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An accident of birth?

I was watching a debate on youtube on religion and one of the debaters was making the point that for most people, their religious identity is simply "an accident of birth", meaning that whoever you are born to decides what religion you will be in most cases. In his view, it is "wicked" to automatically indoctrinate a child with a particular belief while their mind is so young and impressionable. I realize that some people convert later in life, but isn't that also in most cases just an accident of circumstance?...of what you happened to come across?

How do you feel about his statement? If you had been born in another country, for example, you would most likely be another religion. If you believe your religion is the correct one, how do you hold your certainty about that belief? Do you ever question this issue?

 
moniquinha

Asked by moniquinha at 11:43 AM on Oct. 23, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

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Answers (11)
  • I agree. Most people raise their children within their own path. They are taught from birth one and only one way. So, by the time they are adults they have trouble seeing other ways of life with an open mind. If we look at it in another context it could make more sense... If you are raised from birth up being taught that the number 2 is actually a 3. When you are an adult and see differently you will natually fight the truth. Now, with religion it isn't as black and white as with numbers. Because everyone feels their path is right. But the belief strenght is the same. You are taught from little up one way, that's all you know. And it's very hard to find different paths.

    I have always believed this. Which is why we are not teaching our kids any religion. We are showing them different paths through stories and movies but not treating them differently than any other story. When they are old enough, they can find their own path
    SabrinaMBowen

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 12:11 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • I absolutely believe this. If I was born in India, I would most likely be Hindu just like if I was born in Pakistan I would be Muslim. I always question this issue to the point where I dont say the Catholic religion is my own . I still hold some beliefs, if that makes sense, but I am studying other religions so I can decide which one I believe the most. Same thing for my son, I will not force him into a religion, but rather, talk to him and answer any questions and once he is old enough to decide for himself, let him do it and accept it.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:48 AM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • Id say its fairly accurate.

    I wouldnt say its accidental if you convert later in life because you are likely old enough to do the research and understand what listening to your inner self is all about.

    I think if you conclude your religion of birth is still the right one for you then you either researched and questioned and concluded that OR you never questioned and dont fully believe just think you do OR you let guilt and fear take over and control what you believe and why.
    Amaranth361

    Answer by Amaranth361 at 11:57 AM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • Amaranth, I'm sure it's not accidental in all cases if you convert later in life, some people do research and ponder the issue... but I think that for a lot of people, they come across a new religion and get influenced right away and very strongly. I've seen this happen with friends and relatives of mine, especially when the religion uses fear tactics to get people to convert. I also think that some religions use the attraction of acceptance and community to draw people in who are confused about life or in some kind of pain or crisis. I have also seen this happen.
    moniquinha

    Answer by moniquinha at 12:03 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • Call me a fatalist, but I don't think our situation at birth is an "accident" regardless of how the parents say conception happened.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:18 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • I largely agree with those statements. For most people religion is an accident of birth. I also agree that it is better to teach your children to have an open mind, learn about all religions & make an informed decision. I believe it is best not to indoctrinate children with your own religious belief. I also believe that is much easier to say than to do. While I was careful to follow my own advice in raising my daughter & she has come to different conclusions (she is an atheist), the very fact that I taught her to question & have an open mind effected how she viewed monotheistic religions. Though I believe that was tempered by the fact that there were always plenty of other people around telling her that their way was the only way & anyone who thought otherwise was deluded.
    nysa00

    Answer by nysa00 at 1:03 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • this is interesting.. Prophet Mohammed said in a narration that Everyone is born muslim... meaning.. that every soul is born with the natural inclination to submit to the will of God.. but that our parents make us jews or christians..
    which also includes, atheists , pagans, buddists, hindu and other religions.
    Aasiyah

    Answer by Aasiyah at 1:31 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • It is true on all accounts. Most people are the religion of their parents. Then most who convert later in life, become the religion of their spouse. It is a sheer accident that people truly realize they want to convert on their own. I am not talking about college kids who want to rebel. Had people not stumbled upon another religion they would not know of it. I let my child explore, the same way my parents left me explore. This view is very American. There's not too many other countries where you have a choice.
    OneToughMami

    Answer by OneToughMami at 1:51 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • I think for most people that's probably true. Most people stick close to the religion of their parents or their dominant culture. Even for those who don't, there are limits in terms of what information they have access to. For instance, I practice Buddhism even though it's not my family's religion or the dominant religion of my culture, however my ability to even learn about it was due to the fact that there is an internet of resources, a good library/bookstore in my area, etc. What we believe is in part limited by what we are exposed to and I think in many cases this is true for religion as well.
    Freela

    Answer by Freela at 1:52 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

  • We are born to be children of God but it is how we are raised that determines as such. I was raised by parents who were raised catholic and presbytarian. I was not raised to know anything about either of these denominations. I made my decision at 19 when I was introduced to Jesus.
    We are ALL born to worship God but due to how we are raised we end up worshipping something but it may not necessarly be the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac!
    Shaneagle777

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 2:25 PM on Oct. 23, 2009

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