When my daughter removed her children from public school because religious views were being pushed on them, I was completely disheartened. Both the school system and established religion had failed my grandkids before they were even eight years old. We live in a region where adherence to religious tradition is all but assumed, where the Bible is considered a scientifically and historically correct document, as well as being a religiously infallible touchstone. So, my daughter now home schools them.
Living in a place of intractable religious monism, the best way for me to get along with family, friends and co-workers is to avoid mentioning that I believe God created evolution. I also seldom admit my belief that scriptural revelations are for spiritual growth, and science is for factual enlightenment. When those two are melded into a living philosophy, life is not only good, but unafraid. That’s what I’ll tell my grandkids, when the subject comes up.
This persistent psychological struggle between fact and religion, one that involves little children in my family, is about what to teach all our children. And nothing could be more relevant to society’s development and progress. I know that quality education is the most important factor in society’s maintenance and improvement. I also know this ragged debate will soon rest on the slight shoulders of my adorably innocent grandkids.
I believe the cosmos a vast university with God at its center, that birth is the doorway in, and death leads to the next life of experience and learning. I arrived at these beliefs by a coalescence of observation, experience and intuition. As a young man I knew very little, as an old man I know much. But life’s experiences alone do not account for all I know and believe. Some of it came from a truth indicator inside me, inside everyone, that puts religious experience and scientific insight together. I believe all normal minded humans possess the ability to know and be more than the sum of their genes and experiences.
The most important question now is: What will I, as a teacher of the next generation, believe and transmit? I believe my grandchildren deserve an education that teaches a variety of religious and scientific traditions, while selling none. I believe genuine truth will always withstand an honest examination. Life’s taught me it is the responsibility of religion to point to God, to conserve the spiritual experiences of humankind for the edification of all, that science’s job is to remove fear, to replace it with provable facts and tested wisdom.
I believe religion and science will combine to fully enlighten humankind—someday. Until that day, I’ll tell my grandchildren all that I know, and try my best to admit all that I don’t. I do this because I believe children somehow recognize genuine truth. They will choose the right teachings if presented with the choices, if they’re furnished with an example of relentless loyalty to ultimate truth, no matter where it leads.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.