On a recent television news show, the topic of coercing Faith in Politics came up and two fascinating quotes were offered:

God does not demand obedience, why should we?

The second quote:

Jesus didn’t die for a country; he died for individuals.

Is it ever appropriate to coerce any brand of religious Faith?
Should children ever be coerced into a belief system when they were born without one?

Faith

79 Comments

  1. Interesting question…of course it’s a moot point to fundamentalists of any religion, as they will say they are the only one’s who are right, so of course they will teach their children the one and only right way. The enlightened person of faith would present to a child their way of faith, but at the same time offer the options of learning about other faiths and religions and be open to the child’s eventual progression to freedom of choice.

  2. Hi David, and welcome to Urban Semiotic! I thank you for your comment and you have quite a lovely first name.
    I agree the much better way to provide Faith to children is by example and by their own choice. To force the attending child to believe in the abstract religious cause of others to self-determine their own life leads to narrow viewpoints and blind-faith determinism that, when tested, gets a wicked response instead of a thoughtful one.
    The risk of religious fundamentalists in raising freethinking children is that they will not believe as the parents believe they should and the family will be irrevocably cleaved by the intellectual capacity of the child to reason.
    That is a dangerous contemplation for many because children with their own minds and rationales become independent thinkers and do not rely on the false covenants of others to survive or interpret the world.

  3. No and No.
    But that won’t stop those that believe in their own *one true way* trying to convert or force it on others.
    Religious faith as caused more wars in mankinds history than anything else.

  4. Nicola!
    Why do some parents coerce their children into religious indoctrination instead of letting them come to it naturally — or not.
    What is the danger of the not?
    Does a child’s repudiation of the parent belief in some way damn the parent instead of allowing the child to find its own religious belief system?
    What is the harm if the child does not take on the parental belief system?

  5. Ask Elizabeth – mine is one of the hardest religions to become part of. Not only is there no coercion on our part but we actively discourage conversion. I think it’s one of the few religions that people refer to as ‘fundamentalist’ that fundamentally believes that you do not have to be part of it to ‘go to heaven’ as it were.
    As for children, I’m not sure how to answer this question to any degree of satisfaction. Children are taught from a young age that the Torah we see in the synagogue is the same one that was given to Moses our teacher on Mt. Sinai. At the same time children are taught that they have free will and can choose to abandon the teachings of their forefathers.

  6. Gordon!
    I’m glad you’re stepping forward into this topic because you have valuable experience in the matter.
    You became Frum later in life. Do you believe it should have been coerced into your life earlier or not?
    Do you consider mandatory infant circumcision coercive in the Jewish faith?
    Why not let Jewish infants come to the religion in their own time and by their own means? Why decide body-changing decisions for male infants?
    What, other than coerced devotion to God, does circumcision provide to the infant?
    Circumcision certainly isn’t a decision of infant free will, is it?

  7. I taught my children what I call *life values* so I may not be the best person to answer this.
    I did go looking though and here is some of what I have found.
    This is from Christian Home Schooling
    http://tinyurl.com/ychefp
    “The Bible tells us that children are a gift from the Lord, created for His pleasure and divine purpose (Psalm 127:3-5, 139:13-16). He has entrusted our children to us for a very short time, during which we must prayerfully make decisions that will benefit them and glorify God’s purposes for them.
    The Bible clearly states that God gives parents the authority and responsibility to train, discipline, and instruct their children – not the school, the media, or their peers. It is imperative for parents to teach their children the Bible from a young age, which can be more easily and effectively done when the majority of their time is spent at home.
    Deuteronomy 6:5-9 guides parents to commit themselves wholeheartedly to God’s commands and teach them diligently to their children, “. . .when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (v 7). In other words, we must teach our children about God throughout our daily routines, not just during Sunday School and bedtime prayers. ”
    This is what the catholic Encylopedia says
    http://tinyurl.com/yzoc6n
    This is from Ethics Daily
    http://tinyurl.com/ym5ebv
    “”Christian parents must instill Christian knowledge, biblical knowledge and Christian values in the hearts of their children, because that is our non-negotiable, non-delegate-able responsibility,” Mohler said. “We’re the ones who will give an answer before God for the education of our children. ”
    This is from Parent Child relationship in Islam
    http://tinyurl.com/yhxrkj
    ” In Islam education is not limited to bookish knowledge but includes moral and religious training also. It means healthy all-round growth of child’s personality. Parents must not only provide for children’s education in schools and colleges but should also take personal interest in their studies, helping them if they can. This gives children a feeling of ‘working with the parents’ and encourages them in studies. Parents should sacrifice their own comfort and social activities and must spare some time to take interest in children’s studies, especially when they are young. Leaving children to the mercy of teachers or tutors is not a wise policy. And of course, parents should not forget or neglect imparting religious/moral training to children. ”
    From those extracts it seems to be a fundamental requirement of most faiths to instruct your children in the faith.
    I guess the danger of not doing so is the reaction of your local church, the loss of face and standing within that community and the possible failure to bring your child up in that faith. From what I understand this is particularly prevalent in the Catholic faith where parents are still ostrascised for marrying outside of that faith and where agreements have to be made about which religion any children are *instructed* in.

  8. I was actually raised in a ‘religious’ manner my whole life – to some extent. I was actually circumcised by a doctor as many people are – though I believe I had mine on the 8th day after I was born as is required by jewish law. My whole life, my mother encouraged me to not stray from the religion though I was not in the least bit frum as I later became.
    To some extent I almost wonder how life would have been different had I been religious from birth. I’d surely be married by now though I might not be writing. Of course I would be an entirely different person so I can’t say for sure.
    I’m certainly no authority on circumcision and so I’d rather not delve into it.

  9. Nicola!

    I guess the danger of not doing so is the reaction of your local church, the loss of face and standing within that community and the possible failure to bring your child up in that faith.

    I believe you are right and I know that is a sad, coercive, thing.

  10. Gordon!
    You’re a circumcision expert because you are circumcised!
    Were you circumcised for religion reasons or not?
    If you married a non-Jewish woman and she refused to circumcise the male child you had together, would you abide her wishes or would you use your faith to coerce her, and your baby, to bend to your will?

  11. I was circumcised for religious reasons if you ask my mother and health reasons if you ask my father. Even more confusing, there are some in my own religion who consider me not really circumcised because it was done by a doctor.
    If I married a non-Jewish woman there would be no question as to whether or not to circumcise the male child we had together because the child would not be Jewish so it would not need circumcision! I would therefore do as she requested.
    Of course by Jewish law we wouldn’t be married but I suppose that’s a separate issue.

  12. I have been Catholic my whole life but that doesn’t mean I abide by their rituals. But, I am Christian. Being Christian means that when I have children someday, I will teach them about God. But I can’t force them to believe. In the long run, children choose. I chose to stay close to God while my father has strayed because of the life style he choses to live.
    If anything, I have come across more parents who ridicule their children for accepting Jesus, or whatever god they chose to embrace. Now that is truely wrong.

  13. Now that’s an interesting take, Gordon, because I remember you making an eloquent analysis in a previous comment on another article here — and I’m not paraphrasing you as fabulously as what you said back then — that the Jewish faith believes everyone is Jewish and the Jewishness in them is merely “waiting for discovery” and anyone can become Jewish once that innate Jewishness is realized and accepted.
    If I am correctly understanding your previous argument then wouldn’t your non-Jewish wife still be Jewish on some level and your infant son Jewish by default since he was born from an acknowledged Jew and a Jew — albeit an “unaware” one?

  14. Welcome to Urban Semiotic, Stacey, and thanks for the comment!
    How can you be Catholic but not abide the rules of that specific faith?
    If your young children did not want to attend church, would you grant their wish, or would you force them to attend?
    Where are you seeing these parents ridiculing their children for believing in Jesus? My experience and the reported experience across the nation, suggests just the opposite.

  15. I was baptized Catholic and the rituals of it all drive me crazy. But if my children did not want to go to church I wouldn’t make them go. But I would still incorporate conversations about God and try to get them involved. If they totally rebuked the thought, I wouldn’t pressure them into anything.
    And about parents ridiculing their children: It was just personal observation. A friend of mine, for example, began questioning about God and faith and her parents told her that it was all non-sense and she shouldn’t bother reading Bible “fairy tales.”
    When I went to a public school for a while, I encountered quite a few kids who were interested in Christianity or other religions and their parents were completely against it.
    But most of my friends have been encouraged to believe and they don’t regret it. In fact, some have turned away from God only to find themselves turning back to Him. So I guess it’s all in your experience and the people your surrounded by.

  16. I think what I said was that everyone who genuinely converts had the Jewish soul in them and it was waiting to be released as it were – but this doesn’t mean that you are even a tiny bit Jewish before you convert.
    As we all know by now, there is no such thing as being partially Jewish – just as there is no such thing as being partially pregnant. 🙂

  17. I think the best analogy (or at least the one I just came up with now) is this:
    Say you see a person walking down the street with a brown paper bag in his hand. Given New York’s liquor laws you know that he has some sort of alcoholic beverage inside. However, you don’t know if that alcoholic beverage is a beer or wine, or even a wine cooler – unless it is taken out of the bag.
    Converting is sort of like removing the bottle from the bag. Being Jewish means you have a Jewish Soul – but not everyone with a Jewish Soul hidden in their paper bag realizes that they are Jewish until they take it out of the bag – converting, that is.

  18. Hi Gordon!
    Thanks for that explanation! That’s why religion so confuses me: There are so many hidden rules and rites that can be known and unknown as one wishes in order to make an argument.
    Your paper bag story is great and it reminds me of something that happened to me at Columbia. I’ll have to write that up as a post sometime.

  19. Hello David and everyone else!
    This is a subject that sits close to me for I am a fundamentalist Christian who has reared four children.
    I believe it incumbent on any mom to train her children, to enlighten them, to guide and direct them. Since I am a Christian, I taught my own youngsters in that way. I taught them from the Bible, took them to church, and part of their education came through Christian schools.
    Since my husband and I have decided to be Christians, it seems only logical to direct our children that way. It appears to be the right way to us—else we would choose another.
    I’m sorry, David Schleicher, that you see fundamental Christians as believing their way is the only right way. I can’t speak for others, but for myself since I take the Bible as my guide, I believe what the Bible says is the right way.
    So, on the judgment day, it really will not matter what I think, what you think, what our pastors think, or even what David Boles thinks. 🙂 What will matter is that we have lived our lives as directed by God’s Word.
    Admittedly, there are many interpretations about that very subject: what is the right way? For myself, I do my best to discern that and to walk that way. I must be honest and say that I believe I am on the right track—else would I not look down another road?
    However, I know there is a lot I do not know, and the older I become, the more aware of that I am. The Bible is a precious book, but frankly not always easy to understand.

  20. Thanks for the excellent comment, Shirley!
    What would you do if your children said they would prefer a different religion than Christian fundamentalism or — what if they chose no religion at all?
    Would that be okay with you or would you feel you failed them as a mother?

  21. David–
    Actually, that happened to me. My second son Michael for many years lived a life quite different from that of his parents; drastically different from what he had been taught.
    It disappointed me, but I honestly did not feel I had failed him as a mother. Oh, I don’t think I have been a perfect parent–for who indeed can be–but I had been a good parent, upright, honest, loving and caring. Most of the time, I did my best.
    During those years that Michael wandered along another trail, our personal relationships were never severed, nor compromised. He knew we were disappointed and probably hurting over his decisions. He is so thoughtful, kind and sensitive.
    Once he sat down with Jerry and me; “Mom, Dad, I don’t want you to think that my living this way is a reflection on you. It is not caused by anything you did or did not do. This is totally my decision.”
    A year and a half ago, Michael, a very wealthy and prosperous man now, turned again to God, and has renounced his degenerate ways. I’m a happy Mom.
    Should Michael have continued to live his life in a way contrary to his teachings, I would have been terribly disappointed, but would recognize that he certainly has the right to make his own decisions. And again, I would not feel to have been a failure as a mother.

  22. Thanks for sharing that wonderful story, Shirley! You are a fine and unique mother.
    I have a friend who was raised Baptist. Her elderly mother “believes” her daughter is still in the faith while the daughter is actually atheist now.
    The daughter cannot and will not tell the mother of her change in mindset because “it would kill her.” So the daughter pretends to be in the faith because the mother would worry about eternal damnation and Hellfire.
    The mother strongly believes if you do not believe in God and Heaven and Hell your flesh will burn for all of eternity and the thought of her daughter not believing is too much of a break of faith for her to even to begin to consider.

  23. David, thank you for the kind and complimentary words.
    I admire your friend for sparing her mother. ..I think…I hesitate for I would detest one of my children’s deceiving me on such an issue. Is it even possible to keep such a secret?
    But yes, she is certainly sparing her mother much grief and heartache.

  24. Hi Shirley —
    I agree the duplicity needed to please the elderly mother is something I could never do in my own life. I wouldn’t make a point of upsetting anyone, but if I were asked a direct question I would be as honest as possible without being brutal or cruel.
    The daughter is always faced with the duty of professing her love of God and her devotion to Jesus and her works for Heaven. It’s a routine. It’s by rote. It is entirely phony. Is it prolonging the mother’s life? I don’t know, but my friend claims the faith game is keeping her mother alive because to not play along would be to kill her. I find that a coercive faith.

  25. David-
    I believe it possible for such a mother to be free of any shred of personal coersion, and yet the daughter be reluctant to reveal herself. The assumed coersion in that case would be founded in the mother’s strong beliefs, the daughter’s understanding of her mother’s beliefs, and the daughter’s rejection of them.
    Imagine for a moment, David, that you truly believe your loved ones will be killed if they walk down a certain street. I am almost positive you would tell them of your fears. Does that coerce them into staying away from the street? No.
    But if they secretly decide to walk anyway, they might not tell you. Are you then guilty of coersion?

  26. The article was some kind of a shock –have awaked me. While reading the quotes, I came in surprise:
    God does not demand obedience, but gives us the freedom to choose.
    In other words, isn’t that the request of the obedience? And it is not the duty, but the greatest joy to grow in the divine love.
    Yes, Jesus didn’t die for a country; he died for individuals.
    However, while doing that He had started the country of His own, the Church.
    Yes, our children will choose themselves, and we cant do anything for them, but they are learning by our example and that’s our responsibility.

  27. Shirley —
    The coercion in my friend’s situation is what I said here:

    The daughter is always faced with the duty of professing her love of God and her devotion to Jesus and her works for Heaven. It’s a routine. It’s by rote. It is entirely phony.

    If the mother were truly enmeshed in the faith and in the confidence of her daughter, she would not need to quiz her daughter on the tenets of her faith, would she? Perhaps the mother senses a falling away and that is why the daughter is quizzed — coerced — into profession and acclaiming a faith she no longer endorses.

  28. Thanks for the comment, Tomas!
    I don’t believe children are allowed to choose their faith. They are expected to follow the faith of their parents. Why not let children choose their own faith? Instead of saying children are part of a “Catholic” family, why not just say the children have Catholic parents? Why brand the child with the decisions of the parents?

  29. Dear David,
    you ask, Why brand the child with the decisions of the parents?
    It is hard to answer, but I will risk.
    Why feed the child with mother’ milk?
    Talks on children rights sound nice, however they tend to exceed all boundaries and thus become the denial of love that they promote in word: the love becomes the indiference in the reality. Is it the sign of the democracy? The right to love just oneself… Is there anything to be proud of, to rejoice at?

  30. But David, neither do we allow children to choose their own schools, or for that matter whether they will even attend school. That is so because children need guidance and direction.
    When they have matured, then they will make their own choices.

  31. Tomas —
    Children need to eat to survive. Children do not need religion to live any more than they need football or the Boy Scouts or attending a certain school.
    Faith is, and always has been, a choice and not a requirement of sustenance — but many will try to argue religion vital to life but it is not to the living.
    People survive just fine in the world being faithless but no one among us can survive without food and drink.

  32. I feel strongly that as a parent my job is to make sure my children are “free”, free to make their own minds up. As I said, mysteriously in to something your wrote back in June (just why do I keep thinking these old entries are your latest??), we tried to teach our kids our religious values, but allow them an “out”.
    I detest the idea of parenting children in such a way that they are almost forced to believe what their parents believe to be right, at least in terms of theology.
    I do think a parent ought to teach what I consider basic human values: love, choosing to be happy, belief in oneself, belief in the superiority of love.
    My kids have largely rejected the religion I once taught them, but none have rejected the more firm discourses we gave, on the topics just mentioned.
    don

  33. David-
    No, I am not saying choosing one’s faith is the same as choosing a school.
    Many people make choices about their children’s schools: will it be public, private, parochial, charter, or a boarding school? Parents make those decisions, not the child.
    It is also logical and practical that while a child is growing and maturing in his parent’s home, the parents choose “the faith.”

  34. Don!
    Welcome to today!
    :mrgreen:
    I don’t know why you keep going back in time but I do appreciate you helping bring back old articles — especially the “Indoctrination of Children” piece that pierces right into the heart of this article.

  35. Hey Shirley —
    I feel the parents should be secure enough in their own faith not to press their religion into an unsuspecting child. Live by example. Invite the child to religious activities of all faiths, but don’t label the child with a single religious stratification and don’t allow the child to become a part of any church or religion until the child reaches the age of reason.
    To do otherwise is to smother discovery and to coerce a religion into an uncharted life that the child alone must navigate in the end.
    Children are not automatons. They feel and think and wonder from the moment of their births. They may not fully understand the world around them but to make arbitrary decisions in the life of a cogent child — that are not immediate matters of life and death — without involving the child in both the discussion process and in the decision-making is to relate to them as property and not as people.

  36. Hi David,
    I was thinking about this subject today as I was driving and before I was able to check into the blog. Must be ESP ;).
    I don’t know how we can avoid coercing our children into adopting some sort of belief system. If we take them to church with us, they will be exposed to organized religion. If they watch television, they will worship at the alter of consumerism learning the theology of the marketers.
    I think it is interesting that my grandparents never went to church, but my parents are regular church goers. My maternal grandfather also owned bars and liquor stores before he died, and my mother and father are strict followers of teetotalism. My grandparents also smoked cigarettes– before quiting in the 1980s. (My paternal grandfather grew tobacco in Kentucky). My parents are completely opposed to smoking.
    This shows me that children will do what they want to do when they grow old enough to make their own decisions.
    (After all, I converted to Catholicism — I think I’m the first Catholic in the whole family tree.)

  37. Chris!
    There you are! Glad to hear from you on this topic.
    You make my point in an interesting way: If children are meant to be religious they’ll find it on their own and in their own way and time — and the experience will be pure, unfettered and uncoerced.

  38. Hi David,
    I don’t think you can force someone to become religious. It has to come to them when they are ready for the experience.
    Also, everyone has their own needs and sometimes one particular form of religion isn’t right for the person. That’s why there are so many “flavors” available.

  39. Hi Chris —
    Right. Did you find Catholicism or did it find you? It really doesn’t matter because it happened for you and it is a good fit. You were open in your life to accept the idea and explore it. You were not forced into it. You were not made to practice your faith against any conscious or subconscious expectations or experiences.
    The idea was a natural flow into you and out of you.

  40. I was born in a Hindu family and grew up watching my family following Hindu rituals and customs. It was expected and taken for granted that I would follow Hinduism naturally. I did participate in those customs when I was little – but gradually moved away from it as I grew up – my family didn’t bother me much.
    They just made sure my basic values and ethics were in the right place.
    I basically grew up on Hindu philosophy practiced by Swami Vivekananda
    http://www.vedanta.org/rko/vivekananda/sv_bio.html
    instead of following rituals and customs because I found his philosophy most logical than anything else –
    http://www.vedanta.org/rko/vivekananda/sv_quotes.html

  41. Everyone- After reading this whole thread, i’ve heard no talk of anyone with first hand experience of “God.” There is something beyond words, platitudes, logic, thoughts, ideas, intellect, teachings, books, and mumbo-jumbo. The entheogenic/shamanistic/animistic/prayer/meditative/ fasting and similar first hand experiences that were the origin of what grew into religion have been subverted and iconoclasted into oblivion resulting in intellectualization which results in disorganized and scattered thinking, wherein people speak without experience beyond the logical and second hand at best levels. Expereience “God” first and then talk if you feel like it, otherwise it is the mere parroting of the past. The “belief”and “faith” of the “second hand at best” variety of what has been called religion has led to the Inquisition, Reformation, and the killing of over 127,000,000 people and the enslavement of 40,000,000 in the name of a “God” that people never experienced themselves or these catastrophies would never have happened. We have obviously not learned a thing from these lessons of the past. If you want to parrot the past, parrot the above statistics till they seep in. “Onward Christian (and now Jewish and Moslem) Soldiers” ? All we have to do is throw away all our weapons and all the rest will follow. Take all that money that goes to war (At least $ 1,000,000,000,000 a year worldwide) and see people, starting with children have necessities first. (Food, clothing, shelter). It’s really pretty simple. Complex is an idea. There is only simple and more simple. i know- fred “yes, you are simple.”

  42. The U.S. alone spends $100,000,000,000 for “defense” and the U.N. spends $ 5,000,000,000 for “keeping peace.” What do we get for our $20,000/ U.S. household?
    $80 billion in corporate welfare;
    $20 billion in pork-barrel projects;
    $50 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse identified by the government’s own accountants, and
    $17 billion spent each year, for which the government’s own auditors cannot account.6
    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/BG1710.cfm
    Evaporation exceeds “trickle down.”

  43. Hi David,
    I was a United Methodist attending a Lutheran University when Catholicism found me. If you had asked me in 1995 if I was ever going to convert to Catholicism, it would have been the last thing in my mind. Things just sort of feel into place.

  44. Hi Shirley,
    My parents did take me to church as a child. And, it was a good thing.
    If we leave our kids home, we are indoctrinating them by that action. Every action or non-action we take has some consequence — whether it is raising our kids to be spiritual or raising them to worship money and materialistic things.
    But, I don’t think we can force our kids to follow our religion. We have to show them — with love — and they have to make the decision.
    Remember the story about Jesus and the rich man. When Jesus saw him and heard him speak, he had a great love for the man. Jesus told the man to come follow him and leave behind the things he had accumulated. The rich man couldn’t give up his material possessions.
    We have to make the choice.

  45. Hi Pareidoliac,
    I’ve felt the present of God many times.
    The most significant time was when I was at a Cursillo weekend. As we were gathered around the altar holding the host and singing, I felt a deep connection with God.
    I’ve also felt the presence of God while in nature.

  46. Good morning, Chris.
    I remember that story in the Bible–a sad one, for scripture says after the young man was thrown the challenge of ridding himself of his worldly goods, he went away “with sorrow.” He obviously was attracted to Jesus and His ways, but could not disconnect himself from his riches.
    I see this fascination with possessions as a serious problem in our society today. (Off subject perhaps.)

  47. Hi Pareidoliac,
    I almost forgot another time I was aware of the presence of God. When I was at IU, a group of students went to Homestead, Florida to help with clean-up after Hurricane Andrew. (Our church group camped out with a Habitat for Humanity volunteers). I felt the presence of God during the time I was helping out.

  48. Chris- Glad to hear you felt the presence of God. It seems as if any person in touch with the sacred should feel this 24/7, and at some times perhaps more than others as you seem to describe. i was more referring to a dynamic and powerful revalatory force, (similar to the discription of “Revalations” in the bible,) showing in a radical totally new and previously unperceived way by the individual or anything he heard about before, which imparted a visionary experience which resulted in a philisophic message received from God which was ineffable but shook you to the core. A message from the divine that was so powerful it seemed as if, if you didn’t get the message being revealed you might leave your present physical body in this lifetime permanently. Something you would have no qualms staking your life on or that of your loved ones if you had to place a “bet” on the existence of this being or things existence. Could you describe the new philosophy and understanding of these visions and revalations as they filtered down thru the more effable parts of your being? Could you tell me more about what this presence of God was indicating or showing you beyond a warm feeling of commaraderie and intuition of Her?His/It’s presence. Was God a purely spiritual being or did it have three parts as described by Catholicism? Did these three parts have different messages? Or were they the same message from three different points of view? Do you condone the treating of the Native Americans by Columbus and the Catholic Church? How do you feel about the Inquizition?

  49. Should children ever be coerced into a belief system when they were born without one?
    So if left alone what do you think children would believe? Every human being, man or woman is born with the natural instinct to recognise the Creator and turn to Him. The last messenger to mankind Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Every child is born upon the pure fitra(natural inclination), it is only his parents that later turn him into a Jew, a Christian, or a Magian.”
    In fact if humans were not influenced by their societal pressures then their belief in the Creator would be distinct and clearly visible.

  50. Hi Umm Adam —
    Welcome to Urban Semiotic and thank you for your comment!
    When you said…

    Every human being, man or woman is born with the natural instinct to recognise the Creator and turn to Him.

    … what is your evidence of this idea of a Creator beyond your belief?
    Is there scientific and technological proof of your belief beyond yourself and others who share your same belief?

  51. Do we need “scientific proof” for the existence of a Creator? The proofs for the existence of a creator are so numerous that it would take us a very long time to go through every single one.
    Consider the following self-evident and universally recognized truth: Concept and design necessitate an intelligent designer. It’s simply cause and effect. Our universe, which is so vast and intricate, points to the existence of its Creator, His greatness and Perfection.
    The creation of humanity was neither an accident, nor a development from monkey to man. Rather it was the creation of God the Most High, the Most Perfect, who reminds us of the stupidity of those who claim that He did not create us:
    “Were they created of nothing? or were they perchance, their own creators? or did they create the heavens and the earth? surely they have no firm belief.”
    (Surah At-Tur 52:35-36)

  52. Umm Adam- What makes you so sure the creator is a “Him?” every thing alive is born of a fertilized female.
    David- Science starts mith the mega-assumption that they can’t explain. How did something come from nothing? One scientists get people to accept their first assumption all the rest follows, but scientist’s original assumption is a similar “leap of faith” to religious dogma.

  53. Concept and design necessitate an intelligent designer. It’s simply cause and effect. Our universe, which is so vast and intricate, points to the existence of its Creator

    You apply that logic to the universe, and then are left with an uncaused Creator. This is the ultimate non-answer because it essentially got us nowhere.
    If NOTHING can be uncaused, then God (being something) can’t be uncaused
    either. If something (such as God) CAN be uncaused, then that
    invalidates the reason why God supposedly “must” exist.
    Was the universe uncaused? We don’t know for sure, but the
    universe definitely exists. We’re in it now. So which is harder to accept? That a universe (which definitely exists) is uncaused? Or an unevidenced omniscient, omnipotent deity who answers prayers and has an obsession with its creations sex lives. That is uncaused!?
    We may never know the answer. Religion pretends to have the answer by simply sticking an ENORMOUS, faith-based, non-answer into that gap in our knowledge.

  54. Steven- Science sticks the same faith-based non answer into the same gap. Scientist is the new religion that grew out of the old. Nothing is something. There is no separation. The nothing becomes self conscious and starts to perceive. This perception is material, in the same way a thought today is material. This is the unaccounted for origin of matter by both science and religion. Here’s another explanation. What is has always been here, time and space are just ways of looking at what is. See Parmenides.

  55. I agree with Richard Dawkins that forcing a child to swallow doctrine is tantamount to child abuse.
    Many of the teenagers my husband treats as a psychiatrist for depression have been driven there by their parents’ forcing them to pretend to believe in a god that makes no sense to them. We often wonder if the entire mythos of teenage rebellion is an attempt to break out of the confines of these inherited faiths, before they settle as adults into lives of quiet and rather sad acceptance.
    Personally, I’m glad that, in our family at least, we’ve broken the cycle.

  56. honestpoet —
    Richard Dawkins is a very smart and eloquent mind. I appreciate his thoughts and sensitivities very much.
    That’s a fascinating discovery that you’ve made: Young children can have troubled minds because of religion and not because of a lack of it.
    I’m glad to hear you’ve found a way to break the cycle that only pretends to be one of acceptance and inclusion.

  57. It’s ironic that so many religious people insist that we must be unhappy and bitter because we don’t believe in god, when what we see is that they are in fact the ones who seem unhappy and bitter, while we go about really quite enjoying our lives.
    The toxicity of religion is one of the primary themes of my blog. I have a lot of other concerns, but it seems to me that religion and its ill effects underly most of the world’s problems.

  58. Well said, honestpoet! It is the rare Christian I have met who doesn’t preach or cajole or condemn those who refuse to heed or heel to their message.
    I admire your blog effort and I’m certain if you are provocative in your notions and posts, you will get LOTS of comments in dissent.
    Good luck with that!
    😀

  59. As a person who was raised in a fundamentalist family I can certainly attest to the “toxicity” of the faith I was raised in.
    Remarkably, when Christian fundamentalists speak of raising their children in the faith and by the book, they fail to recognize that their adherence to literal interpretation of ancient texts and upholding them above all else means it has become their idol, their paper pope.

    The Bible clearly states that God gives parents the authority and responsibility to train, discipline, and instruct their children – not the school, the media, or their peers. It is imperative for parents to teach their children the Bible from a young age, which can be more easily and effectively done when the majority of their time is spent at home.

    Most people do not actually know exactly what a Christian Fundamentalist Statement of Faith contains. Nor, do they seem to understand that every “born again” member of their churches must attest and adhere to the doctrine in that Statement of Faith.
    Christian fundamentalists adhere to ten points of doctrine and without sparing the rod and spoiling the child this is what their children are coerced into believing:
    (1) the inspiration and inerrancy of Holy Scripture – scripture is God’s holy word and is without error of any kind;
    (2) the Tri-unity of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
    (3) the deity and virgin birth of Jesus Christ;
    (4) the literal creation and fall of all humanity into sin;
    (5) the literal existence of the Devil/Satan;
    (6) the substitutionary atonement of Christ for the sins of true believers ;
    (7) the bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ;
    (8) the regeneration of believing sinners ;
    (9) the personal and imminent return of Christ;
    (10) the bodily resurrection and assignment of all people to either eternal blessedness or eternal punishment.
    Convinced that they are the last believing remnant the elected chosen before the foundations of time, Christian fundamentalists live in self-imposed exile and their children are their prisoners.
    The question: Should children ever be coerced into a belief system when they were born without one?
    My answer: Absolutely not – it’s child abuse.

  60. That’s a fascinating and touching comment, timethief, and I appreciate the detail and the specificity of your fundamentalist definition.
    You should enter the fray of the “Jesus Found Dead in His Grave” article, because there are believers there who claim they have no idea what a “fundamentalist Christian” even means.

  61. timethief,
    You wrote:

    Christian fundamentalists adhere to ten points of doctrine and without sparing the rod and spoiling the child this is what their children are coerced into believing:
    (1) the inspiration and inerrancy of Holy Scripture – scripture is God’s holy word and is without error of any kind;
    (2) the Tri-unity of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
    (3) the deity and virgin birth of Jesus Christ;
    (4) the literal creation and fall of all humanity into sin;
    (5) the literal existence of the Devil/Satan;
    (6) the substitutionary atonement of Christ for the sins of true believers ;
    (7) the bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ;
    (8) the regeneration of believing sinners ;
    (9) the personal and imminent return of Christ;
    (10) the bodily resurrection and assignment of all people to either eternal blessedness or eternal punishment.

    These ten points contain internal biblical contradictions that are damning. If they are truly the ten points that “fundamentalist” children are taught, then these children and their parents are on their way to Hell.
    You also wrote:

    The question: Should children ever be coerced into a belief system when they were born without one?
    My answer: Absolutely not – it’s child abuse.

    Indeed, it’s child abuse to coerce any kind of faith if the child simply does not believe. Whatever fundagelical parents are doing this to their children are deceiving themselves, thinking they can usurp the power of God — the power to save souls.
    However, I would disagree with your assertion that children are born without a belief system. My parents taught me atheism, and I attended an atheist church (not really a church, just a building). Yet at an elementary school fun fair I found myself praying to my conception of God that I would win the raffle for Crazy Bones (I did win, strangely). All I can say is that you’re assuming something about children that you don’t really know, and my childhood experience is a testimony to the fact that some children (not all, no doubt) just so happen to have a natural proclivity to believe in a god.
    David W. Boles,
    You wrote:

    Young children can have troubled minds because of religion and not because of a lack of it.

    Again, you assume without knowing. Some young children simply have troubled minds no matter what. There are religious and nonreligious children who are troubled; to blame it all on religion is ignorant.
    The fact is, some people are going to be screwed up no matter what they’re taught. Some atheists, when they see a “true believer” commit some heinous act of murder, like to pin the blame on the religion of the individual. The problem is, they’re blaming some belief while forgetting about the individual himself. The two kids who murdered a dozen or so of their classmates at Columbine High School thought their actions were part of natural selection, the evolutionary process. I’m skeptical of evolution, but I’m not about to blame science for murder.
    Those two kids were simply screwed up, and it often happens that people like that usually try to find something to justify their actions. Whether they think the Bible or The Origin of Species justifies a crime is irrelevant; it’s the heart of the individual that matters.
    I’m posting this because I’m dissatisfied with the attack on religious beliefs that has come about recently. It’s as if a book is to blame for George Bush’s stupidity, or for some fundamentalist’s fascism. It’s time to start looking at the people themselves, rather than at the books or beliefs that they think justify evil.
    For the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ,
    The Crown Rights Patriot

  62. CRP,
    I think that’s an excellent post. Yes, some children will be screwed up no matter what. But that hardly proves that religion isn’t toxic.
    Your inclination to pray as a child, by that age, could hardly be said to be inborn. You were raised in a culture that displays religious displays, shows religious specials at holidays, maybe even billboards with messages from “god,” and you probably had to say the pledge to the flag with the words “under God” in it every day (my kids do).
    And the fact that you won the raffle isn’t really all that mind-boggling. I’m sure you were not the only kid praying to win, and somebody had to.
    My own daughter went through a phase about six months ago when she was very conflicted. She didn’t know what to believe, what she was told “out there” or what she was told at home. I resent the fact that she was put through that trauma.
    Religion should be a private affair, between you and your god. Period.

  63. As a child my own spiritual life was at odds with the bible pounding preaching and teaching of my Christian fundamentalist upbringing.
    My own childhood experience was “oneness” with all beings; respect and compassion for all creatures. Predictably, becoming a teen and sharing my spiritual experience of the divine with my parents and relatives scared them shit-less. They doubled their efforts so bind me to their doctrine and I severed every fetter.
    Having bible school teachers hold the biblical partriarchs up as paragons of virtue when it came to parenting is poisonous. The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are a legacy of compassionate teachings “love one another”. They do not give any follower of his any grounds on which to stand when it comes to hating and killing.
    I have no use for religion. I equate it with adherence to doctrine that quashes the divine spirit within us all. Hence I choose to remain spirit-filled without drinking from the poisoned cup.