A. You claim to want to raise critical thinkers, yet you take your kids to church thus telling them what to believe. How are your kids going to think for themselves when they are told what to believe?
R. It is true I take me kids to church, but I don’t force them to pray or participate in any of the rituals. All I ask is they be quiet in respect for those around them.
A. While you may not force them to participate, I know you take them to Sunday school too! Clearly you are teaching them what to believe.
R. OK, ok, you got me. I am teaching them there is a God and they are learning church doctrine at Sunday School. I don’t know how it could be any other way, even if I didn’t send them to Sunday School. Kids learn by the examples they see and parents hold significant sway just by their day to day actions. When I go to church, when I worship, when I use examples of Jesus’s teaching to explain particular concepts, that would have a big impact upon them even if we left Sunday School out.
A. Alright, I get that kids are going to follow the example of their parents. That is perfectly natural. However, I think Sunday School is an entirely different thing. Kids are taught step by step to practice your religion, thus indoctrinating them to it. They learn your way, and that gives them a bias which doesn’t permit them to consider other views on the matter.
R. So your complaint is that by teaching my kids that there is a God, and that practicing Christianity is how we worship our God, I am going to bias them against considering other religions or non religion. That is fair. I don’t think it means that they won’t be able to think critically.
A. Well, if they aren’t able to look objectively at the different types of belief systems, how are they to critically decide what they do believe?
R. People have to have an idea of what they believe before critical thought can occur.
R. You have to have a theory about right and wrong, in order that you should test it against reality.
A. Having a theory about right and wrong is completely different than teaching your kids to blindly worship God.
R. Not really, if you believe in God and that God is who set the world in motion, and thus determines what is right and wrong.
A. Still, you could tell them what you think is right and wrong without bringing God into it. Wouldn’t it be better to offer up many different views on religion and nonreligion and let them decide for themselves if practicing a religion makes sense for them?
R. If I think something is truth, it doesn’t really make sense for me to hold up competing views as equally true in the manner you suggest. That is nonsensical.
A. Why? Are you so afraid that your kids won’t follow your religion if you don’t teach them to practice it?
R. It is nonsensical because that is not the way human parents relate with their offspring. Let us take a concept we can hopefully agree upon. Can we agree that injuring an innocent party for the fun of it is wrong?
A. Yes, but I don’t see what that has to do with religion.
R. Like I said before, I believe God is the author of right and wrong, so for me it would be remiss to leave that out of moral teachings. So we can agree that hurting an innocent for kicks is wrong. Wouldn’t it then violate reason to hold up the idea of hurting someone that has done nothing just for the sport of it is equally valid?
A. Well, it is wrong to just hurt people for your own amusement, so no it doesn’t make sense to tell them it is OK after you taught them it was wrong. However, it is just so ridiculous that you believe in God in the first place. That is why you can’t see how teaching your child your religion amounts to indoctrination.
R. Wouldn’t you be indoctrinating your child into a view if you taught them that injuring a guiltless person for your own entertainment was wrong?
A. I arrived at that conclusion by reason, though, not because of belief in a myth.
R. Yet you wouldn’t want your children to give equal consideration to the alternative to the wrongness of hurting innocents for personal pleasure. However you arrived at that conclusion, it doesn’t change that you will act the same as I when it comes to teaching your children about right and wrong. The only difference is that we believe different things. Therefore, if you don’t think my kids can be critical thinkers, then it would be appropriate for you to examine if your kids will be either.