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?