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Dutchess_III's avatar

What do you think of this article that suggests that children who are exposed to religion have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42444points) December 16th, 2014


I wouldn’t say all kids would have that problem. My kids were exposed to religion regularly, but I really had nothing to say on the Jesus rising from the dead, walking on water, changed water into wine, feeding a bunch of people on one loaf of bread and one fish, and those other impossible things. I also stressed science in my house.

But if a child is raised by parents who fervently believe those things actually happened I could see it causing a problem.

What do you think?

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33 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

How else do you get people that are afraid of Ouija Boards, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons and even Pok√©mon and Rock Music, because they think they are “demonic”?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I channeled Janis Joplin on an Ouiji board once!

ragingloli's avatar

try playing that with a couple of blind people.

JLeslie's avatar

My first reaction is does it really matter if young children can’t differentiate fact from fiction well? I care more about when they are adults.

I’m not religious, but if my 5 year old didn’t know unicorns were fantasy I wouldn’t worry much. I would probably tell my 5 year old unicorns are pretend, but if they didn’t have it all sorted out in their heads when asked by someone conducting a survey I certainly wouldn’t panic.

Kids minds run wild (hopefully) and part of imagination is not having all the limits of the realistic world.

If religious children are a little slower to sort out reality I’m not too stressed about it. Bilingual children are usually a little slower to speak well in complete sentences.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think they were talking about older kids. I wouldn’t have a problem with my 5 year old believing in Santa and all of that. ...nope. They WERE talking about 5–6 year old. So I agree. It’s a non-issue.
However, it could be the prelude to ridiculous conspiracy theories.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m fine with Santa too. The world being a magical place is nice for a short while.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It is utterly unsurprising.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s nonsense, anti-religious propaganda. I don’t see how they can prove any correlation there. We are all exposed to religion and we either believe it or not. Kids develop a good grasp of reality pretty early on. Does believing in santa, the easter bunny or the tooth fairy do the same thing to kids?

JLeslie's avatar

We aren’t all exposed to religion the same way. I agree that it doesn’t matter if kids can tell fantasy from reality at young ages, as you can see from my answers above, but I wasn’t exposed to religion like a child who has religious parents. My parents were atheists. God never came up like He was real. When I read something about God when I was little it was like reading a word I needed to look up in the dictionary. It didn’t really have any meaning for me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In my experience those I was friends with who were uber religious when we were younger do have a problem with critical thinking. They tend to believe the wonkiest stuff. One, in particular, is very anti-vaccine. She subscribes to the 3 second law when it comes to food dropped on the floor (she really does.) She jumps on every silly band wagon that comes along. Further, she really isn’t dumb. She is reasonably intelligent. But she can’t recognize bull shit when it’s staring them right in the face. That’s what her religion has done for her.

Another was forever trying to see miracles in random events, and actually got upset when I pointed out the logical reason behind what had just happened. She said, “You just have to ruin everything.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

But they are trained to deny their common sense. They’re trained to deny logic. They are trained to believe in things that just are not even possible. Why wouldn’t that carry over?

JLeslie's avatar

A lot of people seem to be able to compartmentalize.

Blackberry's avatar

I remember when I was 8 and stole a pack of gum from the store, because I was taught to believe in god, I was literally expecting to be caught by something. Nothing happened and I eventually realized there was nothing there lol.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For myself, looking back, I was taught all of the stories…..but even at a young age I don’t think I believed them. I never had a problem with evolution. My old friends (who are on fb) will swear to their dying breath that the earth is only 6,000 years old. It’s ridiculous.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I was 8 I stole rolling papers. Got caught. I sure believed in my dad after that! He saved me from going to JAIL! He made me think that way, anyway!

Blackberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yea, I started to make the distinction that there are repercussions from actual people, but I was expecting a god or something metaphysical to punish me.

So I became less afraid of god and more afraid of my mom.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! God never even crossed my mind when my friend and I went on our stealing spree that summer. We stole so much candy and crap. It’s weird, because my mom was raised Catholic, but she didn’t raise us Catholic. God just really wasn’t even mentioned much, except at supper prayers.

JLeslie's avatar

You were raised by a Catholic, no wonder things like evolution weren’t a problem.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What? She didn’t raise us as Catholics. We learned the Lords Prayer. That was about the extent of it. I think it was my dad’s calm logic that influenced me the most.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Consider this: In my experience, the people who believe that FEMA is building concentration camps to imprison American Citizens in when the government turns against its people, for absolutely no reason, are all very religious. Is that not an example of an inability to distinguish fact from fantasy?

osoraro's avatar

Hm. I’d have to read the methodology of the study to comment further.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was just telling the kid on fb who originally posted this: ”However, consider, Shane, that they are referring to 5 and 6 year olds. I remember, as a 5 year old, asking my Mom to make me a black circle like the one Bugs Bunny would throw down and jump into because it turned into a hole. She did, and I was a bit concerned that Mom didn’t even bother to stick around when I was ready to execute my experiment! I didn’t know where I was going to end up. It took me a long time to gather up the nerve to jump….and I was disappointed (and relieved) that nothing happened. At that age things that aren’t real can seem SO real, religion or not.” Kids just have great imaginations.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Blackberry and @Dutchess_III When I was a kid, I used to eat nuts and fruit from the self-serve trays in the supermarket. I thought if I didn’t take it past the cash register, it wasn’t stealing.

Buttonstc's avatar

If you actually read the link, this study was done with 5 and 6 yr. olds.

At that age most of them still believe in Santa Claus, for crying out loud and somehow nobody seems to be getting their shorts in a knot over THAT.

Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Let’s face facts here. Kids that age are not expected to be able to discern fantasy from reality. They’re in Kindergarten and First Grade. Hello !

And the majority of their parents are reading them fantasy bedtime stories with apparently no nail-biting anxiety about whether the child is able to sort out which ones are real or not. THEY ARE 5–6 YEARS OLD.

As far as what I’ve always known and taught, a sense of wonder, fantasy and imagination is viewed as a wonderful quality at that age.

I taught 8–10 yr. olds and, yes, I wouid be concerned if they still couldn’t figure out that Santa Claus was not real. As a matter of fact, I sent home a letter to all the parents of my class putting them on notice that I would definitely NOT be going along with perpetuating the Santa myth when children started asking me questions about it (as many do at age 8).

I would basically tell them to ask their parents and I strongly suggested that it was past time tell their kids the honest truth if they had not previously done so. If they failed to do so, their kids would inevitably find out the truth from their classmates.

I felt it was unhealthy to perpetuate an obvious lie. It erodes trust.

Most parents I dealt with were supportive but here and there I encountered those indignant about having to come clean about it.

If the study referenced in this link had been dealing with older children I would find it much more disturbing.

But the plain fact remains that they were studying 5 and 6 yr. olds. Get a grip people. These are Kindergartners we are talking about. Believing in fantasy comes with the territory. Haven’t you ever watched Sesame St. (which has won countless awards for child development).

And for those with their shorts in a knot over the bogus religious conclusions expressed, please be honest here. Did you sit your Kindergartner down and tell him the brutally honest truth about Santa? If not, then be careful. Your hypocrisy is showing.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III It doesn’t matter if she was no longer Catholic. Catholics are somewhat like a cultural group like Jews. I was raised as an atheist and basically without religion except for dinner on Passover with family and lighting candles on Chanukah. Put me with an average theist Jew who grew up going to temple and we both will be very similar in how we think. Things get left over from religion and culture even if we don’t realize it. It shapes us for generations.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc If you’d read a couple of the first responses you would have seen that we agree with you. No need for sarcastic “HELLOs”

Then the subject turned to adults who are really religious, and seem to have a hard time separating reality from hysteria.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie I know they are cultural. More like a cult, actually. I hate their masses and rituals. They remind me of black masses with their deep, mysterious chanting in Latin and swinging of the incense. It’s so deep and dark and scary. Give me a black congregation any day!
I had a black neighbor invite me to her church. It was so much fun. My daughter was about 4 at the time and she was dancing on the pew!

JLeslie's avatar

I see it differently. The Catholics acknowledge science, the Popes have been ok with evolution for many many years. The average American Catholic is accepting of other religions, has some understanding what it is like to be a minority, and tends to not follow a political party lock step in all issues. That’s my experience anyway. During the McCain Obama run the talking heads were saying the Midwest Catholics could be a swing vote. It’s because you can’t predict for sure where they will vote. They will cross party lines.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You have more experience than I do, so I’ll take your word for it!

My mom walked away from the church because, after she’d been married for 10 years and had 3 children, she got word that the church did not recognize her marriage to my dad because he’d been married once before. (It was a fling, didn’t last 6 months, and her name was Trixie!) Mom thought that was the most ridiculous thing she’d ever heard, so she walked away. We went to a Methodist church. Eventually we quit going to church altogether, except at Easter.
When she got older, and dementia set in, she drifted back into those old, familiar Catholic rituals, and that was fine. She said Hail Marys a lot.

JLeslie's avatar

Are you in a Bible Belt part if the country? In the Bible Belt all the religions are a little but more extreme. Catholics and Jews in parts of the Bible Belt tend to be more religious than Catholics and Jews in other parts of the country. It’s not just a Christian thing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, Kansas. My dad was from Texas, my mom from Washington State.

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