Monday, February 26, 2007

The God Delusion 9&10

Chapter nine of Richard Dawkins' book is about child abuse. He takes the view that teaching children religious truth is abusive. He takes the view that dragging children away from their parents to sacrifice them to a God is abuse, overlooking the three millennia of history between this practice and the present day. He doesn't say if he would drag children screaming away from religious parents if they persist. Should all Amish infants be taken into care?

He rejoices in the attempt to rebrand atheists as 'Brights' but also applauds the website refusal to allow anyone to join who has been coerced. Later he argues that children should not be called Christians but 'children of Christian parents'. Are children allowed to become 'Brights' of their own free will but not Christians then? He doesn't say.

Although speaking of child abuse the chapter ends with a few well-chosen words on the Bible as literature and thus to be retained in education and social life.

The final chapter asks the question, 'Do our brains have a God-shaped gap?' Dawkins suggests that, for some, religion is to do with never growing out of having an imaginary friend. For others it is about believing in belief rather than God. For still others God is the 'someone-to-blame' in the same way as the council which failed to maintain the pavement on which you trip, injuring yourself, is someone to sue. There must be someone whose fault this is. Blame God.

He cannot get his head round the world-view of a religious person who finds their faith gives them a coherent whole set of values and truths and lives non-violently.

I love this quote on page 371. 'What we see of the real world is not the unvarnished real world but a model of the real world, regulated and adjusted by sense data...' Mr Dawkins, now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face-to-face.

For those who want to follow up with an academic read which deals with some of the complex scientific and philosophical issues I recommend Alister McGrath's, The Dawkins Delusion.


Ben said...

If it helps with the issue of "He doesn't say if he would drag children screaming away from religious parents if they persist", here's his actual stance:

"Nick Matzke:But do you actually think it would be a good idea for a government to make it *illegal* for parents to teach their religion to their children?
Richard Dawkins:Of course I don’t think it would be a good idea. I am horrified by the thought. My entire campaign against the labelling of children (what the petition called ‘defining’ children) by the religion of their parents has been a campaign of CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING."

St said...

Thanks Ben. Cheeky of me; fair of him.

Anonymous said...

Good to see Dawkins has bumped into Socrates. Only 2,500 years late.

Ben said...

I wish I could accept a riposte as classily as that, well done sir!