Indoctrination or Teaching?
I noticed an article this morning on the internet about how ISIS (ISIL) had started “training” five-year-old boys as future fighters and leaders of their “revolution.” Sounds a lot like what I used to read about how the OLD Soviet Union used their primary (and secondary) schools as a way to “teach” about the “demon capitalists” and indoctrinate the population to perpetuate communism.
I really don't see much difference between that and what churches/religions have done from the earliest times using “Sunday school” as a way to indoctrinate the youth with their doctrine. While the “good Christians” out there don't interpret it that way, the effect is still the same. Sure, the stories are interesting and teach good, moral lessons; however, don't those same stories help to instill “belief” in something invisible?
Children, the younger that they are, are fascinated by stories of magic and fantasy, one of the things which fundamentalists decry about books and movies such as The Lion King and the Harry Potter. Are the stories from the Bible any different? The Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, the delivery of the Ten Commandments, the Tower of Babel, and on and on are stories that might be based on real events, but they could just as easily be stories made up to teach lessons or capture the imagination of the young, as well as the uneducated adults of the time period. Using the “carrot of heaven as a reward” and the “stick of burning in hell for eternity (however long that might be)” was a truly inspired touch by the gospel writers. Few people were very discerning at the time the Bible stories were written since education was only available to the wealthy or those of noble birth. That group was less likely to be influenced by those stories.
Those writing the stories about the creation of the Earth and life had no other way to explain something which even the most educated and intellectual minds of today have no answer. It was easy to say that “God” created the Earth in six days, but since that would require magic, those who interpret the Bible say that each of those days could have been millions of “our years” in length. It still doesn't explain “how” it was done, much less from where the “creator” came, who created “Him.” When dealing with unanswerable questions or people who couldn't understand the scientific composition of matter and the laws of nature, keep it simple!
Simple stories and non-answers to the most important questions that can be asked is the way to convince the simple-minded, uneducated masses. However, humans of today shouldn't be accepting these fantasy stories and simplistic explanations. “God,” assuming that such a “creator/deity” does exist, should be “talking” to each person individually (since “He” certainly should be able to since we are supposed to be “His” creation), explaining who we are, why we were created, and what our purpose is during this lifetime. Then, and only then, can we be expected to the rules for living and the consequences for disobeying.