To what extent does the influence of the home affect the religious convictions and practices a child develops as he/she grows into maturity?
Almost none, say some modern scientists, who now are alleging that the most significant influence in the child’s religious life is the “God gene.” This is the notion that one’s religious inclination is grounded in heredity, and that, in reality, a person can do little to alter this “urge,” or lack of it.
If such were the case, this question would seem appropriate. Why do atheists spend so much energy, time, and money attempting to destroy the faith of believers?
In reality, this is but another example of the attempt to suggest that no human being is responsible for his conduct—be it good or bad, helpful or hurtful, lawful or criminal.
Let me tell you about a book that was published almost a century ago. In 1913 a fascinating volume was issued from the press in England; it was titled, Modern Rationalism as Seen at Work in Its Biographies. It was authored by Canon Henry Lewis, Rural Dean of the Anglican Church, Bermondsey, London.
In this rare work, Lewis attempted to illustrate, among other things, the causes behind the development of some of the most prominent infidels of history. A fascinating sketch of Lewis’ famous work is found in Wilbur Smith’s enchanting little volume, Chats From A Minister’s Library (Boston: W.A. Wilde Co., 1951). Note some examples.
Voltaire (1604-1778) was a French deist who vigorously opposed Christianity. Lewis noted that when Voltaire was but three years old, his tutor taught him a poem by Rousseau, in which Moses was ridiculed as an imposter. It was downhill from there.
John Stuart Mill (1806-73), the British philosopher who did much to prepare the way for the modern ideology that no restriction should be placed on “freedom of speech,” was, according to Lewis, brought up “without any religious belief.” In a letter to Carlyle in 1833 (when Mill was twenty-seven years of age), the skeptic wrote: “I have been reading the New Testament. I can never be said to have read it before.”
Lucile Dudevant (1804-76), a sensual novelist who wrote under the penname “George Sand,” and whose immoral life was legendary (Chopin was one of her “lovers”), was virtually weaned on the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose famous work, Emile, espoused this philosophy:
“I need only consult myself with regard to what I wish to do; what I feel to be right is right; what I feel to be wrong is wrong” (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1943, p. 249).
Thomas Paine (1739-1809), whose mother was a Quaker, yet was described by Paine as a woman of “sour temper” and “eccentric character,” wrote his infamous Age of Reason as an attack upon the Bible (though he admitted therein that he did not even own a copy of the Scriptures). At the age of eight, Paine says he was “revolted” at the idea that God sent his Son to be murdered. He suggested that one who did such a thing was worthy to be “hanged.”
In his writings Paine had not a solitary good word to say regarding his mother. Is it not highly probable that there was a cause-and-effect relationship there? As the twig is bent—usually, so grows the tree. Incidentally, Paine’s professional life was punctuated with corruption and scandal. He was dismissed from various offices on several occasions for unethical conduct.
These examples, and many others, support the biblical position that a child who is loved with the highest level of devotion is a child that will be nurtured in the instruction of divine things as taught in the Holy Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
A youngster neglected in such matters, or given only a superficial exposure to such (e.g., Bible school and occasional church services) is likely destined, one fears, for an unpleasant eternity. Think about it, dear parents.