Why Becoming a Parent Made My Atheism & Scepticism More Important

Posted by on Saturday, 5th May 2012 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Why Becoming a Parent Made My Atheism & Scepticism More Important

I’ve never quite even remotely understood the whole “look into the eyes of a newborn & you’ll believe in god” mumbo-jumbo.  Quite frankly I get the vague sense that this statement at the extreme puts enormous pressure on new parents & at the least is downright insulting.

We went into this whole parenting thing as atheists & nothing about the pregnancy & birth process caused us to question our stance on religion – except that is, to strengthen our resolve.

Being a parent or knowing that you are about to become one, is a big deal in most people’s lives – one that makes you really take stock.  Take stock of yourself & of the world you live in.  You find yourself questioning & re-assessing all of your values & worldviews.  As a sceptic though, that review process is pretty constant throughout your life & quite a familiar concept.

But here’s what becoming a parent really made me think about:

What outside influences will she be exposed to & to what extent do these influences meet our sceptical standards for accuracy in truth-claims?

Whilst some of those critical thinking skills we have are innate, most are learnt – how do I best create an environment to encourage & develop those skills from a young age in my child?

When we take a hard look at the world around us, the answer to the first question is not encouraging:  Not only is there far too much religious influence, there is also an alarming amount of New Age garbage, pseudo-science & general “woo” being presented in the media & general discourse.  Worse, culturally, we give this claptrap undeserved respect & it gets a free & unchallenged run for much of the time.  The religious dogma in particular, I find to be the most potentially damaging – just ask a few ex Catholics about their hell nightmares & you’ll see why this shit makes me angry.

The answer to the second question is something we are developing on the fly:  Generally there is a lot of age-appropriate analytical discussion with Godless Girl & a lot of “What do you think about that?” type questions.  We try to be as approachable as possible & we avoid ever saying “You should not believe that”, preferring her to draw her own conclusions.

Here’s what it comes down to for me:  As adults we take our ability to filter information through our bullshit detectors for granted (and I must acknowledge here that some of us have higher functioning detectors than others).  It is my responsibility as a parent to prepare my child for the real world, a real world which holds a whole lot of wonderful & fantastic reality, but which also includes a whole lot of people making unsubstantiated crackpot claims.  This preparation will involve the “installation” of the best quality bullshit detector we can manage, because my ability to influence others to act more responsibly with the truth is limited.

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