In my part of the country it’s very common to plan to raise your kids to be “open-minded about religion”. I know quite a few parents who are taking this route, and it seems to be becoming more and more popular. I respect the sentiment that drives this choice, but lately I’ve been wondering: is such a thing even possible?
If being in a state of open-mindedness means that you’re asking questions, seeking knowledge, and attempting to fairly evaluate data without bias, it seems that that should be a transitory state — at some point, you find the answers. And once you’ve found the answers to your questions, you’re no longer open to the alternatives (unless you get some new data) because you’ve already evaluated them and rejected them as untrue.
Yet I rarely hear open-mindedness about religion described this way. It’s usually described as a long-term plan, a way of life, e.g. “It’s important to us to raise our children to be open-minded about religion.” It seems to me that if you intentionally plan to stay in that state indefinitely, then what you’re really saying is that you believe that objective truth about spiritual matters cannot be known. And if that’s the case, then you’re taking an active stance against the three major monotheistic belief systems (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) that teach that objective truth does exist and can be known. And if you’ve closed your mind to that, the religions to which a large majority of believers in the world belong, then you’re not very open-minded. (Which is fine — I don’t mean that as a derogatory statement.)
I think that, in practice, being “open-minded about religion” means that you’re only open to different points of view within a small slice of what is traditionally considered “religion” — some of the Eastern belief systems or perhaps New Age spirituality. But you’re flatly, boldly rejecting Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
I’ve found this interesting to think about as I hear this phrase more and more lately. It’s definitely not a mindset I know much about — my old plan was to raise my kids (if I ever had any, which I didn’t plan to) to be atheists, and now I’m Catholic. 🙂 Yet this philosophy seems to work for a lot of families, which makes me think that maybe I’m missing something. What do you think? Is it possible to raise your kids to be open-minded about religion?
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