If you are at all familiar with major atheist voices in today’s globe, you undoubtedly know who Richard Dawkins is. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and the bestselling author of The God Delusion. As an outspoken atheist, Dawkins rails against religion and is intent on ridding the globe of any “childish” notion that God exists.
Dawkins lately announced on Twitter that he is functioning on two books for youngsters: Outgrowing God (for teens) and Atheism for Youngsters (it seems the final title is nonetheless TBD):
I’m not certain specifically what Dawkins will cover in his books, but the title Outgrowing God has piqued my interest. It fits suitable in with Dawkins’ basic attitude—religion is for these with childish minds it is a thing everybody ought to outgrow, although not everybody does.
If you are an adult Christian, this sounds ridiculous. And it is. But atheism is speedily on the rise in America, and young individuals are increasingly coming to think the claims by Dawkins and other individuals that religion is a thing to leave behind as soon as you are sophisticated adequate to see the truth about reality.
With that in thoughts, we ought to be asking ourselves: What on Earth would lead a kid to think Christianity is a thing to be outgrown?
Sadly, I consider there are a lot of causes why this takes place, and substantially of the time it is rooted in either the lack of work lots of parents place into discipling their youngsters or their lack of path (i.e., they may possibly be placing in work, but not the vital sort of work offered today’s challenges).
Right here are some causes that stand out to me:
1. Children discovered to see belief in God as an emotional crutch rather than as know-how about reality.
Christian parents normally start out out motivated to teach their youngsters about God when their youngsters are extremely young. They appear for the finest children’s songs, videos, devotionals, prayer books, and so on. The message youngsters get from these sources is normally (and necessarily) extremely straightforward: God loves you and He’s with you all the time.
When we’re sad, we can pray. When we’re angry, He can enable us be calm. When we’re scared, we can know He’s there. When other youngsters do not like us, God nonetheless does.
In other words, these messages are mostly about emotional comfort. Although God is a comforter and these messages are essential, also normally youngsters by no means develop deeper in their understanding of who He is they get perpetually stuck in the land of sentiments like “pray when you consider there’s a monster below your bed and God will make it much better.” When there’s no extra worry of monsters below the bed, there’s no extra have to have for God.
Of course, by the time youngsters get to be tweens, they normally are not nonetheless calling out to God for enable with monsters, but if parents haven’t thoughtfully continued to create their understanding of who God is and why there’s superior cause to think He exists, that is exactly where their view of God can properly stay: He’s just an emotional crutch from a time lengthy gone.
two. They see God as their parents’ behavior modification tactic extra than as their loving Creator and Sustainer.
1 point I uncover especially striking about every single Christian parenting group I’ve noticed on Facebook is that there is far more—and I imply FAR more—discussion of how to handle kids’ behavior than how to enable them deepen their understanding of Christianity. And I have an understanding of why. Children make us CRAZY. How can we possibly consider about a discussion on the nature of the Trinity when our kids’ behavior tends to make us want to take an 18 year parenting sabbatical? It requires really serious intent to preserve focused on increasing their faith.
Oftentimes the outcome is that parents relegate spiritual improvement to church. The property becomes the spot exactly where mom and dad perform on behavior management. To be certain, parents normally try to tie faith to behavior: “Christians do not act this way,” “The Bible says we shouldn’t…” “God is not pleased with this behavior.” But when Christianity becomes noticed mostly as a behavior modification tool rather than an complete worldview out of which Godly behavior flows, it is uncomplicated for youngsters to later leave the “God stuff” behind and continue to be what they consider is “good with out God” (a mantra of lots of secular humanists). Parents do not intend for their youngsters to see items this way, but it is normally the inadvertent outcome in residences that rely on the church to create their kids’ faith.
three. They do not have a wholesome understanding of the partnership amongst faith and science.
In every single investigation study on the youth exodus from Christianity, some challenge of science generally bubbles to the top rated or close to the top rated. I can see lots of connected ties to the view that faith is somehow childish. In the interest of space, I’ll broadly summarize them by rolling them into a single underlying belief:
Science explains the globe, so if you are intelligent adequate to have an understanding of science, you will no longer have to have to think in God.
In other words, science is the adult way of recognizing reality. Faith is the kid’s way.
This is rooted in a substantial misunderstanding on lots of levels, but let’s concentrate on two:
- Faith is not a way of recognizing. No a single claims (or no a single ought to claim) that faith is how they know about God. Rather, biblical faith is trust primarily based on know-how that is rooted in proof (see this report for extra on that). Science and faith are not in competitors. We do not develop out of faith as a way of recognizing and into science.
- Science is only a single way of recognizing about the globe. This can quickly be shown. The statement “Science is the only way of recognizing about the world” is itself not a thing that can be scientifically demonstrated! Philosophers debate what ought to be incorporated as techniques humans kind reputable know-how about the globe, but science undoubtedly is only a single of various techniques.
In spite of the value of youngsters obtaining grappled with science and faith concerns, extremely couple of parents take the time to perform by way of such questions—and this has extraordinarily unfortunate consequences, as all the investigation shows. See my post, four Issues That Should Come about Ahead of Far more Christians Will Care About Inquiries of Faith and Science, for extra on the subject.
(If you want to much better have an understanding of concerns of faith and science, Melissa Cain Travis has a amazing new book out known as Science and the Thoughts of the Maker. It shows how the existence of a Maker is the finest explanation for the globe about us. I hugely propose it.)
four. They haven’t been offered possibilities to sharpen their important pondering expertise.
As I shared in my final weblog post, A Parent’s Guide to the five Skeptics Who Want to Shame Your Children for Getting Christian, shame is normally the skeptic’s weapon of option. They want to make your youngsters (and you!) really feel stupid for what you think. You are childish. Gullible. Unsophisticated. Silly.
Considerably of the time, they do this with pure rhetoric—not even in the context of any actual arguments against the truth of Christianity. Dawkins himself is particularly fond of such techniques, saying items like, “The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely made use of for religious propaganda, and they are extremely successful with an audience of unsophisticates and kids.”
Children who haven’t been offered abundant possibilities to sharpen their important pondering expertise with typical exposure to quotes and longer kind content material from skeptics can quickly be swayed by comments like these that just assert religion is for kids. Emotional attacks are successful when youngsters haven’t been educated to 1) see by way of the emotion to determine the underlying claim (or lack thereof) and two) assess the validity of the claim. They just succumb to the narrative.
In the case of Dawkins’ quote, for instance, youngsters ought to be capable to straight away determine the claim that miracles do not come about. They ought to then know the fundamental logic that if God exists, miracles are attainable (and hence it would be fully rational to think in that possibility), and if God does not exist, miracles are not attainable. Moreover, they ought to be effectively equipped with an understanding of the proof that God does exist. (If you have to have enable with these subjects, see my reading program for parents on the topic.)
five. They think the secular globe has out-thought their parents, pastors, and other spiritual influencers.
The keynote speak I normally give at churches and conferences ends with the 5 most essential sensible methods I think parents ought to take just after they have an understanding of the value of teaching their youngsters apologetics. The fifth and final point I leave them with is this: Ask your youngsters the difficult concerns they do not ask of you.
Perhaps your youngsters will by no means consider to ask you why God permitted slavery in ancient Israel. Or how we know that Jesus really existed as a particular person in history. Or about the moral implications that God commanded the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites. Or no matter whether there’s any historical proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. Or why a superior God enables so substantially suffering and evil.
But just mainly because they do not ask does not imply you shouldn’t be proactively bringing these essential concerns TO their focus.
When youngsters sooner or later encounter an avalanche of faith challenges like these (and they will), if they haven’t very first heard them from and discussed them with their parents, pastors, and/or other spiritual influencers, they will normally assume the secular globe has believed extra deeply about Christianity than the Christians about them. The conclusion is grim: Christianity was a quaint element of their childhood, but it is a thing to leave behind as a extra mature thinker.
How extremely tragic. And completely preventable.
Parents, the ball is in our court. We have years with our youngsters to have these conversations and prepare them for the globe. It just requires wish and motivation. Could something be extra essential?
For concerns parents ought to be proactively discussing with their youngsters, verify out my books, Maintaining Your Children on God’s Side (a broad overview of 40 concerns across the subjects of God, Jesus, truth and worldviews, the Bible, and science) and Speaking with Your Children about God (a deeper dive on 30 concerns especially about God).