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John, thank you for the thoughtful explanation.

You’re right: I disagree with this view of human nature. On the subject of raising kids in particular (a highly subjective, touchy matter to begin with), I don’t feel that any text—especially not one written thousands of years ago, within the context of a vastly different culture—is more valuable or right than my own closely held morals, and it’s those that I would impart to my offspring. Beyond that, though, my disagreement is empirical. I do not think that humans behave ugly by nature. There is a quote I’m fond of that says “You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car.”

It is this thinking, though—the assumption, as you put it, that “human nature […] tends toward doing the wrong thing morally”—that I am so opposed to, because it is not hard to see this in a different light as marketing. A voice on high (assumably God, but more practically the powers that be at the Vatican) calling down to tell you that you lack the ability to determine right from wrong on your own. Your only absolution is to join the church and pray for redemption. But doesn’t this just teach people that they can’t help themselves? Wouldn’t it be far more valuable to teach people to place weight in their own decisions?

Throughout my childhood and increasingly into my adulthood, I’ve been appalled at how some religions, and Christianity in particular, do little to encourage free, independent thinking, the effect of which is to remove, in some people, a powerful puzzle piece of their human potential.

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