Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: <philtill@aol.com>
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 22:46:46 EDT

Also, Dawkins' not-too-suble agenda is betrayed by his selective concerns. He is concerned over the abuse that sometimes arises from religious teachings (hellfire) but not by the abuse that sometimes arises from atheistic teachings (meaninglessness, lack of moral absolutes, dehumanization). IMO, these are far worse than the fear of hell, which can be escaped by believing in Jesus, since in the atheist worldview there is no escape from meaninglessness or from ultimate personal anihiliation. Teaching atheism in any form to a child is a horribly cruel thing, just as it is a cruel thing to teach it to any adult. It is always cruel in all its forms. Atheists see this as just a cruel reality of life, and so they accept it. Dawkins doesn't seem concerned over this, however. He doesn't allow that hell might be right and meaninglessness might be wrong, and so the religious cruelty and not the atheist cruelty needs to be regulated by the state. He is concerned to stop only the
 religious parents from raising their children in their own images, not the irreligious parents.
 
His shallow set of concerns betray that he is not so interested in protecting the feelings of children as he is in making them unbelievers.
 
Phil
 
 
 
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: dopderbeck@gmail.com
To: pvm.pandas@gmail.com
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 2:57 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

if religious practices or other practices can or does cause harm to
our children, is it worth reconsidering them or adapting them to the
minds of children? We are quite protective of our children in many
aspects and perhaps these are not much dissimilar?
 
These are valid concerns, and indeed should be discussed and addressed -- at the level of churches (and mosques, synagogues, etc.) and families, not at the level of the state, and certainly not through the exercise of state power. I'd suggest that most religious traditions continually address these concerns internally and are by and large pretty good at doing so. I know that the ways in which my children are instructed in the Christian faith are in many ways more sensitive to their emotional development than some of the ways in which kids of my generation were instructed. This is another major problem with Dawkins' facile understanding of religion -- he has no sense at all of the varied, complex, dialogical nature of faith communities. To him they are all one monolithic thing, which is the definition of blind prejudice.

 
On 4/30/07, PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com> wrote:
I guess it all comes down to how one defines 'traditional' religions
and determine why they should be exempted. It's exactly because some
of our more cherished values are derived from them that we may want to
consider their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the impact on the
health and well being of our children (and adults).

But the question is not really the role of the state, as much as the
role of us parents. Although I see nothing that protects so called
traditional religions and not what some consider less traditional
religions. Again, the distinction between the two seems often quite
irrelevant and certainly, just because our ancestors were used to a
particular tradition, does not make the tradition more or less
relevant or even right or wrong?

You have already accepted tha tthe state can intervene with religious
practices, and reject them as being non-traditional. I fail to see how
tradition can in any way be seen as a protective shield against any
(reasonable) scrutiny. But as I said before, I believe that the issue
of state intervention is but a minor part of the issue at hand which
is if religious practices or other practices can or does cause harm to
our children, is it worth reconsidering them or adapting them to the
minds of children? We are quite protective of our children in many
aspects and perhaps these are not much dissimilar?

I will be unable to attend to this list in the next week or so and I
hope to continue these discussions.

Pim

On 4/30/07, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:
> No, this is one of the few things in life that I think are black-and-white.
> The state cannot interfere with family instruction in traditional religions,
> period. It is simply not a proper role for the state.
>
> What about a Satanic cult in which children are mutilated? What about a
> "religion" in which a David Koresh-like figure abuses his daughters?
> Irrelevant red herrings. These are not the traditional religions --
> Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc. -- with
> which human beings have had millennia of experience and from which our most
> cherished values mostly derive.
>
>
>
> On 4/30/07, PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com > wrote:
> > But the issue is not that black and white. Sure, one 'solution' is to
> > prevent parents from teaching their children traditional religious
> > beliefs, but there is a who sliding scale of solutions and
> > considerations. In other words, the validity of your argument depends
> > on the per se' issue.
> > It's not that any and all 'traditional religious beliefs' are per se
> > instances of mental cruelty, but rather the recognition that not all
> > traditional religious beliefs are without potential consequences on
> > the physical and emotional health of our children.
> >
> > I doubt that Dawkins would propose that the state somehow can
> > prohibit parents from teaching religious values to their children. If
> > we are to dismiss Dawkins' arguments out of fear that this would lead
> > to a totalitarian solution, then perhaps we are missing an opportunity
> > to address and contemplate these issues. Surely, there are more ways
> > to deal with this knowledge than fearing an all out ban on religious
> > teachings by parents?
> >
> >
> >
> > On 4/30/07, David Opderbeck < dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Why should we accept that the state can step in where the violence is
> > > physical but when it involves issues of mental cruelty, we somehow
> > > find such intervention 'totalitarian'?
> > >
> > > If families teaching children their traditional religious beliefs is
> defined
> > > as a per se issue of "mental cruelty" such that the state can mandate
> that
> > > families not teach such beliefs to their children, the Rubicon of
> > > totalitarianism has been crossed. I think that proposition is
> self-evident
> > > and is so deeply embedded in our western democratic tradition that it
> should
> > > be beyond reasonable debate.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On 4/30/07, PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > On 4/30/07, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > Certainly, the state's sovereignty may properly impinge on the
> family's
> > > > > where a family's practices involve violence towards a family member.
> > > But
> > > > > equating ordinary, historic religious beliefs and practices with
> > > violence,
> > > > > and substituting the family's sovereignty with the state's in such
> > > matters,
> > > > > is a long meander down the yellow brick road towards
> totalitarianism.
> > > The
> > > > > kinds of things Dawkins suggests in this regard strike at the heart
> of
> > > open
> > > > > democratic culture and should be despised by anyone who really cares
> > > about
> > > > > justice and freedom.
> > > >
> > > > What does Dawkins suggest that leads you to these conclusions?
> > > >
> > > > For instance with the concept of hell and abuse, he quoted from a
> > > > letter of a woman who had been exposed to both and was still
> > > > struggling with the former. So perhaps the question should be about
> > > > these 'ordinary beliefs and practices'. Are they really that ordinary
> > > > and are they reasonable? And where lie the boundaries between ordinary
> > > > and excessive?
> > > >
> > > > Why should we accept that the state can step in where the violence is
> > > > physical but when it involves issues of mental cruelty, we somehow
> > > > find such intervention 'totalitarian'?
> > > >
> > > > > This is particularly so when the state purports to define what
> religious
> > > beliefs a family may
> > > > > properly perpetuate. The link between Dawkins' view of the state as
> > > parens patrie in matters of
> > > > > religion and the practices of atheistic states such as Soviet
> Russia,
> > > China, and North Korea, are
> > > > > direct and obvious.
> > > >
> > > > Are they really? And is this really Dawkins argument?
> > > >
> > > > ps. I was fascinated to hear that several US states still have laws on
> > > > the books which prohibit atheists from holding positions of public
> > > > office. While most likely unenforcable, it sends an interesting
> > > > message. Equating Dawkins position with the totalitarian supression of
> > > > faith an other liberties, misses Dawkins' point.
> > > >
> > > > By focusing on these strawmen we miss an opportunity to deal with a
> > > > real issue of concern namely the cost of some of these 'ordinary'
> > > > practices on our children.
> > > >
> > > > As others have reasonably pointed out, identifying these problems is
> > > > one thing, proposing suitable , practical and reasonable actions is
> > > > much harder. And yet, that by itself should not cause us to shy away
> > > > from considering these issues intellectually. One may be quick to
> > > > create strawmen about atheists rather than address their position and
> > > > yet we object to atheists doing the same about Christians.
> > > >
> > > > Ironic isn't it?
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>
>
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Received on Tue May 1 22:47:23 2007

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