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Is It Possible to Raise Your Kids to Be Open-Minded About Religion?

Children

In my part of the country, it's common to raise your kids to be "open-minded about religion." I know quite a few parents who are taking this route, and it seems to be a more and more popular choice every year. I've always respected the sentiment that drives this decision. The parents I know who want their children to be open-minded in this area typically seem to do so out of a desire to respect different viewpoints, and a hope that their children will think for themselves rather than blindly believing what their parents tell them to believe. The sentiment is admirable, but recently I've started to wonder:

Is such a thing even possible?

If being in a state of open-mindedness means that you're asking questions, seeking knowledge, and attempting to evaluate data without bias, it seems that that should be a transitory state: At some point, you either find answers, or determine that the answers are not findable. In either case you now have a defined belief system, even if it's agnosticism. At this point, while you may be open to hearing new perspectives, you are no longer "open-minded" in the sense of not having any opinions about matters of spirituality -- you've found your belief system.

The problem comes in when people speak of open-mindedness about faith as a long-term state of being. I recently heard about a local family where the son converted to Christianity in college, and it caused problems with his parents since they had raised him to be "open to all belief systems." The parents' and the son's two different interpretations of this directive led to painful confrontations: The son was surprised that his mom and dad reacted negatively to his conversion, since he thought that he was simply following the tenets of his childhood worldview to their logical conclusion. He explored the world's belief systems with an open mind, then, when he saw that one made more sense than the others, he became a member of that religion. The parents, on the other hand, were shocked, since the image of their son tearfully giving his life to Jesus Christ and playing guitar for a praise and worship youth group was not at all what they had in mind when they raised him to be open-minded about religion.

I would encourage modern parents to think about this issue carefully. As this concept increases in popularity, it's easy to go with the flow and become an "open-minded about religion" family without first fleshing out all the implications of that credo. If you believe that objective truth cannot be known, then you are in fact not open to the religions that say that it can be known. It may be possible to say that you're agnostic but taking bits of wisdom from various world religions, but to be truly open-minded about religion is always a short-term state.

To take it a step further, I would encourage modern parents to shun the concept altogether, and embrace the search for objective truth instead.  You can guess where I think such a search would lead, but even if your conclusions are different from mine, I think that it would be more fruitful -- and would probably lead to a healthier family dynamic -- than aiming for near-impossible task of being in a permanent state of evaluating data without coming to any conclusions. I would love to see a change in the tone of the typical playground chit-chat about faith, when instead of saying, "We're raising our kids to be open-minded about religion," more parents would say, "We're raising our kids to seek the truth."
 
 
Originally published at National Catholic Register. Used with author's permission.
(Image credit: Copmi)

Jennifer Fulwiler

Written by

Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She's a contributor to the books The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion (Servant, 2011), and is writing a book based on her personal blog. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their six young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. Follow Jennifer on her blog, ConversionDiary.com, or on Twitter at @conversiondiary.

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  • David Egan

    We are raising our kids in this way. They are not part of any particular religion (I'm atheist and my wife is Lutheran) but are attending a Catholic school. The school offers two religion tracks - one is traditional Catholic and the other is a survey of world religions and religious/spiritual themes. We are exposing them to this stuff but not guiding them in any particular direction. When they get older, they are free to make their own decision though, to be honest, I'd be really disappointed if they do something stupid and fall for religion.

    • David, so to be clear, are you more interested in your child finding Truth (wherever it lies) or staying away from religion?

      • Rationalist1

        One could ask the converse as well. Are Catholics more interested in their children finding the Truth or staying away from other (or non) religions?

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Rationalist,
          I believe you make a good point, there can be "truth" in other religions but if Jesus really is the incarnation, or if one seeks to investigate that issue than i don't think that's a subjective truth. If Jesus is the son of God then i may still learn something from Buddhism or Islam but those faiths are still going to be set in light of who Jesus is not replace what he may mean for my life?

          • Rationalist1

            That's not the point. That's your opinion and it certainly is fulfilling for you. I can't ask but what about your children, but I will asked what about the children in your catechism class (do they still have those?). Are you encouraging them to explore the truth wherever it leads them?

          • The issue here is about children, not adults. And as I have said elsewhere, my education (and I can only assume a great deal of religious education) is about getting children when they are blank slates, indoctrinating them, and inoculating them against other religions and nonbelief. There is, it seems to me, the potential that if you raise your children to be open minded, they may be so open minded that they have no minds at all.

          • "There is, it seems to me, the potential that if you raise your children to be open minded, they may be so open minded that they have no minds at all."

            Or that the "open mind" never closes on anything solid. As the great G.K. Chesterton said:

            “An open mind is really a mark of foolishness, like an open mouth. Mouths and minds were made to shut; they were made to open only in order to shut."

          • “An open mind is really a mark of foolishness, like an open mouth. Mouths and minds were made to shut; they were made to open only in order to shut."

            The question, though, is if it is better to be open minded, at least for a while, or for every individual to take a position such that the majority will necessarily be wrong, and perpetuate their wrong choices by indoctrinating their children. It is a terribly old cliché, but it is necessarily true that most people who faithfully adhere to a particular religion are simply wrong. And maybe all people. I am reading a biography of Paul Dirac at the moment and we are in the 1930s, which people are choosing between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. It would have been better if a lot of people (in fact, everybody) had kept an open mind, given those two choices!

          • Max Driffill

            The key to any worthwhile mind is that it be open minded, but bounded by critical thinking skills.
            Also, as per usual I am unimpressed with GK Chesterton. This greatness, I am not seeing.

          • Chicagoish

            He was (in the wider context) arguing that "being open minded" in and of itself was not a virtue. A mind can't be totally open to everything; its illogical. Nothing he said disagreed with your contention.

            As a side note, why in god's name would an isolated quote be indicative of someone's "greatness"? Maybe you're more penetrative than me. Shrug.

          • Max Driffill

            Chicagoish!
            By all means shrug away, it is excellent for your trapezius muscles.

            When atheists discuss open-mindedness, it is a given that that by itself it isn't much of a virtue, we often add on to it, "not so open that brains fall out." Its why we almost always couple the importance of an open mind with critical thinking skills.

            As to much over praised GK Chesterton, I am not, as it happens, basing my low opinion of him on one isolated quote. I don't know why in Zeus' name you should ever have thought that. I implied a greater experience of GKC with the phrase, as per usual.
            Shrug, plus wincey face, plus open palms raised skyward.

          • epeeist

            “An open mind is really a mark of foolishness, like an open mouth. Mouths and minds were made to shut; they were made to open only in order to shut."

            Could you use "closed" instead of "shut" when referring to mind?

          • ZenDruid

            Chesterton is a fellow with the dreadful habit of over-extending his metaphors.

            For me, open-mindedness involves a combination of skepticism and Anekantavada; to wit, there's always more to the story than what the storyteller delivers.

          • Alden Smith

            I was raised in the Church, but was never made to become a christian I did that of my own accord

          • Were you baptized as an infant, or did you make your own choice to be baptized?

          • Alden Smith

            No I wasn't

          • Alden Smith

            No I was not Baptize as infant

          • Rationalist, we should distinguish between "encouraging open exploration" in general and in specific settings. For example, a catechism class is specifically designed to teach about Jesus Christ. Likewise, a physics class is specifically designed to teach about physics. It wouldn't make any sense for a physics teacher, in his class, to begin class by saying, "Welcome students! I'm not going to sit here and lecture about star. You're going to explore the truth on your own, wherever it leads you."

            If he said that, he'd be a bad physics teacher. Ideally, he'd say, "Today I'm going to teach you about the incredible vastness of our universe. According to best evidence we know of, we're surrounded by billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars."

            In other words, he proclaims the truth of his specific discipline, and while he may be open to students challenging those claims, and perhaps even encourage it, his primary mission is to teach the perceived truths of his discipline. The same holds for catechists.

          • The difference between physics and any catechism class is that there is a consensus among physicists about what physics is all about. But there is no consensus about what religious education ought to teach. A Catholic, a Baptist, a Jew, and a Muslim are going to have quite different opinions about religious education. And to state the obvious, they can't all be right. So if you have equal numbers of children in Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, and Muslim religion classes, at least 75% of them will be taught something wrong—and quite possibly 100%.

          • Rationalist1

            When I teach children in my youth group about astronomy. (We're out camping so they all ask about the stars) I always preface my explanations with expressions like "Currently astronomers think.." or "The evidence is that .. " or "Previously astronomers though that .... but now ,....". I want to be honest about what I'm saying and I also want to tell them that if they want to be an astronomer they can make their own discoveries and overturn my ideas. I bet no catechism class offers them that.

          • Don't astronomers know anything? Do you want to leave the kids with the impression that the earth might really be 6,000 years old instead of 4.5 billion?

          • Susan

            Don't astronomers know anything? Do you want to leave the kids with the impression that the earth might really be 6,000 years old instead of 4.5 billion?

            How do explanations that include "The evidence is that..." or "Previously astronomers thought that... but now..." leave them vulnerable to the idea that the earth might really be 6,000 years old?

          • How do explanations that include "The evidence is that..." or "Previously astronomers thought that... but now..." leave them vulnerable to the idea that the earth might really be 6,000 years old?

            Because if the conclusions of science are always provisional, and if "the evidence is that" means "this is only the current belief," or if "evolution is only a theory" means "of course, evolution could be wrong," then what's to say the earth really is 4.5 billion years old and not not 6,000?

            I am not sure how exactly I would answer this question myself, but science must know something. There must be scientific facts. How can people promote science as the most reliable way of knowing the world if science doesn't tell us things that are true?

          • Rationalist1

            Science knows many things and it knows certain things with a certainty unmatched in any other realm of human inquiry but I don't want to tell them something, I want to explain them something and where it's not clear (like dark matter or dark energy or life on other planets) I explain to them that there is uncertainty or lack of knowledge. But I try to do it in a way that demonstrates how to reason on these subjects.

            I find if children are just given explanations from authority they are prey to any argument from authority.

          • Science knows nothing except provisionally.

            *If* there was an inflationary big bang, *if* that big bang involves unobserved dark matter, dark energy equal to 96% of the matter/energy of the cosmos, *if* redshift is the result of cosmological expansion, *if* that expansion is somehow occurring despite the fact that Higgs' discovery shows it to be 55 orders of magnitude smaller than our physics indicate it ought to be.........

            *If* all of those things, then 13.8 billion years.

            Lot of ifs there.

            In fact, the evidence is that the "ifs" are "aren'ts".

            Nothing unusual there.

            Science is constantly overturning what we think we know.

            That is its great virtue.

          • The backfilling and explainin' will now be required of those who insist that standard cosmology has accurately modeled the cosmos.

            It hasn't.

            The below link- posted yesterday on ArXiv and published in the peer reviewed journal Astronomy and Astrophysics- contains, on page nine, the most hair-raising picture I have ever seen of the centrality of Earth among all of the objects of the radio sky:

            http://arxiv.org/pdf/1301.5559.pdf

            Excerpts:

            "In order to figure out if our result is consistent with the null hypothesis that the radio sky is statistically isotropic, modified by the kinetic effects of our proper motion (measured via the CMB dipole), we performed 100,000 Monte Carlo simulations. The corresponding histogram is shown in figure 10. We find that only 21 of those realizations contain a dipole higher than the measured one and thus we can exclude that the estimated radio dipole is just due to our proper motion and amplitude bias at 99.6% CL. This is actually very puzzling, as the direction of the radio dipole agrees with the direction of the CMB dipole within the measurement error.

            All measurements so far point towards a higher radio dipole amplitude than expected, when we assume that the cosmic radio dipole is just due to our peculiar motion with respect to the rest frame defined by the CMB. This is quite puzzling, as the orientation of the radio dipole agrees with the orientation of the CMB dipole within measurement errors."

          • Rationalist1

            They know many things, but I always couch most explanations by explaining that astronomers hold that the age of the universe is 13.72 billion years and here's why. I never want to use the argument from authority. That's for other disiplines.

          • GaryJByrne

            Science is provisional. New evidence can emerge, and findings can change.

            Look at what happened to poor Pluto. One day, a planet, next day, voted down to a Plutoid.

          • Chicagoish

            "Current astronomers think that stars are giant balls of gas millions of miles away. Its all up for debate though, feel free to prove me wrong when you get older!" Sorry it just seems so silly to feign incredulity when its not actually there.

            When I intentionally catechize my own children, I say things like, "The Church teaches...." and emphasize that as a family "this is what our family believes... but when you're an adult you have to decide what to believe for yourself."

            I find it hard to lie to my children when they ask me questions to which I'm convinced of the truth of the answer, but on the same token I don't deny that others disagree and have other viewpoints. In the end, as adults, they'll decide on their own.

          • Medequcb68

            When I teach my children what I believed is true, am I being dishonest? Isn't it that we teach our children based on the knowledge we built collectively overtime as a human race rather than let the kids reinvent the wheel? As a parent, is it not incumbent upon us to teach our children what is best for them? Do you think we have to teach children things we believe as lie but we obstinately hold as true?
            Being an "open mind" is actually a euphemism of a belief system that closes its eyes to the evidence of truth by limiting/reducing the definition of evidence to the level of material.

          • Rationalist1

            You are no being dishonest because you honestly believe what you teach, But are you teaching what is not true, and more importantly what is knowingly unsubstantiated.

            Remember, most religious parents teach their children "truths" that are obviously not true.

            Teach your children what is best for them, not what is best for you.

          • primenumbers

            "catechism class is specifically designed to teach about Jesus Christ" - but it's not about teaching critical thinking on JC though, is it? It's about teaching the Church's position on JC as fact, not skills.

          • TheWhiteRock

            And where do you think that position came from? Do you believe someone just randomly pulled it out of thin air and decided to teach it hence-forth as truth? Or could it be possible that there is far more to the position, (which inherently required critical thinking to be formed, by the way) than you think?

          • Susan

            Or could it be possible that there is far more to the position, (which inherently required critical thinking to be formed, by the way) than you think?

            Of course, it's possible. It's also possible that there's a dragon in your garage.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJRy3Kl_z5E

            The trouble is that I've never been given a good reason that it's real. I ask for evidence, it's beyond evidence. I ask you to make sense of incoherent claims, you use special pleading. You offer "proofs" and the proofs are flawed.

            Why should anyone believe it? Why do you believe it? Why do you want to believe it?

          • primenumbers

            Yes, someone at some point invented it.

          • Chicagoish

            No, that's not the purpose of a catechism class. Just as the purpose of a "history of musical theory" class isn't to teach someone how to play the piano. To learn critical thinking,you'd have to take a class on critical thinking, which I'm sure that many Jesuit run institutions give. I'm sure however, that many "religion" classes involve inquiry, questioning, and critical thinking. What's your point, exactly?

          • Susan

            No, that's not the purpose of a catechism class. Just as the purpose of a "history of musical theory" class isn't to teach someone how to play the piano.

            In my experience, they taught catechism from the time I was six, long before any exposure to critical thinking. They kept the catechism going all the way through and were much less dedicated to critical thinking. Eventually, there was some appeal to "reason" but that was overthrown (as it is here) when it confronted catechism. It was met with obfuscation, appeals to mystery, appeals to the immaterial and the supernatural without ever justifying itself. There was no explanation (as there should have been from the beginning) of where the books of the bible came from, just the assertion that they were inspired by "God".

            The purpose of a catechism class is to teach us unevidenced beliefs as though they are as real as Jupiter. Anecdotal, I know, but it is consistent with the experience of many other children I know who were exposed to the same thing.

            Music theory exists because music exists and we know that. Music theory is a roadmap.

            This is different than flawed logical arguments and the evasion of the burden of evidence that I experienced in catechism class and here at this site.

          • primenumbers

            My point exactly is that it's pure indoctrination so it's not education, just brainwashing.

          • Rationalist1

            In science there are many facts to impart to the students but within all that knowledge one must teach how to learn, how to weigh evidence and how to question.

            And yes we say that today we think there are hundreds of billions of galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars because 80 years ago we thought there was only one galaxy and 80 years from now, you tell the students that's up to you.

            You don't have that challenge in Catechism class, you have here is what you are to believe, you believe it now and for the rest of your life.

          • You are exactly right, Rationalist.

            You are, in your own way, simply affirming the hierarchy of knowledge.

            Theological knowledge is absolute: it comes from God and is accepted on the basis that He reveals it.

            Metaphysical knowledge is deductive from theological and logical premises; that is, metaphysical theorems which are consistent with Revelation, and do not involve logical contradictions, are valid knowledge.

            Scientific knowledge is contingent; that is, it consists always in falsifiable propositions derived from experimental test of crucial hypothesis.

            The propositions, if deductively consistent, are valid knowledge right up until the day some experimental or observational evidence falsifies the crucial hypothesis.

          • Jay

            I've taught CCD a couple of times... It's basically that 1-hour/week session where the kids don't want to be there, half the parents are very concerned about what their kids learn while the other half really isn't that concerned, and you might very well spend half of your time within the classroom handling behavioral issues (more common within inner cities than suburban areas). Getting students to understand the basic teachings of the faith within this time frame with these challenges is pretty daunting. In general, I'd say we try to address concerns and doubts expressed by students within this time frame. I've definitely received questions of doubt about the teachings of the Catholic Church. I remember providing advise to a teacher who's student said she thought Lutheranism represented the truth and not Catholicism. If that's what the kiddo decides that's what she decides, but before she leaves the Catholic faith give her resources to find out the teachings of both Lutheranism and Catholicism. It's one thing to leave a faith because you KNOW and don't believe its teachings/think another faith is closer to the truth and another when you're actually misinformed about certain teachings of a faith. Again, we try to address concerns as best as we can, but there's only so much you can do within a limited time frame with some pretty daunting obstacles towards the kids actually learning.

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Rationalist,

            I suppose if you boil the question right down to the nuts and bolts there's really two questions; 1. should parents teach their children to open and critical of everything? Naturally there are some things that children should not be open to or should be encouraged to have no openness for. For example drugs (particularly the more dangerous ones) pornography or other harmful practices. yet one should also encourage their children to be open and kind to people who think differently than they do. Naturally, i think the faith is something that is very important and yet i realize that when children grow into their teen years they question a lot of what their parents taught them. i suppose i can only speak for myself in the sense that i was raised in the faith but when i grew into my teen years i kind of thought i can't just go to church because my parents want me to. they taught me about the faith, instilled in me the importance of prayer but i did have to investigate it for myself which lead to a realization that God isn't this creature far up in the heavens that i will see someday when i die. it made me realize he's real and he's already present. so in my opinion there does need to be some openness to others but being that i believe Jesus is the incarnation parents still have to sow seeds within their children that will germinate as they grow older.

          • Rationalist1

            Fr. Sean - It's more than that. My wife and I have always tried, even at an early age to always explain issues to our children. Be it religion, drugs, dealing with other people. If a child has the rational behind and action and why we ask him or her to do that it tends to be much more effective. (We also explained that if we say Do something now they are to react and we will explain later).

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Rationalist,
            I appreciate your point of view and your desire to give your children a good start. i remember seeing a son, about 10 approach his father because something was wrong with his bike. the father replied by saying; "well, what do you think's wrong with it". the boy then began to try to fix it. i appreciated the father's awareness that he needed to teach the boy how to use his own reason to address the issue. with respect to drugs i wholeheartedly agree with your desire to keep them on the straight and narrow. i've seen heroin and crack change someone from being a normal young person growing up to becoming consumed by the desire, it's such a sad story to see people get caught in any of those more powerful drugs, it almost seems like a one way ticket out of life.

            i think i may have mentioned this before but we all use reason, logic and faith in various ways. naturally we use reason in logic to make faith decisions about what's best for life, how we should live our lives, the people we may marry or jobs we may take. looking at the various aspects of the human person, our universe and the natural law or moral law also has evidence of a creator so in like manner one needs to make a decision in that area. making a decision that there is no God is just as much of a faith decision as believing that there is a God so your children still have to learn to make a choice without 100% certainty.

          • Rationalist1

            When my son was ten and we had to fix it, I showed him how I would tackle the problem and we worked on it together. Now he's a teenager he cam do it himself and he shows others.

            As for drugs one is upfront about them. I don't threaten him with retribution if he were to use them, we talk about druigs and their effects and what he would lose of himself if he were to go that route. I instill in him the fact the easy highs are very unsatisfactory. When you work at something, long and hard, and then do well, in music, sports, school, etc. that's the ultimate high.

            One doesn't make a decision that there is no God, one just says that there is no evidence for a God or Gods. Just like one says there is no evidence for homeopathy, crystals or astrology. If you assert to propositions without evidence, you will be susceptible to believing anything.

        • "Are Catholics more interested in their children finding the Truth or staying away from other (or non) religions?"

          More interested in finding the Truth, whom we're confident is a person, Jesus Christ. Yet that confidence is precisely why Catholics *are* open to children (and adults) exploring other religions. We see, as the early Church Fathers did, that all cultures and philosophies contain "seeds of the Word", small rays of light that ultimately point to, and conduce toward, the burning Son.

          This website provides one example of that openness. It shows Catholics are not afraid of dialoguing with ideological opponents. Yet perhaps I can ask this: how many atheists have started websites to sincerely engage Catholics and learn about Catholicism?

          • Rationalist1

            But this website isn't aimed at children. How open are Catholics to their children exploring the truth where ever it leads them or staying Catholic. Which would you be happier with, a child who as an adult became a practicing or uncommitted Catholic or a fulfilled non believer?

          • Gail Finke

            You are baiting people, not asking questions. Only people who look for truth actually find it, so teaching children to "have an open mind" really teaches them not to look for truth, because why bother?

          • epeeist

            Only people who look for truth actually find it, so teaching children to "have an open mind" really teaches them not to look for truth, because why bother?

            Caloric exists, true or false? Diseases are caused by miasms, true or false? Electrons can exist in two places at the same time, true or false?

            One can search for truth, but also aware that what we find is both contingent and corrigible. We should be open minded about what we find and not insist that it is necessarily universal and certain.

          • TheWhiteRock

            Rationalist, as a Catholic who received Catholic education, I can affirm that we are indeed taught comparative religions (edit: as) part of the curriculum. We understand the biblical basis for this as Christ said that to know our faith, we must question it. How can we question it if we are blindly following? We wouldn't think to if it was truly a mindless endeavour.
            However, even without the Catholic education, we aren't cloistered brothers and sisters after all ;) We live in this world, and we are aware of other religions, as would our children (and they are).
            Also, the truth "wherever it leads them" doesn't sound like truth at all. Objective truth will lead to one place for everyone, that's what makes it objective ;)
            Lastly, to answer your specific question, and this would surprise you I'm sure, I'd actually be more unhappy with the uncommitted Catholic.

          • Chicagoish

            I don't want my children to believe things that are false, because those things will not lead them to their ultimate fulfillment as people. Therefore, I want them to believe that God exists, he loves them, and he has a church for them. But its kind of a silly question in the first place. I could ask a "strong atheist" the same question and probably get a similar answer. "Religion is false and therefore psychologically "stifling" and whatnot.

          • Jonathan West

            Therefore, I want them to believe that God exists, he loves them, and he has a church for them. But its kind of a silly question in the first place. I could ask a "strong atheist" the same question and probably get a similar answer. "Religion is false and therefore psychologically "stifling" and whatnot.

            These two opinions are mutually conflicting - they can't both be true. Therefore I think we need to step back further and ask ourselves how we might find out which is true.

          • Rationalist1

            Wthout a doubt most (or all) religion is false.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The Catholic ecumenical and inter-religious approach is to begin with what is true as common ground.

            The common ground between Catholics and atheists is reason. Right? We both think reason *rocks*.

          • primenumbers

            In Catholic school, do children learn critical thinking skills or Catechism?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Ideally, they learn both. In practice, they may not learn enough of either.

            Catholic schools in West are undergoing the process of recovering from the collapse of Western Culture which hit about 1968.

          • primenumbers

            Collapse? I reckon that's rather subjective. As for critical thinking in schools - never seen it. (I'm an ex-math teacher BTW, and have taught in both Catholic and public schools)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Good English teachers teach critical thinking. So do good math and science teachers. They go along with teaching the subjects properly and don't need to be added on as if they were a separate subject.

            You didn't teach thinking as a math teacher?

          • primenumbers

            There's a section of the UK curriculum devoted to math investigations which aims to teach some thinking skills in a math context. This is good as far as it goes.

            But critical thinking in general in not explicitly taught, which to me would include knowledge of human psychology and memory, cognitive biases, logic, argumental fallacies, etc.

          • Rationalist1

            Collapse of Western Culture dince 1968 - That's only the opinion of people who define Western Culture in terms of sexuality,

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No. There is a lot more than sexuality involved. It has to do with the rejection of objective truth and morality across the board. One exception is experimental science itself, which can't help but be rooted in reality.

          • epeeist

            There is a lot more than sexuality involved. It has to do with the rejection of objective truth and morality across the board

            Well none of us like post-modernism ;-)

          • Rationalist1

            The why did Western SCulture collapse in 1968. Was it the civil rights act (1965), was it the opposition to a war in Vietnam, was it equality of women? What, in your opinion, was the downfall?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's a discussion for another day, if you don't mind. My original point had to do with how unhealthy Catholics schools have been, but I think they are recovering.

          • ZenDruid

            I'm thinking it was the Summer of Love, 1967, that rubbed the Vatican's collective nose in the fact that the sexual doctrine and dogma of the Mother Church are primitive and inhuman.

          • Chicagoish

            Yeah the hippie movement turned out to be un-fraught with strife and misery; a sexual psychological panacea; what with divorce rates, number of abortions, number children born out of wedlock all rising. I'll take the "primitive" wisdom of mother church over "enlightened" hedonism of mother jones any day of the week.

            I'm guessing it followed the years of the Second Vatican Council, post 1965.

          • epeeist

            Collapse of Western Culture dince 1968

            Wasn't that just after the second Vatican council ;-)

          • TheWhiteRock

            You've never seen critical thinking being taught in school? At what level? Elementary or high school? I received it in both, and then, of course, it was an option in university as well. Perhaps it just depends on the country?

          • BenS

            Could you, perhaps, tell us what the difference is between the uncollapsed Western culture and the collapsed one?

          • Michael Murray

            I looked up 68 on Wikipedia and there was trouble in Vietnam and MLK was assassinated but I think the real damage was

            October 15 – Led Zeppelin makes their first live performance, at Surrey University in England[6]

          • BenS

            I think you have a good case that event marked the beginning of the end of western society. It's all been downhill from there.

          • Alden Smith

            I was taught critcal thinking by my Catholic Anatomy Professor in college. She never mentioned religion unless in private chat.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Right she was because she was an anatomy teacher who was a Catholic. Her job was to teach anatomy, of which there is no special Catholic version!

          • Alden Smith

            I'm not trying to be insulting Kevin. Just pointing it out that she is a Catholic. She is also one of the best professor I have ever had. I'm sorry if i was disrespectful

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sorry, Alden. (Comments leave out 80% of communication.) I didn't think you were being flip! I wanted to agree with you and support what you said.

          • Vicq_Ruiz

            I didn't start a website, but I freely admit that there are lots and lots of things I don't know about Catholics and Catholicism, and I'm always happy to learn.

            There are a few Catholic posters and authors here though who give the impression that they have completely sussed out atheists and atheism, and are only too ready to lecture me about my own innermost thoughts and motives.

            These posters often move threads along to the point where you feel the need to chime in about the "commenting guidelines".

          • Sample1

            It shows Catholics are not afraid of dialoguing with ideological opponents.

            Atheism is not an ideology. Please remember, where religion is weak, atheism is weak.

            how many atheists have started websites to sincerely engage Catholics and learn about Catholicism?

            Perhaps as many that have started websites to learn about Bigfoot and the Kraken? Make no mistake, I think you have yet to consider that your entire world view could be based on a delusion.

            Mike

          • Michael Murray

            Well said. Why do they find it so hard to understand?

          • Sample1

            I don't know Michael. Maybe there is an analogy to be made between rational mentation and the bonding preference hemoglobin has for carbon monoxide. In other words, for many people it's as time consuming to cleanse their brains of errors as it is for their lungs to off-gas poison.

            I know you must also be aware of the articles demonstrating that even when conspiracy theorists are shown proof of their errors, that is still not enough for many to abandon their mistaken views. There's something really deeply embedded going on here.

            The reasons are surely going to be evolutionary in origin, perhaps finding meaning by going back to a time in our development when our distant ancestors (I'm thinking microbes and plants now) simply had no environmental pressures related to deception? [I've been in edit mode for some time trying to think further about that and explain better what I'm getting at. Thank you for asking the question. I'm going to enjoy thinking on my own about my pet hypothesis for a while. If I come up with anything not too laughable, I'll be happy to share it.] :-j

            Mike

          • Jonathan West

            This website provides one example of that openness. It shows Catholics are not afraid of dialoguing with ideological opponents.

            Quite frankly, I think you are deceiving yourself. Having been here and commented on a few articles, and read through the comments, I see no evidence at all of any willingness on your part or of any other catholics here to engage in dialogue with "ideological opponents".

            The articles themselves simply restate standard catholic doctrine, and when objections are raised, there is no attempt to debate the objections, except by restatement of the original doctrines.

            To take an example, on the recent Conscience thread, you replied to robtish concerning the "eliminating the possibilities" style of argument, and I replied showing how Kreeft had clearly and obviously made basic logical errors in his attempt to eliminate a naturalistic explanation for the phenomenon. Neither you nor anybody else made any attempt to address the comment.

            But I bet you still think that Kreeft still has made a decisive argument to the effect that conscience must have a divine origin.

            And the fact that you call us "ideological opponents" in itself speaks volumes concerning your willingness to engage.

          • clod

            Catholics tend to argue from a position of knowing the truth already, as opposed to being open to discovering the truth, whatever it may be.

            True dialogue aimed at a discovery of truth involves sustained engagement. I have lost count of the number of direct questions that have been put to you Brandon, that you have declined to respond to.

            Some other posters make up for that a bit, but overall, the constant restatement of dogma as truth makes this site less valuable than it could be.

            I don't know the answer to your last point, but you must be aware by now that many of the atheists here are former catholics when have studied catholic teachings probably beyond the level most lay catholics people have.

            Also, atheism is not an ideology. No need to see us as opponents. It won't help at all.

      • David Egan

        I want them to find their own way in life. Obviously I'll have a strong influence on their choices but I'm really trying not to push them in any particular direction (except for teams they support - in that case, some teams are mandatory and others are off limits). I want to raise kids that are skeptical about the world and are always questioning. If they have that approach and still end up religious, I'll be OK with that. I'm sure I won't agree with them but I'll always be supportive. The good news is that a good skeptical worldview and religion are not likely to play well together. My kids will end up fine.

        • "I want to raise kids that are skeptical about the world and are always questioning."

          Including being skeptical about your Skepticism? Questioning your questioning?

          "The good news is that a good skeptical worldview and religion are not likely to play well together."

          I'm not sure why this is true. Christians are just as skeptical as atheists, just about different things. We're skeptical, for instance, of groundless objective morality or causeless universes.

          • Susan

            We're skeptical, for instance, of groundless objective morality or causeless universes.

            I asked you more than once Brandon, what objective morality would look like and how we could show that it is objective and you still haven't answered.

            As far as "causeless universes", that discussion lies on other threads.

            What exactly do you mean when you say "sceptical"?

          • I asked you more than once Brandon, what objective morality would look like and how we could show that it is objective and you still haven't answered.

            I believe I have heard Sam Harris talk on this, and as far as I can tell, he comes down on the side of objective morality, at least to a certain extent. He makes an analogy to health. It may be impossible to define it precisely, or to say what is healthy and unhealthy in every possible circumstances, but we can say many things about promoting health that are true (and false).

            I think virtually everyone agrees that rape is wrong, for example. If you don't accept the idea that there are no objective moral truths, you can't really say, "Rape is wrong." You can say, "Most people thing rape is wrong." You can say, "We think rape (or slavery) is wrong, but in other cultures, where men are allowed to rape women and get away with it (or where men are allowed to own slaves), for them it is not wrong."

            Whether there really is objective morality seems to me a very difficult question, but practically speaking, I don't see how it is possible to act as if there were not objective reality, just as it is not practical to claim people do not have free will and therefore are not accountable for their actions. It may be the case that free will is an illusion, but if someone commits cold-blooded murder, we can't really say there should be no consequences, since the person cannot be held responsible for doing something that was not his choice.

            If there is no objective morality, then saying, "Rape is immoral," is not a true statement. It is neither true nor false. It is basically meaningless. All the judgments people here against the wickedness of Yahweh are neither true nor false. They are pure opinions, couched in moral language.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'm voting you moral Einstein for the day.

          • Susan

            David,

            What do we mean when we say wrong? Or good or evil? Or moral?

            We have to reason our way through the meanings of those words when we make an argument for a moral position. As far as I can tell, that is all we have to work with and not only do I not see why those words become "meaningless" without "objective morality", I don't see anyone pointing to an objective moral and being able to show that it is objective.

            If they can't do that, how do claims of "objective morality" do anything to help us make moral progress?

            Whether there really is objective morality seems to me a very difficult question

            Indeed. Which is why I can't accept it being asserted as fact which is what Brandon has done in previous discussions and failed to support or even define. What exactly are we talking about?

            It may be the case that free will is an illusion, but if someone commits cold-blooded murder, we can't really say there should be no consequences

            If free will is an illusion and someone commits cold-blooded murder, why should we say there should be no consequences? How does that follow?
            It frustrates me that terms like "free will" and "objective morality" are so often asserted here without the implications of the claims being addressed.

          • What do we mean when we say wrong? Or good or evil? Or moral?

            I think when we say that something is wrong, we mean it is something we ought not to do, irrespective of the consequences to ourselves. For example, if I see someone get hit by a car in a hit-and-run accident, he is unconscious and perhaps dying, and I see that I can take his watch and wallet because nobody will see me, I ought not to do it, and I ought not to do it because it would be wrong. On the other hand, if I have a cell phone handy and can call an ambulance and possibly save the man's life, I ought to do that.

            As I recall, you have criticized Yahweh for being "cruel." You or others have criticized him for ordering the genocide of the Amalekites and for testing Abraham by ordering him to kill Isaac. I presume that is because you believe that cruelty, genocide, and filicide (or deceit) are wrong.

            Now, if they are not objectively wrong, then it seems reasonable people can disagree on the matter. If genocide is not objectively wrong, what is the argument that it is wrong or is always wrong? The same for cruelty and murder. I think I may have said that if things are not objectively right and wrong, then it is meaningless to call them right or wrong. If so, I take that back. It is not meaningless, just as it is not meaningless to say "chocolate is delicious" or "it's a beautiful day." Those things do communicate something, and it is something that most people can agree on. However, it is not something that really can be argued about. "Chocolate is delicious" is only a true statement if you yourself consider chocolate is delicious. I have met one (and only one) person who is not particularly fond of chocolate, and if she disagrees with me about chocolate being delicious, I can't tell her she is wrong and try to persuade her to find chocolate delicious. Likewise, if I have a picnic or a wedding planned, a day may be beautiful because it is sunny with no sign of rain. If I am a farmer in desperate need of rain for my crops, and we are in the midst of a drought, "it is a beautiful day" may not be true for me. It may also not be true for someone from a vastly different climate and has a different expectation of what makes a beautiful day.

            So when I talk of morality being objective, I mean that the sentences "that is right" and "that is wrong" can be true statements, and true regardless of consensus. There were times and places in which "slavery is wrong" would have been considered false perhaps by a majority of people, but if morality is objective, slavery has always been wrong regardless of what people thought. By objective morality, I do not mean that it is always clear to everyone what is right and what is wrong. But I mean that statements about morality can be true or false Just because something may be objectively true does not mean it is always known to be true. But it should be possible to know that it is true. For example, Fermat's last theorem was stated in 1637, but there was no proof until 1995. However, it was true before 1995 even though that is the date it was proven.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Unfortunately for you, as for all theists, it has never been demonstrated that objective morality exists.

          • Unfortunately for you, as for all theists . . . .

            Why the attitude?

          • Susan

            Unfortunately for you, as for all theists ...

            Why the attitude?

            What attitude? To this point, Brandon has blasted in several times (before he heads off to Croydon to do who knows what to imply that objective moral values exist, alluding to the necessity of a deity based on the fact that objective moral values exist without ever defining or justifying that assertion.

            You have used clear-cut examples (rape is bad) to appeal to most of our very strong intuitions about "bad" and "rape" and asserted that without objective morality, anything we say about "good" or "bad" or "moral" is meaningless without explaining why.

            You have connected the "ought" to objective morality. Fair enough. That's a starting point. We all have "oughts" for which we can argue, based on the hope that we can make progress on "oughts".

            My "oughts" are intuitively pointed at the real impact they have on a world where sentient beings experience the outcomes of "oughts".

            But neither one of you has explained what objective morality means, let alone how we would know it is objective.

            The burden is on the one making the claim, particularly (in Brandon's case) if they want to piggyback from that that there is an "objective moral authority" (a contradiction in terms) because of the existence of "objective morality".

            What is objective morality and how do we know it's objective?

            Claiming that objective morality exists is simplistic. Besides, there is no evidence for it, depending on your terms. Maybe your terms are confusing me.

            To assert it as fact is to overlook a long and difficult (and by no means, settled) controversy on morality and ethics. It's not a choice between objective morality and moral relativity. That is a genuine strawman.

            I'm not a philosopher and can't speak with expertise on the subject, but I do know this. The burden is on the one making the claim.

            It's cheating to say that unless objective morality exists, then any discussion about morality is as frivolous as our taste in ice cream. That does not follow.
            So PLEASE, answer what I hope I successfully bolded above. (First attempt at bolding in Disqus and that sort of thing doesn't usually go well.)
            What IS objective morality and how do we know it's objective? That's the only place to begin.

          • Corylus

            I'm not a philosopher and can't speak with expertise on the subject ...

            Metaethics is hard - in fact, quite a few philosophers avoid it.

            A short video below on common terms and issues. (N.B. Don't be tempted to turn off the sound because the author has a tendency to read from slides - there are a few useful verbal asides as well).

            David: you might like this also.

          • Susan

            Metaethics is hard - in fact, quite a few philosophers avoid it.

            Thank you, Corylus. Great video. So much more useful to me than the unevidenced assertion that objective morals (whatever that means as they weren't defined) exist.
            Much harder and much more useful.
            And MUCH more honest and thoughtful.

          • Corylus

            You are welcome, Susan.

            objective morals (whatever that means, as they were never properly defined) exist.

            "Objective" generally means something that is independent of what any given subject (aka us humans) believes, wants, understands etc.

            For example, it is objectively true that the earth aint flat - even if a some point people took the view that it was.[1]. Objectively moral facts are therefore things that are embedded into the universe, and things we can't change.

            I can understand a desire for such things, this generally comes from a need for justice and a sense of compassion. Some things run so counter to our sense of both that we want to be able to say that some things are wrong not just in our world and experience, but is all possible worlds also.

            I get it :)

            Unfortunately, we live is this world and have to negotiate our moral lives with each other as a backdrop. To ask for objective moral values (in the way that they are commonly asked for) can be like asking for a language to exist even when there is no-one around to hear it, no-one to speak it, no-one to write and no-one to care about it says.

            -=-=-=

            [1] If anyone decides to argue flat earth with me on the basis of this I may just have to kill em dead.

          • Susan

            I can understand a desire for such things, this generally comes from a need for justice and a sense of compassion. Some things run so counter to our sense of both that we want to be able to say that some things are wrong not just in our world and experience, but is all possible worlds also. I get it :)

            So do I.

            If anyone decides to argue flat earth with me on the basis of this I may just have to kill em dead

            I won't stop you. :-)

          • Indeed.

          • Sample1

            just as it is not practical to claim people do not have free will and therefore are not accountable for their actions.

            This is an antiquated understanding of those who lean toward the evidence that freewill is an illusion of an illusion. Fatalism isn't the only response to evidence that many of our thoughts occur spontaneously and that many of our actions can be predicted via fMRI before we are consciously aware of making them. Harris addresses this specifically in his e-book, Free Will. Since you bring him up, perhaps you'd be interested in that book.

            Mike

          • From the very little bit I know, he seems to acknowledge that it is practical to act as if people had free will. Here's a quote from his book on free will in the New York Times:

            He [Harris] even allows for the possible usefulness of public moral condemnation: [Harris Says] “It may be that a sham form of retribution would still be moral — even necessary — if it led people to behave better than they otherwise would.”

            I would be interested in reading his book, but something in me balks at paying $9.99 (or even $8.39 on Amazon) for a book of less than 100 pages. (I have a copy of The Moral Landscape, but I have not read it yet. I was impressed with Harris's performance in the debate with William Lane Craig at Notre Dame.)

          • epeeist

            I think virtually everyone agrees that rape is wrong, for example.

            Which mean that it is inter-subjectively regarded as wrong. Would it still be wrong if there was nobody there to disapprove of it? Is the proposition "rape is wrong" invariant of our existence?

          • Would it still be wrong if there was nobody there to disapprove of it?

            Are you asking if rape would be wrong if the only two people in the world were a rapist and the rape victim? Obviously it would still be wrong. Are you asking if rape would be wrong in a universe where there were no sentient beings?

            Would you say there is such an act as rape at all? Or is there just something we inter-subjectively agree to call rape? And suppose there is a global catastrophe with only one man and one woman as a survivor. The man is a psychopath, with no conception of right and wrong, and he believes he can rape the woman any time he wants. So we have only two people, one of whom doesn't regard rape as wrong, and the other (the woman) does regard rape as wrong. Is it wrong for the man to rape the woman under these circumstances.

            Or in certain parts of the world at the moment—the Congo, for example—rape is being used as a weapon of war. In situations where the troops outnumber the women, there is no inter-subjective agreement that rape is wrong, so the majority of men rape the women. Is rape wrong in those situations, or are outsiders illegitimately intruding in other people's affairs to make the judgment that what is going on there is wrong?

            If I say that soldiers should not rape women as a military tactic, would you disagree with me, or would you agree but say that people who disagree are no more right to support rape than we are to oppose it?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Excellent post.

            My brother is a Catholic moral theologian who works in Taiwan. He usually begins a course in moral theology or ethics with examples just like you have given to help the students see that they actually believe in objective morality in some cases even thought they have been programmed to think they believe all morality is subjective.

          • Why thank you!

            I have read blog comments from teachers who claim that their students say it is wrong to make moral judgments! To make moral judgments is to be judgmental, and it's wrong to be judgmental or to try to impose your morality on someone else.

          • Michael Murray

            How do you distinguish between:

            (1) I will always think this action is wrong. (Subjective)

            (2) This action is always wrong. (Objective)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            (2) should agree with right reason.
            (1) should agree with (2).

          • epeeist

            Are you asking if rape would be wrong if the only two people in the world were a rapist and the rape victim?

            "Objective" is usually taken to mean "independent of mind", or to put it in a different way not dependent on human activity. To give an example, the tides would still turn without us being there to observe them or for Newton's theory to produce knowledge of why they happen.

            Is "rape is wrong" a moral fact in the same way the tide turning is a physical fact? Do moral facts actually exist, and if so what kind of facts are they? How do we discover them, how do we perceive them?

            Are you asking if rape would be wrong in a universe where there were no sentient beings?

            What I am saying is that it is impossible to take the subjective (and inter-subjective) out of ethical discussion. Ethics involves us and the societies we live in. One can be a moral realist without accepting moral objectivity.

          • "Objective" is usually taken to mean "independent of mind", or to put it in a different way not dependent on human activity.

            I see references to objective morality all the time. But I am willing to do without the word objective. I am interested in the question of whether moral statements are true or false. Is "rape is morally wrong" a true statement? Would it be a true statement in a predominantly male society where all the men believed they had a right to rape women whenever they chose, and only the women maintained that rape was wrong?

          • epeeist

            I am interested in the question of whether moral statements are true or false. Is "rape is morally wrong" a true statement?

            And we are back to whether there are moral facts. Corylus posted a link to a short video laying out the different positions that one can take.

          • Sample1

            I disagree with Brandon's comment about Christians being as skeptical as atheists (free thinker is probably a better word than atheist here since not all atheists are rational).

            So instead, I'd call his type of skepticism a skepticism of convenience only.

            Mike

          • David Egan

            Sure, I hope they are skeptical about the things I say. They shouldn't accept something just because I think it's true.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            > They shouldn't accept something just because I think it's true.

            Ha! Wait till your kids are adolescents and teenagers. They will do that automatically.

          • primenumbers

            " We're skeptical, for instance, of groundless objective morality or causeless universes." - but not skeptical of causeless Gods because "causless" is only an objection for other people's ideas, not your own (and yes, I know you carefully define your God to be causeless, but proof by definition is, as you know, rather unfullfilling.)

            As for objective (mind independent) morality, you have it mind-dependent upon God, and hence it's entirely subjective.

      • Daniel Dennett recommends that every person in the world be required to take a comparative religion class. Parents can teach their kids whatever they like the rest of the time, but all kids everywhere need to take one comparative religion class. I think it's a wonderful idea.

        • TheWhiteRock

          You mean like at a Catholic school? This already happens, at least in my country. Additionally, why is the following fact not obvious to those criticizing the Church on this topic: Catholics can't teach their kids about Catholicism without touching upon Judaism and Islam - Judaism especially. I mean truly, that seems incredibly obvious to anyone who's read even a little bit of the New Testament. The Bible also introduces non-belief & paganism. If Catholics were so gun-hoe on indoctrinating (pejorative definition here) our kids against non-belief, the Bible probably wouldn't be the place to go ;)

          • I think many Catholic schools do this. You wouldn't want to do it from the Bible. It would be like judging the New Testament by only reading the Koran. For each religion, you'd want to have the kids read representative selections of the text (both problematic and non-problematic), and then the kids would, if possible, get to interact with an adherent of that faith.

          • Michael Murray

            There is a difference between a comparative religion course and a course which assumes you are right and explains how the others are wrong.

          • Linda

            For Confirmation we had the ministers of other Christian religions come in, and then we were taught about the other religions like Judaism, Hindu and Buddhism, though those were such amazingly foreign concepts we couldn't begin to get our heads around them. (my tiny hometown was 46% Catholic and 47% Lutheran - for years I thought the whole world broke out like this. And a good bit of the time I could tell just by looking at someone whether that person was Catholic or Protestant - weirdest thing). We were allowed to ask the ministers any questions we had regarding their beliefs compared to Catholicism. It was interesting; I've recommended to the Middle School religion teacher so my children have the same opportunity.

    • Gail Finke

      "To be honest, I'd be really disappointed if they do something stupid and fall for religion." So you are really raising your children to believe that nothing is true. That's what "keeping an open mind" usually does mean.

    • Alden Smith

      Hypocrite I

    • Alden Smith

      Thats why I'll never marry atheist. They talk about open minded about religion but that means being atheist never actually becoming a Theist

      • Alden, how would you know for sure what another person actually believes? Some theists realize later that they never really did believe (a charge often leveled by the religious at those who leave).

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        There are many instances of atheists becoming theists. Why do you claim this is false?

        • Alden Smith

          I mean about their children. They raise there children to be open minded but that means being atheist and not becoming a theist. WSMFP statement says it all

          • WSMFP

            I'm not raising my kids to be atheist. Quite the contrary. They go to a Catholic school and go to Lutheran church with their mother. I'm raising them to be skeptical and I'm hopeful that this will lead to rejection of religion. It may not and, if it doesn't, that will be disappointing but OK.

          • Sample1

            that will be disappointing but OK.

            Thanks for bringing that up. It seems to me that a false dichotomy lurks beneath the discussion here. One inferring that an atheist parenting well should not be disappointed with a child's decision to embrace faith.

            Disappointment is not necessarily off the table. Behavior that negatively impacts the parent-child bond is.

            Mike

          • Alden Smith

            I never said you were raising them to be atheist. But your statement said you hope that they do become atheist rather become Christian's.

          • TheWhiteRock

            If they found a "truth" that is valuable to them, and live whole, happy, helpful and profound lives, why would you be disappointed?

    • TheWhiteRock

      My question for you, WSMFP, is why are you okay with sending your kids to Catholic school if you don't want them to "fall for religion"? I'm simply curious.

      • WSMFP

        Because it's the best option for our kids given where we live and plan to live for awhile. The fact that we have the ability to opt out of the catholic religion track is a huge plus. If not for that, the school would have been a lot less appealing and I'm not sure what we would have done after our first was out of preschool.

    • Medequcb68

      We can only give our children what we have. If a parent doesn't have faith, how can he/she teach the child about faith? Truth is, we teach our children our belief system like being open minded and then get disappointed to the point of imposing on them if they do something stupid like falling for religion.
      It is our duty (conscience tells me as formed by our church teaching and the bible) for a parent to take care and protect his children the best he could. In the process of determining what's best, we filter ideas which we think is harmful for the well being of the kids. We referenced to our best experience, our ideas of happiness, profound joy and complete life and we want our kids to have them as well. (Unfortunately, some of us have only bitterness and random thoughts about what a happy life is and there is not much we could teach our children in this regard)
      At the end of the day, we do not live the lives of our children. We could not control them especially when they reach the age of reason. A parent could only influence so much and there is a wide and I should say wild world out there that our children will have to face and live. Just putting our role as a parent in the proper perspective, our role is to guide them. The good thing about being a Catholic is we have an objective truth, a moral guide based on love which we could reference to to guide our children. When they start living their life apart from us, they could have a good idea of what is beauty and what is ugly, moral from immoral, love from indifference, happiness from depression, self giving from selfishness- and they could make their choice on how to live their life.

    • Vickie

      Do they know you are Atheist? Do you never discuss your viewpoints where they can hear you? Don't you think that the fact you think falling for religion is stupid has a guiding effect in a particular direction?

      • WSMFP

        They are a little young to understand the idea of atheism. They certainly notice that I don't go to church on Sunday with them and it won't be too much longer before we talk about why that is (at least with my oldest). I definitely want them to reject religion and I'm sure that desire will be evident as they get older and we talk more about. I'm not under some delusion that I'm perfectly neutral and objective about this because I'm not. And, I know that I'll have an influence in some what in whatever choice they make. But, I have no problem with the fact that they go to church and learn about religion in school. I think it's good for them to be informed about it and it will help them make the best choice possible down the road. I'm pretty sure that exposure to the insane nonsense that is religion and the assurance that it's OK to reject it will be all they need to make the right choice.

        • Alden Smith

          And you see why I call you a Hypocrite

  • Rationalist1

    While I'm sure there are religiously neutral parents who reacted negatively to their offspring choosing a religion I would be willing to bet that their reaction would be more tempered than a religious family where an offspring adopted a different faith pr became a non believer.

    Speaking from personal experience when I came out as a non believer I was told it was worse than if I died. Family members shunned me for years.

    • Isaac Clarke

      That's quite sad R1. Thankfully I grew in a culture of "don't ask, don't tell". More worthy of thanks is that it's growing toward a culture of "don't tell, I don't give a sh..".

      • Rationalist1

        I agree. When I grew up there was one family in the neighbourhood that didn't go to Church and that was a scandal for everyone. Now the majority don't go to church and very few care.

        • Isaac Clarke

          I remember as a child spending summers with my rural grandparents and being forced to go to mass on Sundays. It was just the done thing. The first half of the pews were full of women and a few "Holy Joes", the second almost empty. The space at the back of the church would be full of men standing, smoking, gossiping, nursing hangovers and shuffling their feet.

          Now I'm in a similar rural setting and the attitude seems to be it's okay to go to mass, but no-one is interested in the fact that you do.

    • alexander stanislaw

      Ouch, I had an experience that was not quite that bad, but still pretty bad.

    • TheWhiteRock

      I'm really sad that you had to experience this. Truly. That must have been terribly painful. I definitely would not condone such behaviour, and if I may say so, being shunned is certainly not Christian behaviour at all. It probably only pushed you away from belief even further. Again, I'm very sad to hear this.
      However, I've had experience that is the opposite, and I've witnessed atheist parents becoming livid at a child who chose a faith system. However, I'm finding that more and more there are atheists, and then there are anti-theists, who seem to be just really angry people in general...

  • gwen saul

    I find it a little difficult to believe the first sentence of this article: "In my part of the country, it's common to raise your kids to be "open-minded about religion." I actually grew up in Austin, TX and as a cradle atheist, there was nothing but constant attempts to convert or impress Christianity on me (and my parents) from playmates, parents on the playground and the occasional classmate. I personally don't see anything wrong with raising your kids to think critically for themselves and be open to other religions, but it would be even better if parents taught their kids that it's perfectly "ok" to be friends with people from different religious or non-religious backgrounds and not try to convert them.

    • Fr.Sean

      Hi Gwen,
      I agree with almost everything you say, it is important to think critically and we should be friends with people of other faiths, but being friends with others doesn't mean we should believe everything of what they believe or that we should open minded about everything?

    • Rationalist1

      Obviously one doesn't believe everything of what they believe and being open minded about everything is a non starter. Personally I find Carl Sagan's Baloney detection kit ( http://users.tpg.com.au/users/tps-seti/baloney.html ) useful as an initial screen for religious, political, scientific, etc. ideas.

    • Isaac Clarke

      Is a cradle atheist the same as an organic atheist. Someone who's never believed in any gods? And someone who has not been coerced into non belief. Sorry, it's the first time I've heard that phrase.

      • josh

        'Organic atheist'. Heh. I prefer to think of my self as Freethought Range.

        • Isaac Clarke

          If you liked cowboy hats would you be a Freethought Ranger?

      • TheWhiteRock

        "coerced into non-belief".
        Could you explain this a bit more? How could one be "coerced" into non belief? I'm just really fascinated by such choice of words! :)

        • Isaac Clarke

          See what you mean, not a great choice of words. I was thinking of the former USSR, or it's like, where an enforced ideology included atheism. So more a coercion into false statements of disbelief, or belief, as any country with an apostasy law would be an inverse example.

  • Fr.Sean

    I appreciate the article and feel Mrs. Fulwiler hints upon a very important topic for many parents. I've naturally spoken with many parents who's children have left the faith. they don't know what to do and feel they've failed. I can only think of my own time growing up when I began to question what my parents taught me. This led to an investigation that led to a deeper understanding of my faith. Parents have to sow seeds with their children and simply pray that they will germinate. I've also encountered many young people who've left the faith only to return years later. I believe most young people who've left the faith return years later a little more enthusiastic because they've owned the faith for themselves. Young people will only discover how real Jesus is when they accept the faith for themselves but the chances that they will do that decrease if Jesus is lumped in as just one "prophet" among many religions. parents should encourage their children to be open to learning but still have some believes that they hold to. I'm sure most parents who encourage their children to be "open minded" wouldn't encourage them to take that same approach with heroin, crack or crystal meth?

    • Rationalist1

      Fr. Sean - As a former Catholic who has left the faith and had to live with years of rejection by my family tell them to accept that their children, especially when they become adults have the right to pursue their own course.

      And being open minded in not the same as being a crack head. How do we teach our children not to do drugs. By explaining to them the facts of drugs, the consequences of drug abuse and teaching them to be responsible for their life and the effects of their life upon others.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        And also being an example of a person who is not himself addicted to things?

        • Rationalist1

          That's true. Living a good, moral, happy life is the best example to one's children.

      • Isaac Clarke

        Also to have to tell kids that drugs do make you feel good in the short term. Otherwise their peers, or any experimentation, will make you an unreliable source of information.

        • Rationalist1

          Religion can make you feel pretty good in the short term.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'd put it differently, at least from the Catholic perspective. Religion can make you feel good or bad in the short term, good or bad in the medium term, and good in the long term.

            However, religion isn't about feelings: it is living according to the truth.

          • Rationalist1

            For a God that is love, religion should be about a loving relationship. In my book, that's good.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You put it better than I did, although goodness, truth, beauty, life, and suffering merge.

          • Isaac Clarke

            I often wondered does the phrase "opium of the masses" actually refer to the glazed look many catholics have in church on a sunday morning.

            Though to be honest where I live it's most likely a hangover.

          • Rationalist1

            Actually read the entire quote from Marx and realize that Opium in the mid 1800's was not a universally bad drug, it was more a medicine. It's actually more positive towards religion than most people think.

  • GaryJByrne

    To take it a step further, I would encourage modern parents to shun the concept altogether, and embrace the search for objective truth instead.

    I would posit the search for objective truth is found with evidence - independent, consilient, and testable evidence.

    Such criteria are an antithesis to organised religion.

    • Gary, thanks for the comment. You say, "I would posit the search for objective truth is found with evidence - independent, consilient, and testable evidence."

      What independent test did you run to arrive at that conclusion?

      No Christian would disagree that *some* truths are found through empirical testing. But do you belief *all* truth must meet your narrow criteria? If so, why?

      • GaryJByrne

        What independent test did you run to arrive at that conclusion?

        Hi Brandon, I used the word 'posit' deliberately, so as not to claim an actual conclusion.

        • So you admit you could be wrong, and there's no way to verify whether you're right?

          • Rationalist1

            And how do you know if you are right or wrong?

          • GaryJByrne

            I've just re-read my post, and I don't see where I've admitted anything like that.
            Brandon, could you give me an example of an objective truth, as you see it, so as to define our terms moving forward on this thread, thanks.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Here are two. One is philosophical and the other is ethical. (1) The virtue of justice is giving others what you owe them. (2) We ought to live the virtue of justice.

      • primenumbers

        "But do you belief *all* truth must meet your narrow criteria? If so, why?"

        Not all truths are thus testable, but if you wish to have a degree of certainty that you've found a truth, it must be thus testable.

  • Sample1

    Being open minded is simply being receptive to new information. It's not necessarly a reliable or usable tool (apart from the value of being a good listener for instance) until it is coupled with critical thinking; then it does become the most reliable tool, yet discovered, for discerning facts and evaluating claims.

    Mike

    • "Being open-minded is...not necessarily a reliable or usable tool...until it is coupled with critical thinking"

      Good point, and I think it's exactly what Jennifer concluded in her article.

      • primenumbers

        "more parents would say, "We're raising our kids to seek the truth."" - that's a good goal to have, but what was not covered in the article were the methods and skills by which a) you can determine factual truths, and b) the methods by which you can teach your children those skills. These skills are so useful in so many different aspects of life that it's a broader subject than just religion, and I'd hope it's something all us parents here would be doing with our kids.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          It is why a classical "liberal" education is so important since that is exactly what it imparts in terms of critical thinking skills.

          • primenumbers

            I don't think traditional education imparts critical thinking skills as such skills start with children (and are often beaten out of them) way before they start formal education.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Traditional education and a liberal education are not the same thing. One kind of traditional education began in the 1900s on the factory model. If you have 50 to 70 kids in a classroom, you can't teach critical thinking.

  • I would have to say that the kind of religious education I went through (Catholic) at the time I went through it (grade school and high school, early 1950s to mid 1960s) was something akin to brainwashing—only worse. :-)

    Brainwashing is generally practiced on those who have some capacity to resist it. But when indoctrination starts at birth, or at least in one's earliest schooling, there is not much there to wash away. The indoctrinators have total control. I would imagine things have moderated to a certain extent, but when I went to Catholic school, religion was taught through almost every subject, with math and spelling being the only two exceptions I can remember. In addition to straightforward religion classes, Catholicism was included in history, geography, and all social sciences. For example, in geography, an important fact about any country was what percentage of the population was Catholic. Teaching children to read was a vehicle for Catholic indoctrination, with the reading textbooks from 1st to 8th grades being from the "Faith and Freedom" series. (When I look back on it, I am surprised at the extent to which we were indoctrinated not just in Catholicism, but in American exceptionalism. There was only one true religion, and only one country that had God's full approval.)

    When you go through an extended process of indoctrination like that, if it "takes," you are forever left wondering if you can think for yourself and think straight. The attempt in Catholic education is to inoculate so that no other religion is thinkable, and unbelief is also unthinkable. One of my friends in high school used to say that the genius of Catholicism was to make each individual his or her own thought police.

    I see a lot of enmity toward Catholicism here, and for the most part, I don't feel it myself. I am usually willing to defend Catholicism when it is attacked, although I am also more than willing to raise difficult questions when it is promoted. I feel that hating the Catholic Church is like hating weather. It is part of the environment, and it's not going to go away.

    Having said that, I am not sure how possible it is to raise children to be open minded when it comes to religion, but certainly it does seem to me that open mindedness requires accepting whatever reasonable choice the child or young adult makes. It does not extend to giving your blessing to children who join cults. (Although defining a cult may be difficult.)

    I do wish a way had been found (if such things are possible) to educate me to be considerably more open minded. It must be very satisfying to choose a religion (or no religion) for oneself freely and intelligently. But when you are indoctrinated (or brainwashed) from birth, your ability to choose freely is narrowed.

    • Loreen Lee

      David. With respect to your concluding paragraph, I believe it is possible. I too was raised from the 40's through the 50's in Catholicism, and know what you are talking about. I did not want this for my children. Yet, as a teenager my son, came to me one day with the conclusion that God had to exist. I believe that my daughter too has a very developed sense of morality, although every one of us has their 'weak' side. After leaving Catholicism, I have spent a live time studying philosophy and various religions. I have come back to Catholicism, but am still fighting the feeling that my beliefs may still be part of the 'indoctrination' of my youth. But with respect to the metaphysics, etc. I am Catholic in my support. But I believe it will always be a struggle. Throughout my exploration of alternatives, I shared my experience with my 'children', and I trust this knowledge has been helpful to them. None of us therefore is 'totally committed'.

      For instance, things keep happening that make me rethink. When I recently went to confession, for instance, feeling that perhaps I should have raised them within the separate school system, I received a rather 'strict sentence'
      with a penance appropriate to the priest's judgment. However, I found it interesting that he never thought to ask whether or not they were baptized. I did not think it appropriate, therefore, to ask him about how he felt regarding the fact that I did baptize them, and whether this would have been legitimate. Although I read, that with proper intent, and the pouring of water, anyone can baptize, I was still uneasy about this, on the basis of my indoctrination. But more important to me, was the priority he disclosed in holding that an education within the Catholic school system seemed more important to him, and saving their souls in the act of baptism. I did my penance, and thought 'priests are only human', and 'forgave him'. But I run into conundrums like this all the time, which are always a test of faith. (or at least allegiance to the apostolic order of the hierarchy') The point of this, is that I would still like to do 'something for my children'
      and feel somehow that I was not the best role model as a parent. Yet, I do not regret that I did not raise them within a system which would have possibly exposed them to specific influences of individuals who carry their own baggage with them with respect to their interpretation of Catholicism, including all of the superstitious beliefs that were part of 'my education'..

  • Ben

    This is sort of tricky. I think it will be a lot more revealing to talk about HOW you raise a kid to want to seek the truth or to be open minded, not which of these presented labels one prefers.
    Brandon, Ms. Fulwiler (if you're reading through these): what does it mean to you to raise your kid to seek the Truth? I get the sense that as Catholics you think you have found the Truth already. Will you enroll them in Sunday school or whatever it is Catholics are enrolled in, take them to mass with you? Will you teach them that it is historically true that Jesus rose from the dead and performed other miracles, and that is why you believe in his divinity?

  • Kevin Aldrich

    Human beings are born believers. By this I mean our nature is to believe whatever our parents tell us. (This, by the way, is why totalitarian regimes want to destroy families and have the state indoctrinate children). Also in our nature is the tendency to question all that when we reach a certain age.

    Children have to be taught something. I think the Catholic Church is wise to come down in support of parents' right to educated their own children in their values. One reason is that nobody cares about your children more than you.

    The best policy in my view if to pursue two interrelated goals: (1) To indoctrinate you children in your own beliefs and values and (2) to teach your children that you believe those things and live that way because you think it corresponds to the objective truth about reality.

    • Rationalist1

      Humans are not born believers any more than they're born speakers. They have the propensity to believe and the propensity to speak.

      As to the best policy, it's what most atheists do. They don't tell their children what to not believe, only how to think, evaluate evidence, use logic, etc. and then let the child make his or her won decision. And why do atheists do this instead of reading them verses from Hitchens and Dawkins every day. Because they have "faith" in their position and that their child will chose it if they want. And they respect the right of that child who is educated in proper decision making to eventually make his or her own decision ultimately on their own when they become an adult.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        I don't agree that children are not born believers, but I think you are absolutely right to indoctrinate your children in your own values.

        I think the word indoctrinate needs to be rehabilitated. It literally means "to put teachings into." It is what everyone does anyway.

        • GaryJByrne

          I think you are absolutely right to indoctrinate your children in your own values.

          And what if these "values" include homophobia, bigotry and misogyny?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think your terms are highly ideological and emotionally charged. You are trying to set up false alternatives.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            They may be emotionally laden these days, but they are accurate with regard to many, if not most religions. The Qu'ran, the Bible, and parts of the Vedas are quite clear about homosexuality, the subordinate place of women, and the general inferiority of non-believers. Christians largely assimilate that;

          • Kevin Aldrich

            A broad and unwarranted generalization.

            Catechism of the Catholic Church:

            2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated
            homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And yet the church also states, "2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." and "2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

            I'm sorry, but when you say to someone, "I love you, I respect you, but you are not permitted to love, nor are you permitted to be intimate, because everything you want is utterly disordered and intrinsically evil," your going to have a really hard sell that you're compassionate.

            "I love you but everything you want is evil" is not good PR.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If it is true, the point is to tell the truth about reality, not to score PR points.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Then kiss your audience good-bye. No amount of "we love you, we're just telling you the truth for your own good" will compensate for the hateful ugliness of the message.

            The world is changing; the church is not changing with it. The church managed to finesse divorce, but I don't think they'll be able to finesse this one.

            I suspect Benedict will get his wish: a much, much smaller church. Much poorer, but ideologically united.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The world is always changing. What you say is "hateful ugliness" today may look like beautiful love in fifty years.

            People have been predicting the demise of the Church for a long time.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Sure. But I didn't.

          • Sample1

            People have been predicting the demise of the Church for a long time

            And why do you think that is?

            How many people are predicting the demise of science engineering, and mathematics?

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think you are making a false comparison. The Church is an institution. Institutions come and go. Science is a field of study. These tend to be more stable.

            A more correct parallel would be predicting the demise of the National Academy of Science (possible) vs. the demise of history (not likely).

          • Sid_Collins

            If those are truly one's values, they will be taught by example no matter what verbiage comes out of one's mouth.

        • Caezer Ng

          In agreement with Kevin. Children rely on, and need, leadership as they grow up. Parents, grandparents, teachers -- the 'village' -- teach values and skills.

      • Sid_Collins

        Actually, given the way parents serve as role models, I think we as atheists DO tell our children (indirectly) what not to believe by living a life based on our lack of belief in gods. Children tend to unquestioningly adopt their parents' perspectives on the world until they reach the age when they begin to think for themselves. Their beliefs might then change. But they will never entirely escape the powerful influence of their early sense of how the world works, absorbed as part of deep emotional ties, and without going through a filter of reason. I believe that a conversion from strongly held parental beliefs sets up a permanent tension in the personality. One will always be aware of a conflict between emotional reactions and consciously reasoned actions in response to questions in this arena. Converts will be constantly re-examining their new and old beliefs, like someone checking an old scar. Ex-Catholics will hang out in forums like this!

        • Rationalist1

          You're right about the ex-Catholics. As for the actions of the parents, it's always the best example. Explaining to a child why you hold a position, either political, economic, literature, music, etc. is always the best. My son likes Beethoven, I like Bach. We discuss, debate and enjoy each others interests.

          • Give me that old time Bach! These kids, these days, with their newfangled "Beethoven" ... Humbug!

          • epeeist

            Give me that old time Bach!

            Bach, discordant nonsense. Give me Machaut any day.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And Josquin. And let us not forget Byrd. Catholic he may have been, but the Masses for 3, 4, & 5 voices are masterpieces.

          • Phil Rimmer
          • M. Solange O’Brien

            True! More women in Sacred Music, that's what we need!

            And of course, Tallis. Taverner is overrated in my opinion.

          • epeeist

            Currently listening to Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli.

            Don't the Catholics here like music, or are they just not saying...

          • Corylus

            Don't the Catholics here like music, or are they just not saying...

            Well, there hasn't been any audible winces about this one yet...

            The parents, on the other hand, were shocked, since the image of their son tearfully giving his life to Jesus Christ and playing guitar for a praise and worship youth group was not at all what they had in mind when they raised him to be open-minded about religion. [emphasis mine].

            An alternative reason for the parents despair.

    • GaryJByrne

      because you think it corresponds to the objective truth about reality.

      How do you know your objective truth corresponds with reality?

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Because I am almost 60 and I have been questioning things since I was about 14, checking my and others' beliefs against reality.

        • GaryJByrne

          For example?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I used to think that more education could solve all our world's problems. I used to think that good government could solve all our problems. I used to think that smart people could solve all of our problems.

          • Sample1

            How on earth did such collosally ill-conceived expectations find fertile ground with which to take root during your formative years?

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I was taught them by osmosis by public schools and all the "enlightened" people I knew.

          • Susan

            I was taught them by osmosis by public schools and all the "enlightened" people I knew

            Really? You were taught that these things could solve ALL of our problems?

          • Sample1

            I believe you and that is regrettable.

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Me and my whole generation.

          • Sample1

            Fair enough, I believe you. How regrettable, Kevin. Be that as it may, there is still something off-putting about your post today. Surely you aren't suggesting that answers to the world's problems will be solved by:

            1. Less education

            2. Worse government

            3. A lowering of IQ across all cultures

            I can't believe you would embrace those three choices as being anything near reasonable, right? So what are we left with here? It seems to me, for whatever reason, you've chosen a system that specifically advertises having answers to all questions (either now or for the dead to see). That system is Jesus, who allegedly stated, "I am Truth." That's your preogative Kevin, I'm not saying it's right or wrong, just my observation.

            Kevin I think as long as your position is built on the preconceived idea that there must or should or "it would be nice if there were" answers to all problems or challenges, then you will naturally gravitate to the billboards that advertise exactly that. Is it any wonder why you wouldn't eventually find faith?

            Rather than draw attention to perceived failures of education, government, and intelligence, perhaps you could consider if you are unfairly asking certain fields to operate outside their respective scopes?
            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Mike. Those are big questions.

            I'm not against education at all. In fact, I'm an educator. The question is *what* ideas and methods will we teach children and young people? More of what is not true and what does not work will not improve anyone; quite the contrary.

            I'm personally for small government with checks and balances to keep the thieves and liars and sociopaths from doing too much damage.

            My complaint isn't about people being too smart. It's about "smart" people coming up with utopian visions which only wreak havoc.

            I'm actually very optimistic about the future if we can keep building on what really works.

          • Sample1

            Thank you for the give and take in our discussion. So, completely out of left field here, but I'd like to ask you what may seem like an unrelated question. Kevin, do you object to what's often called alternative medicine such as chiropractic, homeopathy, cranial-sacral therapy, acupuncture, et al?

            I'll explain why I'm asking this but first, I'm really curious as to your answer.

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I haven't used any of these but I know lots of people have been helped by chiropractic (?) and my brother lives in Taiwan where lots people swear by acupuncture. I don't object to them but I am skeptical of people who reject modern medicine out of hand.

          • Sample1

            I don't object to them

            Well I do.

            But my point in raising non-evidence based medicine (which is really just a faith-healing position) was only to draw a corollary between groups who are convinced that all problems/challenges have meaningful answers and others who are cautious about panacea-friendly mindsets.

            I don't have hard data, but I think people of faith are more likely to be swindled (or taken in) by medical quacks than people with naturalistic world views. Again, I don't have evidence for this but I may have to start searching for studies. My correct guess about your thoughts on this matter could just be coincidence.

            Mike

          • josh

            At what point have we had a universally well-educated populace and a good government filled with smart people?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's the progressive mantra: Just give us more time and more money and more laws and we'll bring it about.

          • josh

            It was an open, honest question, not a mantra. I didn't say anything about laws or money.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Okay.

            We never have had and (I suspect) we never will have a universally well-educated populace and a good government filled with smart people.

            Human nature is too damaged.

      • Stallbaumer

        Because that is what "objective" means...

        • GaryJByrne

          It is?

          • Stallbaumer

            Yes. If something is "objectively true" it, by definition, corresponds with reality. If something isn't real, it is objectively false.

    • primenumbers

      "By this I mean our nature is to believe whatever our parents tell us." and hence why religions want children indoctrinated when young.

      The best policy is to teach critical thinking and reasoning skills which are the tools necessary for anyone to determine fact from fable, truth from lies, and is useful in all aspects of life. By your suggestion of just using indoctrination, your children are open to other sources of indoctrination. By teaching the critical thinking skills you give them the tools they need.

      • Phil Rimmer

        "By teaching the critical thinking skills you give them the tools they need."

        This is why the sequencing of what goes in is crucial. How enlightened would be the religious household that praying and the saying of grace, for instance, were excused the young until they were older. Mindless parroting reflects badly on parents.

        Teaching the deep rewards of concern and compassion for others can still be the best part of your exchanges, a routine of bedtime thoughtfulness, perhaps, talking about others and how they feel or may feel. What it might be nice to do to help them tomorrow. Lets send a message or take some flowers...

        Not one scintilla of morality is lost, and no misapprehensions, no wrong headed notions taken.

        Tribal identities are built early and used mercilessly by kids. Far better to create a much broader and open identity first, with the wit and wisdom to steer around the narrow minded

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Beware of untested theories of how to raise children. Their only virtue is we don't know yet how disastrous they will be.

          • Bravo, Kevin. A key error of post-modernity is the hilariously absurd notion that we are wiser than our forebears.

          • josh

            Yes, those happy, scientifically ignorant, sexist, violent slave owners. So wise.

          • josh:

            You are, of course, displaying only the magnificent ignorance of history which is, as I have said above, a key insight into the profound solipsism and disorientation of the post-modern world view.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That is a key intellectual error of the past 500 years. It is the error that everyone before us was a bunch of morons. It is what the Protestant Reformers, the Enlightenment thinkers, and every form of Marxism and Progressivism has claimed right up until today.

          • epeeist

            That is a key intellectual error of the past 500 years. It is the error that everyone before us was a bunch of morons.

            Oh nonsense. Those who went before us were wrong on many things, largely because they didn't have the tools or capabilities we have now. We have these tools and capabilities because we built on the groundwork they did.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'm not saying there has not been progress. Progress from one source is separate from an error on another.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I surely shall. I recount here the successful behaviours of my (Quaker...yet again) neighbours from 50 years ago. The Foxes (!) and their three charming and high achieving kids. Possibly the best advert for religion yet.

        • aargh42

          Are you saying that parents in religious households never teach their children to be kind, compassionate or thoughtful? A rather dubious claim, me thinks. I personally know many children of "religious" households raised to be exceptionally kind and caring, many who give selflessly of their time to their communities and neighbors. AND, they have also been known on occasion, to give thanks for their food before meals...Imagine that.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Are you saying that parents in religious households never teach their children to be kind, compassionate or thoughtful?"

            No.

  • Isaac Clarke

    Speaking as a non-parent, it seems to be that most parents are out-sourcing the majority of their children's education. I find it very understandable, I'd be able to teach a child to speak english, I'd be hard-pressed to explain the rules of grammar though.The same seems true with religion, parents seem to send their kids to other people to learn about their religion, then seem surprised that the kids don't learn exactly the thing the parent wanted them to.

  • My question is:  Why does open-mindedness imply that one is not open to seeking truth?  Can't one encourage a child to seek truth while at the same time being tolerant, respectful, and sympathetic towards those who do not share one's viewpoint?  I would argue that this is what most parents mean when they say that they are raising their children to be openminded on the religious question.

    Fulwiler gives the example of a child who becomes a Christian in college to the dismay and outrage of his parents, but I think this is an extreme example.  As an openminded parent, myself, I encourage my children to seek truth.  If they decide it is exclusively with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Atheism, or whatever, I will be fine with that decision (asuming they don't cut me out of their lives because of it or use their religion as a way to harm others), knowing that I taught them from a neutral stand-point, and that they weighed the evidence and chose for themselves.   At the same time I will encourage them to continue to "seek the truth," and to never stop questioning.

    This brings me to my second critique of Fulwiler's article:  Raising one's children in one religion with an exclusive claim to the Truth ™ is to indeed halt the quest for truth.  After all, if you believe that you have the  Truth ™, then there is no room for encouraging your children to look at other perspectives from a viewpoint of fairness.  At the end of the day, you will be explaining to them why everybody else is wrong.  This is to do the very thing Fulwiler criticizes, stop the quest for truth. 

    Finally, I will mention the elephant on these threads--the Doctrine of Hell.  If your religion says that nonbelievers will spend eternity in Hell, how can you be fair and truly love those of other faiths?  This is why many parents are choosing to raise their children to be openminded.  The Doctrine of Hell adds an element of fear and coercion to religious questioning, which further stifles the quest for truth.

    I like what Daniel Dennett has to say about religious education--teach children about ALL religions, both the good and the bad. Then let them decide for themselves. Atheists are more knowledgeable about religion than any religious group. Indeed, it is in our search for truth that many of us become atheists. In my own discussions with believers, I've noticed that conversations often drift towards experiential relativism rather than how exactly we can weigh the personal experience data coming from the many different truth claims made by different religions. Why should I trust the resurrection story and not Mohomed's revelation in the desert? Or why should I trust someone's personal experience of a changed life with Jesus over someone's personal experience of a changed life from practicing yoga? It's important to teach kids that all religions make such experiential claims and give them the tools to evaluate the truth of these claims.

    • Sample1

      At the end of the day, you will be explaining to them why everybody else is wrong.

    • GaryJByrne

      I like what Daniel Dennett has to say about religious education--teach children about ALL religions, both the good and the bad. Then let them decide for themselves.

      Kacy, I agree with Dennett, but this would be like turkeys voting for Christmas :)

      If individuals could decide for themselves, what religion or more specifically, no religion, suited them, the numbers of adherents would plummet through the floor.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      When you say parents should teach their children to be "tolerant, respectful, and sympathetic" you have already closed their minds and your own on some truths you consider objective and settled.

      You've already dismissed intolerance, disrespect, and heartlessness.

      Opemindedness is a squishy term.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Finally, I will mention the elephant on these threads--the Doctrine of
      Hell. If your religion says that nonbelievers will spend eternity in
      Hell, how can you be fair and truly love those of other faiths?

      For the umpteenth time (on this site), the Catholic faith doesn't teach what you think it does.

      • Susan

        For the umpteenth time (on this site), the Catholic faith doesn't teach what you think it does.

        What does it teach?

        • ""The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the "eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Rick,

            You have to go 600 years back to make a point? There is such thing as development of dogma. Perhaps reading some more contemporary works will be of some benefit.

            Here is how Vatican II interprets this teaching:

            "Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by
            God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it"
            (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 14).

            "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 16).

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS
            DHS

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            There's some good meat in there. So if you think you're doing god's will - you're saved.

            You've just saved every Muslim on the planet, yes? All of them are going to heaven based on that logic.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            M.

            Nothing will make me happier than to meet all the Muslims in the world in heaven. However not all of them truly endeavor to do God's will in their life. Sadly we can say the same thing about Christians, but that is another issue.

            Luckily the Church leaves judgement of each individual person to God, since he is the only one who knows what is in the heart of every person. This is why, according to what the Church teaches, they have a pretty good chance to "finish the race".

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            No, actually, according to the CCC, and FL, and others, they don't. They have zero chance. Their actual faith rejects Christ as savior. They are not baptized into the Catholic faith.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            M.
            I would be happy to entertain the CCC paragraph you are referring. A quote would be most helpful.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            They have already been provided several times in this discussion, but I'll dig them out again for you.

          • Don:

            Dogmatic definitions are irreformable by their very nature. See LG #15. These dogmas are *never* to be understood in any sense other than the Church intended when defining them.

            There is development of doctrine, *never* development of dogma.

            In other words, if you imagine that your above citations in any way whatsoever contradict the defined dogma, then you are wrong.

            I do not imagine any such contradiction, so I am completely comfortable providing the dogmatic definition which apparently troubles you.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Rick,

            Who is Don?

            In case you meant to type Dcn I will add.

            "Dogmatic definitions are irreformable by their very nature. See LG #15."

            You mean this?

            15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the
            successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and
            Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate,
            celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She
            exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth."

            I fail to see how this proves your point. Care to elaborate?

            Perhaps reading another excerpt of VII might help you understand development of Dogma:

            "The tradition which comes from the apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts, through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For, as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her" (Dei Verbum 8)

            I hope this helps.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Sorry, Dcn.

            Here is the relevant passage from LG *25* (sorry for the mistype):

            The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful--who confirms his brethren in the faith (cf. Lk. 22:32)--he proclaims in an absolute decision a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.[42] For that reason his definitions are rightly said to be irreformable by their very nature and not by reason of the assent of the Church, is as much as they were made with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the person of blessed Peter himself; and as a consequence they are in no way in need of the approval of others, and do not admit of appeal to any other tribunal. For in such a case the Roman Pontiff does not utter a pronouncement as a private person, but rather does he expound and defend the teaching of the Catholic faith as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the Church's charism of infallibility is present in a singular way.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Rick,

            I think you should follow the advice of Pope Benedict XVI and apply a "hermeneutic of Continuity" to the documents of VII. Meaning you can not take one paragraph and claim "It means this" while ignoring the rest of the council's declarations. Let me show you what happens when you do this.

            The paragraph you quote speaks specifically of papal infallible declarations, in a section which refers to "THE HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH
            AND IN PARTICULAR ON THE
            EPISCOPATE ." (Chapter 3's Title)

            In this paragraph(LG25) we just have go its last sentence (missing from your quote) to see how it harmonizes with the rest of the council's declaration, specifically Dei Verbum 8.
            I quote:

            "The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, in view of their office and the importance of the matter, by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents;(46*) but a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.(47*)" LG 25 (Last sentence)

            I call attention to the phrase:

            "diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents"

            In my opinion, a pretty good good summary of what DV 8 is talking about.

            I hope this helps.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Please notice, Deacon, that ex cathedra definitions are irreformable by their very nature, do not depend upon acceptance by the Church, and cannot be appealed to any forum.

            They stand forever.

            If someone interprets any lower-level teaching as if it contradicted a dogma, then we know immediately that any such interpretation is certainly wrong.

            So, if one interprets *any* teaching of the non-dogmatic Second Vatican Council in such a way as to set it in contradiction to the following, dogmatic definition, then that interpretation of the Council is wrong.

            "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not onlypagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the "eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

          • 42Oolon

            Cool I'm going to Catholic Heaven! I think, wait didn';t the pope just suggest this and get corrected by the church? C'mon Catholics, you've had centuries, get your message straight.

            Wait, I know my search is sincere, but I do not know if it is moved by grace, because that term makes no sense to me. i also do not know if I am doing God's will, because I do not know what that is.

          • Vickie

            Actually, what the Pope said was that the Lord had redeemed us all through the blood of Christ even atheists. Which is not incorrect. Jesus paid the price for each and every one of us. Everything necessary to redeem you was fulfilled and completed. A simple analogy would be to see it like riding a train. Jesus bought and paid for your ticket. Will you accept that from him and go pick up the ticket at the station? Will you then get on the train? Once on the train will you then get off before your destination? Since your ticket is bought and paid for you can always get back on the train but you could also get off again. Jesus has redeemed all of us but we are free to reject it or accept it at any time.

          • Mikegalanx

            When Rick mentioned he came from a Calvinist background, things began to seem clearer- apples, trees.

      • For the umpteenth time (on this site), the Catholic faith doesn't teach what you think it does.

        Well, it did, at least in the Catholic schools I attended.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Crack open the Catechism of the Catholic Church 846-848.

          "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of
          their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation."(847)

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Note that "do not know the Gospel or Church" pretty much eliminates everyone in the West. It completely eliminates atheists; it eliminates anyone who's ever been exposed to the Bible but discarded it (which includes masses of folks in the East).

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Not at all. If you really knew the Gospel and the Church, and rejected that, your observation would apply.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            What about this, "Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC 846)"

            The Church is necessary for salvation. What part of that is ambiguous?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's exactly what I said.

            If your really know that the Church is necessary for salvation and you refuse to enter it or if you leave it, then those words apply to you. I would venture you don't really "know" that.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I have thoroughly read the Bible, the CCC, most of the Church fathers, Augustine, and huge amounts of theology from Aquinas to Tillich and Barron.

            According to the church, I'm eternally damned, since I find the whole thing rather sad and a lot silly.

            The message is incredibly harsh, no matter how you slice it.

          • Phil Rimmer

            What rotter would ever force such certain knowledge onto a child lest they reject it for "irrelevant" reasons? Why not teach them all the good ways to behave the kindness and compassion that should surely find Godly favour with far less risk of a technical rejection.

          • Depends on whether you are fully and deliberately rejecting the Church even though you *know* it's founded as necessary by God.
            Do you believe the Church was founded as necessary by the God you don't believe exists?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            So now it becomes "fully" and deliberately rejecting the church. Why the sudden influx of qualifications? Church doctrine is pretty clear: if you are a lapsed catholic, you're damned.

            I don't understand your second question. Can you rephrase it?

          • No. If you are a lapsed catholic you are *not* ipso facto "damned." Wouldn't the courteous thing be to let a Catholic help you understand what the Catholic Church teaches?

            If you prefer, you're welcome to undertake *both* sides of the conversation--the atheistic and the Catholic--and discuss it that way. But if you really want to know what the Catholic Church teaches, I'd suggest letting Catholics do that part...

            My second question was: Do you believe the Church was founded as necessary by *God*? By the God you don't believe actually exists? IOW, do you *know* the Church was founded as necessary by God, and are choosing to reject it anyway, or is it that you find the whole thing rather sad and a lot silly?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            But the catholics simply argue with each other. I've cited the CCC, the most definitive single catholic document I can easily find, and the point seems quite clear. You don't offer any explanation of why it's wrong.

            Here's the relevant quote again: "Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it."

            Presumably, to be a lapsed catholic, one must first have been a catholic. To be catholic, one must have known that the catholic church was founded as necessary by god through christ. To be lapsed means that one has refused to remain within it.

            Hence, they cannot be saved. Not saved = damned.

            Seems quite clear.

          • To be catholic, one must have known that the catholic church was founded as necessary by god through christ.

            As you yourself might point out, how could someone know that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God? Where is the proof? Do all Catholics know to be true what the Church teaches?

            In Catholicism, to be held morally culpable for doing something seriously wrong, one must know it is seriously wrong and give full consent. There is going to be disagreement about how strictly to interpret those two criteria. In my opinion, just because someone was raised a Catholic does not mean he or she was ever fully committed to the Catholic Church and wholeheartedly embraced what the Church teaches about itself.

            And, as I said before, in Catholic belief, it is not the Church that decides these things. It is God. The Church does canonize some people and declare them to have been saved, but the Church does not declare any person to have been damned. It doesn't pretend to know.

          • Let me try once more: To whom does the passage refer as those who "could not be saved"? They who *know* that:

            1. Christ founded the Catholic Church.

            2. *God* founds the Catholic Church *through* Christ.

            3. God founds this Church through Christ as *necessary* for salvation.

            This is what "they" know. They *personally* know this. This means they *believe* this as *factually* correct.

            Then what do "they" do? "They" either refuse to *enter* the Church or refuse to *remain* in it.

            Does this describe you? Do you accept as *fact* that God founded a Church necessary for your salvation? But you refuse to belong to it?

            Compare this, for example, to the demons (fallen angels). The demons know as a *fact* that God exists. Yet they refused to enter into God's plan (or remain in it, whichever). And they're in hell.

            So a lapsed Catholic who follows the same pattern as the demons *will* be damned.
            BUT, not every Catholic who leaves the Church leaves still believing the *fact* that it's necessary for their salvation. I'd daresay most don't--they leave often because they really *don't* believe this fact. They believe their salvation does *not* rest upon membership in the Catholic Church, which is precisely why they decide to leave it. Most don't leave in *spite* of the fact--they leave because they don't actually believe the fact (that it's necessary for salvation)...

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Do you believe the Church was founded as necessary by *God*? By the God you don't believe actually exists? IOW, do you *know* the Church was founded as necessary by God, and are choosing to reject it anyway, or is it that you find the whole thing rather sad and a lot silly?

            That's what the church claims, yes. And as Paul say, we are all without excuse....

            So I too am damned.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            So if I understand you correctly, your claim is that only someone who actually BELIEVES in god, but refuses to be Catholic is damned?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No. People outside the visible Church *can* be saved by cooperating with God's (hidden) grace to live a good moral life.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Not according to what you just quoted. Lapsed Catholics are damned. They have rejected god: "Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. "

            So all lapsed Catholics are damned. Yes or no?

          • NO. Lapsed Catholics are not automatically "damned."
            Familiar with the term "invincible ignorance"?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Unfortunate, one can go through 12 years of Catholic schools and 4 years of Catholic college and be ignorant of the Faith.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            "Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it."

            Please explain how this passage from the CCC does not apply to lapsed catholics.

          • Susan

            If you really knew the Gospel and the Church, and rejected that, your observation would apply.

            What does that mean?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I can't judge whether *anyone* is saved or damned. I have no idea what the have done or why they have done it.

            I'm wondering why you even care if you don't think God exists?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I'm exploring what Catholics think.

          • Sid_Collins

            Judging from the disagreement among Catholics on this matter, they interpret the doctrine differently. I believe this is the squishy bit:

            none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, [can be saved] . . . . unless before death they are joined with Her . . . .

            If you assume human possession of a soul that exists independently of the body, who would know whether God offers a last chance on the immaterial plane before the body is cold? Whether a Catholic favors belief in God's justice or God's mercy in this area probably says more about that Catholic than anything else.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Two thousand years of exegesis, philosophy, and theology has produced exactly... nothing in terms of consensus.

          • No one is saved by living a good moral life.

            This is the heresy of Pelagius.

            One must be translated from the condition of original sin; that is, "child of Adam".

            Since the promulgation of the Gospel, this translation cannot be effected apart from baptism, or the desire for it.

            People are saved by Faith, Hope, and Charity, and absent these things no one at all is saved.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Rick, I wish you would tell us what religion you really belong to.

            People are assuming you are a Roman Catholic. You are distorting the documents of Vatican II and the CCC.

          • Now that is a very serious charge there Kevin.

            Since I hold every dogma of the Catholic Faith, and am accused of heresy for it, I suggest that it is *you* who are distorting the Faith.

            In fact, I have conclusively shown this to be the case, in previous discussions with you concerning the necessity of Faith for salvation.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Well, let me approach this from a different angle.

            Do you think Vatican II and the popes during and since it also "hold every dogma of the Catholic Faith"?

          • Of course.

            How on Earth could one be Catholic, and deny the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Great. I'll let Dcn correct you then.

          • So far no one has shown that I have failed to uphold the Faith, Kevin.

            To the contrary, it seems you are the one who has difficulty granting the assent of Faith to the defined dogmas of our Holy Faith.

            I honestly pray that you will overcome whatever difficulties are presently interfering in this regard.

          • Kevin--let's take care on this point. Rick is adequately reporting the teaching of the Church on Baptism and original sin. The Church has long maintained the "both/and" of the necessity of baptism for salvation with the understanding that while we are bound by the Sacraments, God is not. There is a certain tension at work in this, but it's helpful to remember the "both/and" part of this.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't see the both/and in Rick's arguments.

          • Then you haven't read Rick's arguments.

          • The concept "baptism of desire" can cover a lot of territory--the tension here is that we're not sure how the remedy for original sin might play out in every case--but *God* is sure of it. But the bedrock truth is that no one is saved who is not first freed from original sin....

          • "But the bedrock truth is that no one is saved who is not first freed from original sin...."

            BRAVO!

          • Yes.

            That is correct.

            "Refuses" is the key word.

          • Max Driffill

            Dracula, from that Coppala movie is definitely damned. He totally believed in this god, and the power and necessity of the Church, but once he got back and found his wife a suicide, he saw red and wanted to share it with the whole world. He actively rejects this god. Hence all the trouble that follows.

            Its safe to say that no atheist fits this category. But we are also left with the bizarre bit, espoused by Paul that claims people have no excuse. Does the Church teach that atheists really, honestly don't believe gods exist, or does it teach atheists really do believe in god, we just want to live our filthy lifestyles? To say one thing is to certainly be engaged with we atheists in an honest dialogue, but would also be at odds with holy scriptures. To say we were just dodging gods so we could live in sin would be in line with scripture but would render this whole effort at Strange Notions, and dialogue with unbelievers more or less a fruitless waste of time and energy.

            So which is it I wonder....?

          • It seems you are collapsing the categories of knowledge and believe. One can KNOW what the Catholic Church teaches from reading the catechism, papal encyclicals, etc., but still not believe the claims. Yet you say that because someone doesn't BELIEVE the claims, they must therefore not KNOW what the Catholic Church teaches.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Interesting point.

            I think the answer is conscience. It is the decision you make based on what you know and believe to be true.

          • And I think very few people (if any) are disingenuous when it comes to what they believe, which pretty much makes the CCC quote meaningless if you collapse the categories of belief and knowledge.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            There is a wonderful novel by C.S. Lewis called "Till We Have Faces" which explores the way people try to hid the truth about themselves from themselves because it is so hard to face.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And what does 'really know' consist of? I doubt you can find a person alive (some trivial exceptions) who hasn't heard about Christians and the Bible. Per the CCC, they are damned, since they have heard, but not accepted. How much detail are we talking about here? Does someone who does not choose to pick up the Bible, knowing that it exists and makes claims about salvation, still remain "innocent"?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The Church is not talking about "hearing about" but "knowing."

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And what is "knowing"?

            And not knowing is not guarantee anyway. I just cited the CCC; salvation lies with the church, with baptism, the eucharist, etc.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are smart and claim to have read all the pertinent documents from the Bible to St. Augustine through the CCC.

            You should be able to tell *us* what the Church means.

            David does a superb job of this.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I have. You keep trying to play nice and claim the church isn't being harsh on this point. But the teachings aren't particularly clear (except the CCC, which contains stuff most people reject and for good read). Damnation is much clearer.

          • josh

            Kevin, your desire to not think that most people are going to hell is admirable. But it forces you to reduce a central doctrine of the Church for a thousand years to meaninglessness. No one goes to hell except believing Catholics who reject Catholicism? It's pretty strange if what Jesus meant by all the narrow ways and camels through needles and multitudes cast into the lake of fire was ' Nah, basically everyone gets in, you get, like, infinite chances and we grade on a curve.'

          • Kevin Aldrich

            What made you think I think most people are not going to hell?

          • What made you think I think most people are not going to hell?

            How would you show that anyone is "going" anywhere after death?

            Got evidence?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I would show it by showing the reasonableness of believing what the Church teaches about the Last Things

          • I would show it by showing the reasonableness of believing what the Church teaches about the Last Things</blockquote?

            But, what evidence do you have? Honestly, what is the point of arguing about going one place or another before the issue of "going," at all, is addressed? If your personality slowly goes away due to brain deterioration in Alzheimer's, where did it go?

            Again, got evidence?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            OK. Go ahead. I'm willing to listen.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Not today.

          • You remind me of this from Annie Dillard:

            Dillard has written a memoir, An American Childhood (1987) and a novel, The Living (1992). In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), she included the following:

            I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.” “Then why,” asked the Eskimo earnestly, “did you tell me?”

            In An American Childhood (1987), Dillard declares,

            By dipping us children in the Bible so often, they hoped, I think, to give our lives a serious tint, and to provide us with quaintly magnificent snatches of prayer to produce as charms while, say, being mugged for our cash or jewels.

          • Corylus

            That puts me in mind of a ten-year-old Jane Eyre being questioned by her teacher, Mr Brocklehurst:

            “No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”

            “They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.

            “And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”

            “A pit full of fire.”

            “And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning
            there for ever?”

            “No, sir.”

            “What must you do to avoid it?”

            I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was
            objectionable: “I must keep in good health, and not die.”

          • Susan

            If you really knew the Gospel and the Church, and rejected that, your observation would apply.

            What does it mean to "really" know?

      • 42Oolon

        I will assume the new Catholic position is then that there are no serious consequences for not accepting Jesus? Because this is what we are getting at.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          No. It has to do with a proper understanding of the doctrine "outside the Church there is no salvation," an understanding which Rick does not provide.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            So what is that "proper" understanding? The position of the Catechism, last time I read it, was quite clear. Not Catholic = damned eternally.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Hi M.

            Cold you provide the quote from the Catechism which gave you that impression?

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • 42Oolon

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The teaching of
            the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately
            after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend
            into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’
            The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom
            alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created
            and for which he longs" (CCC 1035).

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            O.

            So were do you get "Not Catholic = damned eternally." in 1035? This paragraph only states that the requirements for eternal damnation is mortal sin, not non-membership in the Church.

            I would like to point out the sad reality that, there are many Catholics which knowingly remain in a state of mortal sin therefore risking their eternal salvation.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Well yes. Everyone who has not been baptised remains in a state of mortal sin. All non-christians go to hell.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            M.

            I think the church position is a bit more nuanced than what you think. Objectively speaking baptism is necessary for salvation however, subjectively there are different types of baptism. The CCC also teaches:

            1258
            The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

            1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

            1260
            "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in
            fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

            I particularly call your attention to 1260's "Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but
            seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved."

            As you can see, the Church teaches that the possibility of salvation is open for non-Christians.

            I hope this helps.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"

            DHS

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Oolon makes a good start.

          • "Not Catholic = damned eternally."

            >> Bingo.

          • Another expression that helps is:
            "Saved = Catholic".
            Meaning that all who *are* saved experience salvation through Jesus Christ and His Church, whether they realize it in this life, or not...

          • They must realize it *in this life*, at least to the extent of desiring baptism, whether this desire is known to us, or is interior and known to God alone.

            Otherwise they can not be justified.

            Absent justification, no one can be saved.

          • Yes, there must be a moment in time (even if known only by the soul and God alone at the very "edge" of life before death so to speak) in which the opportunity for desiring that which is baptism can occur. Yet, because God does not demand the impossible from us, even a person who, in life, never heard of the Sacrament of water baptism, can "desire" the same in terms of its effects on the soul, particularly the experience of justification. We can dare to hope in God's mercy in this sense....

          • The Catholic Church has allowed theological speculation in this regard, so far be it from me to gainsay anyone who finds this particular speculation satisfying.

            Personally, I believe God is quite capable of allowing the elect to be baptized, or to desire baptism, either by providing a missionary, or else, at times when the Church's mission is in catastrophic shambles, like now, infusing knowledge sufficient to allow the soul of the elect to desire baptism.

            All of this is fine and dandy.

            But we will never know of even one such case.

            So I suggest we get busy evangelizing and baptizing.

            As the under-appreciated theologian Ripley and crew famously noted:

            "It's the only way to be sure."

          • Yes and amen. Well said...

          • 42Oolon

            Fine then just make sure to tell kids that there is no serious negative consequence to failing to be a Catholic or a Christian or whatever you believe. Make sure to be clear that there is a lake of fire and Hell, but you just aren't sure who goes there.

            "In his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II wrote that too often "preachers, catechists, teachers . . . no longer have the courage to preach the threat of hell" (p. 183). Concerning the reality of hell, the pope says, "In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory . . . according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction, and every creature would be
            saved; a theory which abolished hell. . . . [T]he words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel he speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Matt. 25:46). [But] who will these be? The Church has never made any pronouncement in this regard" (pp. 185–6)."

            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-hell-there-is

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If hell exists, and I know it, and I fail to tell my kids about it, I am not really helping them.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            But how do you "know" it. And if Islam is true, you've just damned your children eternally.

          • Islam is certainly false.

            It denies the divinity of Our Lord, and the Triune God.

            So we can check that one off.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are really in damnation for some reason.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Well, yes, according to the Catholic church I'm most certainly damned.

            But it's an excellent axis of inquiry for exploring certain topics; it represents a clear-cut alternative.

          • 42Oolon

            But of course if Hell doesn't exist and you put the fear of it into small children, you are a monster.

            I keep hearing of former Christians who have zero belief in Hell, but still have fearful thoughts about it.

            Better to tell kids what you believe but not what to believe.

          • josh

            You don't seem to be hurting them according to your understanding of salvation. They can go their whole lives being willful pagans and atheists, then in a secret time-freezing moment at death, some undefined urge for baptism, which they know nothing about but it doesn't matter, will save them.

          • The understanding of this dogma is found in its *actual dogmatic definition by the Church*, which Kevin is apparently so drastically disoriented as to imagine is somehow set aside by some passage in a catechism (which he instead misunderstands).

            Here is the dogma:

            "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not onlypagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the "eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

            Please believe me, Kevin, if you cannot give the assent of FAITH to the above words, you are in desperate confusion as to what the Faith IS.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            This part of the dogma is irrelevant to the discussion since it refers to members of the visible Church:

            "and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

            That leaves:

            "[N]one of those existing outside the Catholic Church . . . can have a share in life eternal . . . unless before death they are joined with Her."

            So my question to you is, in what ways can "those" be joined with the Church so as to attain salvation?

          • But this is elementary, Kevin.

            Baptism, or the desire for it.

            Here is another dogmatic definition of the Catholic Faith:

            "A description is introduced of the Justification of the impious, and of the Manner thereof under the law of grace.

            By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."

            Trent, Session Six, Chapter IV

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Can that desire be implicit or must it be explicit?

          • Implicit desire is a permitted theological speculation.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It must be much more than a "permitted theological speculation." According to Lumen Gentium 16:

            Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.

            LG is the dogmatic constitution of an Ecumenical Council and it says people who do not know the Gospel or even God can be saved by grace.

          • "It must be much more than a "permitted theological speculation."

            >> Why? Why "must it be much more" than what we are explicitly informed by the Catechism that it in fact *is*?

            Are you committed to some strange gnostic form of religion, in which you discern dogmas that do not exist in the texts, and then experience frustration when Catholics decline to be bound by them?

            I ask because the term "baptism of implicit desire" appears nowhere in the documents of Vatican II.

            No Catholic is bound to believe "baptism of implicit desire" because it is *not a matter of Faith*.

            It is, exactly, what I told you it is.

            It is a *permitted theological speculation*.

            Here is how every Catholic can know this:

            CCC #1260: "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity."

            Now.

            The first part of this paragraph is a quote from Gaudium et Spes.

            We are required to give religious assent to this teaching, which is not difficult- "the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery".

            There is no possible quibble that any Catholic could have with that!

            Unless a gnostic were to decide to impose some particular *way known to them* on the rest of us.

            But any Catholic would simply refuse to be bound by any such tradition of men.

            The second part involves, exactly, a *permitted theological speculation"-

            "It may be supposed that".

            So my advice to you Kevin, is to cease attempting to turn permitted speculations into dogmas.

            It is not your place to do so.

            You have not thought these things through, and you have several times borne a very serious false witness against me concerning my fidelity ot the Faith.

            You should apologize.

            If you don't you should go to confession.

            It is exactly as I told you.

            A permitted theological speculation.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So we have these two Magisterial teachings:

            "Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life."

            "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the "eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her."

            If you regularly included the former with the latter I would have no problem with what you say. But when you only present the latter, and leave out the former, in a conversation with atheists, many of whom are fallen away Catholics, I see it as a serious distortion of the Church's teaching.

          • You are simply manifesting your own lack of Faith in the Church's dogmatic definition, which is completely consistent with the later teaching.

            There *exists no contradiction whatever between the two*.

            But you are uncomfortable with the dogma, even though we have etsablished that no contradiction exists between it, and the subsequent teaching.

            The problem, dear Kevin, does not lie with me.

            It lies with you.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Of course there is no contradiction between the two statements. They totally harmonize.

            The problem, as I see it, is you constantly leave out the former and only quote the latter, and that distorts the Church's teaching and makes it look to those outside the visible Church that they are simply damned unless they become baptized Catholics.

          • You have willfully misrepresented my words yet again, Kevin, and it is clear that you intend to continue to do so.

            In light of this I am obligated not to contribute to your continued progress down this path.

            You have lied, exactly, right here:

            "they are simply damned unless they become baptized Catholics"

            To attribute this to me is a lie.

            It is a willful one.

            You ought to go to confession.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            "[T]hey are simply damned unless they become baptized Catholics" is not "lie": It is my interpretation of how the audience on this website will respond to constantly quoting the latter but not the former. I did not say you said that.

            If you don't want to discuss it, that is your decision. But I would like to know why you constantly leave out what Vatican II had to say and only quote Trent?

          • "It is my interpretation of how the audience on this website will respond to constantly quoting the latter but not the former."

            >> Oh my. This is rich.

            So you call me an heretic, though I uphold the dogmatic definitions of the Church, because, under your considered psychological diagnosis of the "audience", these dogmatic definitions are so deficient, as to leave the reader with a false impression of the Faith, which, after all, is *exactly and correctly expressed in the dogma by your own admission*!

            You are a real piece of work, Kevin.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't think I have said you are a heretic.

            Even though the statements of Trent and Vatican II are in harmony, that does not mean they say the exact same thing. Isn't the Vatican II statement a development of the Trent statement?

            You have not addressed why - to my memory - you always quote Trent and - to my memory - never Vatican II, unless pressed to do so.

            Is the reason because you see them as identical statements?

          • "I don't think I have said you are a heretic."

            >> But this is another lie.

            https://strangenotions.com/open-minded/#comment-976139200

            "Rick, I wish you would tell us what religion you really belong to.People are assuming you are a Roman Catholic."

            *******

            "Even though the statements of Trent and Vatican II are in harmony, that does not mean they say the exact same thing. Isn't the Vatican II statement a development of the Trent statement?"

            >> They say exactly the same thing, in terms of the dogmatic Faith. The subsequent teaching simply affirms the necessity of being joined to the Church, and affirms that all are offered this opportunity- even those who are inculpably ignorant of the Faith.

            "You have not addressed why - to my memory - you always quote Trent and - to my memory - never Vatican II, unless pressed to do so."

            >> Yet another lie. I have addressed, dozens and indeed scores of times, all relevant magisterial teaching on the question, including not only "Cantate Domino", but also Trent, also the letter to the Archdiocese of Boston in the Feeney case, also Mystici Corporis, also Lumen Gentium, also Gaudium et Spes, also the Catechism of the Catholic Church.....essentially every relevant teaching.

            At some point I sincerely hope you will become embarrassed by your distortions of the Catholic Faith:

            1. You have falsely alleged that atheists can be saved without faith;

            2. You have falsely alleged that dogmatic definitions are subject to future revision, derogation, reinterpretation, or development;

            3. You have falsely alleged that those who reject these errors belong to some other religion that the Catholic Church.

            The truth is that I have correctly set forth the Catholic Church's dogmatic teaching on all of these points.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I asked you what religion you belong to; you have answered; and I accept that.

            I don't agree that I have said any of those three things.

            The only quibble I have against them is #2 where you imply that a dogma cannot be developed. In fact, Newman wrote an essay on the development of dogma.

          • Kevin:

            Done with you.

            Not honest.

            Notice the title of the Newman paper- on this you are simply wrong.

            Again.

            http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/

          • Kevin Aldrich

            How does giving the subject of Newman's essay rather than its title make me wrong?

          • You do not know the difference between doctrine and dogma, Kevin.

            This is not a moral failing on your part, just a dereliction of your duty as a catechist.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I see your point.

      • I love the old Catholic apologist's trick of saying something like, "You just don't understand Church teaching."

        I've read the Catechism (twice), studied the Bible, read the Church Fathers. The thing with the Doctrine of Hell in Catholic theology, is that Catholics are required to believe that such an eternal torture chamber does, in fact, exist. They just aren't required to agree on any specifics regarding who gets there or why. It is growing popular among Catholic theologians (such as Hans Urs von Balthasar) to say that Hell is pretty much empty.
        The catechism is open to interpretation, and the English Catechism isn't even the final word on Catholic teaching. It is part of the tradition, sure, but not the final word.
        How much knowledge am I to have read/heard (and rejected) before I'm damned? Of course, Catholics have to say that they don't know. While you may hold to an emptier view of Hell like Balthasar, you are still among the minority if taking into account the global span of Catholics, including what Chesterton called "the democracy of the dead." Rick pointed this out quite well with his quote. (I love traditionalist Catholics because they so very well make the point that Catholic Doctrine doesn't have the continuity or neatness that neo-Caths want to give it.)
        You simply cannot claim that I do not know the Catholic teaching of Hell, when the Catholic Church leaves such a "you choose" scenario. Many Catholic parents ARE teaching their children a more insidious form of Hell, in keeping with the long running tradition of the Catholic Church. This teaching is coercive, as I pointed out above.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I'm getting kind of lost here. You don't believe in God, right? So naturally you reject the Catholic Church and all its doctrines (unless you accept some on separate grounds).

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            She's not speaking personally; she's pointing out that AT BEST the church condemns to hell all non-catholics; and generally can't make a coherent statement one way or the other. Hence the arguments among the catholics on this site going on right now.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So you say.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            You deny that the catholics on this site can't agree on these points of hell and damnation?

          • You deny that the catholics on this site can't agree on these points of hell and damnation?

            Sure, there's disagreement. Basically, there's Rick DeLano, who makes a very powerful argument that the Church teaches that non-Catholics go to hell. He also makes a very powerful argument that the earth stands still and the entire universe revolves around it. Hard as they try, no one has managed to get him to budge on either of these arguments.

            On the opposite side from Rick DeLano, there's basically every other Catholic on the site who does not believe the Church teaches that non-Catholics (necessarily) go to hell. And I have seen a few people venture the opinion that nobody goes to hell.

            She's not speaking personally; she's pointing out that AT BEST the church condemns to hell all non-catholics;

            The Church doesn't condemn anyone to hell. The Church has no power to condemn anyone to hell. The Church says that anyone who totally rejects God will go to hell. The Church has never declared that any specific person has gone to hell.

            Here is a very detailed statement which I think would be the consensus view of Catholics on the site. I think it is fair to summarize and say that Catholics believe anyone—Catholics, Jews, atheists, Muslims, Scientologists, Native Americans who lived before Christians discovered the Americas—who overall sincerely does what he or she believes to be right does not go to hell.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Thanks for this comment.

          • Consensus is of course irrelevant.

            The Catholic Church does not determine Her dogmas by snap polls.

            If there were one person on this site who affirmed that all of those who die separated from the Catholic Church are damned, then there would be one Catholic on this site.

            Here is the proof, and it is conclusive, irreformable, and will stand until the end of the world:

            Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino (1441, ex cathedra, de fide definita): "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not onlypagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the "eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Sure. What's your point?

          • Mikegalanx

            Basically I think it is that Rick Delano teaches what the Church originally taught, but modern day liberal humanist Catholics, realising what a cruel and barbaric dogma this is, tie themselves into knots trying to dodge the fact.

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      "I like what Daniel Dennett has to say about religious education--teach
      children about ALL religions, both the good and the bad. Then let them
      decide for themselves."

      Why stop there?

      -Teach children about ALL medicines,both good and bad. Then let them decide for themselves.

      -Teach children about ALL websites, both good and bad. Then let them decide for themselves.

      -Teach children about ALL forms of alcoholic beverages both good and bad. Then let them decide for themselves.

      I think parenting should be a bit more involved than this.

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      DHS

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        The same problem always comes up. Some things we can show are true: 2+2=5. Some things we cannot: Immaculate Conception.

        Teach what we can show to be true; teach how to think about things that may not be true.

        • Dcn Harbey Santiago

          "The same problem always comes up. Some things we can show are true: 2+2=5" Hmmm...I'll have to call the bishop on that one, I've always though 2+2=4, but I could be wrong :-P

          "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
          DHS

  • Jay

    Frankly, my experience with "open-mindedness" oftentimes means very closed minded towards organized religion because most religions do teach absolute truths, which does seem to go against the whole "open-minded" mind set. When and if I do have children, I would want them to be "open minded" enough to also be willing to accept the teachings of a religion (even if it didn't end up being mine) as truth. I don't see why teaching children what you believe prevents them from also developing critical thinking skills.

    • epeeist

      Frankly, my experience with "open-mindedness" oftentimes means very closed minded towards organized religion because most religions do teach what they claim are absolute truths

      Fixed it for you.

      • Jay

        thanks :)

  • 42Oolon

    I think the best thing to do is tell your children what you believe and why, but never "this is the way it is." Let them decide for themselves.

    Never make them go to church or keep them from going to a church because of what you want them to believe. If they need to come with you for child care reasons, fine.

    Teach them how to think critically and evaluate evidence. Take some time to look into this yourself.

    Tell them you will love them no matter what their position on deities is, though you may try to convince them of your position when they are old enough.

    Never tell a child that they need to believe anything or they will be tortured or punished forever.

    Never tell a child that they were born flawed or/evil evil.

    Never shun or exile a family member for what they believe "spiritually". Judge them on their actions.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      To take it a step further, I would encourage modern parents to
      shun the concept altogether, and embrace the search for objective truth
      instead.

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        But that's what Jennifer says is not possible. What am I misunderstanding here?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          That was a direct quote.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Jennifer contradicts herself.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            How's she do that?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Jennifer defines the state of being open minded as: "If being in a state of open-mindedness means that you're asking questions, seeking knowledge, and attempting to evaluate data without bias,"

            Then she says parent's should teach their children to do that. She deliberately changes the definition to be: "searching for the sake of searching."

            She then says, "To take it a step further, I would encourage modern parents to shun the concept altogether, and embrace the search for objective truth instead."

            Which is the very way she defined open-mindedness in the beginning.

            In short, she pulls out a straw man, and implies that "open-minded" really means something other than what folks claim it does.

            Jennifer does this a lot.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think she means that being open-minded is not an end in itself but a way to find the truth. So, why not cut to the chase and just try to find the truth?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And that's what the open-minded people are doing. Teaching their children to look for truth. Either she's creating an argument based on a bait-and-switch, or her article is trivially true: "people teach their children to be open-minded and I agree."

  • M. Solange O’Brien

    Her point seems to be that, rather than raise children to intelligently explore matters of faith and religion, one should just teach them whatever set of beliefs one happens to possess.

    No. As Dawkins would say, that's pretty darn close to child abuse.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Way to ignore what JF actually said.

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        No, I read it quite clearly. What part do you feel I misrepresented?

    • Was just discussing some of this in the combox of yesterday's post. Child abuse? Let's be serious.
      If a parent is either un-ready or un-willing to teach their youngest children the very faith that they believe leads to happiness in this life and eternal happiness in eternity, then they are among the worst of hypocrites, in my view.
      As Catholics, for example, despite the "is-not" claims from some commenters yesterday, we're not merely handing on faith "data" to our children, we're bringing them into a love *relationship* with God Himself.
      For example, who would presume to apply the same illogic to a child's grandparents? Who would say, "Well, Junior, we want to raise you to make up your *own* mind whether you want a relationship with Granny, so we'll just wait till you're old enough to do that before we introduce you to her."

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        It's a profound puzzle, I admit.

        Let me put you a case: is it right for your neighbor, a devout Muslim, to teach his children Islam, if your understanding is that Catholicism is the one true faith? Is he not condemning his children to eternal damnation? Is he pracisting abuse of his children by teaching them a false doctrine?

        That's an honest question; I think this is a way to explore the ethical limits of child-rearing.

        • This is a question of the meaning of religious freedom and the sanctity of personal conscience, as well as the rights and responsibilities of parents.

          The devout Muslim does have the right to teach his/her child Islam *despite* my belief that it's false. As said elsewhere, this does not automatically mean his kids are "damned." Nor does this amount objectively to child abuse.

          Rather, if we Christians believe what we profess is true, then it is our solemn task to *proclaim* that truth in charity to our devout Muslim friends (religious freedom works both ways in this regard). If this proclamation takes root, and is focused on the *parent* (the adults), then the opportunity exists to affect the entire household, just as was done by the early Church as recorded in Acts of the Apostles...

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            So it is acceptable to permit the teaching of blatant falsehoods to innocent children, despite the near certainty that these children are therefore being condemned to eternal damnation. Correct?

            So freedom of religion trumps truth and compassion?

          • What's this eternal damnation stuff? I said clearly there is nothing automatic or no "near certainty" of damnation--particularly because, as you say, the children are *innocent*, aren't they?

            If through no fault of their own they end up believing error, they are invincibly ignorant of the truth and not culpable for believing error...

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            The CCC says otherwise, and is quite clear on the issue of damnation and hell. It is also fairly clear on the terms of that damnation. Inasmuch as Islam teaches that Jesus was merely a prophet, and clearly rejects his divinity and sacrifice, Islam teaches the falsehood of the gospels. No gospel acceptance when presented = damnation.

            I am interested in how few christians are willing to live with the actual consequences of their beliefs.

          • Why must you insist on telling Catholics that *they* don't really know what the Church teaches, but you do?
            The CCC does *not* say otherwise. Nor does any actual Magisterial teaching of the Church.
            You're hip-deep in straw-man land on this one...

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            If you're happy to ignore catholic documents, them I'm sure we can have more fun in discussion.

          • I'm not ignoring the documents--I'm saying they don't mean what you say they mean. And on such issues I do confess to being a bit more expert than you are....

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            So far, the CCC says one thing; the catholics here are saying another. I'm trying to explore why that is the case.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            One reason might be that you don't understand the CCC texts in context.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Ah, the old, you disagree so you must be stupid or ignorant ploy.

            I expected better of you.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No. I see you interpreting it in a "fundamentalist" way that is more narrow than what the Church documents say.

          • Ah, the old, you disagree so you must be stupid or ignorant ploy.

            I expected better of you.

            When there is disagreement, the charitable interpretation is that the person who disagrees with you is ignorant—that is, doesn't know what you know, and doesn't understand what you understand. Unless you are willing to concede that the other person is right, the most civil reaction is to conclude that he or she doesn't know or doesn't understand—or, of course, that there is room for more than one interpretation, in which case no one is wrong.

          • Could you (re-)cut/paste the CCC passage you think says what you are saying?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            This is a question of the meaning of religious freedom and the sanctity of personal conscience, as well as the rights and responsibilities of parents.

            OK

            The devout Muslim does have the right to teach his/her child Islam *despite* my belief that it's false.

            Why? According to christian doctrine, that person is almost certainly condemning his children to eternal damnation. If you see someone walking towards a cliff apparently about to throw their child off, aren't you morally obligated to stop them.

            As said elsewhere, this does not automatically mean his kids are "damned."

            Your doctrines and the Qu'ran don't agree on that point.

            Rather, if we Christians believe what we profess is true, then it is our solemn task to *proclaim* that truth in charity to our devout Muslim friends (religious freedom works both ways in this regard). If this proclamation takes root, and is focused on the *parent* (the adults), then the opportunity exists to affect the entire household, just as was done by the early Church as recorded in Acts of the Apostles...

            OK, but by exposing them to the truth of christ, you've now made them damned by making them know the truth that they are not going to follow.

      • primenumbers

        "we're bringing them into a love *relationship* with God Himself." - that is indeed what you say, but no evidence to the fact. Relationships are with real people and evidenced through real interactions. If God was evidenced as real as my grandma, we'd not be having this discussion.

        • I'm sure what you mean to say is that you see no *objective* (or maybe "scientific"?) evidence that you find compelling, rather than merely "no evidence" that I have a relationship with God.
          God actually is more real than "grandma," in my view.
          But in any case, you really can't just counter the assertion bypooh-poohing it. The assertion that Catholics raise their children in the faith because of *relationship* is a basic truth of the Catholic faith. You don't have to agree with it, but this truth really *does* obliterate the idea that raising kids in the faith is somehow about fear. It's really about love....

          • primenumbers

            Please take it for granted that from outside your statement of relationship with God appears delusional. I full well understand that you don't see it in that way. However, perhaps you'd be able to help me with a method by which when I hear similar things from the variety of religious people on this planet, I can reliably distinguish between a delusion and a real relationship?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Exactly the point. Various theists of varying religions present exactly the same kind of 'evidence' for their religious claims - claims that cannot all be true.

            How is the objective observer to determine who's right?

          • primenumbers

            "How is the objective observer to determine who's right?" - Jim's going to give us the method.

          • Who said there was a method? :-)
            But I'd build it from the ground up--an atheist first has to get as far as the *deist*, for example, whose belief in God arises from reason and nature. A good start.
            But then you get right to the question of how God *does* reveal Himself (and has) to us.
            But start with trying to get to the Deist stage. First one who does can drop me a line and we can look at the "relationship with God" stuff...

          • primenumbers

            So there's no method for *us* to determine whether you're being delusional or not with your relationship with God? How about you - what method do you use to ensure your relationship is a genuine one, and not one that only exists in your imagination? You have (obviously) no God hurdle to overcome because you at least already believe. But as much as you lack that hurdle, you also have to content with confirmation bias. What methods do you use to deal with such biases?

          • God and I have an understanding--He continues to will my existence, and I continue to try to love Him for it....

          • primenumbers

            So is it unfair for *me* to think your relationship with God is delusional or not? If you think it's unfair, please elucidate.

          • It's not really a question of fairness. If you are an atheist, how could you think otherwise? You couldn't think I'm having a real relationship with a God you don't think exists. I understand that you are being consistent.

          • primenumbers

            So you don't think it unreasonable for me to think you're delusional? But I've also asked how you, a believer know that you're not kidding yourself, and you are starting from the point of being a believer so don't have my issue of not believing in your God. The issue extends further because I want to know how to determine if other religious believers of other religions are being delusional too. You're not offering me any help at all here to help me think that your relationship with God is not a figment of your imagination.

          • In order to help you realize my personal relationship with God is not delusional, I'd first have to help you realize that God is not a delusion. I don't think we're that far yet, are we?

          • primenumbers

            I understand that. I initially asked how you'd convince me you're not delusional. That, you content, means I have to have a prior belief in God first, so you can offer no such method to an atheist. Let's take that as a given and move onto the next issue - how do you, a believer in God know you're not being delusional?

          • I base my not being delusional on the evidence of God's existence from reason, nature, philosophy, history, revelation, and experience. Hope I'm not forgetting any big categories. I realize I cannot force God's Hand by insisting that He manifest Himself more tangibly than He did by becoming man (the Incarnation) and by Jesus' promise to be with us always (in the Eucharist). As such, it is enough for me to meet God on His terms rather than mine.

          • primenumbers

            I'm not talking about God's existence, but your relationship with God. We noted that I'd have to believe your God actually exists before you could demonstrate the methods by which you determine a real relationship with God from imagination. You do believe God exists, so now that's a given for you, by which methods do you determine that you're not imagining the relationship? You must see that even if God is real, there is no reason to assume your relationship is real, any more than any other religious believer of any other religion thinks their subjective experience of God is real.

          • primenumbers

            Another idea would be to think of me as back in my CofE days, so no real reason to doubt you on God, but still thinking your personal relationship sounds delusional.

          • robtish

            "In order to help you realize my personal relationship with God is not delusional, I'd first have to help you realize that God is not a delusion."

            Not at all. In fact, proving that your relationship with God is not delusional would be a way of convincing people that God is not a delusion.

            First instance, let's say I don't believe in ghosts, but you manage to convince me that you have a relationship with someone beyond the grave (perhaps by providing information about the person that I could confirm but that you would have no way of knowing). Thus, by convincing me of your relationship, you've convinced me of ghosts.

          • Thus, by convincing me of your relationship, you've convinced me of ghosts.

            Young children often have relationships with invisible friends. Does that also convince you of the existence of those invisible friends?

          • robtish

            If the child could convince me that the relationship with their invisible friend was not a delusion -- or, since we're talking about kids, a figment of a child's imagination -- then yes, I'd be convinced of the invisible friend.

            Of course, it might be hard to convince me of the relationship -- perhaps if they child told me in detail about things the invisible friend had seen me do when I'm certain no one was around. That would make for a scary child. And probably a scary movie. Actually, come to think of it, it *has* made for a bunch of scary movies.

          • primenumbers

            Chocky?

          • In order to help you realize my personal relationship with God is not delusional, I'd first have to help you realize that God is not a delusion.

            How can one know? Fooling ourselves is part and parcel of life as human beings. How, other than checking against objective evidence, can we trust our own brains that have evolved to detect agency in experienced events, be it really there or not? How are you going to show us, or yourself, that your brain has not made an emotional attachment to concepts without grounding?

            Got evidence?

          • Seems this assertion works both ways.
            Maybe it's the atheistic view that is a delusional result of "emotional attachment to concepts without grounding"?
            (If I say "got evidence?", do I have to pay any royalties?) :-)

          • ... do I have to pay any royalties?

            Well, I let Stacy slide on that, so I guess you are safe as well. ;-)

          • primenumbers

            As Q says: "Fooling ourselves is part and parcel of life as human beings" - so we study the ways in which we can be fooled, and try to arrange for such biases to be eliminated as much as possible. That is why I asked you about what you have done in your determination that you are not delusional to eliminate confirmation bias, for example.

            So yes, this could be a sword that cuts both ways, were it not for the fact that knowledge of cognitive biases allows you to hold the blade away from yourself and to use it effectively against those than cannot or will not seek to eliminate cognitive biases from their studies.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            What do you mean, get to the deist stage? Is this back to your contention that you can't show christianity is true unless we already believe?

      • josh

        I would let my children make up their own mind whether Granny exists and whether they actually like her. Strangely, this doesn't take weekly indoctrination and daily prayer rituals.

        • So, relationship with Granny doesn't involve spending *time* with Granny and getting to know her?
          Those poor grandkids--spending all that time getting "indoctrinated" by those granny "rituals." :-)

          • josh

            That's the point, Jim. Granny doesn't need rituals and 'granny classes'. (Well, maybe the requisite hug is a ritual.) No one ever had to tell me 'you can't see Granny because that would threaten your faith in Granny'. If you took your kids to church (Granny's house) and Jesus came down to play with them, tell them stories, bake cookies and buy the occasional present, you wouldn't spend time directing them to kneel at a shrine to Granny or answer catechism questions about Granny's essence. If I took my kids to an abandoned house, and told them Granny lived there and loved them but could never be seen or evidenced in any testable way, that would be comparable to your situation. You are encouraging a 'relationship' with an imaginary friend, and not giving your kids the tools to grow out of that childhood phase.

          • Encouraging a relationship with an imaginary friend?
            Childhood phase?

            You *do* realize that every year there are thousands of *adult* converts to Christianity, right? Actual adults embracing relationship with God and Church?

          • epeeist

            You *do* realize that every year there are thousands of *adult* converts to Christianity, right? Actual adults embracing relationship with God and Church?

            Not in the UK, of those raised with no religion 94% remain as having no religion. Of those raised Catholic only 62% remain so.

          • What's the sample size of those raised with no religion?

          • epeeist

            What's the sample size of those raised with no religion?

            Something over 3000 according to the British Social Attitudes site. The last findings on religion are on this page.

            What's the sample size for your claim that thousands convert to Christianity each year?

          • For those joining the Catholic Church, the sample size would be the United States, based on the actual Christian initiation stats (baptismal records) collected every year by the US Bishops. But I was asking to get a sense of the 6% you indicate above who embrace some form of religion after being raised with no religion--it would seem then that over 150 of every 3000 folks of that description in the UK goes on to embrace some form of religion? Wonder how many people that would be if it holds true across the non-religious population of the UK?

          • epeeist

            For those joining the Catholic Church, the sample size would be the United States, based on the actual Christian initiation stats (baptismal records) collected every year by the US Bishops

            This would be for adults joining the church, not for the baptism of children? Now, fair's fair, I gave you a reference to the statistical analysis for my figures, how about a similar reference to your statistics.

            But I was asking to get a sense of the 6% you indicate above who embracesome form of religion after being raised with no religion--it would seem then that over 150 of every 3000 folks of that description in the UK goes on to embrace some form of religion

            You need to look at table 12.2 in the link I provided to the report. If you count the responses the total comes to 3,266 of which 628 were brought up without religion, i.e. just over 19%. Of these some 6% take up a religion, i.e. 1.2% of the people surveyed or about 38 people.

            But I find it interesting that you concentrate on this when on the same table the Catholics lose 38% of the 447 brought up as Catholic to no religion, i.e. approximately 170 people.

          • josh

            I realize there are also thousands of converts to the way of the prophet Muhammed, and Joseph Smith, and Krishna, and neo-Paganism, etc., etc. Adults are capable of extremely childish actions, if you haven't learned this you haven't grown up yourself.

          • Sid_Collins

            If I took my kids to an abandoned house, and told them Granny lived there and loved them but could never be seen or evidenced in any testable way, that would be comparable to your situation.

            I'd be sure to add that, in this scenario, you are a spiritualist who sincerely believes that if your children have positive energy toward Granny, they will experience a manifestion of Granny. What do you want to bet that in this scenario the children WOULD experience Granny in the way they were told to expect? And the child who didn't wouldn't admit that he didn't.

            (Sorry--this was meant to reply to Josh's reply to Jim Russell)

  • Linda

    I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for 12 years. Our high school religion classes covered such topics as sex and sexuality, death and dying, the sacraments and the Seven Deadly sins ( which I still remember 30 years later by the acronym PEWSLAG). The part I remember most though is that we had a lot of class discussion on the topics, why Catholics believe what they do. It's the "why" that I think was good; it wasn't just a mindless memorization of doctrine. But even before that I remember telling the priest during a religion class in elementary school that sometimes I doubted if there really was a God. His response: "Good! You should question that. In fact it would be bad if you said you knew for sure one way or the other. But it would be worse if you quit looking. Keep looking and you will see the Truth." I've thought of that often through the years. My children are in Catholic school now. I hope they get to have the thought-provoking discussions I did. And when they hit those years when they question all authority I will tell them the same thing that priest told me: "Keep looking. The Truth is there."

  • Abe Rosenzweig

    My kid was born a snake handler, and he'll die a snake handler.

  • If the Catholic Church is really the true religion, what do you have to be afraid of? Present all the philosophies on a level field, and your kids will choose the one that is certainly true.

    • "If the Catholic Church is really the true religion, what do you have to be afraid of?"

      >> Not a thing. That's the wonderful part of it.

      "Present all the philosophies on a level field, and your kids will choose the one that is certainly true."

      >> But that would be false. It would be false to present all the false philosophies as if they were equally to be considered along with the really true religion.

      No parent would do *that* :-)

      • No parent would do *that* :-)

        I will. I'll present my kids with ideas in philosophy, science, religion, that I think are wrong. First, though, I'll give them the basic tools of reasoning and discernment.

        If some philosophy really is false, they'll spot it. If they end up believing something I think is wrong, so be it. I'll keep pressing them until either I change their mind or they change mine.

        You should be happy I'm going this route. Otherwise, they'd hear nothing from me about the Catholic Church.

        • But that is because you have contradicted your own initial assertion above, Paul:

          ""If the Catholic Church is really the true religion"

          Plug that back in and see how it works for you :-)

          • I don't think it is. I could be wrong.

            I suspect that they will take a careful look at the Catholic Church and move on to something better.

          • "I don't think it is. I could be wrong."

            >> OK. Then your example fails. If you *did* think it was, then you would never deprive your children of this knowledge.

            No parent would :-)

          • I'm curious now. How would presenting other philosophies alongside your own be "depriving your children of this knowledge"?

          • Other philosophies should of course be presented.

            For example, my children's bedtime stories, for the first six or seven years, always consisted in:

            1. A passage from the first four Socratic dialogues (when we finally got to Socrates' suicide, it was a big moment, let me tell you)

            2. A passage from Scripture, usually either the Psalms or Proverbs.

            Worked out great :-)

        • Linda

          I'm curious: which wrong ideas in philosophy and science will you present? And will you be celebrating *all* religious holidays to get the full experience of them or *none* of the holidays to be fair and equal to all religions?

          • It's a good question. I'm not exactly sure yet (they are still very young), but this is the plan so far as my wife and I have worked it out.

            We'll be celebrating the Christian and maybe some Jewish holidays, because that's what our families do and I like the Christian ones best.

            As for the philosophies, right and wrong, my wife and I will be educating them in the grand history of western philosophy and religions: the Bible, Koran, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant. We'll tell them some of the stories of the dead pagan religions, Greek, Roman, etc.

          • epeeist

            We'll tell them some of the stories of the dead pagan religions, Greek, Roman, etc.

            It was the Norse legends that I enjoyed most as a child, initially in the books by Roger Lancelyn-Green and then by reading things like the Hávamál and the Kalevala for myself.

            Quite honestly, I found these and the Greek legends much more interesting than the bible stories I was told at school. Also, given the fact that it was impossible for all the legends to be true it made me question the supposed truth of the bible stories.

          • Yes, telling creation stories and mythology to kids is a great way to get the idea across that people around the world look at things differently, and that there is a universal human drive to make things up to explain origins and causes, etc.

          • epeeist

            Yes, telling creation stories and mythology to kids is a great way to get the idea across that people around the world look at things differently

            Rather out of date now (so my daughter who read anthropology at university tells me), but Fraser's Golden Bough is astonishing for the number and variety of customs it catalogues. Though I am not sure who would buy the twelve volume edition these days.

          • I don't know much about Norse mythology. Is there a good book of stories I could read that I could also share with my children?

          • Paul, I would also recommend "The Magic of Reality" which has stories and great art work and gives that round-the-world perspective.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I would also recommend (more to the point), the Elder and Younger Eddas of Snorri.

          • Corylus

            I had Bullfinch's Mythology as a kid, but I was a precocious brat.

            10 and over for that one, but well worth it.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Yah, but an awful lot of it is really badly researched. The bits about the druids and the king with the sword.... Really awful.

          • Corylus

            It's been a while since I read it, but the classical stuff stayed with me most, I must admit.

          • epeeist

            The bits about the druids

            Heavy those druids. I used to live just down the road from where this guy was discovered. You really don't want to get druids annoyed at you.

          • epeeist

            I don't know much about Norse mythology.

            A long time ago, but The Saga of Asgard was the book I had. It doesn't look as though it is still available but Heroes of Asgard looks to be an alternative.

          • Thanks! Thanks to all of you for the list of resources.

  • melanie statom

    Mortimor J. Adler's " Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth" is critically engaging on this subject. What happens in our thinking when religion is regarded as " a matter of taste" and not about truth?
    And if it is about truth, I want to know it, or come as close as
    possible, to knowing it, like any good scientist would...(children do get this!). The stumbling block Christian proclamation
    centers on a truth claim about the Mystery of Truth, the very mystery of
    God coming in the fleshy translation of Jesus Christ....Man and God
    revealed in ultimate fullness and truth.

  • Octavo

    If I have kids, I want them to be aware of cognitive rootkits, so to speak. I think the best way to do this is probably to increase their understanding of multiple religions and philosophies. There are a few ideas that are probably way too dangerous to expose young people to without at least some preparation. Best example I can think of is Ayn Rand.

    • Maybe we should do the same thing with other areas of study in which we seek to educate our children: Let's give them a textbook written by someone defending the idea of a flat Earth, and one written by someone who thinks the Earth is round, and not tell them which one we, the parents, actually think is correct. Let them decide for themselves...

      • ... Let's give them a textbook written by someone defending the idea of a flat Earth, ...

        Would that be, say, the Bible?

        • It's true that many who are unaware of what the Bible is often mistake it for a textbook...but it's not one, so, no.

          • ...but it's not one,

            Oh, good then ...

      • Max Driffill

        Jim they aren't entirely the same thing.
        The facts about the earth are more or less clear. The evidence is available and taught so that no one, except those whose minds are addled, or are in the throes of extreme religion refuse to believe. You are would not be teaching your children facts about the world if you were to indoctrinate them into your religion. You would be imposing on them your assumptions about the world, claiming to know things no person could possibly know as if these were real facts about the world anyone could corroborate.

        • You might have missed the point--a person of faith believes quite clearly what is true about God and Church. As such, a person of faith would be *remiss* if he/she did not approach such content (which has eternal significance for the child) with the same care as is used in approaching other more worldly subjects... A person of faith doesn't see that faith as mere "assumption", nor does he/she see the raising of the child in the faith as "indoctrination"....

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            But your position on your belief is not substantiated by empirical evidence, as the findings of science are.

          • Max Driffill

            Jim
            Of course you don't feel that way...about your religion.

          • Sample1

            A person of faith believes quite clearly what is true about God and Church.

            This is a tricky statement to figure out. Adding the filler word quite (just before clearly) in your sentence is a red flag for me. In thinking of ways to respond to this claim one fact keeps nudging me for airtime:

            Mutually exclusive faiths exist all over the world with the devotees of these mutually exclusive systems of belief each claiming to clearly know the truth about their own gods.

            The math, as they say Jim, just doesn't add up. Someone is fibbing. They all can't be right. But they can all be wrong.

            Mike

          • They all can't logically be right. But they can all logically be wrong.

            Most must be wrong See my explanation here.

          • Sample1

            Quine,

            Focusing on the word most as in "most must be wrong" is another logical way to think about it. I like it.

            I also accept that the geographic distribution of different faiths (particularly when displayed on a MAP) can be a thought provoking catalyst for deconversion. Could you imagine if algebra and botany were only found to be compelling in Mongolia? I once witnessed a person's naturalistic epiphany occur right after seeing a map like that (doubt had been building for a few months and the map was the tipping point for her).

            On a different note, Quine, have you thought of compiling a meta-analysis of this site's combox contents? Perhaps grouping subjects and common refrains together? I'm concerned that so many thousands of comments are themselves becoming a kind of apologetic tool (quantity being used as some sort of quasi-evidence for X, Y, Z).

            Just a thought.

            Mike

          • The statistical analysis project is interesting, but would also be a lot of work. There would have to be some kind of weighting system where single line smarmy or snarky retorts don't count as much as full page thoughtful replies with linked footnotes to peer reviewed research.

          • Sample1

            The statistical analysis project

            Yeah, it wouldn't really be a meta-analysis (that would come later) and yes, it would be a lot of work.

            Are there any savants in the house?

            Mike

          • epeeist

            They all can't logically be right. But they can all logically be wrong.

            Yes, religions are contraries not contradictories.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And yet the problem remains: why do you not prevent those who are wrong from harming their children through teaching falsehoods about god?

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        Theology is not science. Science arrives at best guess concensi, theology does not. The truths of science (round earth) can be demonstrated; the truths of theology cannot be demonstrated.

        • Of course truths of theology can be demonstrated. More to the point, to the person of faith, the truths of theology are just as "true" (maybe even moreso) than truths of "science"....

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            How? Could you demonstrate one? The Immaculate Conception, for example.

          • How much time do you have? :-) The truth of that dogma, and its internal consistency with every other truth of Christianity, can be explained. Yet, I'd demur from doing so until we've got some common ground established regarding God's existence and God's plan for us, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
            For someone still learning addition and subtraction, for example, it doesn't do much good discussing differential equations, right? Not meant as a put-down at all, but just to illustrate the difficulty...

          • epeeist

            The truth of that dogma, and its internal consistency with every other truth of Christianity

            But as Bertrand Russell noted, it is perfectly possible to have a completely consistent fairy tale.

          • And as Jim Russell (me) noted, it is perfectly possible to have a completely consistent truth tale..

          • epeeist

            And as Jim Russell (me) noted, it is perfectly possible to have a completely consistent truth tale..

            But if all you have is internal coherence then how are your going to show that it corresponds to anything real?

          • ... it is perfectly possible to have a completely consistent fairy tale.

            And once you get the story started, items that can't be tested can then be added through "faith." (And if you have to add something completely contradictory, you can do that through "mystery.")

          • Max Driffill

            Jim,

            Yet, I'd demur from doing so until we've got some common ground established regarding God's existence and God's plan for us, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

            I've demonstrated elsewhere that Jesus can not be considered the savior. He is condemned by his own preachments. He murdered people. With his mind, by getting angry with them. He also murders a tree in this same way, and curses it for not bearing fruit (out of season). He commits anger in his heart is guilty of murder. Jesus is out as a sinner. QED.

          • He murdered people. With his mind, by getting angry with them.

            He did?

            He also murders a tree in this same way, and curses it for not bearing fruit (out of season).

            Agreed that it is a strange and disturbing story (and I would guess a parable that got garbled, not an actual event that occurred). However, killing a tree is not murder! Even vegetarians kill plants! If we are to condemn anyone who ever killed a plant as a murderer, we are all monsters. I confess that I have killed higher life forms than plants. Flies, for example.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            The problem with that logic is you've just opened the door: why should we believe ANYTHING in the NT is accurate? Why should we accept that one story is false, simply because we don't like it?

          • The problem with that logic is you've just opened the door: why should we believe ANYTHING in the NT is accurate?

            Do you believe everything you read in the newspapers is true? No? Then do you believe everything you read in the newspapers is false? No? Why should it be any different for the New Testament, or any other document.

            Only fundamentalists, and I haven't noticed any writing here (except one, sort of!) , believe that everything in the New Testament is factually true.

            I am reading a biography right now of the physicist Paul Dirac. A number of times, the author speculates on what Dirac must have felt about a certain event, based on how he reacted to other things. A number of times the author speculates about what Dirac would have been aware of—published material in journals and stories in newspapers—without any documentary evidence. Does that undermine the whole book? If the author has guessed wrong some of the time, should I just forget everything I read?

          • Max Driffill

            David,

            Yes Jesus murdered people, at least according to his own preachments. He gets angry with people several times in the Gospels. The money changer bit, calling a woman a dog, or at least implying that she is one and not agreeing to heal her son until she agrees she is one. He goes off on the Pharisees. These are all pretty clear instances of anger, or in the case of the woman, at least contempt. This puts him at odds with his own preachments. If a man is angry he has committed murder. For Jesus anger was as bad as murder. He is guilty of anger.

            Agreed that it is a strange and disturbing story (and I would guess a parable that got garbled, not an actual event that occurred).

            I actually agree with you. But I would go even further, and suggest that very little in the gospels actually occurred. But if we have to go by his words, and entertain these stories, I think Jesus nails himself here. Also, he is exposed as a false prophet in Mark, because he clearly expected and predicted that the end was going to happen within his generation. He was unambiguous in the extreme on that point.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Not all anger is evil. As Jim pointed out, there is such a thing as righteous indignation, which is virtuous.

            The fig tree is a living parable for Christ's disciples. The message is, if you are a fruit tree or a human being and you don't bear "fruit," what good are you?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            It's a valueless parable. Christ withers the fig tree for not bearing fruit when it's not fruit-bearing season.

            "Hi. I, God almighty, condemn you for being what you are. Take that you evil fig tree."

          • Michael Murray

            The message is, if you are a fruit tree or a human being and you don't bear "fruit," what good are you?

            Unless you are a celibate priest of course.

          • Which is of course obviously why we Catholics call our priests "Father," because we really don't believe they are "fruitful"...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Christ is talking about spiritual fruitfulness primarily, so celibate priests have no problem there.

          • Michael Murray

            Yes I assumed that would be the interpretation placed on this.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That is the original interpretation.

          • Michael Murray

            In what sense original ?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Actually, I'm not prepared to argue it was the original or an original interpretation but I'd still argue it is a legitimate one.

          • primenumbers

            And you know this is the utterly correct interpretation how? Did Jesus write his own Cliffs Notes for the Bible and say which bits are factual, which bits are allegorical and what the true meaning of the allegorical bits really is? Isn't the use of allegory and metaphor the key problem with religious literature of this kind as nobody really knows what it means and it's all down to utterly subjective interpretation.

          • Susan

            Isn't the use of allegory and metaphor the key problem with religious literature of this kind as nobody really knows what it means and it's all down to utterly subjective interpretation.

            I wish they would colour-code the text for clarity. The trouble with that is that each one of the tens of thousands of sects of christianity would have a different colouring scheme and as we can see, even the catholics at this particular forum would put purple and green in different places.

            I hate to hazard a guess at how many "correct" interpretations there are. That's the trouble with murky writing. It can mean anything.

          • primenumbers

            The use of allegory and metaphor obviously points to either a deceptive or incompetent deity as they obviously knew what chaos and schisms it would lead to in Christianity alone, never mind the lack of specificity in key areas of doctrine that lead to early splits in the church and infighting over the trinity and nature of Jesus just to give two examples.

          • "Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. [35]For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [36] And a man' s enemies shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me."

            "And he said to them: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all things are done in parables: [12] That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand: lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

          • Susan

            Yes. You know, the "Truth".

            It makes me think of Jon Lovitz's compulsive liar character.

            "It's a metaphor... that's... right... a METAPHOR! That's the ticket!"

            How do they distinguish it from rationalisation? How do they justify that their interpretation is more accurate than the thousands of other interpretations?

            Easy. Theirs is the "correct" interpretation put in the "correct" context.

            There's much better literature to be arguing about than Jesus and the fig tree.

            This is the trouble with beginning with the assumption that a text is "sacred" because... well... because it's sacred.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            PN, isn't usually a tip off when someone has to qualify their argument with adjectives like "utterly" (twice!).

            There is a branch of theology called hermeneutics to answer questions like yours.

          • primenumbers

            So hermeneutics, the theory of text interpretation solves the issue of people having to figure out what the correct interpretation of a text like the Bible is? Is that what you're really telling me? I think your response deserves another "utterly", actually!

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It means that a reader can look at an ancient text and find ways to interpret it.

          • primenumbers

            Exactly the problem I described. Different people interpret things differently. What you have described is the very problem.

          • Celibate priests can be fruitful. Priests beget children in Christ through administering the Sacrament of Baptism. The satisfaction of the Divine mandate to increase and multiply can be satisfied both spiritually and/or carnally.

          • Michael Murray

            Yes Kevin and I already talked about the spiritual interpretation. It's probably got lost in Disqus land somewhere.

          • Max Driffill

            David I brought up the killing of the fig tree (which happens two different ways in the gospels) only because it was a bizarre example of Jesus getting angry. It may be a mistaken translation, but Jesus, in the scriptures is also a terrible botanist. Also i am well aware that killing a plant is not murder.

            In any event I bring these things up to point out what often tends to be glossed over by believers. Namely that the messages of Jesus are kind of a mixed bag, and that he seems to violate his own preachments almost in the same breath, at times, he has uttered his rules. To the student of messiahs this is almost wholly unremarkable.

            To take yet another example of Jesus being inconsistent with his own message, he also says that calling people a fool is a sin that can put you in the fires of hell (Matthew 5:22) and yet he goes around and does just that later in Matthew (Matthew 23:17, and Matthew 23:19). This (calling someone a fool) he does again in Luke (11:40) What is to be made of this?

          • To take yet another example of Jesus being inconsistent with his own message . . . .

            For me, the problem with this discussion is that you are reading the Gospels in a way that is utterly foreign to me. First, you are reading them as a fundamentalist. Second, you are reading them as a prosecutor, looking for anything you can find to discredit Jesus.

            I don't think it is at all reasonable to interpret Matthew 5:21-26 as an absolute prohibition on the use of the word fool. On the most trivial level, Jesus of course never said the word fool, because that is an English word, and we read the Gospels in translation.

            In the context of Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus is talking about anger, and what he says about name-calling has to be read in that context, not as a discourse on forbidden words. Interestingly, on the matter of anger, Matthew 5:22 is different in different translations. Here is the King James Version.

            But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

            The Greek word εἰκῇ (transliterated eikē) and meaning "inconsiderably, without purpose, without just cause," for reasons that I can't explain, is not translated in many versions. So Matthew 5:22 appears as follows in the RSV:

            But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.

            So what I would say is that Jesus in this section of Matthew is not forbidding the use of the word fool. He is talking about unjustified anger with one's brother or neighbor. He is also, ultimately, talking about murder and the danger of murder. The more intense a person's (unjustified) anger gets, the more seriously he has gone astray, because the closer he gets to murder.

            When Jesus rails against the scribes and Pharisees, it is not personal anger. It is not something that could lead to murder. And it is not unjustified. Jesus didn't say, "Never call anyone a fool." I think any reasonable, nuanced reading of the Gospels does not support the idea that Jesus banned the word fools from the language and then hypocritically used it himself.

          • Max Driffill

            David,

            For me, the problem with this discussion is that you are reading the Gospels in a way that is utterly foreign to me. First, you are reading them as a fundamentalist. Second, you are reading them as a prosecutor, looking for anything you can find to discredit Jesus.

            I read the gospels the way the early Christians would have read them. Not as a whole. They were not written as pieces to be part of some other whole. That was an imposition put on them later.

            I'm quite sure that one could read any amount of nuance one wants into the these texts, and justify it. And I am fine with whatever reading you prefer. The thing is though, there really is no objective way to distinguish among correct and incorrect readings of a text that has been translated, and mistranslated numerous times for which we have no original manuscripts. Consider all the heavy weather that has been made over the years of the last verses of Mark, (16;9-20) these do not exist in the oldest and best manuscripts of Mark. They are later additions. These extra verses are surmised to have been added in the 2nd century. These are not insignificant problems, and ones that are not easily remedied.

            I don't think it is at all reasonable to interpret Matthew 5:21-26 as an absolute prohibition on the use of the word fool. On the most trivial level, Jesus of course never said the wordfool, because that is an English word, and we read the Gospels in translation.

            Well that is indeed trivial. But also not my problem. This is the problem of the believer and the reconciliation of the fact that the word of god isn't easily translatable. Isn't it odd that the word of good should be so opaque and prone to this kind of confusion? Strangely similar to the problem claimed for Islam, wherein I must learn Arabic to comprehend the true meaning of the Quran. Must I learn Aramaic? Greek? Latin? Indeed what language must I learn to be able to access exactly what this god means?

            What does it matter what the Greek said either? Jesus certainly didn't speak Greek. So, there I turn back your trivial critique, upon itself. None of the gospels contain, in this trivial sense the words of Jesus. And I doubt very much they contain much of his original content in the first place.

          • The thing is though, there really is no objective way to distinguish among correct and incorrect readings of a text that has been translated, and mistranslated numerous times for which we have no original manuscripts.

            Isn't this true of virtually everything that survives from the ancient world? There are no original manuscripts of the Greek philosophers, of Euclid's Geometry, of the Greek playwrights. We don't have any original manuscripts of Shakespeare's plays.

            I have never claimed that the New Testament documents should be read as the "word of God," but I certainly could make an argument that in some sense, they are, but that does not at all require that they have one and only one clear and correct meaning for each passage. Even laws and contracts, which are written to be air tight, wind up being subject to dramatically different interpretations.

            And I doubt very much they contain much of his original content in the first place.

            You are free to think whatever you want, but if anyone believes that the Gospels give a very accurate portrayal of the life of Jesus and his teachings, I don't know what you could say to convince them otherwise. Most of what we know about famous figures in the past comes not from them directly, but from the observations of others who lived at roughly the same time. Even when we have autobiographies of famous people, we are not guaranteed that they have recorded their own lives accurately, objectively, or honestly.

          • Max Driffill

            David,

            History is indeed hard work, and there is, and must be a great deal of ambiguity. We can say, well, on the best evidence we think some person in history did X, or said X. And there the matter rests. I'm not sure why you are bring it up, or why it is ever brought up by believers or those friendly to belief. It does no favors for the person, who thinks, based on scant records they have the answers to every vexing question in the universe. Because we understand that history becomes more and more unreliable the further back we go. We can develop fairly decent pictures of history, but only if we use multiple lines of evidence.

            The writings of Epicurus, or Socrates are interesting whether or not either person ever existed. Nothing much changes. They provide interesting ideas which a group of humans might, over wine and food waste a night of fascinating discussion. There are no heresy hunts, I would never, on the writings of Epicurus, try to arrogate the authority to try to tell you how to live. Shakespeare may have not written his own plays, and yet they stand on their own merits.

            This is not the situation we find for Jesus, or the case for modern Christianity. These problems of translation, and content do pose very serious problems for Christians who try base their authority to tell everyone else how to live on the absolute truth of these texts regardless of the amount of nuance they may, or may not invest in their readings of them.

            I have already accepted that history is complex, and pregnant with unavoidable ambiguity.

            ADDENDUM: Also, I think you have to admit David, that among historical figures the record for Jesus is much worse, possessed as it is of no contemporary corroboration. Do you agree or not, that such a record should, indeed must, be taken with more than a grain of salt.

          • These problems of translation, and content do pose very serious problems for Christians who try base their authority to tell everyone else how to live on the absolute truth of these texts regardless of the amount of nuance they may, or may not invest in their readings of them.

            All I am proposing is that the Gospels be read exactly the same way as any other ancient documents be read. If others want to make a case for more than that, I may or may not agree with them. A fair reading of the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman, for example, does not require Jesus to have 21st-century liberal Christian sensitivities and say to the Canaanite woman, "Well, you're not a Jew, but really any path to the truth is just as good as any other, so of course I will heal your daughter." Nor does it require the Canaanite woman to be a 21st-century feminist and say, "Well, Jesus, I thought you would be pleased that a non-Jew would believe you had powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, but, sir, nobody gets away with implying I and my people are equivalent to dogs! I will take my business elsewhere!"

            To expect a story about a 1st-century Jew, believed to be divine by the teller of the story, and a 1st-century Canaanite woman, having an encounter that somehow transcends time and culture is to totally misread the story.

            I have never advocated for Christians using the Bible to try to tell other people how to live, or force them to live, or prohibit them from living, the way the please. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state and believe all law should be secular. But I also believe that reading the Old and New Testaments with a chip on one's shoulder, or reading them like a prosecutor trying to find something to condemn God or Jesus with, is utterly misguided.

          • Max Driffill

            David,

            I am pretty much fine with your reading of the Jesus and the Canaanite woman. But then I was not criticizing your reading of the text now was I.

            I am taking issue with people try to make the texts more than are, and more than they can possibly be demonstrated to be. Your complaint about me seems to be that I am not going to allow people to try to hold Jesus up as a moral paragon without objection.

            To expect a story about a 1st-century Jew, believed to be divine by the teller of the story, and a 1st-century Canaanite woman, having an encounter that somehow transcends time and culture is to totally misread the story.

            I do not expect this David. In fact I expect the very parochial nature of the text. However, there are those, some found here, that claim that the this book, the BIble, is the most exquisite book on morals and human ethics ever created. I think its clear historical context, and cobbled together nature bear the clear stamp of its lowly origin. No doubt you will go all tone police on me for that statement.

          • David, have you read Reza Aslan's new book?

            No, but I have it as a Kindle book on my iPad. I see that both the book and the author are under attack on the First Thoughts blog over at First Things. Just about any book they go out of their way to condemn becomes a "must read" for all right-thinking people.

          • Thanks for the pointer, David. I used to go over to First Things when they were putting up derogatory pieces about the recent atheist movement. They dropped much of that, after a while, but I will take a moment to go see what is up now. (I did notice Feser's piece on "nothing," which I put on my stack to go answer.)

          • I hadn't heard. I guess now we billions of Christians can drop this whole religion thing! :-)
            The "angry Jesus" thing sure raises eyebrows, doesn't it?
            Max, Christians believe that Jesus was fully human, but did *not* suffer from concupiscence, which is the disordering of the passions (anger included). Just like Adam, Jesus was fully in control of His passions and therefore His intellect and will perfectly coordinated whatever anger He experienced, at all times.
            Unlike the rest of us. But this is why there is "righteous anger" and the "sin" of anger.
            And this is also why it's a really flimsy argument to make to say that "angry Jesus" sinned and was QED disqualified as Messiah...

          • Christians believe that Jesus was fully human, but did *not* suffer from concupiscence, which is the disordering of the passions (anger included).

            Do you really think that has any meaning to an atheist? It certainly doesn't mean anything to me, and I am not an atheist. I have been reading books about Jesus for years, and concupiscence has not come up. Plus you neglected to mention that Jesus never murdered anyone with his mind (or anything else).

            Just like Adam, Jesus was fully in control of His passions and therefore His intellect and will perfectly coordinated whatever anger He experienced, at all times.

            Just like Adam? But Adam sinned. That shows how helpful it must be to be free from concupiscence.

          • Quid pro quo, I guess. An atheistic QED about murderer Jesus has no meaning for me. I just provided the Catholic answer that addresses the claim...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Concupiscence is a pretty common term in Catholic moral theology. It is one of the consequences of Original Sin. It is basically the tendency we have to let our passions dictate what we will do. There are 13 references to it in the CCC.

          • Concupiscence is a pretty common term in Catholic moral theology.

            I didn't say I never heard of it, or that I don't know what it means. My point is that saying "Jesus did not suffer from concupiscence" is no help at all in explaining anger displayed by Jesus. I have read a fair number of books on the historical Jesus, and also books on Jesus by people (like Benedict XVI) who are not all that keen on the idea of the uncovering a historical Jesus. (Benedict says that the Jesus in the Gospels is the historical Jesus.) And I don't once recall a mention of concupiscence. It may have its place, but it certainly isn't here, in an attempt to "sell" Jesus to atheists—or at least defend him against charges of murder!

            With all due respect, asserting Jesus was free from concupiscence may demonstrate that you know technical Catholic jargon, but it doesn't explain anything at all worth knowing to this particular audience (or, really, anyone else) when it comes to anger displayed by Jesus. Who here is interested in concupiscence? What help is it to say Jesus was free from concupiscence to someone who claims Jesus murdered people with his mind? Will trying to explain the concept of the hypostatic union draw atheists to the Catholic Church or influence those who have fallen away to return?

          • josh

            Is there anything Catholics haven't defined into a 'no-true-scotsman' ?

          • primenumbers

            Sounds like yet another one of those rationalizations. Fact is according to your book, he got angry, he got violent. You say he was in control of his passions, but you have no evidence for this, yet you introduce this to attempt to rationalize away the issue.

          • Careful--you're making it sound like you actually believe that Jesus actually *existed*.... :-) (though I honestly can't recall whether you ever disputed his existence--but others have)
            But seriously. Do you really think the same Church that *brought* you the New Testament would rely on texts that somehow depict Jesus behaving like a murderous sinner? If there is no other way to understand the "evidence" (which btw you have *no* evidence for the "murderous Jesus" assertion), who was the ancient numbskull who made sure to include the "angry Jesus" passages?
            Can we not have more respectful discussions than these sorts of "gotchas"?

          • primenumbers

            Let us say I'm agnostic on the fellow due to lack of any corroborating contemporary historical evidence and lack of contemporary friendly documentation.

            I don't really get your argument - it's not clear.

            I'm not making the original argument but I think the murder comes from Jesus quotes that basically say that people who are angry have committed murder in their hearts. I'm sure you know the books better than I do and can find the appropriate reference. It's the sort of daft thing that Ray Comfort refers to in his 10 commandments apologetic.

          • Susan

            But this is why there is "righteous anger" and the "sin" of anger.

            So if Jesus does it, it's righteous anger?

            Why are you so certain that your interpretation of the cursing of the fig tree is correct?

            I wouldn't get away with announcing that my interpretation of a story's intent is the "correct" one without justifying it.

            Maybe you can. But you haven't done it so far. Just stated it as fact.

          • Do you believe Jesus existed?
            Do you believe He is God?

          • Susan

            Do you believe Jesus existed?
            Do you believe He is God?

            Can you demonstrate that he existed?

            What is a god? Please list all of the attributes a god would possess that would make it a god.

            Then, explain what you mean by "God".

            Don't leave anything out because it gets tricky if you decide to add stuff in later.

            Please be specific.

            I am not being facetious. I need you to clarify your terms.
            Stuff like "god of Abraham" doesn't do it. That means too many things to too many people.

            Then, demonstrate that Jesus is that.

          • That means too many things to too many people.

            Susan, that is at the core of one of the major problems I have with Christian beliefs. If one postulates an omniscient deity who also cares about the well being of future generations, it is hard for me to fit Jesus into that picture. The conflicts and sorrow that would have been foreseen to happen by not having clear writings from Jesus himself during the time of his teaching, seem unnecessary (another problem for theodicy). If, however, you see Jesus as a preacher thinking he is on a divine mission to tell an apocalyptic story of the fall of Roman domination (there were several of those at the time) then one can easily see why he would speak in hidden parables and not write anything down (even presuming he could write). The Romans were busy, at the time, crucifying any insurrectionists they could find among the many Jewish rebel groups, and anyone wanting to travel around preaching to crowds had to be very careful about what was said.

          • Susan

            The Romans were busy, at the time, crucifying any insurrectionists they could find among the many Jewish rebel groups, and anyone wanting to travel around preaching to crowds had to be very careful about what was said.

            Hi Q. Quine,

            There are so many ordinary explanations for the stories we have today about Jesus. The fact that the story took hold to a small but significant enough degree long enough (a few centuries) to worm its way into the Roman empire through Constantine, gain a foothold, gather political clout as it allied itself with states (as supernatural beliefs have throughout human history) is fascinating in its detail but horrifying and mundane in its reality.

            It also seems ordinary that humans emotionally bond with stories and assert things they cannot demonstrate because of those emotional bonds.

            There is certainly no reason to assume that all the stories about a messianic cult leader called Jesus are even true, let alone that they are evidence of a deity, let alone that they are evidence of specific claims ("correct" interpretation) of a deity, but if we can't all agree on the reasonable standards of evidence that we would use on any other subject, it's hard to know how to have a "dialogue".

            My experience at Strange Notions is that nothing has changed since catechism.

          • I'm pretty sure that if you don't believe Jesus is real or that He is God, then it does not matter *at all* whether you think He sinned or not....

          • Susan

            I'm pretty sure that if you don't believe Jesus is real or that He is God, then it does not matter *at all* whether you think He sinned or not....

            So, you don't have an actual explanation for why your interpretation of the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree is the "correct" one.

          • Michael Murray

            Someone could be an atheist anthropologist of religion who is trying to understand how Christianity explains this apparent anomaly ?

          • Max Driffill

            Jim,

            I hadn't heard. I guess now we billions of Christians can drop this whole religion thing! :-)
            Finally! ;)

            The "angry Jesus" thing sure raises eyebrows, doesn't it?
            Max, Christians believe that Jesus was fully human, but did *not* suffer from concupiscence, which is the disordering of the passions (anger included). Just like Adam, Jesus was fully in control of His passions and therefore His intellect and will perfectly coordinated whatever anger He experienced, at all times.

            This is sheer manic invention. I don't know what else to call it. Necessary too, I suppose, for the believer to try smudge the contradictions of the gospels, and of the inconsistencies of Jesus, with his message. I am not sure the Gospels give us that out. Mark certainly doesn't. And our oldest manuscripts of Mark, indicate a much angrier Jesus than the Mark of today.

            Unlike the rest of us. But this is why there is "righteous anger" and the "sin" of anger.
            Does Jesus make this distinction ever? Does he say in the Gospels, ever, Its okay to get righteously angry? No. In fact we can add this to his moral failings (failings I think Paul shared). Jesus, and Paul would have frowned on the righteous, but peaceful rebellion of MLK Jr. We are not to agitate for better lives, but to be the best witness possible where we find ourselves. Jesus' council on injustice is to turn the other cheek, love our enemies etc.

            And this is also why it's a really flimsy argument to make to say that "angry Jesus" sinned and was QED disqualified as Messiah...

            I'm not sure it is. If Jesus was fully human, then to remain sinless he would have to have been sinless. By his own words we must find him to have sinned, However well intentioned he may have been (though calling that lady a dog in Mark doesn't seem overly well intentioned to me). You haven't really offered me any reason to think my exegesis is obviously wrong. I would love to hear why you think it is, using more than, "well we mostly just ignore the text and believe whatever we think makes the story cohere." So by all means, demonstrate why you think I am wrong. I'm all ears. Ball, court, you.

          • Who did Jesus kill?

          • epeeist

            Who did Jesus kill? I want names!

            You might want to look at what he thought of the peoples of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida for starters.

          • What did he think of them? He seemed to love everyone.

            Also, did he kill any of them with his mind?

          • epeeist

            What did he think of them? He seemed to love everyone.

            You would have to read the relevant passages.

            Briefly, he turned up at their villages and did the old conversion routine. But they responded the way most people do to Jehovah's Witnesses so he damned them to hell.

          • Yes, I suppose "to hell with you" isn't the most loving thing for a Savior to say.

          • Max Driffill

            Everyone he got angry at, at least according to his own words. Anger at someone equals murder.

          • I think that may be taking rabbinic hyperbole too far. Luke 14:26 isn't supposed to translate as "kill yourself and everyone you love, please."

          • Max Driffill

            Paul,
            If that was what I was saying I don't think I would disagree with you.
            When Jesus discusses the law, he goes to great lengths to demonstrate that all fall short of the law. During this instruction he points out that if you have gotten angry at some one you have committed murder in your hear and have violated the the commandment against murder. For Jesus, anger= murder in the heart= actual murder, You could say Jesus was using hyperbole to make a point, but in this context I am not sure that is the best interpretation Jesus in this instance.

            I would be curious to hear what you think.

          • Thanks for that helpful response (to a somewhat snarky comment). The way I read the Beatitudes, when it gets to anger and murder, Jesus is talking about wishing someone dead. Presumably, if Jesus really was God and really wished someone dead, like that defenceless fig tree, they'd probably just die.

            Jesus maybe believed he fell short of the standard, also (John 5:30, John 6:57).

          • Max Driffill

            Paul,
            I didn't detect snark, I thought you were just returning the general (intended) humor of my post. No blood no foul. I don't think your interpretation of the gospels is necessarily wrong, or mine necessarily right. I tend to view them in isolation. They were not written to be one piece in the same book. The individual gospels were the only book for some communities in the early Christian history. They seem best thought of as specific messages for specific communities in specific times, and as responses to specific theological contexts of those communities.

            Anyway, thanks for the comments.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            You claimed you could demonstrate the truth of these dogmas or doctrines. Please feel free to do so. If they are truths, then I do not need to share your faith in order for you to demonstrate that they are, in fact true.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Yep. I've got all year. Its deeply frustrating when this veil is dropped over these deep truths...

            Instructions to go and read a book are not on, though. We need to know a regular guy (no offence, Jim) can understand this too even if we can't quite get there.

          • Look below for the comment in which I tried to explain why Catholics don't actually believe the Bible proclaims Jesus to be a murderous sinner.
            Do you really think I've got a shot at explaining the truth of the Immaculate Conception to an atheist when the dogma itself has everything to do with something done by God-whom-you-don't-really-believe-in-quite-yet?

          • Do you really think I've got a shot at explaining the truth of the Immaculate Conception to an atheist . . .

            No, you don't, nor can you really "explain" it to Catholics. It is a matter of faith. Or, if you prefer, it is a truth of faith. Thomas Aquinas argued against it. I doubt that you could have debated Aquinas on the matter and won! If it could be demonstrated logically, a pope wouldn't have bothered to declare it infallibly.

            If you think it is possible to make logical arguments to an atheist and convince him there is a God, and then make more logical arguments and convince him the God of the Old Testament is the true God, and then convince him that Jesus is God incarnate, and then convince him that Mary had to be conceived without original sin, you are fooling yourself even as a Catholic. Faith can't be explained, or it wouldn't be faith. Mysteries can't be explained, or they wouldn't be mysteries.

          • Sample1

            If it could be demonstrated logically, a pope wouldn't have bothered to declare it infallibly.

            Interesting observation!

            Mike

          • Interesting observation!

            Of course, as has been discussed before, the Church has made an infallible declaration that the existence of God can be known through reason alone. If the existence of God can be known through reason alone, why should that be an article of faith? It is kind of like infallibly declaring that there is no highest prime number.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It should be declared an article of faith because lots of people would never reach that truth by reason alone. In other words, the existence of God can be known by reason but most people will never need to or want to or be able to do it, but the Magisterium believed it was necessary to state this natural truth.

          • epeeist

            Mysteries can't be explained, or they wouldn't be mysteries.

            Aren't mysteries so designed so as to put them beyond explanation? What Jonathan West might call "unfalsifiable propositions" or alternatively, self-sealing arguments.

          • Aren't mysteries so designed so as to put them beyond explanation?

            I wouldn't say designed. I don't think religious people gather behind closed doors and say, "Let's concoct something unverifiable and call it a mystery so that nobody can argue against it." It does not bother me that Catholicism (to take the religion I know best) has mysteries. When something is called a mystery, it just means, "We believe that this is true, but we can't fully explain it." I did, during my Catholic education, reject the idea that people should be required to believe something they could not accept.

            In high school religion class once (all boys' school, run by the Christian Brothers) one of our teachers presented something to the class (I actually don't remember the topic, but it was no doubt about sexual morality, possibly masturbation), and the class argued with him to the point where he said he would do some more research and get back to us later. When he did get back to us, the class continued to raise objections, and he finally threw his hands up and said, "I can't explain it, but this is what you have to believe." I can't accept that. I don't refuse to accept everything that can't be proven to me, but if it doesn't seem right or fit in with everything else I know, I reject the idea of believing it because someone tells me I have to. It doesn't even make sense to me. This is not Wonderland, and I can't believe things just by trying.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think there is something wrong in your line of thought here.

            Catholics do think it is possible to make logical arguments to prove the existence of God to atheists.

            We don't think think it is possible to prove revealed doctrines which surpass human reason, although all of them, we claim, can be shown to be reasonable and contrary arguments can be shown to be false.

            Finally, I think the Magisterium has used logic and reason to reach theological conclusions (like the definitions of the Blessed Trinity are the best account of all the data of Divine Revelation about the nature of God).

          • I think there is something wrong in your line of thought here.

            I don't think I am saying anything "un-Catholic" or that we need be in disagreement here. While the Catholic Church claims the existence of God can be known through reason alone (and certain moral truths, as well), it does not claim the Immaculate Conception can be known through reason alone by beginning with proof of the existence of God and making more and more logical arguments until you get to the Immaculate Conception. Revelation and faith are required. The Catholic Church claims that nothing it teaches is against reason, but many things are above reason.

            Finally, I think the Magisterium has used logic and reason to reach theological conclusions . . .

            I don't disagree with that, but often the premises are matters of faith. Belief in the Trinity grew out of the belief that Jesus was both God and man. There is no logical proof that Jesus is both God and man. That is a matter of faith. If you accept as a matter of faith that Jesus is both God and man, and you accept that there is only one God, then you have to work out something like the Trinity. But the Church doesn't claim the Trinity can be known through reason alone, no matter how logical the arguments may be that begin with the premise that Jesus was divine.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I agree.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I didn't ask you to explain the truth. You made the claim that you could show these doctrines true.

            Apparently you can't.

          • You're quite right. I cannot demonstrate that the Immaculate Conception is true unless and until you accept the truth of God's existence. And a few other things, probably....

          • Phil Rimmer

            I would happily grant you the premises needed to set out your stall...

          • Phil Rimmer

            "even if we can't quite get there." you will prove something to us, because you will prove that you are the master of your own material. And you may still prove a huge amount to the visitor less hobbled in their thinking than me.

          • primenumbers

            Pick one and demonstrate it - perhaps the Two Nature Doctrine as proclaimed at Chalcedon in 451CE?

          • Susan

            For someone still learning addition and subtraction, for example, it doesn't do much good discussing differential equations,

            Before kindergarten, addition and subtraction came easily to me. I was the youngest of five children and my overwhelmed mother left me in the corner to myself with a stack of poker chips and a deck of cards. I made up stories and did arithmetic with the cards and moved those chips around like crazy.

            5 and 7 makes 12. Every time I moved those chips, I could see that 5 and 7 made 10 and 2, made 8 and 4, made 6 and 6, made 11 and 1. made 2 groups of 6, 6 groups of 2, 3 groups of 4, etc.

            Nobody had to teach me this. The chips showed me.

            Things got weird when I was enrolled in catholic school.
            There is a difference between starting with a premise that we can all agree on because it is evidenced in reality and for which we invent symbols and wandering off into sophisticated interpretations of something that does not distinguish itself from mythology.

            Arithmetic can lead me to differential equations.

            What does this have to do with stories about Jesus (which until you demonstrate otherwise, are stories)?

          • Max Driffill

            They aren't truths. They are, at the very best failed, or difficult to test hypotheses. There is nothing in theology that nears the concrete fact that a water molecule is generally comprised of H2O (that hydrogen can of course be heavy hydrogen, though it is rarer).

            I'm all ears if you wish to demonstrate my error here.

          • The atheist says they aren't truths.
            The theist says they are.
            "Truth" is not, of course, synonymous with either "tested hypothesis" or "scientific fact"...

          • Max Driffill

            How can they be truths? There are several of them from different confessions and most of them are mutually exclusive. There is no way to distinguish among these competing truth claims, which is one reason for the extreme acrimony among confessions, which almost more intense among different varieties of the same confession. That acrimony alone should tell you all you need to know about your subject. If there were a real way to distinguish, reliably among these ideas, there would not be many ideas about gods, but one. Its like listening to people argue about musical genres and some one claiming that one is objectively better than another.

            I'm fast beginning to think your definition of truth doesn't mean anything at all.

      • epeeist

        Let's give them a textbook written by someone defending the idea of a flat Earth, and one written by someone who thinks the Earth is round

        Not the best example. You might have chosen to contrast a book by someone who things the universe is geocentric and a book on modern cosmology.

        • Speaking of a geocentric universe, look at the image on page nine of the linked paper, published today in "Astronomy and Astrophysics".

          It'll make the hair on the back of your head stand up.

          http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2013/07/new-paper-in-astronomy-and-astrophysics.html

        • Isaac Clarke

          It's a type of sword. And you know how to use it.

          I am such an idiot. Thank feck you didn't claim to be an expert with a rapier. I cannot believe it took me so long to cop on.

          • epeeist

            Thank feck you didn't claim to be an expert with a rapier.

            I have done a little stage fencing, but sport fencing is my forte.

            As for geocentricism, I think Phil Plait is pretty good on this.

            I also picked up this announcement the other day, it would seem that GR has been tested again, and guess what? It passed the test.

      • Octavo

        I don't think that example is parallel. I don't mean that we should expose kids to proselytizing texts from each religion. Teaching kids about the tenets and practices of several world religions is important because it fosters empathy and understanding for other people. I think it can help inoculate kids against propaganda about those people groups.

        • I'd see no problem with age-appropriate comparative religion content *along* with actively raising one's child in the parent's faith...

          • Octavo

            That gets more complicated when the parents don't share the same metaphysical positions.

            My spouse is a progressive Christian and I'm a naturalist non-theist.

            I don't particularly want to teach my hypothetical children that they must believe the ideas of theism or non-theism. I'm not particularly pleased that I was indoctrinated to believe in Christianity by family and society, and I don't really want to turn around and do the same thing to someone else.

          • And you as a parent really do have total freedom and total responsibility to make that decision. And nothing I say or believe about that should really matter. You have to make the best decision you can for your kids...

  • Ben

    Take 2:
    Ok, I agree that I should want my hypothetical child to try to figure out the truth rather than just being "open minded." Practically speaking, what comes next, what actions am I supposed to take?
    And does the answer change depending on whether I am an atheist or Catholic?

    • Jay

      Teach your kids what you believe. They can come to the conclusion later on in life whether or not what you've taught them is true or false. Children choosing to go in a different path than their parents isn't uncommon. Since I'm Catholic, I'd say I would pray for my kids and try to get them to understand their faith better in whatever way I could. If you're an atheist, I think you'd probably "x" out the praying part. A former employer of mine told me that he was raised learning how to counteract and argue against religious lines of thought. I suppose that's one potential route to take.

      • ... try to get them to understand their faith better ...

        By "their faith," don't you mean the faith that has been placed upon them?

        • Jay

          yes

          • yes

            So, you are saying that you try to get them to understand what you expect them to believe?

          • Jay

            I would try to get them to understand the teachings of the Catholic Church to the best of my ability.

          • Okay, thanks for the clarification.

          • Jay

            take care :)

      • Michael Murray

        Or if you live in a society where religion is not particularly emphasised and any religious family are at distance you can just pretty much ignore the whole thing.

  • 31428571J

    Its possible that the influence of genes and environment takes the decision out of the child's hands and becomes the tipping-point for 'choice'.

    • Vickie

      This is more like a true discussion point that arises organically from this particular article. Just by the fact that we are who we are as parents, that we believe what we believe and live how we live..can we truly present alternative ideas from a completely nonbiased standpoint regardless of if we are Catholic or Atheist?

  • Marie Van Gompel Alsbergas

    Over 20 years ago, a colleague asked me a delicate question while we were at work. Her husband had received a pair of tickets to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat", then starring Donny Osmond. Having been raised without any 'religion', she was completely ignorant about this fundamental element of the 3 Mono-Theistic Religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism). Her question? What was the story all about? I explained it to her as best I could, but I pose a query here in return: By allowing my friend to make up her own mind about religions, her parents' decisions did not help her to make an informed choice of her own. She had no idea how little she knew of her own history and culture. Was that practical and realistic of them?

    • M. Solange O’Brien

      Yes. It was her choice not to explore further, not her parents.

    • Susan

      By allowing my friend to make up her own mind about religions, her parents' decisions did not help her to make an informed choice of her own.

      You're making the mistake of assuming that the main choices one can make are regarding Abrahamic religions. I was always grateful for some knowledge because of its part in shaping our culture but that doesn't make it true, just a useful literary reference.

      She had no idea how little she knew of her own history and culture. Was that practical and realistic of them?

      What do you know about your own history and your own culture, apart from the assumption that the main questions are related to "the" 3 monotheistic religions?

      You might very well know a lot. It's not an accusation. I'm asking because you might very well know a lot.

    • Mikegalanx

      No. An understanding of both the Bible and Classical mythology and history is important for an understanding of Western culture.

      I was teaching English in a college in Beijing in 1986 to a group of older students, late20s to early 30s, who had been raised during the Cultural Revolution when anything associated with religion had been banned; particularly Christianity due to its association with foreign imperialism.

      They were training to be English teachers, and one of their courses was English literature. They came to me baffled by the Christian and classical references they kept coming across; I had to give them a brief course in Biblical studies and Greek mythology and history to help them understand.

      Side-note: I took my wife, who is a Taiwanese aboriginal artist, to see "Troy". On the way home she commented that it was like "Pearl Harbor" or "Titanic".

      Puzzled, I asked why. Well, she said, in "Pearl Harbor" they just couldn't show the bombing; they had to show the love story leading up to it; in "Titanic" they had to do the whole Jack/Rose romance before they got to the sinking; and in "Troy", they couldn't just show the Wooden Horse....

      She thought the whole Helen of Troy stuff was just something Hollywood tossed in to make it more of a date movie.

      OTOH, how many Westerners who saw Zhang Yimou's historical movie "Hero", about the first Emperor, were shocked by the ending, and immediately grasped the modern political implications- as any educated Chinese did.

      • Sample1

        I was fortunate to have known a Cantonese man at the time who explained Hero to me while pointing out that the English subtitles were glossing over deeply held cultural memes.

        Excellent post Mikegalanx.

        Mike

    • Susan

      Over 20 years ago, a colleague asked me a delicate question while we were at work.

      What's the difference between a curious question and a delicate question?

    • Corylus

      By allowing my friend to make up her own mind about religions, her
      parents' decisions did not help her to make an informed choice of her
      own. She had no idea how little she knew of her own history and
      culture. Was that practical and realistic of them?

      Are you advocating that she should have been taught about different religions as an exercise in cultural comparison? I would agree with this one.

      Or, are you saying that being raised in a given religion teaches about a culture as a side-effect, and is thus a good thing? I would have issues with that one.

    • Jonathan West

      Would you have asked the same question had the musical been about an episode from the Trojan wars or some other event in Greek or Roman mythology and your friend had been similarly ignorant of the story?

      • epeeist

        Would you have asked the same question had the musical been about an episode from the Trojan wars or some other event in Greek or Roman mythology and your friend had been similarly ignorant of the story?

        I note that the Proms this year includes Britten's Phaedra and that Barenboim is conducting the Ring Cycle. Would you still be ill-informed if you didn't know the mythology behind these but did know the story of Noah?

        • Jonathan West

          I suspect that Wagner has helped a good deal in promoting knowledge of Norse mythology, if only for the purpose of understanding the Ring.

          Of course one can know about Norse mythology without believing it to be true. And the same can be said of the Bible. But I wouldn't regard ignorance of either as being reprehensible.

      • Marie Van Gompel Alsbergas

        It depends on whether or not my friend wanted to know, and whether or not this information had been taught. In high school, most of the freshman English classes read "A Tale of Two Cities". My class read, instead, "Gone With the Wind". Which novel is more relevant to American Culture as a whole?

  • Mikegalanx

    A somewhat parallel issue would be your political beliefs.
    I'm a lefty; when I was raising my kids I certainly presented my ideal of social justice to them as correct

    As they grew older I would try to get them to explore the various arguments of different sides- but I would not have simply presented the full political spectrum in the beginning from a neutral perspective, because there are some things I think are right and wrong

  • GothAgatha

    It is possible to be so open-minded that your brains fall out...

  • Ben

    Just raise your kids to report unwanted touching to the police and the religion question will deal with itself.

  • Lydia

    It seems that in some ways the tactic of being open-minded about religion for your children is either lazy (I don't want to go through the hassle of religion either for me or my kid, or I really don't have the time/inclination to think about it) or it is the thought that religion is nice for some people, and perhaps a way to raise nice kids that don't steal, but they are all the same anyway. I've been reading Al Kresta's book "Dangers to the Faith" http://j.mp/OSVKrestaDTF, (about what in our culture pulls Catholics away from the faith) and this thought that all religions are the same marginalizes them, but especially Christianity. The parents that raise their kids to be "open-minded," but are shocked and almost appalled to see their child embrace Christ, have been affected deeply by a culture that has neutered Christianity. The antidote to this is education, education, education to those we can educate; and personally affecting the culture in any positive way we can, such as the arts, the media, and personal actions. The past 40 years have been a wasteland of education for Catholics until recently and the more spreading of the Truth, the more couples will be affected for the better.

    • Max Driffill

      I'm sure Al Kresta was completely objective about these other faiths.

  • CAMERON SIKORA

    Interesting ideas ! I loved the details ! Does someone know where I might obtain a sample DA 4187-1-R example to work with ?