I just read an article in HuffPo about a recent study which explores the perceived “negative effects” of children being exposed to religion at an early age. The article really frustrated me because of the negative spin and blind, erroneous presuppositions contained within it. When I come across stuff like this I just want to scream at people to stop pretending to be clever and learn where their ideas come from. Here is my commentary on some specific quotes from the article:
First of all, the headline:
“Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction, Study Finds”
Here is my alternative headline: ““Fact” and “Fiction” are false and misleading categories of modernity.”
As Nietzsche points out, there are no facts, only interpretations.
“The study found that, of the 66 participants, children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school were significantly less able than secular children to identify supernatural elements, such as talking animals, as fictional.”
My son calls the moon “Sister Moon” and the sun is known as “Brother Sun.” We teach him that the animals in the world are our friends and that they and Mother Earth do talk to us, if we just have the heart to listen.
Maybe if we all still thought of creation as alive and enchanted and sacred (not mechanical, dead and bifurcated), and that animals do matter and are persons, we might be motivated take care our world a little bit better.
“By relating seemingly impossible religious events achieved through divine intervention (e.g., Jesus transforming water into wine) to fictional narratives, religious children would more heavily rely on religion to justify their false categorizations.”
Oh you mean false categories like “fact” and “fiction?”
“Refuting previous hypotheses claiming that children are “born believers,” the authors suggest that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.””
Two things here:
1) Actually, this is my favorite line in the story, a quote from the researcher: “exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible.”
In my opinion, this is a good thing! We need people who believe in the impossible. Who can dream about a better world and actualize it. A miracle is not something that is outlandish and impossible, rather a miracle is a demonstration of how things are supposed to be, e.g. The hungry being fed. The unlovable being loved.
2) The above quote talks about “ordinary causal relations.” This translates to Aristotle’s “efficient cause,” which is equivalent to that which causes something to change. Because science does away with teleological causation, in a nutshell, the eliminative, scientific materialist world becomes a machine and the universe is simply composed of matter in motion. Being burdened with this impregnable, closed causal system, I can see how it would be IMPOSSIBLE to imagine a world other than the bleak, purposeless, deterministic one so many are trapped in.