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Children and religion

GUEST,winterbright 10 Oct 06 - 10:41 PM
Little Hawk 10 Oct 06 - 03:33 PM
Mrrzy 10 Oct 06 - 02:42 PM
Little Hawk 07 Oct 06 - 04:38 PM
BuckMulligan 07 Oct 06 - 04:25 PM
Little Hawk 07 Oct 06 - 02:04 PM
BuckMulligan 07 Oct 06 - 08:42 AM
Little Hawk 06 Oct 06 - 09:08 PM
BuckMulligan 06 Oct 06 - 08:52 PM
Little Hawk 06 Oct 06 - 08:06 PM
BuckMulligan 06 Oct 06 - 07:29 PM
Amos 06 Oct 06 - 05:14 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 04:11 PM
Little Hawk 06 Oct 06 - 04:08 PM
BuckMulligan 06 Oct 06 - 03:57 PM
Jeri 06 Oct 06 - 03:52 PM
MMario 06 Oct 06 - 03:39 PM
MMario 06 Oct 06 - 03:37 PM
Little Hawk 06 Oct 06 - 03:30 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 03:19 PM
BuckMulligan 06 Oct 06 - 03:09 PM
Little Hawk 06 Oct 06 - 02:55 PM
BuckMulligan 06 Oct 06 - 02:50 PM
Little Hawk 06 Oct 06 - 02:46 PM
Amos 06 Oct 06 - 02:28 PM
Mrrzy 06 Oct 06 - 02:28 PM
MMario 06 Oct 06 - 01:37 PM
Emma B 06 Oct 06 - 01:32 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 01:30 PM
PoppaGator 06 Oct 06 - 01:26 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 01:24 PM
Mrrzy 06 Oct 06 - 01:12 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 01:07 PM
Mrrzy 06 Oct 06 - 01:04 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 01:03 PM
Jeri 06 Oct 06 - 12:58 PM
Mrrzy 06 Oct 06 - 12:58 PM
MMario 06 Oct 06 - 12:49 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Oct 06 - 12:44 PM
PoppaGator 06 Oct 06 - 12:31 PM
Big Mick 06 Oct 06 - 12:10 PM
Amos 06 Oct 06 - 11:31 AM
Jeri 06 Oct 06 - 11:08 AM
MMario 06 Oct 06 - 08:44 AM
Paul Burke 06 Oct 06 - 05:37 AM
Joe Offer 06 Oct 06 - 01:18 AM
The Villan 06 Oct 06 - 12:40 AM
George Papavgeris 05 Oct 06 - 10:26 PM
Ron Davies 05 Oct 06 - 08:57 PM
Big Mick 05 Oct 06 - 07:16 PM
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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: GUEST,winterbright
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 10:41 PM

I've only just tuned into this and don't have time to read through all the dialogs. However, as a religious educator (Unitarian Universalist), I often recall a story about someone showing their garden to a guest who believed that children should be left to determine their own religion when they were "old enough". The garden was thickly overgrown with weeds. "I'm just letting the garden determine for itself what it wants to be without imposing my thinking on it," was the host's statement.
The point of this (which I hope I haven't garbled with imperfect quoting) is that if parents don't influence their children, then everyone and anyone with whom they come in contact WILL!
Children will most likely decide for themselves what they believe as they grow up, no matter how they were raised. Their beliefs may change over time. But we need to give them something to work from, otherwise they are fair game for anyone who tells them "I know The Way."
One of the things I love about being a "UU" is that no-one in our (widely varied) churches will tell you what you have to believe. It is up to the individual to seek truth and meaning for her/himself. It's not for everyone - but it works for some of us.
The hardest thing, though, for me to get across to the kids I work with is that we need to respect the beliefs of others - even if we disagree with them. Most churches do not tell their children that.

That's all. I may or may not not get back to this thread again, but I sure appreciate the forum format.
Pat G.
Brunswick, ME


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 03:33 PM

Oh, I've got some books here about the dangers and historical misuses and screwups of vaccination that would put you in a total nervous collapse, Mrzzy. ;-) You have not even BEGUN to worry yet.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 02:42 PM

Back to the thread: what about not getting children vaccinated, or not letting them learn real science? The Intelligent Design movement in particular (FYI, this is the latest American christiofascist attempt to get creationism taught alongside if not instead of evolution in science classes) has me very worried. Not to mention the latest mumps outbreak here at UVA...


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 04:38 PM

Yeah, there's the 4rth dimension of time, as you say. It's a bit different, because it isn't tactile or physical in nature. There may yet be further dimensions. The Hindus also believe that there is one transcendent God or Divine which is inclusive of all and is inexpressible, and then they have pantheons of gods and goddesses and demons and so on under that...all of which represent various parts of the whole.

I haven't read Athanasius, so I can't comment on that.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 04:25 PM

actually there are at least four dimensions (duration) and string theory postulates many more, possibly an infinitude of dimensions available in the physical world. I don't think the holy spirit is really a hebrew concept, is it? What amazes and amuses me is the sophistical gymnastics the "church fathers" (Athanasius particularly) indulged to justify a multiplicity of deities in a "monotheistic" cult. It's a "mystery" indeed.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 02:04 PM

The concept of a trinity is fine with me....for this reason: We live in a physical world of 3 dimensions. I think that has much to do with religious notions of the trinity, which again is symbolic. A static object (like a stool or an airplane, for example) needs at least 3 legs to stand on. A family is a trinity: mother, father, child. Material things exist in a trinity: solids, liquids, gases. Is it at all surprising, given these things, that people would theorize a triune aspect to God as God relates to Creation? Not to me it isn't.

All numbers have significance in sacred traditions. If you posit the idea of God at all...then you are assuming that everthing derives from God, including numbers. You begin with "1"...a seamless unity (before the Big Bang?). The one divides itself into "2", and you have light and darkness...which means you can now see opposites! Major occurrence! The light and darkness interact, and you have progeny....(that is, physical things come into existence)...and there you have your worlds of 3 dimensions.

That's one way of interpreting it.

The ancient Hebrews had the odd idea of taking the trinity (Father, Mother, Child) and officially editing out the female portion and turning it instead into an indeterminate, genderless thing called the "Holy Spirit"! Heh! They must have been VERY patriarchal indeed. I think they went astray there with their symbology. God, to be God at all, must combine the masculine and feminine aspects in an equal fashion.

My opinion, again... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 07 Oct 06 - 08:42 AM

I recommend that you don't even try to wrap your mind around the concept of "trinity." (I can't)


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 09:08 PM

Oh, I see...

Well, there are quite a few Gods and Goddesses in various traditions that do symbolize attributes of character. This is the case in Hinduism, the Greek and Roman pantheons, and a number of others. The Aztecs and Mayans also had different gods to represent various things...such as a god of war, for example.

Then you have the monotheistic religions where a great many attributes are assigned to one ruling God...while various saints and Angelic figures under that God tend to specialize in certain attributes that stem from that one God. Oddly enough the Judeo-Christian faiths claim to have only ONE God...but...they really have two! The "good" God...God/Jehovah. And the "bad" God...Satan...who is, of course, seen is "smaller", so speak, than the "good" God.

This is just plain silly, in my opinion. A transcendent One God either encompasses everything...or he/she/it doesn't. You can't have a dichotomy in a one-God system.

But that's just my opinion... ;-) It's worth slightly less than a pinch of salt in the grand scheme of things.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 08:52 PM

Perhaps I was being pedantic in my evaluation of the term "allegory." It's somewhat specific in literary criticism and indicates a literary character representing an attribute of character like "greed" or "charity." It isn't a generic synonym for "symbol."


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 08:06 PM

Fights over competing allegorical and symbolic concepts have been going on for hundreds of thousands of years, and still are. ;-) People's problem is, they take their chosen symbols of tribe, nation, religion, culture, and identity WAY too seriously...and fail to respect other people's symbols of the same things.

The same is true in sports events, actually. You take 50,000 fairly normal people, get them all hyped up over some nonsense like two hockey teams named "The Flames" and "The Broncos" (or whatever the hell name someone chose for them)...and those fairly normal people will paint the team symbols on their faces, yell obscenities at the Ref and each other, get into fights with the players, riot, destroy property, and generally make complete asses of themselves over something that, frankly, is arbitrary, was made-up by someone, and doesn't matter anyway. Heh!

How is that much different in sentiment from wars based on ideology or religion? It's different in degree, but not in sentiment.

You're dead right about the nutbars at the Jesus Camp, Clinton. What I do with people like that is...I avoid them if at all possible. Likewise, I avoid little mobs of drunken, hell-raising idiot sports fans who are mad because their team just lost the big game...

I do my best to avoid all literal-minded zealots, whatever the heck their zealotry is based on.

Buck - The religious figure or icon (as shown in a statue, a painting, a representation of a god, a goddess, a saint, or any form of holy symbol) can represent just about anything. As to what it does represent in any one case, you'd have to ask the person who reveres it, I suppose...if they're given thought to the matter.

Statues of Buddhas normally represent the original teacher of Buddhism, Guatama Buddha...or they may represent various other Buddhas (enlightened people) who came after him in that tradition, and they can also represent qualities of the conscious mind, such as serenity, peace, compassion, wisdom, etc. As such, they serve as a focal point for other people to pay respect to the tradition or to focus upon while trying to meditate and reach enlightenment themselves, I would think. They are meant to inspire what they represent.

Really, the use of such symbols is endless in its variety.

Look at all the political symbols in use by America: the flag, the American Eagle (shown on crests and coins), the bald eagle, the "All-Seeing Eye" (a masonic symbol), the Pyramid, the scroll, the Greek columns on public buildings, the Fasces (a sheaf of arrows tied together, symbolizing the strength of many joined together as one), the white star (there are many meanings ascribed to it), the red and white stripes and blue field (blood, spirit, and emotion...or land, sky, and water), the "Uncle Sam" figure, the dollar symbol, and so on and so on. All that is very mystical stuff, much of it going straight back to the Roman Empire and before that to Egypt! What it amounts to is this: they are magical symbols of a state and national religion...one that was formed by a group of Masons and based upon Masonic knowledge going back thousands of years to ancient Egypt and maybe even before that.

That's a religion, and a very potent one. A political religion. America is presently involved in a huge religious war, a world crusade...one which goes far beyond conventional Christianity into some very mysterious esoteric stuff that most Christians know little or nothing about...but the people in command of the $ySStem DO know about it and they are using it very seriously.

So America is doing the same thing that they accuse the Muslim zealots of doing...they're trying to conquer the entire World for the sake of their crazy religion (in which $$$ money $$$ is the holy of holies...the sacred key of power). And they're far more dangerous, because they have ten thousand times as much firepower at their disposal as the Muslims and they are not reluctant in the least to use it.

I'm not in favour of religions being used to conquer and kill people, regardless of which religion it is.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 07:29 PM

LH - I'm not sure I'd subscribe to your usage of "allegorical" (what characteristic do you see them as emobdying?) but I certainly go along with your interpretation of mythopoesis as a universal psychological activity in the human brain/mind. Especially when you get more than two people together. Telling each other stories may well be the earliest "human" activity (yeah, I know there's eating & screwing, but monkeys do that too). (And yeah, I don't know for sure that monkey - or whales or slugs - don't tell each other stories.) The second oldest human activity is probably fighting over the stories.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Amos
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 05:14 PM

"This is war -- you're either on the side of OUR allegory, or you're a goddamned Other Allegorist" "Which is it gonna be, kids!!??"


ROFLMAO!


A


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 04:11 PM

"ALL deities is this: they are allegorical"

Don't tell that to the zealots at Jesus Camp!

LOL


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 04:08 PM

That's interesting, Mario. Not the Taoism I know. I would have to assume that there are a number of varieties of Taoism out there...geared to different levels of awareness, I suppose.

My understanding of ALL deities is this: they are allegorical. They are symbols. They are personifications of great concepts. A rather simple person may take the viking god Thor as a literal being, for example. I would take Thor as a symbolic being...a metaphor for a force of order that takes on and defeats a force of chaos (as seen in the thunderstorm).

Statues, paintings, etc...of Buddhas or of any religious figure...serve as a focal point for focusing attention. That's useful for a lot of people. As such, you can take them literally if you wish to, but you don't have to.

They serve to inspire, that's all.

A nation's flag (like the USA's "Old Glory") does the same thing...in a different context. But it's just a piece of cloth or a picture of a piece of cloth, isn't it? So what's going on there? Sounds like a form of religious worship to me! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:57 PM

LH, the "no rules" comment was mostly a TIC dig at religious doctrine/dogma as "rules." Atheism does indeed have rules (again, IMO) but they're the rules by which the natural world operates, as we understand them based on empirical observation. There may be a variety of philosophies and practices that call themselves "atheisms" but if you get beyond "the evidence does not support the existence of a deity" then you're off into customization country. The answer to the basic question of "does spirituality depend on belief in a deity" is pretty plainly "nope" as far as I can see. Why should it?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:52 PM

Taoism was a philosophy that some incorporated into a religion. It still exists as ONLY a philosophy, which doesn't really contradict others - especially not Christianity.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: MMario
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:39 PM

Toaist Pantheon


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: MMario
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:37 PM

???? LH - if Buddhists and Toaist don't believe in dieties - what are all those entries in encyclopidias and sttues, paintings, etc labeled as members of the buddhist and Toaist pantheons?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:30 PM

Good point, Buck, good point. I think you're onto something for sure. For instance, Buddhists are both religious and spiritual, but they don't believe in a deity, they believe in a process of spiritual evolution toward enlightenment...enlightenment being a unitive state of oneness with everything.

Then there are Taoists. They don't believe in a deity either, they believe in a harmonious "Way" (the way things are, and the way things function) that can be seen in Nature, and they attempt to live by that Way.

I personally find Taoism to be an excellent way of looking at things.

So, yeah, you can be spiritual (even religious!) and NOT believe in a deity.

Is that the same as being an atheist? Some would say yes, some would say no. That would depend on their personal interpretation of the word "atheist".

I don't think atheism is based on "no rules", exactly. I think it's based on "no rules having been given out by a human-like deity with an identifiable name and personality". But again, it would depend on the variety OF atheism. There isn't just one kind of atheism, no more than there is one kind of religion.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:19 PM

" All that does is take away from human dignity"

See above re: Zealots denegrating "historical and scientific fact" with their "mythological truth"....

As if the latter was some how equal to the former


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 03:09 PM

Why not? Atheism (IMO) only holds that the evidence does not support the existence of a deity. Doesn't say anything about "soul" or "spirit" of an individual nohow. Many atheists don't believe in such things, but the great thing about atheism is "no rules," no?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 02:55 PM

Well, that's another whole area of discussion, I guess. What do you think? Can spiritual people be atheists?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 02:50 PM

surely "There are as many different kinds of atheists as there are different kinds of religious and spiritual people." didn't intentionally imply that atheists can't be spiritual people, right?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 02:46 PM

There are as many different kinds of atheists as there are different kinds of religious and spiritual people....and you can find fanatics, fools, reasonable people, great people, and brilliant people in either category.

It doesn't matter whether a child is brought up in a religion or not. It matters whether a child is brought up with good values or not...and good values are not limited to only one side of the divide that is being talked about in this thread.

I was brought up in an atheistic family, with reasonably good values, all things considered. Those values have served me well, both before I acquired spiritual beliefs and afterward. They have helped me avoid using my spiritual beliefs to harm people.

I'd rather hang out with an honest, responsible atheist than a crook (or an unpleasant idiot) who believes in God. ;-) I'd rather hang out with an honest, responsible member of any religion whatsoever than a crook (or an unpleasant idiot) who is an atheist.

I care about people's attitude a whole lot more than I care about whether or not they believe in some version of God.

Makes sense?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Amos
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 02:28 PM

An atheist does not hold a belief in a particular God, but someone who fills this definition can just as well keep his mind open to new possibilities based on new data.

This flexibility is a bit less available to someone who is hard over on a pre-defined answer to the question.

I see two sides to this quandary. On one side, it is imperative to any thinking person that he question authority and examine data for himself, critically, and be willing to accept new data even if it seems to undermine his present models of the world.

On the other hand, it is a matter of integrity to be true to what you yourself know to be true. If you have had a genuine out-of-body experience, in your own view, you would do yourself a disservice to bury it as a mere fantasy because you were told to do so by an overweening skeptical authority figure.

Similarly if you have seen and walked with Jesus in some spiritual plane or other, or talk4ed to God in a compellingly convincing way, you have a sort of obligation not to deny that that occurred, while at the same time being willing to question any conclusions you drew as to the nature of the event.

This is a tricky balance. For one thing the mind is incredibly plastic and can generate completely persuasive 3D, fully sensible views of things that may not even be there in an objective sense. For another thing, sometimes, but not always, a subjective experience like that is more "truthy" than adhering only to the objective standards of comonly-held matter and space.

I think this issue actually reflects the most fundamental dichotomy of the human experience, having a spiritual nature embedded in a material playground and being whiplashed between the two.

My 2 cents' worth, anyway.

A


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 02:28 PM

Mmario, atheists relegate the whole issue of deity to philosophy. It has nothing to do with the natural world. There are no gods in reality, and discussions of what can exist outside reality are philosophical.

ClintonHammond/Poppagator, it not only overcomplicates reality to "allow that there might be a Creator behind this natural world that operates on scientific principles" but it is irrelevant to said natural world. If you want to talk about "what" there was "before" the Big Bang, fine. What I object to is the permeation of reality with the idea that deity, in any form, can have any influence on actuality. All that does is take away from human dignity, and, for that matter, human indignity.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: MMario
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:37 PM

Mrrzy - I'm curious - your answer of 12:58 implies (or at least leads me to infer) that an atheist can believe in a diety?

I have always understood that by definition an atheist either has no belief in a god or gods; or believes that a god or gods cannot exist.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Emma B
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:32 PM

Fair to say I've never had any "problems" with Jehovahs Witnesses. I live in the last house in a rural community and in (non)Christian charity often invite them in for a drink and the use of the tiolet if they wish. During the last visit, a very hot summers day, I sat by the side of the pond drinking iced orange juice with two very polite women and explained my beliefs at some length - they listened politely but unfortunately one fell over and sprained her ankle when leaving - they ain't been back since!


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:30 PM

"Why not allow that there might be a Creator behind this natural world that operates on scientific principles?"

Because it unnecessarily over-complicates the whole universe...


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:26 PM

Mrrzy, you and I don't differ much, if at all, on the subject of accepting science, etc., and I'm probably as scornful of fundamentalism as you are.

Perhaps our most significant difference is that I'm a city kid, and have always lived in one fairly cosmopolitan area or another. If I had that Bible Belt bullshit up in my face all the time, I might feel just the way you do.

I probably overstated my point ~ sometimes I just can't help going overboard ~ but the gist of what I had hoped to communicate is just this: you can't prove a negative, and it's such a waste of energy and of human potential to insist that others adopt your belief that there is no such thing as God. Why not allow that there might be a Creator behind this natural world that operates on scientific principles?

Yeah, sure, religions can be blamed for a whole lot of things that have gone wrong throughout history, but they also have to be credited for a whole lot of things that have gone right. More to the point, humans are responsible for historical events, movements, tragedies, comedies, etc.

I don't believe in Santa Claus, and I don't believe in a God who is an old man with a white beard who sits on a cloud and listens to prayers to determine which football team is going to win on a given Saturday. I do believe that there is a spiritual reality far beyond what we can perceive with our senses, and that it behooves each of us to seek some kind of unity with that mysterious reality.

Oh, and Jeri ~ I wasn't thinking of you at all in my complaints about intolerance. I'm sure you can guess whose comments prompted my response...


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:24 PM

"the chance that the parents, in fear and loathing, instantly cancel any possibility of playdates with my kids"

Fear and ignorance rules a lot of peoples lives.... unfortunately


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:12 PM

Right! But smoke with smoke, and spark with spark... I don't go into the conversion mode in response to the aside about church, but I *do* make asides about atheism.
I just want them to realize that it is an existing world view, rather than something they've only heard of but couldn't happen here. It's kind of like coming out of the closet, I imagine. With the chance that the parents, in fear and loathing, instantly cancel any possibility of playdates with my kids.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:07 PM

" the way I treat all religious pushing is to push back roughly as much"

Fight fire with fire right?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:04 PM

Also, the way I treat all religious pushing is to push back roughly as much - say while setting up a play date someone says How about Sunday after church, I might say well, we're atheists, so anytime Sunday is fine, how's about 2:00? And when shall I come pick them up? Whereas if someone comes to my door with christian tracts, I say Oh, yes, I'd love to talk, I'm an atheist, you can try to convert me and I'll try to convert you. Our conversations rarely last very long and they hardly ever come back.
I once spent about a half hour with one of those guys with a huge cross - great story but too creepy, threadwise, I mean!


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:03 PM

"I encouraged my twins to learn all the mythologies"

A wonderful antibody....


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:58 PM

"Is there any belief system as smugly dogmatic as atheism? The conviction that "if I can't see it, it couldn't possibly exist" is pretty damned arrogant, and everything we've seen in this thread seems to indicate that those who insist on non-belief are among the most intolerant among us."

Excuse me, but how exactly did I come across as intolerant!?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:58 PM

Poppagator, I humblybeg to differ about atheism. It isn't the firm conviction of the impossibility of deity, it is the understanding that deity has no influence on the natural world. You say Atheism, on the other hand, is something else altogether. In order to maintain the dogmatic belief that an eternal spiritual/metphysical Being COULD NOT POSSIBLY EXIST, it seems to be psychologically necessary for the adherent to steadfastly maintain a petulant and scornful attitude toward all who disagree. Too bad all that energy couldn't be focused in a more positive direction.
I say rather that we allow that natural principles, such as those discovered by physics, chemistry, biochemistry and studies of electromagnetism or other means, explain the origins of life, the diversity of life, consciousness and the human experience of it all, without requiring supernatural explanations of anything. Our take is to look, for instance, at the beauty of a cathedral and the plain brick schoolhouses to think that it is the religious, instead, whose energy is regrettably misdirected.

But back to the thread: I live in the buckle on the US Bible Belt, and had to make efforts to counteract the common cultural acceptance of the reality of God (the Christian, oh, ok judeochristian one god to rule them all). Luckily, I grew up exposed to animism, islam, and christianity in fairly equal doses with judaism thrown in in occasional but large doses, so I encouraged my twins to learn all the mythologies, including the bible stories, and whenever they asked a question about the natural world I answered it based on reason and knowledge. They are fine upstanding young atheists who do the right thing because it is the right thing to do in this life, without worrying about invisible intangible beings who may influence some other life we aren't actually living.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: MMario
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:49 PM

just be a decent person who's honest about their beliefs, without making others feel bad about theirs.

sums it up for me. a goal for me to strive for.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:44 PM

"as much as a million years, maybe"
Any millions before that in 'pre-human form'....

"of summarily pronouncing people idiots and condemning them for their beliefs"
You only dislike it when YOU disagree....

"nobody has left Mudcat because of anything Mick said"
You're wrong Ron.... Plain and simple... I could name name, but it wouldn't serve any purpose, because they're no longer here.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:31 PM

Is there any belief system as smugly dogmatic as atheism? The conviction that "if I can't see it, it couldn't possibly exist" is pretty damned arrogant, and everything we've seen in this thread seems to indicate that those who insist on non-belief are among the most intolerant among us.

To me, it's absolutely obvious that Something that surpasses all human understanding could possibly exist, and probably does. Haven't you noticed that Shit Happens ~ shit that you would never have expected? Couldn't it be that there's something going on that our five senses and our piddling little brains just can't perceive?

There all all kinds of believers, and I don't only mean that there are many different religions, each partly right and partly wrong in its attempt to define the Undefinable. It should also be pretty clear that within each of the various faith traditions, there are reasonable and tolerant adherents as well as crackpot hardliners and everything inbetween.

For that matter, agnosticism is usually a pretty reasonable response to the mystery of the human condition, while individual agnostics display different degrees of openness to the beliefs of others.

Secularism, which I wholeheartedly endorse, is not the same thing as non-belief. It's just the reasonable recognition that people's religious beliefs are going to differ, and that the common good requires us to keep our differences to ourselves in the public arena.

Atheism, on the other hand, is something else altogether. In order to maintain the dogmatic belief that an eternal spiritual/metphysical Being COULD NOT POSSIBLY EXIST, it seems to be psychologically necessary for the adherent to steadfastly maintain a petulant and scornful attitude toward all who disagree. Too bad all that energy couldn't be focused in a more positive direction!


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Big Mick
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:10 PM

Problem with all that great argument, Amos, is that it is built on the premise that the two are mutually exclusionary. Generations of scientists raised in religious homes would beg to differ. In fact I believe that a great many scientists were taught critical thinking while simultaneously being raised with a religion. Many later rejected their early training, laying waste to the contention that somehow they were irreparably handicapped in their ability to come to different conclusions, and others faith was made stronger by the realization that there is much science cannot explain.

But it was a wonderful bit of composition, buddy.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Amos
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 11:31 AM

I would suggest that the core problem here is in integrity,. A parent who discusses what he genuinely sees with a child does no harm, in my book. A parent who thinks some things are probably valid but doesn't know for sure, and says so, does no harm. A parent who insists that certain imperceivable entities must be seen and given traditional attributes whether one can perceive those things for himself or not is essentially not being truthful, but doctrinaire. '

The problem with doctrinaire teaching is that it disables the judgement of the recipient, who takes things on board "because he has to", and if those things are not true for them, lives a lie thereafter until he or she can come to terms withwhat happened in those transactions. Such an event is not a learning experience, but an implanting experience. An implanted idea is useful in some limited way because you can use it to fend off confusions you would rathe rnot think about. But because such ideas tend to be arbitrary, they are going to fall short of explaining things when the going gets tough. I would much prefer to teach a child the ability to think for herself, an ability on which she will always be able to rely.

A


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 11:08 AM

I grew up around people who talk about their religious beliefs as if those beliefs are a given. People assume you believe what they do, if you're in the same community. You learn to 'pass' because you know those people would suddenly despise you if you told them what you believe, but as long as they don't ASK you (which they won't), you can still fit in. You go through military basic training, where the only place you can socialize is at church, so you go, and you just put up with the religion. You suck it up, let it go, and you enjoy the rest of the experience. You work somewhere where they institute a morning non-denominational prayer, and you say nothing, because the majority - your 80% - don't have a problem with it. At least they don't say they do. You hear people casually refer to God in their everyday speech, obviously assuming you share their fundamental meaning. You're in the middle of an intelligent discussion with a co-worker and friend whom you respect, about some evil act done by a religious person, when he says, "At least he's not an atheist." So you think you might say, "well I'M and atheist," but remember you have to work with this guy and don't really want to suddenly become the subject of disdain and hatred, so you suck it up.

I have plenty of reason for hating religion and religious people, but I don't. People who are marginalised and despised can go through life flyng under the radar - in the religious 'closet', so to speak, they can let their anger at the bigotry they feel spill over and be very mouthy and obnoxious, or they can just try to avoid either extreme and just be a decent person who's honest about their beliefs, without making others feel bad about theirs.

As for the Witnesses, indoctrination happens with every single belief of the parents, religious or otherwise. It's the base they have to start with. The worst thing those kids who travel door-to-door with their parents have to face is hatred and abuse from those who answer the door and aren't capable of just rationally saying 'No'.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: MMario
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 08:44 AM

Jeri - my apologies if I offended. But my reasoning was thus - according to polls in the US at least about 80% of people in the US have some sort of belief in a deity. Which puts athiests at less then 20% because Agnostics are not included in the 80%. But I have run across far more "rabid athiests" then I have prosyletizers of any faith based religion.

So I should have said "In my experience...blah blah" --

obviously you are not one of them. nor are many other people I know who profess to be athiest. But there are many very vocal and active athiests - and (in my experience) in larger proportion to their numbers then religious.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Paul Burke
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 05:37 AM

At 14 I decided the majority of what I saw was a load of bunkem and couldn't be substantiated.

I did a similar journey, except I decided it couldn't be transubstantiated.

It's simple, really. No one is going to (willingly) tell their children what they don't believe in. That means they ARE going to tell them what they DO belive in. That's true on a subconscious level, too. So when people tell their kids that, say, bullying and violence are wrong, but in practice are seen to be bullying and violent or supporting it, they are actually teaching them their real belief, that it's OK.

And if the kids don't like bullying, can't hack it as a hard man, tthey'll reject their parents' (real) belief and seek a new one.

Distinguish between the lesson taught, and the lesson learned.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 01:18 AM

I think most people can't make much sense out of other people's religious beliefs. But what is a religious creed, anyhow? I think it's a way of making sense out of things that don't quite makes sense to us, and of touching realities we can't quite grasp. If a kid is brought up within the context of one religious creed and it begins not to make sense to him when he grows up, he'll reject it - and I really don't think the creed will have done him much harm. And if he isn't brought up in a religious creed, isn't it probable that he/she will be brought up in some philosophical context - and isn't it likely that particular nontheistic philosophy will also have flaws?

What do matter, are the love and values that parents bring their children up with - and those values and that love cross the boundaries of religious creeds. It can be very helpful to bring a child up in the context of a loving religious community - or in any loving community. In every religious denomination, and among Unitarians and atheists and agnostics and even Republicans, I have seen communities that are loving and supportive and healthy for children, and I have seen hateful, unloving, harsh communities in most of those same belief (or unbelief) groups. I suppose discipline (or the lack of it) is part of bringing up every child. There are many schools of child discipline, some religious and some not - all can be loving and encouraging, harsh and demeaning, or negligent.

My former brother-in-law is a Jehovah's Witness, so I sat through a few of his four-hour Sunday meetings with him and his family, and I was impressed. There was a loving, playful, joyful spirit in the congregation, and children were included in everything these people did. Yes, the kids were trained from an early age to go door-to-door, but they seemed to like it. I will admit that I was disappointed with him when he shunned his son who became a Catholic. I hope that changes sometime. Three of his four sons are still Jehovah's Witnesses - my three kids got a Catholic education and aren't Catholic, and the same with all four of my siblings. My stepson was baptized Catholic at his own request at age 11, and left the Catholic Church at 13. Still, I think my siblings and my kids hold to the Catholic social justice values they were taught, and they value the critical thinking techniques they were taught in Catholic schools. I'm homeschooling my stepson, so he's likely to be polluted with that kind of thinking, too.

I used to go door-to-door for the U.S. Government - that's the part of my job I hated most of the time. But the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons seem to like it, even the kids.

-Joe Offer-

Oh, and as stated above, this press release says it looks like the Pope is going to close the doors of Limbo. Anybody want to protest?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: The Villan
Date: 06 Oct 06 - 12:40 AM

Well there you go George, instead of coming to support Breezy at MRFC, you bugger off to Greece. :-)

Children should not be forced into religion. They should be allowed to make their own minds up, when they are old enough to act as an adult. Adult - well that depends probably on the laws of the land.

I was forced to go to church in my child years. At 14 I decided the majority of what I saw was a load of bunkem and couldn't be substantiated. Result - I turned my back on religion.

I haven't changed my mind since.

That doesn't mean I don't respect people who follow their religion. However the moment they start to preach to me, I am off.

For me it is all about respect for each other. Something that some religions should take note of.

My children are learning a great lesson from these lunatics who blow themselves up (and any innocent people around them) in the name of their God. What signal does that send out to children?


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 05 Oct 06 - 10:26 PM

This was a good discussion for a while, but it got noisy and strayed - inevitably, probably - into "is religion good or bad", which was never the subject. To go back to the original issues, I still maintain that for JWs to drag a kid canvassing is exploitation and a sales technique (not even "protection"), even as I acknowledge their right to proselytise their own children.

Full stop. Off to Greece with the family for a long weekend. Me (and my penis) are outta here.

Come along, penis. Head high - we didn't lose.

Love to all.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Ron Davies
Date: 05 Oct 06 - 08:57 PM

What Mick says is absolutely fact.

There's a reason Max asked CH to leave. Pity he didn't.

I suspect nobody has left Mudcat because of anything Mick said. However, CH's constant--and vulgar-- hectoring and denigration of others' beliefs may have convinced a few to leave. Hope not.


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Subject: RE: Children and religion
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Oct 06 - 07:16 PM

You are wrong, Jeri. What I object is not the discussion, and never once in this thread did I suggest that I have the answers. I have not said a single thing against atheists, or anyone else. What I object to from Clinton is his habit of summarily pronouncing people idiots and condemning them for their beliefs.

As to the subject at hand, I have said it several times. How I raise my children, the values I teach them, the religion that I attempt to use to show them a moral way to walk the world, that is my business and absolutely none of anyone elses.

I don't care if one worships, doesn't worship, or walks on their hands through glass. How you deal with the world is your business, and doesn't have a bearing on wbether we can be friends. All that is required is we respect and like one another. But when one takes every opportunity to ridicule, and consistently speaks of those around him in disparaging and patronizing terms, then we are going to tangle.

Mick


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