Monday, February 02, 2009

Something to Think About

One of little j's best friends is the daughter of an Episcopalian minister, and while her parents are decidedly not evangelists this little girl appears to be. The other day I was taking the girls to school and the friend was talking about the story of Adam and Eve and little j said, "I haven't seen that movie." And friend said (in what I interpreted as a particularly snotty tone), "It's not a movie, it's from the Bible. Hello!" I immediately jumped in and said that not everyone reads the same books and it's not nice to assume that they have or treat them differently if they have not. Keep in mind, that these are six-year old girls, so I am not sure friend got the message.

In the past couple of months I've noticed little j referencing god more often. Big J and I talked about where that was coming from, and we are fairly certain it is coming from said friend. And while I don't mind the fact that little j would be hearing about god/religion/heaven/whatever from friends, I do mind how those friends present it -- as if there is no other option but to believe in a god.

A while ago little j's posthelitizing friend was over at the house and the two of them were talking about ghosts when friend said, "I don't believe in ghosts because I don't believe in things that I can't see." Hmmm....what a perfect opportunity for us to introduce atheism. Of course, we didn't, but Big J and I talked about how potentially satisfying that conversation would be, at least for us.

In some ways introducing the question of whether or not there is a god that would have been like saying there is no Santa and I certainly wasn't going to burst that bubble. But it does bring up all sorts of questions about how to raise a "free-thinking" child in a society that nearly demands a belief in god. Should little j choose to believe in god and attend church I would be happy with the choice; but to my way of thinking it is a choice, it isn't something to blindly accept.

I want her to grow up understanding that she has choices and there are different ways to believe, be moral, be thankful, and be a good person. Believing in a god or practicing a religion is not the only way to live a moral and good life -- in fact, I would argue that atheists are more likely to live a moral life because they choose to be honest and moral not because of the potential and promised outcomes in an afterlife, but because it is simply the right thing to do (see Kolberg's stages of moral development for further ponderance).

Regardless of my own beliefs, my goal is to help little j make whatever decision is ultimately right for her life. Should she choose to follow the teachings of Christ, Buddah, Allah, Wicca, the Chickasaw, or atheism, the most important thing is that she understands that she has a choice and she doesn't have to choose something simply based on what is popular.

1 comment:

Hyperreflexia said...

I am so torn between atheism and trying find a faith that I can see where you and Big J have issues with this "friend." Signed the Black Sheep of St. Francis of Assisi School, Home of the Crusaders...