Should Atheists Raise Their Kids As Atheists

Jen, an atheist blogger, makes an interesting case why not to and what should be done instead:

Steve and I were both raised in secular families. Our parents didn’t go to church, didn’t talk about religion, didn’t explicitly teach us anything about God or Christianity, didn’t force some sort of belief system on us. So why do I think Steve ended up a Christian while I ended up an atheist? Because there was one thing my parents taught me that Steve’s parents didn’t: skepticism.

People have been discussing this a lot now that the new wave of atheists are reproducing. We don’t want to indoctrinate our children into atheism, but most of us don’t want them to be swayed by religious people either. So what do we do? I think Dale McGowen, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, has it right: we need to instill skeptical thinking into our children. You know, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime? Well, tell a kid something’s irrational and you help him for a day, teach a kid how to think rationally and he’ll teach himself for a lifetime. …Not sure if that phrase is going to catch on, but nevermind.

Steve’s parents were atheists, but they didn’t actively try to instill those skeptical thinking skills in him. So once Steve was exposed to religion, he was easily swayed. He was told something was wrong because he wasn’t religious, and he believed it, like so many people unfortunately do.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.