Ever play cards with a five year old? Let them make up the rules, like “aces are wild”, no, “threes, sixes and one-eyed jacks”, no, “kings and deuces”. Whatever cards he’s got, that’s wild, and the game changes so he can win. This is how the Left uses “science”.
The progressive, God-denying Left is falling over itself about an obscure study published in Cognitive Science. They say the study confirms that “religious” kids have trouble discerning reality. Guess who defines “reality”? That’s right, the researchers, who have fallen into the most famous classic blunder: never design a study to prove your own presuppositions.
Actually, the most famous classic blunder is never get involved in a land war in Asia, and then only slightly less well-known is never design a study to prove your own presuppositions*.
Here’s what they did: get a bunch of five- and six-year olds and tell them stories from the Bible, which the church-going kids already know, exactly as the Bible tells it, then change the stories to swap out God with some fairy-tale magic elements, and then swap out God for a scientific, rational explanation. For some reason, they expected kids who have some Biblical knowledge to claim that the Bible version is pretend. One atheist blogger on wrote on Patheos: “When the kids heard the religious stories, they should have said the character was pretend.”
Don’t you love it when there’s a “should” answer? The researchers were a bit more reserved in their blatant worldview bias, but it’s there nonetheless.
Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories. [emphasis mine]
The researchers divide the world into three categories: reality, religious, and fantasy. Apparently, religious is not reality, and somewhere in the vicinity of fantasy.
Philosophy professor Rachel Lu skewered the study quite well, both on technical grounds and also by the argument that it’s healthy for five- and six-year olds to have an imagination.
Given a choice whether to prioritize a lively imagination or a precocious sense of reality-perception, I think the answer is pretty easy, at least for kindergarten-aged children. I actually find it depressing to think of all those secular five-year-olds out there who are already too world-wise to pick up a “lucky” penny or wish on a star.
I agree with the secularists on one point Lu makes: “Children should be taught to value truth above all else.” But as Pilate famously asked Jesus, “what is truth?” To a young child, much of what they learn is reliable for discerning truth comes from their parents’ worldview, and what they are taught in school.
Now, obviously, this study raises a lot of questions about what sorts of things can or might in fact be real. The prejudices of the researchers are hilariously obvious in their decision to contrast “religion” to “reality”, but let’s set that aside, and presume for the sake of argument that they are right to regard at least the “fantastical” phenomena as unreal. Does it follow that the children who disbelieve in magic are better at discerning truth from fiction?
The Left is trying to make the stretch to conclude that since religious kids believe the Biblical version of a story, and don’t immediately reject the fantasy version of the same story, that they have some defect in discerning “reality.” All these researchers have shown is that it’s easy to make narrow-minded children believe only the version they’ve been taught, instead of developing critical thinking skills and imagination.
I have one word to sum that up: duh.
*Actually, the second most famous classic blunder is “never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line!” But never design a study to prove your own presuppositions is a close third.