Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ecumenical dialogue

Was at a meeting yesterday in a local ecumenical dialogue group discussing "Children and faith". Started with 6 cute kids from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints singing for us. Then people from different religious groups discussed their experiences and how we can bring up the kids in each belief system and still not exclude them from society. Very interesting and educational.

Being aware of what religious education and group pressure can do to people, I find it hard to draw a line between right and wrong in bringing up children. While I might have an opinion, I have no right to impose it on others. In a free society we have to have very good proof of harm before we interfere with families. So, more important than my personal opinion is the parents rights to raise and educate their own children the way they believe is right. I demand that right, so I have to grant it to others. Making that stand does of course not exclude me from critisising parents if I disagree with them.

What we seemed to agree on at the meeting was that children need to meet other children - cross the faiths. It's not a treat against their upbringing, but is more likely to male them more tolerant and stronger.

"Someone with a fresh mind, one not conditioned by upbringing and environment, would doubtless look at science and the powerful reductionism that it inspires as overwhelmingly the better mode of understanding the world, and would doubtless scorn religion as sentimental wishful thinking. Would not that same uncluttered mind also see the attempts to reconcile science and religion by disparaging the reduction of the complex to the simple as attempts guided by muddle-headed sentiment and intellectually dishonest emotion?"
[P.W. Atkins, "The Limitless Power of Science" essay in "Nature's Imagination", John Cornwell, ed.; 1995 Oxford University Press, p.123]

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