Most atheists I talk to accuse adherents of religion for the indoctrinating their Children. They suspect and believe that without parents teaching and training their children in godliness, these children would grow up without the knowledge of God. They are both right and wrong. And this is why:
They are right in the sense that the cycle of learning, among humans, occurs by one person learning from another. This is how we all mainly learn anything at all. I learnt my algebra from my mathematics teacher. That is how we also know of what happened before us, through history. This teacher-student relationship need not be formal, and sometimes the teacher is unaware of who his/students are. An example is how we learn from what we read in books, or how an aspiring blogger follows a senior blogger they admire, learning from them, even when the ‘teacher’ is unaware that someone is intently following.
The point is, that we learn from others, both formally and informally. Most often, the people closest to us introduce us to the world. We grow to treasure what they treasure, and to hate what the hate. Besides, this is more so when we trust them, and we trust them because their love for us is unmistakable. It should thus be obvious that children would learn about the world from their parents.
If the parents are believers whose lives have been positively changed by their faith, it would be strikingly awkward indeed for their children not to learn from them the tenets of faith. For as St. James remarkably states in his epistle, faith without works is dead (Js 2:17). And this would be true of atheism itself. A child who grows up with parents who hardly talk about the Bible or pray to God will hardly think it important to pray and study the Bible.
In both ways, it would be hard thus to judge the rightness or wrongness of believing or disbelieving in God based on it being what children learn from their parents. It is as well true that the propagation of atheism might be because atheistic teachers teach atheistic ideals to unsuspecting high school teens. Just because we learn something from those older than us doesn’t mean that what we learn is false, just like I learnt my multiplication table from my teacher. It could be that without teachers, we might not have learned algebra. But, it doesn’t follow that algebra is a lie.
But here is why it would be wrong to assume that without parents teaching their children about God, they would grow up without the knowledge of Him. If religion is a cycle of the young indoctrinated by the old who were also indoctrinated by the old, as atheists want to make us believe, we must ask, without falling into an infinite regression, who was the first religious man. For we must either know of a time when there was no religion, or must explain why man has always found it important to be religious. Why can’t man manage without faith in God?
Atheism fears facing this question. For if, as atheism claims, all there is- is matter plus chance plus time, then the origin of religion must be reduced to matter plus chance plus time. But not only can’t it be, it poses an even greater problem. If ‘nature’ is all there is, and this nature is closed, then religion is a product of nature, and part of it. But if religion is part of nature, then to believe in God is also part of nature, and not to believe in Him is unnatural, in a way. The atheist will find himself in a dilemma of justifying why he fights one part nature at all. What standard does he use to raise atheism above religion?
We will also need to ask, of what use it would be for nature to invent Someone beyond it, Someone responsible for its existence, someone who threatens to judge it for its rebellion against Him. We invent things that will help us become better, not things that will eternally damn us. If nature thus were to invent anything beyond it, it must indeed be both subject and in agreement to it. It’s not wisdom, for an unthinking process to ‘create’ a thinking Master who will judge it for living rebelliously. But away this this atheistic stupor.
The truth is, that man is inherently religious. As St. Augustine says, our hearts are restless until they find rest in God. And those who reject God learn from another, a fallen Angel, Satan, how to rebell. The bible teaches that the god of this world has blinded those who do not believe (2 Cor 4:4). And lest we feel sorry for their predicament, let us remember that they willingly subject themselves to Satanic rule (John 3:19-21). Natural man is so inherently sinful that he naturally hates holiness.
So it turns out that all of us are learning. But it matters what we learn, why we learn, and from who we learn. Those who believe in God are ‘taught by God’ (Isaiah 54:13). This explains why even those born of atheists know God. For God is not limited by medium as men are. He speaks to the hearts. And He already has, for very man knows that God exists (Ps 19). God has used our parents, but He has used the natural order, our conscience, uses our teachers and our experiences too.
God is an inescapable reality. He is. We know it, and our natural selves hate it. But He remains, He loves, He pursues us. What if we quit running? What if we surrender? Sure, it will cost us the whole of us, but it will gain us the whole of Him. You cannot go on ignoring Him forever. Your sin will find you out, even if you spray perfume on a whole mass of dung. Allow Him to deal with it. Accept His invite. You know he has relentlessly been knocking, you know it.
It is tiring to fight the Omnipotent, to seek to escape from the Omnipresent One. We seek in vain to erase the knowledge of the Omniscient one but it is impossible, it cannot be done, because our every fiber cries ‘borrowed’. Stop hiding under ‘logic’ and ‘reason’, for we cannot even justify reason and logic without the Logos, the One who made it intelligent and the world intelligible. We cannot explain why we hate hate and love love without the Supreme One who is Love. We cannot. Christ is calling out to you in love. How will you respond to His invite?