It’s funny how individual and different we like to think we are, and we are so much our parents’ children. Both genetically and as a result of our upbringing.
For instance, I know a girl whose father and mother split up. The father wanted to preach love and live in a fig tree. The mother wanted to live in Marin County and have money and go to parties. So the girl, their daughter, likes to have money and go to parties and worked hard to disassociate from the world of her father she felt was “embarrassing.” At the same time (see: Harville Hendrix for more on this) we are often attracted to those persons who resemble our parent – particularly the one most responsible for not meeting some of our childhood needs. We are attracted to that person and harbor the idea that this person will in fact meet that or those particular needs; they will be different. For instance, this girl, she dated me, a guy who at the time looked like he would be cool and making money and perhaps live in Marin County but was, really, just a guy preaching love, living in a fig tree.
Another woman has a father who displays the Darwin fish on his car (in response to the Jesus fish.) I have never seen how religion and evolution ought to be mutually exclusive, but some people have to have it black or white. Anyway, she follows in those footsteps: her parents don’t subscribe to Christianity; she doesn’t subscribe to Christianity.
A third woman – her parents are atheists. At some point, however, she went to a Catholic school, and was confirmed. Her grandmother was very devout. So, on the exterior, she is atheist. Interiorly, she grapples with reconciling the love and appreciation she has for her departed grandmother, and her intellectual disparity with that; God probably does not exist. Her constant poking fun at Jesus and religion, endless sarcasm and attention brought to it are indicative of this internal wrestling.
I find that people, who are, in themselves, not at peace with how they feel about religion, about God, are the ones most vociferous about it. And this goes both ways. The non-believer who takes shots at the believers, and tries to belittle them, as well as the believer who tries to convert the nons and convince them of their wrong. Both of these ends, to me, show people not at rest with their “stance” on the whole thing.
But that’s off-point. What’s going on this whole time is that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, in most cases. In behavior and belief we mirror or parents in many ways, or we go to opposite ends to try and be something very different. Either way, our actions are conducted by this basic paradigm set up in our upbringing. It’s not a perfect theory, as of course there are exceptions. But, by and large, people who grew up as children where both parents remained together tend to believe in marriage and family, while children of broken homes tend to struggle more with trust in relationships. And if religion was an integral part of the upbringing, and was enjoyable and positive, it is typically continued to be entertained in the adult life. And so on.
Where my own story fits in is that my parents divorced, and my mother raised me for a time before finding someone else. I too “divorced” the other parent of my child, and have found a relationship elsewhere. While the sexes are reversed, the scenario is essentially the same. Growing up, my stepfather was a non-believer and my mother a devout believer, so I seem to have both of these aspects as well. And then, in the middle is my biological father, a sort of Buddhist, and so from both genes, perhaps, and what exposure to him I had in my formative years, I also have this kind of sensibility. I have not, as it were, fallen very far.