The Strength of Indoctrination
“The realization that the rest of the world doesn’t live in constant fear was one of the things that led to my seeing the truth about religion in general and Christianity in particular. It was one of the many disconnects I saw between what my religion taught and what really was.”
The idea that this was one of the many disconnects between religion and reality caused me to realize something about my journey out of religion: each issue on its own probably wouldn’t have caused me to disbelieve, but the small things added up. Additionally, each new issue I found caused me to examine the way things are versus the way religion says things are just a bit more closely.
However, the scales used to weigh these two sets of ideas weren’t fairly balanced. The religious ideals weighed far more, in my mind, than the observed facts. As rational as I may have been, taking every new viewpoint with the grain of salt that is skepticism, I still allowed religion to dominate my mindset. Sure, there was a growing collection of rational observations about the way things really work (including the origins of the universe, the origins and evolution of life, equality, and sexuality), but I allowed the religious interpretations of things to hold far more influence on my thoughts and worldview.
Eventually the rational outweighed the religious so much that I couldn’t help but leave my religious past behind. I could no longer reconcile the things that I knew to be true with the things that Christianity claimed to be true. I could no longer cling to the irrationality of religion in the face of so much rational data.
It is also interesting to note (as I have in other posts) that there was so much time between the point where I no longer believed in God or Christianity (sometime in my early 20s) and the point where I actually admitted to myself this fact (just over a year ago).
These two observations just illustrate how strong religious convictions can be, especially when they are instilled early into the minds of children, and by parents who believe this way (this, I think, is the reason that I was able to leave behind my belief in Santa so easily while my Christianity stayed with me for so long: my parents didn’t actually believe there was a Santa, they just thought it was a fun tradition). My mind may have worked rationally, but I was blinded by the religion I was raised in. So strong was my indoctrination that, even after I ceased believing, I continued to think that I believed.