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Thread: A question of faith (or lack thereof)

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    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
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    Default A question of faith (or lack thereof)

    Amongst all the other interesting things kids do and say, The Boys have asked the random God questions. Why does he make it rain, yadda yadda.

    Other Half answers their questions in a kid way (because the plants are thirsty)...while I remain silent cause my answer is akin to killing Santa Clause.

    We don't go to church (as I'm an atheist, and Other Half is agnostic at most, I'm working on him), and the kids have expressed no interest (Lego is more fun I dare say).

    How would my fellow atheists go about this part of thier lives?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    I would be honest personally. Keep them open-minded, but not fill heads with crap.

    Santa Claus is a different kettle of fish entirely. Its an act, we all know its an act, its fun and if a kid starts to get too old without figuring it out then its not unusual for a parent to tell them the truth ultimately to avoid embarrassment.

    God OTOH adults believe in. Its not something you grow out with so to fill their heads with one thing now, then something else later is going to be confusing.

    My personal approach (never having needed to do it) would be to explain as well as possible why it rains (depending upon the age of the kids) and that different people have different views on god but that you don't personally believe it exists.

    Just my own random thoughts, I think a lot would have to depend upon the age and maturity of the kids. I would try to avoid it rains "because god says so" preferably though.
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    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    I've actually begun to tell the kids Santa isn't real. My mom did the same with me when I was their age, and I would tell all the other kids who then raged against me/were swayed otherwise by the mounds of presents they got.

    I feel like there's gotta be a better way, but not sure there is.

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    I make it clear to my child Santa isn't real.

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    Santa isn't real ?
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

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    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    You make it clear God isn't either?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

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    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
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    Ouch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    You make it clear God isn't either?
    Why would I lie to my child? Of course God is real.

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    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    How do you know God isn't running the Santa workshop?
    Hope is the denial of reality

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    Quote Originally Posted by Veldan Rath View Post
    Other Half answers their questions in a kid way (because the plants are thirsty)...
    This is pretty much what I do. I'm careful not to just throw it out there that hey, god is fake, and I don't blame stuff on him either. They ask a question, and I try to answer it in the most sciencey way possible. If all their questions have an actual real reason instead of "god" I'm confident they will connect the pieces on their own.

    With the stuff like Santa, tooth fairy, and easter bunny I have more fun with. I will go out of my way to do what I can to make the fairy tales as convincing as possible. The kids start to catch it on their own (or through school) that its all bullshit, so by playing my part I'm helping the kids with their critical thinking skills. That again should cross over when faith becomes a topic.
    Last edited by Ominous Gamer; 11-24-2012 at 11:04 PM.
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    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    How do you know God isn't running the Santa workshop?
    It's the kind of thing God would do. I think we have to at least consider the possibility.
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    Senior Member Catgrrl's Avatar
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    Great topic, as I will be in a similar boat sooner or later. I'm an atheist (only a recent discovery within myself) and Hubby is more of an agnostic. But with both of us as science-oriented people we will be explaining things in a scientific way as possible. When she starts asking about God it may become more of an issue because it isn't common knowledge that I do not believe. I'm hoping to keep an open mind as much as possible, to allow her to make that choice whether or not she believes in such an entity. But I also hope to teach her that there are scientific explanations for much of the world, and that which has not been explained yet is merely an opportunity to learn more, not just lump it as "God's doing". It's okay to believe in something as long as she understands that the Bible is written by men and has been changed over the years to suit those in power. Of course that conversation will be for a much older kid, but I do think often of how we will approach religion when it comes up. Most of our family members may hold a belief in God but aren't very religious per se, so it may not be that big of a deal. It'll be more likely a conversation to be had when she makes friends in school, or if the few Fundies in our outer family get a hold of her.

    As far as Santa/Easter Bunny/ Tooth Fairy, we do that stuff. It's all in fun and when she's old enough, she'll know the truth and hopefully she'll be like 99% of other kids who shrug and say, okay. Heck, Santa still brings me a gift each year It may be hypocritical to not make her believe in God but let her believe in magic, but I say it's all a fun part of childhood. Religion can be so much heavier. Some of the things I hear from the kids on the Fundie side make my heart break a little. They're such downers sometimes.

    Anyway, good to see input about this as it is something I'll be dealing with in the near future.

    EDIT: Also, I always wanted to kick kids like Dread in the teeth, when they blabbed about Santa Claus's ruse to the younger kids. My deal with my parents was as long as I said I believed Santa would bring me something (hinting that I should let the younger kids have fun) and I got Santa presents until I left the house at 24 Like I posted up above, Hubby keeps it up by getting me one Santa present. It's all in fun and it represents my secular spirit of Christmas.

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    Senior Member Catgrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    It's the kind of thing God would do. I think we have to at least consider the possibility.
    Well, St. Nicolas being a saint and all, one would think at least God would approve of said workshop

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    Isn't the easiest way to deal with this to sort of explain that it's basically all about how everything came about? That some people say it's just things happening and that other people think it's happening because there is a God? And that you either believe one or the other or that you don't know yourself either, but that in the end they will learn more about it, can think about it and make up their own mind?

    What seems more important to me is that you teach children that it's not right to make it about your religion, or what you believe, but who you are and what you do. More precisely, what you do to make this world a better place than you found it.

    P.S. I never told a child that Santa/St. Nicolas wasn't real. No matter what age they were
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    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
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    Ideally, I want them to make up their own minds, and learn before making up said minds.

    My weakness is being able to relate on such a 'kid' level. I grew up with Nova and Cosmos. Getting them to watch shows of that nature is gonna be tough.
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    ======== Timbuk2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    I'm careful not to just throw it out there that hey, god is fake,
    Quote Originally Posted by Catgrrl View Post
    When she starts asking about God
    I find it a little strange that your kids are asking questions about God, or that you are certain they will be.

    Growing up, it's not a question I, my sisters, or anyone I knew as friends or in school, ever seriously asked. If it was discussed, it was in a removed way and shelved along with other superstitions, much like Santa I suppose.

    Is it an American thing?

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    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catgrrl View Post
    Great topic, as I will be in a similar boat sooner or later. I'm an atheist (only a recent discovery within myself) and Hubby is more of an agnostic. But with both of us as science-oriented people we will be explaining things in a scientific way as possible. When she starts asking about God it may become more of an issue because it isn't common knowledge that I do not believe. I'm hoping to keep an open mind as much as possible, to allow her to make that choice whether or not she believes in such an entity. But I also hope to teach her that there are scientific explanations for much of the world, and that which has not been explained yet is merely an opportunity to learn more, not just lump it as "God's doing". It's okay to believe in something as long as she understands that the Bible is written by men and has been changed over the years to suit those in power. Of course that conversation will be for a much older kid, but I do think often of how we will approach religion when it comes up. Most of our family members may hold a belief in God but aren't very religious per se, so it may not be that big of a deal. It'll be more likely a conversation to be had when she makes friends in school, or if the few Fundies in our outer family get a hold of her.
    Maybe at some point it'll be useful to have some kind of awful Power Point presentation explaining atheism vs. agnostics vs. religions.

    EDIT: Also, I always wanted to kick kids like Dread in the teeth, when they blabbed about Santa Claus's ruse to the younger kids. My deal with my parents was as long as I said I believed Santa would bring me something (hinting that I should let the younger kids have fun) and I got Santa presents until I left the house at 24 Like I posted up above, Hubby keeps it up by getting me one Santa present. It's all in fun and it represents my secular spirit of Christmas.
    My family does not worship Jesus (PBUH) at all because we aren't Christian. So letting kids "just play along" with the Santa meme is tantamount to letting the dominant religious culture completely dictate a child's upbringing. That wasn't acceptable for even my relatively non-religious non-Christian parents. Increasingly, I find it's not acceptable for my child-rearing either.

    It also means we would have to spend gobs of money around the holidays for another religion's holiday.

    So we're faced with either:

    A) Telling the kids Santa isn't real, we're not Christian and that's just how it is but everyone is different/beautiful.
    B) Telling them Santa isn't real but it has to be a secret from the other kids.
    C) Not telling them Santa isn't real, but then also having to deal with explaining why they don't get presents around Christmas, which in turn makes them envy the Jesus-worshippers/resent their own kind at a very important age.

    Hence why I've felt backed into a corner towards Option A.

  18. #18
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Or D) Accept Christmas as a cultural holiday that goes past traditional boundaries and buy them presents.

    I'm an atheist through and through but frankly would never give up the Christmas holidays. The joys of Christmas can be enjoyed on a secular level.

    PS it's not traditionally a Christian holiday anyway. So there

    Besides tacking on the notion that Jesus was supposedly born then, what has Jesus added to the Christmas holidays?
    Presents? Germanic tradition, predates.
    Evergreen trees and holly? Germanic tradition, predates.
    Time off? Germanic tradition, predates.
    Winter and snow? That's why it was celebrated then.
    Santa Claus? This is the closest to Christian you'll find being based on Dutch traditions of Saint Nick, but has been very culturally adopted and changed. Also his Saints day isn't Dec 25.
    Rudolph? Don't see his red nose in the Bible.

    In fact the Christmas celebrations are so secular that its been frequently criticised by Christians throughout history, and its only since ~19th century that its really grown in stature (based on historic traditions and new folklore) to what it is we celebrate now. The traditional Christian festival is more Easter - which again of course predates Christ.
    Last edited by RandBlade; 11-25-2012 at 11:25 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

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    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    It's different when you're an atheist "from" Christianity versus an atheist "from" a different religion. When you're a non-religious Christian, Christmas certainly seems to go past religious boundaries because it's fracking everyone. But not the case if you're a non-Christian person.

    EDIT: I realize I said "fracking everyone" when I meant to say "fracking everywhere"...but I'm leaving it as it.

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    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Christmas is everywhere even in non-Western areas now. Japan has no traditions of either secular Christmas (not being a cold, northern, European nation from which it originates) nor Christianity - but you can still find it celebrated there nowadays. It's a joyous secular holiday that goes back at least 3000 years (or at most 300 for much folklore now added) that anyone can enjoy without going to Church.

    I think if you decide nowadays not to enjoy Christmas then it says more about you than it does Christianity: Scrooge.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

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    Nihilist Nessus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbuk2 View Post
    I find it a little strange that your kids are asking questions about God, or that you are certain they will be.

    Growing up, it's not a question I, my sisters, or anyone I knew as friends or in school, ever seriously asked. If it was discussed, it was in a removed way and shelved along with other superstitions, much like Santa I suppose.

    Is it an American thing?
    In Socialist Finland, the health of all children is monitored through a system whereupon the child and mother are provided with socialist health care at regular intervals. Horrifying on its own, it turned out that around the time I was a babe of about 5 years of age, the health care personnel I interacted with was some manner of evangelical Christian.

    My mother delights in telling the story of how I had a fairly passionate and meticulous conversation with this woman, whereupon I tried rather hard to explain to her why the idea of a 'God' was utter nonsense.

    I did grow up in rural Finland, but I would not be so hasty in blaming Americana about this God business; arguably the reason Prussian people are the most sensible is their Protestant-based devotion to work and diligence, and so forth.
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    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
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    In my case both kids came pre-equipped with this god stuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbuk2 View Post
    I find it a little strange that your kids are asking questions about God, or that you are certain they will be.

    Growing up, it's not a question I, my sisters, or anyone I knew as friends or in school, ever seriously asked. If it was discussed, it was in a removed way and shelved along with other superstitions, much like Santa I suppose.

    Is it an American thing?
    My mom works for a church daycare, so ocean is curious about that whole concept. But I also live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. We are always getting invited by neighbors, strangers and classmates to attend church.
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

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    The whole Christmas thing was never that controversial in my family. We would simply not include those parts that were too christian (as in giving reverence to the holy trinity) and then it was just a holiday you could participate in. In Turkey nowadays for many people it works a bit like how Randblade describes it; confused as most people there are about Christmas and New Year's they have sort of combined the two in one festival, with all the trimmings; santa, turkey (undercase T damnit), trees etc etc etc. And of course then we have the more traditionalist muslims who rail against it becuase they feel uncomfortable about it in much the same way Dread describes it.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

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    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veldan Rath View Post
    In my case both kids came pre-equipped with this god stuff
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    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
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    Senior Member Catgrrl's Avatar
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    Dread, it's perfectly fine for you to tell your own children Santa (and Jesus as a savior) isn't real. I meant it upsets me when other participating kids ruin it for the younger ones. That older kid got the full enjoyment of Santa, and then ruins it for the younger kids. If you never believed in Santa in the first place, that's okay too. I don't run around and tell my cousin's kids that Jesus isn't real, so I hope they will do the same and not ruin my child's holiday. We'll see how that plan works out, though. I apologize for misreading your post.

    LittlFuzzy, I live in an area overpopulated with churches; there's basically one every half-mile or so. So it stands to reason that at some point she will be introduced to the God concept by a friend or family member. And as most kids are prone to asking questions of "why" and "what" and "how", it may come up at some point. I just hope that I can be as fair as possible by allowing her to learn about the many religions of this world (I find them fascinating myself as an outsider looking in). My parents never made a big deal of it, and I learned much from visiting friends' churches or books instead. But you may be right, and it may not be something I have to address with her in our non-religious household.

  28. #28
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Christmas is everywhere even in non-Western areas now. Japan has no traditions of either secular Christmas (not being a cold, northern, European nation from which it originates) nor Christianity - but you can still find it celebrated there nowadays. It's a joyous secular holiday that goes back at least 3000 years (or at most 300 for much folklore now added) that anyone can enjoy without going to Church.

    I think if you decide nowadays not to enjoy Christmas then it says more about you than it does Christianity: Scrooge.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    The whole Christmas thing was never that controversial in my family. We would simply not include those parts that were too christian (as in giving reverence to the holy trinity) and then it was just a holiday you could participate in. In Turkey nowadays for many people it works a bit like how Randblade describes it; confused as most people there are about Christmas and New Year's they have sort of combined the two in one festival, with all the trimmings; santa, turkey (undercase T damnit), trees etc etc etc. And of course then we have the more traditionalist muslims who rail against it becuase they feel uncomfortable about it in much the same way Dread describes it.
    Oh the Japanese pilfer other cultures for all sorts of stuff.

    To be clear, I'm not uncomfortable with the celebration of Christmas, or even the open celebration of Christmas. But when it comes to my kids, I feel compelled to explain what's going on and not just let them roll in the hay of Christmas because a statistically significant portion of other people are doing it. There's a difference between religious intermingling and cultural assimilation.

  29. #29
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Yes cultural assimilation is a good thing. When in Rome ...

    There's no reason why you can't celebrate both your own cultural holidays and the primary ones. If I lived in Beijing I wouldn't turn my back on Chinese New Year just because I'd still want to celebrate our New Year.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Yes cultural assimilation is a good thing. When in Rome ...

    There's no reason why you can't celebrate both your own cultural holidays and the primary ones. If I lived in Beijing I wouldn't turn my back on Chinese New Year just because I'd still want to celebrate our New Year.
    You don't see how it is wrong to celebrate a holiday for people whose identity is by and large based on a religious background that is incompatible with christianity? I think the most positive take you can have of Jesus from a Jewish point of view is somewhere between a fantast and a heretic. You can't rationalize away Jesus from Christmas by pointing at the fact that pre-christian customs were coopted into it; the essence is that those things are now percieved as belonging to Christmas and no longer to the worship of Donar or the like. The reason why it's not such a big deal for a muslim (in general) is that Jesus is considered an important prophet, his mother is considered a special woman and celebrating his birth is just a tiny bit on the iffy side, but not so much now that even the birth of Mohammed isn't ignored any longer.

    Being in Rome doesn't mean you have to become a polytheist.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

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