I’m in favor of raising children to come to their own conclusions about things, and I’m against most indoctrination.

Indoctrination – telling a child that something is right just because I say it is right – is okay if there are several conditions.

First, it has to be something where the child is in immediate danger.

And second, it has to be something where there is widespread – perhaps even unanimous – agreement.

So, I think it’s fine to indoctrinate children that it is a bad idea to run out into the street.

I don’t think it’s okay to indoctrinate children with views around which there is genuine controversy. In that category I would put things like vegetarianism and religion.

And I frankly think that it’s a sign of weakness if you have to indoctrinate rather than let children decide for themselves whether something is true or not.

Posted: December 9th 2007

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

George Locke

I’m in favor of all people being atheist, including children. I’m against forcing ideology down people’s throats, especially children.

My parents read a children’s Bible to me, along with a bunch of folk tales. Both made lasting impressions on me, and I’d say for the better. I think it’s good for kids to wonder about where we come from and whether there’s any meaning or purpose to it all, but I’d probably avoid mention of an absolute moral authority who judges you when you die.

Posted: December 9th 2007

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SmartLX www

Even if I wanted to specifically raise my children to be atheists, I’d recognise the futility of trying given that I was raised to be a Catholic. Didn’t work, did it?

I want children to think for themselves as soon as they are able, not to simply assume one thing to begin with and then learn the justifications for it at an age where they might be challenged.

If my future offspring were to present me with an argument against atheism which really made me think, even if I wasn’t convinced, I would be immensely proud of them even as I argued with them. It would be a gift to their father. If it were an old, beaten argument like most of those on this site, I’d answer it and then tell them to think harder.

My opinion is that children who think freely become freethinkers. That’s about all they need to do.

Posted: December 7th 2007

See all questions answered by SmartLX


Religious belief is by and large, inherited from one’s parents. If you are a person with a religious belief, the odds of it being the same as your parents are overwhelming.

If your religious belief differs from that of your parents, the odds of your having acquired it post-adolescence, are equally overwhelming.

Dr. David Voas is a social statistician, specialising in religious change in modern societies. Studying the decline in religion in the UK, his research established that:

  • Children of 2 parents of the same religious identity have a 1 in 2 chance of keeping that faith
  • Children of mixed religion families (even Anglican-Presbyterian) have only 1 in 4 chance of having any faith

This data would seem to suggest that children require some encouragement to take up a religious belief and that most believers (in the UK at least) are not proselytising evangelicals.

So, it seems to follow then, that “raising children to be atheists” is not really something that atheistic parents need to actively engage in; it’s the default position. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that even for children of atheistic parents who receive religious education at schools, the chances of acquiring a religious belief are slim to say the least.

Posted: June 24th 2007

See all questions answered by MouthAlmighty

bitbutter www

If trying to raise children to be atheists means raising children with the specific aim of them not adopting theism then no, I’m not in favour of that.

Children should be encouraged to think for themselves and a parent should give their child the tools to do so. I believe that a consequence of free, critical thinking, if practiced in all areas of life, is atheism.

Teaching a child to think critically is incompatible with instilling in a child (who is too young to think it through for themself) the conviction that any world view is true—be it religious or secular.

While a parent’s ideas about the world remain a very valuable source of knowledge, the child should never be robbed of the opportunity to make up its own mind.

Posted: June 24th 2007

See all questions answered by bitbutter

Stefan www

What does raising a child as an atheist mean? Every child is born an atheist, meaning every child is born without a positive belief in God.

I would certainly teach my children about science, morality and the arts. Whether they then want to accept any religion is entirely their business.

But I also have to admit that if they ask they will get to hear my opinion. And in my experience atheism is so quick to explain, I tend to accidentally de-convert people when they ask me about religion. It really is quite obvious once you grasp that there are hundreds of religions, all of them sharing equally in their lack of significant evidence.

The other important thing to understand is that religion and God are two of the most messed-up terms in the English language. Religion has social, cultural, intellectual and moral aspects, most of which you keep when you become a naturalist.

Posted: June 24th 2007

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