I have some Christian friends who were having their new born son baptised. We were chatting about the upcoming baptism and the conversation went something like this:
Friend: You should be his Godparents.
Me: That’s nice of you, but you realise we’re atheists?
Friend: Oh, right. Yeah, that won’t work.
A Godparent, traditionally, is informally responsible for ensuring the child’s religious education is carried out. Now, if you are going to give a child a religious education, that child needs some balance. In particular, they need to learn that “creation” is not “science”. A little education about evolution is needed to ensure they have that balance and can decide what religion (if any) they really want to follow once they are old enough to think for themselves. We really don’t want ignorant children in the world.
Now not everyone was good at science in school, or went on to work in an area of science, or keeps up with modern scientific discoveries. There is nothing wrong with that – I sucked at sport, I sucked at wood work, I wouldn’t know how to fix a drain, build a house, or even bake a cake (well, from scratch at least). But if you have a child, why not ask someone who does know about science to be the child’s Scienceparent!
Now admittedly, you could also have Accountingparents, Lawparents, Medicineparents etc. I single out Scienceparent though, not because I happen to have studied (and continue to study) science, but because science is the balance that is required for any religious education – in particular an education that promotes “creation” as a plausible explanation for the development of humankind.
Would it then follow that if you are an atheist family, you should give your child a Godparent – surely the child needs balance from all that science? If you can find a person willing to teach a child all about different religions and views (not just Christianity), I would have no objection – learning about different cultures and religions can provide a balanced outlook on life and a greater understanding of others in a multi-cultural world. Though I would also suggest studying science will give a child a thirst for knowledge, that will lead them naturally to question everything around them, including origins. This will lead them to study religion themselves, and make their own decisions.
So, I give you, the Scienceparent1. Make it a reality.
1I note on the net someone suggested an alternative name for such a person is a “Goodparent”. :-)