Growing up the phrase preached regardless of religion is, "Listen to your elders." While it make sense in a control of the masses perspective while kids are going to school, I don't find in retrospect that it was the best advice. Currently, it's severely inadequate as a method of seeking truth or as a method of learning. When I think back to my Grandmother telling me to put on a hat because I'll catch a cold, I can't help by think, "Derp!" My mother told me to buy a house, you'll never lose on real estate. I'm somewhere around 75k down on that advice. Tonight, I've been thinking about it and I have some thoughts on the matter.
In generations past, the experiences of our elders would keep us safe. Don't go into a cave alone because a bear may be in there. Someone experienced that and passed it along. It's good advice. Work hard at your job and do something that you love. Good advice learned on the pain of flocking chickens or something horrible that was done for a living. Currently, we have access to information. The internet has put the world at our fingertips as a resource. Much of that resource comes from youth. It's no longer just elders, but those that have different experiences. What advice would my Mom offer on banking online five years ago? "I don't do I because I don't want others to access my information." Little did she know that her access wasn't the concern because it already existed online whether she looked or not. Recently she told me that she enjoyed banking online and I reserved the right to mention that I liked it a decade ago. I have an uncle terrified to send out a mass email without checking it's validity with me first because I'll berate him in front of his friends as I hit reply to all on the chain email. I like to think that I'm doing my part to break the chain emails that come from our elders. More derp.
This summer my family gathered to spread the ashes of my Maternal Grandmother. My Mother was sharing the story of her being verbally berated by a distant aunt. I piped up with, "Why would you put up with that bullshit?" Her answer was, "I don't know." My oldest cousin (I'm the second youngest out of 9 cousins.) piped up with, "We don't talk back to our elders." I was stunned by this. I didn't respond as I was busy trying to compute this. My real thought was basically, "What?" But this was really what it was like even extending into my generation. For my grandmother, being the youngest of 14, it meant a lifetime of abuses. Her mother lived with her, and if she went to the grocery store to buy groceries for her mother with her brothers or sisters, she would have to pay for the fuel. Wait... Mom lives with me, I pay for her daily needs, and you want me to pay for the fuel to obtain those daily needs? Them's fighting words.
On religion, so many people never had the ability to verify questions so readily. The internet is as if it's all of us compiling our knowledge against false claims. When the Bishop spoke, who were you to question it? Today, William Lane Craig would look like genius if you couldn't easily verify his claims. Can you imagine having to search though volumes of encyclopedias to verify the veracity of his claims? We'd never do it and more likely, we'd never understand it. The information age has ended the ability of bald claims to obtain accepted status in the wider society. We should no longer listen to the claims of our elders without verifying them. The world is becoming more and more science based. You make a claim, and we'll subject it to the known knowledge of the world. Jesus was special... Apollonious, Horus, and Mythras take issue with that claim. The old adage of listen to your elders made sense as good advice at one time. but currently, when we have access to vast resources it no longer makes any sense whatsoever. Challenge everything, question everything, and when you are finished, welcome to being an Atheist.