Why is it that some people are able to know God and believe in Him until the end of their days, while others lose their faith while still young ? How does this loss of faith occur and by what means can faith be preserved or renewed ?
Before answering these questions I would like to say a few words to those who say that religious beliefs should not be “foisted upon” children.
Religious faith cannot be foisted upon a person; it is not something which is alien to man, but, on the contrary, it is an essential need of human nature, it constitutes the primary content of man’s inner life.
When we take care to have a child grow up truthful, good, when we develop in him a correct understanding of and a taste for beauty, we do not foist upon him something alien or extraneous to his nature; we only help him to extract this from within himself, we help him recognize within himself those traits and movements which are common to all human souls.
The same should be said concerning knowledge of God.
According to the principle of not foisting anything upon a child’s soul, we would generally have to renounce all assistance to the child in developing and strengthening the talents and capabilities of his soul. We would have to leave him to his own devices until he grew up and decided which principles to adopt and which to reject.
But in this case we would not have guarded the child from external influences, but would have only made these influences chaotic and arbitrary.
Let us return to the question of why some people retain in their hearts a constant and unshakeable faith until the end of their days, while others lose it, sometimes completely and sometimes returning to it with great difficulty and suffering?