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ninjacolin's avatar

Would you want your kids to experience conversion between beliefs?

Asked by ninjacolin (14224points) March 1st, 2010

Today after having a huge discussion on another forum with an atheist who never had the opportunity to believe God was real, it became apparent to me that the experience of conversion is important.

To believe something is really really really really real and then to find out that it’s really really really really wrong.. to convert beliefs.. is something a LOT of people have little experience with.

Conversion, as this disussion brought out, has been such an important thing for me. These days I feel so shameless about potentially being wrong, I think it’s a good thing.

For that reason, I’m debating whether teaching the belief in Santa Clause would provide the best contextually harmless conversion experience for any mini-me’s so they can learn what it feels like to be wrong and learn what it feels like to accept it.

Conversion practice! :) Seems important to me now.. whaddya think?

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13 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Can you teach this? I’d think they’d experience this on their own.
This is interesting to me. I’d never thought of the Santa Claus myth in this way.

lilikoi's avatar

I don’t think conversion is necessary. If I have kids, they will have access to all information and it will be up to them to decide what to believe. I am a firm believer in freedom. For me, the freedom to form my own opinions, beliefs, and conclusions is what is important; transformation may or may not be a by-product of the learning and growth processes. I have never yearned for “conversion”. My beliefs have continuously evolved over time; they were never converted from A to B.

@Captain_Fantasy I agree that you cannot teach or gift a “conversion”.

lilikoi's avatar

Actually, and now that I’ve thought about it for another minute, I think leading someone on so that they believe something is “really really really really real” and then they find out that it’s a complete lie…..well, that sounds traumatic, like the stuff suicides are made of.

ninjacolin's avatar

to change beliefs is to convert. doesn’t have to be a drastic over night thing but sometimes it is. sometimes it’s slow because the beliefs you are converting between are so large. despite it being a slow conversion, it can still be an enormously intense emotionally experience.

As for me, I was born a hardcore end of days christian and converted to a non-denominational christian.. then to an agnostic.. then to atheist.. then to my current ultra-powered-deterministic-atheist. each period of belief spanning at least 2 years except the atheist stuff, which is only like a year and bit old and of course, the hardcore christian stuff didn’t end until i was 18.

kheredia's avatar

Religion will not be a part of my children’s lives. When they grow up they can decide to believe what ever they want to believe. Santa Clause is a big lie. Thankfully my parents never lied to me about that and I am very grateful for that. I think it is important to teach children to think and make decisions based on their research and what they can relate to the most. I don’t think it is a good idea to make them believe anything. When you do this then you are pretty much telling them what to think instead of letting them figure things out themselves.

urwutuis's avatar

I do not think it is wiase to “practice” having you beliefs changed nor do I think it necessary. Teach them to actually think and they will be fine. Something the school system fails to do. With all the information in the world at their fingertips the ability to actually think for themselves becomes much more important.Having more choices does not in itself create rational thought and left un-addressed could lead almost anywhere. I think the flood of information, misinformation and yellow journalism available make childhood both tougher and better.

urwutuis's avatar

I nhave had the oportunity and did believe in God. I am now an atheist.
Not until the walls of superstition and patriotism are removed will we be able to advance society to it’s next level.

mattbrowne's avatar

I want everyone to experience and understand different faiths and worldviews, not necessarily having to lead to conversion. If it does, this is part of the freedom of religion. Every Protestant should experience Catholic mass and vice versa. Every Christian should participate (as a guest) in religious services in synagogues, mosques, temples and so forth. Every religious person should try to fully understand the atheist worldview and engage in many discussions with atheists. And vice versa.

Knowing one form of faith, for example Christian fundamentalism does not mean you know other forms of Christianity. There’s always the danger of out-group homogeneity bias, for example all Christians are superstitious.

Baruch Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. He is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment. One of his greatest quotes is this:

“I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”

So when it comes to evolution deniers I really try hard to avoid ridicule. Although I have not yet succeeded in changing the mind of even one evolution denier, I have still learned a lot during some of the debates. It has helped me to get a better understanding.

A few things I learned. Many creationists think

1) Unexplained means inexplicable
2) Evolution is an atheist theory
3) Accepting evolution will force them to give up their religion and their belief in God
4) Humans lose their special place in the living world
5) We can’t observe evolution today, for example in a lab

All 5 statements are wrong.

belakyre's avatar

I wouldn’t think that you would just offer all of the religions (or non-religions) up to your kids to select from a silver platter. I think that it would do for you to slowly reveal each of them to them (this is why I love Philosophy and Religious Studies) and see what they think. If they are going through a conversion, or are confused regarding their religious status or whether they’re right or not…then you should always be there for them…and let them know that they are not alone in making this monumental decision…and that you will love them and accept them regardless of what they choose.

Currently, I’m stuck between being a Christian and Agnostic…and even though I’m feeling quite torn up right now…I know I’ll be much worse off if I didn’t have my friends. :D

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve had conversions of belief in terms of god and in terms of others things – these were important in my development but I hope my kids don’t need to go through the same thing – because if they do, that means I have taught them one specific thing and haven’t allowed them the freedom to choose on their own. In terms of religion, I tell them ‘Mommy and Daddy don’t believe in god(s) or organized religions but many people do…when you grow up and visit places of worship, interact with believers, read texts that are important to those who believe, you can decide for yourself if there is a god or not’ terms of having them be vegan I don’t make concessions…I know what is healthier for them and believe am doing the right thing. If they grow up and can prove me wrong, so be it – if they grow up to eat meat, I hope they find it from humanely raised sources.

thriftymaid's avatar

I wanted my kids to be educated and form their own beliefs.

ninjacolin's avatar

@belakyre don’t worry, whatever you settle on you’re gonna love. :) that’s what i’ve learned.

@lilikoi said: “Actually, and now that I’ve thought about it for another minute, I think leading someone on so that they believe something is “really really really really real” and then they find out that it’s a complete lie…..well, that sounds traumatic, like the stuff suicides are made of.”

haha, well, i don’t think many people have been committed suicide over the santa clause myth. let me know if you’ve heard otherwise though.

“I don’t think conversion is necessary.” – well, if you happen to know “the truth” on a matter then it’s not necessary. but if you find out you’re wrong about something, then conversion is necessary.

downtide's avatar

I raised my daughter without religion but taught her what I knwo about a variety of religions, and allowed her to make her own decision. She has ended up mostly non-religious but with a tendency towards paganism, which is absolutely fine with me.

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