heaven.

This initially caught me off guard, but I told him that I didnt know but that I did know that he was no longer suffering and that is what is important.

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