Monday, January 09, 2006

Sunday School

I was thinking the other day as to whether or not it is fair to send litle kids to sunday school. On one hand I get the idea that a religious family thinks of church as a family event and is anxious and happy to get the little toddlers involved as early as possible.

On the other hand this is a pretty impressionable age to be presenting little kids with promises of eternal life and so forth. Kids at this age are not yet able to discriminate between magic and reality. They are easily fooled with simple things because their cognitive delvelopment has not nearly reached the stage yet to handle the heady ideas in the bible.

Moreover, there can be (and usually is) a lot of guilt associated with the teachings of the bible. "You better be 'good' or your soul will go to hell". That sort of thing. Kind of sounds like the Santa Claus myth doesn't it? At any rate, it is pretty much agreed upon via the work done by Piaget and others that people don't develope the capability for critical thought until after the age of 12 or so. You cold argue 11 or 13 or you could argue the symantics of critical thought but the basic idea of being able to hypothesize and consider situations in THEORY doesn't arrive until the early teens.

So, what chance does an individual have to truly consider religion in a fair way when it is brought to them as undeneighable TRUTH starting at the age of 3 or 4? Of course a 'good' theist parent doesn't want their kid to even have this chance because to do so is to invite eternal damnation. By indoctrinating them to the teachings in the bible at an early age they think of themselves as good parents.

What if you held off though? What if as a theist you didn't allow your kid to go to church or learn the teachings of Jesus and the others until, say, high school? If they ask tell them they're not ready for such heady theoretical stuff as the immortal soul, father, son holy ghost, and so forth. Like booze, driving and voting. Not ready! These are in fact pretty complex philosophic ideas and maybe should not be taught to the little ones before they have the capabilities to consider such topics fairly.

Of course you know the answer. The answer is that a theist already 'knows' the right answer to how to live so why wait? The child in question doesn't need to consider anything else (but what if they wanted to ...or were just curious?) because the WAY is already as clear as the nose on their face.

And yet, like John Lennon, I just try to imagine how it would be if we didn't have to carry this big religion load around with us everywhere but could just deal with each other fairly day by day.