I can feel my hair stand on end everytime my sister goes through the Scout Handbook with her son and we go through the whole "rose colored glasses" view of religion and recital of "duty to God and country."  I can't stomach this whole "Easter Bunny" approach to religion like it's a requirement to make life good.

Then came the kicker.  My sister asked her kid a few questions about "some things you can do to practice your religion."  Her son asks "What's religion?"  She fumbles around and goes "I don't know.  It's the things people do to show their love for whatever god they believe in, whether it's God, Allah, or. . . I don't know.  It is what it is."  Then I add "Gaia, Brahma, Vishnu, Zeus, Odin, Thor. . ."  My father goes "Yeah but how many people do you know that worship those old gods?"  My sister goes "I'm sure there are kooky people out there that still believe these things."

Points for being unable to concisely define religion to an inquisitive kid.  Bonus points for the missed moment of irony.

I find it weird that when they're talking about "What God wants of you" it comes in the form of all the secular "warm fuzzies" that everybody realizes are good outside of religion.  Things like giving to charity, not lying(even though lying is a valid defense mechanism), and walking ladies across the street.  My sister is unwilling to let her kid dig deeper to realize that doing good things does NOT get you into heaven.  God designed hell for EVERYBODY on the planet and the only way to save yourself is to follow the "true religion".  God cares as much about good deeds and morality as a cat does about sleeping in a cactus.

At what point did we decide that all these good things that humans have evolved to learn EONS ago where what "God wants"?  How do we know what God wants?  What if God is an evil jerk?  Why wrap up all these intangible nonsense terms in one big package and call it "God"?

I'm not sure how much longer I can bite my tongue.  He IS her kid, but his interest in science is astounding, and I don't know how much longer I can let her peddle the crap from "the Scouts".  Eventually his thirst for science and religious brainwashing is going to come colliding together.

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If he's got the gene for belief, he'll become a good christian, and if not, possibly a good scientist.
I don't think there's a "belief gene". However I do believe in the "skepticism gene". :D
You say toe may toe, I say ta mat ah!
Holy cow I'm thinking about my cat sleeping in a cactus. I'm a bit intoxicated though.

Maybe you could say something like, "Remember how we talked about all those other types of gods and religions?". Then you say, "There's really no way to know which one is right, if any. You believe the Christian one because you were born here. If you were x, you'd believe in y." You might also point out that all religions claim a copyright on morals, because in reality, morals are just based on common sense. Maybe say faith is a waste of time, just like wishing. Wish/pray in one hand, poop in the other, see which one fills up first.

Since he's not your kid I wouldn't push it more than that.
Every family works differently. Only you know that dynamic, but I wouldn't say anything until they were older and able to reason with where I stand or against where I stand. (If I were in your shoes with my family dynamic of course.) It's not my place with to shape my sister's kid in that close a manner. Sure, he' fighting the neighbor boy or about to injure himself, step in. At some point though, I would have to bow out and say that's one inner circle too far.
I imagine my sisters telling my kid that Christmas is to celebrate Jesus or God Created the quickly rising blood pressure. Only you know the dynamic, but I wouldn't want my sisters making decisions that are that personal for me.
Yeah, I agree. I would say that as he gets older, if he continues to question things the way he's doing now, he'll eventually discover the true make-up of religion.
That worked for me. Although, I would have preferred to not have wasted 20 years of my life.n Oh well, I appreciate it all the more, now.
Yeah, I wish I'd known sooner too lol
I disagree with waiting until he's older. It only leads to confusion and an inflexible mind. Some people thankfully are able to break out of it, but then others can. Synthetica has made good points in the podcast about 'basic truths' that are taught when we're very young along with the alphabet and such. I wouldn't go and say "well it's just a bunch of crap, but if you want to believe it..." I would answer an inquisitive kid with a question. "Have you heard of Zues?, yes? Thousands of years ago, Zeus was as much believed by the people of the time as God is now. Do you think that if you lived thousands of years ago, you might be asking about Zeus instead? Did you know that there are other gods that are worshiped here and in other parts of the world?" To the inquisitive child, the sheer fact that there are so many will probably do the trick for a lifetime. Mom can try to teach him that the Christ one is right, but he will be better equipped to judge for himself when he does get older.
Yeah, I was actually thinking not so much to wait until he gets older for him to start questioning, rather, I was thinking that when he gets older (not that I know how old he is anyway lol) he'd be able to decide for himself what route to take. But I'm defintely not suggesting waiting until he gets older to start questioning and thinking about these things. Regarding that, I'd say the sooner the better :-)
Well he's already 7. She wants to raise him to be very spiritual and all that as if religion is necessary to form a person's inner fibers so to speak. She can't see that religion is about absolutely the most useless ideological system ever created. She sees that there's room inside the natural laws of science for a concept such as "God" but doesn't see the hypocrisy in calling something THE God while still dismissing the others as mythology. The trouble lies in her cherry-picking of The Bible. I'm afraid if she doesn't show the most abhorrent and ridiculous aspects of the Bible, he might not develop the necessary critical thinking skills. But if he does grow up into loving science as much as his enthusiasm suggests right now, eventually he might reach a point where he'll be asking "If God is this, then why that?" questions. Heck. I didn't completely get rid of God until last year, but I've never found a good use for church and religion since high school.
Might I also point out that if you were, say, Jewish; you might be allowed to speak freely about what you believe. :-\

For some reason, even though there are new religions being invented in the world today (scientology anyone), it is still only insulting to say "maybe nobody's right", but not to say "well i think I'm right".

It seems like the most benign approach is to tirelessly feed his scientific interest. Even if he doesn't become a scientist, this will still help keep him thinking that way. It may be the best way to walk that line. (Stay on target.... stay on target.......)

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