Save the planet- why?

The cheapest and easiest way to combat climate change, according to a report by the London School of Economics and Political Science, is by sterilisation and abortion. Humans, they say, is the planet’s worst enemy: We are destroying our earth.

Which brings me to a question:

Are we trying to save the planet for our children?

Or are we trying to save the planet from our children?

Yep- Sharing the Christian faith with your children is not child abuse

I already wrote a pair of articles (here) about the (unscientific) Dawkinsian notion that religious instruction to children amounts to child abuse. But there are more evidence than I mentioned, from larger test groups. Here, Tom Gilson points out what a large study concluded. He believes this should “cast serious doubts” upon the credibility of Dawkins’s best seller, “The God Delusion.” (Another author who casts serious doubt upon Dawkins etc. is Vox Day, who’s book “The Irrational Atheist” is downloadable free of charge here.) Gilson also asks, here, why no scientist took the Oxford “Professor for the public understanding of science” to task for his anti-science conclusion. Are scientists being consistent?

Child abuse???

Vocal atheists try, these days, to convince people that religion is bad for children. Richard Dawkins go as far as calling it “child abuse.” Obviously, these anti-religious campaigners quote no studies. They back up their prejudiced views by emotionalism, sophisticated word choices, and whatever negative anecdotes they can find.

Now the question is: Does the New Atheists claims about child abuse have any basis in reality?
To study this, I would start with the known fact that child abuse has a negative effect on children. Apart from physical pain and injury, it is likely to have a negative influence on a child’s self esteem, school work, happiness levels, ability to relate to others, etc. If teaching children about God amounts to a form of child abuse, negative results would show up in studies on the effect religious training has on children. For that reason, I attempted to compile a real list of studies that compare, statistically:
 
a1) children who believe the Christian claims, or often have to go to church,
against
a2) those who do not
and
b) measures results generally regarded as good (like improved school marks, staying away from drugs, less depression), even by unbelievers.

Studies like that conclude that religious participation, Biblical beliefs, and having parents who talk about God with their children, all contribute very positively towards a child’s emotional well-being. (To shorten this post, I put a few of those studies here.) 

 My questions and comments to people tempted to believe Richard Dawkins on this:

 

What would you call something that makes children:

a) feel safer at home?

(b) less prone to depression or suicide?

(c) believe their lives have meaning?

(d) more likely to have a happy marriage later in life?

(e) less prone to crime, drugs or alcohol?

(f) more likely to do well in school?

 

I am unsure what to call it, but the term “child abuse” seems highly unsuitable.

 

 Do the New atheists want to take children from their parents for teaching them about God? And if they take children from a loving home with a positive influence (1), where will they place them? Do Dawkins suggest prosecuting parents for their positive influence? This sentence from his book, “the God Delusion” make it sound that way: “… we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible … than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.Since the New Atheists apparently suggest prosecuting parents for religious instruction to their children, their view of religion as child abuse seems to be dangerous hate speech. This view should not be tossed aside lightly. It should be tossed aside with great force.

 

                                                 Conclusion:

 If you are a parent, please work hard on teaching your child Christian values. Read up on how to best teach it, to a generation who might even misunderstand basic words like “truth”, “judgment”, “God’s love” etc., due to their cultural conditioning.

If you are a Sunday school teacher/ youth worker/ Good News Club (2) teacher, please be encouraged: Do even more to teach real Christian values- not watered-down-for-kids versions of Christian values! Teach it, because your children need it. They need it spiritually, but also intellectually (3) and emotionally and socially and physically. (4)
 

Whoever you are, if you meet or read the sort of bigoted campaigner who try to tell you that teaching kids about God “corrupts their innocent minds,” or “is a form of child abuse” or whatever, tell them to their faces that they are being ridiculous. Inform the readers/listeners that hears such campaigners that the charges have no substance: These loud atheists are trying to “protect” children from a world view that apparently gives purpose, lessens anger and disappointment with life, improve their school marks, protects young people from drugs and keep them away from suicide.

 ————————————————————

 (1) “Positive influence” is not just an opinion here. I statistically made my point about how positive religious training is, on average, for the child.

(2) This link is to an American article, but CEF and Good News Clubs are active worldwide.

(3) Intellectually: They will be likely to have better school marks, and concentrate better.

(4) Physically: They will be less likely to use drugs, and less likely to hurt others. The former protects themselves and others, the latter physically protects those around him. Religious people also live longer and are healthier, on average.

 Other notes:

1) Rich Deem makes a similar argument here, and MikeGene makes a similar argument here.

2) This is a reworking of a piece called “Christianity is good for kids, says the statistics” that used to be on this blog, and replaces it.

Child abuse??? The statistics

(This post is the “boring”-numbers-part of a two-part feature. The point of the story is actually here.)

First example :

From the page I linked to, I get this quote:

“Positive Life Outcomes

Religious participation seems to be having a positive effect on youth… “In general, for whatever reasons and whatever the causal directions, more highly religiously active teenagers are doing significantly better in life on a variety of important outcomes than are less religiously active teens.”…………Data suggested that, compared to their less religiously active peers, more religiously active kids were less likely to: engage in illegal substance abuse; use the Internet to view pornography; get lower school grades ; get suspended or expelled from school; be described by parents as fairly or very rebellious; lie to parents; or to have engaged in sex before marriage. Less religious involvement also correlated to a poorer self-image, greater sadness and feelings of depression. Conversely, Smith and Denton said, the more religiously devoted teenagers were, the less likely they were to believe in relativistic morality, and the more likely they were to say they cared about the needs of the poor and the elderly, as well as “about equality between different racial groups.”

While admitting that other factors may enter into this equation — such as personality types — the researchers stated: “Something about religion itself causes the good outcomes for youth. By general implication, teens who increase their religious involvement should, net of other factors, reduce their chances of experiencing negative and harmful outcomes,” and vice versa.”

 

Second example:  

 In a report called Third Millenium teens, brought out by the Barna Research group in 1999, the following statistics was found:(1)

“Research shows that when young people lack a basic biblical belief system, it negatively affects their attitudes.(2)

As a result they are:

225% more likely to be angry with life

216% more likely to be resentful

210% more likely to lack purpose in life

200% more likely to be disappointed in life.

The research also shows that our young people’s failure to adopt a foundational Christian belief system negatively impacts their behavior. They are:

48% more likely to cheat on an exam

200% more likely to steal

200% more likely to physically hurt someone

300% more likely to use illegal drugs

600% more likely to attempt suicide.”

 

Third example:

 According to Patrick Fagan, 2006, teens from families with frequent religious attendance:

  • averaged fewer sexual partners when compared to peers with low to no religious attendance
  • were the least likely to have ever run away

 Patrick Fagan also says that teens from intact families with frequent religious attendance:

  • were the least likely to have ever been drunk (22.4 percent) when compared to (a) their peers from non-intact families with frequent religious attendance (24.5 percent), (b) peers from intact families with low to no religious attendance (33.4 percent), and (c) peers from non-intact families with low to no religious attendance (41.2 percent).
  • were least likely to have ever used hard drugs (8.5 percent) compared to (a) their peers from non-intact families with frequent religious attendance (9.5 percent), (b) peers from intact families with low to no religious attendance (14.6 percent), and (c) peers from non-intact families with low to no religious attendance (20.1 percent).
  • were least likely to have ever gotten into a fight (27.1 percent) when compared to (a) their peers from intact families with infrequent religious attendance (32.1 percent), (b) peers from non-intact families with frequent religious attendance (34.3 percent), and (c) peers from non-intact families with infrequent religious attendance (43.5 percent).

 

Fourth example: 

According to John P. Bartkowski, children of parents who more frequently attended religious services:

  • exhibited higher levels of cognitive skills than those whose parents attended church less often (according to teachers’ reports)
  • were less likely to exhibit behavioral problems at school
  • were less likely to act impulsively or to be overactive at home
  • were less likely to have internalizing behavior problems (in terms of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, and sadness)
  • tended to have a higher level of self-control while under parental supervision in their homes, according to parents’ reports.

Bartkowski also says children whose parents had more frequent discussions about religion with them:

  • exhibited higher levels of cognitive development
  • decreased in the likelihood that their children would exhibit problem behavior in school
  • were less likely to act impulsively or to be overactive at home

 

Fifth example 

According to a George Barna study with 8-12 year-olds:

a) there is a correlation between them claiming that the church have positively affected their life, and them doing well in school

b) Born again Christian children 8-12  (Children on whom “religious abuse” – by the New Atheist definition – had an impact, remember?) are more likely to feel safe at home, and to trust their parents. (I would call that rather unusual for “abused” children.)

c) The born again children were also much more likely than non- born again tweens to possess an upbeat life perspective.

 

And the effects in later life? It seems that highly religious people (often people whose parents “abused” them with ”religious indoctrination” when they were little, and who still continue this “pattern of abuse” by believing in God and praying) are healthier, happier and more happily married.

 

Go back to the “Child abuse???” post.

——————————–

(1) These numbers are quoted in Josh McDowell’s book, “The Last Christian Generation.”

(2) “Having a Biblical belief system” of course, goes a lot deeper than merely professing Christianity. Thus, the mere fact that a child calls himself a Christian do not mean he is necessarily this much better off in statistical terms.

 

 

Highlight: 20 February: Anne

I’ve been feeling depressed lately and I thought about having to notice the good things in life.

So, I made a resolution to sometimes mention highlights of my life as they happen.

Yesterday, the highlight was speaking to a Christian giant named Anne. Now, Anne is a widow with 3 sons: One at a private university, one in high school and one in primary school. They do very well. I know her youngest son, who is bright and well-behaved. Anne also runs a preschool and after-school-centre in her neighbourhood, and a Sunday school.

There is something I forgot to mention here, before you get a wrong impression: Anne’s regular income is hardly enough to pay university tuition for her eldest, much less tuition, room and board for him, a place to live for herself and the other two sons, food, etc. She lives in a place – Reahola- that used to be a mine hostel, but is now divided into 405 family units.

Her preschool is not a source of income. The children in her preschool mostly have high school mums who cannot pay her at all. She runs the preschool, the after-school centre, and the Sunday school as a labour of love. She trusts God for funds for her son’s university fee. This far, it came in every month. She was praying to God for money for a fence around her preschool/ after-school study centre. Yesterday, some American Christians phoned and said they will build not only a fence, but a whole playground! The Americans are coming in March.

When I hear about the Checkers “Woman of the year” competition again, I’ll nominate this remarkable woman….

Second biggest highlight:

Anne contacted us some time to give a Good News Club (a weekly Christian meeting for kids) in Reahola. We were there to teach it, and some little kids came to hug us. One little black girl told me: “Teacher, you’re beautiful!” It’s great to hear. As a single woman, people don’t often call me “beautiful.” But I think they are beautiful: All those little black kids who welcome us into their hearts and neighborhood to teach the club. And I wonder if they realize how priviledged they are to have the “beautiful” – not outside, but inside- Anne among them…..

SA’s “Sexual offences and Related Matters Amendment Act” (No 32, 2007): The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good
1. At least one ridiculously contradictory concept have now been removed from law books:

There used to be a law stating that having consensual homosexual intercourse with someone under 19 is a crime. Then, same-sex marriages became legal. Last year’s Child Act then specified that 18-year-olds can consent to be wed. It would thus have been legal for a man to marry an 18-year-old boy, but intercourse would have been illegal for the couple. (??!!) This not an opinion on same-sex marriage; or age of consent. This is about legal contradictions.

2. Whereas the previous point is trivial, this one is not: It is only fair that the definition of rape have been changed to include other forms of penetration. The definition also changed to the point where a crime against a boy (or man) can be seen as rape too. That was one of the main purposes of the new law, and they seemingly got that one right.

Bad
3. In a previous article, I contrasted laws on rape with provisions in last year’s Child Act. I observed that even consensual intercourse with a 12-year old is rape, yet contraceptives can be given to 12-year olds; with no explicit demand to the contraceptive-giver to make sure what the situation of the child is. They now changed that. By section 15, consensual intercourse with 12-year olds is not rape any more. This way, the contraceptive-giving heath worker is not being indifferent to a most-certainly-raped child any more. She/he is indifferent to a child who is perhaps being raped. [Sarcastic mode on] Ah……, progress! [Sarcastic mode off/]

4. According to sections 15 and 16, teens (under 16) who, with mutual consent, engage in open-mouthed kissing (or anything more explicit), would be guilty of a crime if there is an age difference of more than three years. This means that a 17-year old boy will break the law when kissing a 14-year old girl. We know, nobody is going to actually prosecute them for it. But ridiculous laws cause disrespect for authority. In fact, the “broken windows” theory say that you can significantly reduce serious crime simply by prosecuting each and every crime, even the small ones. By making laws that are next-to-impossible to prosecute, you thus encourage crime.

5. According to section 18, someone who do or say things to a 17-year old with the idea to “diminish or reduce any resistance … to perform a sexual act” is “guilty of the offence of sexual grooming of a child.” That seems much too broad.

Let’s take an example: Joe (19) meets Anne (17). They talk. The next time they meet, they kiss. Later things go further. One thing lead to another, and they have consensual intercourse. You could argue that Anne would not have consented the first day they met. Thus talking to her, kissing her, complimenting her, etc. “diminished Anne’s resistance.” By this definition, Joe is guilty of the offence of “sexual grooming of a child.”

Joe’s pal hear of Joe’s crime, and does things differently: Instead of trying to have a relationship, he goes to a girl and ask her for sex. Oops. By Section 18(2)(b)) , someone who “describes the commission of any act” to a 17-year old with the idea to “diminish or reduce any resistance … to perform a sexual act” is guilty of the same crime as Joe.

6. Joe committed another crime in his relationship: He let Anne see him naked when they did the deed! According to section 22, you may not show your naked body to a consensual 17-year old. So: It is legal to have consensual sex with 16- or 17-year olds, but only in the dark!

Ugly
7. Nowhere in this new law do I find that non-consensual sexual acts (those described with the terms “rape” and “sexual assault”) with a child is regarded in a more serious light than the same acts with an adult. Nothing I can see tells me the prescribed penalty will be any different.

It would seem that nothing in this new law differentiate between for instance

(a) the unwanted fondling of a 28-year-old woman and

(b) similar fondling of a 8-year-old girl.

At first, I even thought that the law do not say anything about under 12’s giving consent to acts they do not understand, but at least that is not true. Although chapter 3 (The “Sexual Offences against Children” chapter) do not mention it, the description under “this act” in chapter 1: “Definitions and objects” mention that children below 12 are not capable of giving consent.

I sincerely hope that this is a case of previous laws already stating this, and those laws still staying the same. However, this sounds unlikely to me: The ages for what used to be called “Statutory rape” changed. (It used to be 13 -15, now it is 12 – 15.) Thus, the age limit on whatever other laws (concerning sexual deeds with younger children) that still exist, cannot stay the same either. If the ages in them do not appear amended in this act, they are probably not part of this country’s law any more.

Conclusion
If that last point is correct, this law is, on balance, very badly written and overall a negative thing by my standards. Please, law-makers, tell me I am wrong about my point 7. I really, really hope I am wrong!

Even if other laws cover the issue in point 6, this “Sexual offences and Related Matters Amendment Act” is not off the hook. The “broken windows principle” mean ridiculous rules like “teen, you may not kiss teens 3 years younger than yourself” or “adult, you may have intercourse with an older teen, but do not seduce him/her and don’t let him/ her see you naked” may be indirectly bad for law and order.

 

 

About prejudice, Philip Pullman , Dawkins and Hitchens and the like

 

 

Here Peter T. Chattaway, film critic, interview Philip Pullman on “His Dark materials” books and the new “The Golden Compass“ movie, based on it. The interview statements seems to be a bit more toned down than Pullman’s earlier admission: “My books are about killing God” – Philip Pullman

I know that reviewers find the ‘Golden Compass’ movie not even entertaining. And readers say the first book of the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy is well-written, the second less well-written, and the third book (the most anti-religious of the three, in which “God” is killed) is very disconnected, failing to satisfactorily conclude the lofty themes promised in the first book.. Jeffrey Overstreet suggest some questions that you can ask in a discussion with children who read the book. (They are in the “Okay, so we shouldn’t start boycotts and complain.But what should Christians do?” section under “equip yourself and your kids ….. section of this link.)

 

 

Some of Pullman’s anti-religious remarks in the interview have led me to comment on the interview’s site.

 

Pullman: “If there is an exclusively religious sin (not exclusively Christian, but certainly clearly visible among some Christians) it is the claim that all virtue belongs to their sect, all vice to others.”

 

Me: If that is true, why does the “His Dark Materials” series put all virtue in the actions of unbelieving characters, and almost all vice in the believing characters? It would seem that this sin is not so exclusive to religious people, but appears in Pullman’s mind as well.

 

Pullman: “It [the claim that all virtue belongs to their sect, all vice to others] is so clearly wrong, so clearly stupid, so clearly counter-productive, that it leads the unbiased observer to assume that you’re not allowed in the religious club unless you leave your intelligence at the door. “

 

Me: Yeah, that’s the same thing that puts me off about Dawkins, Hitchens and the like – this “so clearly wrong, so clearly stupid, so clearly counter-productive,” view that all belief in God, and believers in God, are evil and/or stupid, and atheism the clever, moral thing. It “leads the unbiased observer to assume that you’re not allowed in the anti-religious club unless you leave your intelligence at the door. “

 

 

Why is it that some people are very critical of flaws they themselves share, but they only notice those flaws in others? There is no reason to think that prejudice is exclusive to believers- not if you have read anything by today’s most prominent atheistic writers, that is.