Indoctrinating Children

When we use the word “indoctrinate,” we usually have religion in my mind. Many atheists have long spoken against the idea of indoctrinating children into religion, but in reality, all parents indoctrinate their children. Some of us raise our children to be good members of society. Some of us raise our children to be racists, and some of us raise our children to be religious. None of this changes the fact that all children are indoctrinated. So, what is important is what children are indoctrinated to believe.

Say what you want about the religious, but if they actually believe that non-believers are going to burn, how can we expect them to not teach their children about God? This is something I’m concerned about, and so, I can only conclude that some amount of religious indoctrination will always have to be excused. If someone strongly believes that “meat is murder” it cannot be expected that the person won’t teach their children the same.

Of course, some teachings are so horrible that they cannot be excused. There may be certain teachings that are so abhorrent that teaching is tantamount to child abuse. Should we take a child away from her KKK member parents?

I think the only thing people can do is to refuse parents the right of isolating their children. Children need to be introduced to the age-appropriate things society has to offer. Parents may play the biggest role in a child’s life, but society as whole can play a part. This can be done in schooling where thinking skills need to be taught.

Nevertheless, I’m skeptical that society could play a big role, and I’m skeptical that proper schooling will teach actual thinking skills, as opposed to teachers’ biases.


We’re All a Little Irrational

Many atheists and skeptics declare reason as the epitome of how humans should decide all matters. I, for the most part, would agree. ( I’m hedging a little, since it is nearly impossible to divorce reason and emotion in all circumstances.) Now, not all atheists and skeptics behave or even chose atheism due to reason. (If you don’t believe me, feel free to check out atheists online who deny evolution.) Nevertheless, none of us, no matter how reasonable we try to be, is a completely rational human being. I would argue that  a completely rational human being is impossible.

I, for example, am a math person. I’m trained to be logical. I’ve also taken a few philosophy classes to boost my ability to argue with logic. Still, I know I’m not completely rational about everything. I’m terrified of driving past 40 mph. I don’t know why this is. I’ve never been in a serious accident, and I haven’t always been this way. I’ve gone to therapy over this issue, and I still can’t completely shake this fear. Nowadays, I can and do drive on highways when I absolutely have to, but this is rare. I normally have other people drive me.

So what’s the difference between me and the person who believes in unicorns? I at least try to keep irrationality to a minimum, and most of the time, if I put my mind to it, I can avoid it. Furthermore, when I do have an irrational fear or belief, I usually know I’m being irrational, and I try my best to get over it.

But all of this, is why using reason is so important. If we don’t apply it, especially to ourselves, irrationality is simply overlooked.  Sometimes it can be innocuous. Who’s ever heard of someone killing each other over a belief in unicorns? However, sometimes, irrationality can be deadly or crippling to ourselves and to society at large.

My advice? Stay in the real world as much as possible. Don’t just examine others. Examine yourself as well. We’re all a little irrational. We’re only human, but let’s try to be the best humans we can be.

Rape and Consent 3: Teenagers have Sex too

I’m very concerned about rape laws and teenage sexuality. Teenagers often do have sex, whether we like it or not, and often, teenagers have sex with people who are legally adults. In these types of cases, the parents of the teenagers in question have the legal recourse of having the adult arrested on some type of sexual assault charge, and the adult will be a registered sex offender for life. While I definitely think a 50 year old should not have sexual relations with any minor, I’m very concerned about the law interfering with two young people having consensual sex.

A typical argument for prosecuting a young adult for a sex act with a minor is to say that teenage minors are not old enough to consent. However, this country seems to have no problem trying and sentencing teenage criminals as adults, and this country has no problem with 17 year olds joining the military. No, they don’t vote. They can’t drink, and they can’t smoke. Still, it seems we are picking and choosing which adult acts we allow teenagers to consent to. Even if we want to prevent teenage sex, how is prosecuting and ruining someone’s life, who is barely an adult, the right thing to do?

To be honest, I think what we should be concerned with is whether or not the teenage minor has been taken advantage of. Is there some indication that the teenager’s consent was diminished? A relationship between a 20 year old and a 17 year old is hardly an in balance of power, at first glance. We might want to be concerned with a high schooler dating a 21 and up person, but this would mainly be a concern, if the 21 year old was supplying the high schooler with alcohol. Nevertheless with the 20 year old and 17 year old, they may have shared some of the same time in high school together. Why would we ever want to ruin someone’s life over having consensual sex with someone they went to high school with? (I’m really asking. I don’t know.)

We all know teenagers can be immature and irresponsible, but they are soon going to be adults. They make choices we don’t like. Legally, when it comes to prosecutions over serious things like rape, we need to be damn sure there really is reason to convict someone, and what should we concerned about the most? Rape. Rape always implies that there either was no consent given or that the victim had a diminished capacity and COULDN’T consent. We may not or should not give teenagers adult status with regards to consent, but 18,19, 20 year old are also barely adults. It’s not like when someone turns 18 someone waves a magic wand in the air and all of a sudden they become a fully formed adult. That’s just not how development works.