Nathan Bond's TART Remarks

Religion: Respect? Ridicule!

Suffer little children

with 11 comments

July 2007
(Edited September 2007)

Frank: She was a little brunette of Jewish persuasion
Hawkeye: I wonder who persuaded her to be that.
[1]

To deceive a child is to compound the possibility for venal adulthood… and to champion a recurring injustice for all times.

Much has been written and said about religion and children. I do not wish to restate what abler authors have already indicated to be nothing but abuse. Children deserve protection against both physical and mental abuse, yet I will argue that an emphasis on the prevention of mental abuse may have the very particular benefit of a physically safer world for future children, resulting from less fundamentalist ideological policies and decision making by future adults that were so protected against mental abuse as children.

I intend to further emphasise that such future social betterment can be promoted by curbing an innate puerile “naïve physics” and “naïve psychology”[2] by boldly teaching Darwinian evolution and indicating that the God-hypothesis is an illegitimate world view that can not hold its own against natural selection.

I have unbearable pity for the suffering of children. This anxiety, in deference to that great social commentator, Bertrand Russell, blows me hither and tither… over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.[3] I shall have done nothing; achieved nothing, if I do not at least share considered perspectives on a roadmap to a better world for my children and their generation.

These were my thoughts as I stared, incredulously, at the REUTERS press photograph on October 1, 2004 – an Iraqi father carrying his dead son into the Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad after a string of suicide bombs killed 35 children and wounded scores of others as US troops handed out candy at a government-sponsored celebration to inaugurate a new sewage plant in the city’s western al-Amel neighbourhood. It was the largest death toll of children in any insurgent attack since the Iraq conflict began…

Children[4] are not allowed to vote[5] – not allowed, by law, to participate in the election of individuals that will make and enforce laws that impact on their lives.

Children may not consent to sex. The median age of consent range from 14 to 16 years.[6] South African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Member of Parliament, and spokesperson on Justice matters, Steven Swart, expressed severe reservations on the lowering of the age of consent (to 16) in a speech on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill on 16 November 2006.[7]

In an article on the website Frontline Fellowship[8], Swart says, “It is utterly outrageous that twelve[9] to sixteen year olds, most of whom will not have reached puberty, should legally be able to give their consent to older children who want to exploit them sexually.”

Children may not enter binding contracts without parental guidance.

Children may not buy liquor or cigarettes in South Africa under the age of 18.

Children may not marry, without special ministerial permission, before the age of 18.

Swart insightfully continues, “It is significant that the proposed Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill seeks to lift the age for purchasing cigarettes from 16 to 18 years in the belief that smoking cigarettes is harmful to a child’s health. It must be inferred from this amendment that the government agrees that a 16 year old teenager is less able to decide on long term health implications of smoking than an 18 year old.”

Children are not allowed even to buy Lottery tickets.

How can it possibly be socially acceptable to encourage juvenile religious commitment? Children simply do not have the ability to identify their religious identity.

Children should be protected from particular ideologies. It is unconscionable – nay ridiculous – to even consider depicting children as Keynesian, and, in some Monty Pythonesque skit, school them to tolerate “minorities”: Monetarist or Adam Smithian children.[10]

I submit that the litmus test for the ability of children to decide their religious convictions may be represented by the fact that most every child attending, says the Anglican Church, has Anglican parents, and so do “Catholic children” and “Dutch Reformed children”. Had children the ability and the opportunity to decide their spiritual convictions, one would have thought an even spread of child worshippers among available denominations possible – expected, even. The fact that such even spread is not evident suggests that children merely follow the overt, and even covert, dictates of their parents.

Further suggestive indication of a child’s inability to decide religious conviction, is the fact that most all children born in the “West” are Christian, and those born in Israel are of the Jewish faith, Arabian children turn out to be Moslem, Indian children Hindu or Muslim…

It is abundantly clear that children have as much freedom to choose their religion as they have in choosing their culture or their language – they fall in with their parents.

But… is it really dangerous to expose children to religion?

Nicolas Humphrey,[11] in addressing moral and religious education, refers especially to the education a child receives at home, where parents are allowed – even expected – to determine for their children what counts as truth and falsehood, right and wrong.

He says, “Children… have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas–no matter who these other people are. Parents, correspondingly, have no god-given license to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.

“In short, children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.

“That’s the negative side of what I want to say. But there will be a positive side as well. If children have a right to be protected from false ideas, they have too a right to be succoured by the truth. And we as a society have a duty to provide it. Therefore we should feel as much obliged to pass on to our children the best scientific and philosophical understanding of the natural world – to teach, for example, the truths of evolution and cosmology, or the methods of rational analysis – as we already feel obliged to feed and shelter them.”

South Africa has a proud and resplended constitutional and legal framework for the protection of children, the Children’s Amendment Bill, banning or regulating a range of cultural, social and religious practices in order to protect children from harmful consequences, deserving special mention.

This body of law is severely handicapped by the general lawlessness of society at large, inefficient policing… and the sweeping subscription to religious dictate: some 97% of South African’s believe in a deity of some sort; 80% in the ancient Judaic tribal god JHWH, nowadays generally known as… “God“.[12]

Yet, given the enviable jurisprudential paradigm, the memory of that horrifying Apartheid aberrance and the incredulous eventual commitment to egalitarianism, albeit elusive, South Africa should be a leading nation in protecting children from harmful ideology – such as religion.

Controversial Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly, probably inadvertently, sparked a right lively row on children’s rights when he said that many of the problems in the USA (and the world generally) were the direct result of rap music and video games.

A highly entertaining video[13] of a clearly coaxed and considerably coached 8 year old girl, both excruciatingly impudent (persnickety even) and surprisingly theatrical, was published on YouTube – telling O’Reilly off in no uncertain and perspicacious terms. “It’s religion, actually”, is the thrust of the snippet.

O’Reilly countered with an insert on Fox Television (Bill O’Reilly: The Rise of the Machines[14]) lambasting the 8 year olds parents for allowing their child to be so “brainwashed”. Joining O’Reilly on the insert was Child Advocate Wendy Murphy, arguing that the parents were guilty of nothing less than child molestation.

O boy! Murphy’s tirade, methinks, is conclusive (legal) evidence that religious instruction of children amounts, in fact, to criminal child molestation! Her philippic needs be evaluated also with reference to the recent Jesus Camp initiative, reported in TART Remarks, October 2, 2006 – God’s Boot Camp. If this is not child molestation, nothing is: Jesus Camp – Rachel[15] & Jesus Camp: Indoctrination[16].

Richard Dawkins argues compellingly on the mental abuse that is religious instruction to children.[17]

In an example that freezes the heart, Dawkins tells of an abused, a doubly abused, correspondent[18] that wrote:

Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as ‘yucky’, while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest – but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to Hell. It gave me nightmares.

When I wrote in the Gauteng Afrikaans Daily, Beeld, in February 2005, on the havoc wreathed by religion on the receptive minds of children, I received numerous responses from people pouring their hearts out, saying that they recognised their very own adolescent lives in my statements.

“In any culture, subculture, or family”, I recalled the devastating words of Nathaniel Branden, “in which belief is valued above thought, and self-surrender is valued above self-expression, and conformity is valued above integrity, those who preserve their self-esteem are likely to be heroic exceptions.”[19]

Brandon continues, “If, in any culture, children are taught, ‘We are all equally unworthy in the sight of God’, if, in any culture, children are taught, ‘You are born in sin and are sinful by nature’, if children are given a message that amounts to ‘Don’t think, don’t question, ‘believe‘, if children are given a message that amounts to ‘Who are you to place your mind above that of the priest, the minister, the rabbi?’, if children are told, ‘If you have value it is not because of anything you have done or could ever do, it is only because God loves you’, if children are told, ‘Submission to what you cannot understand is the beginning of morality’, if children are instructed, ‘Do not be “wilful”, self-assertiveness is the sin of pride’, if children are instructed, ‘Never think that you belong to yourself’, if children are informed, ‘In any clash between your judgement and that of your religious authorities, it is your authorities you must believe’, if children are informed, ‘Self-sacrifice is the foremost virtue and the noblest duty’, then consider what will be the likely consequences for the practice of living consciously, or the practice of self-assertiveness, or any of the other pillars of healthy self-esteem.”

To expose children to religious dogma is nothing but abuse and molestation. It is criminal.

It is elementary, my dear wowser: Had children of Islamic parents not been exposed to religious instruction, no measure of political messianism will have succeeded, and continue to succeed, in producing a line of extremist would-be suicide bombers beating down the door for the privilege to be detonated, for that passport to paradise with its concupiscence and its spizzerinctum – It’s religion, stupid![20] Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.[21]

Any religion, meme, totemism, philosophy or je ne sais quois that propagates the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end should be rejected with contempt. Said Albert Camus, “If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.”

No child should have to suffer the ignominy of religious instruction. As children should be protected against pornography, violence, substance abuse, sexual abuse, physical harm, hunger, the elements and want of schooling, so they should be protected, even by law, from the insidious nemesis that is religion.

Says Dawkins, “Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them – given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by – to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades.”[22]

To teach children to venerate that for which no evidence exists is to subvert the pith of education: To install the discipline to objectively evaluate information and evidence in order to arrive at informed decisions. This is the very basis of morality, of ethics; the essence without which the very fibre of society is compromised and people are condemned to a Dictatorship of Nonsense where unjustified and unjustifiable beliefs arrogate to be the norm.

An inevitable resistance to science remains one of the most destructive consequences of religious instruction.[23] This resistance to science has important social implications, because a scientifically ignorant public is unprepared to evaluate policies about global warming, vaccination, genetically modified organisms, stem cell research and cloning.[24]

Bloom and Skolnick Weisberg concludes that resistance to science is particularly exaggerated in societies where non-scientific ideologies have the advantages of being both grounded in common sense and transmitted by trustworthy sources. They refer to recent psychological research indicating that babies are not “blank slates”; even 1-year-olds possess a rich understanding of both the physical world (a “naïve physics”) and the social world (a “naïve psychology”).[25]

Developmental data, argues Bloom and Skolnick Weisberg, suggest that resistance to science will arise in children when scientific claims clash with early emerging, intuitive expectations. This resistance will persist through adulthood if the scientific claims are contested within a society, and will be especially strong if there is a non-scientific alternative that is rooted in common sense and championed by people who are taken as reliable and trustworthy. This is the current situation in the United States with regard to the central tenets of neuroscience and of evolutionary biology. These clashes with intuitive beliefs about the immaterial nature of the soul and the purposeful design of humans and other animals – and, in the United States, these intuitive beliefs are particularly likely to be endorsed and transmitted by trusted religious and political authorities.

In commenting[26] on their Science article, on Edge.com, Bloom and Skolnick Weisberg stress “that this failure to defer to scientists in these domains does not necessarily reflect stupidity, ignorance, or malice. In fact, some skepticism toward scientific authority is clearly rational…

“But this rejection of science would be mistaken in the end. The community of scientists has a legitimate claim to trustworthiness that other social institutions, such as religions and political movements, lack. The structure of scientific inquiry involves procedures, such as experiments and open debate, that are strikingly successful at revealing truths about the world. All other things being equal, a rational person is wise to defer to a geologist about the age of the earth rather than to a priest or to a politician.”

The value of nurturing a scientific paradigm is inestimable: The value of understanding evolution, for instance, argues Edith Dempster and Wayne Hugo, lies beyond its importance in biology, since it provides access to a way of thinking that can be applied in everyday life, as, for example, in the criminal justice system, where several lines of evidence are considered before a verdict is reached.[27]

Many young people (Dempster and Hugo refers to American youth) do not accept the validity of evolutionary theory, partly as a result of their own strong preconceptions, and also because the relative merits of Darwinian evolution and creationism results in school-age American children being denied information that is necessary for a fundamental understanding of science.

Evolution is the highest ordering principle in Biology, argues Dempster and Hugo. Evolution answers questions about ultimate causation of form and functioning at all levels of life. Its introduction into the school curriculum will provide children with access to ways of thinking that make them more enlightened citizens, and also prepares them for tertiary-level study. The South African school curriculum before 1994 ignored evolution because it conflicted with the religious beliefs of the Apartheid government.

Dempster and Hugo identifies content statements that relate to evolution in the most recent Natural Sciences Learning Area Statement (Grade R-9) and the Life Sciences subject statement (Grade 10-12) for South African schools. The analysis shows that key foundational concepts are developed in the Natural Sciences learning area, but the term “evolution” is absent. In the Life Sciences subject, evolution, speciation, natural selection, common descent and gradualism are introduced in Grade 12. Both curriculum statements emphasize the need to recognise alternative ways of knowing, including faith-based and indigenous knowledge systems.

While the curriculum statements are undoubtedly an improvement on the old syllabus, the authors conclude that they fall short of developing a high level of knowledge and skills and they will fail to serve the social justice imperative which seeks to empower the previously disempowered sections of the population.

By denying learners, especially those from impoverished environments, meaningful access to higher-order concepts and ways of thinking, the social justice imperative, which frames the entire National Curriculum Statement, is endangered.

It is indeed possible to teach biology at the descriptive and functional level, but to do so in the absence of Darwinian evolution would be to ignore the central concept of modern biology. The explanatory power of evolution provides a framework for the understanding of the underlying principles and processes involved in all levels of organisation in life, from molecules to entire ecosystems.

The way of thinking exemplified by the Darwinian revolution is termed “conscilience of inductions”, and is based on disparate lines of evidence leading to a common explanatory framework.

Yet, the value of understanding evolution lies beyond its importance in biology, since it provides access to a way of thinking that can be applied in everyday life, as, for example, in the criminal justice system, where several lines of evidence are considered before a verdict is reached.

The ongoing debate about the relative merits of Darwinian evolution and Creationism in the United States denies school children information that is necessary for a fundamental understanding of science.

Evolution through natural selection has remained within the domain of a few intellectuals and has not permeated the general public’s understanding and interpretation of life. A bifurcation in biological knowledge occurred with academics pursuing its cutting edge dimensions, while learners remained caught within outdated material that pointed them in completely the wrong direction in terms of the highest ordering concept in biological thinking.

Evolutionary biologist, David Sloan Wilson, argues that if the evidence for Darwinian evolution is presented clearly enough and often enough, any reasonable person will come around to the Darwinian view.[28] I suggest that this postulate be put to the test – at least to the test of time: Let’s expose children to the “odd idea” that the origin of life is a mysterious necessity. That while religion offers supranumerous diverse ancient myths for the origin of life, science does not claim conclusive answers… yet. That it is disparaging to premise god(s) simply because insufficient data and insight currently impedes the definition of Origin. That life may have the appearance of a miracle, but that life is a necessity.

It is said that Wittgenstein once asked why people of the 15th century thought that the sun revolved around the earth. The reply was that it appeared, as it still does, as if the sun was moving around the earth.

“And”, retorted Wittgenstein, “what would it have looked like if the earth revolved around the sun?”

The point, of course, is that things are not always as it appears. The “naïve physics” and “naïve psychology” of Bloom and Skolnick Weisberg must be replaced by the “evolution (which) answers questions about ultimate causation of form and functioning at all levels of life” of Dempster and Hugo… Both actually and metaphorically. And this mind shift is a function – the ultimate function – of education!

Nobel Laureate Christian du Duve argues that certain necessities are intrinsic to the universe. Such necessities were the result of strict constraints operating within a universe of unbending physical laws and in such a way that life and conscious intelligence had no choice but to arise.[29]

To explicitly teach the principles of Darwinian evolution at school will expose children of all backgrounds to one of the key organizing principles underlying the modern view of life and our world.

I am inevitably drawn to the views of Bertrand Russell: “The prevention of free inquiry is unavoidable so long as the purpose of education is to produce belief rather than thought, to compel the young to hold positive opinions on doubtful matters rather than to let them see the doubtfulness and be encouraged to independence of mind. Education ought to foster the wish for truth, not the conviction that some particular creed is the truth.”[30]

Russell’s daughter, Katharine Tait, remembers her father’s words, words which found practical application in the lives of his own: “A generation educated in fearless freedom will have wider and bolder hopes than are possible to us, who still have to struggle with the superstitious fears that lie in wait for us below the level of consciousness. Not we, but the free men and women whom we shall create, must see the new world, first in their hope, and then at last in the full splendour of reality.”[31]

Robert Fulghum makes a compelling argument in claiming that all he really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be he learned in kindergarten. Wisdom, he says, was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.[32]

I suggest that children be told about Romulus and Remus. About Apollo and Daphne. Teach them the traditions of their peers – the stories of Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Aboriginals. Teach children tolerance and respect: Don’t take other people’s stuff. Put stuff back where you’ve found it. Think. Clean up your own mess. Share. Do not cheat. Don’t hit people. Brush before bed and after breakfast. Apologise if you have hurt someone. Wash up before meals. Think. Flush. Learn something every day. Draw some and paint some and sing some and dance some and play some and work some every day. Think. Look before crossing. Dogs die. Cats die. So do grannies. Even dads sometimes die. And little sisters may die too. Think. Santa, the Tooth Faerie and God are mostly beneficial… but they are not real. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: Never do anything that may harm another and always do something that may benefit another, if you can do so without harming yourself.

The specific challenge is to ensure a future generation of leaders uncontaminated by the pre-scientific embellishments of historical myth believed to be inspired by gods.

Human perspective was irrevocably translated when Darwin made it possible for intelligent people not to be religious. This dynamic was matured by Richard Dawkins who made it impossible for intelligent people to be religious.

Once chemistry was established as a discipline, alchemy was simply no longer an “alternative”. Once astronomy was established as a discipline, astrology was simply no longer an “alternative”. Once neurology was established as a discipline, phrenology was simply no longer an “alternative”. After Copernicus certainly a flat earth ceased to be an “alternative”.

Once Darwinism finally explained the redundancy of God, God was no longer an alternative. Darwinism represents, with deference to Sam Harris, a wholesale exchange of ignorance, at its most rococo, for genuine knowledge.

Says Richard Dawkins, “There has probably never been a more devastating rout of popular belief by clever reasoning than Charles Darwin’s destruction of the argument from design.”[33]

Darwin provided explanations of our existence that completely rejected supernatural agents.[34] Verily, verily, I say unto thee, whomsoever considers “God” as an “alternative” perspective on life and the universe, shall be cast into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.[35]

Shall we pussy-foot around the lunacy that is “belief in God”?

No! We dare not!

What is needed is to rise to the one supreme challenge that faces men and women: to cultivate fearless minds.

O, for fearless minds!

Regretably, the very adults presently shaping the minds of children are themselves the victims of the intimidation protested in this paper. One can but hope that calls such as this modest cry may arrest sentient adults long enough to decide a change for the betterment of the future. To this end I plead, I adjure; I can but hope…


[1] M*A*S*H, “The Bus”[2] Bloom, Paul. 2004. Descartes’ Baby. Basic Books. New York. (In Bloom, Paul and Skolnick Weisberg, Deena. 2007.)[3] Russell stated that three passions have governed his life… Autobiography, Unwin Paperbacks, Boston, 1978, p9.[4] A child is identified, according to the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is someone under the age of thirteen (13).[5] Historically, 21 years of age was regarded as the age of majority in most countries and included the acquisition of voting rights for those otherwise entitled to them. There were however some countries, particularly those in Scandinavia, which maintained voting ages higher than 21.

During the 20th century a large number of countries reduced the voting age from 21, with most lowering it to 18. The majority of these reductions were immediate, but in some cases a final reduction to 18 was preceded by one to a higher age (e.g. 20). Exceptions to the voting age were also provided for in some countries on the basis of service given in conflicts such as the First and Second World Wars.

Czechoslovakia was early to act, reducing its age to 18 in 1946, and by 1968 a total of 17 states had made the reduction.[1] A large number of countries, particularly in Western Europe, reduced their voting ages to 18 during the 1970s. The United Kingdom was the first such country to do so, in 1970. It led a swift and widespread sweep of the world’s leading democracies, with countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and France following soon afterwards. By the end of the 20th century 18 had become by far the most common age at which citizens acquired the right to vote. (From Wikipedia: Voting age)

[6] Waites, Matthew. 2005. The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-2173-3. (From Wikipedia: Age of consent)

[7] ACDP Press Release. 16 November 2006.

[8] Swart, Steven. Religious freedoms at risk in South Africa. Frontline Fellowship.

[9] Proposed amendment to South Africa’s Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill of 2003: “A person who commits an act which causes penetration with a child … below the age of 16 years is, despite the consent of that child to the commission of such an act, guilty of the offence of having committed such an act with a child… ” {§9(1)}

An exception would exist “…if a marriage existed between that person and a child referred to in this section, unless the child concerned was below the age of 12 years at the time when that offence in terms of this section was allegedly committed.” {§9(7)}

[10] Compare Dawkins, Richard. 23 February, 2001. No faith in the absurd. Times Education Supplement (London). p17.

[11] Humphrey, Nicholas. 1998. What Shall We Tell the Children? In Williams, W., ed. 1998. The Values of Science: Offord Amnesty Lectures 1997. Boulder, CO: Westview.

[12] Morgenrood, Wendy. 20 May, 2007. Rapport. Só glo ons… p19

[13] YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8x14cLGh5o

[14] YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzed_v77bkk

[15] YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeUz5ZihaqA

[16] YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PUQATCcQ0A

[17] Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The God Delusion. Bantam Press. London. pp311-344.

[18] 2006:317-318. She was sexually abused by her parish priest in his car. And, around the same time, a little school friend of hers, who had tragically died, went to hell because she was a Protestant. Or so she had been led to believe…

[19] Branden, Nathaniel. 1994. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Bantam Books. New York. p296

[20] Bond, Nathan. December 2006. It’s religion, stupid. The Nathan Bond website.

[21] Attributed to Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

[22] 2006: 308.

[23] Bloom, Paul and Skolnick Weisberg, Deena. 2007. Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science. Science 316. 996-997.

[24] Nowotny, H. 2005. Science 308. 1117. (In Bloom, Paul and Skolnick Weisberg, Deena. 2007.)

[25] Bloom, Paul. 2004.

[26] Bloom, Paul and Skolnick Weisberg, Deena. Why Do Some People Resist Science? Edge.com

[27] Dempster, Edith, R. and Hugo, Wayne. 2006. Introducing the concept of evolution into South African schools. South African Journal of Science 102-112.

[28] Wilson, David S. 2007. Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives. Delacorte Press. New York.

[29] Du Duve, Christian. 1995. Vital Dust: Life as a Cosmic Imperative. Basic Books. New York.

[30] Russell, Bertrand. 1980. Principles of Social Reconstruction. Unwin. London. p107.

[31] Tait, Katharine. My Father Bertrand Russell. Victor Gollancz. London. 1976:59.

[32] Fulghum, Robert L. 1986. All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. The Ballantine Publishing Group. New York. Here are the things Fulghum claims to have learned in kindergarten: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

[33] Dawkins, Richard. 2006: 79.

[34] Suskind, Leonard. 2006. The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. New York. Little, Brown. 17 (Quoted in Dawkins. 2006:118).

[35] Based broadly, quite incredulously broadly, I should say, on Mathew 25.xxx

Written by Nathan Bond

July 1, 2007 at 17:42

11 Responses

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  1. This site is not the fun it used to be. Where have all the nut cases gone?

    Shazee

    February 17, 2014 at 09:03

  2. Check out “The rise Atheism? ” And “The logic of religion” on NEWS24.
    I found the second one very entertaining.

    Shazee

    August 30, 2012 at 10:51

  3. But of course it’s abuse!

    Nathan Bond

    January 22, 2011 at 06:51

  4. A new trend that has hit the church “Siritual teen boot camps”. They say life changing, intimacy with God, etc. When my daugher enrolled at a prominent church in SA on the adverts of “growth in Christ”. She was born in the ministry,only child,homeschool, as our ministry travels.
    We as parents felt the need for her to emosionally and socially interact with other youngsters. Leaving her there she found herself to be in a “spiritual boot camp” the leaders were manipulative, harsh, broke a youngsters cellphone using strong language. She went to the leader to share that she is for sure in the wrong place they belittled her by saying, they saw that she was a “stuck together thing” and that we her parents will be accountable to God for not letting her finish. Is this not abuse. It’s happening in our churches

    Isobel Steyn

    January 21, 2011 at 21:08

  5. Mary said: If you want to see God, simply open your eyes and free your mind”

    Yes , that is what we call imagination .

    DW

    November 16, 2008 at 16:29

  6. Mary

    No, we should not impose… we should teach our children to think and not to accept Bronze Age tarradiddles as eternal truth.

    Nathan Bond

    November 16, 2008 at 14:01

  7. Isn’t the writer contradicting himself by saying that we should not impose on our children the religious beliefs we have and instead impose on them a bunch of scientific theories and philosophies, which are by all means lacking of truth and credibility for the very simple fact that they change over time as new discoveries are made, which refute old theories and philosophies. So the writer wants us to teach our kids whatever “stylish” version of truth present in our days, even if they turn out to be wrong a few years from now. So he wants us to depend on a vriable, that is always being questioned and will always evolve until the end of time, instead of depending on a fixed truth, which does not change by time or conditions, but rather glow more obviously as credible as time goes by. Indeed some religious views are destructive, but i am talking about Christianity here, which is by no means, abusive or mythical, as God proves it to be true every single day.
    “If you want to see God, simply open your eyes and free your mind”

    Mary

    November 16, 2008 at 13:45

  8. Carl
    No, I did not attend Asbury but your fellow seminarian must have been a great guy…

    Nathan Bond

    June 25, 2008 at 06:00

  9. Just came across your name by accident and wondered if you are the same Nathan Bond who attended Asbury Seminary with me in the lat 40.s.

    Blessings,

    Carl

    Carl

    June 25, 2008 at 00:56

  10. Nathan, I grew up as a Christian and in no way do I feel abused and I am thankfull for the understanding, of God and religion I have, so their is no way, that I can believe the nonsence that Darwin has written. He must have missed something, somewhere during his youth. When I became of age, I was free to chose, to be part of religion or not. My children must make their own choices in life, as I cannot live their life for them.
    There is life and there is Christ, who is “life”. The “life” Christ, is for me more glorius, than life without Christ. I know the reality of Christ and I know the reality of life. Maybe Darwin just had a bad experience or maybe his head has swollen, as those of the Scribes and Phârisee’s. Maybe he just hasn’t found the real truth, in the Bible.

    Hans Matthysen

    June 23, 2008 at 22:25

  11. I think that it is enormously beneficial to teach children the values learned throughout history. Mythology supplies a vast vault of parables to this end. Fight against all odds, like Prometheus and David. Love and care for people, like Jesus. But to reify such tales? That is unfair and mendacious at the very best, and damning in reality, as it indeed has proven to be, given the results of socio-political decisions of adults who have been subjected to nonsense as children.
    Will the world be a better place without religion? It can’t get much worse, can it? I am confident that the world will indeed be a better place without religion. I address this issue in It’s religion, stupid! (See the Pages column on the right.)
    Want a spiritual experience? Look up into the night sky and back through time and space at the magnificence that is the universe and life. Everything that has the appearance of magic, yet is the result of indifference – it’s not there for the exclusive purpose of sustaining Homo sapiens sapiens, deserving by the death of some deity on its behalf. Forget about “God” and “Allah” and “Vishnu”… just bask in the glorious reality of life.

    Nathan Bond

    November 24, 2007 at 07:53


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