For most, indoctrination starts in early childhood. Especially if the parents belong to a religion or advocate other dogmatic belief.

Children often hear:

  • “If you touch the fire, you’ll get burned!”
  • “If you’re not careful, you will fall down and hurt yourself!”
  • “If you touch the spider with the red dots, you’ll poison yourself!”
  • => Don’t even question it – just don’t!

And also in the same intensity:

  • “If you don’t believe in Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Karma {insert the superstition of your choice here}, you will go to hell and be damned for eternity {add the scaremongering of your choice here}. But if you believe, you’re going to heaven / eternal salvation / paradise {add empty promise of your choice here}.
  • “The communist / fascist / leftist / conservative / Keynesian economics {add political dogma of your choice here} are THE ONLY ones that can lead us to peace / prosperity / equality / good life / {add empty promise of your choice here}.

The first statements will be confirmed many times during a child’s first years. Therefore, the child has no reason to question them, and since they are being indoctrinated from earliest childhood while the brain is still wide open and no filters and skeptical thinking are installed, they are being hardwired.

Ricky Gervais summarizes it best:

98% of all children acquire therefore the same religion as their parents. Reproductive performance of a religious community is therefore the single most important factor for the success of a religion. From their perspective, the ban of the catholic church on condoms makes absolute sense. As do the incentives of Islam or the Jewish culture to have rather more than less children…

More on this in a separate but related topic: Co-evolution of humanity and religion