My son, Dante, is eleven years old. He's recently been attending an Assembly of god church down the road on Wednesdays. Every Sunday in my home, I give my kids a lesson in history, science, or politics. So last Sunday, we discussed Objectivism, and how it relates to atheism.

Dante told me that it helps people to believe things that aren't true. I asked him to give me an example where this might be the case. He couldn't think of one, so I brought up Santa, and how, upon finding out that one's parents have lied for years during a child's formitive years is actually traumatic to some.

I allow freedom of and from religion in my home, and will continue to do so, but this phase he's going through is weird. Anyone else experiencing this, or have any of you experienced this in the past? I mean it's one thing to have a theistic spouse (I don't, thank FSM), but a child...

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The pressures on him are enormous, including the pressure peers put on children to conform.  (In early grade school I never wanted to play baseball -- I might get hit with the ball -- and played Jax with the girls instead. No one said a word to me about it.)  If you're in a part of the country where religious conformity is a potential problem, suggest you go to the "old" Dawkins Foundation website and order a book they are selling there, J. Anderson Thomson's Why We Believe in God(s).  It is just breathtaking in its study of why people believe.  He can say in a small book of very few words what Harris said in the much longer The End of Faith in discussing the neuro-biological reasons people reject reason and favor faith. Highly readable and a handy thing to have around when someone claims God "must exist because so many believe in him."

I will look at that. Thank you. It could also explain why President Obama is religious whe his mama was atheist. If he's only religious to win elections, he's worse than anyone, IMHO.

Cannot agree with the last part.  Atheists are like Sufis, they can be clowns from time to time and, like Shakespearean jesters, get away with things other mortals would suffer for doing.  I think he is a doubter, but he knows when to keep his mouth shut.  I am a part of his cult, though, so you might take what I say with a bit of salt.  Since only 20% of the electorate is in the doubter category (embracing not only atheism but Darwinian agnosticism and other positions), eight out of ten people still think an imaginary entity has validity.  Thomson answers the age-old question, "Why does my phi beta cappa MBA go to church?  Why does my dermatologist have a big quotation from Isaiah on the wall of the new offices he took over from a huge grocery chain founded by a Southern Baptist no-dancing period, and why our elected leaders think there is any rest in the Mideast so long as both religions squabbling there believe God spoke scripture to them saying the land was their own?" The Deluded are capable of almost anything.  I mean, one of us is crazy, the atheist or the believer.

I don't envy you. Your approach sounds good. Give Dante room to explore without getting all upset. If you set a good example, he'll probably eventually come back to skepticism. It must be difficult for you.

Thank you. He and I debate this weekly. I do like to keep him thinking and he's been peeling off bits of his religion away by himself. I figure that eventually he'll come to the simplest answer by grasping at straws, trying to maintain faith. He has already conceded the pont that I can respect people who are religious without respecting their religions; that concession was long-fought and well overdue.

For some of us, more than half a lifetime has passed living under a deluded belief in the miraculous, from Eve talking to a Satanic snake, to John of Patmos warning fellow Christians in a coded message that Nero was the Great Beast 666.  Only most Christians don't even know that Revelations was written in Koine Greek let alone, and imagine their consternation when they find out that Koine had no punctuation and, in any case, John was smart enough to use an Enigma-type code to make reference to current events, not something in futuro.  Sheesh!

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