For a religion that claims to believe that the Holy Spirit is the only real evangelist and that preachers only bring people to God for they are tools of the Spirit or just the way he chooses to do it, Christianity has strange methods of trying to get and secure believers or at least getting people to act out the part of believers.  It has created a link with the state and infected the schools.  If it had to let go of all the schools things would be very different.  Then people would have a free choice then.  They would not be converted or semi-converted by osmosis or indoctrination.  One thing for sure is that Christianity does not act like it really thinks God is in charge of attracting people to the faith.  A genuinely lovely religion does not need to act the way it does.


Why are clergy and parents so effective at conditioning their children or most of them to believe in religion and God? Why do superstitions put into a child seem to stay there? 


Where does the idea that all people or the vast majority cannot help being religious come from?

Most people are not that religious. And even those that are have widely different beliefs and forms of faith. Some like the thought of destiny and others hate it. That is a central disagreement. There is no common ground there.

What we would have at most is people having a religion of some kind no matter what it is or how silly. That is not a ringing endorsement of religion. It si the contrary.

Magical and spiritual and religious beliefs are put into the children by adults or older children who in turn get it from the adults.

It seems to be largely untrue that children easily believe in magic. They do occasionally but occasionally is not enough. No child thinks the wizard made his tub of sweets out of thin air.

Beliefs that God or Gods deserve something from you add pressure to a child which is why a child will feel it's wrong to reject this magical belief and not wrong to reject others. It explains the success of such beliefs. There is a difference between a magical belief in God and in a magical belief that crossing fingers gets good luck. The first implies you have duties to God and the second has nothing to do with obligations or a sense of duty.

Born to Believe?

Born to Believe, Andrew Newberg MD and Mark Robert Waldman, Free Press, New York, 2006, page 98, says, "As long as you don't encounter visual experience to the contrary, superstitious beliefs can continue without interruption until a satisfying alternative explanation is embraced." The context is about how people of days gone by thought that sea monsters really lived because ships vanished without explanation and because nobody had actually seen a monster.

Another point made is how children may believe in Santa until they meet him and realise he is just a normal man playing dress-up. Clearly because there are things that people cannot explain such as the seeming order in the universe and its beauty and because they cannot see a God, they believe in a God. Belief by default makes you prone to self-deception. You will only be deceived about what you believe and not about what you know. Having faith in the unknown, such as God, is not easy - and at times it will be empty of any ability to bring you comfort - hence the need for believers to run after miracles in order to find evidence for God.

The book links religious belief to trauma that has not been dealt with. Page 112, "the more traumatic an event, the more likely the victim is to construct beliefs that border on the bizarre". Our minds operate in a reductionist fashion for they endure a huge amount of data and can only process some of it and particularly what is considered important. This faculty is good "in emergencies, when split-second decisions are called for" page 63. Our minds make ommissions and it is startling how they can make what is not real seem so real. If you are distracted by a film, you may not see the nude man running past you in front of you. A trauma needs to be recognised and worked through. If religion is a response to trauma then religion is a crutch and will be dangerous and addictive.
Page 121 says that children between 3 and 8 see God as something very concrete, he is somehow human like the parents. Your parents colour your view of God. You use your perception of your parents to build up your perception of God. And though God is human in some sense, he is thought to have supernatural or magical powers. Is it really right to have children think that God exists when they might jump over a cliff thinking God will save them or if they think God sees them they may feel violated by this voyeur if they take their clothes off?

Page 122 says that believing in a punishing and judging God has children internalising very destructive and upsetting concepts. But it says that the notion of God forgiving helps balance this out and prevent the damage. It makes the child feel safe with God who spares the punishment. I would argue that a lot of people do not feel forgiven by the God they believe in. Belief in God is not worth it when you include them in the equation.
Children of about 9 or so show little tolerance or compassion for those who they find have different beliefs about religion than they do - see page 124. No wonder then religion is so intolerant. No wonder its response to terrorism and war is cringingly nauseating and hypocritical.
Page 196 insists that though glossolalia, speaking in tongues, is not really using unknown languages but just making up words and occurs in a context wherein it is thought to be divinely inspired, it is not a psychopathology. The reason is that most tongue-speakers have good emotional stability and have less trouble with neurosis than the rest of us. Most - what about the rest? If the stable are okay they will be stable with or without tongue speaking. But what about those who are ruined by it? It is being part of something you don't need that hurts many others. And what about the fact that if somebody is behaving madly and is not joking there is still something wrong with them even if they pass standard tests? Tests are not infallible.

Page 201 suggests that practitioners like users of ouija boards are suspending their sense of free will. They, as it were, turn off their free will assuming they have got it. That is nonsense. All practitioners feel they can terminate the session any time. They consent as the tongue or glass moves.
Prayer is often associated with inducing positive feelings. It supposedly triggers a better mood. But prayer means submission to God's will be it good for you or bad as long as it is for the greater good. Thus it can only change your mood if your attitude is, "God is on my side." That would be very presumptuous and it will generate anger and one day you will end up fighting your enemy. The more you pray and get comfort the worse the problem will get.
Saying, "I open myself to the presence of God" is pretentious. Saying, "God opens his presence to me", is even worse. All you can say is, "I open myself to the presence of God if he can be with me as it might not be part of his plan".

People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer from chaotic and scary thoughts and feelings about their place in the world. So they develop - often bizarre - rituals or beliefs to try and keep this perception of chaos at bay. See page 92 . They try to impose some order and sense in this way. They try to limit their perception perhaps through masochistic behaviour. They can punish themselves a whole lifetime for some minor sin that they committed as a child. They don't see a bigger picture. They develop a reductionist view of things. We live in a chaotic world of uncertainty and fear and change. It is likely that belief in God in itself is about limiting that perception of chaos and is therefore an OCD. If so, submitting to God is a form of masochism by default.

People let themselves be conditioned and it is not down to their better nature.

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