WHY SHOULD WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO BE DEISTS?
All people are a mixture of good and evil. Some people are relatively good, while others are relatively evil. What accounts for this difference? One of the greatest factors is education. Children who are taught to be relatively good tend to stay relatively good, and children who are taught to be relatively evil tend to stay relatively evil. Deism is probably the best beginning for a personal philosophy because it is based on two great ideas.
The first of these great ideas is that we should base our beliefs on reason. Reason is one's ability to perceive reality as honestly and completely as one can, and then make logical conclusions based on what one perceives. Unless one is relying on reason, one is relying on superstitious thinking. Reason tends to embrace facts, and superstitious thinking tends to embrace superstitions. A superstition is a belief that is not based on reason. It is important to accept facts and reject lies because we have to understand reality to deal with it wisely. If a train is headed for us, we should use reason and get out of the way. We should not grab our lucky rabbit's foot and hope that the train misses us.
Not only does reason help us cope with reality, it also helps us be more moral. Mediaeval witch-hunts, the trial of Galileo, the Spanish Inquisition, and the current Arab-Israeli conflict are all examples of evil caused largely by superstitious thinking—or, if you prefer, a lack of reason.
The second of these great ideas is that reason leads us to believe that God exists. Here God does not mean the deity of the Bible or Koran. It means the real Supreme Being who purposefully created the universe, whoever the real Supreme Being is, which is probably not the deity of the Bible or Koran. The universe seems designed. Therefore, it probably has a Designer. The universe is also full of things that exist. How did those things get here? One thing caused another, and that other thing caused something else, and so forth.
Consider a human—me—for example. What caused me to exist? Here is the probable chain of events as I understand them: I am a human who came from other humans, and the first humans came from apes, and the first apes came from some other kind of mammal, and the first mammal came from a reptile, and the first reptile came from an amphibian, and the first amphibian came from a fish, and the first fish came from some other kind of multi-celled aquatic creature, and the first multi-celled aquatic creature came from a single-celled aquatic creature, and the first single-celled aquatic creature came from the Earth, and the Earth came from a nebula, and the nebula came from the galaxy, and the galaxy came from the Big Bang, and the Big Bang came from . . . something. Was that something God or a quantum fluctuation? Remembering the Argument from Design, we should conclude that that something is probably God.
Is God completely good? I don't know for certain. But there are some facts which indicate that God is, and there is every motivation to hope that God is. Assuming that God is completely good, that gives us much inspiration to be good. To be like God, we must be relatively good, and being relatively evil is contrary to the way we are meant to be.
With these thoughts in mind, I offer a series of lesson plans to help parents raise their children to be good Deists. I propose that parents spend about ten to twenty minutes a week educating their children in Deism and Deist-friendly philosophy to help their children be the best that they can be. I have a child, and I call this brief time together Philosophy Time. Remember that if you do not educate your child with your beliefs, other people will educate her or him with their beliefs; and there is a very good chance that you will strongly disagree with what those other people are teaching your child!
This reminds me of a friendly warning: Please carefully read these lessons before you try to teach them to your child. Some of the subjects mentioned in these lessons might not be suitable for younger children. Whether you need it or not, you have my permission to change any of these lessons to align completely with your beliefs and your child's needs. Just make sure that you document these changes accurately. I want you to get the credit for your ideas, and I want everyone else to get the credit for their ideas.
Lastly, this education series is an ongoing endeavor. (It had better be, because, at this time, I don't have nearly enough lesson ideas.) So please send me lesson ideas or, better yet, complete lessons so that we can make a Deist education series which is at least as good as any other religion's or philosophy's. You can email your lesson ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am particularly interested in Deist lessons from a multi-cultural perspective.
May reason prevail!
Public School Teacher
The lessons below are all in PDF. In order to read them you need to have Adobe Reader. If you don't already have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can download it for free by clicking here.
Lesson One: What is Wisdom?
Lesson Two: A Letter From Thomas Jefferson to His Nephew
Lesson Three: Benjamin Franklin's Moral Perfection Project
Lesson Four: Think For Yourself!
Lesson Five: Be Skeptical!
Lesson Six: Heaven's Gate - A Lesson on Revealed Religions
Lesson Seven: Look at Nature
Lesson Eight: Radio Interview Notes
Lesson Nine: A Quick Introduction to Some World Religions
Lesson Ten: A Deist-Friendly Moral System (Part One)
Lesson Eleven: A Deist-Friendly Moral System (Part Two)
Lesson Twelve: A Deist-Friendly Moral System (Part Three)
Lesson Thirteen: A Deist-Friendly Moral System (Part Four)
Lesson Fourteen: A Deist-Friendly Moral System (Part Five)
Lesson Fifteen: A Deist-Friendly Moral System (Part Six)
Lesson Sixteen: Deism and Death
Lesson Seventeen: Surf the Site!