My buddy Ryan posted this video of Richard Dawkins, who contends religious faith is a virus that infects the young. Dawkins asks, “Isn’t it weird we automatically label a tiny child with its parent’s religion? We don’t label children with a political party, as they are too young to understand and yet we talk about Catholic kids, Jewish kids, Muslim kids, etc.” Here are some more points he made:
2) For Darwinian reasons, a child’s brain is set up to do what it is told by its elders. There just isn’t time for a child to experiment with warnings like “Don’t go to near the cliff’s edge.” Any child that applies a scientific, skeptical attitude to that would be dead. In effect, children are brainwashed by religion.
I agree with some of what he says. I find it bizarre watching a four year old bear “his testimony” while his mother whispers what to say in his ear. There is no way this preschooler knows what the word “transgression” means as he clumsily lisps the word through his missing front teeth. It’s really cute, but not very believable.
I do have some contention with parts of Dawkins documentary, as well as a question maybe you can answer. I’ll start with my contentions, but be sure to answer my question at the end. I want to know what you think.
I contend Dawkins assertion that faith is a virus. Faith is a basic human need, and is utilized by theists and atheists alike to achieve well being. The course one takes in meeting that need is where people diverge. Faith, therefore, is not the problem. Being a dip shit is the problem.
Religion provides a strong value set that leads people towards having convictions about what is right or wrong. This undoubtedly causes the spineless “everybody’s okay” crowd some consternation, but most people with a backbone have some beliefs that distinguish right from wrong. In fact, I’d say most religious values unquestionably align with the majority of atheistic value sets. Some values fall in the gray area, while just a few theistic values are outright rejected by atheists.
Also, the divide between theists and atheists isn’t as vast as Dawkins makes it out to be. From what I’ve observed, the majority of atheists and theists have huge problems with extremist behavior of religious wackos, such as Islamic terrorists, abortion clinic bombers, and the Westboro Baptist Church that would protest at funerals. These pricks are the exception, not the rule.
Finally, Dawkins points out violent, Old Testament scripture and shows exerpts of fire-and brimstone evangelicals haranguing on about sinful lesbians as proof of the theist’s psychological instability and moral inconsistency. I say that Dawkins must keep in mind religion is man’s interpretation of God’s commands, and is, therefore, subject to misinterpretation and corruption. Religion is man passing down God’s word, and since man is imperfect, the original word may be subject to corruption and distortion. Religious dogma and faith in God can be seen as close cousins, but ultimately separated by the metaphysical boundary. My point? One can believe in God and not buy in to craziness, even if the craziness is passed off as “God’s word.”
If you managed to get through this long post, I have a question relating to Dawkin’s assertion. Is it possible for a believer to raise their children according to their theistic values while simultaneously allowing their children to generate their own belief system?