For the last post in this series, click here: Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 0-3: Sights and Sounds.
So I started this series with a basic idea to describe how religious faiths indoctrinate people into their beliefs. However, the very first comment that I received on this through my twitter account was: “Are atheists indoctrinated as well as theists?” So, obviously we need to touch on this idea a bit before moving on to any other age groups.
First let’s look at the definition of indoctrination.
Indoctrination – Noun
-the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
So with that said can Atheists indoctrinate their children? The answer is of course yes, they could indoctrinate their children and probably some do, but I don’t see it as being as large of an issue as it is with religious faiths. In this article I will try to explain why?
First off, why would an atheist feel the need to indoctrinate their child? For example, when my daughter comes to me with a question, I don’t simply make things up, or go with what I have been told about something. If it’s something I am unsure of, the answer is as easy as, “I don’t know but let’s find out.” For the most part I try to raise my daughter to think critically, and to come to these answers on her own.
If she asks me what I believe about something I will be more than willing to tell her my own personal views on a topic and show her evidence to support those views, but I am not in the business of telling her this is how things are because I say this is how things are. Perhaps she will be religious when she grows older, so far she doesn’t show much interest in faith but there have been times that she has asked why we don’t go to church?
Her life is her life to live, it’s not my life. She is free to be an atheist, be religious, spiritual, gay, trans, straight, asexual, bisexual, her life choices are really none of my business as long as she isn’t hurting anyone or being hurt herself. My job is to keep her alive, make sure she gets an education, feed and cloth her, and then send her into the world with the tools that she will need in order to survive.
I’ve already touched on it, but the second reason that I don’t think atheists indoctrinate their children to the degree that theists do, that being critical thinking. I teach her to question what she is told, if she thinks what I said doesn’t quite make sense I always encourage her to look it up for herself. We had a discussion about evolution the other day and she wasn’t quite getting the connection between apes and humans, as best as I tried to answer her questions it just wasn’t quite enough. A few minutes doing her own research and she was able to claim for herself that she now knows why humans are considered apes.
Religions for the most part are fairly lacking in the area of critical thinking. My entire blog is devoted to exposing these illogical and irrational mindsets. God said it and so I believe it is the epitome of non-critical thought. If god said it why did he say it, and how do we know which god said it or if this god that supposedly said something even exists. Critical thinking leads you to asking these questions and many more.
As I stated before, my daughter is her own person. I’m not trying to shape her into anything or make her conform to any mindset. Sometimes I will agree with the choices that she makes and other times I will disagree. I made a lot of mistakes growing up and I’m sure she will make plenty of mistakes as well. It’s a part of life and one that it will be her responsibility to sort out.
Lastly, lets talk about the fact that I was indoctrinated into religion. I was taught chapter and verse every single day of my life for nearly 20 years and then I followed the faith for another 10 years after that. No one indoctrinated me into atheism, I came to atheism when I began to think critically about my own beliefs and try to make sense of them in a world where they do not make sense.
- Why did god have to die so that god could forgive us from god?
- Why do creationists fight science so much?
- Why is there absolutely no evidence of a global flood?
- Why is there no evidence of an exodus?
- How could Adam and Eve understand the concept of sin if they hadn’t ate the fruit yet?
- Why is the evidence for Jesus so scarce outside the gospels?
- Why did the gospel writers wait decades before writing anything down?
Once I started looking at these ideas in a truly critical way, they completely fell apart and I was left with the choice of continuing to pretend being a believer or simply accept the fact that I no longer had a belief in god.
My story is actually pretty common, the number of people born to atheist families is fairly low compared to those who become atheists at a later date. This makes sense due to the fact that atheists make up a fairly small portion of the general populace. We aren’t indoctrinated, we freed ourselves from the chains of indoctrination.
So when you say that atheism is simply another form of indoctrination, you are really no better than stating that the act of being free from slavery is equitable to still being a slave. My mind is free, I have no belief in god. I might have people I enjoy listening to, reading their books, or watching their videos, but I do not worship these people, I don’t base my life on the religion of Dawkins, the philosophy of Hitchens, or the creeds of Harris. I am my own person who looks at the evidence and come to my own conclusions.