My father has always been religious, but for the most part encouraged me to find my own thing.  Recently he has been getting more religious and outspoken about it.  The other day he and my step-mom were over, and as they were leaving I heard my dad say to my 7 year old daughter: "What?  You don't really think we're monkeys, do you?"  My daughter replied "We're not really monkeys, we are type of ape like chimps and gorillas." "Then why are there still chimps and gorillas?"  " Because we didn't come from chimps and gorillas.  Chimps, gorillas and people came from a different animal.  Like me and *insert cousins' names here*"


That stopped me dad on his track, I was smiling from ear to ear.  I wonder what my dad thought when his argument was dismantled by a 7 year old.

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That's awesome.  She's one intelligent kiddo.

I faced that exact same question a while back, and let me say that your 7-year old gave a much clearer and better response than I did. Bravo!

Awesome! You've got a lot to be proud of, obviously. And yeah David, isn't it frustrating that sometimes we KNOW the answers, but for whatever reason (old age?), 7-year olds can get right to the point but we get stuck? I know it's happened to me b4 as well.
Yeah, I think often I tend to over-answer the question, where children are good at keeping it simple and direct.
now that is "winning"

Thanks everyone.  This has been the topic of conversation between my wife and I recently.  She came up to me the other day and actually told me to stop teaching my kid science because I'm 'turning her into an atheist'.  My immediate reply was 'what's wrong with being an atheist?'  Evidently she wanted me to also teach her about spirituality, which I flat refused to do.  My wife used to be catholic, but since university has had a lose affiliation with wicca. 


What brought about our conversation was an exchange she had with our 7 year-old let's just call her 'E'.

So my wife was trying to tell E about some strange energy wiccan believe in. 

E:  "Heat is a type of energy and we can messure that, we can see how hot things are.  Electricity is an a type of energy and we can messure that.  Can we messure this energy?" 

Wife: "No you can really messure it."

E:  "How do you know it's there?"

Wife: "I don't know."

E: "Then why should I believe it?"


That little exchange is what sparked my conversation with my wife.  I of course defended E's position because...she's right.  E has an unquenchable curiosity for science and I want to encourage that.  She's endlessly facinated with astronomy, biology and paleontology.  She tells me she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up.  The only time I ever spoke with her about god(s) is when she asked me about it.  I used the example of zeus as a god that people used to believe in and no longer do, and she took that and ran with it.

I've got what might be considered a weird take on all this. First of all again let me say how much you've got to be proud of, she certainly seems incredibly smart and with a scientific mind like hers she may be immune to all the religious crap out there. My second point is a bit more subtle. I've been working recently on an interpretation of "spirit" which, to us atheists, just means "motivation", but this concept, I believe, strikes at the heart of both the essence of values and is the direct cause of the inuitive "understanding" religious or "spiritual" people have of "energy" or "life-force". Motivation just is the life-force, the matter and energy set in motion which drives us, propels us, and urges us onwards towards all that is good and worthwhile in and about life. If you don't think this explanation is too "woo", which is how some people of a mind different than my own would feel, then perhaps this could serve as both a good explanation of this belief that your soon-to-be-ex-wife holds, and you could even let your daughter know that her mother is not completely off the deep end, but rather that she has taken something from reality and devised an explanation for it as best as she could, only her methods are seriously lacking. Some things are better understood if you understand the motivations (ah, there's that word again!) behind them. And it can actually help us to be so understanding. If I am right about this whole "motivation" thing, then this "strange energy wiccans believe in" is really something quite valuable if properly understood. If there is nothing wrong (or even something to be gained) from entertaining the idea of the life-force, or whatever you want to call it, and if you believe as I do that we can tap into our deepest motivations and desires to foster our life-force and enhance our motivations to their highest degrees, then perhaps this can work out just fine as a type of atheist "spirituality", one which can help us to engage with religious people more on their own terms and one which could help your daughter to understand and even get closer to (or even rescue!) her mother from the absurdities of irrational thought.

My soon-to-be-ex-wife?  It seems rather presumptuous of you to think you know anything about my marriage.  Despite our disagreements from time to time, we have a healthy and happy relationship in which we strive to raise our children as best we can. 


I also find it interesting that you seem to think that I am interfering with what my wife wishes to impart to E.  Not once have I tried to stop my wife from teaching our daughter anything about her spiritual beliefs, or in anyway implied that she is confused, misguided or deceived in anyway.  During our conversation I encouraged my wife that if she had something to teach E, to do it. 

Oh! I apologize, I think I must have mistook you for someone else on here. So many stories sound so similar. I do profusely apologize, I really was just mistaking you for someone else... I'll have to be more careful about that in the future.

Wiccans and other wooish people use the word "energy" to mean about the same as "vibes". Energy means the ability to do work, not the "feeling" you get from something and not spirits. I also don't think most atheists are interested in engaging with religious people on their own terms. There's enough of that going around, with things like being considered hostile for not wanting to humor religious people by participating in prayer/pagan rituals (yes, I've been pressured into those too).



Also, I had forgotten to mention that the kind of "psychic energy" of which I was speaking about with this whole "spirit/motivation" business should theoretically be measurable. I have no idea how to devise such experiments, nor do I think they are possible with current levels of technology, but presumably it should be possible to measure how much energy is going into any kind of a system. Since we are talking about a very human kind of energy, something like charisma or the ability to, for lack of a better way of explaining, get people to feel happy or good about themselves, I assume it would be necessary to focus on the parts of the brain associated with happiness or positive self-concept and measure the strength of the firing of synapses or whatever.

And in answer to PRG's post, "vibes" or "feeling" can do a whole lot of work. Picture a rock concert. Music gets people "feeling" pretty good and highly motivated for enjoying life and everything that comes with that. The way I am using "spirit" just means our ability to do the kind of work associated with living and living well, meaning to be motivated, to have high "spirits", to be optimistic and positive about life and one's self image. To say that there is nothing to the whole idea of "spirit" as I have explained it is, in my opinion, not to get the connection I am making between "energy", "psychic energy", "life-force", "spirit", etc., and the ability to feel powerfully motivated in the way I have described.

And who says "most atheists" aren't interested in engaging with religious people on their own terms? I'd like to know where you get your data from. Plenty of the people I speak with are very interested in trying to work towards cooperation and mutual understanding with religious people, and in showing them why we think as we do without completely alienating them or shutting down all of their ideas, even the ones which may actually have some merit. I'm sorry if you've been pressured into religious rituals you were not comfortable with (I too was forced to pray as I was being raised Jewish), but this is not what I am talking about or what I mean by engaging with them "on their own terms". I am speaking about rational arguments and dialogue, not humoring their fantasies.
Good for you.

Idk, but I can imagine evolution being Easter for boys to get into. In fourth grade maybe my biggest interest was dinosaurs. I could well be wrong but I can imagine dinosaurs being of greater interest to boys. And from dinosaurs it is not that big a leap to other and all other species coming into existence and later going extinct.

So anyway, not that girls are less intelligent or capable, but the evolution bit seems an even rarer an event from a young girl.




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