Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hell, child abuse, and if Christianity were true

For a moment, I want to pretend that (some) Christianity is true, one that goes the whole cloth and asserts in eternal paradise in Heaven for the saved and eternal torture in Hell for the lost.

The reason I want to entertain this nonsense is because I think if (some) Christianity were true, we would see a very different treatment of Hell in how it gets discussed than we do now. Indeed, that Christians are ready and eager to teach their children about Hell, other than as an abysmally poor and desperate attempt to control their behavior, seems to be an indication that Christianity is not true and that Hell is not real.

If (some) Christianity and Hell were true, to the degree that Christians were responsible stewards of that truth, I expect that we would see a concerted cultural effort toward keeping Hell quiet and not a part of childhood, breaking the bad news first to teenagers at the earliest. I also expect that among those Christians who would seek to be ethically responsible, we would hear calls of agreement with Richard Dawkins's assessment that teaching children about Hell, and thus terrifying them with it, is a form of child abuse.

I can even imagine parents talking about the matter, perhaps after a tense Sunday morning in which a rebellious child acted out in church or created the usual pre-church fuss to an unusual degree. 
"Let kids be kids," an exasperated mother might say. 
"They can learn the hard truth when they get old enough to understand it, when it won't terrify them," a resigned father might concur.

In this situation, because the unnecessary terror of a child is very difficult to justify--and because I am assuming that the God of any true Christianity is not so tyrannically sadistic as to eternally torment a child for being on the wrong side of what he could not yet understand--there would be a strong ethical imperative to wait until some sort of coming of age of to mention Hell for the first time. 

Psychologists would offer sound research about which ages, in which situations, seem best. Some parents would dread the moment and seek to delay it. Others would celebrate it as an opportunity to glorify salvation. Only the most desperate, or the cruel, would subject a child to such an idea, though, before an age at which it could be handled relatively soberly and maturely. And those would be rightly noted as being on the wrong side of parental responsibility and the ethics of raising a child.

Note that this isn't so much of a stretch of the imagination. Though it is hardly formalized, and though it is a mistake routinely made, we generally have a sense that properly scary horror movies are not appropriate for very young audiences. This isn't just an arbitrary moralizing judgment either. Too many, maybe almost all, parents have suffered the agonizing pain of the nighttime terror of a child who, a year or two too early, watched a properly horrifying film. In fact, as with eventually comes up in some cases over Hell, many have also suffered the unnecessary expense, stress, and unfortunate stigma associated with requiring mental health interventions as a result. (I'm forced to recall a particularly awful month at a friend's home during which her seven-year-old daughter screamed in tormented terror beyond consolation throughout the night--with psychologist's orders to let her scream it out--merely for having watched the 1980s movie E.T., hardly a horror film.)


If (some) Christianity were true, and if we could count on Christians to be responsible stewards of the truth, then I conclude that Hell would be a topic for discussion on the adult side of some age of reason, and that these truth-bearing Christians would agree with Richard Dawkins's assessment that to do otherwise constitutes a form of child abuse.

And note that this isn't typically what we see. Among those Christians who believe that Hell is a reality, there is a perceived ethical imperative in the other direction--to teach children about Hell before they can handle the idea. That suggests that the Christian ethic places a higher value on securing the belief than on the mental well-being of the child--something that would be unlikely to be the case if Christianity were true. This suggests something sinister and abusive about the practice of teaching Hell to children, even if abuse is not the intended effect of the ones doing the teaching.


Nota bene: The comments below are a trainwreck. Readers are invited to read them, of course, and in the interest of honesty and transparency--which I value--I have chosen not to delete them. I misunderstood what commenter Tom Gilson was asking of me and made the mistake of failing to ask him for clarification. This led to me getting very annoyed with what I took to be him attempting to troll me. It's not exactly pretty. 

At any rate, I do not think his objection substantially impacts what I am getting at with this essay: a note that if Christians are to be ethical stewards of what they consider to be the truth, they should not be teaching children about hell before the age of accountability/reason. Indeed, on this point, Gilson agrees with me, though I don't think he agrees with (a) what is likely to be the valid age in this regard and (b) that it will be shown to constitute child abuse to scare children with Hell at a young age.

Nor do I think his objections impact in any serious way the gravity of this issue or the call for research that directly addresses this question. Indeed, this research is sorely needed, at least to offer dignity to those who claim to have been psychologically harmed by being raised religiously, especially in a tradition that teaches about Hell and teaches it early.

Congratulations, Tom Gilson. You have successfully trolled me, whether you originally intended to or not. Take a bow.

48 comments:

  1. Remember that old phrase "truth or consequences"? I have a new one with respect to your closing paragraph: "Evidence or ROFL."

    For now I'm siding with ROFL.

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    1. A bit ironic, you, saying that. Do you not agree?

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  2. Yes, I do not agree. A bit ironic you publishing this without any evidence to support you.

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    1. I'm not sure if you know what the word "suggests" means.

      I'm also not sure you're being honest. Almost every Christian I have ever met learned about hell as a very young child, grew up with it. Many suffered horrendous terror as a result. Many have the fear linger with them, should they leave their faith, for years or decades after no longer believing in it.

      Are you willing to make a statement that on the basis of the mental well-being of children, no child should be taught about Hell before some level of maturity that could be arguably identified with an "age of reason"?

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  3. Of course I know what "suggests" means. I'm contesting the words "that" and "this" that precede it in two of your sentences. I don't think there's any "that" or "this" to suggest anything. I think you're deriving your suggestions from impressions. What's your statistical basis for those impressions? What's the actual proportion of Christians who practice this supposed "perceived ethical imperative"? What's the confidence interval surrounding that proportion? (Would you like me to link to the pages where you informed me that's the only way you would claim to know anything?)

    I am willing to state that no child should be exposed to anything at all for which they have not reached an appropriate level of mental and emotional maturity. That's easy. It's a red herring with respect to your evidence-free conclusion-drawing, but quickly dispensed with, so I don't mind.

    Now, is it evidence or is it ROFL?

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    1. Tom, I'm just going to advice you not to follow this line of argument. You're not going to look genuine with it.

      Out of curiosity, at what age were you first taught about Hell? I learned about it before I can remember, didn't you?

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    2. Advise*, of course. Pardon the typo.

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  5. Excuse me: evidence-free suggestion-promoting. They weren't "conclusions." They were evidence-free, nevertheless. Still your first "suggestion"("the Christian ethic places a higher value on securing the belief than on the mental well-being of the child--something that would be unlikely to be the case if Christianity were true") was sufficiently established in your mind for you to base another "suggestion" ("something sinister and abusive about the practice of teaching Hell to children") upon it.

    Do you know how "suggests" is used in sociological and psychological literature? Not that carelessly, I assure you. If "suggests" is preceded by a "this," there is always some empirical substance to the "this."

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  6. James, whether I look genuine or not is a question of whether I am vulnerable to an ad hominem attack. It is not, however, a matter of whether my argument is vulnerable to such an attack, because you know that if you attack the argument that way, you're committing a fallacy.

    Is it evidence, or is it ROFL?

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    1. The more you insist, the more "ROFL" it becomes, but not as you suggest.

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  7. The age at which I first learned about Hell is a matter of anecdotal evidence. That's the first thing I need to say about that. The second thing is that I don't remember, and the third thing is that I don't remember being traumatized by it. I do remember thinking about it when I was old enough to process the information.

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  8. You and I think different things are funny. You think it's funny that I'm calling for evidence, I think it's funny you've made this evidence-free set of suggestions. Maybe we're both right. Feel free to laugh at me.

    Do you have any evidence to support your "that" and your "this"?

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    1. Tom, you're so bad at evidence that you don't know when to play the evidence card.

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  9. James, you keep responding with ad hominems. You've said it's ironic I'm asking the question. You've questioned my honesty. You've told me I won't look genuine pursuing this line. You've questioned whether I know what "suggests" means.You've told me I don't know when to "play the evidence card."

    Tell me this. If someone of completely solid reputation were to ask you the questions I've been asking, would you have an answer?

    Tell me this as well: do you really think that attacking me as a person has anything to do with attacking the argument I'm putting before you?

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    1. Tom, I do not know a single person or know of a single person who did not know of hell by the age of 9. I did some poking around on it, and the Internet seems to indicate that almost everyone in cultures dominated by Christianity is aware of hell before the age of 8, most before memory. You're asking me for evidence of something so commonly known that no one would do such a study--like asking me to find a peer-reviewed paper that says that the leaves of a sugar maple are green in summertime.

      Can you present a single example of a person raised with Christian parents or in a Christian environment who remained ignorant of Hell until after the age of 12 (or 10 for that matter)?

      As to whether or not it is psychologically damaging, if it wasn't for you (given your belief structure, that is difficult to assess), you are one of the lucky ones.

      As Cal Metzger pointed out to you the other day, you're wasting my time by having me chase rabbits down holes--and you're embarrassing yourself while you do it.

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  10. My face is burning red with embarrassment, James, even though I'm not the one who wrote

    "If one's default position about the evidence is to doubt that it supports the belief, and if one's chief effort is to look for ways to see how it may fail to constitute evidence, and if one's effort is redoubled and trebled by the efforts of others seeking to help you keep from misinterpreting evidence and jumping to erroneous conclusions, the trap can be avoided. Gilson knows this. He's a psychologist that relies heavily upon statistics, the foundational premises of which depend exactly upon this. Faith is used as a justification to avoid all of those possibilities, or rather to pretend that one need not engage in them and can still trust the conclusions that are drawn. (Hence, pretending to know what one doesn't know.)"

    And even though the only thing I've done here has been to call on you to present evidence. And to agree with you that if you want to laugh at me, you can laugh all you desire. And to raise a question about the difference between valid argument and ad hominem attacks.

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    1. Tom, I'm going to tell you why you're making an ass out of yourself by trying to make an ass out of me.

      You have called me to present evidence for something--if by this something we mean that children are typically taught about Hell at least after the age of 12--that is effectively ubiquitous. I seriously doubt you will find a single person who is familiar with Christianity that would disagree with the assertion that Christian parents who believe in Hell are very likely to teach their young children about it, unless the church they attend does it for them. You're asking me to quote a statistic that isn't available because it's so close to common knowledge that it hasn't been researched in all likelihood.

      Furthermore, you're attacking something I'm musing about, not something I'm presenting as a formal assertion. You're on the wrong side of this one. You're trying to attack me for something I didn't do. It makes you look petty and foolish.

      We both know that young kids are taught about hell--you and I are both examples of learning about it pre-memory--and we both know kids and adults both are tormented by it (I openly discuss in GDWD that if I'm open with myself and others about it, fear of hell is the primary reason I maintained connection to Christian beliefs for so long). We have a word, Stygiophobia, that means fear of hell, and there are people who require extensive counseling over it. You could consider, for instance, Religious Trauma Syndrome detailed by Drs. Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico (here: the former), though surely you don't really care. You're aiming to waste my time.

      Now, you did say, "I am willing to state that no child should be exposed to anything at all for which they have not reached an appropriate level of mental and emotional maturity." How interesting. On this, we can conclude, then, that you agree that you're basically advocating that no child should ever be taught about Christianity, or at least not exclusively or as absolute truth, for they have not reached an appropriate level of mental and emotional maturity to make that decision. In that, you agree strongly with Richard Dawkins. Or is that not what you're saying?

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  11. I refrained, James, from quoting four other similar statements that you had also made concerning the importance of statistical empiricism and knowing one's confidence intervals.

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  12. You start with another ad hominem. No point continuing

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    1. Tom, I didn't say you're wrong because you're an ass. I said you're an ass.

      It's only an ad hominem if I say your argument is wrong because of something about you. It doesn't mean "personal insult."

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  13. Thank you for the lesson.

    Here's a summary of some empirical research on religion and child abuse:

    http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2011/10/richard-dawkins-anti-scientific-hypocrisy/

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    1. Tom, those studies do not talk about what we're talking about: empirical evidence one way or the other regarding the teaching of hell. You're obfuscating again.

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    2. I will add that I feel like there has been some bait-and-switch going on here too. It is clear from my earlier responses to your commentary that I thought you were requesting evidence that children are taught about hell at a young age. Apparently, this is not what you were asking for, and instead of clarifying, you attempted to gloat. Shame.

      Now that I understand what you want clearly, I will admit that it appears that the relevant studies have not yet been conducted, but there is a growing push for those studies to be conducted, as indicated by the Religious Trauma Syndrome researchers, which are fledgling. I never--never--made a knowledge claim here, though, Tom, so let's not be disingenuous and act like I did.

      I made suggestions borne out upon what is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that will be very likely to inspire an upcoming study on this matter that I expect is very likely to vindicate Dawkins' claim. At best, what you should have read from this from me is another call that such research is sorely needed.

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  14. Not obfuscating. Providing additional relevant information. I didn't say it was exactly on topic, I said it was related to the topic of religion and child abuse. If additional empirical information, correctly identified for what it is, is "obfuscation," does that mean we should all be content with the clarity of less science? I doubt you think so, but one could almost come to that conclusion from what you have just said.

    Further on the relationship that research has with your thesis here:
    It seems to me that your position overlaps, at least, with the idea that raising children with religious teaching is harmful to them. The research I summarized there demonstrates, as well as any social/psychological research has ever demonstrated anything, that the opposite is the case.

    I don't have any research to present on the exact topic at hand. Apparently you don't either. Apparently, also, you have no interest in taking your own prescribed steps to avoid confirmation bias, to wit,

    "If one's default position about the evidence is to doubt that it supports the belief, and if one's chief effort is to look for ways to see how it may fail to constitute evidence, and if one's effort is redoubled and trebled by the efforts of others seeking to help you keep from misinterpreting evidence and jumping to erroneous conclusions, the trap can be avoided."

    I do appreciate the difference between the technical "ad hominem" and the informal use of the term, substituting for "gratuitous insult." You are right: once out of the many times in this thread I called you on your ad hominem fallacies, it was actually a mere insult instead. I apologize for the error.

    Good day, Dr. Lindsay.

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    1. Tom, when you choose studies that only support your thesis, you are obfuscating, particularly when those studies support your thesis indirectly, as here, failing to account for possible confounding variables.

      Effectively all of the benefits noted in those studies are not peculiar to religion. Religious ritual has been noted as a calming, anti-anxiety agent, along with other forms of ritual and social interactions and activities, not to mention tranquilizers and alcohol. Religion usually preaches (ingroup) prosociality (that turns out to increase outgroup hostility), see Religion, Personality, and Social Behavior, Saroglou (2013). Many of the benefits you indicate, and thus use to dismiss potential harms, can be explained in terms of having a strong prosocial attitude in a close-knit community of like-minded peers. So yes, more information can be obfuscating if it is confounded or off-point.

      I will admit to having reacted perhaps a bit poorly here, but, of course, I was under the impression that you were playing the fool by asking for something other than what you were asking--which you had ample indication of but did not correct (though this does not excuse my failure to ask for clarification). I will also note that the matter of the psychological harms of religious indoctrination is a personal one for me for reasons that are nobody's business (they do not have to do with me but rather with some friends whose personal matters I'm not willing to betray here).

      There is a sore need for research in this area, and it is particularly horrible that you seem to be trying to distract from that. If you're so certain that indoctrination about hell (and various matters related to guilt and shame--I'm a former Catholic, after all) cannot possibly constitute child abuse, then you should endorse this research to vindicate your expectation.

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  15. You posted while I was composing what I thought was my final post. I need to just ask one more thing: Was this not a knowledge claim? "And note that this isn't typically what we see. Among those Christians who believe that Hell is a reality, there is a perceived ethical imperative in the other direction--to teach children about Hell before they can handle the idea."

    If not, then it was at least cleverly disguised as one.

    Good day to you.

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    1. That is a knowledge claim, yes. It's been a part of every single church I've ever been involved with, and among all Christians who believe in Hell that I've ever known, it seems important to teach them about Hell as early as possible. This may mean, to their minds, when it is appropriate (as discussion forums on this topic indicate), but that often ends up being at the age of 5-8 years of age (as those same discussion forums indicate). That would be an indication for me that there is an imperative to teach the children about hell before they are at an age where they can handle it psychologically (which I would estimate, at the least, is likely to be 12-13 or older, based upon the way my own children handled horror movies that they watched earlier than that age, among other experiences).

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    2. So, touche. I made one knowledge claim, but not the relevant one. This kind of dishonest pedantry is the kind of thing that has prevented me from being willing ever to comment on your blog again.
      You knew what I meant.

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  16. 1. I do support research of the sort you propose, provided it could be done in an ethical manner. I trust I never gave you any indication otherwise.
    2. The study that I summarized there is a gold-standard study, with a long book-length research report explaining how it dealt with mediating, moderating, and confounding variables. It would be premature for you to conclude that these were not accounted for.
    3. I am sorry about the harm you felt from your upbringing. I assure you that while it may be widespread, undoubtedly more so than it should be, it is hardly ubiquitous among Christians.
    4. I appreciate your admission of error. I'm not sure how I was supposed to have understood your responses any differently than I did, but I recognize there must have been some miscommunication going on.

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    1. Thanks, Tom.

      On #3, it's hardly my own upbringing (which was effectively great) that I'm personally bothered by. I have lingering Catholic issues (hell and some sense of general guilt), but those are minor and mostly managed now. It was friends of mine who were raised in fundamentalist households. Those cases are not pretty to behold and the consequences have been dire in several cases.

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    2. I admit to having a little trouble figuring out what was unclear about what evidence I was asking for. I admit to having a little trouble figuring out how your post should have been read as a call for research from the beginning.

      But maybe the reason I can't figure that out is because I am (or at least appear to be, depending on which of these we're looking at) uninformed as to what "suggest" means, acting with doubtful honesty, not appearing genuine, bad at evidence, wasting your time, chasing down rabbit holes, embarrassing myself, making an ass out of myself, obfuscating, petty, foolish, playing bait-and-switch, and disingenuous; and for emphasis, I simply just am an ass.

      I suppose that could explain it.

      Anyway, good evening to you, and best of luck to you on determining where your confirmation bias ends and real information begins. I do support the idea of having that research done.

      In fact, I support any research that might be relevant to verbal abuse of any description, what it reveals about those who practice it, how it affects people, how it affects communication, etc. Especially as it relates to religion and to children, of course.

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    3. I present no illusions that I handled myself poorly on this comment thread. My annoyance at what I perceive to be mistreatment of my offer for sincerity on your comment threads a few times now has bled through.

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  17. Oops. I missed "dishonest pedantry." My mistake.

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  18. You can't protest a call for empirical evidence, James.

    When your faith makes truth claims about the real world, it subjects itself to scientific inquiry.

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    1. I do not protest a call for empirical evidence now that I know what Tom was talking about. My mistake was in misidentifying what he was requesting evidence for, making an assumption about that, and then proceeding upon that assumption without asking for clarification. I believe I have made a plain statement indicating that now.

      I call strongly for empirical evidence for what Tom asked for. There's a growing body of case studies being investigated by Dr. Marlene Winell into what she is calling Religious Trauma Syndrome, but as it is a newly named phenomenon with a social taboo on studying it, it has not yet qualified to be part of the DSM and thus has not yet engendered the kind of attention from professional psychologists that I'd dare say it deserves. I've also stated that in this comment thread once I realized what Tom was asking for.

      My "faith" has made no claim here--that's an inappropriate use of the word "faith." My assessment of a phenomenon that I have noticed in varying degrees of severity and with surprising commonness led me to make the statement I made. As I noted, it should be considered a clear call for research in this field.

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    2. And you insulted someone when they requested evidence for claims that you couldn't support.

      Tom was right to call you out on peddling unsupported claims. You seem to have admitted it early in the discussion, only to backpedal now and call your claim a "call for research."

      Somehow, that's hard to believe given this isn't your first instance of unethical conduct here, as well as the apparent personal animosity towards religion. But I think I'd rather suspend judgement there.

      Could you tell me where you got your degrees from?

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    3. I admitted my mistake with Tom's request. That you brought it up again is pathetic.

      It's none of your business where I got my degrees from.
      Good day to you.

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    4. Actually, you didn't. You admitted to your failure to understand him and your failure to clarify what he was talking about.

      But you never apologized for acting like an asshat. You ought to apologize for that.

      The fact that you were peddling unsupported claims is also a serious dent to your credibility. You should address that, if you believe you deserve to be taken seriously.

      NB- It's not necessarily a failing on your part, but your paranoia over everybody who disagrees with you being a troll is absurd. Would be nice if you got over that.

      Jon Mel.

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    5. I don't have patience for this kind of thing.

      But look--I'm such a dishonest, paranoid asshat who is undeserving of being taken seriously because I lack so severely in credibility that I let it stand on my own blog.

      I believe I said "Good day."

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    6. I don't buy that.

      If you have the patience to verbally abuse people who ask you for evidence of your own claims, and you accuse them of being trolls for simply disagreeing with you, then you ought to have the patience to consider the unethical nature of your own conduct and accept that you're being called out on your behavior.

      If you think it's okay to verbally abuse people, and you're willing to teach your children to do the same, then nothing more needs to be said here.

      You don't have to respond. Rest relieved that this my final post on your conduct in this thread.

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  19. James,

    What you may not know is that there's a kind of minor apologetics industry built up around an emotional (over)reaction to the same kind of musing about Hell from Dawkins lo these many years ago -- I think much of the reaction you got from Tom can be explained as triggering this response.

    I would say that apologists tend to react to the question you raise (and other similar, ones) in the following way:

    - Treat a hypothetical question like yours (should teaching children about Hell be considered a kind of child abuse?) as an unfounded assertion. This provides the opportunity to divert from the topic while making the one who asked the hypothetical seem confused or hypocritical.
    - Demand evidence for any premise in the hypothetical. This is a kind of category error -- while Tom may be correct that your post is not without knowledge claims, he appears disingenuous (at best) by challenging the premises used in your hypothetical. This is like responding to the though experiment "What if the globe was, on average, ten degrees warmer?" with a demand for evidence that we can adequately measure global temperatures -- it completely misses the point of the question, and prevents adequate discussion of what should be an important question.

    I have to say that this reaction to the question is a little successful -- it does tend to divert from the question being posed (and usually ends up with some serious misrepresentations of Dawkins, btw). When you wrote your OP, I rolled my eyes, and thought, "Uh oh, wait for it, wait for it..."

    But yes, as you've already noticed, Tom has trolled the post -- you raised an interesting question, and his comments have helped forestall the question being explored in any meaningful way.


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    1. Definitely worth it for the road it led me on last night, despite the frustration. I'm very glad to have become aware of the relevant work of Dr. Marlene Winell and the related involvement of Dr. Valerie Tarico (both psychologists) and have written a new post to that effect this morning.

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  20. A number of points come to mind:
    1. Heaven-afterlife reward and hell-afterlife punishment is not something original or unique to Christianity. You'll find after-life judgment in the Egyptian book of the dead and many other cultures. Humanity has been wrangling with these ideas broadly for a long time.
    2. The quality of Christian parents is about as broadly ranged as the quality of all parents. There are great Christian parents and lousy ones. A better question might be whether Christianity provide tools and a framework for healthy parenting and how/whether teaching about hell fits into it.
    3. Christian teaching about hell also varies widely with the Orthodox and RC adding purgatory into the mix. Christians also vary on the question of who is lost and why. While American evangelicalism tends towards the narrow, as has various other traditions, other traditions are a bit more broad. CS Lewis of course tends towards the broad. You can even find conservative philosophers like Peter Kreeft outlining interesting ideas about whether Socrates is in heaven, etc. The diversity of positions will likely impact the nature of the instruction.

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    1. I was raised in a Christian home with both my father and grandfather as Christian ministers in a conservative Reformed denomination, one that teaches things like predestination and reprobation. I cannot once recollect a time that I heard in my family or extended family on either side an adult holding hell over my head as a threat to insure church participation or belief alignment. I certainly heard it from others, but never once within my family.

      I remember as a boy watching the Towering Inferno and going to bed that night being gripped with the fear that I might die and go to hell. I sought out my parents and they sat me down and assured me of Christ's love and mercy towards me and that in the event something might happen to me he would certainly work the best towards me. I felt relieved and went to bed.

      I can remember feeling manipulated by evangelical evangelists working this angle, but not my family.

      So while I know that Christians, especially from particular traditions tend to use the fear lever to try to elicit behavioral and belief compliance, to paint this as "the norm" or "the rule" over the whole faith, I don't buy.

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  21. I agree with Paul Vander Klay. I was never THREATENED with the prospect of hell as a punishment for my wrongdoings. In fact, hell is such a serious consequence that it is not mentioned to children until they are old enough to understand FIRST, God's mercy and forgiveness. Did you study that?

    As a doctoral student in education, myself, I am appalled at your lack of credible references. Have you any first hand accounts of this "abuse" from families? From teachers who have witnessed Christian children being abused and their effects in the classroom? Have you taken a pool of children either qualitatively or quantitatively? Have you interviewed Christian therapists about this issue? Have you ACTUALLY spoken to ANYONE who has a basis of faith in Christ? When you do, then you will have conducted scholarly-worthy research. Until then, it's piddle.

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    1. As someone with common sense, I'm rather surprised that you ask for references about a musing speculation. Let me address some of what you've said, just for fun, though.

      1. I knew about Hell (and that it's what happens to bad people) from before memory. Everyone I have ever met has too. I certainly was not old enough to know it is a fiction and probably wouldn't have been until at least 13 or 14, to gauge my own experience.

      2. Have I any firsthand accounts of this "abuse" from families? Yes, several. Since I don't divulge personal information about my friends or former friends on the Internet without their consent, I'm not telling you about it, though. You can do like the others and call me a liar if you want, but you're wrong. Thanks for being as asshole if you do.

      3. From teachers: This is a ridiculous question that goes against the grain of the speculation I presented.

      4. Pool of children: No, because it involves religion and would make religion look bad, this kind of research is considered taboo and doesn't get done. It's got a brand of being unethical to even ask the question. That aside, I don't do this kind of research. I'm a mathematician. This blog post was speculation.

      5. Christian therapists: If you mean therapists who have helped recovering Christians, yes. I have. Thanks.

      6. I was a person with a basis of faith in Christ, and roughly 88% of the population where I live is. I speak with few other sorts of people.

      7. This is a call for scholarly research, not so much as a case-study.

      Why can't you people understand that?

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