Saturday, September 20, 2014

Talking religion with my four year old

I got a chance to hang out with my son, Logan, quite a bit today. We played some Just Dance on the Wii this morning, and then he played with some of my old toys while I arranged my comic books. My wife went out with a friend to dinner, so the two of us had dinner together and later rode our bikes to the playground.

Sometime during the day, I heard him say something about "the gods".

I asked him, "Who are the gods, Logan?"

He just looked at me, a bit puzzled that I expected him to know the meaning of the words he uses. Where did he get such a phrase? Probably me, as I sometimes say ridiculous things like "Because it's the will of the gods!" when I know that I have no actual justification for doing what I'm doing.

He answered me with, "I don't know."

After another pause, he asked, "Who are the gods, daddy?"

My response was that many people used to believe that many different gods created the world and the sun, moon, stars, and so on. I then told him that most people nowadays believe that there is one God who created everything, including people, dogs, cats...

"And horses!"

"Yeah, and horses."

Logan then changed the subject. He had a Transformer in his hand, and asked me if I could turn it into a robot. He was clearly done with this topic.

I would like to point out that I didn't say anything about what I believe, for the simple fact that he didn't ask me. I also didn't make any mention of whether those people are right or not. I just stated something that's a pretty unarguable fact.

I have written a few times before about religion and the indoctrination of children. A religious friend once posted on Facebook a quote that went along the lines of how it's important to teach your children HOW to think, not WHAT to think. I responded by saying how I don't know how one can do that while raising a child to believe in a certain religion.

The thing is, a religious person could answer my son's questions the exact same way that I did without compromising their own faith. 

But would they? I'm not so sure.


Richard Neel said...

Had a very similar conversation with my 13 year old today. It's important to me that my kids find their own way and approach everything with an open mind. Thanks for posting. Appreciated this.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post. And by the way, I give you kudos as to how you handled that situation. But again, I feel that society confuses Religion with Spirituality.

When your son finally makes a decision in his own heart and mind about what he believes he will enter the land of the Spiritual.

He will become religious when he feels the need to bond with others who generally believe the same thing he does. And if he chooses to follow or lead others in a set of rituals that express his beliefs.

In short, spirituality is singular. Religion is plural.