A must-read post for parents from Christian super-mom Natasha Crain.
In today’s post, I want to give you some very practical ideas for teaching your kids about atheism. The first seven are appropriate for kids of all ages, while the second seven are appropriate for middle school and older kids.
So I’ll choose one from the first seven, and one from the second seven.
4. Discuss Jesus’ miracles in the context of proving his identity.
When I was growing up, my sole understanding of miracles was that Jesus did a lot of cool stuff when He was on earth – stuff I had to color pictures about. It never occurred to me that there was a reason He did miracles until I was an adult. What a huge point I had missed: Jesus performed miracles in large part toprove He really was God’s Son.
The reason this point is so important to make with kids is that it solidifies an understanding that God never asked us to have a blind faith, where we just have to guess about His existence. Jesus didn’t walk around on earth merely claiming a heavenly authority. He demonstrated his power with visible evidence. When kids get a bit older, they will be ready to start learning the specifics of the evidence we have today (e.g., the cosmological argument, the design argument, the moral argument and historical evidence for the resurrection).
One of the most awesome things about the Christian faith is that the founder is constantly appealing to evidence in order to win over skeptics and enemies. (Goodness, just read the gospel of John – that is the whole point of it, and it’s written really well to make that obvious) He never says to people “just have faith” or “just be more moral” or “just believe me without evidence”. He’s all about the evidence. Jesus was an evidentialist.
And from the last seven, I chose these two:
11. [Older Kids] Challenge your kids with a role play.
Want to see how prepared your kids currently are to address challenges to their faith? Try a role play. You be the atheist. See how your kids respond. Here’s an example for you to say: “I don’t believe God exists. There’s no evidence! I believe in science. Why do you believe in a God you can’t prove exists?” This is the most basic of claims – see what your kids do with it. Keep pushing back on them after they respond. Use what happens as an opportunity to look for learning opportunities in the areas that come up.
12. [Older Kids] Watch debates between a Christian and an atheist.
There are many debates available to watch online (for free). Sit down as a family to watch one and encourage everyone to take notes on the points that were strongest and weakest for both sides. Use it as a springboard for discussion when the debate is done, and follow up with study on any new points. Here are a couple of examples to consider:
William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist?
Mike Licona vs. Bart Ehrman – Can Historians Prove Jesus Rose from the Dead? (I should note Ehrman is an agnostic, not an atheist.)
I think the bigger point about this post is that parents ought to have a plan for raising Christian kids. So many kids who are raised in the church by “Christian” parents fall away as soon as they hit the university, but there is almost no concern about the university in most churches. Why is that? And can you really outsource the teaching of your kids to pastors who don’t prepare them for college? There is a definition of faith in conservative churches that is not Biblical. It seeks to make faith about emotions and spirituality. Confirming what the Bible says using logical arguments and evidence is frowned upon, even if the parents are smart enough to learn apologetics given their success in other areas (like their careers). In church, it’s seen as “more pious” to just believe what the Bible says without evidence, and try to make Christianity about love instead of truth. That’s what churches teach, but it’s not in the Bible. The Bible is all about presenting evidence to non-believers.