Thursday, August 25, 2011

Popping the Bubble

Hemant Mehta wrote a great post today about the Internet's role in spreading skepticism and atheism. (You can read the full post here. Check out the cartoon at the end... it's awesome.) He points out that "when people have access to knowledge, they start asking questions… and that’s bad for Christianity."

This brings me back to an ongoing issue I've had with Christian homeschool groups in the area: the statements of faith required to join. It's been hard for me to understand why groups that claim to be about education would pointedly exclude certain people in the community. I understand having religious faith, but why keep your kids separated from all others with different beliefs? One would think they would be all over the chance to teach my kids and me all about Jesus, but they don't want us anywhere near them. Why is that?

From everything I've witnessed, conservative Christian parents work very hard to keep their kids inside a bubble, and it often starts with Christian school or homeschool. Because Christians dominate the homeschool market, I have to sort through an unbelievable amount of curricula written with a "Christian worldview" to find real educational materials. Here's a great article written on three of the most popular "history" curricula for Christian schools and homeschools. The following is an excerpt that disturbs me and should disturb anyone with even a little bit of historical knowledge of Christian colonialism and the havoc it has wreaked on so many societies around the world:

Materials from the three publishers have a recurring theme: that the lack of material progress in various Third World countries and among indigenous peoples can be attributed to their religious beliefs. The publishers also share a tremendous emphasis on conservative Protestant missionary activity; approving passages abound about individual missionaries and Christian converts and the need for both historical and contemporary evangelism.

It makes me a little sick to my stomach to think of a new generation of children being taught the above view of the world. These will be the kids who nod in agreement when someone like Pat Robertson claims that the devastating earthquake in Haiti was due to the "pack with the Devil" that Haitians made during Colonial times. Don't even get me started on the "science" books such as Apologia that are used in these settings, but clearly anything subtitled "Exploring Creation" belongs in religion and not science class.

But back to my original issue, why is it so important that my kids be excluded from the Christian homeschool groups? It's simple really, and it's found in Mehta's post when he quotes Christian Josh McDowell:

...the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism.

I couldn't have said it better myself! The more we know, the more we wonder, the more questions we ask. My kids are little skeptics (as are all children naturally), and as such they expect to be given reasons for things or pointed in the direction to seek those reasons for themselves. They do not believe certain ideas are above critical thought or discussion and simply must be "accepted." I can almost guarantee Bonnie will raise her hand and ask about the atrocities committed by Christianity if she hears someone try to paint it as a religion of peace, and she will likely point out that atheists are not known for flying planes into buildings in the name of reason if someone starts talking about the "evils of secularism." Jack, my five year old, has been known to conduct informal polls on the belief of gods at family reunions.

So why are my kids excluded from Christian homeschooling groups? I think it's pretty obvious that they, along with the Internet, secular media, and real science and history textbooks (you know, the ones written by scientists and historians) are a threat to the little bubble that is the Christian Worldview. Critical thought must be discouraged in order to keep the bubble intact, and secularism, humanism, atheism and skepticism must be regularly categorized as "evil."

6 comments:

  1. Hi Leanna, I've appreciated your openness and sharing of your beliefs so far! While I definitely am NOT an atheist and am in fact what you would consider a 'conservative Christian', I really enjoy learning and hearing about what other people believe. In fact, I am a huge proponent of learning about other worldviews. I think I'm one of a few conservative Christians who do not want to bubble wrap my children. I've actually chosen to public school my children here in Ohio because I want them to learn how to be a Christian (if they choose that for themselves) IN the world. I believe my highest calling as a follower of Christ is to love people. How on earth am I supposed to do that unless I am immersed in the people who live around me, regardless if they are 'safe' for my children to interact with. I want my children to learn how to live and be comfortable around people who believe different things, who look different, who talk different, who challenge them. I also desperately want them to become Christians, but I believe there is only so much I am responsible for in what they choose to believe. Ultimately I believe it is God's decision! And he's called me to be in the world and love EVERYONE and show my children how to do the same. So, if I was in a home school group, it probably wouldn't be Christian, and I'd welcome you in :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. The funny thing about those exclusive homeschool groups is that they miss out on meeting all kinds of amazing people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jenn, thank you! I have wondered how what some of my more conservative friends have thought about my blog of late, and it's good to hear I haven't scared you all off. Good for you not bubble wrapping your boys!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Otter, you are right! It's so much fun to meet people who think differently and bring interesting things to the table. Secular homeschoolers are such a diverse group.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said, Leanna! It's funny, I was an Agnostic for a long time, but once we decided to homeschool our kids and I began to get involved in the homeschooling world and saw all of the fundamentalism and creationist nonsense out there, I finally realized I didn't believe any of it and became fully Atheist. I saw Hemant's post this morning too, and it gives me hope for the future. I am amazed that anyone could think that asking questions and seeking knowledge is a bad thing. Besides, if there really was a God, why would he give people brains only to require them to shut them off and not use them? (One of many logical conflicts I see with religion.) Your blog is excellent and I am so thankful for human ingenuity and the amazing technology that is the internet, that keeps us connected to ideas and people.

    ReplyDelete