COMMENTARY: Is religion good for kids?

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Exposure to religious themes, such as the Biblical story of Noah and the ark, affect children's ability to distinguish between fact and fiction, a new study shows.

Creative Commons photo by Al Hikes

Exposure to religious themes, such as the Biblical story of Noah and the ark, affect children's ability to distinguish between fact and fiction, a new study shows.

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(RNS) Imaginative religious stories such as creation, Noah, the Exodus, or Santa Claus, may actually benefit cognitive development, creative thinking and social skills.

  • Lles Nats

    And now its science. And since we have a secular gov, where only a secular worldview can be expressed, get ready.

    The liberal statists absolutely need a massive gov with an endless credit card to institute their policies. But don’t delude yourself. They want nothing more than to tell you how much religion you can give your kids, and the brand of religion as well.

    All liberals are statists. They tell you this is done in the name of freedom….but ironically, they run their policies and gov machine off the indebtedness of the future unborn citizens of this world. Thay is highly immoral. But at thr same time, it isn’t because they haven’t given you permission to say so yet.

  • Lles Nats

    The original title of the keystone text for ALL of modern liberal “thought” was….”on the origin of the species by meand of natural selection, or the preservation OF FAVOURED RACES in the struggle for life.”

    See, the hot science of the time was Eugenics. Highly racist and claimed to be an influence for the policies of the most famously declared evil man in the world to ever be or ever will be, hitler.

    Darwin was obviously influenced too. So continue to rely on science, liberals, to demand all society conform to what you say is right. After all its science, so how can you be wrong….right?

    Your very beloved book, your bible, was written to further the most scientific form of racism imaginable.

    You are some amazing “thinkers”.

  • Larry

    Hmm a study which shows that religious belief impairs the ability to distinguish fact from fiction. Talk about taking grant money and running!

    I like how the author tries to spin this into a defense of imagination and magical thinking. Religion is far different than simply sparking a child’s imagination. Unlike fictional stories, a child is expected to treat religious stories as factually true. Undermining their developing reasoning skills and trust in their own observations.

  • Frank

    Kids need to learn from and study the bible with a community doing the same around them. Not necessarily religion.

    Insert angry, nonsensical, anti Christian nonsense below.

  • gilhcan

    As with everything with kids, it depends on the ways any aspects of religion are presented. The old brain-washing days did immense damage to numerous people. If religion is not thoroughly integrated with all other studies, including science, its own scarred history, sociology, and psychology, it remains no better than the fables of its mythological origins. It must be recognized that religion, like everything else, has evolved, for better and for worse. It is imperative that we always pursue the better in all things. After all, betterment should be the ground of all religion.

  • gilhcan

    Lies: Your grave error is in generalizing, and from the error of generalizing, you exaggerate what is not good and pursue the elimination of everything with no explanations why and with no suggestions or plans for improving anything.

    Liberalism does not equate with your concept of statism–whatever that may be. If you knew your history of religion, you would recognize, as the Founders of this nation and the Framers of our Constitution clearly did, that mingling religion with civic affairs always threatens the freedom that religion requires to thrive healthily. The mingling of religion and government is the road to the horrors you ascribe to “liberal statists.”

    Religious freedom is multi-faceted. One facet, is to form one’s own beliefs as long as consequent actions do not harm others. Hopefully, the formation of those beliefs will be based on all knowledge. Another facet is absolute freedom from all religion for those who are unconvinced without any tyranny from believers. It’s really a case of minding one’s own business.

  • Lles Nats

    I actually like your comment gilhan.

    I disagree religion did immense damage, as damage was actually done by those holding a religious worldview who felt it threatened by those who did not. Damage is a result of the ideological clashes. Its happening even today. Thats why its hard for me to believe the religion of those who kill is a highly developed introspective type of concept. Bottom line for me is, don’t threaten the freedom of a person’s worldview, be it secular or religious.

    Religion cannot be throughly integrated with science because science cannot prove god. Its impossible.

    I agree religion evolves. For better or worse is a a relative judgement call that will differ depending on who u ask. For me, the test is doctine. Once the doctrine you teach looks no different than the surrounding society, you cease to be effective in your mission and perhaps even religion.

    And I love that you call for betterment. I think religion should seek that too. But not at the expense of its very doctrine or identity. That means they can consider themselves valid whenththey say “we love the sinner but hate the sin”. Thereby keeping doctine intact and not having to give concern to the constant accusations thay they are “haters” because of it.

  • gilhcan

    Lies: You’ve truly adopted the right name. The expression of what is presumed to be your thoughts is full of “lies” naturally when compared to reality. It is typical of the absolutism of religion’s mythological origins. No facts. All invention. That is precisely why “dogma” is required and “brainwashing” is the mode of transference of dogma through the ages.

    Historical evidence and the replicable modes of science are the means of studying evolution. Races are an indisputable part of evolution. Attitudes of one race toward another, like attitudes of one group of religionists toward another, are of mind, not body. Mr. Darwin never claimed that the evolution of mind kept even pace with the evolution of bodies–even though the brain is the physical seat of mind in bodies.

  • gilhcan

    It would be a new mythology for anyone to try to explain how the mythological origins of religion, “religious stories,” are “factually true.” Beliefs are not facts, not replicable, not provable when “a child is expected to treat religious stories as factually true.” Religion is not facts at any time! Religious beliefs are not facts at any time!

    What is intriguing is that we accost children with religious dogma before they have reached the ability to conceive. This demands the limitation of early perception only. This is precisely why, as people grow, mature from the limitations of perception on through refined conception, they more and more drop those early, given religious beliefs by the wayside of life as no longer “factually true.”

    Adults expect children to follow in their footsteps and let go of Mother Goose and Santa Claus. It is only because some adults continue to hold to the equally mythological stories of religion, because they are more “refined,” that they presume kids will follow them and walk in their footsteps. “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.” Few adults “could put Humpty together again.”

  • gilhcan

    First of all, the mythology of the bible is religion.

    It’s the “community doing the same around them” that makes the early impressions we call religion so strong. Adults always make powerful impressions on kids, especially when the behavior is the same. Other kids always make powerful impressions on kids when the behavior is the same.

  • It is wrong to lie to children.

    None of these Bible lessons are true:

    Donkeys can talk

    Bats are a kind of bird

    Snakes can talk

    Rainbows did not happen before the days of Noah.
    Eating Lobster is worthy of death.

    Wearing some fabrics is worthy of death

    The mustard seed is the smallest seed. 

    People can live inside of fish without air for days

    Women should feel ashamed if they are raped

    Men should cut off their wive’s hands

    Non-jews are dogs

    People should execute God’s enemies

    People should judge others harshly

    People should hate themselves
People should hate their parents

    People should kill their neighbor

    People should kill unruly children

    The laws of Moses are perfect.
The laws of Moses were replaced by Jesus
    You should pray in public and
You should not pray in public

    Jesus was wrong to believe them.
    And so are your kids.

  • gilhcan

    The essence of ideological clashes is as much the ideologies as the clashers. All the cruelty of the history of religion can be attributed to a very lowly “developed, introspective type of concept.” No different than any other kind of cruelty. That means that religion, historically has evolved from a very lowly developed introspective.”

    “Science cannot prove god” because god cannot be proven. That’s the difference between belief and fact.

    There is a lot of unevenness in evolution. That is precisely why some species do not “survive” and others manage to make it to the top of the hill.

    Even the values of what we consider morals or ethics are relative. Omnia relata sunt!

    Yes, religion should always seek betterment. When it doesn’t, it becomes evil. Every ideology and action of the human race that stands in the way of betterment for all humans is evil, whether it is religion, politics, a mixture of the two, or individual selfish greed.

  • Lles Nats

    How come you always pull from old testament / torah sources and then link it to Jesus? And by extension christianity exclusively?

  • Larry

    Because Christians allegedly accept old testament/torah sources as being entirely part of their religious belief. Usually when they want to act stenorial and sound tough or avoid any of that inconvenient “love thy neighbor” and “judge not” stuff.

    They only seem to disavow OT sources when it become a source of public embarrassment.

  • Atheist Max

    @Lles Nats,

    It is so exhausting explaining Christianity to Christians. You really don’t even know your religion.

    Are you ashamed of your Bible? Why haven’t you learned it?
    Are you ashamed that Jesus believed, preached and worshipped the god of the Old Testament and he was THE VALIDATOR of Yahweh’s Laws?

    NO Old Testament = no reason for Jesus.

    Jesus cured ADAM & EVE’S ORIGINAL SIN.
    No old Testament = no Adam and Eve original sin.

    Jesus commanded following of COMMANDMENTS
    No OT = No Commandments

    Jesus commanded his follower to obey the LAW
    No OT = No Law

    Jesus commanded slavery because of the OT
    No OT = No slavery

    Jesus gave permission to Kill
    NO OT = No permission to kill

    Jesus claimed to be YAHWEH GOD
    No OT = Jesus would be a SEPARATE GOD

    Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God

    “Jesus answered them, ‘I and My Father are one.’” (John 10:30-33)
    “The Lord our God is one”. – (Deuteronomy 6:4)

    Jesus, then is THE AUTHOR of the Old Testament.
    If you think this sounds ridiculous, you would be correct.

    But that is why men invented the Trinity – to explain stupid, impossible ridiculous bible claims such as this.

    Know your religion. Please.

  • @Lles Nats,


    “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.” (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)


    “HAVE YOU NOT THE LAW OF MOSES?” – Jesus (JOHN 1:17)

    “Follow the Commandments..” Jesus

    Including Leviticus!
    “do not defraud” – Jesus (Mark 10:19)



    – JESUS (LUKE 22:36-38)

    would use the same argument 2000 years later.

    This is the Old Testament prophecy
    Jesus used as an excuse for why he had to weaponize
    and play the role of “transgressor”
    to justify the purchase of swords.

    From ISAIAH:

    “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors….” (Isaiah 53:12)

    In other words, since Jesus had to look like a criminal
    he had to have weapons on Him.
    Jesus interpreted the Bible in the same way we all do today – on His own!

    Imagine for a moment the Apostle Peter
    walking into a shop in Gallilee saying,

    “Hi, I have some money for a sword, what do you have?”

    A- “Wait aren’t you with Jesus, don’t you guys give everything to the poor?”

    Peter- “Well, yes. But we have some money left over so – look what kind of swords do you have, I’d like a big one.”

    A- “Sure, I have swords, but don’t you guys all go around preaching peace and love, I saw you yesterday under the olive trees, what does Jesus need a sword for?”

    Peter – “Well, see, there’s this thing in the Law of Isaiah
    where the messiah has to be found looking and acting like a violent criminal, so he needs to be found with some weapons and Jesus kinda doesn’t want to do it but the Bible sort of insists on it. So let’s see those swords you have. I should get a nice scary one.”

    Apparently the Old Testament
    and its prophecies weighed heavily on Jesus
    and His followers – He keeps bringing up and ENDORSING
    every one of those prophecies, continually lining Himself up with them.

    The presence of swords in Jesus’ small hideout
    obviously needed an explanation. If Jesus didn’t do it, then the writers of Luke had to find a workable answer.

    So the Apostles are presented as dupes – though they could not have been. They had swords, and Jesus is presented as not knowing this, which also makes no sense!

    When the swords are revealed later (where were they hiding?), Jesus is suddenly satisfied they will work well as props for a prophecy? This isn’t believable.

    What makes more sense, The Romans probably found Jesus with an armed resistance. The swords help explain why Jesus was executed for treason
    for his claim that imminently he would be appointed leader of an earthly kingdom with its seat in Jerusalem and for the mocking
    “INRI” on the cross.

    Jesus was not executed for spreading
    a message of love and forgiveness!

    And what else could Jesus have said when he is arrested?
    What else could the Romans have done? TREASON against Rome
    was the crime.

    Jesus had followed all of the messianic prophecies as an active participant – MAKING THEM HAPPEN like a connect-the-dots (as the holy book dictated) as much as he could yet here he was standing before Pilate with nothing else to add.

    And what else were the Romans to do?
    They had been confronted by a man with an armed entourage of some size who was proclaiming that he would IMMINENTLY be appointed king of all the Jewish community and there was nothing the Romans could do to stop it! Though he was personally not a threat, his diciples must have been.

    And after all of this The Promised Kingdom had not Come even after Jesus’ final acts. Jesus had cornered himself.

    What more could he do but wait for
    GOD TO DO IT IMMEDIATELY (as the Apostles fully expected) and make the Kingdom appear miraculaously. But it didn’t happen.

    What else could Jesus say?
    It was indeed finished. “My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    Even a cold hearted person would have to melt in compassion for such a tragic individual and the emotional riptide which must have hit the Apostles.

    But non of that means God is real.
    Or that Jesus rose from the dead. Or that Jesus was a God.

    It looks to me quite the opposite.

    And the OLD TESTAMENT IS CRUCIAL to the entire story.


  • “do not defraud” is found only in Leviticus.

  • Benjamin Franklin

    A Bible and a Newspaper in every house, a good school in every district -all studied and appreciated as they merit- are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty.

  • Thomas Paine – ATHEIST Founder of the USA

    “The study of theology…is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.”

    “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”

    “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.”

    “What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.”



  • gilhcan

    Since theology is the study of thoughts about beliefs, it cannot be the study of nothing. There are some principles in spite of the fact that most religious people cannot or do not live according to them. It is not fact, certainly, but non-factual beliefs can also be collated as “data.” True, the very nature of religious beliefs is that they are not facts, hence they cannot be demonstrated.

    “Church” means groups who hold religious beliefs. Your disbelief in the claims of all churches means you are not and cannot be a church. Your mind’s non-acceptance of any religious beliefs means you are not a church.

    You take Paine’s New Testament comment about debauchery out of context, explain nothing about its setting, hence that is not even a reference, hence it is meaningless.

    “Atheist” means not a theist. The Greek initial letter “A” is a negation of what follows. “Anti” means against. Hence, they are improperly joined as if holding the same meaning.

    Thomas Paine was not a founder of the U.S. Constitution. He was not even in Philadelphia with the other Framers in 1787.

    Though people share the right to believe as they wish, they do not owe that freedom to Thomas Paine or anyone else. It is a right of being a human. It is owed to no one.

    In spite of all the atrocities committed in the name of religion through the ages, it was the belief of our Founders and Constitution Framers that human rights regarding religion meant that religion must be free. The aspect of that right that is too often not minded is that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. That was the essence of what Thomas Paine defended mightily in his writings.

  • gilhcan

    And the essence of all this is that beliefs unfounded on facts, not provable in physical demonstration, provable demonstrations that are replicable, are not facts. There is a world of difference between religious beliefs and actual facts. Religious beliefs are not facts.

  • Frank

    The bible is truth.

  • Art

    @ A-Max.
    Hi A.M. Used to think like you. Don’t now.
    You are only a few degrees off; U seem to know the mechanics of Scripture but not the One who in

  • Art

    …spired them. Remedy. Take some time and ask God to help U see His point of view. There is a way that seems right to all of us; but are we all so right? It is clear for anyone to see that opinions including mine and yours are varied… so if a God really does care – well – then He will reveal Himself to any that ask. Just a thought!

  • Art

    P.S. Good luck!

  • Diogenes

    Thomas Paine cannot in any serious sense be regarded as a founder. He was a pamphleteer. He never held any elective office. He was never part of the committee’s or councils of the revolutionary government. And though he influenced some measure of the American public at that time (including Thomas Jefferson; He later turned on Jefferson, typical of someone of his ilk, though I hate to slander the dead). To elevate Paine to the rank of founder is a gross misreading of the historical record.

  • @Gilhan,

    You said, “freedom to believe…It is a right of being a human. It is owed to no one.”

    No. And tell that to an Iranian.
    Iranians and other Muslims are ‘the property of god’ through the power of the state which decides everything for the person.
    “Aliyat Al Faquii” means each person is owned by the state of Iran from birth to death. That is religion – that is unfreedom.

    Baptism to Last Rites are the same concept in Christianity.

    Human rights are not recognized by any religion.
    They are recognized IN SPITE OF religion.

    And that is exactly Thomas Paine’s point.

    Thomas Paine not only an Atheist (“non-believer”)
    but in the name of freedom was ANTI-theist (against belief)

    Theism is belief in a particular god
    Atheism is NON-beleif in any gods.
    Anti-theism is more than non-belief – it is a rejection of beliefs in gods.

  • Art,
    I was a Christian for 44 years.
    I played that game just like you do now.
    Just as you describe it – it is self trickery. It is abject nonsense.

    God beliefs are destructive to the individual (you) and they are destructive to a free society at large.
    There is no use for, need for or benefit in pretending that gods are real.

    There is no reason to pretend.
    Read your notes. What grown up benefits from pretending such a thing?

  • Atheist Max


    Thomas Paine was a ‘Pamphleteer’?

    In the same way
    The gospels are nothing but pamphlets of tyranny created by swaths of ignorant bedouins. Their nefarious influence remains the primary mind-manacle of humanity.

    I have used the term FOUNDER OF THE USA loosely – there is no question that the ideas of Thomas Paine was the Enlightenment Mind behind the declaration of Independence and the Establishment Clause.

    Paine was a revolutionary
    and the term “founder of America” is a loose term anyway. It includes the revolutionaries – certainly Thomas Paine was among them!

    And yes, we OWE our freedom to his insights and his influence over the other founders more than any other.

    “The Rights of Man” which Paine wrote later in his life is a towering work of asserting man’s freedom over the rights of clerics and gods and kings!

    You would be nowhere without Thomas Paine.

  • “Whether God exists or does not exist,
    He has come to rank among the most sublime and useless truths”
    – Denis Diderot

    Useless is a word for ‘nothing’ of value.
    Theology is the study of that kind of nothing.

  • Diog

    That would be the same “Enlightenment” mind that led to the glories of the Reign of Terror, right? Paine was rejected by many of the founders. Revolutionary he certainly was. May I directly quote his last words: :I would give worlds, if I had them, that Age of Reason had not been published. O Lord help me! Christ help me! O God what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me for God’s sake. Send even a child to be with me, for it is hell to be alone If ever the devil had an agent, I have been that one.” Very confidence inspiring.

  • @Diog,

    What nonsense. The fictitious, so called ‘dying words’ of a great American is the best you can do?

    1. You sound like a scared little child. Afraid of thinking for yourself. sad.

    2. The FACT that you are not persecuted by other Christian sects is something you owe to Thomas Jefferson and quite directly to Thomas Paine’s influence on the Founders.

    3. America is a child of the Enlightenment. The US Constitution still stands as the ONLY godless Constitution of any country in the world protecting freedom for religion as well as freedom FROM religion!

    4. Presumably you defend your Yahweh Slave Master

    5. You claim there are redeeming qualities to this monster.

    6. You approve of and defend Yahweh’s transformation into His own son for the sole purpose of having that son tortured and slaughtered for your personal benefit. This somehow is moral idea to you.

    7. You claim to know Yahweh Slave Master will do even worse things to those who won’t believe this disgusting, inhuman nonsense in the supposed afterlife.

    8. You have the right to believe this nonsense because of Thomas Paine. If it were not for Thomas Paine, Atheists like me could take over the USA and demand that your sick church pay taxes for its abominable, disgraceful, sick theory of life.

  • @Diog,

    You want freedom? You want liberation? I DOUBT IT.
    Why then would you be in bed with this monster?

    “Anyone who is captured will be killed with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes.”

    “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.”

    “I have wiped out many nations, devastating their fortress walls and towers. Their cities are now deserted; their streets are in silent ruin. There are no survivors to even tell what happened. I thought, ‘they will have reverence for me now! Surely they will listen to my warnings, so I won’t need to strike again.’ But no!”

    “Even if they stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!”

    “The slave will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it…Much is required from those to whom much is given.”

    “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live there”
    “buy the male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you…also the children..You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your own children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this…”

    “if your slave declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him to the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.”

    “I..create darkness. I..create evil, I …do all these things.”

    “Take your only son…whom you love….and kill him there as a burnt-offering to me on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”

    “the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women raped; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city.”

    “cursed is the man who holds back his sword from blood.”


  • gilhcan

    Frank: You claim a belief to be a statement of fact. By doing so, you distort the meaning of religious belief and prevent any meaningful discussion about different positions regarding the religion of the bible, any other religions, and real facts that are demonstrable and replicable.

    The bible can only be “truth” to those who accept all of its ancient statements to be statements of demonstrable, replicable fact. That is in no way possible.

  • Benjamin Franklin

    Hey baby. Drop those pantaloons and let me get a good look with my bifocals.

  • Diogenes

    The dying words of Paine were from annotated sources; in fact he was not alone as an atheist who faced death with terror, the same was true of Voltaire, all you ever do do is call someone a liar whose POV does not line up with you own. I could have advised Art not to waste his effort. And again to equate one drunken, debt ridden, atheist revolutionary with Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jay, or Madison is ludicrous in the extreme. Not to mention your failure to explain the Reign of Terror as a benefit of enlightenment thinking.

  • @Diogenes,
    As usual you decide someone else is as lazy as you
    and has plucked quotes off the internet without research or analysis.
    You have not read “The Age of Reason” and you do not have a dog-eared copy on your desk as I do. And you do not know anything about Thomas Paine if you did not read “The Age of Reason”.

    His “Deism” was a deliberate dodge for convenience – as it was for the other men of the Enlightenment. And he was clear about it – in the same way people say they are agnostic today when the truth remains they do not believe in god and are thus atheist.

    ATHEIST = “I do not believe in a god”

    Your comment on the ‘Reign of Terror’ is a complete non sequiter.
    The Reign of Terror is not an argument in favor of a God nor is it a comment on civilization under religion as it was a conflagration of ANARCHY in the wake of breathtaking collapse of an unjust system of government. The Roman Catholic Church was in full support of the fascists within the Reign of Terror!

    Compare the 20,000 dead in the Reign to the
    the deaths in just one explosion of Christian violence: 1990s RWANDA, where priests and nuns participated in murder with their bare hands in wiping out 900,000 Tutsis – Fr. Anatole Serromba alone killed 2000 people in his own church and was protected by the Vatican afterwards with a secret hideout and a changed name in Italy. It took the international tribunal YEARS to find him and send him to prison as the Catholic Church colluded in hiding his whereabouts!

    Or perhaps the Taiping Rebellion where Christians killed 45 million?
    That would be 45 MILLION PEOPLE!
    TAIPING is just one of the thousands of Christian orgies of killing and death in the name of a mythic figure of blood sacrifice.

    Shame on you!