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6/27/09

Rise of Atheism in America While the Amish Survive Only By Kidnapping Little Children, part 1 of 4

Atheism is Dead has been chronicling the attempts by some atheists to dictate child rearing to the parents of the world. Not content to merely come out of the closet some atheists want to proceed by kicking your door down so as to besmirch you and gain access to your children. In this episode we will consider a plan outlined by Nicholas Humphrey.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Forget the philosopher Weird Al Yankovic’s tales of an Amish paradise. Forget the Amish friendship bread. Nicholas Humphrey represents a very troubling trend amongst atheists to apply the most malicious and vicious of labels to those with whom they disagree as he states, amongst many other things, that “The Amish…survive only by kidnapping little children.”

The New Atheist sentiments of “religious” parents raising their children according to their “faith” as “child abusers” is no mere intellectual exercise or controversy stirring tactic; I have personally experienced the displeasure of having one of those militant activist atheists tell me to my face, “you abuse your children.” Of course, I invited them to notify the authorities, which they declined to do. Rather odd I thought; they know that I am a child abuser and are doing nothing about it—that makes them worse that I.
However, some atheists are pushing to make it so that they will someday be able to do something about it. Richard Dawkins envisages “society stepping in?”[1] in hopes that his movements’ interference “might lead children to choose no religion at all.”[2]

We will now cover a significant lecture on the subject by Nicholas Humphrey who is the School Professor at the London School of Economics and Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research.
This was an Oxford Amnesty Lecture of 1997 AD and has been alternately published as “What shall we tell the children?” and “What shall we tell the children?” (PDF, HTML).
In an illogical and falsely dichotomous manner Nicholas Humphrey manipulates his audience into accepting the vision of he, and cenobites like him, as arbiters of what will be allowable to be taught to your children.
His various references to “liberals” are in acknowledgment that he is well aware of his audience’s constituency. Thus, he is addressing what he hopes to be a sympathetic audience and seeks to placate any objections that they may have along the way.




In addressing Amnesty International he seeks to encourage them to not only seek to liberate people from physical bondage but from the bondage of children’s captivity to their parents. Children, he argues are to be inoculated against their parent’s “word-virus” or viral religious memes.
Should we then be fighting Amnesty's battle on this front too? Should we be campaigning for the rights of human beings to be protected from verbal oppression and manipulation? Do we need "word laws", just as all civilised societies have gun laws, licensing who should be allowed to use them in what circumstances? Should there be Geneva protocols establishing what kinds of speech act count as crimes against humanity?

He presupposes that the rhetorical answer is “no.” Perhaps in 1997 AD “hate-speech” was not as of yet inculcated into American society, and illegal in Canada, as it is today. In any regard, he seeks to rectify the answer by elucidating his purpose:
…we should try to make up for the harm that other people's words do, but not by censoring the words as such…it is the purpose of my lecture today to argue in one particular area just the opposite. To argue, in short, in favour of censorship, against freedom of expression, and to do so moreover in an area of life that has traditionally been regarded as sacrosanct.
I am talking about moral and religious education. And especially the education a child receives at home, where parents are allowed—even expected—to determine for their children what counts as truth and falsehood, right and wrong.
Children, I'll argue, have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people's bad ideas—no matter who these other people are. Parents, correspondingly, have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children's knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.
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.
That's the negative side of what I want to say. But there will be a positive side as well. If children have a right to be protected from false ideas, they have too a right to be succoured by the truth. And we as a society have a duty to provide it. Therefore we should feel as much obliged to pass on to our children the best scientific and philosophical understanding of the natural world—to teach, for example, the truths of evolution and cosmology, or the methods of rational analysis—as we already feel obliged to feed and shelter them. I don't suppose you'll doubt my good intentions here. Even so, I realise there may be many in this audience—especially the more liberal of you—who do not like the sound of this at all: neither the negative, nor still less the positive side of it.

We are instantly made to wonder just who will be the arbiter of what constitutes “bad ideas” and “nonsense.” We wonder if there really is no limiting “children's knowledge” (“Happy sixth birthday little Juanito! What? You want to learn about necrophilia. Sure, of course!”). And just what is “the truth”? Who doeth bequeath it?



We encounter what is perhaps the first of his very many manipulative dichotomies as he likens religious upbringing, the imparting of certain ideas, to physical mutilation:
Let's suppose we were talking not about children's minds but children's bodies. Suppose the issue were not who should control a child's intellectual development but who should control the development of her hands or feet . . . or genitalia. Let's suppose indeed that this is a lecture about female circumcision. And the issue is not whether anyone should be permitted to deny a girl knowledge of Darwin, but whether anyone should be permitted to deny her the uses of a clitoris.
And now here I am suggesting that it is a girl's right to be left intact, that parents have no right to mutilate their daughters to suit their own socio-sexual agenda, and that we as a society ought to prevent it. [ellipses in original]


There is quite a bit to state in this regard.
Primarily, Nicholas Humphrey knows that he is addressing a majority liberal audience and is thus, playing on the liberal instinct to recoil at the very thought of restricting sexuality in any way shape of form (with the most generic caveats against that which they personally find distasteful, of course). He seeks to liken physical mutilation to intellectual mutilation. While he is aware that in the one case he is dealing with irreparable damage and in the other with something that may be unlearned or augmented he will return to this fallacious likening nine times during the lecture (it is as if his notes stated, “Point weak here; mention female circumcision”).
Also, note that the term “female circumcision” is both ubiquitously employed and fallacious. It is supposed to be likened to male circumcision but is absolutely nothing like it.
Female “circumcision” is, as rightly stated above by Nicholas Humphrey, mutilation: it is the complete removal of the clitoris for the specific purpose of ensuring lifelong denial of sexual pleasure.
On the other hand, male circumcision is the removal of a little part of the penis’ foreskin which is not only very healthy but does not diminish sexual drive or pleasure.

Nicholas Humphrey has attempted to win his liberal audience to his side by going from recognizing that their natural reaction to his proposal of dictating child rearing is, shall we say; initially skittish, to getting them to be overcome with emotion for the, rightful, condemnation of child mutilation. This is a fallacious and yet very effecting tactic: he has won their empathy and having won their emotions their intellect is putty in his hands.

[1] During his interview with Gary Wolf, “The Church of the Non-Believers
[2] Richard Dawkins, “Now Here’s a Bright Idea

7 comments:

  1. Mariano wrote:

    >The New Atheist sentiments of “religious” parents raising their children according to their “faith” as “child abusers” is no mere intellectual exercise or controversy stirring tactic; I have personally experienced the displeasure of having one of those militant activist atheists tell me to my face, “you abuse your children.” Of course, I invited them to notify the authorities, which they declined to do. Rather odd I thought; they know that I am a child abuser and are doing nothing about it—that makes them worse that I.

    Not at all.

    Many of us atheists accept that some things are deeply morally wrong but reject the idea that they justify physical punishment by the state.

    I think it is profoundly wrong to advocate liberalism, conservatism, Nazism, homeopathy, Christian Science, Communism, Christianity, Islam, materialism, “Intelligent Design,” postmodernism, and a host of other doctrines.

    But as long as the advocates of such doctrines avoid physically attacking those of us who disagree with them, it would be wrong for us to physically attack them (e.g., by having them jailed).

    Anyone who believes in any sort of freedom at all believes something of this sort: after all, if your “freedom” consists merely in doing what I approve of, then your “freedom” consists simply of being my slave!

    Yes, Christians are emotionally abusing their children. But emotional abuse of that sort is protected speech under the First Amendment (and rightly so). We can denounce it, we can condemn it, but the right way to fight words is with words.

    You use words to abuse your children. We use words – not the force of the state – to condemn that abuse.

    Quite simple.

    I know that some atheists have used weasel words on this issue that make unclear whether or not they are willing to use the state to deny First Amendment rights to Christians. They are wrong. They should have the guts to say clearly whether or not they support the First Amendment and the natural rights acknowledged therein.

    Nick Humphrey does at least have the guts to be upfront on the issue. But I know of very few American atheists who will agree with his opposition to the First Amendment.

    Of course, he is a Brit, and, as you may have heard, freedom of expression is more than a little endangered in Europe lately! Socialism does not conduce to individual freedom.

    His quip about gun rights pretty much reveals where he is coming from.

    Dave

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  2. >Yes, Christians are emotionally abusing their children.

    I reply: So where is your empirical data to back up that claim?

    BTW I remember some Atheists claiming it was emotional abuse to tell children about Hell. But I remember reading a testamony from a woman who was raised an Atheist by her progressive parents. Her parents told her she was nothing more than a brain & when you die you simply cease to be. She told how she grew up with a great deal of anxiety & fear toward eventual non-existence. She also feared that because there seems to be some electrical activity in the brain after death she might be semi-concious in her grave & that filled her with terror.

    At least my mom told be I could confess my sins to Jesus & be forgiven so I wouldn't have to worry about Hell.

    As for this poor woman. Yikes!!!!

    Of course this nonsense about "emotional abuse" is simply that, nonsense. It's just an excuse for the New Atheists to be Jerks.

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  3. BenYachov -

    Of course this nonsense about "emotional abuse" is simply that, nonsense.

    You got that right.

    ReplyDelete
  4. well said Ben !!

    ReplyDelete
  5. BY wrote to me:
    >I reply: So where is your empirical data to back up that claim?
    >BTW I remember some Atheists claiming it was emotional abuse to tell children about Hell.

    You do not quite get it.

    The traditional Christian teaching is that a *just* God is going to send the little ones to Hell.

    That means they deserve it.

    They don’t.

    Yes, that is indeed emotional child abuse.

    If I told some innocent young kids who had, say, leukemia that their leukemia was just punishment for their being evil sinners, *that* would be incredibly nasty.

    If I managed to get away with doing it on a regular basis, that would surely be emotional child abuse.

    Of course, the fact that it is known beyond sane doubt that traditional Christianity is simply a set of myths makes it worse: for example, we know for certain that the world, biological species, etc. were not all created in a mere six days. We know that, even if Jesus were a clone, he would have been female, not male.

    Etc.

    But even without knowing that Christianity has been proven beyond sane doubt to be mythical, yes, it is emotional child abuse, because the claim is that a *just* God is pursuing the eternal punishment and therefore that the young victims *deserve* it.

    Christianity is one of the most evil sets of ideas to ever plague the civilized world, arguably even worse than socialism.

    Fortunately, nowadays, all intelligent, well-educated, honest people know that traditional Christianity is false.

    I know of not a single person who is an exception to that statement anywhere on earth.

    And I have looked for such an exception. Oh, how I have looked!

    Dave

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  6. >The traditional Christian teaching is that a *just* God is going to send the little ones to Hell.

    I reply: Which Tradition? Calvinist? Lutheran? Anabaptist? I’m Catholic BTW.
    So you fall on your face here.

    Augustine taught un-baptized children would go to Hell but that their punishment would be “very very very light”. Never the less his opinion was not shared by even the majority of contemporaries & in the long run the Church has all but rejected it in favor of either Limbo or Salvation by Extra-Ordinary Extra-Sacramental means.

    I dare say there isn’t an Augustinian Theologian alive today who holds this theory of Augustine on infant damnation. In fact in the 17th century proponents of Limbo used to make fun of the Neo-Augustinians by calling them “The Tormentors of Infants”.

    >That means they deserve it.
    >They don’t.

    I reply: First that is for God to judge & second your analysis assumes there is a God (which you reject), third you would also have to have knowledge about WHO is in fact going to Hell(& nobody knows that) & fourth most religious kids I know aren’t afraid of Hell unless their parents indoctrinate them with a disordered fear of it & neglect to teach them about a Loving forgiving God who longs to pardon even the most hardened sinner. Just like in all the spiritual classics I’ve read.

    >Yes, that is indeed emotional child abuse.

    I reply: Abuse does not negate correct use. Besides I can’t help but noticed you DODGED my example of the Atheist girl who lived in abject FEAR of death & non-existence. How is THAT NOT ABUSE by your own standards? Indeed whenever I bring up this example the best the Atheist can say is the girl “needs to get over it”. How is that any different then me telling a religious child who has a disordered fear of Hell to just get over it & trust in a Loving god who WANTS to save you?

    Well?

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  7. >If I told some innocent young kids who had, say, leukemia that their leukemia was just punishment for their being evil sinners, *that* would be incredibly nasty.

    I reply: About as nasty as saying “BTW, when you die you are gone! All your happy memories are gone in a puff of smoke. There will be no ‘you’ to remember them anymore. You might as well have not existed. Yeh, I could tell you that your surviving friends might ‘remember’ you but YOU won’t know that since there will no longer be anymore you. Nor will it benefit you to have your friends remember you & they will cease to exist one day as well. I could further lie to you & say death is merely sleep but even sleeping people are alive & have brain activity & are conscious in their dreams. You won’t even have that. You will just become nothing. But at least you don’t fear hell.”

    Gee pal THAT is so much more cheery let me tell you……………


    >If I managed to get away with doing it on a regular basis, that would surely be emotional child abuse.

    I reply: The Book of Job teaches us that it is sinful presumption to tell a person (without divine revelation) their temporal afflictions are punishments from God.
    So I agree you should not sin by telling children with cancer that God is punishing them. It hurts the child & it clearly puts YOU in danger of Hell for speaking such nonsense.

    >Of course, the fact that it is known beyond sane doubt that traditional Christianity is simply a set of myths makes it worse: for example, we know for certain that the world, biological species, etc. were not all created in a mere six days. We know that, even if Jesus were a clone, he would have been female, not male.

    I reply: Scratch an Atheist find a fundamentalist. Dude not even many of the Church Fathers interpreted the “Six Days” as literal 24 hour days. All educated persons in the area of Patristic studies know that. Here is a quarter, buy a clue.


    >But even without knowing that Christianity has been proven beyond sane doubt to be mythical, yes, it is emotional child abuse, because the claim is that a *just* God is pursuing the eternal punishment and therefore that the young victims *deserve* it.

    I reply: Rather, a Ominiwise Deity by definition, can infallibly & with PERFECT justice sent those who truly deserve it to Hell. That’s why contrary to that new horror movie, the decision IS NOT left to bitter Old Gypsy Women who want to get back at some hapless loan officer for kicking them out of their house.

    >Christianity is one of the most evil sets of ideas to ever plague the civilized world, arguably even worse than socialism.

    I reply: Well I’m still waiting for the peer reviewed empirical evidence that Christian Children are maladjusted. So I’m guessing it’s a waste of time to ask for your historical data to back up this extreme claim.

    >Fortunately, nowadays, all intelligent, well-educated, honest people know that traditional Christianity is false.

    I reply: Which “Traditional” Christianity? I’m Catholic & as such I reject Protestantism as “traditional”(no offense Marino).


    >I know of not a single person who is an exception to that statement anywhere on earth.

    I reply: You don’t strike me as very intelligent. Your are very whiny & you CLEARY have no historic knowledge of Christianity beyond a superficial understand of certain species of western fundamentalism. You have no knowledge of Tradition, hisotry & the role it’s played in interpreting Scripture. Clearly you have never read Smith or Nagel or any intelligent Atheist who can make a challenging, credible philosophical and or logical case against religious belief but you smack of that pandantic ramblings of Dawkins, Harris & the other four horsemen who are nothing more than the pabulum given to the unwashed anti-intellectual Atheist masses.

    That is just sad.

    >And I have looked for such an exception. Oh, how I have looked!

    I reply: Whatever dude.

    ReplyDelete