I’m about 30% of the way through. With a 6 1/2 year old daughter, I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about this stuff, so I’ve heard a lot of the specific ideas and issues before. And there is quite a variety of positions expressed, so some are bound to resonate and others to irritate. I enjoyed Dawkins letter to his daughter more than I expected, since I’m usually in the “other” camp as far as his usual strident confrontational approach goes. On the whole, it’s a nice resource as much for validation of experiences and thoughts I’ve had myself as well as for new ideas. I would recommend it, even though I haven’t read that far yet.
I thought about it, but my sons, being 18 and almost 16, are as good as grown. Could help with grandkids in the future, but that seems to be so far away that the info could end up a little outdated and I’m not sure as of yet, if my sons would appreciate that book too. :( Like I said, my older son has gone from Christianity, to Sufism to Tao Buddhist and who knows what he will be tomorrow. My younger son is just now questioning religion and asking what some people mean by the Rapture. I’m rather shocked he is just now asking what that is, but then again, neither of my sons were raised around those who believe in that sort of thing.
My daughter’s main exposure to religion has been the Jewish pre-school she went to. Mostly harmless stuff (challah and grape juice on Fridays, etc). I did get ticked off when they told the story about passover and God killing off all the little non-Jewish boys, especially in a classroom of 30% non-Jews. And when she came home excited about her astronomy class and told me how the earth revolved around the sun because that’s how God set it up. I’ve tried very hard to present my own non-belief in a non-coercive way, and she vacillates on whether or not she believes there’s a god. She wants to not believe because she likes to agree with me (Daddy’s girl ), but it’s hard for her to quite get the idea that the world wasn’t made by somebody. The argument from design was my weak spot for years, so I sympathize. And it’s a bit hard, for me anyway, to clearly explain natural selection at a level that makes sense to a 6 year old. But she has a great grasp on makebelief vs reality, and she is a big fan of our book of stories from mythology, into which I toss the occassional tale from major contemporary religions with no particular commentary, just presenting them all as fairy tales. And I’m determined not to be like my Evangelical brother-in-law, who home schools his kids because he’s terrified of their encountering an idea he can’t control.
That’s one of the unifying themes of the book, so far- that secularists seem generally to feel, as I do, that teaching independant and critical thinking is most important, and that children should be allowed to come to their own understanding. Though we certainly influence them mightily as parents, we have to see our job as preparing them to find their own udnerstanding, rather than indoctrinating them and insulating them from other ideas. Still, it must be frustrating to see your sons taking to heart ideologies you see as harmful.
I agree with you wholeheartedly, McKenzie. The thing is, my sons are as good as grown. I’ve been trying to get my older son to read the Humanist Manifesto 2000 by Paul Kurtz, but he hasn’t yet. His nose is stuck in D&D books and Buddhism apparently.
Thanks for the reminder. I had heard this was going to be published some time ago. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. My wife and I are both atheists, and I don’t live in the bible belt. However, dealing with religion is still something I find challenging as a parent. I’ll pick up a copy today.
The only problem with using such “grossout” examples to show why God is a meany, is that I try to discourage her making such value judgements about natural phenomena. She’s doing a school project now on parasitic fungi that infect insect brains and make the isects climb up as high as possible over their home group and then kill them there and grow fruting bodies out of the insect corpse and shower spores over the rest of the group. We approach it as “Cool, huh?!” instead of “Eeewwww!.” Same with predation. I think it’s a mistake to apply ideas of cruelty or kindness to such processes, just as I wouldn’t apply them to avalanches or tsunamis. Yes, wildebeast babies are cuter, but crocodiles gotta eat too.
Anyway, we’re aiming at the same goal, showing that the concept of a kind and omnipotent god is inconsistent with reality, I just use slightly different examples to make the point.
I am resurrecting this thread after finding it via a search. McKenzie, how did you like McGowan’s Parenting Beyond Belief book? I quite enjoyed it. He has another one coming entitled Raising Freethinkers that is expected to be released in the coming Spring sometime. I plan to read it when it comes out. Dale also has a blog and a forum. I particularly enjoy reading some of his blog posts.
I have been searching all over the internet for Jane W. Wilson’s book Parenting Without God: Experience of a Humanist Mother. But it seems to be out of print. I would love it if someone knew where I could get my hands on a copy.