Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thinking For Yourself

 by Kenneth W. Hawthorne

"...I had allowed other people to tell me what to believe."--unknown.

"I was raised a Christian but I'm now in my senior year at Princeton and am currently going through the phase where I have to stop believing things because I grew up believing them and start believing them for my own reasons."
--from a book reviewer on

Fundamentalist Christians say that people must make up their own minds about Jesus Christ and the salvation he allegedly offers, but during this process they don't mean look at all the facts. What they mean is look at all the facts presented in the Bible (and when they say that, they really mean "all" the facts that they want presented and in the way they want presented and don't ask any hard questions--and if you do that you will see that Christianity is the true religion and that their version is it).

When I was growing up and even most of my adult life, I often thought how lucky I was that I was born into a family that believed in the one, true religion. I can't help but wonder how many other Billys and Marys, Abdullahs and Aras grew up thinking the same thing--about other religions. Religious indoctrination and a virtual absence of critical thought are common in almost all religious cultures.

Some of the best teaching that parents can pass on to their children, when the children get to a mature enough age, is to think critically and think for themselves; not push them, even if it's only a nudge, in the direction of what the parents believe; even if the parents believe that it is very important that their children believe what they believe. When parents do not do this and only allow their children to get one side of the story, whatever "faith" the children wind up with is really the parents' faith and not the child's faith. The child has put their faith in their parents (and sometimes some other authority figure(s) the parents approve of) and not in any alleged God that might be taught about in the Bible.

Sadly, many people never get to the Princeton student's phase in the quote above of believing things about Christianity and religion for their own critically-thought-out reasons.

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