- Michael Stewart
- United Kingdom
If religious belief is so strong, why isn't it strong enough to allow children to make up their own minds on the evidence available?
It is clear from many TED conversations that the debate between darwinists and creationists rages on. My feeling is the debate is fruitless, you cannot have a reasoned debate about creationism simply because it is a belief system completely devoid of logic and reason. You cannot convince creationists of their misunderstanding in the face of overwhelming evidence, so I won't attempt to. You have an inalienable right to your belief system.
So my question is simply this:
If religious belief is so strong, why isn't it strong enough to allow children to make up their own minds? Why can't children be trusted to look at the available evidence for themselves? Have the courage of your convictions and don't impose them on impressionable young minds. As an adult you hold sacred the human right to believe whatever you want, don't deny your children the same right when they too become adults by closing their minds now to the options.
For an insight into why religious indoctrination of children is so destructive to them and the future of our planet, read authors far more eloquent than me: Thomson and Aukofer, Why we believe in gods; Tomasello, Why we co-operate & Origins of human communication; Dawkins, The God delusion; Harris, The End of Faith. See where they take you. To help you open young minds to the beauty of the natural world (without needing to invoke a deity) try: Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow &The greatest show on earth. The Magic of reality and The Ancestor's tale are accessible to young enquiring minds that should be left open to all possibilities, some of which are more likely to represent reality than others.
Closing Statement from Michael Stewart
Thanks to everyone who contributed; Edward, Peter, Tyne, Iain, Gabo, Steve, Mary, Patrick. The question was perhaps a little inflammatory, but I do feel it is valid, even if the answer is pretty obvious. The biggest influence in a childs life is its parents and it is very hard not to introduce some sort of bias based on your understanding of the world when you raise a child. This is virtually impossible for the religious parent because of the certainty that an errant child will go to the relevant 'hell'. Similarly, the worry for an atheist/agnostic is that their child will somehow believe one of the various bronze age creation myths.
But really the question shouldn't have become a personal one. 'Children' are a collective. You can't interfere with the belief system that is taught at home. What we can do is try our hardest to ensure that 'our children' , future generations are educated to the highest possible standards of scientific understanding in school. Evolution, natural selection, geology, astronomy, cosmology must be explained and understood as fact, based on evidence and peer review. Not diluted and misrepresented by any personal belief.
The debate followed the same pattern as any on faith vs evidence. Both sides angered and frustrated by the others refusal to accept what is obvious to them. With a hint of righteousness and self-assuredness from both. The people that participate will not be swayed by the opposing arguments, but hopefully those watching on the periphery will be given plenty to think about.
The Final thought comes from an enlightened and infinitely wiser younger brother. Give children science. its more exciting than any book written by man, or god. science is the observation of the universe around us. it may be performed by man, and so arguably could be corrupted, but it is forever changing and therefore can be trusted. man cannot. true science is not a belief system, but ironically the only way to enlighten yourself without misdirection