Monday, March 31, 2008

Please Don't Bless the Children

Man, I just can't shut up today.

Years ago I took a solo trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. After settling in, I spent two days backwoods hiking and camping. Then, having nearly crippled myself with overstepping my abilities, I rested and took very LEISURELY solo hikes and guided tours. On one tour, the park ranger was giving an excellent talk about the local trees, insects, and the formation of the land over the millenia...how this mountain was formed thusly, and that valley was carved from slow-moving glaciers. I was fascinated. The image of a super slow-motion mountain of ice scooping up boulders, using them to gouge long furrows in the stone mountain, grinding them into dust. If you will: I dig rocks.

That trip stands out in my memory for its own reasons, but that TOUR stands out in my memory because of a family that was in the group. Mom, Dad, baby and one or two little kids. As the ranger was pointing out a glacier carved valley, Dad turned to his young son and said, "Now son, glaciers didn't carve that mountain. Who did?" "God!", said the dutiful son.

Indoctrination. Teach your children to deny and ignore the wonder of the natural world in favor of a limited, fallacious fairytale.

This all comes up because I'm finally gettng round to reading Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. (And by the way, if you happen to click the book link, be sure to read Harvey Ardman's review. It's simply marvelous.) In the introduction, Dawkins says this:

Just as feminists wince when they hear "he" rather than "he or she", or "man" rather than "human", I want everybody to flinch whenever we hear a phrase such as "Cahotlic child" or "Muslim child". Seak of a "child of Catholic parents" if you like; but if you hear anybody speak of a "Catholic child", stop them and politely point out tht children are too young to know where they stand on such issues, jus as they are too young to know where they stand on economics or politics. ... You can't say it too often. I'll say it again. That is not a Muslim child, but a child of Muslim parents. That child is too you ng to know whether it is a Muslim or not. There is no such thing as a Muslim child. There is no such thing as a Christian child.
This is exactly what I've been telling dear stepdaughter for quite a while now, when she comes home upset because her mother said the end of the world is imminent (that is, that dear daughter is GOING TO DIE, and that right soon). "Don't worry about it, honey. People believe different things, and you can decide what you want to believe again and again as you grow up, and after you're a grownup."

1 comment:

atheist girl said...

that reminds me of a time when i was looking for a job as a preschool teacher. i picked up an application for a school...didnt know it was a christian school. one of the questions was "do you believe in teaching prayer without teaching religion?" um indoctrinate much...lets tell them they have to do something but not teach them why...give them a good ol fasion brain washing...