Are Beliefs the Result of Where One Is Born?
by Josh Fults
Christian families raise Christian children. Muslim families have Muslim children (or at least they better be or it is serious trouble). If you are born in India then you are a Hindu. If you are born in America you are a Christian, in Arabia a Muslim, on a university campus an atheist. That is how it works, right? That is what Richard Dawkins suggests. He states in the God Delusion, “If you are religious at all it is overwhelmingly probable that your religion is that of your parents. If you were born in Arkansas and you think Christianity is true and Islam false, knowing full well that you would think the opposite if you had been born in Afghanistan, you are the victim of childhood indoctrination.”
Are beliefs overwhelmingly determined by ones’ family of origin, geographic location, and social influences? Or should we take it even further and add a genetic component as a deciding factor in the belief systems that we form? As renowned behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner once put it, “My behavior at any given moment has been nothing more than the product of my genetic endowment, my personal history, and the current setting.”
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There you have it. Location + family + society + genes = belief system. Do you find that formula convincing? No? It has a serious flaw. It does not take into account man’s capacity to freely choose or articulate and assimilate new information.
I grow weary of arguments in this vein. When Dawkins makes a statement like this he assumes that it applies to everyone’s beliefs but his own. He would have the Christian believe that their worldview is invalid and not thought through because it happens to be the same as their parents or because they were isolated to a certain geographic region. The atheist also has the same factors at work within his life. Professor Dawkins statement is completely narcissistic. The “rules” for forming a worldview do not apply to him. He was able to cogently think through the big questions while other people are not. They just swallow whatever they are fed in the corner of the world.
It can be conceded that a host of factors do contribute to the forming of one’s belief system…
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