A wonderful passage from Louise Antony’s essay in Philosophers Without Gods (a collection she edited):
As I’ve said, the reactions of grownups to my questions about religion were doubly distressing to me because of their dissonance with the principles adults were explicitly promoting in other contexts. In school, a broadly libertarian and individualistic ethos prevailed. We were always being exhorted to “think for ourselves.” In reading, we were urged to “sound out the words instead of just asking,” and in arithmetic to figure out the problems on our own. Science teachers and science books agreed heartily that curiosity is a marvelous thing, the engine of all scientific achievement. One must not take things for granted; one must always ask “why.” The best scientists, it was stressed, are the ones who see mystery in the everyday, who press for deeper and deeper understanding. In the biographies of Marie Curie I devoured, she was praised for seeing questions no one else did and for persisting in her work until she got her answers. (My mother, by the way, got me these books. She was a secret feminist. She kept the secret even from herself.) In my elementary school citizenship classes, democracy was praised as the most perfect political form because it allowed every citizen to “follow his own conscience.” My parents and teachers, counseling me about personal behavior, stressed the importance of doing what I knew was right, regardless of what other people thought. Why in religion was I supposed to dumbly accept whatever the authorities told me?
It’s a hella good question, isn’t it.
To the best of my recollection I didn’t get that as a child. I remember asking my mother a lot of questions, and I remember getting replies that pretty much agreed with the questions. She didn’t claim certainty about any of it that I remember, or talk about having “faith.” I don’t remember any dogma or any requests to stop asking questions. Maybe it’s just that I don’t remember…but honestly I doubt it. It wasn’t a faithy household.
I lucked out.