Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From my exchange with Parsons on Secular Outpost

You have a duty as a parent to teach your children what you think is true, not what you think is false. Whatever goes wrong when a parent teaches Young Earth Creationism to a child goes wrong when someone comes to accept those beliefs, not in teaching the doctrine to one's children. Creationists don't think that what they are teaching is false, they think it's true, otherwise they wouldn't teach it.

As a Christian I think it's wrong to teach atheism to a child, since, on my view, it gets the wrong answer to the question of God. I also think it's wrong to teach YEC to children because I don't believe that, and I think it especially regrettable if the parent teaches the child that anyone who dissents from YEC is something less than a real Christian. It;s unfortunate that they hold those beliefs, but they still have a duty to be honest in teaching their children In most cases, however, a parent should not be shy about tell a child what they themselves believe.

It's wrong to teach dogmatic and narrow-minded Christianity to children, just as it's wrong to teach dogmatic and narrow-minded atheism to children. In view Dawkins-style atheism is just another brand of fundamentalism. Anybody who thinks that nonbelievers have a monopoly on open-mindedness has beeen drinking Kool-Aid.

I'll stand by my basic claim: Dawkins' comparison of religious upbringing to child sexual abuse is horrendously irresponsible. Even where teaching the doctrine of hell is concerned, you have to consider how it is done; what understanding of hell is presented and how the presentation is done. It can be harmful, but it need not be. No such distinctions need to be drawn in the case of child sexual abuse. We have solid documentation of the claim that however it is done, child sexual exploitation does grievous harm. Speculating about needed to protect children from religious "indoctrination" raises the automatic question as to who will do the protecting.

We all want our children to get the "right" answers to the big question in life. We have to look closely at the concept of indoctrination. Parents will give the child a world-view which does give that child a set of control beliefs--I don't see how that's avoidable. But of course they're bound to question those when they grow up.


Mike Darus said...

"It's wrong to teach dogmatic and narrow-minded Christianity to children, just as it's wrong to teach dogmatic and narrow-minded atheism to children."

Parents are permitted to teach their children as long as they do it without conviction????

Victor Reppert said...

In this context I am talking about the way in which questions might be addressed or suppressed by the parents. Of course, I am not talking about what a parent should be permitted to do. A parent should be permitted to teach what the parent believes and to deal with questions as he or she sees fit.