Mathias Östlund grew up in Sweden, where religion is often an afterthought. He didn’t even know about the concept of God until he was eight years old.
In a piece for Thought Catalog, he explains what it’s like being raised with not even a working knowledge of religion:
Everyone seems to hold their particular belief as truth. But imagine if you were an 8-year-old kid being told that a long time ago, there was a man who could walk on water, create food out of thin air and resurrect from the dead. You’d probably just shrug it off as another lame comic book super hero with ridiculous powers.
At least, that’s what I did.
But he learned not to mock it because some people took this “God” thing very seriously:
After getting in trouble for making fun of that kid’s religion, I was more confused than ever — if religion wasn’t real, then why was it such a big deal to make fun of it? So I asked my teacher about it, and she gave some halfhearted explanation about how it was sort of real, but still wasn’t.
So on one hand, religion was a real thing, and on the other hand it was just make-believe. For a kid who was still struggling with basic math, this wasn’t exactly the easiest concept to grasp.
It’s unintentionally funny… and something I can barely comprehend living in the U.S.
Just imagine someone trying to explain to you as an adult how Catholics believe a wafer can double as the actual, literal body of Christ. There’s no way you would ever take that seriously. That’s why they have to get that stuff in your head before you’re old enough to think critically or ask questions. So many religious beliefs have power precisely because people accept them before they know how to challenge them.
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