My daughter is being taught Christianity when I’m not looking. I just let it slide when my mom talks about how the dead go to heaven. I’ve let it slide when my daughter talks about Jesus with conviction (I equally ignore it when she talks about Santa Claus that way, too). I’m an agnostic, and I really would just like my daughter to make up her own mind on how she feels and her faith.
I’ve been meaning to get a children’s encyclopedia on religion that I saw once when My kid was just a babe. It lists and details the world’s major religions. I just want her to understand that different people believe different things and that neither is necessarily better than the other.
So yesterday I got my first breakthrough in slowly letting my daughter know about my agnosticism. She came up to me yesterday and says:
My kid: Do you believe in magic?
Me: I don’t not believe in magic.
My kid: I don’t believe in magic either.
Me: That’s not what I meant.
My kid: what did you meant?
Me: I’m agnostic. I don’t believe or disbelieve it.
My kid: (blank stare)
Me: Agnostic means you don’t know. Is magic real? I don’t know. maybe, maybe not. It’s probably not real, but I can’t be sure so I don’t know.
My kid: Yeah, I don’t know either.
I feel somewhat bad that she’s just mimicking me, but the seed of skepticism has been planted. Maybe it’s a bad thing I’m doing. Maybe it’s nice to let children believe that when you die you get to go to heaven and be with the people you loved in life. While I’m not one to equate Jesus Christ with Santa or the Easter Bunny, I think I’ve read that realizing Santa isn’t real is the beginning of questioning your faith.
Of course I don’t necessarily disbelieve in Santa either. While it’s highly improbable that Santa is real, it’s not impossible. I don’t believe anything is impossible merely perhaps highly improbable. It’s improbable that I’ll suddenly turn into an infinite number of penguins, but not impossible. If you can calculate odds then it’s not impossible.
In any case, Santa the way we teach it to kids is not real. But perhaps there is a spirit of “Christmas” or goodwill that leaves presents for you. Perhaps next time you find a $20 bill in your pocket you should really be thanking the spirit of St. Nicholas and not just your forgetful memory.
My blog got a bit out of hand. My point was I’m an agnostic and I don’t want to raise my child in any religion, or atheism, or even agnosticism. No isms for my child. I want her to know what’s out there and make up her own mind. And… ha ha… I believe, I have faith in my ability to do so.