There was a time in my life where I would have said “I feel better believing there’s a god looking out or all of us”.
As I got older, I learned about intellectual honesty.
I eventually considered the idea that there are a lot of things one might believe to make themselves feel better. Why is it that you believe some things, but not others? For instance, why don’t you believe that Zeus or Taranis or Perun controls thunder?
There are a lot of implications that come with the idea that there is some powerful and benevolent being who controls such an important natural phenomenon. Plenty of people over history have believed in one thunder god or another. Yet, most modern westerners don’t. Why?
The answer is because we were not told from a very young age that this is so. If every adult you knew talked about Zeus and his thunder, and you simultaneously were kept ignorant of the natural mechanisms that underly thunder, the Zeus idea would seem perfectly reasonable. And you would feel better believing that Zeus’ influence was important and necessary.
Indoctrination relies on access to young people, because that is the easiest demographic to “program”. Western children believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy at enormously high rates. Why is this? Because most children believe the things adults
In fact, many children experience emotional trauma when they realize that it was their parents all along who planted Easter eggs, put presents in their stockings, and traded their lost teeth for money. This trauma is due to the fact that children internalize and value the insights their trusted adults give them, and they feel betrayed by the lies they were spoon fed by the people who were supposed to tell them the truth.
On the flip side, many groups whose existence relies on indoctrination recognize that childhood is not the only option for indoctrination. Many adults are very prone to indoctrination during times of trauma or helplessness. Consider conversion rates for adults while in prison, or during drug rehabilitation, or after a loved one dies. It’s no coincidence that so many adults are converted to various monotheistic religions during these times of distress. And indeed, if you look at the characteristics of cults, they use many of the same manipulation, mind-control, and conversion techniques that religions do.
Indoctrination is a powerful thing, and it’s why all these debates rage on about why the earth MUST be 6,000 years old, or why humans could not have evolved from an earlier species of hominid. Indoctrination forbids its victims from believing such heresy.
Although it might seem like a benign position when someone says “it’s nice to believe god has a plan for me,” in reality this is just another manifestation of indoctrination.