You’ve got to be taught“South Pacific” Rogers and Hammerstein, 1949
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
For the uncultured, the purpose of this song in the musical is to lament racism, not agree with it. But he is right. You have to teach that crap early.
It is no wonder to us atheists that churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples are so intent on “teaching” their religion to young children. They exert their energy in shaping the religious beliefs of children from birth through adulthood through a series of rituals, creeds, indoctrination, ceremonies, and community pressure, with the stated goal of making sure the person becomes an adherent to their faith.
Of course they do. Basically, all ridiculous propositions must be taught to young children. You have to indoctrinate children before they even understand that Santa Claus is not a real person. Get them when their brain is mush and illogical. No person would willingly hate someone from another group just suddenly at the age of 18, and no sane person would accept the ideas of religions if introduced as an adult either.
No, you have to be carefully taught, before about 8 years old, that the religion is true. That has to then be reinforced for the next 10 years with increasingly sophisticated trickery. If you are a child being raised as a racist, your parents might have you watch Tucker Carlson on FOX news with them. And if you are religious, they take you to church and enroll you in religious classes. The religious classes are nothing but the mechanism for placating doubt. But they don’t do it by answering the questions of doubt, they do it by insisting that doubt is bad, faith is good, and just pray more to remove the doubt.
Can you imagine if a university student asked a professor a question about why something is the way it is, and they were told to just believe it? Anarchy! Hell, I remember getting into a near shouting match with one of my professors, but they never once told me just to believe it and accept it on faith. They referenced evidence. They reviewed the evidence. They reviewed the hypothesis and how the evidence supported it. That’s what learning looks like.
Children should be taught how to do things, not what to believe. They should learn to read, to do math, create art, and to experiment. Their minds are sponges, soaking up more information every day than they ever will for the rest of their lives. This is time that should be dedicated to expanding their capabilities, not shoving them into a hole.
It is fairly hilarious to me that there are churches that supposedly grant their children time to make the decision to be an adult in their church. Take the Amish as an easy example. For 16 or 17 years, the child is force fed the tenants of the religion from everyone they know. Literally everyone they know is Amish, and believes this crap. They are taught it, live it, work in it, play in it, and dress in it. They don’t really know anyone that isn’t Amish. Sure, there might be non-Amish people they come in contact with for short transactional reasons, but all the people they know are Amish. And then, at the age of 16 or 17, they are “allowed” a period of “Rumspringa”, where they supposedly get to make the choice to stay or go.
Only What The Actual Fuck!? I can take almost anyone and indoctrinate them for 16 years and they will probably choose to stay. Hell, this is what Stockholm Syndrome literally is. This isn’t choice, this is part of the indoctrination. It is nothing more than a psychological trick designed to make the believer choose to be all-in. Technically, they have the choice to leave. But the Amish have set up the two choices to make leaving an unbearable and heartbreaking choice. Leaving means being an adult in the modern world with no high school education, unable to drive, no social security number, no friends, no money, no home, and they will be completely cut off from their families WITH PREJUDICE!
And while the Amish illustrate my point quite well, every other denomination and religion is doing the exact same thing, just maybe not as obtusely. Indoctrinate the children young, keep supporting the religion until adulthood. Do you know why there is such an adverse reaction to colleges and universities in the US? Because many children go to college and *gasp!* learn that their religion might not be real! Yeah, it’s the point of college, to learn reality. And since your religion is fake, it goes without saying that some children will realize it when they aren’t surrounded by the pressures of their religion.
If you honestly believe in your religion, and honestly believe it is the one that best answers the questions of our universe, then teach it to adults. Just adults. Children will model good behavior no matter the excuse, so don’t worry about them growing up to be psychopaths. Just raise them to love and care for one another. Wait until they understand in cause and effect before you teach them your religion.
Of course, nobody will do that. If taught to rational adults, no religion would survive.
The Spartan Atheist