This week we’d like your opinion on this: How much of holding onto religion comes from familial or other traditional practice and not from “true” belief in the doctrine? Explain why on the page, and let’s talk about it! The best suggestion will get a copy of An Appetite for Wonder, by Richard Dawkins.
This happens to be one of my ‘pet issues’ with the main causes of blind belief being the parental influence first and foremost. As an English ‘working class’ ‘baby boomer’ I grew up in an agnostic atmosphere, a polite title for my father’s atheist stand. I watched with interest the various Christian denominations develop their antagonism with each other and the way they projected their faith. Images springs to mind of the Birmingham Boys Brigade bands and in recent history in Ireland, street battles fought by children with bricks stones and molly cocktails, all based on religion. As a local press photographer in Melbourne Australia I entered all denominational family lives on a daily basis and mentally collected the background culture within those microcosms, often from ethnic migrants with strong religious views. It seemed that all believers regardless of their faith used ‘the book’ as the main family discipline and education tool. The book had Wall the answers necessary for a parent to gain credence on a moral question instead of using their own intellect or experience to provide an answer. I came to the conclusion that religion was as equally effective as any other ‘mind altering substance’ in the hands of the all truthful parent and as much a potent danger to the developing mind as alcohol or drugs. I have frequently argued those parents who subject their preschool infants and children to a constant barrage of religious doctrine, enforced worship, compulsory prayer and church attendance are guilty of subverting the child’s natural development of critical thought. Only today whilst traveling by train, I listen to two young adult males discussing their early days as church goers. One said he didn’t like going to church at first but found the social potential to be addictive and took to his family religion with ulterior motive. This is so perverse and so prolific it seems to be the main foundation for organised religion across all faiths and all countries. Remove the children from the equation and the religion would cease to exist within a few generations. I believe Religion should be viewed in exactly the same class as alcohol and it should be made illegal to subject a child under the age of 18 to any form of religious doctrine or pamphlet due to its emotional influence on the developing brain. I was stunned when watching a TV news item a senior Israeli Jewish woman actually claimed quite categorically the state of Israel and the Jewish people were given Palestine by God and it was therefore the right of Jews to live there and the Palestinians (she didn’t use that word) should get out. She like all of those before her have been told it is their ‘God Given right’….What’s even more alarming is most of the other religions base their origins on this single Jewish fictional deity, yet they fail to see the falsehoods they share? Ban children from Religious training, its the answer.
Runner Up #1: David R Allen I have frequently argued those parents who subject their preschool infants and children to a constant barrage of religious doctrine, enforced worship, compulsory prayer and church attendance are guilty of subverting the child’s natural development of critical thought. And there is now science to show how it is done. As the Jesuit’s boast, “Give me the child till 8, and I will give you the man.” What the Jesuits didn’t know, and what we do now know, is that our brains are not set in stone but are quite plastic and malleable. It’s commonsense. If you practice the violin, your brain lays down extra neural networks to support this activity. A person who goes blind in middle age, there brain will atrophy in the centres that deal with sight, and grown new networks in the aural areas. Their hearing improves. The brain reacts to repetitive activity. Here is some technical information about neural plasticity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity If a child from birth is subject to religious indoctrination, their brain will lay down networks to support that activity. They are in effect, brain washed. As the child grows and matures, they will find it very difficult to entertain any alternative thought except God Did It. Hitchens argues that to do this to a child before their brain has matured, before they have the ability to make rational and independent decisions, is child abuse. I support that position. That is why when I engage with some religious people in here and elsewhere, it is impossible to reach them, no matter how compelling the evidence you place before them. All religions know this but they didn’t know why it worked. They just knew they needed to grab and hold these children for long enough to perpetuate the religious dogma. And when these children grow up and have children, they inflict the same abuse on their kids. Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private.
Runner up #2: Stafford Gordon I agree with everything you say tomleigh, but I think there’s another element to it. Power, pure and simple. “And why should Caesar be a tyrant, then? Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf But that he sees the Romans are but sheep; He were no lion, were not the Romans hinds. After a great deal of consideration I’m afraid I’ve come to the conclusion that organized religions provide a veneer behind which there’s an opportunity for the venting of some very unpleasant primal human traits. How we got into this mess I’ve no idea, but the only way we’ll get out of it is by thinking rationally, and above all protecting children by teaching them to do so.