The Wisdom of Alice
I’m really happy with my understanding of the world based on what I understand Naturalism to be telling me. In the past I’ve found that I was coming up with theories, then when I came across a theory that made sense I was applying it, but it never went smoothly, something always came up that didn’t fit in with my theory. So I jumped from theory to theory until finding Naturalism in July 2007. 18 months is probably the longest that I’ve had a theory that I’ve applied to my life where in 18 months I’ve not yet had a contradiction to the reality that I’ve experienced. I feel enlightened. I tell my friends this and they’re not sure what to think. When things go wrong in my marriage and I ‘attempt’ to speak with my mother about it – she tells me ‘well you’ve made your choices’, so then I tell her, I don’t have free will, she seems to think I’m trying to cop out of something and is very disapproving of me. In fact most people are disapproving of my belief in NFWism [no free will-ism: not having contra-causal free will]. I’m just really sorry they don’t ‘get it’. NFWism allows me complete acceptance of what is. It allows me to have compassion for all people. It allows me to make informed decisions and respond to everyone with the understanding that they ‘couldn’t have done otherwise’. This is an emancipating position. Yet still people look at me and think I’m some how being a smart-arsed shirker of responsibility, who hasn’t quite understood how life works yet – a dreamer who really doesn’t get it! Ironic that they have it so back to front – and yet my world view allows me to have total compassion for them and their attitude – whilst they look at me in judgment. It really throws the Christian door knockers - LOL!
…So the better I understand Naturalism, the better I can enact those principles in my life and use the rationality of naturalism in my thoughts and actions, the more likely that is going to permeate all my relationships and influence those around me. My eldest is currently 7 years old, and I find overt examples of my Naturalistic world perspective come out in my discussions with him regarding interactions between himself and his younger brother. Kids are very good at detecting false realities, so I have to be careful what I say if I want to maintain any authority or respect. I find that if I stick to Naturalistic parameters, my argument is quite based in reality and therefore acceptable.
I can’t see any problem with introducing all aspects of Naturalism including NFW [no contra-causal free will] to my children. Children integrate what they learn very easily and can also easily see when things don’t add up or make sense. If they feel safe they will talk about what is not adding up for them and allow you the opportunity to clarify concepts. One example of this for me was when my son’s friend told him that he would burn in hell because he didn’t believe in God. As my son approached me with his concerns, I was able to give my perspective, which was satisfactory and caused much relief.
If you hold Naturalistic beliefs and are able to concurrently have good self-esteem then there is no reason why your child wouldn’t follow you to do the same. If anything Naturalism has improved my self-esteem, as I’m more grounded in reality, feel more confident about my understanding of the world and have more compassion for everyone around me, which has lead to my feeling more valuable in society and therefore created higher self-esteem.
With my first child I had a go at punishment as a parenting technique. It caused us both lots of distress [and] it clearly didn’t work – it wasn’t effective in outcomes. Now I go for a more effective method – I change the circumstances so that I achieve the outcome I desire. The child may or may not understand what I’m doing, or why, but if I get the outcome I want and the child is not distressed it’s win-win. I have no concerns that this will create problems later on, as I explain everything I’m doing and allow the child to learn how to see other perspectives at their own rate – developing compassion (the ability to see another’s perspective) in the child is the key to socially functioning adults.
And Stephen writes:
…the other day I was talking to my daughter about what school she will be going to. She was worried in case she got "a rough one." I explained that she was an amazing biological machine able to adapt to the situation and do well if necessary, that this was the result of billions of years of natural selection going right back to the first self replicating molecule, that she couldn't take ultimate credit for the fact but still she has this amazing ability.Oh and I told her we'd get her Karate lessons too :-)
She is 10, didn't bat an eye lid but it gave her justified confidence (along with the offer of karate lessons), she stopped worrying and cheered up.
I think she's used to having one strange dude for a father :-)
[Relatedly, see this interview with Dale McGowan on raising kids without supernatural beliefs.]