Religion and the Youth

"If religion presents itself now [at the age of puberty] as theological dogma it may rouse the youthful passion for debate, and suffer dismemberment; if it presents itself as the pursuit of the good it touches the idealism of the changing soul, and becomes an ineradicable part of the personality."

Will Durant, The Pleasures of Philosophy

This surely reveals the brilliant insight of Will Durant regarding such matters. The religious opinions of a person depend a great degree on to what kind of religion he/she has been exposed to in youth. If his experience of religion is dark, dismal, suffocating... as a doctrine which imposes chains on human activity and limits human freedom... as a dogma which prevents mental and psychological libration, then chances are that the person will rebel against such a notion. On the other hand, if the version of religion the person is exposed to in youth is gentle, mild, liberal... as more of a moral advice than unquestionable rules... as a way of spreading kindness and good in the world, then surely the person would retain a strong religious element in his personality.

The tricky part is that most religions contain both elements... every religion has aspects which are hostile and suffocating... and every religion has components which promote kindness and good will.