Part 2, I guess, of the previous post.
How much should you tell your children about God?
Adam Wolstenholme says you have to tell them something.
His mom asks him not to go overboard with it — don’t talk about nails and torture and Jesus on the Cross.
A friend at work says he ought to teach his child about religion and goes even further:
My colleague Margaret Watson warned me against filling Zoe’s young head with Godless thoughts.
Margaret’s dad died when she was nine, and her faith was a great comfort for her, because she could believe that he was waiting for her in heaven.
“And, being Catholic,” she said, “It meant that there was still someone I could call Father.”
I can’t argue with that. You’d have to be a brutally militant atheist to tell an orphaned child that we die and that’s it.
That Margaret was nine when she lost her father had a particular resonance for me because nine was the most difficult age of my life. Nothing bad happened. Nobody died. But I did a lot of thinking and came up against the immovable object of mortality.You have to face thoughts of death at some point.
But if nine years old might be a bit too early, two definitely is.
And so I’ll take the path of pragmatic hypocrisy when Zoe’s old enough to ask, and tell her that yes, when we die, we go to heaven.
I can appreciate that religion is a comfort for children, a romantic fantasy, like Father Christmas.
But while this might be a strong argument in favour of religion for children, it’s also, by implication, an argument against it for adults.
That seems to me like the wrong way of going about it. (I say this having no kids of my own.)
One argument atheist parents make for teaching their children about religion is that they need to understand how/what other people think.
The argument in the article suggests the children need to also believe that same mythology.
You can do without that.
But what do you tell an orphaned child? That’s a tough call. Even saying that the parents left behind wonderful memories is cold comfort for a child who will not be creating new memories with them.
I don’t think that telling the child the lie that the parents are up in Heaven is the right way to handle it.
However, I’m not sure what the best way is, either.