Well, I’m not a parent, yet, although I really wish to be. And when I’m going to teach them about religion, I’m just going to inform them that religion is nonsense. I’ve seen many atheists talking about teaching religion to their children, and it usually involves not teaching them about religion, or some kind of complex way of teaching children about religion without indoctrinating them. Now, I’m here to offer my humble suggestion: just tell them that it’s bogus and move on.
I understand the sentiment behind this. Indoctrination is bad. Some atheists don’t want to think for their children, they want to focus on teaching them tolerance and critical thinking. It’s very respectable. But ultimately, I’m not convinced.
First of all, I think religion deserves no more respect than all the bogus scams polluting the world. I’m sure I’m not going to give more weight and respect to religion than astrology, homeopathy, anti-vax movement, positive thinking, and all the other superstitions. Just by giving more weight to religion in comparison to the other nonsense, I’m being complicit in the religious hegemony ruling our world.
Secondly, teaching tolerance goes deeply against treating religion with respect. To me being tolerant is not enough, children should also learn to be disgusted by intolerance. There are of course tolerant religious people, but also I’d like to teach my children to separate ideologies from people. The two Bibles and the Qur’an are horrifyingly inhuman books, religion has been a force of tyranny throughout its history, and I don’t think respecting them is a message of tolerance at all.
Thirdly, as I’ve mentioned, we still live in an era of religious hegemony. I wasn’t indoctrinated by my parents but by school. My parents refused to teach me one way or another about god. So atheist households are at a disadvantage already. Children will not be isolated from religion, they way they are isolated from atheism. Why make it worse by silence?
Fourth, ultimately if you teach your children to be critical thinkers, the first thing they should learn is to question authority, and you are the authority. So if children are raised to question everyone and everything including their parents, they shouldn’t have a hard time finding religion if they are convinced the other way.
Fifth, the question of god can be separated from the question of religion, it can be dealt with more open-endedly, and the scripture can be taught as literature and how they influenced the culture. So teaching children that religion is nonsense doesn’t mean you have to close the debate. You might think that the existence of god is an uncertain question, but it’s certain that religion is false.
So what do you think?