Science, religion, and children

Children are exposed to science far too early. Long before they have the discernment to separate good science from bad science, or true science from fake science, they are already being indoctrinated into the world of science.

Science is not always good. In the last century science led to the Holocaust and to the atomic bomb. Science has caused us to pollute our world and to change our climate for the worse. Science has exterminated dozens if not hundreds of species, sometimes through hunting, but more often through environmental destruction.

Science cannot keep its promises. It offers longer lives, but the mortality rate is still one hundred percent. It speaks of fuller and happier lives, but anxiety and depression are increasing, suicide is increasing, and violent outbreaks without warning seem to be increasing, all during our age of science. Science provides medicines to counter illnesses, but the medicines have side effects, sometimes worse than the illnesses. And medicines are frequently misused, leading to addiction, poor quality life, and early death.

Because of all these problems, we should keep science away from our children until they have the maturity to think for themselves about science. Science should be removed from our schools, and parents should be discouraged from telling their children about science. Far too many people are entwined in science and unhappy because of what science has done to them. If science was not imposed on children during their impressionable years, science would not be such a problem in the world today.

Of course, I don’t mean any of what you just read. But Richard Dawkins does mean it when he talks about protecting children from religion. He carries to an extreme the adage that children should be allowed to mature into adults before being asked to choose a religion, including whether to be religious. Dawkins clearly believes that science holds the answers for all humanity’s problems. He also clearly believes that religion and science are at war with each other. He is determined to win that war, and he expresses the thought that withholding religion from children will preserve those children to make them full-fledged acolytes in the temple of science.

Last Friday, a few miles from the village where I spent my childhood, a man brought a gun to work and murdered five of his coworkers, injuring others, before finally being shot and killed by police. I have seen the names of his victims in the newspaper, and I did not recognize any of these names. But it is strongly possible that I have shopped with one or more of them in the same store, or sat near one of them in the same traffic, or had a conversation with one of them in a public place. Some of these five men had children, and I wonder how science could help these children deal with the loss of their father.

What if these children had been protected from knowing that evil exists in the world, but that evil has been overcome? What if no one was ever allowed to tell these children how Jesus, the Son of God, willingly became a victim of evil to rescue the victims of evil? What if these children never celebrated Easter, at least never in a Christian fashion, with the assurance that Jesus has risen from the dead and promises a resurrection like that to all who believe his promises? Would they be barred from their father’s funeral so that they would not hear these assurances that death has been swallowed up in victory, that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that they will see their father again in a new and perfect creation?

What can science tell these children about the difference between their loving father and the bad man who shot him, now that both men are equally dead? How can science give them any hope and comfort in the midst of their current sorrow? What will science say to them when they express a wish to see their father again someday?

Religion is not by nature an enemy to science. Some religious people have attacked science, just as some scientists attack religion. But, because they ask and answer different questions, religion and science do not need to be at odds with each other. And religion is for children. Jesus says that the kingdom of God belongs to children (Matthew 19:14). “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never inherit the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). J.

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22 thoughts on “Science, religion, and children

  1. I will answer these questions J as I see them from an Australian atheist view point, but I am sorry to say the first thing to strike me is that this is more about ancient faiths and the modern scientific age. Science is a dynamic force for human advancement and survival whereas all religions are declining static organisations built solely on emotional faith, the developed human nations are evolving into science and technology as the answers for life and careers in scientific fields have become interesting and well paid, whereas religious studies are for priests and nuns.

    “What if these children had been protected from knowing that evil exists in the world, but that evil has been overcome?”

    That is extremely unlikely, you learn at a very young age about bad and evil people, especially when you are exposed to school and life in general. Violence, crime, sex, alcohol and drugs are all self-learnt at a very young age these days, especially in this fanatical social media and Google world.

    “What if no one was ever allowed to tell these children how Jesus, the Son of God, willingly became a victim of evil to rescue the victims of evil?”

    Well, where I live I would say about 70% of people are not religious. How can anybody comprehend Jesus sacrificing himself to rescue us all from sin thousands of years ago? It is like many things, simply beyond belief for most people.

    “that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that they will see their father again in a new and perfect creation?”

    Now that J is something really out of this world to ask someone to believe in. The kids play computer games where resurrection happens, but they know this is not reality and there is nothing other than holly religious books that claim this happens.

    “What can science tell these children about the difference between their loving father and the bad man who shot him, now that both men are equally dead?”

    Science or Christianity can do very little as both are dead, however they can both lobby the government to do something by introducing some effective laws to reduce the amount of firearms within the communities and maybe both men would still be alive. What do you think Jesus would say?

    “What will science say to them when they express a wish to see their father again someday?”

    Science deals in raw facts and regards death as a permanent situation.

    “Religion is not by nature an enemy to science.”

    Science does not care about supernatural claims; however it is concerned when science is discarded for supernatural claims.

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    • Steve, I think you and Doug have said more to support my position than I said on my own. Science does not care. Science cannot care. Science studies the basic objects and forces of the physical world and can say nothing about the supernatural–it can neither prove nor disprove a Creator, a miracle, or a future resurrection. Therefore, it makes as little sense to discard supernatural claims for science as it makes to discard science for supernatural claims. They both have their place, and the ancient faith (dare I say, the timeless faith) remains alongside science because it offers meaning and hope beyond raw facts. J.

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      • Being a pragmatist of sorts, and a humanist, I have come to this personal awareness.. and while this matters not one bit to anyone else, this works for me and I don’t provide this in anyway to presume “my way is the right way”… it’s the right way for me alone.
        I stipulate that man requires two levels to survive… that which applies to his immediate world around him; that which is real, exists, and he requires his own reasoning to determine how cause and effect affects his survival and suvivability; differentiating food from non-food, predatory danger from non-threatening behavior. The second is that which he does not understand; his survival “unknown” in which he places the unexplained observed in his real world. Because man “must” qualify, categorize, quantify, and justify to satiate his curiosity he sometimes has applied human attributes to the mysteries of the world around him. Much of that has turned into our religious beliefs over the last million years. I have NO reason to debate between religion or science as I see them as two different evolvements in being human. Just as I have NO reason to debate between one spiritual belief system over another. Believe what you will as long as it doesn’t infringe on my own personal beliefs.. and I will accommodate your beliefs (or non-beliefs) in order to relate to you as a fellow human being.

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      • Science as you have said J does not care, and I agree it is basically not in any position to care or take any real notice of the supernatural. This can only be because the supernatural is perceived to not be of this Earth and science needs to be able to identify existence of something.

        Through neuroscience it has been claimed from studies that they understand how the brain functions and changes from belief in religion or atheism. This has had some scientists suggesting that no gods exist without proclaiming it as any scientific fact due to the brain having many more secrets to be discovered and this declaration I believe will not be officially claimed for many years.

        Science, as I have stated is the epitome of the good and bad. It is however an unstoppable train that will ride over everything at the end of the day. It determines all of our futures that could either be constructive or destructive.

        “They both have their place, and the ancient faith (dare I say, the timeless faith) remains alongside science because it offers meaning and hope beyond raw facts.”

        I do agree again. I believe mankind has evolved into a naturally emotive need to look for hope and optimism in something for the future after physical death and maybe meet loved ones again. I can understand this and would not wish to eliminate this mindset; however I do not believe these ideals should be regarded and spoken openly as facts because this is when it clashes and becomes at war with science.

        Unfortunately, I do not have any reason to believe this utopia will happen to anyone, regardless of what gods are worshipped.

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      • Steve, my confidence of survival of death and a new world comes from the resurrection of Jesus. My confidence that there is a God comes from the fact that Jesus identified himself as God and rose from the dead. I don’t think science is an unstoppable train. It is an effective tool to learn about the created world, and it helps us manipulate that world for our benefit (and hopefully without damaging the world in the process). J.

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    • Doug, I agree that science and religion do not have to be at war with each other. I will even acknowledge that some fields that were purely the domain of religion, such as the medical world, are now largely science. But the assumption some people make that this shift will end with all things being science and nothing left for religion to do is false. The Creator God still hears and answers prayer, occasionally with a miracle, but more often with the skill of a surgeon or with a beneficial prescription from a doctor.
      As for everyone believing what they want to believe and leaving one another alone–if I perceived a danger to you, would you want me to warn you or to ignore you? If the danger was something in the realm of science, would you still want me to allow you to think you are safe when you are not? What about the realm of religion? If I saw a spiritual danger to you, would you want me to warn you or ignore you? J.

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      • A spiritual danger? Not sure I understand that one, although an interesting term. Warning me of a possible moral impropriety with possible consequences.. now that makes a bit more sense.

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  2. Sorry to hear about the shooting spree that happened; you are right on the limitation of Science and how New Atheists like Dawkins haven’t thought about the nature and limitation of Science as much as they should have

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    • Back in the 1980s Carl Sagan boldly stated that science is the study of everything that exists, implying that if science cannot detect something, it does not exist. He did not stamp out the supernatural or faith in the supernatural, and neither will Dawkins. J.

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      • Agreed, Dawkins isn’t going to be successful. I think a case can be made that his influence is also growing stale in our culture due to his narcissism, though he definitely reflect the secular mood of our day

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  3. Loved the biting sarcasm which led to correct context. Apart from God, science in the hands of miscreants is not too smart.

    For God’s sake- to deny the Creator His engineering feats of the human brain which far surpasses any jackal- is a terrible thing to waste.

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  4. No, science will offer nothing to those children. I love science but science by nature does not address the supernatural issues of life. Science certainly doesn’t assign any meaning to those lives. Something else has to do that. The scoffers are quick to judge God for allowing something like this to happen but slow to explain why, under a purely scientific model, it even matters.

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  5. Science is to blame for those children being fatherless? Seems to me those fatherless kids, if from God-fearing families, are now going to be taught the complex world of religion and God loving them so much that he took their father away.. violently. Not criticizing religion, mind you, simply making an observation we all only know too well.

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    • I have never liked the thought of telling a child that “God took away” their mother or their father. Sin and evil took them away. But granted they have faith in God, they are now with God, awaiting the resurrection and the reunion. Science cannot study that or say anything about it. But the timeless faith of the Christian offers comfort and hope; science offers only raw facts. J.

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      • Yep.. the study of science requires proof using raw facts. But the fact alone that man can recognize the existence of science in the world around him.. created by the Almighty… we might extrapolate from that, that our human propensity to be scientifically curious is also a gift from God in order to bring more awe to our own significance and in using science to bring hope for our own future. I contend.. it’s all related and not separate.

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      • I agree completely. Creation is filled with gifts from God, but intelligence and curiosity are special gifts that he has given for our benefit. As a result, scientists make discoveries that benefit our lives in countless ways. Thank God for science! J.

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