Settings default from the factory?

01Nov08

I asked someone a while ago whether they believed in God and the answer was a surprising one for our day and age. The answer was ‘I suppose so’.

I didn’t think much of it at the time but after some reflection it strikes me as a terrible position. That person had neither the fervent belief of the truly religious (however misguided) nor the reasoned realism of an atheist.

I wish I’d asked some questions at the time because I’ll bet anyone $20 that the reason for that person’s vague belief is that belief in a religion has become the default setting for humanity. I know for a fact that this person doesn’t believe in anything in particular, doesn’t do to a church or mosque, doesn’t pray, has never read a Bible or Koran (or Gita) and certainly doesn’t live in a religious environment. It’s just that blindly believing in a God is the norm, even to the non-religious.

I’m sure the person I have in mind wouldn’t be offended if I questioned their belief, and may even agree that it’s a little silly if reasoned with. It’s the fact that people are indoctrinated to think this way in the first place that concerns me.

With regards the title, it must be made clear that a belief in God isn’t the default setting from birth. We’re not born with religion. We don’t know and understand modern Gods ‘straight from the box’, no, it must be ‘installed’. To borrow from the writings of Richard Dawkins, the ideas of religion must be transmitted to the new host as a ‘virus of the mind’. How I dearly wish to protect my children from this infection until they are old enough to analyse religion for themselves and make their own decision.

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