Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Force-feeding faith to tiny tots

Despite the steaming hot editorial imprecations flowing forth from the BM, it is emphatically not the case that we unbelievers are indoctrinating our children.  This is not a case of pot and kettle, this is a case of the purest tu quoque.  We freethinkers want our children to learn to think for themselves.  We don't just tell them what to believe but rather we try to teach them how to think, how to separate the wheat of rationality and evidence from the chaff of fallacy and myth.  We do this, in part, by exposing them to all sorts of various worldviews and letting them discern for themselves which ones to believe. 


A confident worldview, firmly rooted in reality, need not isolate and indoctrinate its children, forcing them to repeatedly intone the creeds that they must needs believe, cocooning them in an echo-chamber of Sunday Schools and  private Christian Academies or home-schools.  We freethinkers allow our children to interact with people of any faith or none, having confidence in their ability to learn to reason for themselves.  We feel free to take them to Christian services, Baha'I services, Jewish synagogues, Wiccan rituals, Humanist/Unitarian services, and anything else we can find to broaden their horizons.  Having seen all these for myself, I can say that few congregations are so pathetic as those which feel the need to constantly reassure themselves (and their children) that the object of their devotion is really real.  Here are some lyrics on point:


I believe I believe that God is here
I believe I believe that God is here
I believe I believe that God is here

(Moen, Overstreet; © 1997 Integrity's Hosanna! Music


Offhand, I cannot think of anything more indicative of a deep-seated need to compensate for a total dearth of evidence ("We have ancient books!") than standing and swaying and repeating lines such as these over and over (and over).  I also cannot think of anything more personally stultifying, but I sit through it, gritting my teeth and humming vaguely along, because it is important to me that my children learn to understand the cultural milieu into which they were born, without which they cannot hope to understand why their neighbors behave as they do.  Now, have you Baptists ever showed your children a Dawkins film, in an attempt to expose them to other worldviews than your own?  Ever take them to an Orthodox or Catholic church to witness a liturgical service?  Ever take them to meet the friendly Unitarians or the Soka Gakkai Buddhists at the Gay Pride Festival?  Given them a book by Philip Pullman?  I didn't think so.  You are too threatened by the mere possibility of heresy and apostasy to even contemplate allowing your kids to sort such things out for themselves. 


Why is that, exactly?  I suspect it is because you fear you might face the unimaginable "wrath stored up for a man who would obstruct children from coming to Jesus" with which Mr. Prentice so unsubtly threatens his readers.  This should give us all pause.  What sort of Heavenly Father gives his children such an ultimatum?  Love Me or Burn!  This is an abusive father figure if ever there was one.  Somebody call the metaphysical DHS! 


Seriously, though, if you Baptists want to teach your children to tremble in fear of a cosmic ruler who fully intends to torture most of his subjects forever for the victimless crime of improper belief, so be it, that is your right as an American.  All we ask is that you respect our right to raise our children to think for themselves, instead of teaching them rely upon ancient documents of questionable provenance to provide all the important answers about life, the universe, and everything.