Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed May 02 2007 - 10:04:29 EDT

*The truth is important even for a child to know at some
> level. If life is nothing more than pitiless material
> existence, it would be best to make decisions based on
> that fact.*

Wayne, I'm not so sure that your conclusion follows if atheism is true.
Let's say atheism is true, and that belief in God (or the gods, or whatever)
is just an emotional crutch. The prevelance of religious belief suggests
that this presumed emotional crutch is useful and important to many people.
What would be the ethical basis for setting about to demolish that crutch?
If atheism is true, ultimately, why ought anyone care whether someone else
chooses to reject that truth?

Dawkins writes as though there is an ethical imperative to believe only
things that are true. But if atheism and materialism are the truth, why
should anyone accept that ethical imperative? What grounds the concept of
"justification" with respect to belief?

The answer will have to be that the concept of "justification" for belief is
indeed a red herring, and that the only acceptable epistemology is
pragmatism. But pragmatism doesn't answer the questions, "pragmatic
(useful) for whom?" and what does "pragmatic" mean anyway? Even if
materialism is true, it may very well be "better" to make decisions based on
the delusion that there is a divine purpose to life -- if "better" can even
be defined!

So, I don't really accept that the "new atheist" crusade follows from their
own core beliefs -- unless that crusade is really just a nihlistic power

On 5/2/07, <> wrote:
> Phil wrote:
> 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 wron g, 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.
> The truth is important even for a child to know at some
> level. If life is nothing more than pitiless material
> existence, it would be best to make decisions based on
> that fact.
> So I would not see this in of itself as cruel if this
> is what you genuinely believe. If our whole belief is
> utterly false, then it would be quite cruel to impel
> children to obey God, knowing that it is not true.
> The place where Dawkins gets off is in presuming that
> because he is 99.99% (or whatever) certain that God is
> a hoax, everyone else must follow ___his___ plan. If he
> wants to teach his kids there is no God, he has as much
> right as others to teach their kids about hell. (Not
> that I agree with either per se, but it is hypocritical
> to insist that sincere belief be sanctioned just because
> one doesn't agree with it). As long as parents don't cross
> the legal line of physical abuse, it's very difficult
> to stop parents from teaching whatever heaping pile of
> dog dung they please.
> 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.
> But, when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we
> may also know regret that day because we didn't reach out
> and help some people, we said hard words instead of words
> of love to those in need, we abused the helpless, and we
> held grudges on some people for the evil they did to us.
> And all that instead of the message of Christ. We will all
> have few words to say that day.
> From the other side, Dawkins would say the same. "I should
> have told everyone that God is a hoax, I should have told
> more people that this stuff is illusion. They made foolish
> decisions because they believed a lie!"
> Christianity is more about the choices we make. It is faith
> that there is purpose, and it amplifies the importance of
> being Godly in a way that atheism cannot. If Dawkins is
> wrong, he pays, if we're wrong, we pay. But in the end, we
> have made our choice and will reap our reward, whatever that
> may be.
> We certainly should chose the pill that gives us knowledge
> rather than live in bliss with our brain in a vat. The error is
> that, by Grace, the truth will lead us to God.
> by Grace we proceed,
> Wayne

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Received on Wed May 2 10:05:28 2007

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