Do people cling to certain religions based on where they were raised? — Reblogged

Aurora, by Guercino, 1621-23: the ceiling fresco in the Casino Ludovisi, Rome, is a classic example of Baroque illusionistic painting (from here)
Aurora, by Guercino, 1621-23: the ceiling fresco in the Casino Ludovisi, Rome, is a classic example of Baroque illusionistic painting (from here)

I started to leave a comment at this post: Do people cling to certain religions based on where they were raised? by The Isaiah 53:5 Project.

An objection to Christianity I hear all the time is one that suggests faith is based less on reason and truth and more on geography, cultural influences, and traditions. In other words, if a person were to grow up in America they would likely be a Christian while a person growing up in Baghdad will likely be a Muslim.

While this argument might seem to have some merit, its true goal is to cast doubt on the truth of Christianity and question the intellectual honesty or intelligence of believers who claim to believe in Christianity based on the truth of its claims. (continued here)

My intent was to reply to this comment.

Ken Thackerey

“Surely, no one can take beliefs that were handed down to them by their parents seriously especially when there are so many religious options, can they?”

You took the words right out of my mouth. I think the vast majority of theists simply absorb the beliefs of their parents and never seriously question them. Those who eventually do question them, usually de-convert.unless coerced and threatened by their “belief system”.

Then, when my reply started to grow, I decided to make a post of it. So here it is.

@The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Great post!

@Ken Thackerey

Surely, no one can take beliefs that were handed down to them by their parents seriously especially when there are so many religious options, can they?

History argues against the notion that people just believe what their parents believe. Contemplate the number of religious movements that have rapidly spread across large nations and even the globe. Sometimes they spread by word of mouth. Sometimes they spread with the aid of brute force, but spread they did and do.

Examples include widely diverse beliefs and ideologies such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Communism, Islam, Christianity, and…. Even within Christianity, we had the Protestant Reformation, and suddenly people wanted something different. When Martin Luther spoke of justification by faith, many understood the significance of those words, took them to heart, and struggled to put them into practice.

In the years that proceeded the birth of Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire, a pagan masterpiece, encompassed much of the known world. What is paganism? It was the science of the time, and it was the atheism of the time. When the Romans conquered a country, they adopted that nation’s gods. They add these new gods to their own and congratulated themselves as open-minded. To the minds of the Romans, the gods were tools they could manipulate. They did not really understand their gods, but much like the black boxes we call computers, they had instructions. Follow the instructions, make the proper sacrifices, flatter the gods correctly, and the gods performed.

The Jews? The Jews the Romans regarded as closed minded. Only one God? For similar reasons they detested the Christians. Yet both the Jews and the Christians survived the hatred of the Romans.

Why does Christianity seem to be floundering in our time? We have been taught to judge a thing by how well it works for us. Earlier generations understood God permits no such nonsense. God is our Father, and we are His children. Commonsense demands obey Him. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, He freed us to serve (1 Corinthians 7:21-24), not to be God.

God demands we serve Him without reservation, and that sounds scary. Hence, we study the Bible reluctantly, and we send our children to public schools where the Bible is a dreaded and abhorred competitor (Politicians want our hearts, minds, and souls too.). Instead of learning about the Bible and its influence of upon the events of the last two millennia, we allow strangers to teach our children to pretend they know what it is in the Bible and to pretend it does not matter. Thus, we get atheists, open-minded souls who howl about the closed-minded, superstitious Christians. Thus, we get atheists who argue among themselves over the best approach to extinguishing Christianity.

Should be easy to convert everyone to militant atheism, right? Isn’t Atheism the one true faith? Yet for some reason, Christianity stubbornly persists. Why? Atheist converts are not converts to anything. They are still what they were before.When people deconvert from Christianity, it is because they never Christian converts.

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27 thoughts on “Do people cling to certain religions based on where they were raised? — Reblogged

  1. “I think the vast majority of theists simply absorb the beliefs of their parents and never seriously question them.”

    All in good humor here, but I grew up under militant atheism, in a liberal oasis I often refer to as the 9th circuit of hell and yet here I am, very Christian and not liberal either, proving both that God is good, seems to have a sense of humor and that I am apparently a defective unit. 😉

    “When people deconvert from Christianity, it is because they never Christian converts.”

    I am still uncertain about this, Tom. I’d disagree with you, but I haven’t yet decided if I truly do, and I’ve yet to formulate a proper response.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nothing wrong with having doubts and uncertainties. As you have said, we have to pray and get our answers from God.

      So why did I assert such a thing so confidently? Consider. Is Jesus in the habit of losing one of His sheep? Don’t we become one of His sheep when we are reborn in Christ?

      Consider also this passage.

      1 John 2:18-19 New King James Version (NKJV)

      18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

      What is an antichrist? John explains later in the same chapter. Based upon his explanation, I think someone who runs around calling for others to stop believing in Jesus qualifies.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. @insanitybytes22:
      My situation is not exactly a mirror image of yours, but it does go in a different direction. I was an unwanted child, and was handed off to another family member hundreds of miles away to raise when I was a few weeks old. My aunt and uncle — and now foster parents — were warm, loving, deeply religious Christian people. The warm and loving part made a deep impact upon me, whereas the Christianity didn’t “take.” Some years later I was reclaimed by my mother, and met my father for the first time, and these folks were only Christians in the more common and more casual sense.

      I attended Sunday school and church — I can still visualize those rooms more than half a century later — but I had too many questions and it still didn’t take. I was always a science buff; at age 8, I started up a biology club to teach my neighbor kids and get them interested in the topic. They expected more talk about sex and less about mitochondria, I think. My parents broke up, and I moved out on my own. I was fourteen, but had been more or less on my own for a couple of years by that time. I was poor, and had a hard time with other kids at school, but don’t think of this as “hell.” Around the time I moved out, I figured out how to deal with my opponents, and solved that problem.

      My pursuit of facts, both in science and history, have left me still non-religious, but with a keen appreciation for Christianity and the good it does for many people. And, very much, a Constitutional conservative.

      But I recognize that, in the absence of an opposing influence, most people grow up accepting the religious views of their parents if those views are strong. It seems that US educators, especially in colleges, have set for themselves the role of being that opposing influence. And the dissolution of marriage in the US is weakening the starting point.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Keith

        Sounds like your aunt and uncle did their best to prepare you for the school of hard knocks.

        I was a military brat. Moved around a lot. When I had a hard time with other kids at school, I didn’t think of it as “hell,” but I sure as “hell” did not like it.

        For all their imperfections, I knew my parents loved me, and my brothers and sisters too. That family love is rock we all need as children. I suspect that is what your aunt and uncle gave you.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. novascout

      Whenever I ask Tom this, IB22, he wanders off. I’ll ask you and see whether I get anything more direct: You say that you are “. . .very Christian and not liberal either. . . .”
      do you think it possible to be a Christian (leaving what “very Christian” is to one side) and a political “liberal” in the contemporary American political sense?

      Scout

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  2. mike

    “When people deconvert from Christianity, it is because they never Christian converts.”

    though I had more than a few issue with the post, this quote was probably the most insulting to those who have chosen to reconsider the faith they once held with as much or more vigor tan you do yours now. although I am not a deconvert or an christian become atheist, even from a biblical POV this is really not a sustainable position for you to take. and it goes more to reassure yourself and confirm that you are ‘still right’ in maintaining your faith than it does to being honest and respectful of the many stories from those who have deconverted from Christianity. just a cursory look around the WWW and Youtube would suffice anyone actually looking that many of these people have had VERY deep faiths and even active and real ministries within their particular brands of the Church.
    how dare you invalidate the reality of their previous Christian faith and experience because it doesn’t fit with your particular mindset. do you KNOW that they were never true converts? have you talked with all of them? have you set yourself as the arbiter of ‘their’ faith experience and history? you so blithely insult them because you don’t believe they could possibly have been true Christians if they ever leave the faith.
    please reconsider your position which even from a biblical NT POV cannot be supported.
    -mike (yes, still a Christian- not an atheist)

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    1. @Mike
      I was not aware I directed either my post or my comment at you personally. However, the Bible says what it says, and I see no reason to apologize for quoting it. I did not misrepresent the passage or take it out of context, and you are not arguing that I did. Think about that.

      The Bible speaks of antichrists as well as the Antichrist. What is an antichrist? Here is how the Apostle John used the word.

      1 John 2:22-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

      22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

      The mere fact someone does not believe in the divinity of Jesus does not make them antichrist or even against Christ. What make someone against Christ is the fact they preach against Christ. When someone makes it utterly clear that they are preaching against Christianity, what is wrong with saying that is what they are doing?

      When the Bible says that believers don’t deconvert, why should a Christian believe otherwise? The doctrine of being born again — saved — means we are saved because we have accepted Christ as our Shepherd, that we have placed our souls under His protection. As a Christian, I am suppose to believe the protection of Christ is a small matter?

      It may be that I am wrong. Because I am only a small, ignorant little speck in this vast universe, I would be foolish to believe either that I have all the answers or that whatever I believe must be absolutely true. Nevertheless, I believe in Jesus Christ and in the truth of the Bible. If you find that offensive, there is nothing I can do about it. You choose what you believe, not me. I chose what I believe because I believe it. I hope what I believe pleases God. Whether it pleases anyone else…. What do you think Jesus meant when He spoke these words?

      Matthew 10:34-39 New King James Version (NKJV)

      34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’[a] 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

      When we choose what we believe to please others, are we choosing to believe the truth or just pandering?

      Some beliefs are true. Others are not. Tolerance is about respecting people, not foolish ideas or a dubious protestation that so and so once believed in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. If you want a thoughtful article on this subject, please read => http://www.equip.org/articles/the-myth-of-tolerance/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really like this, Tom. I sometimes say, “what does a non believer do?” They go about the business of not believing and live their lives. But what does an anti-Christ do? They are against Christ and speak endlessly against Him and against those who put their faith in Him. If one is preaching against Christ, than one is simply an anti-Christ.

        I think I agree with you about deconvertees. So often they are angry about the acts of people, institutions, churches, but these things are not where our faith lives. The protection of Christ is no small matter and He really does pursue His lost sheep. I think I will retract my hesitation there and agree that believers do not deconvert. That is a deception.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. “When the Romans conquered a country, they adopted that nation’s gods.”

    Interesting how this sentence is timely in regards to Kim Davis. The Romans were wiser than our Supreme Court. They knew that messing with religious beliefs was like stirring up a volcano, the same point i brought up in my latest post.

    Your post is good insight how religion can be handed down by succeeding generations of different culture. Sad, that while most religions promote goodwill, the cunning find ways to use religion to promote their own agenda.

    Regards and goodwill blogging..

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think all the Supreme Court Justices should pass a basic training course before they are allowed to make a ruling. The course should be in focused on the writings of King Solomon, a far wiser judge.

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. archaeopteryx1

    I couldn’t help noticing that you referenced Thomas Edison regarding the real Thomas Paine, and was instantly reminded of something else Edison once said:

    “I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake. Religion is all bunk.”
    — Thomas Alva Edison —

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    1. Edison was a Deist, as was Paine. Edison admired Paine. As I once did myself, I guess, Edison took up Paine’s Deism as his own. I eventually reconsidered the matter, studied the Bible carefully, and accepted the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Off topic, still: It seems to me that Edison was indeed an atheist, but at a time when one could not simply openly say that without backlash. Look what it got Paine — despite all he had done for America, his religious views made him a hated, friendless social pariah. So as Paine attempted to profess a less-harsh sounding version of non-belief, and called it Deism, Edison did much the same at various times, until his own stature grew to the point where he did not consider a potential backlash to be a problem.

        Edison was capriciously capable of saying things for effect; consider the episode where he told a credulous reporter that he was working on inventing a “spirit telephone” to contact the spirits of the dead.

        Edison was also had a little quirk in his ideas of killing. He would not work on offensive weapons of war, and took great pains in not having invented devices that kill. But he was rather famously associated with the development of the electric chair to do away with criminals, partly as a promotional stunt for his company. He called this form of execution “Westinghousing the criminals” after his corporate rival George Westinghouse, but that name did not stick. His point in pushing this (using his competitor’s technology) was to demonstrate that the competitor’s alternating current was deadly and his direct current was safe by comparison. There was some support for this; a number of people had died while working on the new AC arc-lighting streetlights.

        Westinghouse would not sell Edison the generators needed. But Edison, working with the original inventors, set up a front company in South America and obtained Westinghouse AC generators for the stunt.

        A few years later, L. Frank Baum (of Wizard of Oz fame, and a fierce Democrat) cleverly used Edison’s promoted device to appear to “campaign for” William McKinley. His poem, “When McKinley Gets the Chair, Boys” is seen by most people today to indicate that Baum must have been a Republican like McKinley, having no idea that “the Chair” slyly referred to the electric chair, not the one in the Oval Office. I wrote about that poem here, and Baum, McKinley and Hanna (i.e., “Oz and the Man Behind the Curtain”) in a few articles about Baum’s very political Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thomas Edison, Thomas Paine, Citizen Tom,…… As far as I know there have not been any Tom the Great, but the have been a lot of great Tom’s.
          😉

          Thanks for the stories. When I was growing up, I don’t recall reading any biography of Thomas Edison. I probably should have, but I was not into biographies then. I just remembered admiring Edison for his work ethic.

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        1. I did not say I had lost my admiration for Thomas Paine. I just reconsidered Deism. I wrote about the here => https://citizentom.com/2007/11/13/thomas-paines-profession-of-faith/.

          I honestly don’t know how God judges people. How did God judge Paine and Edison? So Christians think they are in Hell, but I doubt it.

          I think it is a mistake to look at the Bible and be too dogmatic. What does it mean to reject God, to reject His Son? I doubt if it is the same thing as being so disgusted with our churches run by men. Yet some people find there church experience so repellent that they reject any serious consideration of the Bible. Thus, they equate the human frailties of Christians with the authenticity of the Bible. When we do that me miss two things. The Bible says all men are sinners — all men. The Bible does not say that people who call themselves Christians do not sin. The Bible doesn’t even say true Christians do not sin. The Bible says that if we repent we will be forgiven.

          We have to judge the Bible on its own merit. Is it what men would have written, or is it what only God could have written to fallen Man? What matters is whether we can find fault with the Bible, not man.

          Judging the Bible is in fact the hard part. When we read the Bible what is the chance we will misunderstand? If we forget we are reading God’s Word, we will not take the care we need to understand. We will forget the His wisdom is far above our own, that what seems foolish to us is not foolish. What is foolish is our self.

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  6. novascout

    Enjoyed Keith’s comment about Edison, particularly the last bits about the Edison/Westinghouse kerfuffles. I remember reading some place about Edison arranging a well-publicized electrocution of an elephant to illustrate the dangers of alternating current. As an animal lover, I find this absolutely disgusting, but it illustrates the eccentricities of these late 19th, early 20th century geniuses. Henry Ford, Edison’s contemporary and friend, is another of these self-educated wizards.

    As a kid, I used to have occasion periodically to drive (or, more precisely ride) through a little town in the Midwest where Edison was born. I remember thinking way back then that one never knows where genius will strike.

    Scout

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