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Analytical Thinking
Many of you know that I have been attending church on an every other week basis for the last 8yrs. So, twice a month to keep it simple. Oh and it is a Baptist church. It is mostly the Sunday school and morning services. As you know the morning service is planned out to get you to believe in Jesus. All the things that Jesus did and most importantly, why he died for YOU! Even after 8yrs I still don't believe in it. I will come back to this later...

I was in rehab for Alcoholism in January from the 4th to the 24th and then back again in February from the 13th to March 7th. They have the AA/12 step concept in place. IF you have seen the 12 steps, 4 out of the 12 have the word 'God' in them and 2 make a mention by stating 'Him' or higher power('a Power greater than ourselves.'Wink HALF of the 12 steps are related to God. Son of a bish! I had attended AA meetings for about a year and what turned me off was the 'God' concept. God doesn't heal people with Cancer. Prayer isn't going to help starving people around the world...I could go on.
The first time around in rehab I didn't play into that game, hence why I returned for a second time. The second time around I played along and a lot of things started to seem a bit weird. Too weird for coincidence to write them off. Was this God starting to work His miracles on me, was it the alcohol withdraw OR the drugs they were giving me to prevent seizures from the alcohol withdraw? I decided to play the God game and follow the program as best I could. God was there and God was helping me through. I didn't question it, I just let it happen. I started to believe that maybe there is a God out there. A God that does care and that does love me and wants the best for me. The only question, that I later tossed out the window was, "Which God is it?", "Jesus?", "Allah?", "Zeus?", "some other random God I have yet heard of?"
About a week after being released from rehab the second time, I returned to work. My job requires me to think and ask a LOT of questions. Once my analytical thinking returned a question popped into my head, "Did I just make all this shit up and convince myself to toss rationality aside and maybe for a second believe that there was some supernatural being out there that could solve all my problems?" You bet! I had been brainwashed to believe that there was something out there that could and would solve all my problems. Once I returned to my analytical thinking, that brainwashing was reversed. I do NOT believe in a God. I am an atheist and proud of it.

THEN, I ran across this article today that blew my mind and it is exactly what I had gone through. The simple fact that I didn't question myself or others while I was in rehab. This helped me make up a God in my mind that I 'thought' was there.

Here is the article:

Also another article on the subject:

The authors don't want to say 'people who believe in God are irrational, because they don't want to be on the business end of an angry mob. This upsets me because they discredit themselves by saying that and giving religious folk that extra ammo of 'see even the scientists are skeptical of their own work.' Either way, WE secretly know why they are saying it.
It also brings me around to everyone here. I have known many people here from our previous site since 2005 when I finally discovered that we non-believers have a name...ATHEISTS Grin What struck me the most is listening to religious people talk about a non-religious subject and I have discovered that they don't really talk to deep about it. You can pretty much wade through that pond of, dare I say, intelligence? However, when we, or better I say you all, dive into a subject that is not religious based, you have a depth that put the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench to shame.

Going back to my first paragraph......There may be another approach we can take to debunking believers is to push their rational button just might be to get them to think things through. Granted, it won't work on all people, but it could have a greater affect then trying t simply convince them that they are dumb, because nobody likes to be called dumb.
I am going to try this experiment on my son. He is a little Jesus freak because he lives with his crazy Jesus freak grandparents. He is 8yrs old and soon will lose 'faith' in the Tooth Fairy, Easter bunny and Santa, BUT I know his grandparents are going to say, 'yeah, we made all that other stuff up, BUT Jesus is real.' I am going to start getting him into rational thinking which I have done with some things. As long as I keep my finger on the button I think he will slowly start to lose the faith.

All typos and grammatical errors have been placed on PURPOSE! Pfft
That's right, I said it...
I'm reminded a bit of tales from people who claim to have been atheists all their lives and then one day suddenly see the light and become born again. Generally I dismiss such claims, thinking it more likely (if they are sincere and not just lying for Jesus) that the foundation for such belief had been laid deeply enough and rather than having a genuine epiphany, where in fact merely letting go and falling back into it. In other words, most people making such claims were never "really" atheists to begin with, never so internally re-enforced that it rivaled the religious underpinnings it opposed. That might sound a bit like a "no true atheist" kind of construction, but it's not: I allow that there's a lot of fuzzy area between adamant and utterly clueless.

My oldest is eight as well. The other day we were in a Sam's Club together (the veritable sanctuary for god-and-country types) and she's looking over the religious books section as asks "Dad, what's a 'bibble'?" That's not a typo -- she actually pronounced it with a short I. There's part of me that's really proud of that. But most of me isn't all that sure what to make of it.

I had decided pretty early on that I didn't think purposefully "programming" my kids to reject religion wasn't a good idea. Not only might that backfire, but it stood a good chance of instilling in them a tendency typical of the super-religious as well, which I hate: a conceited and pompous certainty without benefit of the faintest ability to back it up with reasoned argument. Faith that there are no gods or that there isn't any reason to believe in one isn't any better than faith that there is. Faith is the problem and indoctrination alone is wont to create it.

At the same time, early times with my wife taught me that being raised in an almost purely areligious environment creates people who aren't religious but never begin to suspect that there are downsides to it, to each their own. That seems like a good thing, but it becomes a problem when there is a genuine need to counter an effect the religious are having on society and they are unable to recognize it.

So I'm still not sure what the best approach is. My hope is that teaching them to be skeptical in general will bulletproof them against irrationality and able to recognize when it needs to be dealt with. But being analytical isn't sufficient when they're also being indoctrinated directly with religion -- there are plenty of people you work with that are just as good at their jobs (or at least there are in other companies) that are still religious. You weren't saved by being analytical; you were saved by returning to it. Our kids need something to return to that isn't religion or magical thinking.

At the moment, my current idea of a solution is to teach them to come up with as many questions as possible while at the same time imploring them never to be satisfied with thinking they have an answer to any question so long as there are related ones that aren't satisfied. In sort, "nothing is simple and never assume." I figure/hope that if that becomes habit it will serve them well.

Your situation might be worse than mine for that. On the other hand, my kids might be more inclined to rebel against me than your son will be against you.
Cynic wrote:

So I'm still not sure what the best approach is. My hope is that teaching them to be skeptical in general will bulletproof them against irrationality and able to recognize when it needs to be dealt with.

This is my exact same problem. I don't know what to do any more so I will try anything. I already say that I don't pray and don't believe in God. Not that when I visit him I wake up in the morning and just say that. I am a bit more tactical than that in when he brings it up or it just so happens to come up in conversation. I bought a big ass telescope so that we can look at stuff out in space and get him interested in science. We have seen Saturn and its rings, Jupiter and its color bands, nebulae and even entire galaxies.
I see what you are saying by returning and there is no returning for him. The only thing he knows about is God/Jesus. He has nothing to fall back on and simply needs to be taught that non of that exists. Of course, I don't know how to teach that because the reason I am atheist was the part of the world I grew up in and it was simply never mentioned in my home growing up. They are not as open as I am about it, but both of my younger brothers are atheists too.
Now he is starting to talk like his grandpa. Something I heard today while we were eating lunch at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, TX that made me want to drive the rest of the way to Kilgore and smack his grandpa! He was saying something about his friend being good at fishing, but better than him at it. It pissed me off to no extent. He said, "He is MORE GOODER than me at fishing." I didn't flip out or yell at him, but I made it known that I wasn't happy about word. I immediately corrected him and said, "there is no such word as GOODER. You say 'he is better than me at fishing.' " I hear his grandpa talk and he is the dumbest SOB I have ever met and like my phrase in my OP you can pretty much wade through the depth of his conversations. Over the years I have learned that his grandpa pretty much believes what he hears rather than reading or questioning anything or pursuing his own opinions. He lets the news(FAUX NEWS) think for him. Tragic really cause I can completely fuck with him and his gullibility.
The environment he lives in SUCKS! Neither him or his mom want to live there any more. About 3mo ago, Jenner said something that made me try harder and get more of a move on with my life. He said, "It sure is nice without grandma and grandpa here." and then walked away to go play with his toys. I have started reading and getting my skills up more. All my certifications save for 2 have expired. I have setup a huge computer network in my home for practice, rewrote my resume and starting to put it out in places other than internal to Verizon. Hopefully, I can get a job with enough compensation to be able to get them out of there and far away. Maybe somewhere closer to Dallas here so I can see my son more often.

Seriously, though if anyone has ANY opinions on what I can do to get my son out of this sick irrational thinking for the situation we are in(me being a weekend dad) I am ready to listen and try.
Edited by cheshiredragon on 04/29/2012 02:05
That's right, I said it...
As someone who has had their own problems with alcohol, on occasion necessitating 1-2 weeks sometimes a month on the wagon, I must say something. Giving over to "a higher power" to control myself might have been a useful tool on occasion. I can and do understand why someone would use that mechanism if it helped their situation. I do think though that you have hit upon that which is more beneficial, analytical thinking will also tell you that excess alcohol consumption is damaging to your body and will cause you to lose years you may enjoy. Therefore caution and some level of temperance is useful. And, if necessary complete abstinence may be required. I realized many years ago that I had to mostly avoid amphetamines and cocaine because I enjoyed both way too much.

Ahh but children. I was very lucky here, none of my family was religious. My suggestions should be carefully considered because not only were none of my family religious none of the people I associated with were. My children now 34 and 32 were never exposed to much in the way of religion with the possible exception of myth as a way of understanding the world and that given with a level of skepticism. I mean, do rocks really feel and does one need to avoid stepping on alpine plants because there are so few of them (yes actually one does and this was inculcated into both of them).

I must say both of you are correct. Do not make a big deal of religion and being against it (advice I personally observed in the breach). Only indicate in a rational or "analytical" manner why you do not believe. Children at such a young age as yours are malleable but they can also become rigid quickly. Do not force nor demand. Only present your own beliefs, with explanation for why. It does not hurt to present other creation/redemption myths and why they are important to human systems. Maybe later but early does not hurt.
I really like JohnH's last paragraph there, seems like a good strong foundation.

I had Roman Catholic parents, went to Roman Catholic school all the way until University (college). YET, my grandmother was a Jahovas Witness.

I loved and love her, but her religion has informed her that Catholicism is the 'Whore of Babylon'. For me, this was very very useful.

My mom and dad didn't push religion on me (one argument with my mom in a hospital as she wanted to enter me as 'Catholic' on the forms after I had found my feet on these points of reality) but my school was trying damned hard. I made it all the way to secondary school (12 or 13) as a Christian.

So I would have my school telling me one thing, and then going to my nans house (and a good few times, their church, which they call a Kingdom Hall) and hearing the complete opposite. Slowly, loving my nan and respecting my teachers squeezed me into addressing the reality - they were all talking out of their arses.

This was a fun time for me, I would read the Bible and grill the teacher in our Religious Education lessons, go back to my nan, and grill her with the responses my teacher had given me.

The main sticker for me was, how could this god that loved me, risk the souls of these people I loved and respected, by not better explaining the stuff of the Bible?

After much reading (which involved study of the egyptians for a time, and that Aten fellow) it dawned on me that I didn't think any of it was true.

8 years old is old enough to start using tools. Get him some, and set him challenges. Can he take something apart, learn how it works and then put it back together in working order (the last bit is the hardest).

Talk to him about magic, or show him those shows where they teach you how it is done. If it is a trick where they dont reveal, sit with him and try figuring it out.

Both of those will allow him to see that magic does not exist, but illusion does.

Play memory games with him. Ask him to describe something to you that he done that day, in a short sentence, ask him to remember that because you will ask him again. Write down both instances and show him. This will demonstrate, although he is certain at both times of what he said, slight differences have crawled in.

Learning that you can be wrong, and that this is not a huge problem is a great lesson for kids to learn.

If that all fails, trepanning.
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