Top twenty tips for turning Christian children into atheist adults

(An excerpt from my book.*)

There is a special type of atheist that deserves your attention. These atheists were raised in Christian families, and walked away from their faith almost as soon as they left their…
…homes. Many of them are quite bitter about it. In speaking with these atheists, I noticed certain patterns popping up again and again. Things their parents said or didn’t say, things their Sunday school teachers told them, things their families modeled for them, issues their…
…pastors didn’t address. These adult-child interactions were so spiritually detrimental it was as though these parents and pastors were consulting a manual on how to turn Christian children into atheist adults. If such a manual existed, it would read something like this.
1. When your children ask difficult questions–especially questions you don’t know how to answer–just tell them God works in mysterious ways and leave it at that.

2. Resist the urge to ever say “I don’t know, let’s look into that” to your children.
3. If your children persist in asking difficult questions, make them feel bad about not having enough faith.

4. If your children express doubts about Christianity, don’t discuss the reasons for their doubts. Just make them feel guilty about it.
5. Don’t encourage your children to pray for boring things like faith, wisdom, and obedience to God.

6. Avoid teaching or talking about science to your children.

7. Tell them science is a tool of the enemy.
8. Avoid talking about reasoned philosophical arguments for claims in the Bible.

9. Ignore Paul’s admonition to test everything. Teach your children that all philosophy is vain and deceptive.

10. Don’t make a regular family activity out of reading and discussing the Bible.
11. If you insist on studying the Bible as a family, make sure it’s as boring and confusing as possible.

12. Don’t encourage or teach your children how to study the Bible on their own.
13. Don’t discuss the basics of Christianity with your children. Assume they picked these up through osmosis.

14. Assume that a superficial understanding of the Bible is the only thing children need to be prepared for life in a world desperate to turn them away from their faith.
15. Assume that vacation Bible schools and mission trips alone will prepare your children for the relentless challenges to faith they’ll face in the world.

16. Don’t consult outside sources for help in preparing your children for life as adult Christians. Avoid apologetics.
17. Focus on God’s perfect love and forgiveness, but not on sin and God’s perfect justice. Make sure your children know Jesus was a really nice man who tolerated everyone.
18. Focus on sin and God’s justice, but not on God’s love and forgiveness. Make sure your children feel like they have to work to earn salvation and God’s love.
19. Make Christian life seem as onerous and joyless as possible to your children. If it doesn’t feel miserable and empty, they’re doing it wrong.
20. Demonstrate to your children that you don’t take the Bible too seriously. Model for your children the idea that having faith in God and Jesus Christ means making no sacrifices, no difficult decisions, and no real efforts to defend their faith.
Obviously, your goal is not to make atheists out of your Christian children, but to strengthen their faith and make them impervious to attack. You won’t do this by underpreparing your children in their Christian lives and overprotecting them from exposure to the strategies and...
... tactics of their spiritual enemies.

Think of it this way. Many of you have children on sports teams. You wouldn’t tolerate a coach who failed to prepare your children for competition. If a coach never made your children learn and practice the skills they needed to win,... would find a new coach. If a coach avoided games against tough teams because he was afraid your children would be discouraged, you would complain that your children weren’t being prepared for the big game at the end of the season. But how many of you are letting this...
...happen to your children spiritually?

Whether in preparation for athletics, adult life, or the spiritual struggles they will face throughout their lives, children must be made ready for adversity. Christian parents and clergy are failing their children as badly as the worst...
...possible coaches when they leave young Christians defenseless for the religious battles they will eventually face.

You’re already reading this book, which means you’re aware of the challenges ahead and are motivated to help your children. Take heart. As the Bible tells us...
..., the war has already been won, all you have to do is claim the victory. This book, and the resources I recommend throughout, are designed to help you coach your children to do just that.

(* I'll be submitting the manuscript to the pub in a few months. 🤞)

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More from @sarahsalviander

30 Dec 20
The intractable fact is, imperfect man cannot save imperfect man. In all the thousands of years of evolving approaches to problem-solving, it has never happened. It hasn't even progressed. We're still struggling with exactly the same problems we struggled with millennia ago.
We can't look to man for an *objective* philosophy of science, because no one can even agree on what defines the limits of science. The problem is, we have as many different worldviews as we do people, because we're perpetually hamstrung by four basic human limitations.
Those four basic human limitations are:

1. Limited perspective
2. Misleading emotions
3. Intellectual inertia
4. Lack of humility

That doesn't mean we can't find ways to occasionally surmount them, which is why we have modern science, but we'll ALWAYS struggle against them.
Read 11 tweets
16 Dec 20
There are many good arguments and evidences for Christianity. Being exposed to those is why I'm now a believer after being raised atheist in a secular country.

What I often hear in response to these arguments and evidences is reasons why they're maybe, possibly not true.
They're all well-supported, and I know my belief is justified. But, as with any human knowledge, they're not 100.0% proven. There's room for a little doubt. Therefore, some people feel justified in rejecting them. That's why would-be apologists often get stuck debating stuff... the premises of the cosmological argument, thinking this will defeat the doubter's doubt and drag him over the finish line. No. These arguments can go on ad infinitum, because when someone's determined to hold onto doubt, you're not going to pry him out of it that way.
Read 10 tweets
12 Nov 20
The black hole epic shows that people have an especially difficult time with anything that is vast, strange, and invisible. It's normal to want the emotional comfort of dealing with what is touchable, visible, familiar, and safe.
But this need leads to an attitude that is a significant part of atheistic thinking and has caused science a lot of trouble: "If I can't see it or touch it, it doesn't exist, and I don't have to think about it."
Black holes explode that attitude by demonstrating in the most dramatic way possible that the universe cannot be understood on those limited terms. Black holes are too big and important to ignore; they force people to struggle with something that stretches their understanding...
Read 8 tweets
9 Nov 20
If you think Genesis 1 belongs in the panoply of other creation stories, or that it copied some of them, I challenge you to actually read those other creation stories and compare them with Genesis 1. The differences are striking. These stories are not even in the same category.
Elements of pagan creation stories:

- chaotic pre-existing cosmos
- first god emerges from the chaos
- produces lots of other gods
- personal drama, warring between gods
- the world and humans made from the corpse of a dead god
- objects like the Sun and Moon personified by gods
Style of pagan creation stories:

- lengthy prose
- dramatic language

Not all non-Abrahamic creation stories follow this exact pattern, but many of them, including the ones supposedly "copied" by the Genesis author, do.
Read 8 tweets
3 Nov 20
I keep seeing this silly atheist claim that if Christians read their Bibles, they'll stop believing. As if God's Word can testify against God. It's the exact opposite. The more I study scripture, the more my questions are answered, the stronger my faith, the greater my peace.
I experienced something similar in physics. As a freshman, I'd been swayed by alternative physics that flew in the face of conventional science. Agitated, I asked one of these renegade scientists how I could proceed in my university studies if what I was being taught was wrong.
He said it was necessary to master conventional physics before I could reject it, and encouraged me to study hard. So, I did. And through that I realized that conventional physics was actually quite sound. Far from rejecting it, I came to embrace it, and ended up going for a PhD.
Read 4 tweets
29 Oct 20
Modern physics is sometimes used to claim there's no such thing as objective truth. Is that a valid thing to do? Let's think this through.

We don't know for certain that objective truth exists. We have to assume it. And for certain worldviews, such as Christianity...
...there's a firm basis from which to make the claim that objective truth exists.

So, let's go ahead and assume it does. The question is, does our knowledge of modern physics—the subjectivity of relativity and the probabilistic fuzziness of quantum mechanics—disprove it?
First, the obvious defeaters. If there's no objective truth, then there's no basis for making the claim that modern physics is valid. How do we know modern physics applies for everyone at all times and in all places? Or for anyone anywhere? We don't.
Read 12 tweets

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