Thursday, December 13, 2007

Belief and skepticism at the dinner table

My son has announced at the dinner table that he believes in God, twice this week.
(He's being indoctrinated by his school friends again.)

His little sister gave him a withering look each time and said "I don't."

This is no big deal. He's only eight and in a sea of godbottery, so it's not a big surprise that he picks up some of it. With Christmas coming, of course, they're practicing carols for the school christmas concert and stuff, so the exposure to that has had him thinking about it even more than usual.

Personally, I'm not even going to try to disabuse him of it. Not yet anyway, he's still a kid. Unless he tries to engage me in a conversation dealing with the merits of the position, in which case I may try a little gentle exposure to the bible and the actual beliefs of a few other religions. Curing only his ignorance of what belief in deities carries with it will probably be all he'll need, though it may take him a while to sort it all out once he knows a bit more.

He has a decent grounding in looking for evidence. He knows that not everything someone tells him is going to be true. He loves science. He adores the Mythbusters. It all has an impact.

He has expressed open skepticism in a number of beliefs that come with Christianity. Angels make no sense to him - none whatever - and he rejects them as made up. He doesn't believe that a star appeared over the inn where Jesus was born (he already knows that the stars are really far away, so whatever happened, it cannot have been a star dangling over Jesus' birthplace that they saw.)

So he's not particularly gullible - in fact, I have to say he may well be less gullible than I was. I am proud that he's applying logic to what he's hearing - that will stand him in good stead. He's a great kid.

I've told both my kids "Good on your for saying what you think".

I think that I will be helping my kids more by encouraging them to seek their own answers and ask their own questions (even when they come to conclusions I disagree with) than by trying to get them to believe what I do. I want to give them tools that help them figure out the world, not my answers. If I give them tools, they can go where I have not. If I give them answers, they may never realize that there may be better questions and better answers than mine.

And I think the world needs better questions and better answers.

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