What will those wacky atheists think up next?

You gotta love ’em for trying. PZ Myers, who is for all practical purposes Richard Dawkins without the cute British accent, is now picking up Dawkins’ argument that raising children in religious environments is child abuse. I have to admit, there are times when I’ve had similar thoughts when running into families who lived under a heavy form of legalism. But, I’ve seen worse in families raised without any rules at all. It might be interesting to poll some juvenile detention facilities to see how many were raised religious as opposed to being simply ignored.

Jesus said (this appears in 3 of the 4 Gospels):

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

Obviously, Christians can make a similar claim about parents who raise their children as atheists, which appears to brings us back to Pascal’s Wager. So, you can place your bets on Jesus, or on Richard Dawkins. The “pot odds,” however, are clearly in favor of following Jesus (not Chris Ferguson, btw).

At some point in the hopefully near future, I want to explore a bit how I think the current aggressive wave of “New Atheism” could be one the signs of the collapse of modernism. Post-modernism (generically speaking, “that which comes after modernism”) has been seen and feared by some Christians as a challenge to Christianity, but I think it’s even more feared by a segment of atheists who are staunch materialists. While they attack Christianity as the most vocal challenge to materialism, the issue is much larger. As polls tend to show, people are becoming less willing to put all of their eggs into a materialistic basket, and are more and more open to some reality which can’t be experienced merely by our five physical senses.

If I’m right, Myers, like Dawkins, may simply be a “voice ‘dying’ in the wilderness.”

2 thoughts on “What will those wacky atheists think up next?”

  1. Well, I’m certainly glad to see that my rss feed and comments are working once again! 😉

    To understand post-modernism, I think you have to consider its origins as an architectural movement which was a rebellion against the ugly Modernist buildings that now pollute our cities. The only thing common between the hundreds of post-modernist philosophies is the rejection of modernism as a worldview. Basically, Western society in general has concluded that modernism has failed. Apart from that, I’d have to agree that much of it is truly “gobbeldy-gook.”

    By the way, save up your money so you can get a copy of The Spiritual Brain when it comes out…

  2. I don’t know how to read the results of those polls, because they rarely have any sort of standard control; and I am not sure to which polls you herein refer. The rhetoric of “child abuse” is perhaps a bit overblown, but the point is that a complex theological understanding of one’s religious beliefs is a bit too much to ask of a child. In Dawkins’ Replies to his critics he is careful to explain that he thinks it just as much an abuse to call a child an atheist child as it is to call a child a Catholic, Protestant or even a Muslim child. They simply don’t have the developmental skills to really know where their faith will lie as they develop. It is more proper to call a child “Child of Catholic Parents, Child of Protestant Parents, Child of Muslim Parents, Child of Atheist Parents.

    Some polls reveal that a majority of prisoners reveal that they believe in some religion or other; and I think you are conflating separate issues with regards to this issue. I can only go by anecdotal evidence, partly because I am not interested enough at this point to search all of teh PLOS for sociological studies of the relative weight of religion and legalistic family raising scaled with neglect. My experience is that many of my Christian friends were not protected from various forms of abuse by their parents’ particular beliefs.

    And their is nothng New about the New Atheism, other than the rapid dissemination of our thoughts and our position has allowed us to be more visible than in the past. Dawkins is not saying anything new that Asimov or Sagan, or even Ingersoll were saying. He and the recent authors of decidedly atheist works are bringing their own perspectives to it, and their books are selling much better than books on atheism did in the past.

    Post-Modernism is attacked as a gobbeldy-gook expression of the idea that any philosophical idea is as valid as the next and each deserves equal weight in the exchange of ideas. It is irritating to atheists as much as the idea that there are independent realities that we must accept which are beyond the scope of our five senses. Take for example the idea that an abstract collection of behavioral patterns such as we refer to as “altruism,” which can have no physical locus in the brain because it is a concept and not an actual physical thing, so we must accept the dualism of the mind and the brain. Such a position is absurd as the idea that since the number “2” is useful it exists independently of our brain’s ability to use it for mathematics.

    It’s not Christianity alone to which the barbs of the atheist are pointed, it is all religion. Christianity feels its sting the strongest because it is so largely interwoven with our western society.

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