Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taking Atheist Activism to the Extreme - Crossing the Line to Big Brotherism

Anyone who has read The Atheist Camel Chronicles knows I am no shrinking violet when it comes to anti-theist activism and calling religious teaching what it is … promulgating superstitious nonsense. But there are limits to what I am willing to do to curb the spread of theist non-think.

I don’t remember when or why I joined a facebook cause entitled “Ban Religious Child Grooming” but evidently I did. I was reminded of this when I received an alert from an administrator about some religious event or organization’s effort to proselytize children. Clicking on the link to the page I read the “about us” section and withdrew from the cause post haste, hopefully not losing a facebook friend or two in so doing.

No one is more aware of the travesty that religious delusion wreaks on civilization. I am well acquainted with the ill effects religious training of children in their formative years has on their acceptance of secular reality, as well as its long term impact on the propagation of the God Virus. And while I applaud their sensitivity and awareness of the ills of religious indoctrination, advocating banning the teaching of anything; any belief system, presumed fact, unproven theory, conspiracy theory, world view, et al, when it is endorsed and approved by the parent guardian of a minor, is a recipe for disaster.

Foundational to the Ban Religious Child Grooming credo is this:

  • Only proven fact should ever be taught as being actual facts. [So much for teaching String Theory]

  • Without religious child grooming the twin towers would still be standing [How could anyone possibly know this? One wonders if that is an actual “ fact” or assumption]

  • Without religious child grooming thousands of wars would never have occurred. [“Thousands”? Is that an actual fact? Sounds like exaggeration at best, hyperbole at worst.]

  • The proven fact of evolution also acts as 100% proof that the biblical accounts of creation are a sham and a deception. [ only if the religionist interprets the creation story literally; if interpreted as a euphemism for natural causes of creation is it still deception, or just a parable?]

  • The age of consent laws and the fraud laws should already be protecting children from religious child grooming, but these crimes are basically ignored. [“Fraud laws”? Would a parent be liable for fraud for proffering Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy to their 5 year old? Is promoting belief in God /gods in and of itself religious child grooming?]

One tends to get on pretty boggy ground when one speaks of “actual fact.” Evolutionary theory has already undergone some minor changes since Darwin’s day. It is likely new discoveries will enhance/change our understanding of the “actual facts” of evolution. Should we ban the teaching of evolutionary theory because it is more certain than not that what we think we know as fact now will be tweaked, corrected and certain details of it proven to be erroneous, thus not “actual fact”?

Last week NASA discovered a new life form on Earth; new bacteria that lives on and reproduces arsenic in place of phosphorous. Up until last week biologists were quite sure that no such life form could exist on Earth, that all life forms shared common chemical compositions which did not include arsenic as a primary source of life sustenance. That fact would be declared wrong, in hindsight and under the proposed ban, such teachings would have been illegal. Every biology book would be guilty of passing on non-fact. I wonder what the statute of limitations would be, and the penalty.

Once upon a time the teaching of a solar centric universe was banned. Proclaiming ones atheism was banned. Reading unpopular books was banned. Practicing certain religions was banned. And not just by religious authority, but by secular governments as well. Banning almost never has the desired effect. All banning achieves is driving the undesired activity underground … the use of illicit drugs and the prominence of prostitution is witness to that.

But beyond this the slippery slope becomes a cliff. If we empower the government to ban religious teaching of children, irrespective of its absurdity and [potential] negative impact on the child and society, we open the door to banning any new thought or hypothesis or unpopular idea. It is Big Brother at his very ugliest and virulent.

I’m all for aggressive activism, but only when rights and freedoms aren’t trashed and the reality of historical precedence aren’t ignored. To do otherwise makes us exactly what we as thinking people despise: intolerant, short sighted, unthinking and dangerous.


Brian said...

I don't disagree with you about how dangerous and wrong it is to ban the teaching of certain ideas, or to teach children there are only a few limited and unjustified ideas required (a la religion), but with reference to the news of arsenic-based bacteria recently reported there are serious questions arising as to whether that science was carried out properly and well.

See the following link: Is NASA's Arsenic-based Life Discovery 'Flim Flam'? and be sure to click on the links to the articles referred to within.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. We don't empower people by denying free thought and the discussion of ideas. As an atheist, I want my children to understand the ideologies and traditions of many religions and belief systems, as well as what we understand to be true scientifically. I also want them to know that the universe if and always will be full of mystery, and while logical deduction is always the best choice, keeping an open mind is equally important.

NewEnglandBob said...

A point of order:

"Last week NASA discovered a new life form on Earth; new bacteria that lives on and reproduces arsenic in place of phosphorous."

No, NASA did not. No, the bacteria was taken to a lab and put into an artificial environment, then they did tests that really proved nothing. They did NOT prove that the arsenic replaced phosphorus in the DNA backbone; it was poorly run experiments.

But that aside, I agree with your assessment in this post. But in addition to allowing parents to teach their children any religious superstitious woo, the public schools should teach about all religions.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks guys. Point taken about the NASA debacle. I wrote the article last week and never revamped it to reflect these findings. Appreciate your pointing it out

longhorn believer said...

The world would be a bewildering place indeed if children are not at least exposed to the fact that religion exists and is a very powerful influence in the world. I agree that they should know about all different kinds of religion from a historical and societal perspective. Also, religion heavily influences artistic expression. Thus, if you are informed on certain Biblical passages it is easier to understand some things you read.

Hump, I agree that the actions this group supports go too far. However, I still agree with the basic principle that children should not be indoctrinated. I have suffered the consequences first hand, and continue to witness the indoctrination of young family relatives. I know that many of my family will continue to live in poverty, their potential gifts to society wasting away because their religion prevents them from even getting a decent education. This is depressing and difficult to watch. I will continue to be a source of differing ideas for them in the hope that maybe some of them will want to pursue their own answers....some day. I guess that is the best that can be done

Dromedary Hump said...

No one would like to see the demise of religious brainwashing of kids more than I. You're correct...the best we can do is be there as a resource, and as a vocal bastion of reason.

krissthesexyatheist said...

One day when i have kids, imagonna introduce all the religions to them, the good and bad parts (and of course the teachings of Team-A). The hard part will be keeping the super brain washed kids and parents at a safe distance. I;ll try and do the opposite of what my parents, and prob everybodys parents, did. hpefully by then (years from now) we will have the secular society that we are striving for. Awesomeness.


Den!s said...

I would teach my kids all about religions but there would be no going to any church services before my kids were able to understand what 'indoctrination' really was. I would feel very much a failure as a parent if a child of mine grew up to choose religion over reason.

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Hump,
I wanted to take this time and wish you and everyone who reads and participates on this most excellent blog a Happy Holiday that includes a Season's Greetings of the Winter Solstice from my Holy Oak Tree.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks Eng. back at ya!