Friday, December 16, 2011

Give Me the Child Until He is Seven

South Pacific is a 1958 musical romance film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, and based on James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Rogers and Hammerstein. What geniuses they were.

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) is a genius of another kind. He said: “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man”.

Indeed! Nothing underscores the flaw in religion better than this quote from 500 years ago. Back then, St. Francis fully understood that a child’s brain could be contaminated at an early age, and once the seed was planted and nourished with weekly doses of dogma, the child would grow into a man (or woman) unable to rid themselves of the noxious belief system planted in their innocent unsuspecting, unquestioning brains.

And here’s the thing. Every religious person, whatever delusion they claim as their own, must surely understand this simple idea.

I'll give you a good example to prove it.

Say you are a practicing Southern Baptist. Would you even consider allowing your child to attend a Catholic church on a regular basis? Of course not! You want your child to grow up believing what you believe. You know very well that a priest cannot forgive you of your sins. You know the crackers and wine are not really literally Jesus. They only represent Jesus.

What if a Rabbi dropped by on a Saturday morning to escort your child to their weekly Sabbath? No? Why not? Because you can’t stand the thought that your child’s mind might become contaminated with the belief system that Jews have been contaminated with. After all, the Jews are the folks who killed your beloved savior Jesus, right? Jews scoff at the idea that somehow Jesus is their personal savior.

How would you feel if a Muslim dropped by to escort your child to a Mosque with the intention of converting him/her to Islam. Muslims after all, reject the notion that Jesus is their savior. You can mix and match any of the above examples and always get the same result. No matter what religion you aspire to, you know better than to let a competing religion get their hands on your child before you have had the opportunity to infect their undeveloped mind with your own brand of religion.

“You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught.”

Here’s what I think.

If "believers" really possessed the faith they so proudly proclaim, they would be willing, even eager, to wait until their children's brains have developed enough to think critically and to weigh evidence before making a decision on which religion, if any, is the "true religion."

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, a Christian organization which tracks all the varied belief systems, there are some 30,000 different churches in the world. 30,000! To find the odds that you have chosen the correct one, simply divide 30,000 into 1.

The answer is .00003. That’s three chances out of ten thousand.

To put those odds into perspective, imagine a container filled with ten thousand lottery tickets, only three which contain the winning number. Invite a thousand people to a random drawing and see how many out of that thousand draw the "winning" ticket.

If that’s not scary enough, it gets worse. Each week, several new churches crop up somewhere in the world while others disappear. So how can you be sure that the “correct” church has even appeared yet? This means the chance of you having chosen the true church is infinitesimal.

And an infinitesimal chance is no chance at all.

Believers often ask, "But Charlie, what if you are wrong"? In light of the above, have you had the courage to ask yourself the same question. Three chances out of ten thousand? What if you picked the wrong ticket? What if you are wrong?

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