Saturday, September 09, 2006

Should atheists allow their children to read the Bible?

This question was raised by Cassandra (The Atheist Mama). Since much of our culture, literature, art and music is influenced by Xianity, I think it is important for children and adults to know what the Bible is and what it says in order to properly and fairly analyze and understand an artists/writer/musician’s works if they are creating/writing/composing from a religious perspective or using Biblical reference. Even though my family and I look at xianity as mythology, we cannot deny that it is a big part of western culture and influence in many aspects of our society.

Our three kids were raised in the Lutheran and Presbyterian faiths, even attending the Lutheran grade school during their younger years. They were required to memorize Bible verses and had religion classes where they learned the fables about Noah’s Ark, The Plagues, parting of the Red Sea and the Exodus, etc. Even though we were involved in church and took our kids regularily, there were certain things we didn’t take literally. We allowed our kids the freedom to discuss their questions, doubts and opinions openly and honestly with us and encouraged them to ask their teachers and pastors their opinions. We also always told our kids that a teacher doesn’t know everything, and a pastor doesn’t know everything and much of what they say is THEIR OPINION and they could be wrong. It was through this freedom that they eventually came to their own conclusions about religion and god as they got into their teens.

All of us are now atheists and our kids (now in their 20s) probably know more about the Bible than most Xian adults. One cannot debate and argue what they do not know. We have always taught our kids to investigate BOTH sides of an issue in order to have intelligent and fair discourse on any subject. If you don’t know the other side, go find out before engaging in debate or criticizing something.


CyberKitten said...

The only exposure I had to the Bible was at school - though I've never been tasked to memorise any of it [thankfully]. Our 'religious education' didn't really go in for that sort of thing.

I certainly wouldn't mind my children (if I had any) being exposed to the Bible in Comparative Religion classes but would strongly object to it being taught to them as fact (or as anything close to fact).

Not knowing anything about the Bible/Christianity would indeed leave a cultural hole in peoples lives [but that could be covered in History class maybe?] & there is indeed a case for 'know thine enemy' but I still wouldn't encourage children to read the Bible for its own sake... except maybe to inoculate them against it.. [grin].

beepbeepitsme said...

I don't agree with banning books at all, but some books are inappropriate for young minds. Maybe the bible and the koran are 2 of them.

Stardust said...

Cyberkitten and Beepbeep...

I don't think that small children should read the bible...but later when they are older they should know what they are and what they say in order to speak out against the things they promote...which is ignorance, intolerance, violence, etc. The bible and koran are not books for young children, I agree.

Cassandra said...

I'm just finding this post! You know my opinion on it... :-)
Thanks for the mention!!