In the spring, the first issue of the Liberal Thinking Calendar of the Free-Thinkers (Freidenkerkalender) appeared, devoted to the religious education of children. The man responsible for it appears well-meaning and no doubt thoroughly convinced of the truth of what he writes. He develops the following theory. One should give no religious education to children because it is unnatural. For if one allows children to grow up without injecting religious concepts and feelings into them, one notices that they do not come to them of their own accord. This is supposed to demonstrate that it is unnatural to instill such ideas into children because they merely come from outside.
There can be no doubt that adherents of the free-thinker movement receive such ideas with enthusiasm and even consider them to be profound. Yet one need but reflect on the following. It is common knowledge that if a young child were removed to a desert island before he learned to speak, and there grew up without ever hearing the human voice, he would never learn to speak! This shows clearly that children do not learn to speak unless speech comes to them from outside. The good free-thinking preacher would also have to forbid his followers from teaching children how to talk, for speech also is not developed of its own accord. Thus something that appears eminently logical, and that is regarded as profound by a considerable group of people, is nothing but logical nonsense. As soon as one thinks it through it simply does not hold. This is a typical example of a person wearing blinders.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – XII – Munich, March 10, 1913
Previously posted on March 6, 2014