Bugs Bunny is a role model for me. I think he's a pretty good role model.  He leaves people alone to do what they want to do until they get in his face and cause trouble.  Once they go too far the gloves come off and he teaches them a lesson.  

Have the religious types pushed far enough for us to fight back?  

All around the world religious types are blowing stuff up and killing people over a disagreement over imaginary friends.  Governments are being pressured to be more religious and plant giant religious symbols in front of court houses and legislature buildings.

Now most of the over 18 crowd is pretty much a lost cause.  A few here and there might drop the active practice of religion but lets face it, unless the religious damage isn't fixed before the age of 18 the poor bugger is probably going to be religious until his or her dying day.  

So we need to target the school age crowd and reinforce in the college age crowd.  We need to have cartoons that, while being entertaining and have plenty of merchandise tie ins, actively promote atheism as the way the cool kids act.  Think Captain Planet and the Planeteers (which I argue did more for the Environmental movement than fifty Al Gores) only where the bad guys are always churchy types trying to keep people from thinking for themselves and suppressing scientific advancement because their god doesn't like it.  We need to get into the schools as volunteers and sneak our message in wherever we can.  We need to do what we can to stop this religious idiocy before it can set in and become second nature for these kids.  

If we can cut a generation off from religion then we can break the cycle.  After all, the natural state of man is atheist.  Religion has to be acculturated into a child for them to fall for it as an adult.

Mind you there is a risk.  We may loose friends and family may ostracise us when we come out of the closet.  But if we do nothing another generation will be lost to irrationality.  Can we risk that when we set on the cusp of technological breakthroughs that will change our lives forever, if we can get it past the cross cultist luddites?   

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Is someone over 18 is unlikely to change their religious beliefs or renounce religion? Do you have a source for that?

I became an Atheist at 30, the person who initially introduced me to Atheism was in his 30's.....and there are many people who "wake up" throughout all ages. So no. It is not only kids who can learn.

That being said, I do agree that educating our youngsters is extremely important. My personal approach is that I am getting involved at my son's school to ensure that the policies and decisions being made and the overall environment is conducive to teaching critical thinking skills, evolution, and awareness, LGBT awareness/acceptance and diversity. If I see otherwise the school district will have to answer to me. I will fight. However (thankfully) from what I have seen so far, none of these things will be or are a problem. I LOVE my son's school.

I think that too many parents sit on the sidelines and expect the school to be "in charge." The school is not in charge. I am in charge of MY son in all regards. I see his teachers as my partners in learning, not his ultimate authority. I am his ultimate authority. I am his mother, and what I say goes. If I find out that he is being taught any kind of "woo" it is MY job to address it. That may mean going to the school board, or it may mean I have a lengthy conversation with my son. Regardless, the education of young people begins at home. I think if you are looking for a "policy" type approach it needs to be more focused on empowering people to speak up instead of shut up. After all, "we" have science to back is up. Religious bafoons only have their scare tactics and religious fairy tales.

Mr. Goodman, I do not have a study available to back up the idea that the over 18 demographic is less likely to renounce religion.  However I think the anecdotal evidence is sufficient to back my claim.  Churches target the under 18 demographic with the majority of their volunteer and paid staff efforts. Day care, religious schools, after school programs, sunday school, summer camps, confirmation classes, teen dances, teen socials and teen only church services.  The list is nauseatingly long.  Also take into consideration that religious types fight to prevent any education that counters religious points such as evolution and fight to keep prayer in schools.

You don't see the same effort put forth for reinforcing the faith in adult church members.  No efforts to take prayer into the workplace, nowhere near the social activities with the underlying theme of brainwashing or other such activities.  Adults are targeted with a "come back to the church" theme.  Non denominational churches try to recruit those who don't attend a church but have already been indoctrinated into a faith.  They don't bother to target adult atheists for conversion.  The next time one of those well dressed young men come to your door trying to get you to come to their non denominational church instead of saying I'm an atheist" which makes them turn away and leave not willing to waste their time (my experience with them, your mileage may vary) try saying "I just don't have the time" or "I don't want to dress up" and watch them go to work.  

The churches have figured out they need to do the indoctrination in the young.  If they don't get it right early on they know it wont stick and they can loose the kid when they grow up.  Most people who walk away after turning 18 didn't get properly acculturated in the sunday school setting.  I know thats where they lost me and every atheist I've ever hung out with had the same kind of story.  The sunday school teachers couldn't manage to answer their questions which planted that seed of doubt that grows into atheism.  

Miss Rose, I am not saying no one walks away from a faith after age 18.  I am saying the vital seeds of doubt have to be planted in the under 18 set to make the over 18 separation from the faith possible.  I spent 20 years of my life arguing against religion.  In that time I doubt I've ever seen an adult whose faith was strong give it up completely.  I've seen conversions to non-abrahamist faiths like wicca but they tend to be just as annoying as the cross cult they left.  They still feel the need for the supernatural because they were acculturated for that.  So they just moved to a different set of superstitions.  I've known seriously intelligent people who stuck to their superstitions no matter what I showed them or proved to them.  The need for a supernatural big brother to make them better people is hard to walk away from when the brainwashing is done right.  It becomes as ingrained as any other cultural norm that we pick up as kids.

Thats why I am saying if we really want to break the cycle we need to focus on planting those seeds of doubt in the young.  Then nourish the seed until it can grow and break their need for superstitions when they are adults.  Then as adults they wont acculturate their children into religions and the cycle of abuse is broken.  My son is 13 now and fiercely atheist.  The idea of religion is laughable to him.  However I have no doubt that if my wife and I were to die and he went to live with my brother and his wife who are religious they could still manage to force a faith on him and might make it stick because I know kids are mentally flexible.  While I'd hope my teachings would stick I have to face reality.  So I continue to reinforce his atheism and support him so he doesn't fall prey to the allure of religion.  All the fun activities his christian friends talk about sound like so much fun but like heroin there is a steep price for all that fun.  I know it's going to get worse now that he's a teen.  They really put a lot of effort into the teens with the social gatherings and I know he will get invites and have to deal with that pressure.  He's in the closet and we are there with him so he doesn't have to face the kind of trouble that comes with being a teen atheist in small town america.  Cowardly?  Yes.  But as Mel Gibson said in "The Patriot" I am a parent, I cannot afford principles.  But that may change soon.  I will have a long talk with my son about this and see if we want to come out of the closet and start working on planting those seeds in his freinds.  As a side note has anyone been in these rather uncomfortable shoes and do they have any advise for us on dealing with this situation?

As for the over 18 set, I don't think we need to put zero effort into them.  If the seeds were planted in them early on they may need some help breaking away fully.  We should try to offer the same kinds of services to the faithless that religions offer to the faithful.  Day care, private schools, social gatherings, weekly meetings, holiday services and the like.  All done without superstition.  People like to be social and that is one thing churches provide that keep people coming.  My boss is a good example.  They are in their late 20's and had stopped going to church but since they moved here from Minnesota they want to make friends so they joined a church.  It was "logical" for them as they never broke away from faith, they just stopped going because they saw no benefit.  In a new town they found a benefit so they got dragged back in.  That's the kind of thing we need to offer.  Social gatherings without the pressure of superstitions or the need to buy overpriced drinks at a bar.

Well, my dialysis machine is beeping for my attention so I need to cut this off.  I'd say "short" but I think that term became unusable three paragraphs ago....  Talk to you all later.

"All you need to say about religion can be summed up in one phrase.  Virgin Birth."  -- David R. Graves (my son)

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