Continued from Part 2
So I’d been hooked. I was all in. Let’s do this church thing. It was relevant, I could understand the messages, it had good music. We started going every week, and I looked forward to it. During this time we moved to a new town much closer to the church. This meant a new school, a loss of friends, social isolation. I found adjusting to the new situation very difficult. Up until this point had I had done very well in school but the new school didn’t have the advanced classes I was slated to be in. I quickly became bored and my grades began to slip. This is about the time my depression started creeping in.
Desperate for friends it came as a pleasant surprise when someone that went to my school happened to go to my church. He invited me one Sunday to a mid-week kinship (the church’s word for a small group or bible study). I eagerly accepted. Finally a chance to make some friends and learn more about church stuff! Looking back a 14 year old seeking community….yeah I was a perfect mark for indoctrination. Young enough to be impressionable but old enough to think I was making my own choices.
I stayed a steady B student in school, doing the bare minimum worth of work. Not because I wanted to but for fear of how my father would react otherwise. I had a knack for not studying or doing homework but doing well enough on tests that would carry my grades. It was good enough for me. It kept me out of the wrath of my father, but at a cost. I essentially gave up my love of learning, which in tow killed my critical thinking ability.
Going back a little I had a huge love of science. In 8th grade I had a science teacher that would tell us things and I would go home and test them. She told us once about super-saturated solutions. Essentially if you boil water and add salt and then allow the water to evaporate over time you’d end up with large salt crystals. I went home and tried this and I didn’t get the salt crystals. I reported back with my findings and she told me to try it with sugar. This time it worked and had a pretty cool looking sugar formation (I happened to win the outstanding science student that year, not to toot my own horn). The point of the story is to illustrate that at one time in my life I didn’t just take peoples word for things and actually tested and researched things. This died in high school. Looking back at all of this I realize this made me even more impressionable towards religious beliefs. I just took people’s word for it and didn’t bother thinking about things for myself. I believed because “well this guy is an authority and he wouldn’t lie to me.” I now know this as a logical fallacy known as the argument form authority.
I feel that I would have picked back up on critical thinking had I not been so into the church. If I didn’t have that feeling of having all the answers. Hindsight is 20/20, I’d have a very different life right now had I not gone all in, if I had kept my questioning hat on. I don’t know where that would have lead me but I’d have nearly a twenty year head start from where I am now.
Continued in Part 4