18 August 2007

A beast with good taste in literature

Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan (which I got from the library, but now will own since the dog chewed off half the front cover and I'll by the library a replacement). It is a collection or essays for atheist parents discussing how to raise ethical children without religious structure. I picked it up because I was wondering how to deal with the whole Santa Claus issue (who does visit our house every year), and it provides some good advice on that - in this case, to encourage critical thinking by responding to requests from the child about Santa ("How does he come in when we don't have a chimney?") with Socratic questions that further encourage the development and growth of critical thinking skills. ("Getting in without a chimney does seem tough. What do you think happens?"). The question-and-answer process can lead the child to a gentle discovery of the truth rather than an abrupt disillusionment.

The book also discusses death and how to discuss death from an atheist perspective. Additional essayists are represented who cover the topics of morals, and the motivation to be good from the position that there is no afterlife.

One interesting tool referenced in this book was the Belief-O-Matic at Beliefnet.com note the legal disclaimer from their site: "Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul."