Home » Culture, Naturalism, Religion » Religion as child abuse—missing the point of the claim

Religion as child abuse—missing the point of the claim

Here’s some usual stuff from the Richard Dawkins spoutworks:

Forcing a religion on your children is as bad as child abuse, claims atheist professor Richard Dawkins

He said children should be taught ‘religion exists’ but not taught it as fact

Prof Dawkins repeating claims that sex abuse does ‘arguably less long-term psychological damage’ than being brought up a Catholic

Unfortunately, many people respond to this kind of thing by addressing the ridiculous charges themselves. They miss the dangerous underlying implications: that, in general, government should be concerned about what parents teach their children even when it does not lead to delinquency.

Whatever Dawkins may intend, many people in society have historically been quite ready to determine who should or shouldn’t raise children. The eugenics movement, founded, as it happens, in Darwinism, was just such an explicit cause.

People who charge “child abuse” via religion, junk food or whatever often assume that interference or removal of the child from the home will usually make things better.* Except in cases of severe physical or mental abuse or neglect, that is rarely true. Typically, a child prefers what he is used to, even if adults would consider it objectively inferior to what they would provide instead. That is one reason why child welfare services are always a mess. But don’t expect zealots to see why their interference would be less helpful than they think.

At any rate, it’s important to challenge the underlying assumptions of the zealotry as well.

* Even in those cases, intervention often doesn’t so much make things better as simply increase the chances that the child will grow up at all, which certainly forces our hands in the matter.

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7 Responses to Religion as child abuse—missing the point of the claim

  1. OT: BreakPoint This Week: Darwin’s Doubt – podcast interview – By: Shane Morris- August 2, 2013
    http://www.breakpoint.org/feat.....y/15/23002
    John Stonestreet interviews Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of a groundbreaking new book on the most haunting problem for Charles Darwin and his theory.

  2. Professor Dawkins has lost it. Being sexually abused by a trusted adult is much worse psychologically for a child, any child, than being taught that God exists.

    It’s interesting to see how utterly hypocritical Dawkins is; he writes that he doesn’t believe there is an atheist in the world who would bulldoze Mecca, Notre Dame (the cathedral, not the college), or the temples of Kyoto (The God Delusion, page 249). But here he states that teaching your children how to worship God, presumably using one of these places of worship, is wrong!

    Vox Day, in his book <i?The Irrational Atheist, takes aim at Dawkins in this regard (pages 146-149). A letter published to his daughter Juliet appears in one of Dawkins’s books (The Devil’s Chaplain), and it is “coldly impersonal” and “authoritarian”. He doesn’t seem to care what Juliet thinks or what her interests are; the only thing he seems to gravitate towards is “evidence”.

    Vox writes, “One has to pity the poor girl, who at 10 would have surely rather been assured that she was beautiful in his eyes and of supreme importance to him despite his absence instead of receiving a tedious 7-page lecture on the need to believe in evidence that is not based on tradition, authority, or revelation.”

    Vox goes on to note that the purposed psychological damage of being raise Catholic is directly contradicted by all of the scientific evidence. He cites the paper by K Dervic, et al, “Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt” (http://ajp.psychiatryonline.or.....eID=177228)

    In conclusion, there is no evidence that being raised Catholic is more psychologically damaging than being sexually abused as a child, and there is a great deal of evidence proving the opposite. I would think very carefully before believing a word Dawkins say.s

  3. Of related interest to Dr. Meyer’s interview on the Cambrian Explosion is this interview with Dr. Carl Werner:

    The Truth About The Fossil Record – Living Fossils – Interview with Dr. Carl Werner – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMUdHnGf0ZI

  4. “Vox goes on to note that the purposed psychological damage of being raise Catholic is directly contradicted by all of the scientific evidence.”

    So when has Dawkins ever let “scientific evidence” get in the way of his philosophy and conjecture?

  5. bpragmatic @ 4: Odd that, since Dawkins is supposed to be a scientist.

  6. Dawkins should know the truth. He was sexually abused as a child, I believe, and look how he turned out!

    That may sound a bit like a joke, but it isn’t. The fact is, he may want to encourage children to be sexually abused because often they then have a hard time believing in any god that could allow that to happen to them. It may very well be Dawkin’s real problem; very likely a bigger barrier to the truth of God than biology.

  7. ‘I would think very carefully before believing a word Dawkins says.’

    Absolutely. If you believe a word of his hysterical fantasies, it could well be that you are beyond help, anyway.

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