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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Last Post: "The God Delusion"

This is the last post for "The God Delusion." Richard Dawkins' most recent chapter (Chapter 9) deals with what he calls indoctrination of children into their parents' belief system, and he goes as far as calling it "mental abuse." There is a comparison about this type of "indoctrination" being like child sex abuse in its magnitude and ability to tarnish and damage a person for life. Several examples include adults who to this day cannot shake off the fear of hell. This hell, Dawkins describes, is a hell full of mythological elements that are simply too far fetched to be believed. Nevertheless, people do believe and when they do so they are simply "damaged" for life. I remember reading "The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce in graduate school, and being scared to bits by that "sermon" chapter on the pains and tortures of eternity in hell. It was so far reaching that I went to see a priest about it.... and this Jesuit priest told me that hell as the church describes it doesn't exist!

Should a child be taught his/her parents' belief system, or should they be allowed to grow up and mature and decide for their own. This, as I see it, is problematic. Dawkins assumes that a child would have enough guidance (religious or otherwise), say, between the ages of 1 to 12 to be able to make up their minds insofar as religion is concerned by the time they reach their teens. If a person is never taught one thing or the other, would they be informed enough to make a decision once they start "thinking for themselves?" That's a difficult question to answer. There is a video on YouTube that caught my attention. It's very short (46 secs) but it packs a punch about religion, atheism and just plain human behavior... check it out.

My object in posting this video is not to side with Dawkins. After reading this book I know for a fact that I will always know and believe in a God. It's as if, despite all the concrete evidence against it, I can't shake the idea of the existence of God in my life. That is not to say that I don't agree with Dawkins in all he says about the destructiveness of religion. But I believe that every killing, torture, or suicide attack in the name of God is not God's problem but humanity's instead. I would be remiss if I didn't show that side of extremism as it exists here in the U.S. (See, I am not just picking on Islam). This HERE is a website (very slow to load) for a fundamentalist Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas. Perhaps you've heard of them. Again, as I see it, this is the sort of thing that Richard Dawkins exposes in "The God Delusion." This form of extremism fueled by religion is about the only thing I agree about with Dawkins, but then again, like I said, that is not God's problem, that's a human problem.

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At 10:41 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

I believe a child can be taught spirituality without the pain. You asked good questions.
You know, for a minute when you said, Last Post, I thought, oh no...
and then I realised what you meant. :-)

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Stefanie said...

Wow, Dawkins is harsh. And so is that video clip. I've got his book and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I like books that make me think and it sounds like this one certainly will.


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