Does anyone else think that reality based rational thinkers have a moral responsibility to help those afflicted with delusional religious thinking?  The most clear cut example for me is the child going to Sunday school.  At the very least, I think it is incumbent upon the rationalist to provide a counter example to the nonsense in the way of something like: "You know Mary, not everyone believes in the things they teach you in Sunday school, I sure don't."

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Excellent idea. The more we get our ideas and theirs into the open the more likely we are to prevail.
Thanks Eric. I don't see it as "us" prevailing over "them". I see it as trying to increase, as Sam Harris puts it, the degree of human flourishing. I see religion as an impediment to human health and happiness and as an aspirant to being a moral member of society, I see it as my responsibility to help when I see suffering. Even suffering that is unrecognized as suffering by the individual in question and by society in general.
I see nothing wrong with teaching a child or anyone else that more than one viewpoint exists. But that is not the same as attempting to "cure" them.
Seeing nothing wrong with an action is not the same as seeing a moral responsibilty to undertake the action. Do you feel it would be immoral not to teach a child that more than one viewpoint exists? I certainly do. I also feel that it would be moral to do what is in one's power to cure individuals of delusional thought, even though the delsional thought is culturally supported and accepted. Keep in mind that there are differing levels of moral good and bad. For instance, the immorality of removing a child from their parent's care would certainly outweigh the morality of keeping delusional ideas being taught to the child.
I think it is absolutely our responsibility to help others avoid delusional thinking. I find myself getting involved any time I hear someone express some nonsensical belief. I feel it is my moral duty to try to prevent the harm that comes from delusions.

I just posted an idea I had last night.
You can find it in the Ethics and Morals forum.
I think you are right that we have an ethical responsiblity to promote critical thinking. I view it as "paying it forward" - today we benefit from the insights, critical thinking, research, of diverse, ancient and recent thinkers like Darwin, Epicurius, Robert Green Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, James Randi.... etc. There is no way for us to "pay it back" to the many critical thinkers who came before us, only to teach the next generation.

Since it's pretty hypothetical here, I don't know what I would say in the sunday school case above. Most of my interactions with people occur in the workplace, and we have a diverse and tolerant work environment. It's basically "don't ask / don't tell" when it comes to religion. I don't promote atheism, but people know that Im nonreligious. These day-to-day interactions with open atheists are helpful as well.

But if someone came to me and promoted Jesus, or Mithra, or L. Ron. Hubbard, or Quetzalcoatl, I hope I would state something to the effect of, I consider all of these stories myths, and that I view science as testable, verifiable, and valid.
I like this line of thinking. For myself, I just don't know if a passive approach of leading by example and waiting for opportunities is enough. The level of credulous belief in nonsense is so staggering to me that I want to address it in a more active fashion, but I have no good ideas about how to go about it.
I would be careful with the whole "moral responsibility" thing. For openers, that's the crap we get from the door-to-door god peddlers, and I have NO desire to be associated with that brand of behavior in any way, shape or form.

If someone asks, I have no problem talking and giving my side of things, and if someone wants to promote religion in my presence, especially to a minor, I will offer counterarguments. Still, proselytism to me is one of the worst elements of religion, one I prefer NOT to emulate.
I emphatically agree with Loren Miller on this one! I would like to add that "moral responsibility" is one of those catch phrases that is used to guilt someone into acting against their own interest.




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