Friday, January 4, 2013

Dawkins - "Religion is Child Abuse"

::the voices can you hear them?::

So-called "new atheist" Richard Dawkins is at it again.  Like the late Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins is using shock value tactics to draw attention to his insignificant self.

He goes on twitter posting his view that teaching kids about hell is child abuse.  What a foolish guy.  Is he really a scientist?

If this were true, then telling kids that if they break the law they will go to jail; then that is child abuse as well.  If a teacher tells a student he/she will get detention, then that must be child abuse as well.  Each of these scenarios does affect the psychological state of children.  They bring about fear and anxiety.  In most cases, they change behavior.  I remember in elementary school thinking "the corner" was the worst thing ever and avoided getting myself put there by charming my teachers.

Psychology teaches that punishment can work depending on the situation and how it is administered.  When bad behavior is associated with an aversive stimuli, then the organism learns or is conditioned to avoid the bad behavior so as to avoid the aversive stimuli.  Hell, detention, jail can be processed by a child's mind this way.  Nobody wants to burn forever, no one wants to be in a boring room, no one wants to get locked up, so he/she changes his/her behavior in order to avoid that.

There are some theologians who believe that hell is God's way of getting human beings to behave.  They base this idea from the Apocalypse of Peter, which is a short book which never made it part of the canon of Scripture.  In this book, there is a description of hell.

  • Liars are hung by their tongues.  
  • Lesbians and gays are thrown off a cliff over and over by angels.  
  • Murderers are made to live surrounded with insects and other things that eat away at them for eternity.  
  • Women who had abortions are in a lake of human remains and blood while the souls of their aborted children haunt them and shoot flames into their eyes.  

Fun right?   But in this book something interesting happens.  St. Peter asks Jesus to have mercy on them and to bring them to heaven.  Jesus basically says "Okay" and He lets them leave hell.   So according to this book, hell is not eternal.  This is where some theologians get the idea that hell is just a cosmic scare tactic of some sort.  Some in Eastern Orthodox Church accept this idea that hell is either temporary or just something to scare human beings into behaving good.

Is this true?  Not at all.  The Apocalypse of Peter was written way after the martyrdom of St. Peter.  It is of Gnostic origin.  Official Scripture is clear that hell is eternal and is serious business.

It is sad that Dr. Dawkins misconstrues psychology and theology in such a way.  Not only is he offending Catholics and others of faith, but he is downplaying the affects of sexual abuse.

He should apologize to all those he offended and retract his uneducated statement.  If not, he will continue to lose credibility as a scientist and will bring atheism down with him.

This atheist tweeter has the right idea:



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