I have never understood this concept – to “lose one’s faith.”
Surely, changing one’s mind or beliefs is a positive thing. Your are developing new ideas or beliefs because you have new information, or have found the previous beliefs inadequate in some way.
You haven’t lost anything, you have gained something!
Sure, I can understand why people often feel emotionally committed to an ideological or political belief, or to a community holding a common belief. Moving on can cause some emotional regrets. It may even lead to strained relations, or even severance of relations, with one’s friends. It may take time to accept that such friendships are of limited value if they require you to be hypocritical.
“Loss of faith” seems even more inappropriate when used to described the ideological development accompanying growth of a child into adolescence. Matt Ridley remarks on Francis Crick’s “sudden refusal to go to church, at about age 12” and refers to this as Crick’s interest in science causing him to “lose his faith.” But surely this was just part of Crick growing up – he didn’t lose anything, he gained something (see Matt Ridley: Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code).
A similar thing happened to Albert Einstein. As a child he received education in both the Jewish and Catholic religions and had some “religious enthusiasm.” But at the age of 12 “he suddenly became completely irreligious.” (see Max Jammer: Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology).
Now, I find these description familiar. As a child I attended several churches, Sunday Schools and Bible classes. This wasn’t as a result of conscious choice or religious conviction. It was just because that’s what happened in those days. I certainly don’t recall any feeling of commitment to a religious belief or dogma. I don’t think such a commitment is possible for a child.
However, I do remember consciously starting to think about society and beliefs at the age of 10 or 12. Presumably that’s just part of normal development. I remember coming to the conclusion that I couldn’t accept the concept of a god, or the religious stories that had been fed to me as a child.
This realisation was accompanied by an intense interest in science and humanitarian ideas. (And, I vaguely remember, an intense interest in the opposite sex – perhaps its related somehow).
No, I don’t see my development of consciousness during transition from child to adolescence as a loss. It was very much a gain.
Religious education should include secular humanism
Putting the Bible in its place
Why do we believe?
Thank God or Thank Goodness?
Discrimination at school
Religion and Schools
What do we teach our children?
Christian prayer problems
Should we teach creationism?