Saturday, February 03, 2007

The god solution

I am agnostic. I have some strong beliefs about what kinds of God or gods don't exist. I think a kind of undetectable god could exist although it is unlikely.

D is an atheist. He thinks it is obvious there is no such thing as god and how can any rational person even consider such a bizarre concept seriously? As a rational agnostic, and the daughter of two scientists who are thinking, liberal Christians, I find this amusing.

We both believe that one of the worst things our daughters could do is become fundamentalist Christians. This means that as rebellious teenagers they are likely to try their damnedest to. I fear that if we use D's natural approach and just tell them all religion is stupid they are guaranteed to become fundies. My current, possibly misguided, approach is to take them to church twice a year because I think it is an important part of my culture.

So, advice please, if the puzzle is how to avoid spawning fundamentalists, what is the solution?

The title of this is inspired by The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins which I have read a couple of reviews of and had recommended by a friend. I have no intention of actually reading it though, because Richard Dawkins always comes across to me as an obnoxious, patronising git. I miss Stephen J Gould.

Thanks JK for inspiring the email which led to this post.


JK said...

My husband's brother is like us... He has two daughters... One is also like us and the other is, um, not your worst nightmare, but more religious than the rest of us!

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...


I definitely agree with you on Richard Dawkins. I might have more respect for his views if he wasn't guilty of many of the charges he lays at religion's doors!

As someone who graduated from Christian fundamentalism in my teens to the (reasonably!) rational liberal Anglican I am today, I can tell you the key is questions.

I found I was not necessarily encouraged to question or challenge what I was told too deeply. However, being a naturally curious sort, I found myself questioning automatically. I was assisted by friends at the time outside the situation who non-confrontationally asked me to justify things that I said. This made me think more deeply about some of the beliefs I held, which in turn led to a more reasoned and sensible outlook.

So my advice would be to avoid too many anti-fundie rants in front of them. And if they ever do slip into fundamentalism, try to engage their natural human tendency to question by sensitively asking them to justify the beliefs they express to you.

Allow them to experience positive religious input and take them seriously when they express religious questions and you should avoid the descent into fundamentalism!

Of course, the introduction of A) alcohol and B) the opposite sex during teenage years can also combat fundamentalism very effectively.....