Demonstrating that Dawkins is an Extremist

It’s a simple fact that Dawkins’ views about religion and child abuse are radically extreme.   For some people, this truth causes cognitive dissonance, as Dawkins’s soft-spoken style, complete with British accent, creates the illusion of a reasonable man.  But what reasonable man would “argue that teaching a child about hell is worse than a child being sexually abused, which he said ‘she might feel was yucky’?” What reasonable man would write, “But such physical abuse, unpleasant as it is, may do less permanent damage to the children than bringing them up Catholic in the first place?”

So let’s think through on Dawkins’ logic.

As it stands, it is illegal to sexually molest a child.  And, of course, it is not illegal to raise your child as a Catholic.  But if it is really more harmful to raise your child as a Catholic than to sexually molest your child, as Dawkins believes, society needs to adjust its laws.  According to Dawkins’ logic, we should a) either make it illegal to raise your child as a Catholic, as it is worse than pedophilia (this is what the radical Jerry Coyne advocates) or b) legalize pedophilia, since it is not as bad as the legal activity of teaching a child about Hell and Catholicism.   Which option would Dawkins choose?  It’s his logic, thus his choice to clarify.

Consider a simple analogy.  The house next to your house goes up for sale.  Two families are interested in buying it.  The first family is a devout Catholic family.  The father is hard working and has broken no laws.  But he has taught his kids to believe in Catholic doctrine, including belief in Hell.  The second family is not religious.  The father is also hard working, but he also sexually molests his kids.  In Dawkins World, you hope the child molester moves in next door, as he is not as bad as the Catholic man.

I think the Gnu community has the responsibility to come clean on this issue.  Am I wrong?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in New Atheism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Demonstrating that Dawkins is an Extremist

  1. Bilbo says:

    Your argument appears sound to me, Mike.

  2. Crude says:

    I suppose there’s another way to say it.

    Right now the legal penalties for child molestation are X. The legal penalties for raising a child Catholic / to believe in hell are non-existent. Dawkins seems to maintain that raising a child Catholic/to believe in hell is more harmful to the child than (at least some) sexual abuse.

    So it seems Dawkins must be committed to one of the following.

    * The penalties for child sexual abuse, at least some forms of it, should be far lower than what they are – possibly non-existent.
    * The penalties for raising a child Catholic / teaching them about hell should be equal to or greater than the penalties for child sexual abuse.
    * Some forms of child abuse (religious upbringing / teaching about hell) should be legal, despite acknowledging that they are in fact child abuse.

  3. Nikolaj Mikkelsen says:

    The values I hold are intellectual honesty and — especially when it comes to online communication — the principle of charity, which naturally follows from intellectual honesty.

    A while back I observed I that this blog was not actually dedicated to intellectual honesty, and, like most blogs with an ideological agenda (what could be more ideological than “others are in the in the shadow and I am in the light”?), spins unskeptical interpretations of opponents’ positions, abrogating the principle of charity. My comments were met with snark, and I left it at that.

    It seems the situation has deteriorated. I could take any post here as an example, but let’s take this one. Somebody tweeted something about “yucky”. But “yucky” is from a quote from a victim of abuse:

    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.

    Now if you were interested in responding to the arguments that Dawkins lays out — found in chapter 9 of the God Delusion — then you would stop in your tracks and realize that you’ve missed something.

    Dawkins adds, “…the example shows that it is at least possible for psychological abuse of children to outclass physical,” and later, “…it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds.” Does that sound like the kind of absolutist statements that you have ascribed to him?

    He is not just saying these things; he builds his argument throughout the chapter. For instance he asks a therapist about the comparison of hell belief with physical abuse. The therapist responds,

    That’s a very difficult question … I think there are a lot of similarities actually, because it is about abuse of trust; it is about denying the child the right to feel free and open and able to relate to the world in the normal way … it’s a form of denigration; it’s of a form of denial of the true self in both cases.

    You act as if psychological abuse is something that Dawkins made up, to be tossed aside and ignored. It is not. Harm happens.

    Your other quote is also second-hand and mangled, but seems to suggest another quote from the same chapter.

    …I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place. It was an off-the-cuff remark made in the heat of the moment, and I was surprised that it earned a round of enthusiastic applause from that Irish audience.

    Note the context. Is it likely that the entire audience was filled with raging extremists? That should also tip you off that there’s still more context that you are missing.

    You are missing the intellectual arguments that Dawkins puts forth in the chapter. It’s quite extensive, with numerous examples and case studies ranging from the 19th century to the present day. From past experience, I don’t actually expect that you will address any of the arguments, though.

    Just looking at another random post: Dawkins suggested the term “meme” in 1976. He quite obviously was not referring to the practice that appeared decades later of adding word captions to pictures on the Internet. That’s kind of a strange non sequitur. If you’re interested in engaging with Dawkins’ arguments, you can find them in his “Viruses of the Mind” essay.

  4. Crude says:

    Where to begin.

    My comments were met with snark, and I left it at that.

    No. Your criticisms were answered and largely exposed as empty or lame spinning.

    But “yucky” is from a quote from a victim of abuse:

    You seem to be unaware that Mike is making reference to recent reports of Dawkins doubling down on this matter: see here. And there, it’s Dawkins saying child sexual abuse may make a girl feel ‘yucky’.

    Now if you were interested in responding to the arguments that Dawkins lays out — found in chapter 9 of the God Delusion — then you would stop in your tracks and realize that you’ve missed something.

    No, Nik. You should realize that we’ve read Dawkins’ writing on this, and analyzed it in the past. You should realize that part of the problem here is that Dawkins is, without any science to back him up, making allegations about the harm of sexual abuse versus raising a child as a Catholic. And no, talking to a psychologist who vaguely affirms that psychological abuse may be more harmful than physical abuse isn’t scientific support – especially considering that ‘child sexual abuse’ itself is not devoid of psychological harm, or divorced from psychological abuse.

    Note the context. Is it likely that the entire audience was filled with raging extremists?

    So if the lynch mob is large enough, clearly that fella had it coming?

    No, Nik. It doesn’t matter if Dawkins reported that his views were applauded. They’re still despicable views and – here’s the key – unscientific ones. The man who talks up science as a solution has had what, approaching a decade to scientifically support his statements here? But he’d rather just speculate, and accuse people of being, in essence, child molestors for raising their children in their religious faith, or Catholic.

    From past experience, I don’t actually expect that you will address any of the arguments, though.

    As usual, Nik – you’re lying. Your arguments are always answered, and you’re routinely left scrambling to patch things up. The ‘studies’ that Dawkins makes reference to hardly do much to advance his claim. Especially since one is basically an unscientific essay written by someone in the field, who themselves is basically speculating.

    Dawkins is an extremist. Your claims that Mike denies the reality of psychological abuse are entirely unsupported and, quite frankly, the insinuation damages your intellectual honesty. But as usual, you’re probably not going to cop to that. You’re just going to whimper that people are mean to you for strongly disagreeing when your BS is pointed out.

  5. Michael says:

    The values I hold are intellectual honesty and — especially when it comes to online communication — the principle of charity, which naturally follows from intellectual honesty.

    So you say. Yet there is no evidence that you hold these values. It seems more likely you are just concern trolling to score points.

    A while back I observed I that this blog was not actually dedicated to intellectual honesty, and, like most blogs with an ideological agenda (what could be more ideological than “others are in the in the shadow and I am in the light”?), spins unskeptical interpretations of opponents’ positions, abrogating the principle of charity. My comments were met with snark, and I left it at that.

    No, you did not “observe.” Those are your perceptions and how your mind remembers things. I “observed” someone who wanted to use a double standard when it came to charitable interpretations – demanding that they be applied to Gnu leaders, but not caring if Gnu leaders applied them. When I put the light on your double standard, you went away.

    It seems the situation has deteriorated.

    Isn’t this comment straight out of Concern Trolling 101?

    I could take any post here as an example, but let’s take this one. Somebody tweeted something about “yucky”. But “yucky” is from a quote from a victim of abuse:

    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.

    Can you tell us who this victim of abuse is and how you know that her story is true? And why does Dawkins treat her as someone who speaks for all victims of abuse?

    Now if you were interested in responding to the arguments that Dawkins lays out — found in chapter 9 of the God Delusion — then you would stop in your tracks and realize that you’ve missed something.

    Dawkins adds, “…the example shows that it is at least possible for psychological abuse of children to outclass physical,” and later, “…it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds.” Does that sound like the kind of absolutist statements that you have ascribed to him?

    The extremism does not show itself from these particular quotes. No one argued that each and every claim of an extremist is going to be extreme. In these quotes, Dawkins is trying to soften the ground so he can plant his extremist seeds. That’s part of his style.

    He is not just saying these things; he builds his argument throughout the chapter. For instance he asks a therapist about the comparison of hell belief with physical abuse. The therapist responds,

    That’s a very difficult question … I think there are a lot of similarities actually, because it is about abuse of trust; it is about denying the child the right to feel free and open and able to relate to the world in the normal way … it’s a form of denigration; it’s of a form of denial of the true self in both cases.

    Who is this therapist and so they agree it is worse to raise a child a Catholic than to sexually abuse the child? And, BTW, what makes the opinion of this therapist more valid than any other therapist?

    You act as if psychological abuse is something that Dawkins made up, to be tossed aside and ignored. It is not. Harm happens.

    See? So much for your commitment to “charitable interpretations.” LOL. You interpret me as not knowing about psychological abuse and the harm it can cause. Of course psychological abuse exists and can cause harm. In fact, most of it is secular in nature. The problem is a) Dawkins has no evidence that being raised a Catholic is psychological abuse and b) has no evidence that being raised a Catholic is worse that sexual abuse. You act as if evidence is not important.

    Your other quote is also second-hand and mangled, but seems to suggest another quote from the same chapter.

    Wrong. Your criticism is rooted in ignorance. The quote is from Dawkins himself and a letter he wrote in 2001. Try again.

    You are missing the intellectual arguments that Dawkins puts forth in the chapter. It’s quite extensive, with numerous examples and case studies ranging from the 19th century to the present day. From past experience, I don’t actually expect that you will address any of the arguments, though.

    I have read chapter 9. It is pseudoscience. Dawkins does not analyze the topic as a scholar; he writes as an apologist with an agenda. Note that you cannot go to chapter 9 and give us the scientific evidence. Instead, we are told to consider “arguments” and anecdotes. Why didn’t Dawkins publish his “arguments” in the scientific literature? Because on this topic he as an amateur with an agenda and it would never make it past the peer review.

    As for chapter 9, I noticed you omitted the place where he airs his extremist ideology:

    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.“ (pp. 325-326)

    So you agree that it is fair to compare teaching children that Jesus rose from the dead to knocking the teeth out the children?

    And do you agree that we should not allow parents to teach their children “in the literal truth of the Bible?”

  6. Nikolaj Mikkelsen says:

    As before, responses constitute true failure because they don’t actually address arguments. Instead, conspiracies are spun about the motivations of individuals and labels are concocted for them. This is not an argument. This is what happens when one responds just to respond, without being able to make an argument. I shouldn’t have to explain this to (presumably) adults.

    My guess is that the above paragraph still won’t be enough for the idea to sink in. I expect you’ll continue with the tactic of claiming “Person X is a Y”. Totally without substance. Address arguments, not the person.

    Michael, if you were really serious about addressing arguments then you would carefully read Chapter 9 and tell us exactly what your objections are. Dawkins draws on historical facts, old and new. You are asking me questions that are readily answered in the chapter. You say you have read the chapter, but you ask “Who is this therapist”, indicating that you haven’t read the chapter.

    You should acknowledge your mistake about the “yucky” misquote. This would have also been apparent if you had read the chapter.

    I said that your second quote was second-hand and mangled. You responded, “Wrong. Your criticism is rooted in ignorance. The quote is from Dawkins himself and a letter he wrote in 2001. Try again.” The only Google hit for that quote is this blog. Show me the 2001 reference.

    You ended with yet another blunder that demonstrates that you haven’t read the chapter and are uninterested in addressing arguments. You said, “I noticed you omitted the place where he airs his extremist ideology”, but the quote you give is not from Dawkins.

  7. Michael says:

    Michael, if you were really serious about addressing arguments then you would carefully read Chapter 9 and tell us exactly what your objections are.

    First of all, there is no “us.” Look around, Nikolaj Mikkelsen. You, and you alone, are the one trying to defend Dawkins’ extremism.

    Second, I already told you my objections above and you ignored them. Dawkins radical position is not supported by any science. Thus, he has no case. He has nothing more than opinions supported by other opinions and cherry-picked anecdotes.

    So we can turn our attention to the fact that he is an activist who comes to us selling an agenda. He is not scholar or expert on this topic. His views do not stem from the evidence; they stem from his anti-religious bigotry.

    Dawkins draws on historical facts, old and new.

    More accurately, he draws on anecdotes and the opinions from others. Revisit the question I asked and you ignored:

    Can you tell us who this victim of abuse is and how you know that her story is true?
    Is there a reason who can’t answer such a basic question?

    You are asking me questions that are readily answered in the chapter. You say you have read the chapter, but you ask “Who is this therapist”, indicating that you haven’t read the chapter.

    That’s quite the uncharitable read on your part. I read that chapter at the library around 2007-2008. Do you think I should have memorized it?

    So let me re-ask another question you ignored:

    Who is this therapist and do they agree it is worse to raise a child a Catholic than to sexually abuse the child?

    You should acknowledge your mistake about the “yucky” misquote. This would have also been apparent if you had read the chapter.

    There is no mistake. I quoted someone from Oxford who tweeted on a speech Dawkins recently gave. We’ll have to wait for it to air to a) determine if he is quoting and, if so, b) whether he is quoting in a manner that is approving of the quote/description.

    I said that your second quote was second-hand and mangled. You responded, “Wrong. Your criticism is rooted in ignorance. The quote is from Dawkins himself and a letter he wrote in 2001. Try again.” The only Google hit for that quote is this blog. Show me the 2001 reference.

    I copied-and-pasted that quote many years ago. Luckily, it has been preserved on one site:

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-5208076.html

    It was your uncharitable read of me that led you to blunder like this. Are you under the impression that Dawkins views on this came into existence with his book? In reality, he wrote a tiny letter in 2001, to be followed by two longer essays in 2002. He then cashed in on the expanded version for his book.

    You ended with yet another blunder that demonstrates that you haven’t read the chapter and are uninterested in addressing arguments. You said, “I noticed you omitted the place where he airs his extremist ideology”, but the quote you give is not from Dawkins.

    Yep, that was a mistake, but not all that significant since Dawkins does not disapprove. It is Nicholas Humphrey who espouses the extremist ideology here. Here’s what Dawkins had to say about him:

    What shall we tell the children?’ is a superb polemic on how religions abuse the minds of children, by the distinguished psychologist Nicholas Humphrey. It was originally delivered as a lecture in aid of Amnesty International, and has now been reissued as a chapter of his book, The Mind Made Flesh, just published by Oxford University Press. It is also available on the worldwide web and I strongly recommend it. Humphrey argues that, in the same way as Amnesty works tirelessly to free political prisoners the world over, we should work to free the children of the world from the religions which, with parental approval, damage minds too young to understand what is happening to them. He is right, and the same lesson should inform our discussions of the current pedophile brouhaha. Priestly groping of child bodies is disgusting. But it may be less harmful in the long run than priestly subversion of child minds.

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/118

    In case that was not clear enough for you, let’s make it clearer:

    Humphrey argues that, in the same way as Amnesty works tirelessly to free political prisoners the world over, we should work to free the children of the world from the religions which, with parental approval, damage minds too young to understand what is happening to them. He is right,

    And what was it that Humphrey said again?

    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.“
    And what did Dawkins say?

    He is right

  8. Nikolaj Mikkelsen says:

    Do you still not realize your mistake, even after I have explained it several times? It does nothing to attach labels, “Person X is a Y”. Address the arguments, not the person.

    You have to get specific about what you are objecting to; you have to point to what he is saying and rebut it. You can’t wave your hand and dismiss it. You have to explain specifically what you are talking about. That means doing the hard work and reading the chapter. Do you understand that you have to read something and address the arguments therein in order to rebut it?

    With regard to your first response, I am glad you say that you are not ignoring the psychological harm done to children. You should therefore be in agreement with Dawkins that “it is at least possible for psychological abuse of children to outclass physical”. The quote you found is similar: “may do less permanent damage” (emphasis mine). As I showed earlier, he is not making absolute statements, and besides it wouldn’t even make sense to do so.

    On the other hand, you question whether such victims exist. Which is it? Does psychological harm happen, or not? Are we to ignore those who claim so, or not?

    Unfortunately I can’t see the full context of the quote without paying, or even verify the whole quote. In any case it does not appear much different than what is in the God Delusion. Asking for the reference is not being uncharitable — that’s seeking facts where none were found.

    By the way I can’t help but mention the hilarity — and this is particularly in regard to Crude — in lashing out with these absurd conspiracies and personal attacks in response to the suggestion that we should actively value honesty and the principle of charity. The irony is so rich that one wonders if it is satire.

    There is something else that is funny: the “pp 325-326” part of misattributed quote. Why is that funny? Because what you quoted rests entirely on page 326. At some point there was a quote with more context, and as the quote traveled through the interwebs the context was stripped while the original page numbers remained. In all instances I found where the context was removed (where nothing was quoted from p325), the source was an intensely anti-Dawkins author. Misinformation gets perpetuated by those eager to perpetuate it. There appears to be a cottage industry of anti-Dawkins websites, much like creationism on the Internet.

    Humphrey’s article contains none of the salaciousness and conspiracy you have suggested. It seems clear that you haven’t read it. As always, you are missing important context, and Dawkins himself said the quote in question needs “much qualification”. Humphrey covers a fair bit of ground, including female genital mutilation, ritual sacrifice, the Jonestown massacre, and the Amish. He focuses on non-reality-based belief systems that either harm children directly (mutilation, murder) or, in the case of the Amish, may be rejected by its members if they were exposed to the outside world (citing a wartime study).

    Do you know what Humphrey is arguing for? Science education. Yes, plain old education. That’s his conclusion. No Black Hawk helicopters emerging from secret areas in the UN building to take away children. Humphrey’s piece contains some mistakes and is sometimes sloppy, but not in its recommendations, which seem pretty uncontroversial.

    He presents several intellectual arguments which cannot simply be waved away. If you wish to criticize the Humphrey article, you must put in the time to read it (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/humphrey/amnesty.html), understand the overall point, understand the specific points, and discuss the places where you disagree. That is what being intellectually honest is about.

    “Who is this therapist and do they agree it is worse to raise a child a Catholic than to sexually abuse the child?”

    The therapist’s name is given in the book. Dawkins doesn’t ask, “It is worse to raise a child a Catholic than to sexually abuse the child?” That’s a pretty silly question. He asks her how they compare in trauma terms, and you saw the answer.

  9. Michael says:

    You still do not realize your mistake. Yes, we should address the arguments, not the person. But Dawkins does not have an argument to address. He merely has a offensive speculation that has not progressed beyond the realm of speculation for the last 10 years:

    But such physical abuse, unpleasant as it is, may do less permanent damage to the children than bringing them up Catholic in the first place.

    Priestly groping of child bodies is disgusting. But it may be less harmful in the long run than priestly subversion of child minds.

    So how does one respond to such speculations? By asking if there is any scientific evidence that supports them. And there is none. He has no case.

    You seem to think this speculation is some serious intellectual argument. It is not. That explains why he does not present his speculation in the serious, scientific literature. He presents it only in public speeches and popular writings as part of his anti-religious propaganda.

    So it turns out that Dawkins is the one who violates “Address the arguments, not the person.” Instead of making an argument, and supporting it with scientific evidence, he smears Catholic parents by suggesting they are worse than child abusers.

    You have to get specific about what you are objecting to; you have to point to what he is saying and rebut it. You can’t wave your hand and dismiss it.

    Just did. It is not hand waving to point out this speculation a) is not supported by science and b) fits into this socio-political agenda. In fact, if I get the time, I’ll take it a step further and use scientific evidence to demonstrate his speculation is ludicrous.

    With regard to your first response, I am glad you say that you are not ignoring the psychological harm done to children. You should therefore be in agreement with Dawkins that “it is at least possible for psychological abuse of children to outclass physical”.

    I don’t think it possible to have physical abuse without psychological abuse. A child who is physically abused is also being psychologically abused. It is ironic that Dawkins is the one trying to make a distinction between the mental and the physical.

    As for Dawkins’ speculation, anything is possible so it is vacuous. Dawkins needs to go beyond the realm of vague possibilities and mental masturbation. He needs to a) present scientific evidence showing that being raised a Catholic is an example of psychological abuse and b) being raised a Catholic outclasses physical abuse. This should not be hard for a scientist to understand and do.

    Since it has been over 5 years since his money-making book, please point to the places where Dawkins has made progress along these lines.

    The quote you found is similar: “may do less permanent damage” (emphasis mine). As I showed earlier, he is not making absolute statements, and besides it wouldn’t even make sense to do so.

    I see. So if a Christian were to say publicly that “raising a child to be an atheist may be more harmful than sexually abusing the child,” you would have no problem with that?

    It does not matter that he is not making an absolute statement. What if Dawkins had speculated, “It is possible that Jews might be in control of all our media?” Would such a speculation be reasonable given Dawkins would only be raising a possibility that may be true?

    On the other hand, you question whether such victims exist. Which is it? Does psychological harm happen, or not? Are we to ignore those who claim so, or not?

    Now you are engaged in inexcusable intellectual dishonesty, as, contrary to your assertion, I have never questioned the existence of victims of psychological abuse. What I did was to ask you to support a particular anecdote that Dawkins trumpets. Let’s try it again.

    Dawkins likes to build around some “letter” from some “American women.” For the third time – Who is this woman? And how do you know story is true?

    Unfortunately I can’t see the full context of the quote without paying, or even verify the whole quote. In any case it does not appear much different than what is in the God Delusion. Asking for the reference is not being uncharitable — that’s seeking facts where none were found.

    So you try to prop up your uncharitable read with some more intellectual dishonesty. You did not merely “ask for a reference.” Here is how you “asked”: “Your other quote is also second-hand and mangled.”

    Instead of acknowledging you were being uncharitable, you try to spin it as if you were politely asking for a reference.

    What’s more, you finally admit, “it does not appear much different than what is in the God Delusion” so one has to wonder if your uncharitable interpretation was a veiled psychological attack.

    By the way I can’t help but mention the hilarity — and this is particularly in regard to Crude — in lashing out with these absurd conspiracies and personal attacks in response to the suggestion that we should actively value honesty and the principle of charity. The irony is so rich that one wonders if it is satire.

    Princple of charity at work again, eh? Yes, the irony is rich indeed, but you don’t seem to understand the source of the irony. You want to pretend that you value intellectual honesty and the principle of charity, but the evidence (as presented above) shows us you don’t. You don’t seem able to practice what you preach.

    My guess is that the above paragraph still won’t be enough for the idea to sink in.

    As for Humphrey and your attempt to distract with a blizzard of words, we need only focus on the point that Dawkins quotes:

    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.“

    Note we are not talking about female genital mutilation, ritual sacrifice, or the Jonestown massacre. It’s a claim that insists the state should not allow parents to teach their children to believe in the literal truth of the Bible. It’s a claim that teaching children the Bible is like extreme physical violence.

    This is extremist ideology and your attempts to distract from this assertion will not work. So why not answer the questions I posed before:

    So you agree that it is fair to compare teaching children that Jesus rose from the dead to knocking the teeth out the children?

    And do you agree that we should not allow parents to teach their children “in the literal truth of the Bible?”

    The therapist’s name is given in the book. Dawkins doesn’t ask, “It is worse to raise a child a Catholic than to sexually abuse the child?” That’s a pretty silly question. He asks her how they compare in trauma terms, and you saw the answer.

    Why would the question be silly when it is Dawkins who has the history of saying things like, “But such physical abuse, unpleasant as it is, may do less permanent damage to the children than bringing them up Catholic in the first place?” The question is silly only to the extent that Dawkins’ position is silly. He himself must have been too embarrassed to ask a therapist if there was truth to his public assertions. As for the answer, it was nothing more than an opinion. You do recognize that, don’t you? Ask another therapist and they might laugh at the comparison.

    As for the therapist, you have been strangely uncomfortable with sharing the contents of this book. It’s like you want to keep it hidden. Why can’t you just tell us who the therapist is?

    In summary, you are profoundly mistaken in the belief that Dawkins has some serious argument and that we are being unfair in not addressing it. Dawkins has only a radical speculation about possibilities that he supports with some cherry-picked quotes and anecdotes. That’s his entire “argument.” He does not lift a finger when trying to support this speculation with scientific evidence, ignores the scientific literature on abuse, and has never been willing to make this case in the scientific journals. Instead, he makes this case purely as part of his anti-religious crusade, which is consistent with the fact that he has never spoken out against child abuse when he can’t connect it to religion.

    Here are 8 questions you should answer in your next reply:

    1. Dawkins quotes one therapist to support his speculation. Who is the therapist?

    2. In 2002, 2006, and 2012, to support his speculation, Dawkins refers to some letter he supposedly received from some woman in America. Who is this woman and how do you know her story is true?

    3. Does Dawkins cite any scientific evidence to support his speculation?

    4. Do you have any scientific evidence to support Dawkins’s speculation?

    5. In ten years, why has not Dawkins made his case in the peer reviewed scientific literature?

    6. Do you agree that it is fair to compare teaching children that Jesus rose from the dead to knocking their teeth out?
    7. Do you agree that we should not allow parents to teach their children “in the literal truth of the Bible?”

    8. As it stands, it is illegal to sexually molest a child. And, of course, it is not illegal to raise your child as a Catholic. But if most agreed with Dawkins that it is really more harmful to raise your child as a Catholic than to sexually molest your child, society would adjust its laws. According to Dawkins’ logic, we should a) either make it illegal to raise your child as a Catholic, as it is worse than pedophilia or b) legalize pedophilia, since it is not as bad as the legal activity of teaching a child about Hell and Catholicism. Which option would Dawkins’ logic choose? Would you, like Jerry Coyne, like to see religious upbringing become illegal? Or would you like to see the laws against pedophilia relaxed?

  10. Nikolaj Mikkelsen says:

    1. Your conspiracizing amuses me. To that end, I leave it to you to open the book and look. Your conspiracizing about this suggestion shall further amuse me.

    2. More conspiracy! So your claim is that Dawkins is lying? Furthermore you imply that no such psychological harm comes to children, for otherwise you would not have a problem with Dawkins citing a case of it. Which is it? Are children harmed, or not? You can’t choose both. You can’t say that children are harmed and then say that Dawkins must be lying.

    3-5. These questions are ridiculous because Dawkins’ aim is to convince people by force of argument alone that children should, instead of being indoctrinated, be given a chance to decide for themselves. By your reasoning here, Kant’s Categorical imperative is nonsense because he cited no scientific evidence and published no scientific papers about it. Gimme a break!

    6. Are you going to persist in criticizing the Humphrey article without reading it and without understanding its purpose and context? He was talking about indoctrinating kids in creationism — a mother that “forbids her child from attending classes on evolution”. A chief mullah that proclaims that the Earth is flat (that really happened in 1993). He’s talking about science education as an antidote.

    7. I agree, with Humphrey, that children should not be indoctrinated into creationism. It is dishonest. It robs them of reality. It robs them of intellectual achievement. Having scientifically illiterate people making policy decisions is harmful to society.

    8. Again, you are missing context. You are ignoring the entire purpose and context of chapter 9 and of the Humphrey article. You prefer to take little quotes and ride them into Imagination Land. Dawkins clarified this for people like you, even though what he says is completely obvious to anyone who has read and understood chapter 9.

    [Question to Dawkins:] Obviously you are opposed to theism and think it is harmful. But do you actually think it would be a good idea for a government to make it *illegal* for parents to teach their religion to their children? (e.g., taking them to church, sending them to Sunday school, giving them private religious instruction, etc.)

    [Answer from Dawkins:] Of course I don’t think it would be a good idea. I am horrified by the thought. My entire campaign against the labelling of children (what the petition called ‘defining’ children) by the religion of their parents has been a campaign of CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING. I want to educate people so that they flinch when they hear a phrase like ‘Catholic child’ or ‘Muslim child’ — just as feminists have taught us to wince when we hear ‘one man one vote’. But that is consciousness-raising, not legislation. No feminist that I would wish to know ever suggested a legal ban on masculine pronouns. And of course I don’t want to make it illegal to use religious labels for children. I want to raise consciousness, so that the phrase ‘Christian child’ sounds like a fingernail scraping on a blackboard. But if I dislike the use of religious words to label children, I dislike even more the idea that governments should police the words that anybody uses about anything. I don’t want a legal ban on the use of words like nigger and yid. I want people to feel ashamed of using them. Similarly, I want people to feel ashamed of using the phrase ‘Christian child’, but I don’t want to make it illegal to use it.

    Now that I have answered your questions, I ask you to answer one of mine. Let’s see if we can agree on something. I’ve mentioned this before because it is a good litmus test that pits honesty against ideology in a very clear-cut way. Which do we choose?

    http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/why_do_scientists_get_so_angry/

    Now, all the elements are there for an apt comparison with your post here: out of context quotes, a swaggering tone, an ideological commitment, even a claim of cognitive dissonance. But let’s put that aside for the moment and see if you can at least agree that Dembski is being intellectually dishonest there. If you cannot agree then I’ll know where you stand on the choice between honesty and ideology, and you’ll save us both some time.

  11. Michael says:

    1. Question not answered. Instead, you attack me as “conspiracizing.” I do not have the book and you refuse to tell us what is in the book.

    2. Question not answered. I guess we are supposed to accept the veracity of this account on pure faith. What’s more, Nikolaj Mikkelsen continues to misrepresent my position and doesn’t seem to understand the value of verifying anecdotes, especially those that are used to prop up a propagandistic agenda.

    3-5. Questions not answered. When asked to provide scientific evidence for Dawkins speculation, Nikolaj Mikkelsen actuallyinsists that it is ridiculous to ask for scientific evidence and concedes it’s all about trying to use “the force of argument” to “convince” people. In other words, Dawkins and his followers adopt an anti-science posture – they claim the need for scientific evidence is ridiculous and seek to “convince” in the same manner that politicians and activists seek to “convince.” And to top off this disrespect for the scientific approach, Nikolaj Mikkelsen actually tries to equate Dawkins’s silly speculations about the relative harmlessness of some forms of child abuse with Kant’s Categorical imperative. Gimme a break!

    6. Question not answered. I never claimed I was critiquing Humphrey’s article. I asked if it is fair to compare teaching children that Jesus rose from the dead to knocking their teeth out?

    7. Question not answered. I did not ask his opinion on whether children should be indoctrinated into creationism. I asked if parents should be allowed to teach their children “in the literal truth of the Bible?” He still doesn’t get it. Humphrey’s extremism boils down to this:

    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

    8. Question not answered. We’re not talking about Dawkins’ crackpot pet peeve about labeling children. We’re talking about his continual claims that it may be more harmful to raise a child a Catholic than to sexually and physically abuse the child. That Dawkins and Nikolaj Mikkelsen don’t want to follow through on the logic of Dawkins extremist views is not my problem. It is their problem.

    So it is clear Nikolaj Mikkelsen refused to answer questions 1-5 and tried to obfuscate with questions 6-8. Not surprisingly, after showing such disrespect, he tries to change the topic.

    While I appreciate having more evidence that Gnus adopt anti-science positions, embrace things on faith, are unable to defend Dawkins radical opinions, and refuse to reassure us they have no authoritarian desires, I have no time for trolls that will not engage in discussion by simply staying on topic and answering basic questions. So goodbye, Nikolaj Mikkelsen. I’m comfortable with allowing readers to judge our exchange for themselves.

  12. Nikolaj Mikkelsen says:

    Your response is specious, of course, and actually pretty funny. It calls for an easy rebuttal, but since you indicate that you are now blocking me, my time writing it would be wasted.

    I will however note that the litmus test is in fact the most important thing I have written here. I posed the test because it was becoming increasingly clear that you do not value intellectual dishonesty, and even abhor it. Now that you have avoided the challenge and additionally taken the initiative to cut off conversation altogether, this constitutes an answer more definitive than anything I can imagine. Your position is unequivocal on the choice between honesty and ideology. I get the message, loud and clear!

  13. Michael says:

    I thought I would go the extra mile and let Nikolaj Mikkelsen’s parting shot, where he lashes out at me, see the light of day. No, I did not “cut off conversation,” as there wasn’t much of a conversation to begin with. As we can all see, Nikolaj Mikkelsen ignored the OP and made no attempt to address it, would not answer the simplest of questions, such as telling us who the therapist is (how hard can that be?!), insisted others adhere to standards he would not adhere to (the principle of charity) and insisted on misrepresenting me as someone who denied the reality of psychological abuse (even after being corrected).

    This is a standard Gnu attack. Being unable to defend Dawkins’ position (does anyone see a defense up above?) and being unable to answer my questions (does anyone really think he answered them?), he tries to turn me into the topic. I’m supposed to be this person who does not value intellectual honesty (his objective for posting here) because I want Dawkins to support his claim with scientific evidence and won’t acknowledge Dawkins’ smear campaign is some serious intellectual argument. Yeah, right.

    Nevertheless, as I noted, this exchange has been helpful. In the past I have pointed out that the Gnus do not truly value science. For some, this may sound like rhetoric. But now you can see how right I am.

    In reality, they value science only when it serves their agenda. When it doesn’t? See for yourself:

    Me: Does Dawkins cite any scientific evidence to support his speculation? Do you have any scientific evidence to support Dawkins’s speculation?

    Nikolaj Mikkelsen: These questions are ridiculous because Dawkins’ aim is to convince people by force of argument alone that children should, instead of being indoctrinated, be given a chance to decide for themselves.

    Can it be any clearer?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s