I was pondering the subject of intellectual inoculation this morning. Primarily, which is the inoculation: To be able to read factual scientific evidence with piles of data behind it and still ignore it because it goes against your religious/political point of view? Or to be able to reject any mode of thinking that goes against your ideology even if you’ve seen substantive and reproducible evidence to go against it? Or to be able to read rhetorically persuasive writing and see through the BS and reach reasoned and logical conclusions.
I’ve written before about how, in the last few years, I’ve gone from being a fairly religious (and certainly religiously active) young earth creationist to a skeptic and an atheist. I didn’t have anybody in my life “preaching” science and atheism to me, but as I had doubts about my religion and religious upbringing, I started to read work from both (many?) sides of the science/religion debate, and ultimately found the scientific world view to be compelling and true. During that time I also had religious friends who did some of the same reading, but stuck to their religious world view. I’ve also had some friends who are occupying a middle ground of doubt. It’s easy to dismiss the true believers as not giving the evidence a fair shake, but I think that at least some of them read with as open a mind as they could based on their history. So what is the inoculation?
To me, their “evidence” for God is weak and ridiculous when natural explanations are readily available and more in-line with the evidence. To me, they’re being close-minded. For them, that scientific evidence is ignoring a whole realm of emotional reality which, though untestable, is real to them to such a degree that by my not accepting it I’m the one being close-minded.
We all want our loved ones to share at least a fairly high percentage of our ideals, so while much of my family would like my children to be religious and are interested in promoting that world view in them and how they think, I want them to be Skeptics. I want them to have the tools to analyze evidence and information and make informed decisions. I don’t want them to be cold calculating robots, but in addition to having compassion and human understanding (rooted in philosophically sound thought as well as emotional intelligence) I do want them to be able to use proper logic and reason and know the tricks our minds can play on us when we desperately want to believe in something.
To that end… I’m looking for a Skeptic parent’s bookshelf. Not just the Demon Haunted World books for the adults, but books that can be read at bed time to your toddler, through YA, that promote critical, scientific, free thinking.