A Scared Child

I just read this and knew many of my blog readers would identify with it.

When Your Child Is Terrified You’re Going to Hell

In one place the father (Neil Carter) asks:

What do you tell your children when they tell you they fear for your soul?

It almost made me cry …

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10 thoughts on “A Scared Child

  1. I wonder: why do children easily (eagerly) accept heaven, Santa Claus and other fairy tales in the same breath with purgatory and hell? Why is it that they don’t ask themselves how God can be so merciful and so cruel at the same time, to his own creatures?!
    I wonder, because that is what happened to me. I asked myself those questions and came to the conclusion that something must be wrong with such a contradictory Creator. And I untied those ridiculous knots in my neurons, not convinced by an unbeliever but by my own reflections and reasoning when I was about 17.
    I must add that my parents were not obsessive with churchgoing and faith; they sent me to Sunday School because their parents did so, and their grandparents and so on. (It had one good effect though: I learned to read the Bible – so later on I could read between lines and open my eyes wide).
    But why did other children, under more or less similar circumstances, not ask themselves those questions? Why was it so easy for me, and for only a small number of other people? At least I think there are not many of us oiut there (too few). I have an explanation: although I don’t understand why my neurons formed those circuits, the fact is that they did – and they did so on their own, without help from the outside. Was it a natural process?

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    • Hi Koppieop,

      You may or may not remember Charity. She used to blog her but no longer does. She was once a conservative Christian with a very conservative upbringing. We became friends and often exchanged articles we ran into. About 2 years ago she shared an article with me from a Southern Baptist church. It was something in their church manual about the best times to “minister” to children. It stated that if you can “minister” to these children between the ages of 6 and 15, then they are likely to stay in the fold. Here is a graph of the stages of brain development and synaptic pruning.

      What the science shows is that In the first four years of life, the brain increases to 80% of its adult weight. Synaptic overproduction takes place and causes synapses to develop extremely rapidly during this period of brain development. Pruning is a key process that shapes the brains of young children. You stated that your parents weren’t obsessive with churchgoing or faith. I think this played in your favor, even though you attended Sunday School. The SS teachers weren’t your parents — the ones you had attachments with.

      The pruning process refines these connections based on experience. Connections not used are considered non-essential, and the brain eventually prunes them away to increase efficiency. It is quite possible that because your faith and the SS teachings weren’t reinforced by those you had an attachment with, they were pruned or atrophied. Connections used regularly become stronger and more complex.

      The kids that the SB church were addressing were probably attending church with their parents on a regular basis, making it more likely that neural connections were reinforced by the example and repetitive behavior of their parents.

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    • Here’s another graph. Notice what it states — that most of the pruning takes place in the frontal lobes. As I’m sure you are aware, that is where reasoning and critical assessment takes place. If you are in an environment that does not teach critical thinking and encourage reasoning, it is likely they will be pruned. In other words, use it or lose it.

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  2. Thank you Victoria! I enjoyed your explanation that I should be grateful for the fact that my parents’ relative indifference towards faith favored my critical thinking. I was always surprised to see people believe in some Intelligent Planmaker’s guidance of what I later learned to know as synapses.
    Moreover, what a fascinating subject, not only the human brain itself but also our awareness of its constantly growing development!-

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    • ….and thank you, koppieop. I couldn’t agree with you more that this is a fascinating subject. It makes me grateful to be alive in this day and age— and IMO, the more we learn about the brain, the greater likelihood we will further evolve, prosocially, curtail superstitions, be less fearful, and thrive as a species.

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  3. ==be less fearful== I am afraid of hailstones, because a dozen of them once smashed my rear window. But I don’t pray to Thor they may not do that again. And thiunder is one of my favorite sounds.
    ==thrive as a species== that is what evolution is about, if I understand well.

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