The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline

Are children innocent "blank slates"?

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  • Are children innocent "blank slates"?

    Anyone having read Philosophy has probably come across the name John Locke. Locke presents the basic argument that "a child's mind must be educated before he is instructed, that the true purpose of education is the cultivation of the intellect rather than an accumulation of facts." According to Locke, the ideal education would instill a strong moral sense. In particular, a child should be taught virtue, wisdom, breeding, and learning.

    In addition, children were born as "blank slates", beginning their lives morally neutral. From this point of view, infants were neither inherently good or inherently evil. A child's nature and personality would develop over childhood, a period of time during which the educationalists believed a child was particularly impressionable. Adults surrounding a child could potentially have a very lasting effect on his personality.

    How do you compare this secular philosophy to the Christian worldview? For me personally, I believe nothing could be further from the truth. Children do not need to be taught to disobey, lie, steal, etc. They are by nature sinners, as are all men born in Adam, and if left to themselves shall perish. Children are self-seeking and often throw tantrums outside basic survival needs when they themselves are not the center of attention. No clearer picture demonstrate covetousness and the breaking of God's laws when a child throws a tantrum because they cannot have what they want. Or the dishonor they bring to the parent(s) whenever they disobey (honor thy father and mother).

    Children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless. The Bible tells us that, even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. Inherited sin is that which is passed on from our parents.
    • Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    What do you think? Are children born inherently neutral? That is, until stained by environmental or social influences?

    To me, if children were truly innocent they would not die. But because as Romans 5:13 states "for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law." Sin, which is the cause of death, exists: and in such a way, that it is also imputed: because of this it follows that there is some law, the breach of which is the cause of death.

    God bless,
    William

  • #2
    Originally posted by William View Post
    What do you think? Are children born inherently neutral? That is, until stained by environmental or social influences?
    If they are, none of them stay "neutral" for very long ;) And the Bible says "no" to that question .. e.g. Psalm 51:5

    Originally posted by William View Post
    Can you name any apparent blessings from being brought up in a covenant relationship with God?
    Well, it may have been 30 years after my baptism, but I finally became a Christian at age 30 :)

    --David




    "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the
    time my mother conceived me"

    Psalm 51:5
    Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

    "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

    "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

    "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

    "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
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    • #3
      Romans 9:11 and 1 John 2:12 suggest that children are blank slates around the time of parturition, having done no good or evil, but can eventually sin (There would be no set age due to precociousness) else John would not have said that their sins are forgiven. The biblical record of children receiving wrath in 2 Kings 2:23 also tells us that our modern preconceived bias towards children being sinless is unfounded. Can children sin? Yes. Are they born in sin? Yes, they are born of the world, and only salvation allows one birth in Christ. Does being born in sin also mean that sin is in them? Absolutely not, for Jesus Christ was born into the world through the flesh, but you would be anti-christ to say he had sin.
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      • #4
        I like John Locke's way of thinking. I have also always believed that although we are spiritual and therefore eternal in nature, when we emerge into this physical life experience as babies we know nothing about anything and we are then molded by the environment into which we are born. I also love the idea that we should stimulate intellect rather than just plying the poor kids with facts that are based on other people's life experiences instead of teaching them how to create their own.
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        • #5
          Although it Is true that everyone is born with a sin nature, a new-born is totally dependent on their environment for survival. The sin 'nature' coming from Adam and Eve. The only method of communication For a baby is Crying. And, it's Also true that an older baby's temper can be observed. The first time I observed 'temper' I was totally surprised. How an infant that young could display temper. But that behavior doesn't need to be reacted to in a negative way. The child Can be checked for a soiled diaper or needing burping or being over-tired and needing a nap. Or simply needing to be picked up and loved.

          The role of parents is to care for baby's in a loving way -- encouraging that first smile, showing love, showing how to share, showing / teaching good, positive behavior. Children are great mimickers -- so it behooves older people to take a look at their own behavior. And it's the responsibility of parent, guardian, care-giver to teach manners, rules for behavior - age related, Bible , salvation on a very basic level. Get a Child's Bible. Because, yes, a child Is a blank slate that gradually gets written on.

          Depending on the child -- some toddlers go through a biting stage. Sometimes a frown , no-no, shaking of the head is sufficient to get the idea across that biting is Not allowed. And playing in a nursery setting with other toddlers, learning to socialize in a nice way. Lots of work for loving adults to teach them.

          Kids will learn what their parents / school teaches them. Home schooling has become more popular / important in today's world. It's expensive but worth it. And that, also depends on your particular geographic area. Some areas have much better schools than others.

          Part of learning various subjects Will include simply learning lots of facts. Math, for instance, those multiplication tables. Boring, but necessary for that next step in math. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and then higher math.

          Learning about your country -- the Presidents - our 1st President was ..... and on down through the years to our present one. Teens will be developing their own interests -- we need to be aware of where their interests are leading them. Are they going in a positive direction? Thinking for themselves, yes, but they are part of a community and need guidelines to follow. Mostly, Society does Not promote Biblical guidelines. Are we going to go along with Society that doesn't really care who we are personally? or God's Word given by the loving , heavenly Father who wants to have positive relationship with us and knows what's best for us.

          We are born with a propensity For sinning. It's inevitable that we will all be guilty of some sinning. Maybe speeding, Maybe that little white lie that really isn't hurting anyone, until........
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          • #6
            They are by nature sinners,
            For once we agree. Any inclination to rebel against God is itself sinful, and therefore original sin is automatically productive of an actual sin.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by ThyWordisTruth View Post

              For once we agree. Any inclination to rebel against God is itself sinful, and therefore original sin is automatically productive of an actual sin.
              We're probably saying the same thing -- more than one way to say the same thing -- of Course we agree on some things. (my intellect is really showing) :)
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              • #8
                I agree with William that a child should be educated before he is instructed. the child comes to the world with a blank mind. It's mean that he does not have anything on his mind as he never experienced anything in life. It is our responsibility to teach him in this way that he could understand the good and bad.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jahanzeb ali qureshi View Post
                  I agree with William that a child should be educated before he is instructed. the child comes to the world with a blank mind. It's mean that he does not have anything on his mind as he never experienced anything in life. It is our responsibility to teach him in this way that he could understand the good and bad.
                  Exactly, children don't have much knowledge in this world nor are aware of it's rules and restrictions, so it's better to instruct and teach along the way.
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