Jerry Coyne’s authoritarianism

Jerry Coyne posts the following picture

And then asks:

Dawkins has taken flak for characterizing religious indoctrination of children as “child abuse.”  Well, look at this picture and deny it.

Easy.  I deny it.  I can deny it because I value evidence and reason.  The evidence shows us that true child abuse – physical, sexual, and/or emotional – has detectable effects on the child as he/she becomes an adult.  Put simply, someone who survives child abuse will likely go through life suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Abuse changes the brain and the body.  Those who have been abused are likely to have psychological problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and more.  They are also more likely to suffer from immune system and digestive disorders (not surprising given how these are tied into the nervous system).  There is no evidence that holding that sign, or even being taught the message of that sign, will result in such disorders.

Whether or not a child is abused is dependent on how the child is treated, not what the child is taught. 

The mistake that Coyne and Dawkins make is in wanting to substitute a moral claim with a clinical/medical claim.  They would be on very solid ground in saying it is wrong to teach your children to murder others for their beliefs.  But because they are atheists who believe there is no objective essence to such morality claims, they need something stronger than morality – a claim of child abuse.  Thus, they hope the emotions stirred up by such a picture will cause people to abandon their critical thinking and become more sympathetic to this position:

Somehow—and this will never happen, of course—it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief.

So the solution to some Muslim parents teaching their child to “behead all those who insult the prophet” is to borrow from Soviet ideology and make all religious upbringing illegal.

Jerry Coyne has just shown us his inner, authoritarian nature.  He is a man who claims to have some great commitment to evidence and liberal, democratic ideals, yet he shows no respect for the need for evidence and adopts an authoritarian stand.  In other words, standard Gnu hypocrisy.  Of course this makes sense, as it further illustrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Gnu atheism.  Given the Gnus have no objective basis for morality, they must resort to raw power to enforce their views.  And that’s what we have here.   That’s what we had in the old Soviet Union.

If he wants to promote such authoritarianism, why doesn’t he at least make an effort to think more rationally about it?  That if, if you really feel the need to make this illegal, then simply make it illegal to teach your children it is okay to murder other people.

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22 Responses to Jerry Coyne’s authoritarianism

  1. Bilbo says:

    “…then simply make it illegal to teach your children it is okay to murder other people.”

    I’m wondering if we currently have such laws or policies here in the U.S. If someone is reported to child protective services for teaching this, can they lose custody of their children?

    If we don’t have such policies, should we have such policies?

  2. Crude says:

    So the solution to some Muslim parents teaching their child to “behead all those who insult the prophet” is to borrow from Soviet ideology and make all religious upbringing illegal.

    Sure. Let’s start with Camp Quest.

    Let’s also start with parents who don’t believe it’s morally wrong to behead someone for believing something you disapprove of – either on the grounds that moral wrongs don’t objectively exist, or because they believe that science has shown that executing such people may result in the sort of world they desire.

    There goes a good share of Gnu children, few though they are.

  3. Crude says:

    I also think the reflexive response from Coyne and company would be to focus on hypothetical extreme cases of religious upbringing. Say, a mother who repeatedly screams at their child, whenever they do something wrong, that they’re going to burn in hell for what they did – often real innocent or incidental things.

    Of course, the obvious problem would be that the driver in that case wouldn’t be religion, but some crazy abuse of religion. Screaming that the police would come and arrest them and put them in prison would hypothetically be harmful too, but that wouldn’t be a good reason to forbid children being taught about laws and police officers.

  4. eveysolara says:

    Im reminded of the classic star trek episode (thanks to Netflix) where they encountered a planet convergent with earth history except that authoritarian Asia won the day and western society were reduced to barbarians.

    Teach your children about freedom, about the golden rule, and the likelihood that your society will evolve positively increases. Try to force it with phasers and other advanced technology and you will see epic fail.

  5. Michael says:

    Teach your children about freedom, about the golden rule, and the likelihood that your society will evolve positively increases. Try to force it with phasers and other advanced technology and you will see epic fail.

    Indeed. And that is precisely why the Soviet Union collapsed. Atheism is a shallow worldview that inevitably collapses into nihilism. Might makes right is only a temporary stop gap as sooner or later the mighty become weakened.

  6. Might makes right is only a temporary stop gap as sooner or later the mighty become weakened.

    I think I can agree with this as a general though trite truism! Like Soviet-style communism, Catholicism loses its intellectual appeal when there is no threat from the inquisition. Would Islam have so much impact if it weren’t the state religion and where apostasy may still be punishable by death?

  7. Crude says:

    While Alan is incorrect in his examples, I think he’s correct in the basic thrust of his comment – Coyne’s religious faith (Gnuism), and certainly Coyne himself, are mimicking theocratic Islam. He wants to use the state apparatus to enforce his beliefs, which really makes him little different from a two-bit al-Qaeda mullah at the end of the day.

  8. Alan Fox says:

    [Coyne] wants to use the state apparatus to enforce his beliefs, which really makes him little different from a two-bit al-Qaeda mullah at the end of the day.

    Nonsense. Like me and most sane people, Jerry Coyne wants a secular state that respects and guarantees the right of all citizens to free thought and expression. Equating that with the behaviour of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists would be libellous if it weren’t so laughable.

  9. Crude says:

    Nonsense. Like me and most sane people, Jerry Coyne wants a secular state that respects and guarantees the right of all citizens to free thought and expression.

    So, you’ve managed to twist “respects and guarantees the right of all citizens to free thought and expression” into “it should be illegal for parents to raise their children in their religious faith”.

    Two questions: considering Jerry Coyne explicitly rejects free will, how in the world does he guarantee a right to free thought and expression?

    Second, how long should the penalty be for, say… orthodox jewish parents found raising their son or daughter in their religious faith?

    5 years? 10? Or shall the state be merciful, and only cut off a hand?

  10. Michael says:

    Nonsense. Like me and most sane people, Jerry Coyne wants a secular state that respects and guarantees the right of all citizens to free thought and expression.

    Wrong. Here is what Jerry Coyne wrote:

    Somehow—and this will never happen, of course—it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief.

    Anyone who thinks it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief does NOT want a state that respects and guarantees the right of all citizens to free thought and expression.

  11. Michael says:

    Second, how long should the penalty be for, say… orthodox jewish parents found raising their son or daughter in their religious faith?

    Great question. I too would like the Gnus to explain what the penalty should be for religious indoctrination.

  12. Alan Fox says:

    Indoctrination is a form of mental abuse where it involves restricting access to knowledge.

  13. Zia says:

    What’s your definition of knowledge?

  14. Raonoc says:

    And where exactly is the contradiction in instilling religious beliefs in a child and in allowing him to question them and possibly reject them as he gets older? If there is none, and if you’re still adamant in thinking that it’s mental abuse, then your position entails that saddling a child with any kind of metaphysical or epistemological view of the world is abusive, because it “restricts access” to other forms of knowledge.

  15. Just wondering…how much jail time will I get in Coyne’s world for teaching my kids about the Eucharist?

    Clearly though, the atheistic and naturalistic worldviews will still remain legal and will not count as “indoctrination”. How convenient.

  16. Crude says:

    Indoctrination is a form of mental abuse where it involves restricting access to knowledge.

    Answer the questions, Alan. Or do the unthinkable for you, and condemn Coyne as advocating something that violates free thought, expression, and fundamental rights of parents and families.

  17. Michael says:

    Alan: Indoctrination is a form of mental abuse where it involves restricting access to knowledge.

    So you believe. There is no evidence to support such a nonsensical claim. Nevertheless, you are agreeing with Coyne and MacDonald that a religious upbringing should be illegal, right?

  18. chunkdz says:

    Alan: Indoctrination is a form of mental abuse where it involves restricting access to knowledge.

    So putting content filters on my kids’ computer is “mental abuse”?

  19. Michael says:

    If you are interested in an update on Coyne’s authoritarian streak, see:

    http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/09/dishonesty-is-as-dishonesty-does/

  20. chunkdz says:

    Lol Alan runned away!

  21. Michael says:

    It would help if Alan would tell us whether or not he agrees with Coyne about making a religious upbringing illegal.

  22. Alan Fox says:

    Sorry, did not see these comments directed at me till Mike pointed them out here. If other commenters want to continue, I shall monitor and comment in the other thread as time permits.

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