Last week I had the chance to see the Vatican museums (The Sistine Chapel, Raphael rooms, etc) and Saint Peter’s basilica. As I entered the Vatican, a strange sensation filled inside of me. Strange because although I am an atheist, I kind of felt like I belong there, it almost felt like home. I even explained the deep religious meanings of some of the paintings to my girlfriend.
After about half an hour, I started analysing my own feelings and thoughts. I asked myself why am I feeling this way? Why am I not just amazed by how elaborately detailed the paintings/sculptures are? Why do I feel a connection with the churches and the artworks? I came to the conclusion that because I was raised as a Catholic and was ‘practicing’ the religion until about 8 years ago, its values has been drilled deep into my brain that no amount of books (so far) has completely erased it from me. I haven’t yet completely dettached myself from Catholicism.
This experience has led me to ask whether the values and beliefs we learned from our childhood, be it related to religion or not, stays with us for a long time, just like my Catholic upbringing did? If so, does this support Behaviourism (the belief that experience and not genes are responsible for our behaviour/attitudes)? Also, is there a critical period on which when a belief is altered in a child’s mind, the previous ones would not be held for a long time?
I know that my questions are not scientific in any way. I have only based them in one single experience, but if any of you can shed some light in this topic, please drop a comment.