Topic Tuesday #164 2015/09/08 "Fear Pressure"
Today, one of my daughters came home with a sad story. She had been coerced into believing in God through her "friends" claims that if she didn't she would go to Hell, whatever that is. This is not informed consent, this is peer pressure and fear. It is despicable.
For disclosure, I am an atheist, a secular humanist. a non-believer. I run a secular household. We don't pray. We don't attend church. This doesn't mean I keep my children sheltered from the concept of the super natural and gods and goddesses, far from. Once the question comes up, I have plenty of knowledge to share. I want them to have a strong knowledge of world religions so they are informed. I told her today, "You can believe in whatever religion you want, with one caveat. I want you to be able to explain to me why you do. I want you to know why you believe something." This concept is called epistemology, essentially, why you know what you know.
I don't believe in any particular religious tradition, because I do not find any of them convincing. I have investigated almost all of them in more depth than the average church goer knows their holy text. I'm open to more knowledge, but I am not a blind believer and I require evidence for my beliefs. Facts serve us all rather well.
So, I'm mad. I'm mad that little kids, under 10, would be afraid of a fairy tale place like Hell. That this would be the stick to the carrot of Heaven. I have a great distaste for indoctrination, and especially before the age of reason. You don't threaten a child with eternal torment! What kind of monster would do that?
Of course... there is the flip side. Let's assume that the majority regionally followed faith tradition is true. Is 100% correct. Then the followers would be doing a great wrong to others by not sharing the good news. I understand that. I understand that proselytizing is the right thing to do for the true believer. I also understand that I should be stoned to death for speaking against it. There are a great number of things that if you are the true believer you would be arrested for should you follow the letter and spirit of your faith. The social contract that you have found yourselves to be a part of, along with pluralities of believers, does not allow you to fully unleash your righteous belief. There are many things in your tradition that are unacceptable to modern life.
I would like you to keep your fear to yourselves. Think of the nightmares that can be caused by telling a child they are going to hell... Let them figure it out for themselves. If your religion is worthy, you have nothing to worry about. If it is not, perhaps you've been sold someone else's fear.