Tag Archive | Indoctrination

Atheism could do without the naturalistic fallacy

Baby

An atheist yesterday?

I hear a lot of atheists laying into religion (well, duh), making the claim that atheism is the natural default we’re born with, and religion only exists because people are indoctrinated to believe it. I like that idea, and it rings true on several levels. We find it so easy to bring children up believing religious doctrines that are wild guesses at best. And we teach them these things as fact, not only introducing fables but loading them with emotional significance to ensure that they aren’t easily challenged and dismissed.

Unfortunately, this belief in “default atheism” is simplistic at best. Babies and small children don’t have any kind of comprehensive answer to major life questions, but I think the early tendency to see one’s parents as perfect, infallible paragons can fit into the most basic definition of theism without too much squeezing and breathing in. And even adults with no interest in religion can still be led down a theistic line of thought by a certain stirring at the wonders of nature, for example. Read More…

Top-down religious indoctrination is so last century – these days it’s all crowdsourced

Cult or religion? The line between the two is often controversial, but the word “cult” is clearly understood to be pejorative. It often appears in the form of an irregular verb:

I have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe
You are religious
(S)he is in a cult

Stained GlassOne of the more popular criteria for distinguishing between them is indoctrination, the idea being that cults indoctrinate, but religions are more respectable and allow people to believe without the coercion that word implies.

That seems like a pretty good working distinction, and it always seemed to fit with my experience. I’ve spent my life in the church, but I never felt that I was being coerced into any belief. Obviously, there was encouragement to believe this, or that, and I’ve been taught various doctrines, most of which I now reject, but I never felt that I’d been indoctrinated at any point. Except that looking back, it appears that I was. Read More…

The All-New Jesus Show

Older son’s at an age where he’s realised that some things aren’t real, but he doesn’t know which ones, or how to tell the difference. He’ll be watching TV and ask me if Mister Maker is actually real, and then I’ll have to explain that there’s a real man who really makes things, but he’s not really called Mister Maker, he doesn’t really live in a cardboard box, and no, he doesn’t live in the TV either, which then usually leads to a long discussion about how TVs work.

Iggle Piggle

“This is a toy, it’s a different Iggle Piggle on TV, and he’s not real either, he’s a man in a suit, but the man’s real…”

He can get confused by the strangest things – I once had to explain how I knew the Octonauts aren’t real:

Well, animals don’t talk, and they don’t wear clothes, do they? And they don’t live in huge motorised underwater mobile homes, and polar bears aren’t really the same size as cats and penguins, and there’s definitely no such thing as vegimals, and above all, it’s a cartoon.

Read More…

Become like little children?

This is something I was trying to write a while back, before putting it aside for a while because I got distracted by an idea for a silly parody which seemed more fun to write. I’ve been thinking a lot about children, and how best to bring them up. No doubt I’ll post more on this subject in time.

It’s often assumed that children are naive conversion fodder who’ll believe anything they’re told. It’s true that young children haven’t developed the tools to evaluate claims for themselves, they believe lots of things before coming to realise they’re untrue as they grow up, and plenty of people have stories of how they were brought up with particular beliefs before finally rejecting their faith as an adult. But even so, I think this assumption might be an oversimplification of a rather more complex reality. Read More…

I believe in Father Christmas

I don’t like to see children being indoctrinated with irrational, illogical or nonsensical beliefs. I’m careful to give my boys plenty of information, to be honest, acknowledge uncertainty and try to give them all the information and tools I have at my disposal to learn and investigate for themselves. I even insert my own asides to correct their dinosaur books when they mention brontosauruses. So why do I find myself telling them that there’s such a person as Father Christmas? Read More…

Secularism, Indoctrination and Freedom

One thing I feel very strongly about is secularism – I think it’s an essential feature of a civilised democracy. Now, before anyone takes up arms, here’s what I mean by that. Contrary to how some seem to understand it, secularism isn’t about banning religion, or dictating atheist dogma – it’s about separating church and state, ensuring that all are free and able to pursue any religion or none, as they see fit. Basically, I don’t think any belief or lack of it should be given a privileged position in society, regardless of my view of the validity of those beliefs. Read More…

%d bloggers like this: