I don’t believe that one should not explain religion to children and instead wait for them to grow up and “make up their own mind”. It’s as stupid as saying one should not teach them maths or science and should instead let them grow up ignorant and uneducated and then, when they’re 18, they can make up their own mind about how much 2+2 is. However, I don’t believe in filling their heads with dogma, either. What I do is wait until they are old enough to understand the real explanations, the real theology, and then teach them as I would adults. The thing is, religion is demanding, much more so than science. I could explain forces and vectors to my kids at a very early age; I could teach them how to code in Logo almost as soon as they could read and write. But religion requires a much more advanced and mature ability for abstract thinking, and although you can fill children’s heads with formulaic explanations, in my opinion that would be worse than useless. As a result, I had to start by giving them a very good foundation of rational thinking, problem solving and, essentially, breaking down complexity into solvable parts. At the age of 13, with my older kid, I’m still not sure whether he quite gets is, but I did explain quite a lot about Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, in the sense that I explained how they approach similar issues from different standpoints and provide valid answers, and how different theologies can produce essentially identical ethics. Also, I try to strip down the superficial and get to the core issues; for instance, I explained Christianity as a top-down approach, of a revelation of deep truths from God’s perspective, that’s essentially identical to what was later revealed in the near-death testimonies. Buddhism, on the other hand, is the bottom-up approach by a man who figured out the fundamental problems and worked out ways of solving them, figuring out some of the most sophisticated spiritual truths in the process. Hinduism, however, is a mixture of both top-down revelations through scriptures and bottom-up processes of Yoga, and isn’t as much a religion as a set of religious paths wrapped together by common culture and civilization. Judaism is a history of one tribe’s process of figuring out transcendence, with varying degrees of success; if not for the magnificent phenomenon of Jesus, which required knowledge of the backstory and context of his teachings, it would be historically irrelevant and nobody would care about it; transformed and reshaped by Christianity, it reaches great sophistication and value, although most parts of the traditional Judaism are useful primarily as examples of the things people tried, before Jesus, and failed. But not all religions are good. Islam, for instance, is a product of a deranged mind of a madman, who heard a few things here and there about Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, it all got mixed up in his head and spewed forth in form of psychotic hallucinations. Unlike good religions, Islam is spiritually worthless and exists only for ill. If Satan ever created his own ideal religion, it’s Islam. It makes people dumb, unquestioning, deluded and violent. Essentially, it’s a false religion, trash that needs to disappear. It’s a spiritual virus that reduces everything it touches to shit.
At one point, I tried to explain the concept of prayer, and you might find my explanation interesting, so I’ll repeat it here.
Prayer is often misunderstood, by stupid people who aren’t trained in abstract thought, as a wish-list one recites in the direction of God, expecting him to deliver. However, that’s not how intelligent people understand it. To them, prayer is not about asking God to produce material benefits to the believer, it’s not even about talking. In fact, it’s the process of focused and directed listening. In the process of prayer, you attempt to focus your mind on the best available approximation of God you can reach towards, with the highest, most sophisticated parts of your spirit, and trying to sense what it’s telling you. It’s like sensing a magnetic field with a compass; you watch the needle move and it helps you sense the lines of magnetic force, and thus you scan the topology of the magnetic field. In the process of prayer, you learn about God; where He is, where He is not, what do you need to be in order to feel harmony with That which is Out There. You learn how to feel alignment, and you learn how to feel discrepancy. You learn to live in such a way that you feel approval from that direction, you feel you’re doing the right thing. You do talk, but you talk in order to feel out the direction, you feel which words align with it the best, which thoughts align with it the best, and later, which actions align with it the best. Even learning science and maths, or poetry and literature, can be a form of prayer, if it helps you extend your mind’s reach, make it more flexible and powerful, allow you to think clearly, to feel clearly and remove confusion. Prayer can be a sophisticated and subtle thing. Of course, it can be an act of brainwashing yourself by mindlessly repeating phrases which you don’t even understand. Different people, according to their level of comprehension, understand prayer differently, but that is so with everything; people also understand gravity differently, according to their intellectual prowess.
So yeah, that’s how I teach children about religion. 🙂