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Author Topic: What did my parents tell me......  (Read 14387 times)

PixiePirateX

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What did my parents tell me......
« on: 14 Dec 2008, 21:32 »

When I was a kid, my parents are hardcore atheists. I was told how it was, nothing in the afterlife. You just die and are gone. I don't know if I am just different but it didn't really freak me out. I was like " oh... Okay" and went on with my life deciding it was important to try to enjoy my life and get as much out of it as I can since there wasn't another chance.

I should mention that I explored different belief systems and never really connected. I am oddly comfortable with the fact that it just ends, and there isn't anything more. Going back to the start of things I guess.
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Surgoshan

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #1 on: 14 Dec 2008, 21:33 »

I have a lovely bunch of coconuts.

An Andalusian hound.
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Jeff7

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #2 on: 14 Dec 2008, 21:46 »

And an eternity in Heaven - I'd think that after the first 200 trillion quadrillion millennia, it might start to get a bit dull.

Heck, Earth won't be much concern in about 1 billion years, when changes in the Sun will make Earth hostile to our kind of life forms; and definitely not within 5 billion years, when the Sun goes all red-giant and roasts Earth. But it'll still be delicious - a crispy silicon-oxide crust and a gooey iron center.
I'd hope that we'll be off the planet long before then. Heck, there's already proposals such as Project Longshot, which could use existing technologies to get a spaceship to the Alpha Centauri system after only a 100 year journey.

« Last Edit: 14 Dec 2008, 21:50 by Jeff7 »
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CaseyKoons

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #3 on: 14 Dec 2008, 22:19 »

Quote
Atheist/nonreligious parents, what do you tell YOUR kids? I am curious to know!

I hope this is a space where I can answer Jeph's question. I tweeted also.

How about "I don't know?" I started out as an atheist/agonistic and now am something of an eclectic Catholic and a PhD student of Comparative Religion. My kids will likely be raised Catholic, but I would still likely answer that question with an expression of uncertainty and start a conversation about what various people believe.

Both Penelope and Hannelore would have had it easier if their parents have revealed, in addition to their perspectives, that there were others out there who they were bound to bump into with different ideas.
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Puki

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #4 on: 14 Dec 2008, 22:21 »

Oh...good question.
My parents are, on the other hand, hard core christians, but I didn't seem to follow them. Although, I think I believe in some sort of afterlife (but not in "200 billion trillion ladidadida years of happyness and joy and all that).
To Jeph's question - have no kids, but I guess I'd try to explain to them that we don't know, so - just to be sure - if it turns out there is nothing afterwards, you should try not to be a complete unproductive ass "here on earth".

That sounded SO MUCH MORE smarter in my language...
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Tetsu

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #5 on: 14 Dec 2008, 22:37 »

Personally my parents were catholics. Luckily not hardcore but you know they were pretty dang flexible on what they told me. They told me the same old you get into heaven if your good stuff....difference is that they said if I was bad that I wouldn't go to hell per say, they just said that I wouldn't get in. Like i'd have to sit outside or something, until the people that prayed for my soul did enough praying to convince God to let me in. So basically I had to be good anyways just to get enough people to say "Yeah he should get into heaven he was a good guy". <.< Its pretty lame but it sure is pretty dang comforting as a kid, heck it even kept me catholic...but not the bible tumper kind, you know the kind thats just like...when you wanna learn bout my religion just ask and you'll find out the knowledge...and god damn this is really just me ranting now...i'll stop.
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Auberon

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #6 on: 14 Dec 2008, 23:17 »

I dunno. My parents were Catholic and naturally, so was I during my childhood and early teens, until I started to question everything. I guess it's something I've thought about once or twice, but I'd rather discuss it with their mother. I wouldn't really wanna throw in what might be considered a harsh concept for a child as nonexistence, but I wouldn't want to lie to him and contradict myself in some other things I may say or have said to him. If you forced me to give an answer, it'd be something along the lines of: 'Not much, really. There's no afterlife, but your body does return to nature. Your body decomposes and becomes fertilizer, which feeds and gives life to plants, which in turn bears nourishment to animals, who then give life and sustenance to other animals. You pretty much keep the whole cycle of nature going. If you're cremated...I dunno, you give some guy's hamburger or ribs the kick it needs and contribute to global warming.'

That last part might be excluded until the kid's old enough to understand sarcasm and my rather cynical and dark humor. Joe bless you!
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Aurjay

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #7 on: 14 Dec 2008, 23:34 »

My parents were raised hardcore Southern Baptist but oddly once they were adults and had me we never went to church very much. Both me and my brother were allowed to form our own opinions on religion. My brother who is 16yrs younger than me is now going to a very good school that happens to be Southern Baptist and therfore has been forced to follow ideals that he might not have believed in otherwise. So me and my brother get into very heated debates on the subject of evolution and religion. I do feel though that it is not my place to "convert" him to atheism since i feel it is up to each individual person to make that choice for themselves. All i can do is try and counter some of the "brainwashing" that the school has done. For instance...How old the earth is and when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Carbon dating is damn near the closest thing to an exact science there is, yet people still dispute it. I myself am completly understanding in the whole Intelligence Design concept as it seems to be the best of both worlds. 
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Nightson

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #8 on: 15 Dec 2008, 00:31 »

"It's like going to sleep, except without the having to wake up part."
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Min Min

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #9 on: 15 Dec 2008, 00:32 »

I'm a fairly hard core atheist and my wife is a lapsed catholic. We have three girls, the oldest of whom is nearly 13. So the question has come up several times.

We're honest, right up front. When asked the question of what happens after death or where is a loved one who has passed we answer by saying that we don't know for sure but we believe you just stop. But we also tell them that a lot of people think different things. We usually talk about people who believe in God and we tell them their mother's parents believe that and some people believe other things, including that you just end.

As far as I'm concerned I really don't care what they end up believing as long as they question everything.

Personally, I don't understand why people have such a problem coping with not existing after death. After all, we get a hell of a lot of practise at it before we're born :)

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Aaaarchy

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #10 on: 15 Dec 2008, 00:50 »

Best thing I can imagine telling my kids is this:

Well, you stop existing. Is that scary? It shouldn't be. What about all the time BEFORE you existed. Was that a scary time? Do you even remember that time? No? Good! It's exactly like that, so there is nothing to fear or worry about.


Good luck with any of your kids.
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jtheory

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #11 on: 15 Dec 2008, 03:17 »

Huh.  I've been reading QC for years; this is the first comic that convinced me to register for the forums.

I'm an atheist & have been for years, though I was raised Catholic, and my parents are still (though they've mostly reconciled themselves to my disbelief by now) -- I just drifted away from it during my early teens, and sat down and did some hard thinking & reading in my early 20s (that's when I went from agnostic to atheist).

Kids are kids.  Most parents (Hanners' excluded, obviously) won't be saying anything about dopamine and pleasant hallucinations.  I don't have kids yet, though my wife & I will be starting down that path before long, so I've put some thought into it already.

I intend to focus on a few things:
* no one knows for sure, though a lot of people believe a lot of different things (like, uh, grammy and grandpa do)
* we DO know for sure that when someone dies, our good memories of them, all of our stories about them and the things we did together... all of those things are still around, and don't ever disappear as long as there are people around to remember.
* probably, dying is like going to sleep when you're really, really tired.  If you're very hurt or very sick, that all goes away and you can finally rest.  Then your consciousness disappears from your body, like shutting off a light.
* the idea of the permanence of matter/energy is useful -- "We are made of star-stuff", as Carl Sagan said (I like that better than "from dust we came", etc.), and our atoms will scatter again, to become parts of bugs and flowers and so on.  My only concern with this tack is that the poor kid could get freaked out thinking there'll be a piece of great-aunt whoever floating in their milk.

I personally don't find it very frightening, which is perhaps one of the most important things to convey to a child.

Last thought to Aurjay: Beware; Intelligent Design isn't what you think it is....  It's a trick cooked up by Creationists to get religion into schools -- it claims (with extremely shaky and unscientific foundations) that evolution isn't able to explain all of the diversity of life, so an "intelligent creator" (i.e., the Christian God, though they don't say it) must have been involved.  What you're probably looking for is the idea that God planned evolution, and knew beforehand how it would all go (but evolution still operates scientifically, without any supernatural tweaks needed along the way).  I'm not sure if there's a specific name for that idea, but that's the belief of many scientifically-educated Christians.
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xeracia

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #12 on: 15 Dec 2008, 03:19 »

I'm a pretty open and honest mother or at least I try to be. So when my children asked me this question I answered with "We really have no way of knowing what happens when we die." But then I did go on to explain what different religions teach....and actually gave my children quite a few different ideas to think about. Then I told them they could decide which one they thought worked for them.
My oldest daughter is eleven. At the moment if you ask her what she believes in, she would probably give you some elaborate idea that comes from the latest video game she plays. It will probably change next month. I am raising my children to know what all religions teach. And that none of them are necessarlly wrong or right since we have a world full of people with different ideas and ways of looking at things.
Hope that helps.
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Siibillam-Law

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #13 on: 15 Dec 2008, 04:00 »

My parents basically let me choose. They ... no, she raised me half-catholic so my sister and I knew of God, but without forcing anything onto us. I think it was a good choice. Now I'm a half-catholic, but I think God's an ass anyway, if he exists

"God? You've been up there too long. God doesn't care what happens on Earth. As long as he gets some souls, and a bit of worship he's happy. I'm gonna be frank; God's a dick. pretty much sums me up
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honeyfly

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #14 on: 15 Dec 2008, 05:18 »

As some other writers here I basically told my daughter the truth:  That we have no way of knowing what happens when we die.  I also told her that the most logical explanation was that nothing happened, we just ceased to exist.  But I also told her that other people thought other things and we had no way of knowing what exists (or not) outside of our measurable universe and then we went through some schools of thought of the major religions and some of the less wacky non-religious options.  I consider it my responsibility to help her keep her options open, not pick a religion (or whatever it is) for her.
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damiana

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #15 on: 15 Dec 2008, 06:51 »

just ask your kids what they think will happen. when they answer then tell them that whatever they want to believe is the right answer. you dont have to tell them what to believe. let them believe what they want. that is why you are who you are. you believe what you want. give them that power to take control over their own destiny and lifestyle. they will thank you in the end for not feeding them a bunch of bullshit.

PS - i have a 7 y/o who doesnt believe in anything. she knows shes going to be worm food and that is alright by her. :)
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Mominator

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #16 on: 15 Dec 2008, 07:19 »

There appears to be more than a few atheist parents here.  Go us!

I was raised in whatever church my dad's current gf was in, so I am somewhat cynical about the whole thing (church is to impress others...?), son's dad was raised Southern Baptist and apparently believes in it still.  We agreed to disagree on that long ago.  My current, final, did-it-right-this-time hubby is hardcore atheist raised half Catholic.  We all agreed to let the kid explore any faith he wanted to.  I dabbled in Buddhism and was baptized Episcopalian so I gave him those viewpoints, his dad sent him to church camp, and we answered any questions he had about it.  We also kept a couple flavors of bible, the book of mormon, and some other comparative religion books around.  Wow, long windup, now here's the pitch...

The message he got was "we really don't know, here's what some folks believe, here is what we believe, whatever seems right to you is okay".  Stepdad and I told him that we think that you simply don't exist anymore, but if people remember you for being a good person, that's a kind of immortality, so concentrate on being nice and enjoying the time you have.  We have NOT explored or brought attention to the corollary that you will be remembered just as much for being a really BAD person too...

So far, so good.  He is a very kind person, goes out of his way to be nice to people, and lives life on his own terms (well, as much as you can do so in the Army).  More importantly, he THINKS for himself and doesn't let anyone tell him what to believe.  I count that in the WIN column.
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slandurgurl

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #17 on: 15 Dec 2008, 07:45 »

I'm an agnostic parent.  When my kids have asked me what happens when we die, is there really a god, heaven, etc., I've been honest - I don't know, nobody really knows, and anybody that tells you they know for sure is full of it.  I was raised in religion - christian elementary school, lutheran high school, church every Sunday and youth group every Wednesday.  Then one day I was sitting in my religion class listening to my teacher tell everyone that if someone wasn't baptized, they were going to hell, no ifs ands or buts.  So I raised my hand.  "So, if a tiny baby dies right after being born, God will send them to hell if a little bit of water hasn't been dribbled on their head?"  "Yes."  "Then I don't want to worship your God."  From then on I argued with anyone who told me there was only one way to believe and worship.  And I often won the arguments - nothing defeats faith better than pure logic.  'Course that didn't make me very popular...I was actually accused of being a freaking witch because I chose to do a term paper on witchcraft for my Cults and World Religions class.  Good times.
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ZorahG

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #18 on: 15 Dec 2008, 08:20 »

This is my first post as well.   :-) 

I am a parent and agnostic with education in sciences.  I can tell you that my beliefs are unique and as a parent I would NEVER tell my child death was "just like going to sleep".  Only because that is what I was told as a child, with great nonchalance and it terrified me.  (I was all of 5 yrs old)   I was so afraid to go to sleep after that and it was VERY hard to get over.  Most Psychologists agree the best thing for YOUNG YOUNG children is to have them think of death, especially the death of a pet or loved one as an end to their suffering and pain.   NOT as "bedtime/going to sleep". 

When my child asks, I will be honest.  We don't know for sure what happens... and like a previous poster, I will explain the different beliefs regarding dying/death.  To each their own, whatever they chose to believe is fine with me, until their right to believe tramples my right to have my own beliefs.

That all said, there is some fascinating research regarding ones life, our "soul" so to speak, that there is a residual energy when we die that recycles back in a way to the greater "energy" of our world.  Not some mystical jargon, but top physicists and scientists doing research with complex math and what we know about the universe. 

Personally, there's just so much we DON'T know, I don't see how anyone could say for sure "this is it".  But that's the glass-half-full side of me I think.
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ZorahG

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #19 on: 15 Dec 2008, 08:24 »

I'm an agnostic parent.  When my kids have asked me what happens when we die, is there really a god, heaven, etc., I've been honest - I don't know, nobody really knows, and anybody that tells you they know for sure is full of it.  I was raised in religion - christian elementary school, lutheran high school, church every Sunday and youth group every Wednesday.  Then one day I was sitting in my religion class listening to my teacher tell everyone that if someone wasn't baptized, they were going to hell, no ifs ands or buts.  So I raised my hand.  "So, if a tiny baby dies right after being born, God will send them to hell if a little bit of water hasn't been dribbled on their head?"  "Yes."  "Then I don't want to worship your God."  From then on I argued with anyone who told me there was only one way to believe and worship.  And I often won the arguments - nothing defeats faith better than pure logic.  'Course that didn't make me very popular...I was actually accused of being a freaking witch because I chose to do a term paper on witchcraft for my Cults and World Religions class.  Good times.

I applaud your open-minded take on things.  Too often people are stuck in their "my way is the ONLY" way rut and refuse to open their minds to learn of other possibilities. 

My half-sister wont let her children read "Harry Potter" because it's "witchcraft".    I find that sad.  Her sons LOVED to read until she started censoring their books... *sigh*
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pwhodges

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #20 on: 15 Dec 2008, 08:33 »

there's just so much we DON'T know, I don't see how anyone could say for sure "this is it".

Look at it the other way:  if no-one had told you about religion, would you be looking for any form of afterlife on the basis of the world you can see around you?   I'm sure I wouldn't; and I don't.

As for my children, I really don't remember what I told them (it was 30-odd years ago, after all).  Probably something along the lines of "when someone's body is too damaged [to cover accidents] or worn out [to cover old age] to keep itself repaired, it stops working."
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ZorahG

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #21 on: 15 Dec 2008, 09:27 »

>    if no-one had told you about religion, would you be looking for any form of afterlife on the basis of the world you can see around you?   I'm sure I wouldn't; and I don't.

That's you though.  And that's fantastic that works for you.  :)  My personal opinion, you'd have to live in a vacuum anymore to grow up NOT hearing something about religion and having some curiosity.   I have always questioned and even as a kid was never satisfied with one answer.  I guess that's why my life saying is "to each, their own".  There are just too many options and possibilities, and that works for me. 

I'm just thankful I live in a country where I can believe what I want as can everyone else.   Might things have been different if I hadn't heard about religion?  Mayhaps.  But they aren't and knowing how I am, I doubt they would be too much different.  Just because you research something doesn't mean you have to believe in it.
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Susano

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #22 on: 15 Dec 2008, 09:47 »

Thing is, theres the possibility the child will discover the possibility of "real death" anyways, even if raised religiously. I was raised mdoeratly, laxly religious, and yet I still stumbled on the concept of my own, and damn, did it ever scare the shit out of me. It was really panic like for a while, until I learned to just stop thinking too deeply on it. Death still scares me if I do... but of course, just because Id wished it to be different doesnt mean it is. And as said, it doesnt take atheist parents telling you about it to discover the concept.
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tuna ketchup x

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #23 on: 15 Dec 2008, 10:03 »

And an eternity in Heaven - I'd think that after the first 200 trillion quadrillion millennia, it might start to get a bit dull.

I don't think I'd get bored with eternity on Earth, as long as I got a new body/identity every 100 years or so. There's so much to explore.

Raised agnostic here. My parents told me all about the different things people believe, mostly Christian/Catholic stuff (since that's what they both were), but my mom also has some vague ideas about reincarnation, and I'd have philosophical conversations with my father at the dinner table (who later said he'd "failed" us religion-wise, w/e dad). I decided not to believe in an afterlife around the time I learned about solipsism and virtual reality and realized the Christian heaven would have to be solipsistic, and that idea scares me WAY more than oblivion. I wish I could believe in reincarnation, even a very vague variety, but I can't, and that was okay. Everything was okay as long as we didn't go overboard with it and my mom says she's happy that neither me or my sister turned out religious. I'm not having kids but if I were I'd have that same kind of openness: I couldn't shield my kids from religion or ideas of the afterlife, so the better thing is to present it myself, on my own terms, and let them decide. Emphasize the importance of actual experience over imagination. It's better than learning it on the playground. I'll be frank, I wouldn't be happy if my hypothetical kids turned out to be religious or have anything more than a set of vague beliefs, but at least they would have come to it honestly and not because they were bullied into it.

My fiancee was scared of sleep for years because his parents linked it to death. So yeah that's a really bad idea.
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jtheory

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #24 on: 15 Dec 2008, 12:46 »

My fiancee was scared of sleep for years because his parents linked it to death. So yeah that's a really bad idea.

See now, that's why it's good to talk about these things.  I hadn't thought of that at all... that once you link the two (trying to comfort a child that death won't be horribly painful) then every time they go to sleep they'll worry that they won't know if they're dying.  Excellent -- bullet dodged.

Also -- that's interesting that your dad thinks he "failed" you religion-wise.  My father says the same thing -- none of his 3 kids are practicing Catholics -- and thinks I must have no moral grounding without religion, etc., though I challenged him to point to the immorality he saw in my adult life, and he couldn't come up with a single thing.  I lead a pretty peaceable life.

(...) I would NEVER tell my child death was "just like going to sleep".  Only because that is what I was told as a child, with great nonchalance and it terrified me.  (I was all of 5 yrs old)   I was so afraid to go to sleep after that and it was VERY hard to get over.  Most Psychologists agree the best thing for YOUNG YOUNG children is to have them think of death, especially the death of a pet or loved one as an end to their suffering and pain.   NOT as "bedtime/going to sleep".

Hopefully, also, your child can tell you about their terrors -- and you can help sort out misconceptions -- but I know this simply doesn't come naturally for some kids (my mother's a lovely nurturing person and in theory I could have talked to her -- I know my little sister did -- but I basically kept my inner life absolutely secret from the world for a very long time for reasons I still do not know).

Quote
Personally, there's just so much we DON'T know, I don't see how anyone could say for sure "this is it".  But that's the glass-half-full side of me I think.

I hesitate to do that -- the sort of hand-waving that "there's so much we don't know... maybe one of these religions is correct".  All of the major religions that I've studied at all are rife with internal contradictions plus contain some very questionable ideas.  It's not surprising -- they are the product of their history -- but I wouldn't encourage a child to invest themselves in a religion and belief system that "feels right" without putting more thought into it than that.

I know, that's not quite what you're saying -- but while a scientific understanding of the world definitely leaves open the possibility of many things, the jump from "life and the universe contain many mysteries" to "maybe some of the religious people are correct... in their complex systems of belief which have morphed into their current state over thousands of years but carry along required rituals & worship, interrelated invisible forces, invisible places, and surprisingly human-like magical beings" is too huge.

'Course, a kid still needs to find a way to get along with religious folks, so teaching complete disrespect perhaps isn't wise.
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hcaneandrew

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #25 on: 15 Dec 2008, 13:17 »

Have any of you ever seen the movie "Always" with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman?  I really like how they linked the concepts of "spirit" and "inspiration" in that movie - that one affects those who are living long after they have passed on.

As an Atheist, I like to think that what we do when we are alive is carried along by the people who we affect during our lives through the way they live their own.  Perhaps, we could tell children, every time someone learns something from you, they carry with them a piece of you in the actions they take, sometimes only briefly, but at other times permanently, and in such a way to pass you along to yet another generation long after you are gone.

Are we conscious of how we are affecting others after we die?  I'm not sure we are conscious of how we affect others when we are alive, to be honest.  I don't know that we will retain consciousness after we die, but at the movie's core is a sweet idea.  If nothing else, the movie is a good way to start a discussion about what might happen after death from a non-religious point of view.
« Last Edit: 15 Dec 2008, 13:19 by hcaneandrew »
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Aurjay

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #26 on: 15 Dec 2008, 15:00 »

Last thought to Aurjay: Beware; Intelligent Design isn't what you think it is....  It's a trick cooked up by Creationists to get religion into schools -- it claims (with extremely shaky and unscientific foundations) that evolution isn't able to explain all of the diversity of life, so an "intelligent creator" (i.e., the Christian God, though they don't say it) must have been involved.  What you're probably looking for is the idea that God planned evolution, and knew beforehand how it would all go (but evolution still operates scientifically, without any supernatural tweaks needed along the way).  I'm not sure if there's a specific name for that idea, but that's the belief of many scientifically-educated Christians.
[/quote]

Ya thats kinda of where i was going with that. Maybe God planned evolution and then let science take it from there. But even then I find that to be a hard sell. All I know is my lil brother is being hammered with all the church's teaching and since my parents literally refuse to get involved either way I kinda feel it is my duty to make sure he knows there are other beliefs. Again he can make whatever decision he wants but I want to make sure it is a well informed decision. 
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pwhodges

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #27 on: 15 Dec 2008, 15:43 »

All I know is my lil brother is being hammered with all the church's teaching

Funny how brainwashing seems to be acceptable if it's religious...
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nutcase

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #28 on: 15 Dec 2008, 16:45 »

OK, me too.  I registered to talk about religion.  But I have an excuse: I'm a Unitarian, and that's what we do.

My parents are/were Presbyterians, I suspect because they inherited it, and I don't remember ever having the "what happens" discussion with them.  I don't think I expected them to have an answer.

My daughters are now in their 20's, and they don't seem to have had much difficulty with the "what happens" question, in spite of the fact that we never came up with much better than the rather lame "Nobody really knows for sure; I think that we cease to think or be aware, but those who live on remember us."

I would have liked to have a more comforting answer for them.  As long as I've been a Unitarian Universalist, I've felt that it was a relatively difficult religious environment for kids, because it didn't have crisp (that is, dogmatic) answers to those troublesome questions.  But in watching them grow into strong, confident, smart, and adventuresome young women, I've become less troubled about how their religious upbringing might have let them down.
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PixiePirateX

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #29 on: 15 Dec 2008, 17:00 »

Man, the amount of new people here who seemingly registered only because things got all religious is insane.

I admit, I joined because of this set of comics, but not because of the religious part. I am curious, I was raised in a completely non-religious home (except a brief and barely remembered time with Unitarians when I was about 3) with people who felt the same way. So I was never exposed to it, so I was curious what people thought about it all.

I knew from a very young age, that there was nothing after and I never felt any sort of pull toward believing in anything, and it never bothered me. When my grandparents died, I said " Okay they aren't hurting anymore" but they don't go anywhere, they just don't feel anything anymore, I never really felt a death deeply and painfully it was just what happened.
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zombor

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #30 on: 15 Dec 2008, 17:06 »

Religion is a decision more than a "brainwashing", I mean, here you all are, some taught different religions deeply and some not and you have made the decision to believe in those teachings or not. If someone truly believes that your life (and/or potential  afterlife) will be better if you believe in a religion, than are they not showing love for you by trying to teach you the religious teachings, in the hope that you will believe? Even if you do not like it or think that it is terrible, they are doing the best thing they can think of to make your life better in their eyes.
You do not have to like it, but I hope that you can understand what I am saying. People do not think they are "brainwashing" people, they think they are trying to help them, they are showing love for them. So the hatred and anger is unnecessary, you can just decline the teachings, if not now, then later. Fighting and namecalling is not going to help, it is just going to prove to the other people that they are right.

But on the topic of what my parents told me, they did not tell me anything, I just read a lot of books and attended church when I was younger, and decided for myself what I was going to believe in when i was old enough to make that decision. No one I cared about died (people and pets) until I was about 11, and until then, the fact that I would no longer be able to see them again did not matter to me so I never thought about it; death just happened, and there was no point in worrying about it, because I was unable to do anything about it. However, that practicality was useless when people I did care died. . . because I missed them.

I believe in God and Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and heaven after you die, and if nothing else (and there is so much more), it is much more preferable than the empty hopelessness and terrible nothingness of believing that you will never being able to see the people you love, being able to grow and interact with them after they and you die.
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greatbritton

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #31 on: 15 Dec 2008, 18:05 »

I was raised Baptist, specifically Southern Baptist, but the church was more Catholic, oddly.  More to the point, even though I went to church, my parents taught me to question everything, as the best way to understand something was to question every facet of it.  Unfortunately for my mother that was the church's downfall, for me, and at 13 I quit church, tried a few other's, but inevitably decided the best choice of action was to sleep in on Sundays! 

Anyway, perhaps the best thing you can do for a child, when they ask that question, is tell them what other cultures and religions believe and encourage them to come up with their own answer, because in the end, none of us REALLY know.  Even if some have faith, it's not the same as knowledge, it's merely different. 

Besides, what happens if we're all wrong and when we die it's just an endless Pauly Shore comedy set?!


P.S.  I totally joined to be involved in this discussion...totally worth it! 
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sofiabailote

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #32 on: 15 Dec 2008, 18:11 »

My parents are non-practicing catholics, but they never forced any religion or belief upon me as they believe one should find its own beliefs. As a result of this openness, I am an atheist. Not only don't I believe in the existence of "god" or a supreme being; I also loathe the idea of organized religion, doctrine and "faith".
I have a 8 year old daughter and she never asked that question ("what happens when you die"), mostly because she has figured it out herself. She's an avid reader and loves documentaries- nature, religion, science... She grasped the cycle of life and I guess she understands we are just one small part of it.
She asks a lot of questions and we always try to make her question ever further instead of settling for just one answer.
I think it's a good advice for parents of young children to have them watch documentaries instead of cartoons all the time- it will be great even for their school performance. The nature documentaries my daughter devoured gave her a perspective on life. then there was a BBC series about the human body- that one totally blew her mind, but it gave her yet another perspective of life and more importantly about the human condition.
I think basically ignorance is the mother of all fears- specially for children. Death should be looked upon as part of life. What I also tried to get through to my daughter is that it is healthy to accept that all things come to an end eventually.
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HappyGrar

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #33 on: 15 Dec 2008, 20:25 »

Joe bless you!

Am I the only one that got that?  :lol:

I was raised by my mom (Christian), then went to live with my dad (atheist) when I was nine. He told me right out, "When you die nothing happens! Cool, huh?" Screwed me right up for a long time, but it helped me to become able to think for myself, to consider matters and not shy away from them just because they're difficult or frightening. Which is nice.

Put it this way: I'm not going to be a pretentious ass and assume that I know precisely what happens when we die. I inherently have an intellectual distrust of anyone who thinks they've got it right, and that other people are wrong (on the basis of faith).

But what I find comforting is that even though we don't know, George Carlin knows. George Carlin knows what happens when we die. Or at least, what happens when he dies. A brilliant man has gone before us and is scouting out the territory.

Or perhaps not, I guess, if it so happens that there's nothing after death. But still...

« Last Edit: 15 Dec 2008, 20:28 by HappyGrar »
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Jeff7

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #34 on: 16 Dec 2008, 00:59 »

And an eternity in Heaven - I'd think that after the first 200 trillion quadrillion millennia, it might start to get a bit dull.

I don't think I'd get bored with eternity on Earth, as long as I got a new body/identity every 100 years or so. There's so much to explore.
Do you have any idea how long a million years is? 200 trillion quadrillion thousand years. That's longer than the Universe has existed.
2 * 10^2 * 10^12 * 10^15 * 10^3 years = 2 * 10^32 years. By that time, a measurable # of the protons in Earth will have undergone radioactive decay. The sun's remnants would likely just be a super-dense sphere of carbon, quite possibly in the form of a huge diamond (yes, really).
And 2*10^32 years is just the first trillionth of a nanosecond of eternity.
It would keep going, even after the Universe either undergoes Heat Death, when every last particle reaches nearly absolute zero and then decays into EM radiation, or else if it is able to reverse the expansion and collapse on itself.
And after that, you'd still have a lot more eternity left to go. By that time, you'd start to be wondering, "Maybe I'm actually in Hell."
:)
Certain religions messed up when they started tinkering with infinite quantities. An infinitely powerful, infinitely knowing deity that's been around for an infinite amount of time. An afterlife where you stay for an infinite amount of time.
It's like hyped-up marketing. * ∞




....
Last thought to Aurjay: Beware; Intelligent Design isn't what you think it is....  It's a trick cooked up by Creationists to get religion into schools -- it claims (with extremely shaky and unscientific foundations) that evolution isn't able to explain all of the diversity of life, so an "intelligent creator" (i.e., the Christian God, though they don't say it) must have been involved.  What you're probably looking for is the idea that God planned evolution, and knew beforehand how it would all go (but evolution still operates scientifically, without any supernatural tweaks needed along the way).  I'm not sure if there's a specific name for that idea, but that's the belief of many scientifically-educated Christians.
The fun part of that is, if you want to nicely lure someone into saying that the "intelligent creator" is actually God, a way that usually works is to ask, "Who designed the creator?"
Now, if it's God, ok, he's magically immune to time and causality. But if it's just an intelligent creator, then that could just be some super-smart alien race. And that's dandy. But those aliens would have come from somewhere, right? They're not infinitely powerful, right? They're just some really advanced species; they to us as we are to bacteria. Who created them?
Not long after that, it soon becomes evident that their anonymous creator is in fact God (and what a creative name it is).



...
I believe in God and Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and heaven after you die, and if nothing else (and there is so much more), it is much more preferable than the empty hopelessness and terrible nothingness of believing that you will never being able to see the people you love, being able to grow and interact with them after they and you die.
That's an issue for me though. My beliefs or preferences won't change reality. I can believe that I can run through walls, but reality would say otherwise. Sure, it would be nice to see people for awhile longer, and not just have this short lifespan that we've got. But if I really want it, it still won't happen.

I also find it odd that people get so darned upset when someone dies. There's always the "such-and-such is in a better place" bit. Fine, then why be upset? The dead person is in a place of eternal bliss, and you'll be joining that person eventually. What's all the fuss? Why all the crying? I don't cry when my parents go off on a vacation together. I know I'll (most likely) see them again.
So the dead relative left for vacation without you, and quite possibly did so in a gruesome or painful manner; car accident, heart attack, cancer, whatever the case may be.
That really sounds to me like the idea of Heaven is something that's hammered into you from a very young age, but your adult mind just can't quite accept it as a rational reality, yet at the same time, doesn't want to shake that notion, doesn't want to accept the permanence of death. So while you may say to yourself, "they're in a better place," it's also something just said to make you feel better, because you know that you've just said goodbye for the last time ever.


« Last Edit: 16 Dec 2008, 01:15 by Jeff7 »
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jezzifishie

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #35 on: 16 Dec 2008, 03:09 »

I was raised a Baptist. (I'm a Brit though, and as far as I can tell English Baptists and American/Southern Baptists don't have all that much in common). I don't remember ever asking my parents about death, and strangely it rarely came up at church. The sermons tended to focus on how to be a good person, and make this life better for people. I liked it because it was practical. I'm not a Baptist any more though - my church refused to ordain a woman, so I left.

I haven't been to many other Baptist churches, so please tell me if I'm wrong about any of this!
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greatbritton

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #36 on: 16 Dec 2008, 05:58 »

I was raised a Baptist. (I'm a Brit though, and as far as I can tell English Baptists and American/Southern Baptists don't have all that much in common). I don't remember ever asking my parents about death, and strangely it rarely came up at church. The sermons tended to focus on how to be a good person, and make this life better for people. I liked it because it was practical. I'm not a Baptist any more though - my church refused to ordain a woman, so I left.

I haven't been to many other Baptist churches, so please tell me if I'm wrong about any of this!


well, in my experience, the basics of possibly all religions is love, love others, love yourself...y'know...which is the best thing about religion, it's so much simpler than coming up with it on your own, finding a way to love idiots (the general populace), without religion, is extremely difficult. In that manner, religion is extremely practical!  It's another whole ballgame when religion teaches people to hate, my oldest friend is evangelical and he hates anyone who doesn't claim his exact beliefs as true.  "proof bananas were made for man is the fact that they curve toward your face"  when I asked him what happens if you hold it any other direction he changed the subject. 

The baptist church of which I used to be a member had the first ordained woman on the eastern seaboard, so maybe you should come over here, I can take your place over there, after all, I am looking for a simple way to gain citizenship there! 
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slandurgurl

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #37 on: 16 Dec 2008, 07:24 »

Religion is a decision more than a "brainwashing", I mean, here you all are, some taught different religions deeply and some not and you have made the decision to believe in those teachings or not. If someone truly believes that your life (and/or potential  afterlife) will be better if you believe in a religion, than are they not showing love for you by trying to teach you the religious teachings, in the hope that you will believe? Even if you do not like it or think that it is terrible, they are doing the best thing they can think of to make your life better in their eyes.
You do not have to like it, but I hope that you can understand what I am saying. People do not think they are "brainwashing" people, they think they are trying to help them, they are showing love for them. So the hatred and anger is unnecessary, you can just decline the teachings, if not now, then later. Fighting and namecalling is not going to help, it is just going to prove to the other people that they are right.

But on the topic of what my parents told me, they did not tell me anything, I just read a lot of books and attended church when I was younger, and decided for myself what I was going to believe in when i was old enough to make that decision. No one I cared about died (people and pets) until I was about 11, and until then, the fact that I would no longer be able to see them again did not matter to me so I never thought about it; death just happened, and there was no point in worrying about it, because I was unable to do anything about it. However, that practicality was useless when people I did care died. . . because I missed them.

I believe in God and Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and heaven after you die, and if nothing else (and there is so much more), it is much more preferable than the empty hopelessness and terrible nothingness of believing that you will never being able to see the people you love, being able to grow and interact with them after they and you die.

Speaking from experience, teaching religion to children is very akin to brainwashing.  What child, when told that if they don't believe in God they will burn in hell for all eternity, will choose not to believe? 

As far as your take on witnessing goes, how would you feel if someone told you your life would be better if you believed something that goes completely against your values?  That if you didn't change your world/life views, you were going to suffer in your afterlife?  As far as the hatred and namecalling goes, yes it's pointless, but how much of that do we see from the Christian right?  "God hates fags", for example.  I thought God was love.  The biggest problem I have with Christianity is the Christians - the majority of them do not live or act on the teaching of Christ, and they feel they must force their beliefs down the throats of anyone who doesn't think the same way they do, to "save them". 

Not believing in your God or your heaven doesn't equal hopelessness or nothingness - that's like saying those who aren't religious don't have any basis for their morals and values.   It's insulting and patronizing.  Just because I have the courage to admit that I don't know for sure what will happen after death doesn't mean I don't think there may be something more. 
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Rocketman

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #38 on: 16 Dec 2008, 07:35 »

Personally, I don't understand why people have such a problem coping with not existing after death. After all, we get a hell of a lot of practise at it before we're born :)

Because there was nothing to lose. Non-existence now means you lose everything the world has to offer. It means you leave behind family and friends. It means those same family and friends eventually stop caring about you and move on with their lives.
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Siibillam-Law

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #39 on: 16 Dec 2008, 12:33 »

Mark Twain said, and it makes me smile oh so, "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
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Buzzcat

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #40 on: 16 Dec 2008, 15:49 »

Quite an interesting discussion here. And amazingly, quite civil. That's usually not the case from my experience.

Another atheist here. And, after seeing this thread, I'm convinced that there are a LOT more atheists living right now than the media will have us believe.
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Susano

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #41 on: 16 Dec 2008, 16:29 »

Mark Twain said, and it makes me smile oh so, "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

So? Say Ive been in jail for 10 years and are now free. Would I be scared of going back? SureIi would!
Thing is, if you die and theres no afterlife (which is most probable), then it is as if you have never existed, as all your consciousness, all your memories are gone. Sure, from your personal, subjective PoV only - but you only have that one PoV, so its valid to say that for you it is as if youve never existed. And that is goddamn scary as hell to me!
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Usopp

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #42 on: 16 Dec 2008, 17:50 »

Quote
Speaking from experience, teaching religion to children is very akin to brainwashing.  What child, when told that if they don't believe in God they will burn in hell for all eternity, will choose not to believe?

By that token, teaching a kid pretty much anything constitutes "brainwashing", because you're an authority figure and they'll generally listen to you, even if you have no grounding in fact. Telling a kid that the Earth revolves around the Sun takes a fair amount of faith on their part, but that's not considered brainwashing. If you decided to teach your kid that the Holocaust was a hoax, is that brainwashing?
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Aaaarchy

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #43 on: 16 Dec 2008, 19:45 »

I have a lot of trouble teaching my kids the various things that various people believe and asking them to "pick" between them. The problem is that I might as well tell them that an invisible pink unicorn carries them away to Candy Mountain, because it's equally as likely as any religious viewpoint. I was told about various religions when I was little, but I realize now that it was just confusing. No religion is any more or less likely than any other, and I'd feel dishonest claiming that there were only so many options.

I feel that the only responsible thing to do is tell your child what you believe, with a caveat that you may be wrong. As I said before, when I have kids I'll tell them the most likely scenario (no afterlife, just a cessation of life), and educate them to make responsible decisions about it.

The truth may be scary to some people, but if you, as their beloved parent, face the issue with grace, confidence, and intelligence, your kids will have no problem dealing with it.

Love the Mark Twain quote, too. That's exactly how I feel.

And to whomever mentioned the prison analogy, you are WAY off. Nonexistence is nothing at all like prison, and cannot be likened to it properly. Prison is uncomfortable, sad, lonely, forced upon you, and a profoundly negative thing, while nonexistence is none of those things, in any sense.

Also, I joined the board for this discussion, too, because it's an extremely important part of my life.
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pwhodges

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #44 on: 17 Dec 2008, 00:42 »

If you decided to teach your kid that the Holocaust was a hoax, is that brainwashing?

You are teaching them to deny evidence and logic, and not to think for themselves, which is close enough to it for me.
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"Being human, having your health; that's what's important."  (from: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi )
"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

slandurgurl

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #45 on: 17 Dec 2008, 07:45 »

Quote
Speaking from experience, teaching religion to children is very akin to brainwashing.  What child, when told that if they don't believe in God they will burn in hell for all eternity, will choose not to believe?

By that token, teaching a kid pretty much anything constitutes "brainwashing", because you're an authority figure and they'll generally listen to you, even if you have no grounding in fact. Telling a kid that the Earth revolves around the Sun takes a fair amount of faith on their part, but that's not considered brainwashing. If you decided to teach your kid that the Holocaust was a hoax, is that brainwashing?

I disagree.  When you teach a child that the earth revolves around the sun, you don't tell them that if they don't believe that they'll be flung off into the vacuum of space.  You used the example of the Holocaust.  When a child is raised by a Klu Klux Klan member, having racism and hate embedded into their heads, isn't that a form of brainwashing?  When a child is taught to believe something because horrible things will happen to them if they don't, I consider that forcible indoctrination; i.e. brainwashing.
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Jeff7

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #46 on: 17 Dec 2008, 09:43 »

...
When a child is taught to believe something because horrible things will happen to them if they don't, I consider that forcible indoctrination; i.e. brainwashing.
Kid takes stuff from the cookie jar without permission, horrible things will happen. :P
The first humans take an apple from a tree without permission, all living humans are punished.
I'm glad our justice system doesn't work like that - punish not only the person responsible, but also the rest of their lineage, pretty much until time stops.


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Kharthulu

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #47 on: 21 Dec 2008, 05:10 »

I never asked my parents about the afterlife.  I didn't really care.  When realized that the likelihood of either the atheists or the religious being correct was roughly the flip of a coin, and i had to accept the possibility that I would cease to exist after death, I confirmed my impulsive decision to not care.

As for what I am going to tell my kids, if i ever have them.  I plan to tell them that nobody knows, and it may be impossible for us to figure it(what happens after death) out, but it is unlikely that any religion has it right since they keep changing their stories and failing to make good on their claims.  I also plan to tell him that having a religion, or lack of religion is socially expected, but isn't absolutely essential.

I plan to inform my kids about what is socially expected or believed, but not really set in stone.  And telling him that although he knows that some of societies customs and beliefs are arbitrary or BS, that doesn't exempt him from the consequences if he chooses to ignore them. 
« Last Edit: 21 Dec 2008, 05:20 by Kharthulu »
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jtheory

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #48 on: 21 Dec 2008, 08:51 »

When realized that the likelihood of either the atheists or the religious being correct was roughly the flip of a coin[...]

See, a lot of people think that, and I suspect that's Dora's projected viewpoint as well, but I come down with Penelope on this one.
We don't have an absolute answer -- because we don't have an absolute answer to *anything*, but probability absolutely does play a role in human knowledge.

This is why "statistically significant" results for a study are important, and understanding statistics and probability is so important to science.

If you flip a coin, would you say the chances that it comes back down again vs. the chances that it morphs into a unicorn and flies away equally likely?  We have to acknowledge that they are both possible -- but they are not equally likely.

We don't know everything there is to know about how consciousness functions, but we know quite a lot, and there's utterly no reason to believe that consciousness could do anything other than dissolve as the systems supporting it fail.

It's not *impossible* that your consciousness will somehow escape your nervous system and magically fly to any of the magical places that are described in the various religions.  But it's incredibly unlikely.

Sorry to seem like I'm ranting at you -- your coin-flip comment was just a starting point, I have no idea whether you'd generally agree with what I'm saying or not!  But studying the evolution of human religion (and how supernatural beliefs have evolved from back when the gods were blowing up storms and throwing lightning bolts) it's sometimes amazing to me (and many other atheists, I'm sure) how people think their religious beliefs are just as likely as scientific explanations... ignoring the fact that one way of interpreting the world is vindicated time after time after time, and the others simply are not (and generally just ignore huge swaths of reality).
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greatbritton

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Re: What did my parents tell me......
« Reply #49 on: 21 Dec 2008, 12:13 »

If you flip a coin, would you say the chances that it comes back down again vs. the chances that it morphs into a unicorn and flies away equally likely?  We have to acknowledge that they are both possible -- but they are not equally likely.


Unicorns don't have wings!!

no, I kid.  usually what I say is something about growing a third arm from the side of your head. 

unfortunately for us all, there is simply no way to "logicify" this discussion.  faith isn't logical, nor is religion, some science isn't seemingly logical.  Please don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to kill this conversation.  Ultimately, appealing to a religious person's logic is like...well, like appealing to a religious person's logic! 
« Last Edit: 21 Dec 2008, 18:32 by greatbritton »
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