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COMMENT: How does an atheist parent teach children to be moral?

Given that primary schools across Britain are religious, there is widespread support for using religion as a framework to instil notions of good and evil. To many parents, religious education is the norm, and if it is not provided at school they will seek out a church which provides Sunday school or catechism. So why don't I go along with this? And how can an atheist, whose moral beliefs are presumably based on individual experience, provide an equivalent framework?



I would answer both questions the same way: a believer is faced with the exact same questions.

To illustrate this, I take the example of a relative who recently gave my children as a gift a small wooden cross depicting the annals from Noah's Ark. By giving this to us, I presume the idea is to use this parable from Exodus to teach my children that God saved the righteous Noah and all his menagerie from drowning because he was a good man and had heeded the revealed messages. So far so good.

But what about everyone else? They all drowned? ALL of them? And their animals too? Not a 2 month old baby ir fuzzy kitten worth saving that didn't get a spot on Noah's ark?

It seems there's a lot of explaining to do to get moral teaching from this child-friendly parable of God's genocidal tantrum. To extract anything like ethical guidelines a child could use in a playground is hard work.

Now I'm not saying it's impossible. A Christian parent may well be able to see this story to teach their child to be kind or patient and it might well work. But there are more Irish folktales I can think of which get these morals across than Bible stories. 

So how is a Christian parent at an advantage here? I have yet to hear of a Bible story or religious myth which doesn't take a whole lot of interpreting and explaining to get to anything like contemporary ethics. 

I wouldn't assume for a moment that a Christian parent is unable to teach their child to be kind, patient, forgiving, by explaining these things and illustrating them in a language their child can understand. But given the slavery-endorsing, mysogynistic, revenge-prone overtones of their holy book, why do Christian parents assume this of me?

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