There’s a great story on Atheist Nexus about a six year old boy who had no trouble figuring out that Intelligent Design is a silly idea. Read it HERE.
“So God made everything?” he asked.
“Well that’s what some people believe,” I stated, “but I don’t think so.” This sent him into hysterics.
“He made South America!” I wasn’t sure why this was so funny to him but he continued to laugh and list the things that God had “made.” Squirrels, Dr. Seuss, and cat butts had him laughing especially hard. “Doesn’t he have any brains? Cause he made some weird stuff in this world.” A six year old debunks Intelligent Design with a simple observational idea that ID proponents can’t even grasp. That had me chuckling for a moment before I read on.
When I told him about the creation of the sun on the fourth day he became serious again. He wrinkled up one eye and stated matter-of-factly, “Light has to be from the sun.” And I thought I was the only one in the room that would have a problem with light being created three days before the sun. My six year old was quickly demonstrating that he was a better critical thinker than people who believe the creation story.
There are two important things here. To begin with, this is the first time this six year old had ever heard the creation story. Instead of telling him that it was true or false, Dad just read it to him and let him do his own thinking. Second, and more importantly, this child had already been taught how to think, and already knew the theory of evolution. Yes, gentle readers. This six year old understands evolution. Here are his own words:
“It’s a gradual change in species that happens slowly over really long periods of time.”
This story illustrates the big, glaring difference between religious indoctrination and teaching critical thought. When children are given their own problems to work out, and taught how to solve problems with reason, they are generally very good at spotting cognitive dissonance, internal contradiction, and flat out ridiculous claims. It’s sometimes hard for those of us raised in religion from the beginning to grasp, but when children aren’t introduced to the concept of magic, or the supernatural, or fairy tales, a really weird thing happens:
They become de facto naturalists.
Honestly, I’m amused sometimes when I watch otherwise intelligent adults trot out arguments from incredulity that lead to the supernatural. Don’t you think that’s funny? An adult ought to know better than to just make shit up when they don’t know the answer to a question, but when they’ve been taught that magic is real and invisible men can just snap their invisible fingers and shit just magically appears… it sort of complicates things.
What I really, really love about this story happens at the very end. After the child had some time to think about the creation story vs evolution, he decided he believed evolution because the creation story God sounded like an idiot. But that’s not even the best part. As he was going to bed, he told his dad:
I think I want to be a scientist when I grow up and study water, animals, and space.” What an amusing array of choices. I had to inquire about them. “I want to find out where the water came from, for real, and dig up animal bones and put them together.”
Isn’t that wonderful? The creation story didn’t make any sense to him, but instead of just deciding what was true, he wanted to discover what was true. A six year old was able to come up with the correct answer to ignorance and incredulity. So many adults can’t even do that.
And we even have to have the debate about whether religious indoctrination of children is harmful?