Let Kids Decide What They Want to Believe

By Sarah Sodemann, March 20, 2011

This world would be a much better place in the absence of religion. This is too brief a mental synthesis to explain why, but there is an abundance of literature on the matter if one were interested.

I will not, however, suggest that we deny people their freedom of religion for several reasons.

First, I am aware that to successfully alter the opinions of billions of indoctrinated people is unrealistic at best.

Second, I was raised with a “live-and-let-live” mentality. If someone is not infringing on my rights as a human being, then I have no business trying to change their mind. I will say, however, that forcing one’s children into a religion before they are old enough to decide for themselves is indeed encroaching on their rights as human beings.

My sister and I were raised to decide theological issues for ourselves, and I am thankful to my parents every day for that. I would like everyone to have that same, simple opportunity.

We must encourage rational thought and reason in our schools. Let our children learn all they can and decide what they want to believe. If people really think their religion is the best and only true religion, then they should, in theory, have no problem allowing their children to think for themselves, trusting that they will choose the “right way,” perhaps with the guidance of a specific higher being. If people refuse to do this, they do not have complete faith in their religion, in which case one might ask, why would they force it upon anyone else, let alone their children?

I say this not to be accusatory or confrontational. I only wish to elicit some serious thought into the matter.

Too many people never get the proper chance to obtain enough information before they are simply told what is “right” and are discouraged from asking questions about it.

Why do different religions seem to be more concentrated in certain places around the world? The answer is simple: Thoughts of a higher being and an afterlife are not inborn ideas. These came about at a time when so little was known about the world that it was the only feasible explanation and was passed down through the generations as fact.

I can hardly blame these cultures of 10,000 years ago, but now that the vast majority of worldly phenomenon can be explained through science, religion truly has no place.

The point at which I think one is ready to decide whether a particular religion is a proper explanation for the world is after obtaining a large knowledge base. We need to teach about as many different religions as possible. Teach the origins and histories of these religions: the similarities and the differences. Teach about other cultures, world history, and literature as well as the sciences.

I am fascinated by the world around me. Every new bit of information I discover entices me to learn more. The biological processes responsible for the existence and maintenance of every living thing on the planet are amazing in the true sense of the word.

A scientific understanding of our world is vital to improving it. The explanatory power of the sciences is too great a tool for our future to not pass along to the next generation.

Instead of praying for a miracle when our loved ones are ill, we can cure them ourselves through scientific means. Instead of watching the environment fall to pieces around us, we can find ways to save it. Instead of trusting that there is “a plan” for the suffering of those in third world countries, we can find ways to ensure they receive plenty of food and clean water.

Yes, it is my feeling that when un-brainwashed children grow up learning all of the facts, they will find no need for religion, but this is not to be considered an ulterior motive. If the only way to keep people in a faith is to withhold information then it merely proves my point.

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