Blogger’s note: This is the first installment of “Sage Advice,” which will periodically spotlight meaningful quotations from influential figures in the history of natural philosophy, reason and science. I hope you’re as enlightened and inspired by them as I am.
Among the most clear-eyed and powerful historical quotations arguing against religious indoctrination of children comes from German intellectual Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), often referred to as the “philosopher of pessimism.”
“And as the capacity for believing is strongest in childhood, special care is taken to make sure of this tender age. This has much more to do with the doctrines of belief taking root than threats and reports of miracles. If, in early childhood, certain fundamental views and doctrines are paraded with unusual solemnity, and an air of the greatest earnestness never before visible in anything else; if, at the same time, the possibility of a doubt about them be completely passed over, or touched upon only to indicate that doubt is the first step to eternal perdition, the resulting impression will be so deep that, as a rule, that is, in almost every case, doubt about them will be almost as impossible as doubt about one’s own existence.”
Schopenhauer warned against the most insidious effect of childhood religious indoctrination — not just young children being exposed to the nonsensical dogma itself, but their almost complete vulnerability to fully accepting the inherent “truth” of any idea that comes from authority figures. And the embedded assumptions often last a lifetime, almost impervious against even rational criticism.
That’s how the assumptions of religion, no matter how absurd in reality, perpetuate from generation to generation.
I invite you to sign-up for my blog notifications (above right). Comments and sharing much appreciated!