Sunday, February 10, 2013

Parenting and Religion Take 2

Today I came across a CNN "iReport" post about raising kids as Atheists and I read some of the comments. Which were, in my opinion, ridiculous.

I am not an Atheist, I refer to myself as a non-denominational Christian. But, even that vague and encompassing Christian term doesn't truly encapsulate my personal religious beliefs, I'll suffice it to say I do believe "God" is the best earthly but of language I can use to refer to the beyond-my-earthly-understanding concept that coheres our Universe as it is humanly understood-- at least when I speak to others. My husband is less willing to label his beliefs as Christian or God-fearing in any way. I don't believe he quite considers himself Atheist, but we haven't discussed religion for awhile so I may be incorrectly summarizing his (equally complex and well-founded) beliefs.

Nevertheless, we both (as many people in our generation) believe religion and spirituality are quite different from one another and can and should be separated in most situations. My husband is also of the thinking that church is useless, but as I previously discussed, I like it for all of the non-socialization-related aspects and I fully intend to introduce our daughter to religion (along with other cultural literacy). As parents we agree religion is not to be approached lightly or flippantly and must be tackled with a critical and fairly-open mind.

Anyway, back to my point about this CNN post. Some people freaked out and tagged it as inappropriate, a ton of people challenged a few points in the piece, and other people thanked the blogger for sharing her beliefs and parenting philosophy because so few people of that mindset feel comfortable to do so. Imagine that.

I was drawn to the piece after seeing it referenced and discussed on a mom-blog I regularly read and I am glad I read it because it illuminates a few points about religion that I have often considered, discussed, and wondered about-- but usually when driven by emotion. This post logically addresses specific points that are true and reasonable if religion is considered objectively.

TXBlue08 clearly lists her reasoning for believing there is NO God-- and it is admittedly similar to my husband's long list of problems with "God". The best part that I see is this blogger's insistence upon taking religion for what it's worth, and basically turning it on itself. In many ways, especially when considered by today's social norms and standards, God is NOT a great parent or parental role model. He is, as far as us Earth dwellers can surmise, totally illogical; nor, is he fair if we are to understand fairness by its dictionary definition.

Nor, can it be proven in any consistent way, that God protects the innocent. I am sure I need no examples to make sense of this, you need only to click on your local news website to get the latest of horrific news bytes. In fact, this protection of innocents (and their innocence) is on the mind of every parent I have probably ever spoken to. We live in a world where we often feel the need question even those closest to us because of the horror stories we hear from so many people hurt as children.

It can logically be argued that God doesn't actually teach children to be good, but rather incentivizes the idea through a healthy fear of Hell. And, the gospel as it is interpreted by many modern denominations does tend toward narcissistic and often unrealistic beliefs that no matter what one does-- they will be "saved" simply because Jesus "loves" them.

There is however, one sticking point for me. The blogger points to the "fact" that "God" (as understood by modern-day religion) is "not present". And, while I do agree there is no proof that God is literally hanging out in my living room watching Sesame Street with me and the little girl, this aspect of non-belief is as erroneous to me as the literal presence of "God" is in "true" believers.

This point in particular is why I think the vocabulary word "God" is an apt lexical offering for my own belief-- because the lack of an understood presence is no more proof than the lack of a physically understood presence, but if one considers the idea that there IS something beyond what we know and understand-- something that drives, propels, and also impedes us (and everything else)-- and we decide to describe that "thing" as God, one might argue there is indeed a God. (And yes, somebody--a much better philosopher than I-- probably made this point more eloquently. If you know of that person, please let me know. In the meantime I know I need to start reading up on the theological implications of String Theory.)

So, I'm left at-odds with believers and non-believers because I feel that my personal belief rectifies those thoughts in a logical way, but I don't know what to "call" myself.

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