Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Children, Mystery, Scepticism

Posted on | December 6, 2011 | No Comments

Some time ago (actually, over 18 months ago, which makes me realize how time flew by since I created this blog) I commented here the atheist education of my children. More precisely, I put forward the idea that beyond stereotypes (atheist, Christian, Muslim) my children were first and foremost happy, curious and gifted with a surprisingly lucid outlook on the world as they knew it.

Luckily I was able to measure how far ahead we were when I had a talk with my eldest about their Ethics and Religions class. There they discuss the notion of “God” and I asked my son what he thought about that. “Pfft!” he answered, as if I was completely dumb, “everyone knows that these are just made-up stories…” Thus I realized two things: 1) Teenage years will be a nightmare and 2) I still had to make sure they were tolerant of others’ opinions.

Fortunately I discovered that this openness was already there. I surprised a talk between my two boys, were the oldest told the youngest that some students in his class did no longer believe in Santa Claus and that, in the end, differences in opinion didn’t matter so much.

This eventually forced me to think about how I would disclose to him that indeed, Santa was nothing but a myth. Just like the Mysteries of ancient religions, he would thus be initiated into the truth of the Holiday Season. And just like the Mysteries did, his view of the world would be turned upside down – it would only mark the first of many questions: what about the Tooth Fairy? Easter Bunny?

But the aura of this discovery must not turn into a pretext to feel superior, as the possessor of restricted knowledge. Much to the contrary, the mystory he will be introduced to will be that of scepticism and of humility: humility to recognize that we do not know everything, that yesterday’s obvious answers may no longer hold today.

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