RE: Religion and evidence

From: Price, Ilfryn (
Date: Thu 19 Jan 2006 - 09:13:40 GMT

  • Next message: Derek Gatherer: "Re: [untitled message from Ilf]"

    >> I would say religions (in general) are one way. Secular Humanism (for example) is another.

    Right - and whichever is your bag, you are inevitably making a choice on behalf of your child. Secular humanism isn't "nothing", or the neutral view it can sometimes be portrayed as. As you say, it is one of the alternative religious perspectives, and giving life this slant is as much indoctrination as any other.>

    Sure. But we can either encourage our kids to develop the ability to ask questions and make their own minds up or we can present some beliefs to the sticky young minds as absolutes. I am not btw arguing against normal virtues here, merely the absolute embedding of same in religious 'commandments'.

    >>I agree with you absolutely, as I've said, about cloistering children
    and not giving them the chance to ask questions - not even giving them an inkling that there is anything to question. But this is not a necessary part of religion, of course. For children who are brought up in normal society, going to secular schools and mixing with a whole range of people, watching television, etc. I still don't see what is so special about their parents' religion. And I still don't get the link between language and religion. The possibility that I'm being dim about this hasn't escaped me.>>

    Ditto. Giving the inkling to question is at the heart of it, but there are a lot of kids growing up in "normal society" (I won't even start to unpick that one) who are still born into, labelled by, and grow up to identify with and perpetuate single religious communities. Think say Northern Ireland to avoid more contentious examples.

    >> And religion isn't equally hard for them to understand??

    There are hard religious questions. There's also quite a lot that is very easy to put in terms that a child can understand. This does not seem to be the case for much of science, for instance. I struggle to explain evolution to my little ones.>>

    and in "putting things in terms", i.e. simplifying, we are in a sense of the word lying, or concealing what we understand to be the truth. Don't get me wrong its inevitable. You must by the way have intelligent little ones if they are even interested. (Given your location may I suggest the Sedgwick museum fossil display btw)

    >>Again we're in agreement here. But Dawkins didn't convince me that what
    he was showing us in his programme were typical people who have a religious belief. I'm sure my response to the "hell house" or whatever it was, the closed communities and Mr "it's ok to shoot abortionists" was indistinguishable from yours. And this is the response of a Christian - not a very special Christian, pretty ordinary as far as I can tell from the others I know; and not so different in outlook from the people of other faiths whom I know.

    I suppose what I'm trying to say is that it is hard for a child to escape the impact of any sort of lunatic family background. But this doesn't convince me that all parental religious input is indoctrination.

    I feel that we're in a funny kind of agreement about most of this. I'd be genuinely interested to hear more about this link you see between language and religion.>>

    I'm sure it is and I never said all. I see more evidence of closed communities on our streets at least less evidence of them dissappearing. It may be because of where I now live compared to say, Cambridge.

    In a nutshell once our species evolved symbolic language it opened up a whole new phase space of ideas and belief systems, as well ultimately as an ability to ask questions (there is some stuff in J Memetics on this). Basically memetic evolution. Religions seem to have been fairly early on the scene. See other recent posts for evidence or email for a pdf file of a recent publication. If you don't mind linguistic side-effects Cohen and Stewart are also quite good.


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