Raising Kids: Torn between Religion and Science

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by Baron, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. Baron

    Baron ET Founder

    Ok, I need some advice. I don't talk about myself here on ET as much as I should, but as the founder of this place, I feel like I need to turn to this community for a little wisdom in handling my current family situation.

    I was raised in a Southern-Baptist household where there was only one true religion, and that was the one my parents taught me. :) This was OK growing up for a while but I felt like it pretty much failed miserably when I migrated into my adult years. No matter what church service I went to, I always left with more questions than I did answers. Even when the pastor would try his best to be apologetic and explain the tough questions, it was never quite good enough for me. And looking back, the worst people I've ever encountered were those that I had met at church.

    The final nail in the coffin was when I read Stephen Hawking's book, "The Grand Design". He essentially said, "Believe what you want, but just make sure that what you believe lines up with your real-world observations". When I started to apply that to what I learned from a Christianity standpoint, I realized that virtually nothing, and I mean nothing, of what I had been taught about Jesus in the Bible was lining up with what I observed to be true in the real word. For example, churches across the country continue to have marriage counseling seminars for their members but yet statistics have shown time and time again that the divorce rate among Christians is almost identical to the rate among the non-believing population.

    I could go on and on with this, but the bottom line is that I think I'm an athiest. But here's the problem: I have a six-year old son.

    I'm torn between giving him the real truth about eternity as I see it, and putting him into a church environment where he may get a skewed view of religion but at least he'll learn some core principles from a peer group like helping others, staying away from drugs, etc.

    My wife of course, is all about church and keeping us/him there whenever the doors are open. But I am so conflicted about it all. Any insight?
  2. Ricter


    "Govern a family as you would cook a small fish -- very gently."
  3. Lucrum


    1) even though I give most religious threads here 1 star, I gave this one 5. Just in case you can see how we voted :D

    2)I also grew up in a very strict southern Baptist home attending church EVERY Sun AM/PM and Wed PM

    3)Seems to me, on the one hand you don't want to be responsible for your son going to hell if the church is right. But OTOH you have little or no faith in the church/religion yourself. But at the same time you feel he might as least learn some good "life" lessons at church, if nothing else.

    4) Six years old might be a bit young, but at some point I'd tactfully explain how you really feel and why. But let his mom take him to church anyway. IOW let him see and experience both sides. So that eventually he can make up his own mind, which at some point he's going to do anyway.
  4. I've got two daughters ages 11 and 14. I was raised in a fairly religious home and my wife has "moderate" Christian beliefs and occasionally attends Church. Sometimes I go with her because she's a great wife and mother and asks very little in return. If she asks me to go with her, I do.

    That said, I'm an agnostic. I have degrees in math and science and I try to follow the scientific path, recognizing that science is not perfect but it's the best way we know to understand the world around us.

    When dealing with my children, I tell them the truth. I don't believe in a bibical God, but I have no way of knowing if there's some form of "higher intelligence." It's not something that can be proven or disproven scientifically.

    I tell my daughters that they're free pursue (or not pursue) any aspects of what they perceive as "spirituality" and I'll be happy to discuss it with them any time. They attend Church with my wife and we've also read many books together ranging from "afterlife" experiences to quantum theories of "universal consciousness" to books by Steven Hawking and Michio Kaku. I'm more interested in my children learning to ask good questions rather than having all the answers.

    Pounding kids over the head with one point of view or another about religion is likely to create either a zealot or a rebel. Be honest and be open to a forthright discussion about opposing points of view. It's actually a lot of fun.
  5. Church is an excellent social structure, keep letting him go. When you feel he is ready, you can begin the process of purging him from any magical thinking they may have instilled.

    The trouble with church is not the social structure, it is the magical thinking that a lot of them engage in.
  6. pspr


    I think Hawking gave a lot of people some bad advice.

    We are all sinners. And, the U.S. has moved away from God more and more. So, you can't just go by what you see others doing.

    You can research and learn a little about the life of Jesus and others before him but when it comes down to the answer you have to decide for yourself, 1) Is the story that he rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven real or not, 2) Is there any evidence that the universe needs a creator and 3) Does it seem like the teachings of Jesus are the 'right' way of life in your moral mind?

    On 1) There are accounts of witnesses but it can't be proven. But the tomb of Jesus with a body has never been found. Plenty have looked for it to disprove Christianity.

    On 2) There are things like the constants of the universe showing it is fine tuned for it's existence in this state. How miraculous does it seem to you that it exists and we are here?

    On 3) Search within yourself. Do you know right from wrong just because your parents told you this was right and that was wrong or is it something that feels 'right' and ingrained in your mind from birth?

    Also, read some of the books of stories of people who have had miracles happen to them. The children, in I think it was Italy, that spoke with Mary. And others who have experienced the miraculous. The people who have been clinically dead and returned. There is more there than just a chemical reaction of a dying mind. See what they feel after returning. Drug induced similar episodes don't provide the same feelings.

    The truth is all around if you are willing to see it.

    As for your son, don't deprive him of his choice to decide if God exists and if there is an afterlife. The worse case is he grows up knowing what it is to be a good person - whether he takes that road or not is up to him. Don't be disuaded by those sinners you find in church. They may be there because they are weak and need the church to help them. All sin can be forgiven through Jesus.

    P.S. Religion and science should not be in conflict. There is a lot we don't know but there will be no conflict between the two in the end.
  7. Mav88



    Age now to ~16: Let your wife take him to church. You however teach him critical thinking skills and science without conflicting your wife. Live a good example.

    ~ age 16-18, don't worry he will ask you, then explain. Let the man find his own way in life. Love him no matter what, always be available to discuss.

    too confusing and hard on him now
  8. When you reach the twilight of your life it sure is comfortable to go someplace that was part of your youth. The church is timeless and an anchor and easy way to re-examine your life after all these years.

    Kids explore different religions on their own anyways, they should have some foundation in where you practice your faith. As far as your commitment to your religion, kids pick up on it. They sense the varying degree's of how one believes.

    Religion or a religious school has order along with other virtues, respect, helping others, and most importantly faith. They need to know that it is a lifestyle. Faith perhaps not in a supreme being but learning the meaning of the word. To have faith in themselves. Faith in mom and dad, faith that good trumps evil in the world.
  9. if it is a fire and brimstone church you are inflicting something into his mind that may be impossible for him to shake. churches know that if they can get the child young and plant that seed the child is more likely never to escape. any church that tells him he is going to hell if he doesnt do x would be something that i would want to protect him from.
    i would think you would be better served using the time to bond with your child. make every sunday morning a bonding time. just you and him. do something fun and educational. try to instil in him a love of nature and animals.
  10. Mav88


    happy wife happy life
    #10     Nov 19, 2012