A perceptive reader commented about my recent post “Grandchildren.” First, he pointed out that grandparents should ask their grandchildren’s parents about how to answer when their grandchildren ask important philosophical questions. I basically agree, except in those cases where parental advice harms children. Of course, it is hard to judge what advice is harmful. For example, some see any kind of religious education as a form of child abuse while others see it is healthy. Liberal democracies, including the United States, were set up to allow parents the freedom to indoctrinate their children into any religion, but not the freedom to force compliance with the religious beliefs in the public domain. Unfortunately, conservative legislatures and courts have been increasingly reversing these trends in the United States since about 1980.
Second, my reader suggested that what we teach children often says more about us than it does about reality—whether we teach them Catholicism, Islam, racism, or misogyny or whatever. Of course, any instruction we give is obviously from our perspective. However, I believe that it is more likely that our ideas correspond to reality if they are based on a scientific worldview which proportions assent to evidence. In the case of afterlife—the topic addressed in the previous post—this belief has no basis in reason or evidence. I understand the value of the noble lie, but I think the truth is more likely to make us free.
And of course, I believe that death and suffering should be optional.