Raise Free Thinking Kids

[twitter]Religion does not have a place in my home. My kids know that others believe in “legends” and things that are “not real.” We don’t dismiss the beliefs, but I do empower my kids with critical thinking to understand and question the world around them unconditionally.

It’s not something we discuss regularly, unless it comes up from something they hear when out with friends. I don’t know how the latest conversation started, but it was perfect. Maybe it had something to do with Zacharie being all excited for Jurassic World arriving on June 12 and his continuous talk of dinosaurs. I don’t know how it happened, it just did.

We had one of Z’s best friends over for dinner on his birthday and the two of them started talking about god and how people came to be. It wasn’t prompted, it was random, it was absolutely awesome.

“God created people,” his friend declared.

“No, we evolved,” Zacharie explained. “People evolved from apes. God’s not real.”

“No, god created people,” his friend maintained.

“No, she’s not real,” Zacharie continued. Despite my decidedly non-religious viewpoints on the world, I did enjoy Z using the female pronoun.

“First there was bacteria, and then they became fish, and then they walked on land and became apes.” Zacharie was basically repeating a plotline he had learned when we visited the Glacier Skywalk a few weeks earlier. The Burgess Shale, one of the most important fossil grounds on the planet, is nearby. In it many bacterial and simple creatures are fossilized filling in the background for evolutionary theory.

“Yeah, god is just a legend,” Charlie urged from the sidelines.

“No, god created people,” the friend implored. And then paused. “But who created god?,” he then asked himself.

And the 30 second theological debate ended as suddenly as it had started. The low attention spans of the 5 to 8 yr olds seated around the table quickly turning to music, birds, cake, cartoons, movies, and farts.

I respect the fact other people go to church. If it works for you, fine. I don’t like it when religion forms government policy. I don’t like it when religion is used as a discrimination defence. But if you need to Amen, Shalom, or Allahu Akbar to get through the day with a smile on your face, have at it.

I’m glad Zacharie felt strong in his convictions that he could engage in discourse on the topic. I’m glad he could back up his argument with facts and understanding of scientific theory.

It was fascinating to see his peer’s argument quickly fade. He had no other reasoning other than “because” behind his belief and, in the end, even he couldn’t rationalize how it came together and made sense, ending the discussion by questioning his own argument.

Raise free thinking kids, people. Encourage them to ask questions. Never be satisfied.

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