Bad Theism · Inoculation Against Indoctrination

Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Atheists?

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.

critical thinking

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.

16 thoughts on “Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Atheists?

  1. This was such an amazing post. What the Christian is really saying is that it’s OK if we indoctrinate our children, because everybody else does too.
    But that just fails in so many ways. First, its just not true. And second… As my mom used to say… If your friend jumps off the roof and break their neck, does that mean it’s OK for you to also? They are as much as trying to excuse their indoctrination of children by throwing the poo on everyone else. Rather than really examining why they do it and whether it’s right or wrong to do in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s definitely what they are basically saying. It’s a bad excuse and a baseless attempt at saying well you do it too so there!


  2. I reckon the issue is best looked at by focusing on the institutions and behavior patterns that reinforce messages without generating open dialogue. We have such things in the unbelieving world, and they could get worse. What we don’t have is the long history necessary to entrench those patterns on the scale of organized religion.

    There but for the grace of nothing go I.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True, and there are definitely some things like this in the unbelieving world. Few and far between compared to the centuries of religious indoctrination and the current population as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think the extent of my indoctrination to my kids has been shielding them from some of the silliness and encouraging them to think it through. Guide them in their curiosity. We have a little baseline when it comes to santa, tooth fairy, Easter bunny etc. and that is think it through. I’ll ask questions when they hear wives tales and bogus mystic salt in the window crap and to take them through it line by line and let them figure it out. Even my seven year old can do it. I encourage them not to believe stories that are invented to get them to conform or behave through fear. It’s working. But alas… the missionaries are coming!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to teach children to think for themselves. Religion works in the opposite direction, believe what I say and don’t question the faith. I think what you do is an excellent example of how good parents can guide their children without forcing them in one direction or another.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great Topic!
    I think it is possible for an atheist to “indoctrinate” a child into atheism but… it probably comes down to the definition of atheism. It could be argued a Christian could indoctrinate their child into atheism by not indoctrinating their child into Christianity. The child would not have much of a concept of a god.

    I’m sure an atheist could provide only an atheist point of view to their child and have them grow up with an atheist worldview. On the other hand, just because my son was brought up without religion, does not make him an atheist.

    “Her life is her life to live, it’s not my life.”
    (((BING BING))) We have a winner here! As I mentioned above, I brought my son up without religion. Unfortunately, once my son started middle school, the indoctrination from outside sources began. Parents would have their children give out invitations to their classmates to various Religious “parties”. It was at that point that I felt it best to give my son an education in World Religions. He now understands why he received those invitations. The Christians want to spread their “Good News”. I figure by exposing him to religion (and non-religious) viewpoints, he can make a choice for himself when he gets older. I don’t know how many Christian (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu…etc) parents give their child an opportunity to explore other religions (or even atheism) but I doubt it.

    I can’t wait for your post about indoctrination at various ages. I went through it and as I mentioned above, I can give you stories about attempts to indoctrinate my son.

    Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve experienced the same thing a couple of times, our daughter has friends who tell her she needs Jesus or else she will go to hell. She was somewhat concerned until I showed her all the myths throughout time and all the current religions that have a different view of the afterlife. She then asked me what I believed and I told her the truth, that I didn’t see any evidence for any of the myths. It’s sad that even if we don’t indoctrinate our children, they can still receive a second hand indoctrination outside the home.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My son was invited to an after school club “Five Star Life” and twice to a “Party” called “Wylde Life” (Young Life). Neither one disclosed any religious aspect to it but they are run by religious organizations. As I reviewed websites and reviews for both organizations, Wylde Life was by far, the most religious one of all. After each meeting, they pray. It sounds like they hold off on much of the religious aspect of it until you do a weekend or week trip with them. Then there are evening discussions that “Jesus” comes up. There are some horror stories on the internet about them.

        My son knows more about the various religions now and how they attempt to indoctrinate young people. In fact, one of our local churches was involved with in a parade and used Lego Characters to try to lure the kids in. I used the parade as an example of how churches/religions attempt to lure children in with visions of fun and games. I think he got the jist back then.

        My biggest concern back then was the second hand indoctrination. The parents get around it in school by having their kids do the dirty work. At this point, my son is starting to get more independent and I hope I taught him well but ultimately in a year or two… he will be living his own life.

        Liked by 2 people

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