Saturday, December 22, 2012
Firstly, Dawkins view of Catholic theology is terribly flawed and incomplete. What he presents is only a weak caricature of Catholic Theology and focuses on the aspect of hell. Then he weaves that in with stories of the stereotypical pedophile priest. He reveals he was fondled once by a Latin schoolteacher. He doesn't bother to clarify, so the reader can assume the Latin Schoolteacher was a Catholic Priest in his spare time.
So the nub of his argument is that it is child abuse to teach children the Catholic religion because it is a form of mental abuse to scare people about going to hell. That form of mental abuse is worse, he suggests, than the sexual abuse, and he'd be all for the ruin of the church on lawsuits alone if he didn't hate lawyers slightly more.
He has no end of people stepping forward to document their mental abuse centred on the threat of going to hell, and therefore, all his arguments about Catholicism are supposedly irrefutable.
So let's try a little experiment. Let's imagine Richard Dawkins has won and there are no religions in the world anymore. We just have atheists.
Would children still be sexually abused? Indeed. It's not religion that is responsible for child abuse, it is perverted people, and religion is no special indicator.
Would children be subjected to mental cruelty? Indeed. The threats of the bogeyman would be another example of the "going to hell" tactic. Throw in threats of "tell anyone of this abuse and your brother/sister/parent/family will be killed/hurt/blame you for this information.
When looking at the total picture of child abuse, both physical and mental, the pattern will emerge that some people use scare tactics or physical cruelty to get their way. It doesn't matter that Catholic theology teaches love and forgiveness, and would classify such threats of hell made to children in an improper way a grave sin in itself - what actually matters here is that some people will show a tendency to twist anything they can to get the advantage they want.
There are of course varying degrees and varying motives of this sin. Threats of all sorts are made by basically good parents and teachers under stress where on reflection they pushed a little too hard. Richard Dawkins will not end this kind of abuse by focusing on the Catholic Church anymore than if he made it illegal to threaten children with the bogeyman, or the monster in the cupboard or the fact that Mrs Hammersmith, two doors down eats little children if they stray into her back yard.
I'd go as far to say that such bigoted tripe Richard Dawkins peddles against Catholicism no more than the same sort of scare tactics he is supposedly railing against - full of misinformation and wifully neglecting to provide the full picture. Will he be the first to suggest that there ought to be a law against Atheists preaching such hate? Who knows, maybe he will evolve?
Link: Richard Dawkins - Religion is child abuse
Postscript: We will leave aside the discussion of genuine theology where we learn more about what hell is, and how to avoid it whilst learning the full aspect of . Consider though if I made the argument that in liberal atheist land, it is immoral to suggest that looking both ways before crossing the road is prudent. Also, telling a 13 year old that condoms work 100% of the time and you can never, ever get a disease or infection if you use a condom is a moral thing to teach. But feel free to bring this up in the comments if I don't get around to a post covering that type of discussion.