Okay, let me raise a possibility about Dawkins’ story that just occurred to me and see what you think – there is a distinct possibility he is making the whole thing up.
Let’s begin with an issue that is supposedly very important to all atheists and skeptics – evidence. Is there ANY evidence that Dawkins’s story is true? Has he provided any such evidence? So far, I see none. It’s as if Dawkins, who spends his time denigrating faith, expects us to accept his story solely on faith. If we are supposed to support our beliefs with evidence, and there is no evidence his story is true, are we not rationally obligated to dismiss it?
Secondly, why does his story keep changing?
1. In 2002, Dawkins made it sound like he was taught to believe in hell:
Being fondled by the Latin master in the Squash Court was a disagreeable sensation for a nine-year-old, a mixture of embarrassment and skin-crawling revulsion, but it was certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire.
But then in 2012, he tells the story by insisting he never believed in hell:
Incidentally, I was myself sexually abused by a teacher when I was about nine or ten years old. It was a very unpleasant and embarrassing experience, but the mental trauma was soon exorcised by comparing notes with my contemporaries who had suffered it previously at the hands of the same master. Thank goodness, I have never personally experienced what it is like to believe – really and truly and deeply believe ¬– in hell.
2. In 2002, he tells us he was nine. In 2012, he tells us he was 9 or 10. In 2013, in his new book, he says “I must have been about eleven.” If he tells the story again next year, will he have been 12?
3. In 2002, he claims the experience gave him a good laugh: “As soon as I could wriggle off his knee, I ran to tell my friends and we had a good laugh, our fellowship enhanced by the shared experience of the same sad pedophile. “ In 2013, the laughter goes away: “it was extremely disagreeable (the cremasteric reflex is not painful, but in a skin-crawling, creepy way it is almost worse than painful) as well as embarrassing. As soon as I could wriggle off his lap, I ran to tell my friends, many of whom had had the same experience with him.”
Of course, I suppose one could harmonize these different accounts, but atheists have long insisted that different accounts should not be harmonized.
Third, there is the unusual and rather strange nature of Dawkins’ reaction. He insists the incident, although embarrassing, was harmless and even wrote in The God Delusion that he would be willing to defend the man who molested him – ““All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affections for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defense, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).” As Mary Elizabeth Williams notes, “Dawkins, in his recollections, comes off like a character in “The History Boys,” a fellow who views the fondlings by his educators through a nostalgic lens.”
If you were molested as a child like Dawkins, would you be reacting like he is?
Fourth, maybe there is a good reason why Dawkins is so reluctant to name and judge the teacher who molested him – it never happened.
Fifth, Dawkins has been telling this story for over 10 years and, as far as I can tell, none of his childhood friends have come forward to corroborate it.
So why would Dawkins make this up? Simple. As should be clear to all, the story plays an important role in his bizarre “religion as child abuse” attack. To make the case that it is better to molest a child than to raise the child as a Catholic, he needed an example of someone being molested who was not harmed by the molestation. So, he invented such an example using himself as the victim. Who could say otherwise?
Now, let me be clear and note that I am NOT saying he did in fact make this story up. I simply do not know whether it is true or not. I do know there is no evidence it is true and there are reasons to think he could be lying about it all. I suppose in the end, I choose to believe he is telling the truth; I will accept it on faith. But then, I’m not the one who has serious problems with faith.