If religion is like circumcision that fact says nothing about either of them.

A popular meme on the facebook.

A popular meme on the facebook.

I’ve been confronted with this claim more than once. The notion is that neither should be done because adults wouldn’t be up for them. I think that it highly faulty logic. I think that there are lots of things that we teach children as children not because children need to know in order to function as, but because humans need to be taught things while they are still plastic and malleable. We make lots of choices that are good for children that they would never choose for themselves at any time. Think of basic hygiene, who would start brushing their teeth if it were completely foreign to them? When the Europeans first started to interact with the Asian’s regularly bathing was completely foreign to them, and they had a hard time integrating with the highly cleanly Asian’s because they hadn’t learned the habits.

Similarly, there are mental habits, critical thinking is far more effectively taught to those too young to appreciate it, or to put up an effective resistance against learning it. As dangerous as throwing around ev. psych just so stories can be I’d like to posit that the reason we are so malleable and impressionable as youth is in order to enable us to learn the things we would fail to learn as jaded adults. Our species has two phases in life, that of an information caterpillar, and that of an information butterfly, and the fact that an information butterfly is not content to munch on leaves does not mean that they aren’t the best thing for an information caterpillar.

I do think that religion poses problems, and that some of them are downright dangerous (while others fall more towards the helpful end of the spectrum) but I do not think that that means that this meme gives us a good reason to oppose anything.


About opcnup

Emerson White is a biology student working on post grad while doing private research on the side.
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