So my younger sister happens to be Catholic, she is 8 years old and goes to a catholic school. I really don't know what to tell her I mean she is a sweetheart and is always looking out for me and my other sister but she keep asking me questions about Jesus and where he is and about the Eucharist and she gets really happy when Jesus is brought up at the dinner table.
It's almost as she is obsessed with Jesus. The other day she asked me why I don't go to church, I told her "Well I mean I don't really believe in God or Jesus", she said "Why not? You're going to hell if you don't believe" this made my mouth drop. I couldn't believe my sister would say that, I'm not sure if this is the kind of stuff they teach her at her school, if so this is child abuse. Fear mongering and threatening children with hell if they don't believe.
After I told her this she has brought up God more often and is really starting to get annoying and I as a 16 year old can't tell her God doesn't exist because I want her to think for herself but I don't know what to tell her. My other sister whom is 12 is agnostic, she was a moderate Catholic but became agnostic 3 months ago when she asked me about my opinion of God and religion. I explained the whole thing to her and looked into her faith and eventually became agnostic after realizing for herself (with my help) that the belief in a god(Judeo-Christian sense) isn't rational. Keep in mind I'm not the type of atheist to tell people that God isn't real but to have them think for themselves and evaluate the evidence and decide for themselves, but if they still come to believe to not go out and tell people to believe in their god.
Rephrase the first line –She is not a Catholic, at least not by choice. Your sister is the daughter of Catholic parents. She is being indoctrinated by Catholics (faith formation) in school. This is obvious because she has “the fear of Hell” instilled in her. What a terrible thing to do to a child!! It is one of the main issues I campaign against.
She may appear to have strong views on Christianity for an 8 years old but it is only based on the emotional impact of what it not being true would mean for her. I wonder if she thinks that the government should inject more funds into capital spending now that the economy has moved out of recession. Does she believe that in the long term capital spending really is an investment and does she worry about its impact on wage demands? Yes, but only if she really is a Keynesian 8 year old child :-)
It will wear off as she gets older. Maybe you were somewhat like that too at that age? I think you are taking the correct approach by helping her to think for herself. People have to reason themselves away from “the god delusion”. It is a process. You don’t have to tell her (or anyone) that it is not real. All you have to say is that “No, I don’t believe that myself” or “I don’t not believe what many other people believe”.
Leave it at that. The fact that you – someone they know – does not belief may be upsetting at first to them but if that is all you say it will instil doubt in their minds. Then, after some time has passed, they will probably ask you questions about why you don’t. That is the time to inform them of your reasons. Remember you are not telling them that they are wrong or that you are denying their god exists – all you are doing is saying that you do not believe it.
Then you can say “Well what evidence have you for your beliefs?” But for now don't worry too much about it.
It's their personal life and they're not imposing their beliefs on us nor did they do it with me when I was younger. They had me go to church up until I was 9 and then after that they didn't really care much.
I see a mixed message there, but it's not bad. I haven't asked my (atheist) kids, but I wonder if they had wished they understood Christian traditions better, since most kids around them did.
Anyway, "it's personal" hopefully means that they should not be influenced just by caring about what other people believe.
I've also focused on what other people in the world believe, and why--i.e. because they were raised to believe in the local traditions. We took our kids to an awesome Japanese play re-enacting a Japanese creation myth. The music, dance, and masks in particular were memorable, as was the actual scene where the sun was first uncovered for earth. Every detail can have its own story, and not just from one faith.
Why not? You're going to hell if you don't believe
But, I'm not scared of hell because I don't believe in THAT either!
Fear mongering and threatening children with hell if they don't believe.
Personally, I find it to be child abuse, but it's so widespread and accepted that no one is able to put a stop to it.
I as a 16 year old can't tell her God doesn't exist because I want her to think for herself but I don't know what to tell her.
I understand you don't want to make assertions like "God doesn't exist". What you can say to her is that YOU don't BELEIVE god exists. Explain to her why you don't believe, and that her constantly god-bothering you isn't a nice thing to do... you don't do the reverse to her, do you?
I don't know what to tell my younger sister
Ask her about the specifics of being catholic: When she takes that cracker, does it literally turn in Jesus' body? When Eve heard the serpent telling her to eat the apple, what sort of serpent was it, that can speak human language? There's plenty of absurdities like that in the bible, ask her about them (in a kindly, brotherly, way)!
…they wouldn't want to take my sister's faith away from her.
It is not possible to take someone’s faith away. They never made a conscious decision to believe in the first place. They came to believe what they now believe over a period of time. You can debate with them at an intellectual level but only they can reason themselves away from it.
Who could really believe that they are able to communicate directly with the Creator of the Universe if they were to serious consider than proposition, if they are really honest with themselves? Who really believes that they are to become immortal when they die for believing that they really are in communication with such a being? It is only as innocent children or as adults weakened by a crisis in life that accept such ideas as being the “truth”.
did ask her however if she thinks that the wafer they give at church actually turns into the body of Christ and she said yes
Yikes, she's got it bad if she's openly admitting to cannibalism.
You might should educate her on the physiological effects she would be experiencing if she was eating human flesh and drinking human blood (like holes formed in the brain from cannibalism). A good example would be mad cow disease, which as I understand it was caused by farmers feeding cow's dead cows to save money. Cannibalism eats the brain regardless, and it's not hard to find supportive data on that.
I'm kidding I wouldn't want you to terrify her.
Read her Greek Mythology (the stories are a lot better), all the time explaining to her that Catholic Mythology is just one of many Mythologies and each of them center around a magic character who isn't real just pretend to make the stories sound better.
I like this idea, but not just Greek, as much mythology as possible. The more material she has to compare to the more obvious it becomes.