1. Are you firm in your disbelief in God or are you agnostic?
I am an agnostic-atheist based solely on the technicality that there is no way to know with absolute certainty that a god does or does not exist. However, I feel strongly that the entire idea of a God is as absurd as magic pink donkeys running on treadmills powering the sun. In the spirit of transparency, I cling to the agnostic label for the purposes of debate – once you make the claim that you are certain there is no god, the burden of proof shifts to you. To avoid that, I simply refrain from making that claim.
2. Do you teach your children critical thinking skills? (Please elaborate on methods and give examples)
I do, yes. I often ask my son, “does that make sense to you?” and ask him to explain how or why it does or doesn’t make sense. I also make a point of answering all his questions as honestly and as openly as I can, without judgment. This will teach him that asking questions is acceptable and welcomed. It also conveys to him the importance of intellectual honesty. I always ask my son why he feels or thinks something so that he becomes accustomed to having to back up his position. We also watch things like Cosmos together, which he absolutely loves. As well, one of his favourite shows is Bill Nye the Science Guy. We often discuss shows and movies after we’ve watched them to practice critical analysis. We do science experiments and choose your own adventure books and I even play devil’s advocate sometimes, just to get his little brain working.
I wrote a list of all the methods I use to promote critical thinking in kids. Click here to read it.
3. Do you refrain from discussing God or do you make your position known?
If he asks, he gets an honest answer. He knows I am Godless Mom. He knows that if some people in our real life found that out, that they would be upset. He knows I do not believe in a god, and he knows that he can choose to believe if he wants to. When Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door, I tell him the truth about who they are, why they come to our door and what happens to them if they stop knocking on people’s doors.
4. Would you expose your child to the notion of a deity, religious texts, or church services so that they can make their own decision? If so, is there a particular age that you would want your child to be before being exposed to these things?
No. I feel there is nothing lacking from our lives. He is growing up to be a fun, compassionate boy who loves to learn. He takes responsibility for his own actions and he has an amazing community he belongs to as part of his Montessori school. Similarly, I wouldn’t expose him to the creation myth of the Phoenicians or the Egyptians as something to potentially be “chosen”. Instead, these stories and ideas are expressed to him solely as myths and legends and a part of learning about the history of our species.
5. What is your course of action if your child starts to believe?
This depends on what he believes. If he’s going to join ISIS because he believes in Allah and jihad, well, then I’m going to have to speak up. If he just wants to go to church every Sunday and have a personal belief in God, then I’m fine with it. The determining factor here between whether or not I will accept it, is whether or not his newfound belief compels him to treat people poorly. This includes simple proselytizing and opposing gay rights and ranges all the way to terrorism. If his belief made him act poorly towards others, I would still love him, but I would express my concern and try to make him see reason. If his belief was completely peaceful and personal, I’d support him in it. Although, being a lover of debate, I would discuss it with him. Not so much in hopes of deconverting him, but rather to understand how he ended up where he did.
In any scenario, including one where he joined an extremist terrorist group to fight for his belief in God, I would still love him.
What do you think? What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments, or post it on your blog and send me the link!