Friday, May 8, 2009

Defectors to Faith?

An article in the Australian titled, "Defectors to faith mark a growing trend," looks at the recent Pew forum study on "Religion and Public Life." The main thrust of the article is that people raised in households unaffiliated with any religion, often turn to religion later. But the author, Christopher Pearson, makes an annoying, unfounded assumption.
According to the latest American research, parents with no religious affiliation are losing the battle to indoctrinate their children. A majority of those surveyed who grew up in atheist or agnostic households, or where there was no particular religious attachment, later chose to join a religion.

As an atheist with a child, the last thing I want is to "indoctrinate" him in atheism. Atheism is not a religion and does not require indoctrination.  I recognize that many people feel the need to believe in the supernatural, including God or gods. I also understand that numerous highly intelligent people are theists. All I want for my son is that he think critically, examine the evidence behind religious claims, and come to his own conclusions. He has to follow his own path as an individual. 

Although there may be some atheists who think they need to raise their children as atheists, I'd be willing to bet that many share my view. Pearson's assumption that atheists want to indoctrinate children is a typical misinterpretation of what atheism is all about.


  1. "Atheist indoctrination" is an oxymoron and yet another example of how theists get it fundamentally wrong when talking about atheists.

  2. I suggest you encourage your child to memorise my poem God Made Phlegm? Why?

  3. Aye I was quite pleased with it myself. I think its actually beter than Pj meyers one ( dont know if you read his one)

  4. I was born and raised in a strict theocratic Islamic country where Islam, the one emphatically promoted by the state as opposed to the philosophical and spiritual vantage of Islam, was vehemently censured on a regular basis by my so-not-religion and even, dare to say, agnostic parental unit. This perennial castigation of state-sponsored religion had a somewhat bizarre effect on my theological development.

    It took me from the childhood resentment of the government, instigated by my parents penchant antipathy of the state, hence the brand of religion being championed, to an adamant ideology of "No God," to agnosticism, ignosticism, and ultimately strong non-theism (not to be confused with the weak, apathetic ignosticism).

    Meanwhile, I have developed a theory that religion has not been so decremental to humanity because it is a "man-made" phenomena, and therefore, just as man being fallible and possessing a moral compass or decay, right or wrong, his religion, which is a creation of his own self-prophecy, it rightfully mirrors such panoply of decisions base on his cognitive consonance or dissonance. Consequently, religion is basically and partially a reflection of personification of our inner self and just as we cannot disassociate ourselves from, well, ourselves, we should not discard the religion in its entirety but rather evolve it from its nascent development of last several millennium, to the next stage -- just as we did so with the old Creek mythology and philosophies of the pre-monolithic epoch.

    Strangely enough, my mother has been flip-flopping from the philosophical conviction of "source of energy" to weak atheism for years -- the latter usually finds more sanction when life gets "tough" on her. Even though the majority of my extended family are non-religious, especially with the newer generations who have tenuous proclivity toward religion, we have been doing just fine, swimming among a few elderly who still are practicing, Jew, Muslim, and Christian (ya, we got all of them wrapped under a multi-branched family tree).