Religion vs. Atheism in Parenting

A few weeks back, I read Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion say:

I want us to flinch when we hear of a ‘Christian child’ or a ‘Muslim child’. Small children are too young to know their views on life, ethics and the cosmos. We should no more speak of a Christian child than of a Keynesian child, a monetarist child or a Marxist child. Automatic labeling of children with the religion of their parents is not just presumptuous. It is a form of mental child abuse.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since, when I was asked the following questions by Ashok in comments on his Temple Matters post:

1) What is your opinion on children being taken to temples but not encouraged to ask why?

2) At what point do you think parents/elders should leave the decision of finding personal meaning in religion to the individual? What would you do with your children?

For a novice parent, these are profound questions, and it is important for any parent to think about these.

To start with, there is no doubt in my mind in fully agreeing with Dawkins. I was indoctrinated as a Hindu child, and chose atheism only in my teens, after I discovered and studied other philosophies. I did not have to go through a tenacious struggle myself, but I can well imagine different experiences for others. I would disagree with indoctrination of any kind. One must encourage one’s children to think for themselves, and choose what they think is right.

Given that religion is based on blind faith and not reason, it is hardly surprising that most religious parents blindly indoctrinate their children in what they themselves believe is the best for their children’s good. But what about atheists? Do atheists equally provide an open environment for their children to let them choose between religion and atheism?

Even as an atheist, I believe that I should not indoctrinate my child with atheistic principles. Even if I was raised as a Hindu, I will let my child attend a Christian convent school if it offers quality education, even though it may expose her to Christian traditions. I will let her grandparents take her to Hindu temples and let her see and have that experience. I will teach her not to discriminate among her friends based on religion if I find hints of any such thing. Over time, I would encourage her to think critically for herself.

So my response to Ashok’s questions is: #1 is pure indoctrination. Not encouraging children to ask questions is bad parenting. Not allowing them to, is mental child abuse, as Dawkins points out. #2: From the birth of the child. You can provide facts, information, and knowledge. But the decision of finding personal meaning in religion or elsewhere is a birthright of the child.

Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds (who said rational parenting was easy?). When she asks me for the first time (whenever that is), “Dad, what is God”?, what will be my response? Will it be “Dear, God is a fictitious entity that many people believe in?” No, I suspect I will point at an idol somewhere and say “That is what people call God”, and thus side-step the question of his existence. If after a couple of years she asks “Dad, where can I find God?”, I’ll say “I don’t know dear. I haven’t found him yet. If you do, please let me know.” As she grows up, I will continue to encourage independent thinking. When she is mature enough to understand how different people can have different values, I can then explain what my values are. Well, I hope so! :-)

What are your thoughts?

Update: 11th Oct: I realize that comments section on this post can be too restricted a space for many people to espouse their ideas. I have also learnt that this is a universal topic for parents who think. Hence, as can be seen from the comments section below, this topic is now a meme, open to all.

It has already been taken up by The Rational Fool, La Vie Quotidienne, and AgelessBonding. Feel free to take up this meme on your own blog and write on this topic.

Cartoon Credits: David Horsey, via The Primate Diaries

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40 thoughts on “Religion vs. Atheism in Parenting

  1. Shefaly: Thanks for sharing that!

    The post and comments really go hand-in-hand with mine. While I juxtapost religion with atheism, it discusses different religions. I find Worth’s following statement quite interesting:

    //I would think those that spread through military expansion/empire and forced coercion, i.e. Christianity and Islam, may not fare as well as Judaism or Buddhism or many others that aren’t even on our radar.//

    Very nice to get a perspective from a religious parent, writing almost on the same topic before I did. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Mahendra: You are welcome.

    From the empirical evidence of my life and the lives of my siblings, I can tell you that it does not matter what you tell the child now. If you infuse the spirit of enquiry in her, she will question, refute, reject or accept whatever you tell her based on the evidence she gathers.

    For having been brought up in the same household, my siblings and I have very different paths as far as religion is concerned. We have different temperaments; we meet and argue with different sorts of people; we have different reading interests so we have made our choices differently.

    It hurts parents to hear this but in the end, parenting shapes only a small part of behaviours; what it does shape is values. And an open mind and a spirit of enquiry are pretty good values to teach any child, I think.

    Thanks.

  3. Mahendra, when we were very young, my mother told my brothers and me that we should grow up first and become adults before deciding whether we thought God existed or not. I took her advice and consequently grew up agnostic, refusing to make a decision about the existence of deity until I was 40 (The typical age at which an American becomes an adult). Looking back, I think mom was right — it’s best not to make some decisions when one is still a child.

    Very good post!

  4. Too much indoctrination by parents can result in rebellion.
    But yes I agree with Shefaly about bringing up the kids with an open mind and a spirit of inquiry. Amazingly my kids never once asked me about God when they were growing up! They asked me about everything, except God. We never discussed God with them but we have discussed what is good, what is right and what is wrong, and yes we have discussed everything under the sky from spaceships to philosophy, but never God.
    I guess they never talked about it because they knew it didn’t matter. Not to me nor to my husband.
    Today they associate religion with rituals, not goodness, with weakness, not strength.
    I don’t know why. I never told them.

  5. Great post. I read Dawkins (I’m a big fan of his books of evolution) and I wanted to find out how hard it is for Indian parents to keep an open mind about their children’s views on religion. I suspect that deep down, it is very hard for us Indians to tell our children – “look. this is what I believe. But keep an open mind and formulate your own opinions”. I am not a psychologist or a sociologist, but I think that’s very hard to do in our cultural context, where there is no clear separation of religion from anything we do – waking up, eating, going to work, writing an exam, starting a new venture etc, I get this feeling that as parents, we are always worried about indoctrination from the outside – in other words, “what if my child converts to another religion? Id better play it safe and indoctrinate him/her to my own religion/caste/sub caste/deities”

  6. Mahendra wrote:

    Do atheists equally provide an open environment for their children to let them choose between religion and atheism?

    The question is misleading, and a clever trap, often set by the religious. It subtly casts atheism as just another religion. It’s not.

    I’d reframe this question as “Do irreligious parents provide an open environment for their children to let them choose between religion and reason?” My answer is an unequivocal, “I would not”. And, I did not.

    I have plenty more to say on this subject, but to economize on the storage resources, I’ll urge you to read my response to the Edge Annual Question for 2007, What are you optimistic about? Why?.

  7. “I suspect that deep down, it is very hard for us Indians to tell our children – “look. this is what I believe. But keep an open mind and formulate your own opinions”.”

    Hmm. The more time I spend in the blogosphere’s Indian “zone”, so to speak, the more I appreciate my father and his methods in bringing us up… :-)

  8. Hi, I chanced upon your blog from Nita’s blog comments. This is a good post. This is a topic that always brings conflict between me and my spouse. He prefers to bring up his children with all the rituals that our religion has though he is not perfectly religious at all. Instead of teaching good values like being respectful to other human beings, being kind and courteous etc., many religiously (or ritualistically) blind parents just go on to teach the mechanical aspects of a religion like lighting a lamp, prostrating before an idol or picture and chanting mantras without knowing the meaning etc. I think religion should evolve with time and religion should permit questioning. My son asked his father “what is that thread?”. His father answered that its because we belonged to a certain community. For now, I guess that answer is good as my son is too young to understand anyway. But as he grows older, I only hope that he does not blindly follow his religion and turn a blind eye to humanity.

  9. A very important issue in the even more difficult subject of raising a child.
    I guess it is more important for a child to grow up being tolerant to all religions than being an atheist or non atheist.

  10. Do atheists equally provide an open environment for their children to let them choose between religion and atheism? – Difficult question.

    I remember walking by a shloka class for under 10 yr olds and being horrified at the level of indoctrination. But then I would like to think that I would give my child an open environment and let the choice happen naturally.

  11. “a shloka class for under 10 yr olds”

    Pardon my French, but WTF is THAT? And where does this happen?

    Never in my schooling in India did I ever experience anything similar except for a 2-month period when I attended a school that read out The Gita loudly in assembly once a week…

  12. All: Thank you for your sincere comments and response!

    Shefaly: //If you infuse the spirit of enquiry in her, she will question, refute, reject or accept whatever you tell her based on the evidence she gathers. //
    Yes, that ‘If’ is a very big If, and is critical, I think.

    //For having been brought up in the same household, my siblings and I have very different paths as far as religion is concerned.//
    I think this is more the case in the middle to upper economic and educated strata of society, but I may be wrong.

    //It hurts parents to hear this but in the end, parenting shapes only a small part of behaviours; what it does shape is values.//
    Yes, my focus in the post is only on values, not on behaviors.

    //And an open mind and a spirit of enquiry are pretty good values to teach any child, I think.//
    Absolutely. Thanks for your response. I think so too.

    Paul: I admire your mother!

    //…until I was 40 (The typical age at which an American becomes an adult)//
    Ha ha ha…why do you say that?!

    Thanks for the compliments!

  13. Nita: //Too much indoctrination by parents can result in rebellion.//
    Yes…

    //Amazingly my kids never once asked me about God when they were growing up!//
    That is indeed very surprising…you discussed ethics and values, but never God…

    //I guess they never talked about it because they knew it didn’t matter. Not to me nor to my husband.//
    Your comment has raised a new train of thought in my mind. Is there a way parents imbibe values in their children in an implicit manner? By not doing something, by not talking about something, too, we must be communicating its unimportance to us to our children…?

    //Today they associate religion with rituals, not goodness, with weakness, not strength. I don’t know why. I never told them.//
    Quite interesting. Thanks for sharing, Nita.

    Ashok: //I think that’s very hard to do in our cultural context, where there is no clear separation of religion from anything we do…//
    I fully agree. It is very difficult. Each time my daughter spends time with either of her grandparents I know she’s going to learn something of a religious nature, whether it’s clapping her hands to the sound of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ or whatever. That’s why this decision making regarding letting her have this exposure is a very real one for me.

    //I get this feeling that as parents, we are always worried about indoctrination from the outside//
    You have hit the nail on the head – our culture doesn’t encourage individual thinking and the importance of inculcating a spirit of inquiry. Indoctrination is a metaphysical given, a fact of existence, the only question is whether its you or someone else. How sad!

  14. TRF: //The question is misleading, and a clever trap, often set by the religious. It subtly casts atheism as just another religion. It’s not.//
    I didn’t think it was misleading when I wrote the post. The title of my post, the use of the words between religion and atheism, like in between apples and oranges, was quite clear I thought. (Both apples and oranges are types of fruit, just as religion and atheism are philosophies.) But thanks for letting me know that it can be misleading.

    //I’d reframe this question as “Do irreligious parents provide an open environment for their children to let them choose between religion and reason?” My answer is an unequivocal, “I would not”. And, I did not.//
    Your optimism and response to the Edge Annual Question is very nicely essayed. I don’t think I differ from what you’ve written. But I don’t think a closed environment, and a restricted choice is the correct way to go about it.

    One, I believe that each individual has a right to his or her rational or irrational beliefs. As I’ve written above, you can provide facts, information, and knowledge. But the decision of finding personal meaning in religion or elsewhere is a birthright of the child.

    Two, unless a child or person has chosen reason over religion by deliberation, inquiry, evaluation, and personal choice, the pursuit of reason is meaningless. It is simply another kind of indoctrination, thus making atheism just another kind of religion.

    My thoughts on this are not frozen. I’ve written what I am thinking is right. As always, I am willing to critically evaluate my thoughts.

  15. Wishtobeanonymous: Welcome and thanks for sharing! What you describe is the situation in the vast majority of Indian households. In fact, as Ashok has been pointing out, any attempts to question are stifled with arrogance or indifference. This is poor parenting. Why don’t you try to spend time with your son in the absence of his father, and do your best to answer his questions as well as inculcate what you think are good values? Your son might end up loving you and respecting you much more as a result!

    Madhuri: //I guess it is more important for a child to grow up being tolerant to all religions than being an atheist or non atheist.//
    Thanks for sharing your view. From my perspective, respecting individuals without discrimination is more important than being tolerant to all religions. In fact, there are many aspects in most religions that are evil, and ought to be criticized, not tolerated. The criticism should be of the evil irrational principle involved, not of the individual. This is also not to excuse individuals who practice evil under the guise of religion, I’m just talking of the best case scenarios. For e.g. if someone is forcing a woman to undergo Sati, both the principle as well as the individuals involved should be criticized, not tolerated.

    Diviya: //I remember walking by a shloka class for under 10 yr olds and being horrified at the level of indoctrination. But then I would like to think that I would give my child an open environment and let the choice happen naturally.//

    Welcome and thanks for sharing your view. Unlike Shefaly, my response is not of shock but of despair. Your opinion on the matter sounds very close to mine, but I will not let the choice happen naturally. As my child grows up, I will do my best to make sure she has reason as an alternative, and to make sure she knows how her parents have chosen reason over religion. For e.g. whenever she expresses any irrational or religious opinions, I will argue and reason to the best of my ability. It is indeed walking a thin line, and that’s the challenge that I’m wrestling with that I’ve written about.

    Shefaly: //Pardon my French, but WTF is THAT? And where does this happen?//
    I think a trip to India is highly due! ;-)

  16. To those of you who have shown a ‘balanced’ approach (eg, you, Mahendra), I ask you:
    If your daughter got scared of ghosts, would you or would you not tell her ghosts are all nonsense? Then why wouldn’t you tell her the same about God?? He is, after all, only a Holy Ghost!
    I am fully with The Rational Fool on this (and most else, it seems!)….

  17. Thanks for your reply Mahendra. Yes it is very important to treat every individual equally, but since the topic was about atheism and religion, i felt a child should be tolerant to all.
    Since you have mentioned that all religions do have evils, so all are equally bad :D and so while choosing a friend, there should not be any discrimination based on religion…right?

  18. Doc: You really make me think…and I’m very grateful for that! :-)

    As I mentioned, the situation is quite complex and impossible to capture in a blog post/comments.

    If there is any emotion of fear – regardless of whether it is due to ghosts or God or astrological predictions – I will indeed help dissipate the fear by encouraging rational thinking. But rather than telling her ghosts are all nonsense, I would attack her line of thinking and make her realize for herself that ghosts don’t exist.

    I think the point I’m trying to make is that rather than making our children believe in something just because we said so, I’m trying to focus on encouraging their thinking and learning on their own.

    I suspect there’ll be situations where I wouldn’t act the way I’m describing, so probably all this doesn’t make sense. But thinking about it is indeed helping me, if I may say so.

    Madhuri – right! I’ve already written that in my post…:-)

  19. rambodoc wrote:

    If your daughter got scared of ghosts, would you or would you not tell her ghosts are all nonsense? Then why wouldn’t you tell her the same about God?

    These two questions capture the essence of volumes of discussion on this subject world over. Thanks, doc.

  20. Pingback: A chain of posts, parenting, religion and a child’s perspective « La Vie Quotidienne

  21. TRF: I respect people who don’t let go of important things until they’re resolved! :-)

    So, no, I don’t mind at all.

    Shefaly: Yeah! I didn’t know that while I was responding to a meme, I had started one in the process! ;-)

    Both: I’m grateful to you folks for taking this to a wider audience. I am looking forward to learning more about this critically important topic. I’ll continue to express my thoughts here itself, so as to retain the ‘root’ of this ‘thought-thread’.

  22. Shefaly: Finally I could spend some time on your post!

    //These parents are also all religious parents struggling with the right way to impart religious values to their children.//
    This is where I stopped in my first reading, and decided to read later. Because, like TRF, I do not understand where you got this idea that I’m being a religious parent trying to impart religious values to my daughter.

    //While TRF has a grown-up child, both AUM and Worth have young children so the outcome of their experiments will be seen a few years down the line.//
    Given that you’re an emancipated female, I found it amusing to see how you’ve neglected to take into account the child’s mother into the picture. Whatever my thoughts as a father are, the ‘outcome of the experiment’ is not solely influenced by what I think as the father!

    //It is true that just as religion is often used as shorthand for framing issues of politics or society, children are referred to as belonging to a religion of their parents.//
    True. That it is used in such a way is a very sad state of affairs in humanity.

    //Perhaps religious descriptors are not as offensive as Dawkins should like to believe. It is just innocuous shorthand.//
    “Innocuous shorthand” is a euphemism for what you’re referring to. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Anshul who commented on your post in response: “What shorthands we use really affect how we think when we are not consciously thinking.”

    That is what I tried in vain to talk about in the comments discussion on a previous post regarding the “innocuous shorthand” of ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’. I’m glad I can quote someone in the current context who understands how terminologies we use affect our thinking and why they’re important.

  23. TRF: I find it amusing that you too are using a kind of “Argument from Personal Experience”. In my comments above, I tried to clarify that I will never allow an irrational fear in my child. However, yours and Rambodoc’s approach to exterminating that fear differ from mine.

    As an aside, I wonder why you had to apologize and clarify that you didn’t mean “Ram didn’t exist”, but rather that “there is no proof that Ram existed”. Why was that clarification and apology necessary?

    I would rather prefer my child to learn how to tackle any irrational fear, including Ghosts, or Demons, or Satan, or Yama, rather than indoctrinating her by saying “these things are nonsense”.

    I’m afraid no one seems to get my point.

  24. TRF: You have used a fear-mongering example of a horror movie. When I ask “Do atheists equally provide an open environment for their children”, I am not reducing the debate to negative experiences.

    Should I prevent my daughter from watching old Bollywood movies where prayers cause miracles? There is a world of great art form in those movies. Should I censor those movies from my children just because they show religion in a positive light?

    When you say Rambodoc’s questions capture the essence of this discussion, I beg to differ. By focusing on the negative aspects of religion and irrationality, these questions do not capture the essence of my question at all.

  25. Mahendra: Thanks for your note and thoughts.

    “This is where I stopped in my first reading, and decided to read later. Because, like TRF, I do not understand where you got this idea that I’m being a religious parent trying to impart religious values to my daughter.”

    This is an interesting one, because TRF also said the same thing. Alas, in communication, one of the key issues is it matters what is received. The impression I got from both your and TRF’s posts was that you were concerned about the issue because religion was significant to you.

    “Given that you’re an emancipated female, I found it amusing to see how you’ve neglected to take into account the child’s mother into the picture. Whatever my thoughts as a father are, the ‘outcome of the experiment’ is not solely influenced by what I think as the father!”

    I am only privy to the fathers’ perspectives – or whatever part of it you and TRF have shared – on this blog and on TRF’s blog. In the absence of any data on the mothers’ participation or views in the two cases, whatever I might have said will have been presumptuous and irrelevant.

    “Innocuous shorthand” is a euphemism for what you’re referring to. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Anshul who commented on your post in response: “What shorthands we use really affect how we think when we are not consciously thinking.”

    It may be my thick skin but a lot of things do not really offend me. Mainly because I do not care for them. It does not matter whether someone says “she” instead of “he” or “herstory” instead of “history”; what matters is the real progress women made. My interest in the ‘being’ than in the ‘being described’ was a key reason why despite majoring in Marketing at IIM-A, I did not pursue a career in brand marketing… In my post, I used “she” because I was referring to your daughter, TRF’s daughter and by all counts, Worth (I think) also has a daughter so I was not being PC, just accurate. Even when I am not thinking, someone’s religion is quite far from my mind, as is their sexuality or colour unless they do something egregious to draw attention to it.

    And another thing, though it is addressed to TRF:

    When we were children, we were not allowed to see any films that were not certified for children. I did see a film called ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’ and one called ‘Rani aur Lal Pari’ both knowing that witches and fairies exist only in stories. Much Bollywood fare is for grown-ups who can tell the caricature apart from the real thing. So this movie related thread I am watching with some interest.

    Thanks.

  26. Shefaly: Thanks.
    //The impression I got from both your and TRF’s posts was that you were concerned about the issue because religion was significant to you.//
    Let me clarify that it is not religion, but the extent of my open-mindedness as a parent that is significant to me and is the subject of my post.

    Regarding “innocuous shorthand”, I should’ve cited your context as well: //Perhaps religious descriptors are not as offensive as Dawkins should like to believe. It is just innocuous shorthand.//
    That is what I was referring to in my response. I apologize for not being clear in my response.

  27. mahendra:
    First about the clarification on the “Did Ram Exist?” post. As someone who had to compete in the marketplace for refereed publications, I have been trained to write my sentences very carefully. As I had written in the postscript, “To say that there is no proof that Ram existed is not the same as saying that Ram did not exit. The statement is about the existence of the proof, and not about the existence of the subject of the proof.” To prove or negate the existence of a historical Ram is outside the purview of my interest or competence. The original post was limited in scope. It addressed just ASI’s affiavit, nothing else. The apology is for inadvertent miscommnication, if any, and not for the denial of a supernatural deity of Ram, which is my unambiguous position.

    “These things are nonsense” is a summary of the reasoning that went behind a declaration that supernatural stuff don’t exist – their existence do not make any sense, given the current state of theory and evidence. The crux of scientific and empirical investigation is whether a null hypothesis (e.g., ghosts do not exist), which is itself the result of received theory and evidence, is rejected or not. I don’t see how this process qualifies as “indoctrination”.

    Shefaly:
    In our home, we (my wife and I) determined what was appropriate material for my daughter, and not a bunch of bureaucrats who have no idea of even the existence of our daughter, let alone her level of mental maturity. Sometimes we erred, but mostly we were right, judging by the outcome. In this particular case, my wife was right, and I was wrong :(

  28. TRF: Thanks for clarifying further, and I understand my misinterpretation of your apology. I was trying to map the two stands:

    a> There is no proof that Ram exists.
    b> Ram does not exist.

    to this discussion. As a parent, I will definitely state a> to my child, but will prefer leaving the child to infer b>.

    The difference in our opinions on this subject is that you are willing to share the summary and conclusions of the reasoning directly with your daughter, and I am hesitant to do so. (As I said complex situations may arise that may change or influence this, I’m not sure). What I would prefer is for my child to understand the reasoning first, and be able and empowered to reach her conclusions. If her conclusions are wrong, I will engage in a rational debate, refute, and hope to correct the incorrect conclusions, but I would like to let her make the reasoning, rather than swallow my conclusion.

    This is the sense in which I am referring to it as indoctrination. If an atheist’s daughter believes that God doesn’t exist just because her father thinks so, it is indoctrination. If she is able to reason it for herself, it is not.

  29. Shefaly: Thanks. I’d read that post, but have been generally playing catch up with my work and my blogging/commenting!

    Just attended to Paul’s post. Thanks!

  30. I want to address this point by The Rational Fool.

    >> To say that there is no proof that Ram existed is not the same as saying that Ram did not exit. The statement is about the existence of the proof, and not about the existence of the subject of the proof. >>

    To say that there is no proof that Ram existed is not the same as saying, “There have been no archeological studies to assert whether or not there is proof that Ram existed”.

    On the topic of atheism:

    I have no opinion on atheism, although I like Sam Harris’s views on keeping it under the radar. I find it unacceptable if atheists attack the beliefs of devotees of Sabarimala/any other temple. Would a true atheist turn to God if some rituals were “fixed” ? I also find it hypocritical if atheists (esp Indians) engage in “role playing” ceremonies, while holding the priests to ridicule.

    Either you are in, or you are out. No tears will be shed on either side. Make your choice and stick with it.

    I think it would be very unlikely for a kid to become religious if both parents are true atheists. We can factor out external influences (grandparents, uncles, neighbours) because they are applicable only when the parents consciously allow them.

  31. rc:
    I agree with you, so far as the proof in question here is for the existence of historical Rama. I was not aware that there had not been any archaeological studies to gather evidence to establish or negate the existence of historical Rama. The original statement in the ASI’s affidavit (since withdrawn) is “… [Ramayana] cannot be said to be historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters.” This statement is more precise and rigorous, and I stand corrected. Thanks.

  32. Pingback: Fear, Religion and Child Abuse; Searching Beyond Rhetoric | Skepticum

  33. DotMom: Nice write up, thanks for sharing…

    RC: //I think it would be very unlikely for a kid to become religious if both parents are true atheists.//
    You’re probably right.

  34. I agree with DotMom (above). That’s why it’s a blessing to be raised in a religious family. Pruning them to be good christians, bhuddists, etc. may be mind boggling to the child. I myself was subject to hours of prayer meetings, services, and more at a young age. But, it only added to the curiosity and respect for the God I was spending so much time for. I’m 17 now and aware of other various religions and their concepts. I believe the seriousness put into my childhood has showed me tha religion is a dangerous thing. One has to be careful when questioning, doubting, and researching religions for one is dealing with their own lives and the wrath of ‘God’. I have doubted and questioned and only found my religion to hold true. but, hey don’t get me wrong. I’m not a devout, holy, strict individual. I have my doubts and fears but that there is NO God is just beyond me.

  35. In my experience(which is first hand and by no means much, I am just 23) exposure to several different religion traditions leads rather quickly to atheism/agnosticism. At least in my case, the response was along the lines of “Surely, all these people who claim to know the “Truth(TM)” cannnot be all right!”.

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