Religious indoctrination of children

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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#21  Postby dOG » Mar 03, 2010 10:41 am

This is a massive unrelated tangent. If you’ll indulge me, I will shortly open a new thread on the issue of the eternally fascinating epistemological status of atheism, so we can leave this thread clear of such clutter. Fanks. :mrgreen:

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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#22  Postby Shaker » Mar 03, 2010 10:47 am

A child can easily be regarded as ‘Christian’ by simple virtue (vice?) of their being identified as such. If their parent (or anyone else) identifies them as ‘Christian’, they will regard them as Christian, and this is legitimate insofar as the label is a means of identification.

A child becomes a Christian simply by being called as such?

Madness :nono:
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#23  Postby dOG » Mar 03, 2010 10:50 am

Shaker wrote:
A child can easily be regarded as ‘Christian’ by simple virtue (vice?) of their being identified as such. If their parent (or anyone else) identifies them as ‘Christian’, they will regard them as Christian, and this is legitimate insofar as the label is a means of identification.

A child becomes a Christian simply by being called as such?

Um. No. Can you read for comprehension?

I said a child can legitimately be identified as Christian (in the adjective sense of the word). A label is simply that.
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#24  Postby Shaker » Mar 03, 2010 11:23 am

Um. No. Can you read for comprehension?

I don't think I usually have any major problems, thanks for your concern.
I said a child can legitimately be identified as Christian (in the adjective sense of the word). A label is simply that.

So a child can legitimately be identified as a Marxist-Leninist by their parents (say, Russia c. 1937), yes? If a label is simply that, what's to stop you labelling a child as ... well, absolutely anything you please?

Maybe it's just me, but my understanding of a Christian is somebody who takes a certain set of propositions to be true and to adhere by them and lives their lives with them in mind. People - adults, that is - self-identify in this way: they willingly and voluntarily choose to adopt such a label. They deliberately take it on and stick to it. Why does this suddenly change - according to you, if I'm reading you correctly this time - when you're six years old?
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#25  Postby dOG » Mar 03, 2010 11:37 am

We’re talking past each other. I agree that labelling a person something does not make them that thing. What I’m trying to say is that there is good justification for identifying a person by a label when they exhibit the descriptors of that label. Clearly, a child described as Christian (adj.) may not actually be a Christian (n.) except nominally. With your powers of comprehension, I’m sure you understand and appreciate the distinction. Not sure where six years old comes into it, though.
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#26  Postby Shaker » Mar 03, 2010 11:47 am

dOG wrote:We’re talking past each other. I agree that labelling a person something does not make them that thing.

OK, I get that: but if that's the case, why are you using the label at all? If an adult Christian is a Christian by virtue of what they believe - which I assume you agree with -, why is a child 'Christian' when (we presume) they don't and can't believe anything related to Christianity? What purpose, what function is this label serving when a parent designates their child in this way?
What I’m trying to say is that there is good justification for identifying a person by a label when they exhibit the descriptors of that label.

This is where we disagree. You say there's a good justification for it and I don't. I don't get it - in what way do small children exhibit the descriptors of Christian/Muslim/Sikh, etc?
Clearly, a child described as Christian (adj.) may not actually be a Christian (n.) except nominally. With your powers of comprehension, I’m sure you understand and appreciate the distinction.

I do. What I don't get is where the 'nominally' comes in.
Not sure where six years old comes into it, though.

That was just a figure plucked out of the air to refer to somebody who clearly hasn't yet formed the intelligence to make up their own mind about the truth-claims of Christianity and yet - according to you - can legitimately still be labelled as a Christian. They don't believe any of it, they've never even heard of any Christian theology and couldn't possibly understand it even if it was explained to them, but it's OK for their parents to designate them as a Christian.
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#27  Postby dOG » Mar 03, 2010 12:16 pm

Like I said, the label is simply a means of identifying a trait. That's it.

As for what it means actually to be a Christian (n.), this is where my competence as devil’s advocate comes a bit ropey. We also risk getting very bogged down in a discussion of definitions.

As I understand it, an inculcated child 'becoming' a Christian isn’t generally a light-switch kind of thing- the child’s Christianity develops in a similar way to the rest of his socio-cultural state. We are not born culturally English or American or Chinese- this kind of status is acquired by gradual degree as we become informed by our experience. Similarly, I think, a child typically develops as ‘a Christian’ by the process of his upbringing, though I could be mistaken about this.

Incidentally, I don’t see how you can claim a child is necessarily incapable of Christian belief. My two-year old son believes all kinds of stuff. Seriously.
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Re: Re:

#28  Postby hackenslash » Mar 03, 2010 1:41 pm

dOG wrote:Nonsense. The default is non-theism (or, depending on definition, agnosticism). How can a baby be described as 'atheist' if they've never even heard of god?

Atheism is a positive belief position. Get over it.


Bollocks. I have no positive belief, yet I am an atheist. I have no deity, regardless of the actuall existence of any such entity. Agnosticism is a position concerning the possibility of knowledge, and has fuck all to do with the actual existence of a deity.
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Re: Re:

#29  Postby Jef » Mar 03, 2010 1:45 pm

hackenslash wrote:
dOG wrote:Nonsense. The default is non-theism (or, depending on definition, agnosticism). How can a baby be described as 'atheist' if they've never even heard of god?

Atheism is a positive belief position. Get over it.


Bollocks. I have no positive belief, yet I am an atheist. I have no deity, regardless of the actuall existence of any such entity. Agnosticism is a position concerning the possibility of knowledge, and has fuck all to do with the actual existence of a deity.


You might be a little late to that particular party, Hackenslash, which was moved to here:

nontheism/what-is-atheism-t1330-20.html
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#30  Postby Shaker » Mar 03, 2010 8:07 pm

Like I said, the label is simply a means of identifying a trait. That's it.

In this context (i.e. that of a 'Christian' child) what is this trait?
As for what it means actually to be a Christian (n.), this is where my competence as devil’s advocate comes a bit ropey. We also risk getting very bogged down in a discussion of definitions.

Sure, but it seems to me that that's what's needed. If what you say is true - and I don't think for one second it is - an adult (parent) is quite justified in labelling their child as a Christian even though the child has no actual Christian beliefs at all. We treat adults as Christians because they're capable of understanding and assenting to a certain set of propositions: people who know about and adhere to these propositions call themselves - that is, they explicitly take on the label of - Christians. But according to your thesis, when it comes to children there's some other special usage of the term that doesn't include such beliefs. I want to know what that is and why you consider it justified.
As I understand it, an inculcated child 'becoming' a Christian isn’t generally a light-switch kind of thing- the child’s Christianity develops in a similar way to the rest of his socio-cultural state. We are not born culturally English or American or Chinese- this kind of status is acquired by gradual degree as we become informed by our experience. Similarly, I think, a child typically develops as ‘a Christian’ by the process of his upbringing, though I could be mistaken about this.

No, you're right, but a child doesn't dream up Christianity all by itself on a wet Sunday afternoon. It has to get it from somewhere. It has to be taught it: it has to learn it. It won't develop spontaneously. Obviously the most likely place is the child's parents. In short, it has to start somewhere. I want to know about the point at which it starts and why, and where, you'd start to call your own child a Christian child.
Incidentally, I don’t see how you can claim a child is necessarily incapable of Christian belief. My two-year old son believes all kinds of stuff. Seriously.

I'm sure he does, but ask him what he makes of the Nicene Creed, penal subsititution, atonement and the like.
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#31  Postby Scarlett » Mar 03, 2010 8:17 pm

hackenslash wrote:
dOG wrote: Certainly, from their perspectives, it makes perfect sense and is easily justified (whether or not you happen to share their sentiments).


That's not a very good argument. From their perspective, all sorts of cretinous nonsense makes perfect sense, and if you want easily justified, go talk to Tomas de Torquemada.

Googled him, now I know what your talking about :lol:
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#32  Postby Scarlett » Mar 03, 2010 8:43 pm

I think I understand what your saying, although disagree entirely (with the OP). Labelling the child as a Xian will of course go along with the prayers, the dodgy songs, the visits to Sunday school, the thanking god etc etc etc, so its not just as simple as calling a child Xian. Children have no need for this label, its completely surplus to requirements, ask my 3 daughters. And as one poster suggested, they had no issues fitting in. The missing of any social aspect of churchgoing's another crock of crap, adults go lots of places kids can't go, pubs, clubs, casinos etc

From the point of view of it being the parents right as they believe they are doing it in the childs best interest, what about female circumcision? That was done in the childs best interest apparently. Male circumcision? Removing a piece of a baby's body in the childs best interests, sometimes without anaesthetic using dirty instruments. Where does the line get drawn? When is it ok and not ok to inflict your beliefs and labels onto your child?
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#33  Postby Jef » Mar 04, 2010 12:38 am

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The attitude of children being possessions, or extensions, of their parents needs to end. Parents should be seen as stewards and custodians of the children in their care, not their owners. Upon the birth of a child, those responsible for bringing the child into the world are charged with the duty of parenting that child. Parenthood is a personal and a civic duty, owed to primarily the child in question, but also to society as a whole. It should be implied within this duty that all of the actions of the parents should be justifiable as being objectively reasonable in the interests of the child or the interests of society. The personal interests of the parents are completely irrelevant.
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Re:

#34  Postby dOG » Mar 04, 2010 9:02 am

Paula1 wrote:Where does the line get drawn? When is it ok and not ok to inflict your beliefs and labels onto your child?

It's hard to say where the line gets drawn, isn't it? Some harm is clearly unacceptable (female circumcision, say), but I think much of the harm of inculcating religion in children is far less obvious than this.

However, the same argument can equally be levelled at secular parents, who impose their own various beliefs on their children in ways that cause direct harm to them. All parents harm their children like this, however determined they may be to avoid doing so. It is simply inevitable.

At least theists truly and honestly believe they’re acting in the best interests of their child in these particular ways (generally speaking of course, and however misguided this may in fact be). Many parents (theists and atheists alike) harm their children knowing full well that they do.

None of this exonerates the theist from harming their child, of course, nor does any number of wrongs make a right. I’m just pointing out that harming children is a universal and inevitable thing in the cruel real world, and to single out theists in this particular way is practically unhelpful. It's like identifying and blaming one particular drop in the ocean that drowns you.

Jef has totally nailed this issue, in my opinion. We borrow our children.
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Re: Re:

#35  Postby Scarlett » Mar 04, 2010 9:22 am

dOG wrote:
Paula1 wrote:Where does the line get drawn? When is it ok and not ok to inflict your beliefs and labels onto your child?

It's hard to say where the line gets drawn, isn't it? Some harm is clearly unacceptable (female circumcision, say), but I think much of the harm of inculcating religion in children is far less obvious than this.

However, the same argument can equally be levelled at secular parents, who impose their own various beliefs on their children in ways that cause direct harm to them. All parents harm their children like this, however determined they may be to avoid doing so. It is simply inevitable.

At least theists truly and honestly believe they’re acting in the best interests of their child in these particular ways (generally speaking of course, and however misguided this may in fact be). Many parents (theists and atheists alike) harm their children knowing full well that they do.

None of this exonerates the theist from harming their child, of course, nor does any number of wrongs make a right. I’m just pointing out that harming children is a universal and inevitable thing in the cruel real world, and to single out theists in this particular way is practically unhelpful. It's like identifying and blaming one particular drop in the ocean that drowns you.

Jef has totally nailed this issue, in my opinion. We borrow our children.


If children are brought up in a truly atheist manner then how can this cause harm? As someone already said, its the default position. My children are brought up with no religion at all within our home, it is not discussed at all until they are old enough to question things they hear from outside, friends or school etc. They are then answered honestly, that some people believe xyz but your parents believe this is probably incorrect due to the lack of evidence for it

Atheist means I do not believe, therefore religion has no bearing on my family life and family values, my daughter is 3 and has no knowledge of deities, why should she? I would be happy if she could have an entirely secular education (impossible but desired nonetheless) in order that she may never have her mind boggled with the silly questions that being drip-fed jesus brings

Can we not strive to truly cause no harm to our children? Is it just to be accepted because they believe its in the childs best interest? As you said, the harm done by inculcating religion into your children is far more subtle than female circumcision but thats not to say its benign, did you read some of the posts by former theists on RDF? They will argue that its very harmful and given the choice would have been brought up without religion
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Re: Re:

#36  Postby Scarlett » Mar 04, 2010 9:26 am

Paula1 wrote:
dOG wrote:
Paula1 wrote:Where does the line get drawn? When is it ok and not ok to inflict your beliefs and labels onto your child?

It's hard to say where the line gets drawn, isn't it? Some harm is clearly unacceptable (female circumcision, say), but I think much of the harm of inculcating religion in children is far less obvious than this.

However, the same argument can equally be levelled at secular parents, who impose their own various beliefs on their children in ways that cause direct harm to them. All parents harm their children like this, however determined they may be to avoid doing so. It is simply inevitable.

At least theists truly and honestly believe they’re acting in the best interests of their child in these particular ways (generally speaking of course, and however misguided this may in fact be). Many parents (theists and atheists alike) harm their children knowing full well that they do.

None of this exonerates the theist from harming their child, of course, nor does any number of wrongs make a right. I’m just pointing out that harming children is a universal and inevitable thing in the cruel real world, and to single out theists in this particular way is practically unhelpful. It's like identifying and blaming one particular drop in the ocean that drowns you.

Jef has totally nailed this issue, in my opinion. We borrow our children.


If children are brought up in a truly atheist manner then how can this cause harm? As someone already said, its the default position. My children are brought up with no religion at all within our home, it is not discussed at all until they are old enough to question things they hear from outside, friends or school etc. They are then answered honestly, that some people believe xyz but your parents believe this is probably incorrect due to the lack of evidence for it

Atheist means I do not believe, therefore religion has no bearing on my family life and family values, my daughter is 3 and has no knowledge of deities, why should she? I would be happy if she could have an entirely secular education (impossible but desired nonetheless) in order that she may never have her mind boggled with the silly questions that being drip-fed jesus brings

Can we not strive to truly cause no harm to our children? Is it just to be accepted because they believe its in the childs best interest? As you said, the harm done by inculcating religion into your children is far more subtle than female circumcision but thats not to say its benign, did you read some of the posts by former theists on RDF? They will argue that its very harmful and given the choice would have been brought up without religion


P.S. I don't just single out thesits, I also think peadophiles are wrong, people who neglect their children, beat them, emotionally abuse them are wrong. We are only singling out theists due to the nature of the forum
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#37  Postby dOG » Mar 04, 2010 9:27 am

Hay, Paula1, you're preaching to the choir here (to torture a metaphor). I agree entirely that parenthood should be secular. Hell, I'd make it a criminal offense to mention god to a minor, if I were emperor. But my position ignores the fact that a theist would believe it's harmful to their child not to lead them to god. They believe in purgatory and hell, many of them. I mean, really believe.

So, what do you say to them?
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#38  Postby Jef » Mar 04, 2010 9:36 am

dOG wrote:But my position ignores the fact that a theist would believe it's harmful to their child not to lead them to god. They believe in purgatory and hell, many of them. I mean, really believe.

So, what do you say to them?


I would say that, as soon as it can be shown that the actions they take in respect of that belief are objectively reasonable in the interests of the child or of society, then they are free to do what they believe is necessary. However it should be made clear that the personal interests of the parents, and this includes their personal beliefs, no matter how strongly held, are irrelevant; their duty is an objective one.

To impress a subjective duty in this instance would be to tell someone that they 'must do as they see fit', and what would be the point of that?

To make a rough analogy, I have no concerns if the person who controls my investments believes in astrology, so long as when it comes to making investments on my behalf they do so on the basis of which investments it is objectively reasonable to make, and not on the basis that Jupiter being on the cusp of Saturn is telling them to be adventurous and take more risks!
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#39  Postby dOG » Mar 04, 2010 9:44 am

I’m afraid they might question the authority of this objective reason, insofar as it contradicts the direct and absolute authority of their infallible scripture. Or something.
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Re: Religious indoctrination of children

#40  Postby Scarlett » Mar 04, 2010 9:48 am

dOG wrote:Hay, Paula1, you're preaching to the choir here (to torture a metaphor). I agree entirely that parenthood should be secular. Hell, I'd make it a criminal offense to mention god to a minor, if I were emperor. But my position ignores the fact that a theist would believe it's harmful to their child not to lead them to god. They believe in purgatory and hell, many of them. I mean, really believe.

So, what do you say to them?


I'm not sure there's much point in saying anything to them, the poor kids are goners. If I thought it'd do any good tho I agree with Jef's post above
I would say that, as soon as it can be shown that the actions they take in respect of that belief are objectively reasonable in the interests of the child or of society, then they are free to do what they believe is necessary.


What I think we can do tho is continue to fight against the respect and defference religion receives, we need to make it ok to question these beliefs, and make sure our children are equipped to question them. At least then the theists children may hear more opposition to their parents beliefs and have some hope of making choices for their own

I believe that the main reason religion still has the hold it has on the west at least is due to this unwarranted 'respect' it gets
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