While supporting a campaign by Atheist Ireland to remedy the existing education system, atheist biologist Richard Dawkins recently said that children need to be protected from religious indoctrination in schools.
Speaking to the media ahead of his public address at Trinity College Dublin, Dawkins said, “There is a balancing act and you have to balance the rights of parents and the rights of children and I think the balance has swung too far towards parents. … Children do need to be protected so that they can have a proper education and not be indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in.”
At the press conference, Dawkins went on to explain what happens when parents force their religious views upon their children. According to him, such impositions prevent children from thinking properly for themselves.
“Would you ever speak of a 4-year-old's political beliefs? Hannah is a socialist 4-year-old, Mark a conservative. Who would ever dream of saying such a thing?” Dawkins asked. “Religion is the one exception we all make to the rule: don't label children with the opinions of their parents.”
Speaking of the power of childhood indoctrination, Dawkins said it was a pointless effort to debate with those who give more importance to the Bible than scientific evidence.
“You have to write off those people but you can try to convince younger people to avoid superstition,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins’ speech was part of Origins Project, a series of talks organized by Arizona State University that hopes to mobilize a public understanding of scientific reasoning. While most of Dawkins’ speech focused on Darwinism, genetics and myths related to science, he did not hesitate to respond to questions related to religion.
Dawkins, who is among the most famous atheists in the world, succeeded in drawing a crowd of several hundred people at Edmund Burke Theatre on February 24, despite the passes being priced at a steep £35 (about $52). He was accompanied by Origins Project founder and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss.
The previous day, Dawkins had praised Atheist Ireland for campaigning incessantly for the separation of church and state, at least in the realm of public education.
Dawkins’ appeal for educational reform received support from Krauss too, who said,
“Parents, of course, have concerns and ‘say’ but they don’t have the right to shield their children from knowledge. That is not a right, any more than they have the right to shield their children from healthcare or medicine.”
However, creationist Ken Ham slammed Dawkins for sharing his secular ideas, saying all that the biologist wants is to impose his own religion of atheism on others.
“Dawkins believes that children should be taught evolutionary naturalism as fact. He wants his religion of naturalism imposed on them. So children shouldn't be taught religion by their parents - they should be taught the religion of atheism by their teachers,” Ham wrote in an article titled ”Whose Really (Falsely) Indoctrinating Kids” (sic), which was posted on his ”Answers in Genesis” blog. “All Dawkins is advocating is replacing one religion with another religion.”
Ham labeled Dawkins’ views as inconsistent and even more dangerous.
“Does Dawkins mean that children should be taught the major problems with evolution? Does this mean that children should be shown the evidence that supports the Bible's history? Does this mean that children should learn the difference between historical and observational science? Dawkins definitely wouldn't think so,” Ham wrote.
Referring to Dawkins’ suggestion that the only religion children should learn about in schools is atheism, evolutionary naturalism and nothing else, Ham said such teachings would qualify as indoctrination in a false religion altogether and thus advocate the same thing that Dawkins claims condemn.
Ham also went on to defend why Christians have more faith in the Bible than scientific evidence.
“Well, as biblical creationists, we do start with the Bible and we interpret the scientific evidence in light of what the Bible says. And observational science confirms what God's Word teaches! We aren't against science - we love science. … But because we start with God's Word and Dawkins starts with man's word, we reach different conclusions about the past (historical science),” he wrote.
In conclusion, Ham urged Christian parents to teach their children the Gospel’s truths, as he claimed that their secular counterparts would continue to lure them in the opposite direction.
“I encourage you to be bold in teaching your children to stand on the authority of God's Word from the very beginning. Secularists are working hard at indoctrinating our children, and we need, more than ever, to equip our children with solid answers from God's Word and from science that confirms what the Bible teaches,” he wrote.
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