Babies: the true athiests

As I observe my 8 month-old son I can’t help but envy him his uncomplicated perception of life and the world. Being an unselfconscious, uncompromisingly egotistical creature (psychologically speaking) there is no conflict for him when he wants or feels something. There is no hesitation in his expression. But, what I envy the most is his lack of religion. He truly believes only in what he sees and does not feel the need to apologize to all of his christian relations for going about life in the most logical way possible. As these thoughts were formulating in my head a bible verse from my childhood came to mind. Something to the effect of “Ye must become as a little child to enter into the gates of heaven”, give or take a “thee” or “thou”. I remember as a child children were held up as examples of faith because of how unquestioningly they accepted what they were taught, whether it was Santa Clause, Jesus, fairies or the Ogopogo.  The assumption was that the less you question what you are taught the stronger your faith or the purer you are (which would imply I am beyond corrupt;) But why is it really that children accept things so unquestioningly? Is it evidence of purity or is it because children trust so explicitly in the adults with whom they  have formed that essential bond, and therefore accept absolutely anything they are told? If their faith is dependant on their trust in the one teaching it to them then it really isn’t god or fairies that they believe in, ultimately, but their mother (or father or caregiver as the case may be), who, as William Makepeace Thackeray (according to good ol’ Wiki) said, ” is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”. A child’s faith in god is merely an extension or manifestation of their unquestioning trust in their caregiver. And this unquestioning trust makes sense from a developmental, and survival perspective. Their tust ensures their safety and encourages emulation so that they acquire the necessary skills to survive. Unfortunately, they also pick up some useless, counterproductive behaviours and world views as well. But I digress. My point is that a child’s faith rests very firmly in what they can see and if the person or people who care and provide for them tell them there is some guy in the sky a child expresses their trust by accepting that. In fact, their acceptance and belief can also be seen as an expression of love and a desire to receive their parents’ approval and acceptance, again, having very little to do with god and everything to do with the concrete world. There, I rest my case. And my expertise(if any) does not lie in child psychology so feel free to set me straight if you have a different perspective on all this. I want to hear what you think! And my apologies to anyone offended by this post. I’m a doubter from waaaay back;)

8 comments on “Babies: the true athiests

  1. Debbie says:

    I see your point. I hear what you are saying, I think. Religion will definitely mess with your mind especially when you’ve grown up in it from the baby stage or when you are too young to have well-thought out conclusions. And if you are never given the freedom to express your thoughts and ask questions…well religion will definitely be a burden.

    In typing the above, I just had a word picture. When religion is forced on you, particularly at a young age, it has an effect not unlike having sex acts forced on you, particularly at a young age. It will mess with your mind as you do not have the wisdom or maturity to process what’s going on. Unfortunately, it can rob you of the joy of sex not to mention the pleasure of making love.

    In watching a child, it doesn’t take long to realize that whatever they feel, they express. Whatever they want, they ask for it and if not given to them, they demand it. They live in the moment. If a stranger happens to walk by about the time the baby wants to be fed, the baby will still cry, kick and scream until it is fed. In the moment. If you delay satisfying your baby, he/she may cry in the moment but two minutes later, that very same baby will cuddle up to you and laugh and play, having forgotten the injustice you forced on them earlier by not satisfying them immediately. Babies do not fret if they aren’t wearing a certain label nor do they fret about what may happen to them 20 years from now or tomorrow or next hour. Babies do not fret if everyone isn’t applauding their every movement.

    We are talking babies, mind you. Things change as the baby moves into being toddlers and such; things change when the baby becomes more independent is another way to put it.

    For me, having the faith of a child has nothing to do with blind, unquestioning acceptance. Living in the moment, being honest about who you are, forgiving the injustices and living in dependence on your Creator–is a simplified version of life for me. For me, faith cannot be built on what we see. If we have confidence in something because we “see”, it sounds more like expectation than faith. Is not a definition of faith literally the belief in something without visible proof?

    I wasn’t taught this truth while growing up even though I grew up in a church environment. I am learning more and more as I experience life, evaluate and stay focused on a relationship rather then religion. Regardless of the title or the sect, religion will always be counter productive for it will always be a temple built on a lot of human effort with only a miniscule foundation of truth. I’ve worked — voluntarily — in ministry because of my “faith”, my relationship with the One who created me.. Today, I am very cautious about church and religion. I would rather have a PAP smear or go to the dentist than mix with some churches and some “Christians”. It’s not about blind faith, aka submissive ignorance. It’s not about religion, aka rules, rights, performance-based acceptance or club membership. It’s about a relationship.

    My apologies for the length of this response. My apologies for what I am about to post; it is not to be a plug but I’ve said a lot about this, actually, on another blogsite. If you check out the “about” pages of Shadows of Love (my blog), then perhaps I will make more sense there. I realize I am running on and on here.

  2. Lynda Rivers says:

    Why apologize for what you believe? Your argument is a good one and I feel you devalued your point by apologizing at the end.

  3. rumpydog says:

    I love your post. My job allows me to watch young children and it never ceases to amaze me to watch them as they explore their world. They have so much to teach us about “unlearning” many things we’ve been taught to believe are “right.”

    • You are so right! I know I have a long way to go in unlearning assumptions and behaviours that i picked up from my parents about parenting. Children have been considered non-contributing members of society for so long, being dependants, it is often difficult to remember how much they can teach us and that they are just smaller people who deserve the same respect as adults. At least i have learned to apologize for my faulty parenting. The gods know I need to often;)

  4. Bobby Grow says:

    It seems like the point of your post only affirms the same point that Jesus was making in the context of “his” point: 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. His point is that it takes simple trust in him to have a relationship with his heavenly “Father.” This presupposes a love relationship that has already been provided for; that is, provided for by him who first loved us that we might love him I Jn 4.19.

    Anyway, you’ve somewhat taken the bible verse you quote out of context; but ironically the body of your post illustrates the same point that Jesus was making in the verse you quote from him. It requires simple trust (versus blind faith) to have a relationship with God.

  5. “When love is not madness, it is not love.” ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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