Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How to Create More Atheists

There's a short video making the rounds that purports to explain religion in two minutes. It's a clip of Ricky Gervais basically claiming the only reason anyone believes in anything spiritual is because they were taught to believe that way when they were young and impressionable. The take-away instruction is that he thinks no one should be taught anything (beyond "don't touch that fire" or "don't go near the wolf") until they're twenty and that there would be a lot more atheists if we did that.

Let me say a couple things about that.

1. Yes, of course, what we are taught when we are young greatly influences what we believe and how we live when we get older. I freely admit that I WANT to believe in Jesus because of my old-school, follow-the-rules upbringing. But the Truth of early teaching equaling indoctrination applies to everything from language to toiletry habits. It's the way we learn anything worth learning.

2. Not teaching young people about spirituality is, in fact, teaching them something about spirituality. It's teaching them it's not important or it's up for grabs. It's assuming the existence of God is a matter of opinion and somehow less real than being burned by a fire or eaten by a wolf.

Reminds me of a sadness I had more than once in my Youth Ministry Daze. Parents would come to me saying, "My 15-year-old is giving me fits. He's disrespectful. He doesn't want to attend church. Can you help?"

What I always WANTED to say is, "Yes. I can help. Go back in time to when he was 2 and don't let him whine his way out of being in Sunday School. Go back in time to when he was 5 and make sure YOU were always involved in church. Go back in time to when he was 12 and keep him out of the sports team that practiced or competed on Sunday mornings. IT'S TOO LATE NOW, MOM! YOU'VE ALREADY SHOWN HIM WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU."

Truth is...I realize those things I wanted to say only prove the depth of truth about how early instruction is influential to a person's eventual belief system. But since Truth is not a matter of opinion, and rejecting God's love is just as dangerous as jumping into a fire, I'm okay with that.

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