Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Religion as a 'mental child abuse'

But what can it mean to speak of a child's "own" religion? Imagine a world in which it was normal to speak of a Keynesian child, a Hayekian child, or a Marxist child. Or imagine a proposal to pour government money into separate primary schools for Republican children and Democrat children. Everyone agrees that small children are too young to know whether they are Keynesian or monetarist, Democrat or Republican, too young to bear the burden of heavy parental labels. Why, then, is almost our entire society happy to privilege religion, and slap a label like Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, on a tiny child? Isn't that a form of mental child abuse?

From this stinging attack on religion (which appeared as an op-ed in Philadelphia Inquirer) by Richard Dawkins. "If you sincerely believe your religion is the absolute truth", he says a bit later, "let me ... be ambitious ..., and try to shake your belief". Among his arguments, you'll find this hard hitting comment about intelligent design:

By far the favorite reason for believing in God is the Argument from Improbability. Eyes and skeletons, hearts and nerve cells are too improbable to have come about by chance. Manmade machines are improbable too, and designed by engineers for a purpose. Surely any fool can see that eyes and kidneys, wings and blood corpuscles must also be designed for a purpose, by a master engineer. Well, maybe any fool can see it, but let's stop playing the fool, and grow up. ...

P.Z. Myers informs us that this op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer covers the same ground as his two part documentary titled "The Root of All Evil?" that he hopes will find a sponsor for the US broadcast.

Myers also points to another Dawkins piece in which he recounts some of his experiences while making this documentary. He has some more stuff to say about religion:

... The point is that faith, even moderate faith, is pernicious because it teaches that believing something without evidence is a virtue. Moderates, as Sam Harris shows in his devastating book, The End of Faith, "provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed". Or, in Voltaire's words, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities".


  1. Giacomo said...

    Startling new evidence reveals that child abuse in the vatican was orchestrated and kept secret by official order