God Doesn’t Exist: Christianity Relies on Indoctrination

What would happen if we categorized Christianity as an adult activity?  It would be like smoking, drinking, voting, driving, sex, and so on—things that you must be mature enough to handle wisely.  This adults-only Christianity would die out within a few generations.

We all have inside us what could be called a “Nonsense Detector”—that common sense that helps us believe as many true things and reject as many false things as possible.  For example, present most American adults with a case for Islam or Hinduism or Sikhism, and they will be extraordinarily unconvinced.

As adults, we’re far better at sifting truth from nonsense than we were as children.  And that’s why Christians must be indoctrinated as children, before their Nonsense Detectors are mature.  This is the idea behind the Jesuit maxim, “Give me a child until the age of seven and I will give you the man.”

I think most Christians would admit this.  Imagine a conversation between the father of a 6-year-old child and the grandmother.

Grandma: “Little Johnny is old enough for me to take to Sunday School now.”

Dad: “You can take him when he’s 18, but I’d prefer he stay out of church until then.”

Grandma: “But 18 is too late!  By then he’ll be set in his ways.  He won’t accept the truth then.”

What kind of “truth” is it that must be taught before people are mature, before their Nonsense Detectors are fully functioning?  Grandma realizes that only before someone’s Nonsense Detector is operating correctly can the beliefs of religion be put into someone’s head.  This is a very poor stand-in for truth.

That Christianity must have access to immature minds to survive is strong evidence that God doesn’t exist.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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34 thoughts on “God Doesn’t Exist: Christianity Relies on Indoctrination

  1. Hi Bob,

    Actually, a lot of people who are taught Christianity when they are children leave it as teenagers. Besides, many people turn to faith as adults by a process of conversion… But of course, one of the best predictors of an adult’s beliefs is his/her parents’ beliefs.

    At any rate, speaking of indoctrination is an exaggeration. Parents have the right to teach their children the religion they think is true. Just as atheists have the right to teach their children that religion is nonsense. But this teaching must not be done at the expense of critical thinking and scientific education. And parents must not engage in emotional manipulation to have their children believe. That being said, I think many believing parents leave enough freedom to their kids to allow them to make up their mind.

    I have been doing theology studies in a catholic university. I never had the feeling that the professors were trying to have me swallow whatever beliefs they were teaching, as if they were doing propaganda. Rather, theology has helped me to become more lucid about belief.

    • I agree that parents have a right to teach their kids their religious beliefs. Nevertheless, imagine if (by custom or law) people were taught/proselytized Christianity only when they became 18. How long do you think Christianity would last?

    • When you say many people turn to faith as adults I think you will find that they were indoctrinated as children first. Then left the faith. Life gave them a few kicks and the childhood programming kicked in dragging them back. Or in some cases they reject their old religion and take up another like Islam but the pre-programming is required first. It is almost impossible for someone raised outside religion to find themselves, as an adult, listening to the fairy story claimed to be true by the religious and to accept it as real. Those that do must be naive and credulous to the nth degree. They are also likely to be sold swampland.

  2. Pingback: God Doesn’t Exist: Historians Reject the Bible Story | Cross Examined

  3. Problem is people are not born into Christianity. No man seeks God..The only way anyone converst to Christianity or becomes a Christian is by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Only those the Father gives the Son (which has been determined befrore the foundation of the world) will come to the Son..And those who come are given eternal life from the Son.. And once this supernatural act happens nothing can seperate him from God..He can never loose his salvation. So if the Atheist trys to de-convert him , he is just waisting his time

  4. Bob,

    You said my comment does not address your argument.. It sure does!
    This is the comment you ended your article on.
    “That Christianity must have access to immature minds to survive is strong evidence that God doesn’t exist.”
    You are saying for Christianity to exist parents must indoctrinate their children, Otherwise Christianity would die out. Which is not true. As I said man has nothing to do with whom God elects. You are assuming that through tradition and the brainwashing of children is how Christianity survives. Has nothing to do with children.Which refutes you article.
    God has His elect all over the world and calls them at different ages .. In fact very few Children have saving faith. So there is no indoctrination. God’s Church will continue to grow and survive untill all is elect are called. And then comes the judgement, the return of Christ..So your article is irrelevant, as to how the Church is made up.

    That is a false assumption. Of course you deny the biblical teachings of the Christian faith, and that is fine. But do not twist what we believe.

    God has determined that from the first man to the last. That He has a special love and covenant with His elect. Gods elect make p the Christan church.

    • So you’d be content to have Christianity be an adults-only thing that people elect to participate in once they become old enough? Great! Perhaps we’ve found a point of agreement.

    • Isn’t it lucky and an amazing coincidence with all the religions in the world that you happened to be born into the one true religion and that just happened to be the same religion as your parents.

      I could introduce you to Jews and Muslims who feel the same.

      To my mind the one good thing about Judaism is that they do not proseltyse. They actively discourage joiners. And with Hindus you can’t join. You have to be born a Hindu.

  5. Sorry for the mess up at the end. Having trouble with the comment space? Seems I can not edit what I have said before I post it? And the order of my paragraphs got switched? What am I doing wrong?

  6. To Bobs,

    I want to add that Bob Calvan’s theology is not the whole of Christianity. It is a particular brand of reformed theology. Catholics believe that people can freely cooperate with God for their salvation. Sure, God’s grace is necessary, and it comes first, but people need to accept it freely. Catholics also believe that people who seek God honestly and follow the voice of their conscience can be saved (this is an official teaching of the Second Vatican Council).

    Even you, Bob the atheist, could be saved. Even if you remain an atheist. Perhaps you don’t believe in God. But this does not mean that God does not believe in you. No one in this world really knows who is doomed to hell.

    • An interesting idea that atheists could wind up in heaven. I’ve sometimes thought that atheists who use their God-given brains deserve heaven more than Christians who discard reason and simply accept things on faith.

    • Most xtians accept the Bible in the same way that most people agree to the terms and conditions of a software agreement. They don’t read either.

      And if you deny the Holy Spirit you are fucked.

      Because, according to Mark 3:29 in the Holy Bible, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” Jesus will forgive you for just about anything, but he won’t forgive you for denying the existence of the Holy Spirit. Ever. This is a one-way road you’re taking here.

      And as it is ALL myth and the ONLY gods are the ones that exist in your own head I do deny the holy spirit.

  7. And there is the fallability of the infallable Roman Catholic Church( RCC) Vat 1 says the opposite.. That only the RC throught the RCC can achieve “Salvation” thru the Sacraments. Baptism, mass , and eucharist.( Works salvation) So we have two infallable dogma’s that refute each other..So much of the infallable magisterium.. The Bible refutes the man made synergistic false teachings of the RCC.. THe RCC is not a Christian religion ..So Random function 2 Remarks are irrelevant, and does not apply to Christianity.
    And as far as God calling his elect, age is irrelevant God can call from 5 to 105 year olds.

    • To Bob Calvan,

      No, you are misrepresenting the RCC. Catholics never thought that you absolutely need to have water actually poured on you to be saved. Although it’s the normal rite. Some people are said to have implicitly received baptism even if they did not go through the ritual with a priest. Or maybe you can quote the relevant excerpts from the First Vatican Council?

      You are also wrong that Catholics teach salvation by works. Catholics teach that grace is necessary, that no one can be saved by one’s own efforts. However, catholics don’t teach either that works are worthless. Once you have received grace, you are supposed to be enabled to do works that please God.

    • “And as far as God calling his elect, age is irrelevant God can call from 5 to 105 year olds.”

      Sure, we can imagine God doing whatever he wants. And yet Christianity still needs to be taught to children. If the church waits until they become adults, the teaching (indoctrination?) doesn’t work as well.

  8. RCC CCC2068 Says you must observe the Commandments to attain salvation: CCC 2068, “the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.”
    Where the Bible teaches:
    a.”Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” (Rom. 3:28).

    • To Bob C,

      Well, I’m not an expert on catholic theology, but I think that there is a difference between works supported by grace and works without grace. It is the latter that Paul had in mind. Actually, people need to cooperate with the Spirit of God, who pushes them to act morally but who can be resisted.

  9. Random Function said: “Even you, Bob the atheist, could be saved. Even if you remain an atheist. Perhaps you don’t believe in God. But this does not mean that God does not believe in you. No one in this world really knows who is doomed to hell.”
    Just So my friend atheist Bob can see the absurdity and the unbiblical heretical comment Random Function made.
    I will just give two simple bible texts to refute the herisy of Mr. Function2. From the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me”.
    John 8:24 Jesus says …..Unless you believe that I Am He you will die in your sins. THe Greek word I Am is ( ego eimi) the name of God.
    So Mr. Function Atheist Bob at this time in his life does not believe Jesus is the I Am..He does not even believe ther is an I Am. So in Jesus words Athesit Bob will die in His sins..Unless Bob repents of his sins..So please do misrepresent Jesus words ..Either Jesus is a Liar or you are/ Need I say more?
    John 8:24
    John 14:6

    • To Bob C,

      First I’m not Random Function. I’m Random Function THE SECOND. There is already a Random Function somewhere else in the web. It is one of Bob’s fans.

      Also, catholics read the same NT as you. They are aware of such excerpts, and of others such as Mark 16:16. But they have a less literal interpretation of what it means to believe. One does not need to utter the very words “I believe in Christ” to be saved. One can be said to believe implicitly.

      Sometimes atheists are not aware of the real meaning of Christianity. So they disbelieve, but in fact they reject misrepresentations of Christianity. They reject an inaccurate picture of God while believing that they reject the real thing. So by arguing against such nonsense they implicitly pay tribute to the real God. They do well in dismissing incorrect theologies and in their struggle against a degenerate christianity, God is grateful to them.

      Besides, even if you explain correctly Christianity to an atheist, you just don’t know what goes on in his or her head. You cannot be sure that (s)he understands Christianity the way you do. So again, you cannot be sure that the atheist remains an atheist for the wrong reasons.

      Only God can know who is elect.

  10. Random Function 2. Please exegete John 8:24 and John 14:6..The verses I quoted above to refute your heretical statement that salvation without a belief in Jesus or God is attainable. Otherwise you are just spitting in the wind with rehtorical nonsense..

  11. To Bob C,

    I’m no expert on the Bible, but if tthe meanings of those verses are as simplistic as your theology, then the Bible is not worth believing in.

  12. To Random Function 2.. Well How did I know you would not or could not exegete those verses. By the way I have lots more to refute your univeral salvation herisy.

    And you said it. If you belive the Bible then explain the verses. John 8:24, and 14:6. As the Bible says. ” Let God be true and everyman a liar.” God’s word is true. If one does not agree then that one is a liar.

  13. To Bob C,

    Universal salvation? No, I think it’s quite possible that some people are in hell, but I just don’t claim to be as wise as God in deciding who is there.

  14. Ramdom Function 2 Lets not forget your words to Bob The Atheist:
    You Said:

    “Even you, Bob the atheist, could be saved. Even if you remain an atheist. Perhaps you don’t believe in God. But this does not mean that God does not believe in you. No one in this world really knows who is doomed to hell.”
    Can you show us one verse in the Bible, to support your claim the God saves unbeleivers if they remain unbeleivers?

    Here is another verse for you. ( even though you will not exegete the one’s I gave you) John 3:36. Lets apply this to Bob the Athesist..He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

  15. To Bob C,

    Most atheists reject only distortions of Christianity. They actually reject the antichrist mistaken for the real thing. So I don’t think God would punish them for that. That would be too nonsensical.

    As I said, I have little knowledge of the Bible, but I know enough to realize that you read it literally. It would be great if you took words and sentences in a broader sense.

  16. Random Functon2

    Wow! Your not even a good Roman Catholic.
    I will ask you. When the Bible says:
    John 3:36 .He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
    What is the broader sense of this verse?
    Are you even aware the Greek tells us that this Wrath of God is ongoing? It abides on the unbeliever at this moment. This wrath is continuing to abide on the unbeleiver? If one does not believe in the Son God’s wrath abides on that person, and that person will be thrown in the Lake of Fire with the Devil and punished ofr eternity.

  17. To Bob C,

    What does it mean to “believe in the son”? That’s the question. What if I utter the words “I believe in the son”, but I have a distorted picture of him? In that case, wouldn’t it be better not to say that I believe in him?

    Remember what Augustine said? He said something like: there are some who appear to be outside [the Church] but who are actually inside, and there are some who appear to be inside, but who are actually outside. Hence the idea of the invisible Church.

  18. Ramdom Function2
    If you say you believe in the Son and have a distordered picture, we would go to scripture and see if you have inconsistent pictures of what is revealed about Jesus.. We would see if you agree Jesus has eternally exsisted as the Son, the second person of the Trinity..We would see if you believe he died on the cross and rose on the third day..Etc. If you did not believe these essentail truths of Jesus you would be lost.

    That is entirely different if you say you do not believe in Him,,As that makes you an unbeleiver and the wrath of God would abide on you. And you will die in oyur sins,.As Bob the Atheist holds to at this time of his life.
    Augustine’s point is the Church is full of unregenerate heathens..Look at the Mormon, JW’S, RCC for this. And there are some for many reasons who are true born again beleivers who do not attend a structural building called the Church.
    The invisible Church are those who are God’s Elect , Those predestined to eternal life before the world was made ( EPH1).

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  20. Without doctrine/dogma/inculcation, gods would very soon cease to play a part in the role of humanity.
    The attempts by some of the religiously inclined commenters to suggest otherwise is disingenuous, displaying the elements of the supernatural clap-trap that is the hallmark of religion.

  21. I”m not quiet sure how this post explains the hugely successful missionary efforts of the church which have been largely targeted at adults. Many if not most of the traditionally christian countries where indoctrination surely would be most likely to occur have a declining numbers of christians, while in other areas such as China and Africa the number of Christians grow very quickly indeed!

    • Stirl: Thanks for the comments. Come visit the new site for the blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/.

      But let me respond to your point: yes, there are some parts of the world where the Christian church is growing by evangelizing to adults. That’s an interesting development.

      I’m focused here on a simple thought experiment: if you imagine an adult-only version of Christianity in the West, it would die out in a few generations because it counts on children being indoctrinated.

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