I read a great iReport at CNN today about raising children without God. It’s definitely worth your time to check out. Here’s an excerpt:
A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It’s like telling a child to behave or Santa won’t bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won’t go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.
And as it turns out, the author also blogs here at WordPress. Here’s her link, if you’d like to read more of her stuff.
In other news, NPR is doing a really fascinating series this week called “Losing Our Religion.” Each day they’re running a new segment, and you can find all the links here. The first part of the series is at the bottom of the page. The stories they’ve done so far are “Losing Our Religion: The Growth of the ‘Nones,'” “More Young People Are Moving Away from Religion, but Why?” and “After Tragedy, Nonbelievers Find Other Ways to Cope.” Seems like a great series so far — I definitely recommend checking it out.
9 thoughts on “Sharing Some Links”
I don’t see why you have to remove God from a child’s life to accomplish that. You teach them God loves them no matter what and that they should make good moral choices because that is what is best for them. If you really want to look out for number one then you take care of those around you.
Or maybe you meant if you want to raise a child without mental and emotional issues you should remove the Bible from their lives? NOW THAT I CAN GET BEHIND!:)
Thanks for the comment, Hayden.
I think you’re right — you don’t have to remove God in order to teach kids to internalize their morality. But I do think her statements show that morality can exist without belief in a God — and there are some people who don’t want to acknowledge that.
Thanks for making that caveat! 🙂
Thanks for the very cool links Nate! I’ve already started checking out the NPR one. Looks very interesting. I love NPR!
Hmm… (off haydenlindler’s comment) it’s extremely hard to separate God from the core of morality though. If there is a god in the picture, then there is a sense of ethical objectivity (e.g. which is defined by god). If there isn’t, then I think ethical subjectivity must be acknowledged, and morality gets defined by values (such as peace or equality or etc). And I think there’s a really big difference. A good example might be homosexuality. For a Christian, this can be objectively wrong because it is an abomination to God. But if God’s not in the picture then one has to decide for oneself if homosexuality does any harm (i.e. goes against any of their values).
All in all, unfortunately I think the better potential of ethics comes from raising a child with personal ethics first. Of course, I’ve always thought someone should pick their God based on their ethics (and not the other way around). HOWEVER, I could not in my right mind ask a religious parent to not espouse their own views if they really believe in them, THOUGH I do wish even the super religious parents would still at least educate their children on some other possibilities.
/END all caps caveats, hah
@ Howie — i love NPR too! Fresh Air and the Diane Rehm Show are two of my favorite things! Not to mention This American Life…
Thanks for the comment!
@ Page 28 — thanks for the great comment (I added the “not” into your original for you). I think you bring up a really important point. When I was a fundamentalist Christian, I was forced to rationalize all kinds of immoral acts that were rampant throughout the Old Testament. Internally, I was really bothered by them, but if they were directed by God, they must be moral, right? With my own kids, I hope to instill personal ethics in the way that you describe. If they are interested in religion when they’re older, that’s fine — I’d just like for them to have their basis for morality established before that.
nate, if there were a god, an all powerful all knowing and benevolent being that created everything, then perhaps we should defer to its judgement and direction in all things…. even when it commands that genocide be carried out. Perhaps it would be just or right (if the creator of all things, including ethics, condoned it). “If,” that is.
The thing for me is, the evidence for the god of the bible is based off of the wild claims of the bible authors, mere men. How are we to decide if they were truthful or not? They provide no photographs, no video tapes, basically just wild claims with a few good morals and ethical characteristics thrown in.
Often times people seem to point to these moral and ethical teachings as evidence of the bible god, pointing them out and being in awe of how much sense they make. These types of explanations also go against the bible god, though. If we can recognize moral actions without god, then why should be convinced that we need the bible at all, especially when it shows that god commanding entire races to be wiped out? If someone were to suggest that Sandy Hook was an action commanded by god, people would be aghast and outraged. We don’t trust that claim now, so why should we trust it from the claims of men whom we never met, and who died long, long ago?
maybe i’m steering a bit off point. Forgive me.
Very well said. In fact, it reminded me of this:
yeah that cnn article is a great article.
How ridiculous the assertion that a child needs (a) god in their lives as some sort of ethical benchmark is born out by the evidence that so many are de-converting as adults, totally refuting this assertion then raising perfectly normal, healthy kids in a ‘godless’ environment.
The basis of religion is fear, not decent morals, and a cursory read of the bible will demonstrate the true nature of god.