What do you tell children?

I have two questions for the theists of this forum.

  1. Do you think it’s ok to tell children to believe in god?

  2. Do you believe that rejecting a belief in god can ever be reasonable?

It’ll be really interresting if you can answer yes to both questions…

Yes I think it is Ok to let a kid believe in God, just not force beliefs down their throats, let them listen, learn and choose.

I think rejecting a god is reasonable, Gods are not for everyone. Each person has their own sacred beliefs even if it is not a god entity. What keeps a soul secure is a highly personal thing and should be respected.

I think the most important thing to tell a child is that we don’t know if there is a God or not. Later (unless he asks then) you can explain that we don’t know the universe came to be, so believing either that there is or isn’t a God can be reasonable.

I wouldn’t use the word “tell” but I think it’s fine to instruct children in the faith of their parents.

Rejecting belief is always “reasonable” since faith is something other than reasonable. If my kids chose to reject the faith they are instructed in then I’d be disappointed.

What would you say constitutes “forcing” with children? How about manipulation? is that ok? how about strongly suggesting?

Draw the line for me Kris… how does one let kids decide for themselves?

I rather like the idea of telling children we don’t know, and letting them figure it out… if they care to.

So you would answer no to my first question then?

how is “intructing” children in a faith any different from “telling” them to believe?

So in fact you would reward any child of yours, who being perfectly reasonably, chose to disbelieve with disappointment?

Do you think the pressure of not dissapointing dad has anything to do with why they choose to believe?

a lots of times i have thought what to tell my children and all of a sudden i realized what i was going to tell them contradicted any reason for bringing them into this world, so i decided to not have kids, and to consume all the advice for myself.

I think a child should be raised to believe whatever you believe, if you believe it in good conscience. Not sure what your second question has to do with your first!

As far as telling a child we don’t know, and letting them figure it out- I think that’s a great thing to teach your kid, if you’re an agnostic.

Using scare tactics and manipulation is forcing. Look my folks took us to a nondenominational church until we were old enough to decide how we felt, that was about 5 or 8 years old it varied for each of us. If we had wish to continue we would have. They exposed us to different beliefs, pointed out the good and bad etc. No suggesting was ever used. We were allowed to explore what we felt was right or wrong for us. I have 2 sibs that are religious and 2 of us that are not. Me, I am the closest to what my family would call atheist. I respect my sibs and my parents beliefs though. Because, it is right for them. And they respect mine for the same reason.
You let kids decide by putting aside your feelings and let your kids be human. You are their educator, mentor and protector. You are not their master.

It’s probably a little semantic, but important. Saying, “this is what we as Christians believe” is different from saying “this is what you must believe”. I think your question sounded more like the latter which contains some slight threat behind it.

What do you want me to do? Throw a party? I’d be disappointed if my kids turn out be assholes. Are you recommending I drop that idea too?

Maybe, but it can work both ways. When I told my Dad I’d become a Christian his response was total disappointment. In fact he said, “I’d rather you’d become a Hare-Krishna”.

Being 17 at the time, this was actually a source of some amusement to me.

So you would answer yes to the first question… but you didn’t answer the second question… Do you believe that rejecting a belief in god can ever be reasonable?

Are you a gnostic, Ucc?


I very much agree with you… and I wish more people shared this views.

But, how do you justify this view to someone who truly believes in god? who truly believes their children will go to hell if they don’t believe?

isn’t it “protecting” them when they tell their children to believe? aren’t they educating their children when they say there is a god? How can you possible convince them that it is better for the child to “choose” freely and unguided, when, in their view, so much depends on it?


Isn’t there a threat of sorts involved in both of those? it’s implied that since “we as christains” believe this, you are not one of us if you don’t… the other one is “this is what you must believe” to be one of us.

Sounds like the same deal to me…

erm… did you just compare being an atheist to being an asshole? :astonished:

Despite the insult that came with that statement… I understand what you mean… The question is, isn’t THAT too a threat of sorts? be a christian or else…

So you figure that it’s as likely to cause them to rebel against your beliefs as it is to make them share your beliefs?

Ok. But it seems different to me.

I don’t think so.

It is what it is. Any one of a multitude of parents’ expectations could be taken as some sort of perceived threat by a child. Our family wears red socks so if I don’t wear red socks then maybe I’m not really welcome anymore.

Depends on the child, but I’d say overall the instinct to rebel is more likely than the instinct to conform during the teenage years. As a Christian parent I draw a clear distinction between instructing my kids in Christianity and allowing them to choose their faith. For example, I wont allow my kids to be baptized into the Christian faith until they are old enough to choose for themselves. How will I know when that occurs? When they rebel against me and do it anyway!

  1. No. I don’t think it’s OK to tell anyone what to believe. It doesn’t work any way. People are going to believe what they want. It’s OK to tell children what YOU believe though. “I believe…; I think…; I feel…” It would ordinarily be unethical to tell children that you thought, believed, or felt something you didn’t.

  2. Yes, the reasons people give for rejecting God often sound reasonable to me. But I often get clues from them that they are referring something other than I am by God.. Then too I sometimes doubt that the reasons they give are their real motives for rejecting God. I have found on this website that skeptics sometimes doubt my motives for accepting God in a parallel manner. When we distrust each other’s motives, it results in an impasse in communication.

I don’t ‘tell’ them anything when it comes to religion, although I try to answer their questions concerning my own experience as honestly as I can. They know I don’t believe in gods and they know what I think about being told by adults that the stories I heard in Bible school when I was a kid were ‘true’. Santa also comes up in this context now and then, as well, and I’ve talked to them about how people like to tell stories to make life more entertaining or to teach things. It’s my hope that they’ll always feel free to disagree with what anyone tells them that defies their own reason. And that they’ll always know that whatever they decide when it comes to religion has nothing to do with my feelings for them. Not long ago my 6-year-old became enamoured for a couple of nights with the idea of praying to God before dinner, and that turned out to be a good opportunity to talk about what it meant to pray and what God means.

Anyway, at this point, they’re still kids, so I don’t expect them to engage in sophisticated debate over this stuff (but I will when they get older, I surely will). At this point, I just try to teach them it’s okay to question whatever they hear or read. Kids love asking questions.

Usually I tell children to beat it; ya bother me!

Rejecting a belief in God is entirelly reasonable given what we know, but what do we know? And No child will ever understand humanity, literature, philosophy, or math without religion, and politics and economic can only be understood as religion for which the belief in God is good preparation. Life is depressing most of the time and deadly some of the time, but to give in to fear or anxiety is fatal in itself, so the belief in God with or without merit is like an anti depressant drug as long as it is not used to justify murder or rape.

I think its okay if not healthy in a psychological sense. Then as he grows he can shape his opinion on reality. Choose a religion or stop believing.

In the context of telling children, no. In the context of explaining your belief and disbelief to adults, my answer is also no.

No… I don’t think its okay to tell them to believe in God. By all means, if you feel you must, teach them of your belief of the existence of God. A child’s mind is far more malleable than that of an adult… Children should be given the free will to decide on what ever religion they are comfortable with, if they want to be religious at all. I was Christened as a baby and to be honest I would prefer to have not been. I do not believe in a God and I do not agree with the teachings of Christianity. I believe that being Christened when it was not possible for me to have my own opinion and ideologies then being Christened was an attempt to force religion on me.

My father was not best pleased when I announced I was atheist at the age of 13… of which I am no longer, by the way.

I personally believe that rejecting the belief in God can go either way. The reason I reject the belief in God is because I devote myself to my desires and what I want, rather than trying to make some ultimate deity happy so that my judgment may go in the right way. On the other hand… not something I personally think is the right frame of mind to be in… but if can be unhealthy. I can’t remember who to credit this quote to but it was once said that religion is a psychological compulsion to share a collective belief. People use it in a similar way to a comfort blanket. Certain people can not live without that comfort and if they have been taught to reject the belief in God then that essence of security is not there and can be psychologically damaging. However, you could argue they might find that sense of security elsewhere.

Either way I strongly believe nobody should be told who or what to believe. They should come to that conclusion by themselves. If you are willing to believe in God then so be it. I have no quarrel with you, so long as you came to that conclusion yourself.

You can’t convince anyone of anything unless they are willing to listen and learn. You can threaten or cajole but you won’t change them. They may do what they are supposed to do on the outside but behind closed doors, forget it. A parent will treat their child the way they know how to. They will educate and protect their child with the knowledge that they have and believe. If the child grows up happy, productive and sane, why worry about their beliefs? Change fanatics, watch them sure, but, leave the others alone.

What you fail to recognize is that your second question is nonsense. There is no universal or objective way to determine what is reasonable. It is completely an individually subjective condition.

Reply To Mad Man P:

[b]It’s OK to let a child believe in God. After all, the nonexistence of God is not a logical necessity, so a belief in God is not necessarily illogical.

As for myself, I describe both theism and atheism to the children in my family, explaining my reasons for being a theist despite the simplicity and “obviousness” of atheism (even going so far as to dispel in the oldest child the myth of naive realism—explaining that what she perceives is actually only a virtual reality perception of the world rather than the world itself), and I simply left what they choose (atheism or theism) up to them. My biggest concern is whether or not they are epistemically and intellectually honest in the choosing.[/b]

Jay M. Brewer

Is it okay for fundamentalism christians to teach children that the earth is factually 5000years old and that fossils were placed there by the devil until they are 18? How is that not child abuse?

or teaching a five year old that when they die, if they are not christian they will burn in hell forever. (Theres nothing Ican think of potentially that could scar a child worse, not even being beaten or told by their parents they were unloved by them. and theres dozens of adults who ATTEST THAT IT WAS TRAUMA inducing.)

its sickening. If i believe all jews are dirt is that okay if i believe it in good conscience? stop saying such blatantly unthoughtful stupid things. Obviously it isn’t.