Someone told me that the reason I won't leave Christianity is because I was indoctrinated into it and that it is purely psychological why I'm hanging on? Thoughts?

That goes both ways. I was an atheist until I was 25 and then Lutheran until my early 30s. I knew very little about Christianity growing up, but now I’m an orthodox Catholic.

It just goes to show you that the original claim of “you only believe x because you were brought up with it” is silly when leveled against anyone who’s been an adult long enough to make their own choices. And that’s true whether one lobs the charge at Christians or atheists :slight_smile:

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People have told me all sorts of things. This does not mean I have to believe them.

So you’re an atheist? I’m going to be radical here, but the Jewish position is that you’re fine where you’re at. No need to improve. As long as you’re a good person, you can make it to heaven all the same.


Random q. What changed your mind? Was it the meaning issue?
(Not looking to argue buy just curious)

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I can’t speak on anything other than personal experience in this case, but I was what you’re referring to as "indoctrinated–"if I understand you to mean that my parents were Catholic Christians who made me go to Church every weekend, attend CCD classes which were sometimes a waste of time, and not really ever introduce me to any other worldview.

Unfortunately, I rebelled against that system, and decided that I wasn’t going to be something just because my parents were. This was no big outward thing; I hadn’t learned much about the faith being Catholic my entire life, so my mannerisms and lexicon didn’t change in the least. I just didn’t go to Mass my first year of college.

Perhaps on a related note, I fell into some pretty nasty sin; and I knew that it was bad for me. At first there was a lot of despair and hopelessness that I couldn’t break the habits, but then something happened. I found a rosary. I had been Catholic for 18 or so years and never learned how to say the darned thing, but someone along the way had given me one as a gift, and it had been packed away and forgotten.

I still couldn’t break away from the sin, but every time I did sin, I started saying the rosary. I had to use my phone to look up the prayers and the mysteries, but I said one every time. I can’t explain why I turned to the rosary and not some Buddhist prayer or asking Allah for help, but there was something about the rosary that just felt like home.

Finally, after a lot of rosaries, I went a week without committing the sin, and my world collapsed. My brain could not handle this state of being, so everything became dark. I was suicidal, I was ready to just give up, but that rosary was still there, and besides saying it, I just started talking, on my knees, at the foot of my bed, to anyone out in the cosmos who would listen, and all I heard was one thing…Confession.

Now I had thought about Confession before, but even as I was being comforted by my rosary, I had always thought of reasons not to go find a priest. I was being sentimental and stupid, I was still sinning and would go to confess once I finally quit, or some other excuse. So when confession came to mind, I didn’t think of the Sacrament first. I called a lot of people, in tears, and begged forgiveness for a lot of sins. I do feel like that was important. On a side note, my week without the sin had continued to grow into a month, and I found myself skipping classes in my desolation. Finally, I got the courage to go to the College Parish which was just three blocks from campus.

I had only gone to this Parish like three or four times while at college, so I didn’t know any of the clergy there. I knocked on the office door and said I wanted to see a priest. They said Fr. E was just about to leave to say noon Mass (something that a lot of the students attended during their lunch break), but he could talk to me afterwards. I went to Mass, sat in the back and mumbled through the prayers, but I was anxious and didn’t really focus.

After Mass, Fr. E (who in my mind, took his sweet time de-vesting) finally came out into the narthex and instead of saying, “Let’s go back to my office,” he kind of Fulton-Sheen’d me into the confessional. I confessed everything to him, even though I had told myself that I wasn’t going to give him any details, it just kind of spilled over.

I think that I cried pretty good throughout the whole experience, which was a new emotional state for me. He asked me about if I had asked people who I’d sinned against for forgiveness, and I said that I had. He asked me if I was seeing a therapist for the depression that quitting the sin had caused, I said that I wasn’t. He instructed me (later on) to go see a doctor about my mood disorder, and gave me absolution.

A funny note, it confused me when I tried to talk to Fr. E about some of the stuff later. He kept saying that he couldn’t remember anything he heard in confession, so we’d have to discuss it again outside of the box. I learned later that he was just doing his job keeping the seal of the Confessional, but it was like…“we just talked about this, remember? I was there crying, you were there comforting?”

So, that’s the short version. I was indoctrinated as a child, but I’ve also been indoctrinated to believe in gravity, so how is that a bad thing? I wish I had been indoctrinated more.

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I think it’s healthy for us to sit down from time to time & think about why I believe what I believe. I’m fully aware that I am capable of weaving an extremely lucid lie, where I can fool myself.

We need to be grounded in truth.

Alternatively: What if the non-religious person only left their religion because they didn’t want to seem indoctrinated?

Well, it was a long process and there was no one specific thing, but I can clearly remember the opening salvo of the process. I had done a lot of family genealogy which led to a significant amount of research on my great-grandfather, who was a Lutheran pastor. After years of getting to know him through records, I remember thinking: “If I’m right, then his whole life was a falsehood. With my limited life experience, am I really willing to come to that conclusion?” That’s what started me down the road to investigating.

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There’s a very interesting quote from the well known Anglican theologian, N.T. Wright. While teaching a course in theology at Oxford, a student at the beginning of one semester came to him and said he may not be much involved in the class, though he needed the course credit, as he happened to be an atheist. Prof. Wright asked the young man to describe what he thought of as the God he found he had to reject. After a brief foray by the student into the religious tenets he had been taught growing up, and the images of “God” which had been presented to him, Wright said, “Don’t worry about a thing, son. I don’t believe in that god either.”

I too have rejected the images of God I was given growing up and continued to absorb well into adulthood. But it was the Catholic faith which helped me escape those notions. Atheists and I would likely agree that there is a massive energy which powers the universe, in-comprehensive in it’s enormity. The only difference is, I happen to believe that energy is conscious and involved. Calling it “God” is only one way to describe it. :slight_smile:

I think that we are indoctrinated while growing up, with a set of beliefs about how life works. For many that includes a religious faith.

If those beliefs help us manage our lives successfully, we tend to hold onto them after we reach adulthood. We test them out and decide whether or not to ditch them for something else.

In developed countries we are likely to be exposed to lots of alternative outlooks and therefore are more likely to try various ones and have a greater likelihood of changing our beliefs than those who are not exposed to many options.

Being indoctrinated doesn’t mean you’ll stick with that belief for life, at some point we all choose which way we will go, including your friend.

I was raised in a very devout Catholic household and attended 12 years of Catholic school, but chose a different route as an adult. Indoctrination is a starting point, but it doesn’t hold us bound once we become adults, unless we truly never are exposed to any other beliefs.

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You have to test the waters for yourself. People can give you all kinds of reasons for believing-or not believing-but at the end of the day you won’t be satisfied unless it’s your faith anyway.

Ask, seek, knock. Endeavor to do God’s will, giving Him the benefit of the doubt since it’s quite reasonable to at least believe in a Creator-God anyway.

So presume His existence and act accordingly to the best you can. You can always say you tried if He doesn’t prove Himself to you, which He will by the way, in response to even the smallest personal faith.

It’s generally pride-fear of what others think-that stands in the way of faith in God incidentally.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11:6

Sounds like someone is trying to make you leave Christianity.

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Let’s put this in simple terms. One reason I am Christian is because I really believe in God and want to obey my parents who taught this to me.

Jesus says follow me. I say Yes. Though I do doubt, there is no turning back for me.

Jesus said to Thomas: See and believe, blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.

I think it’s ironic that the people who encourage us to think for ourselves and not to be indoctrinated want us to think exactly as they do.

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Since I don’t know you, you may have tried many of the things I suggest. But…

In my experience people use ‘indoctrinated’ in a negative sense. Like you’ve been a citizen of North Korea. It’s just a word.

Just because you are taught something from birth (indoctrinated in his view) doesn’t mean it isn’t true. If your parents taught you to believe in democracy and equality, or that slavery is bad, does it mean that you were ‘indoctrinated’ in them? Maybe! But it also isn’t a bad thing.

So you have doubts. I’d say that is a good and natural thing. What I would suggest you avoid is hyper skepticism. That seems to be rampant, especially among the atheists I know, who subscribe to scientism and reject metaphysics.

The good news is, in my opinion, the Church is amazing at joining faith and reason.

I’d start small, with something like Trent Horn’s ‘Why we’re Catholic’. its a quick, light read and a good basis. Simultaneously I’d look at Bishop Barron’s talks, and the Catholic Answers tracts.

Then, if you are of a mind, jump into some Peter Kreeft, and edge into Augustine and Aquinas.

There is a huge amount of logic and reason in the faith.

Again, this is just my experience, but most people who talk about being ‘indoctrinated’ in religion often have no idea the amount of logic and philosophy exist out there; so they may not be giving you a fair hearing.

Christ is Truth. So go seek that Truth. Seek it using good sources of brilliant people who are expert in their field; just as if you wanted to learn cosmology you might read Sagan and Hawkings.

It’s a meaningless statement. Everybody that was ever born has been conditioned into certain mindsets from their parents, family, and community.

I only skimmed through the replies, but I think the far more important question is this: is Christianity true? CS Lewis points this out (quite cleverly) in his book “Screwtape Letters”, in which he points out how distracted we can get from this one central question (is it true) by far less weighty and meaningful questions, such as your indoctrination question. Just because you’ve been indoctrinated in Christianity doesn’t mean it’s not true. Of course, the word “indoctrinated” is most often used when someone is really throwing out an accusation that the subject at hand is NOT true.

Lewis’ book Mere Christianity (which wrestles with the central question, is it true) might be a good idea for you if this indoctrination question has bothered you.

I have found this faith to be deeply, gloriously true. I pray you will as well.

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