I guess many of us were aware of this phenomenon, but I think it’s very striking to hear a prominent academic Bible scholar say it publicly: http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1652372.
The truth really does hurt – if you’ve been raised to be an all-or-nothing thinker, that if you don’t believe exactly as you were taught, you are doomed, and that if you expose yourself to other ways of thinking and new evidence, you’re going to hell. I know from personal experience, as I’m sure some reading this post do.
The truth really shouldn’t hurt, right? The truth should be fascinating and liberating. Uncovering the Torah’s contradictions, borrowings from earlier Near Eastern literature, scribal errors, scientific errors, historical errors, later additions to the text, anachronisms, pre-modern morality, etc., should be enlightening and, in my opinion, fascinating, not hurtful.
Indeed, once I got past the many years of stress, guilt, and torment of thinking that I had a problem that needed fixing, a sickness that needed to be cured or at least treated, the truth was marvelous. It’s delightful to learn the Torah with a more accurate sense of the context in which its authors lived and what they were really trying to say and to use the Torah as our most revealing window into the pre- and early history of my people and its neighbors. Now, all I am left with is the joy of learning the truth and the feeling of good fortune that I have been exposed to such truth.
But that was only after a decade or so of the truth’s hurting. And had I gotten married to a religious wife and had kids during that time, the truth would, no doubt, still be hurting.
Parents who send their kids to religious schools where they are taught what they must believe apparently are simply unaware of the potential harm they are guaranteed to be causing their kids. Either:
a) their kids’ lives will be overturned , as Professor Propp described, when they discover the truth that those beliefs are no longer tenable, or
b) their kids will be so close-minded and sheltered their whole lives that they’ll never discover the truth. Ignorance may be bliss, but if you really want what’s best for your kids, do you really want them to be living their lives being shielded from knowledge and truth?
If only these parents would realize that they are guaranteeing that their kids will have only the two options above, perhaps they would think twice about the type of religious education their kids receive.