Can Children Be “Believers”?

little believer?
little believer?

Bible quizzing, Sutra and Veda chanting, Qur’an and Torah reciting. . .

Raises important questions how we’re raising our children.

CAN Children be “believers”?

Can Anyone be a sincere believer without first knowing what the alternatives are (which faith?  no faith?) and having the ability to rationally choose?

What do you think?

Natural Bible

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14 thoughts on “Can Children Be “Believers”?

  1. I think that’s an important question. The definition of “belief” that I adhere to is “the acceptance of a statement as true.” Of course children can accept statements as true, and therefore have the belief. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a justified belief or a “sincere” one. That’s why I think it’s extremely important to let children make up their own minds about these things. To wait until they get to the “age of reason” before presenting/telling them which religion you deem the best. To do anything else, seems to be the definition of indoctrination.

    1. You make an important point. Of course, we can’t always be sure some Adults have reached the “age of reason.” But yes, giving choices seems wise, and choosing takes some reasoning ability.

  2. Interesting question. I think kids will probably believe what they’re told. However, when they get older, that’ll be when their faith is more concrete because they’ve had time to think about it.

  3. I don’t think so. I didn’t really believe when I was a kid, I just believed what adults told me to, and confirmation bias kept me from doubting.

    But I always sorta knew I was an atheist. It’s kind of shameful Catholics do confirmation at such a young age. I broke away just after that.

    1. That experience seems to be true for many young people, T.S. Some even say that severe indoctrination is a form of child abuse. I think that needs to be looked at, especially if the belief system injected into young minds has destructive elements to reason and human community. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I fully understand the issue of indoctrination. But leaving children to ‘make up their own minds’ has its own problems, whether it’s religion, ethical values, what kind of friends to have, etc. etc.

    1. I think you have a point. But my suggestion is that the advocacy be on teaching “how to think” instead of “what to think.”

  5. When I watch my brother and his wife raising my niece, I actually feel sad and frustrated and helpless. They are raising her into the religion I left behind me. The religion that scarred me, nearly broke me and held me prisoner from my own capacity for half my life. My own experiences play out through her indoctrination and in me a desire to rescue her from it, while knowing that any attempt to remotely expose her to other choices or ideas, will earn me a ban from interacting with her. And I love her very much and know to bide the time.

    She has trust that her parents will not lead her astray, but to get her to pray to some thing she can not see, let alone comprehend at 3, is only possible through harsh tones and sometimes firmly holding her still while forcing her little hands together to enforce the ritual. Even as they pray, her curious eyes wander across the room. She is obviously trying to understand what everyone is doing just standing or sitting there while someone speaks, but no one responds. If they pray with me around, I will stop eating or moving out of respect to them, but her eyes will meet mine and as I smile at her, she seems perplexed that I am the only one who isn’t taking part in this strange activity. And then smiles back with a naughty grin.

    It’s obvious that only through forceful coercion and surpressing the natural will of a child can belief and faith in a religion be imprinted. Until they reach the ‘age of reason’ or become cognitively able to comprehend the concepts of religion, and further integrate that into their own perspective on life, they are forced to adhere to whatever a parent might want for them.

    Can a child have belief? Not in religion. Unless belief has become :- Acceptance through fear and repression.

  6. This is hard to read, Emil, partly because it hits close to my family story. But I love the eye contact during prayer! I always enjoyed that in “prayer circles” and such, even ones that I used to lead. Reminds me of a young Catholic priest who used to address “God” by looking at the congregation. That stuck with me through seminary and beyond.

    As for your niece, I can only tell from experience that there is hope! My nieces and nephews were homeschooled and filled with the bible for years. Two of the older ones have now talked with me about their doubts and more open minds now that they are in their twenties and out of the house. They are good, smart kids and I take every opportunity to encourage their liberation from old thinking.

    Here’s to Skeptic Hope!

    1. +(infinity)

      When I read “This is hard to read, Emil…” I paused and wondered if I typed badly or didn’t express properly lol 🙂

      I have hope. I can be an example to her, and that is a privilege I am honoured to have. She is smart and curious, and as her intelligence develops, she’ll ask questions and observe and eventually make her own choice.

      Doesn’t is always feel wonderful when you are able to share encouragement and support to others? Especially young sceptic minds?
      (And I don’t mean that in the sense of bending them to either side.)

      1. I share that hope, for your family, for mine, for all youth. With the internet, young people can now search the world of ideas and find they are not alone in their questions. Yes, anytime one human being can encourage another, especially a young mind, to investigate and discover with their own wonderful questioning mind, it is a great satisfaction.

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