Friday, June 01, 2007

June Answers - Part 1

If you changed your mind and became a Christian would you feel bad about leading your kids into doubt?- Patsy

Patsy, first of all... thanks for your question. Second, I would strongly encourage you to go read Matt D's response (addressed to you) in the Q&A post.

To answer your question: At this point, short of a deity coming down to earth and actually demonstrating his/her/its existence in an empirical test, I don't foresee becoming a theist. And, even at that point, I would only have evidence to suggest a deity - not a "Christian God". There would still be a burden of proof, on the deity and the Christian, to show me why following that deity would be the correct path. Because, frankly, if you prove one deity, you open the door for many deities. There are then more questions about the nature of the deity, if its worthy of worship, and how that worship is to be correctly carried out.
I think teaching our kids to doubt/question is very different than leading them into some sort of negative, doubt-full life. The nature of skepticism doesn't have to be predominantly negative.

Hi from England - I'm an Atheist - I love reading your blog but would like to know how you think your country will be over the next few years given that the USA appears to be heading faster and faster towards a religious war of its own?also- how do you put up with the constant proselytising of people like the post prior to mine? we don't get so much of that **** over here - pyschodiva

Great questions!
Imagine that America is like a giant sandbox. In this sandbox, you've got 100 kids. Let's just say that 10 of the children are atheist, 60 of them are Christian, 5 of them are fundy Christian, 10 are other religions, and the remaining 15 kids just don't care one way or the other. So...everyone is playing in the sandbox. The five fundy kids are constantly in "Rod and Todd Flanders" mode: damning people to hell, singing songs about God's wrath and, on occasion, God's greatness, or building little sand missions to teach the rest of the kids in the sandbox. Meanwhile, the majority of the theists in the sandbox are just hanging out...playing with some sand. The atheists are kind of moving around the sandbox,... examining the molecular structure of the sand, helping everyone out no matter what they believe, and occasionally asking the really hard questions. And, on occasion, one of the fundies or theists goes kind of batshit and screws up the work of everyone in the sand. They come over with their buckets of sand and tried to hide the scientific equations that the atheists, and some of the theists, have written in the sand. The problem, for the fundy, is that they can erase the sand...but, they can't erase the mind of the person who wrote the equation in the first place. So, it's a no win battle for them. So...those kids isolate themselves. They say "to hell with" their missions and start hanging out in a corner of the sandbox... all by themselves. They don't allow anyone to come or go. They just sit over in the corner and sing at the top of their lungs or pout. The rest of the sandbox functions pretty cohesively because everyone knows that you are going to have to share the, people start talking. ALL EXCEPT FOR THE FIVE FUNDY KIDS! They're still in their corner. Occasionally, they overhear one of the 60 Christian kids talking about the molecular structure of sand, and they start throwing some sand...but, they really just continue to make themselves look bad. Fast forward twenty years and the fundy kids can barely function because they were isolated in one corner of the sandbox. They may have built a special "Fundy University" and intermarried, but... they really can't play well with anyone else. And, because they were isolated, their numbers are still low. Meanwhile, everyone else who was in the sandbox has grown together. They may not agree on many things, but they still talk.

We're living in a time of great scientific discovery. If you're in the corner of the sandbox, hoping that life stops while you're adoring your deity, you're going to have a very rude awakening when you try to play with the rest of the group. It's already happening! Creationists were busy, in the corner, making plans for a Creationist Museum and trying to make the science that they over-heard fit into that creation museum. And, they build a museum. The problem is that the museum is fucked up!! It isn't scientific and the majority of sandbox denizens know it. So, the citizens of the sandbox sit back and chuckle at the crazy people in the corner.

As for the "proselytizing" sandboxers... meh'. Every time they throw sand, they get some of it in their own eyes. I, however, bought a pair of goggles a long time ago.

1. How do you let comments like those from Patsy roll of your back? I can be uber sensitive and tend to go "quiet" for a few days if something upsets me. - Minivan Mom
See goggles comment above. ;) There have only been a few occasions where comments have really caused me to go quiet. Normally, I just consider the source... often, the source isn't worth considering. Furthermore, again... back to the sandbox: Why not let them throw sand on occasion- especially while the world is watching?

2. What do your kids feel about religion? Are you raising them to be atheists (no criticism or judgement - a genuine question) or are you exposing them to different beliefs and letting them decide?
Two of my possums are too little to know what religion is. The older two are being raised to think critically and form their own conclusions using the best tools at their disposal. I don't have an atheist dogma that I push. And, since we live in a pretty diverse area, I haven't had to go out of my way to expose them to other religions. I allow them to observe and, when they have questions about the other religions, we go find the answers together.

I'll get to the rest of the questions later...I especially want to touch on Sean's question. Peace!


Maggie Rosethorn said...

Great answers, Pmomma. I love the way you truly enjoy your children. I enjoy mine, too, but have to admit that in some ways I'm kinda looking forward to getting rid of the minivan and going back to a car....

Psychodiva said...

thankyou for a great analogy- and for putting my mind at rest about what is happening over there :)

fubarmonkey said...

That was a great analogy for the answer to the second question. I may have to quote you. :p

aimee said...

Well said Pmomma, you are so well spoken..

When asked about my non-belief, it is so hard not to put up a wall and be on the defensive and end up being confrontational. You handle these questions with (what seems to be) great ease and wit.

evolveintobirds said...

I think your sandbox analogy is one possibility....unfortunately, I think it is one of the less likely possibilities.

The reason that the fundies are isolating themselves is not because the other kids don't want to play with them anymore, it's because they can get plenty more gullible, vulnerable kids by opening their own sandbox and playing on parents' desires to give their children any kind of advantage. Their separation, rather than allowing the rest of us to keep playing in the sandbox undisturbed, is actually allowing them to build their own little empire away from the eyes of the real world. They have their own fellowship, their own stores, their own politicians, their own scientists, their own schools, their own music, their own REALITY....and they very carefully mainstream it through ministries that give them access to the vulnerable. Twenty years ago when I was in high school the phrase "a Christian nation founded on Christian values" was never uttered. It wasn't true. But over the past decade or so, they have tried the "say it enough times and it'll make it true" technique on a distracted and forgetful nation so continually that the majority of average people are beginning to think it's true.

We have not seen the pendulum swing far enough to the right yet for a recovery of reason and tolerance. I highly recommend Chris Hedges book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America". They are just building up steam.

I started homeschooling 9 years ago to be able to inculcate my children in my religious beliefs. Now as a recently recovering christian, I continue to homeschool specifically to teach my children to think for themselves....libertarian homeschooling if you will. They don't generally get that even in the "godless" public schools.