This is something I considered putting in the Agnosticism thread, but decided it was too much of a derailment and needed its own spot.
Like I said in that thread, I am an agnostic on paper. My guts believe in God but my guts don't exactly have the best track record (see: had only boy names picked out for Thing 1 due to "mother's intuition," only to have to come up with a girl name in a hurry when that intuition proved shitty). I enjoy being part of a faith community that is populated with people who are similarly unsure (and similarly comfortable with their unsureness).
A conversation came up between Thing 1 (my daughter, who is 7 years old) and me yesterday. She said "Mom, did you know that God made Adam and then he made Eve out of one of Adam's ribs? Isn't that weird?"
I said "Yes, that's how the old story goes, but did you know that some people think maybe the story doesn't really mean what it seems to mean? Maybe the story is a way to get us thinking about what it means to be human."
She answered "Oh, I'm not one of those people."
"One of which people?"
"One of the people who doesn't believe the story!"
I wasn't quite sure how to proceed. I said something like "Thinking the story has a deeper meaning doesn't mean you don't believe it. It just means you don't think it has to be literal." (We've been discussing the difference between figurative and literal lately and I think she gets it.)
She may not be quite ready for "layers of meaning" yet, but I'm not content to encourage her to either 1) discard the old stories that have meaning to our family, even if they're not literal meaning, or 2) believe something I don't think literally happened. I am looking for some way to strike a balance.
At this point, I'm taking the tack of giving her all the opinions I know of about how to think about this kind of shit, letting her know which one is my opinion, but not giving her the impression she has to agree with me. It's probably confusing to a kid. I guess I'm okay with a little confusion-- I prefer it to absolute certainty, for myself. This IS something I want to raise my children to understand: that this stuff is not always black and white, that there are layers of meaning in nearly everything humans think and believe, and that we can think about things in more than one way and still be intellectually honest.
Am I shortchanging them? (Loaded question, I know-- be honest!)