In his speech at the AAI Convention (see video below) Richard Dawkins illustrated his comments on the injustice of labeling children with the religion of their parents using data from google searches. I have replicated similar searches here. Dawkins point is that it is inhumane to label children with a religion (e.g., Christian child, Muslim child, etc.) because they are not in a position to really consider what the beliefs are. We can easily see this if we label children as non-religious (e.g., atheist child, agnostic child, etc.) or politically (liberal child, conservative child, Marxist child, etc.).
The google search results, however, suggest that whereas political and non-religious people recognise the inhumanity of labeling their children in this manner, religions seem to have no qualms.
Distortions and misrepresentations
Dawkins spent much of his presentation dealing with the way that his comments have been misrepresented and distorted. Some of the distortions are maliciously dishonest, as in the videos (shown in the talk) altered to show Dawkins making statements he never did. Interestingly, these videos are commonly posted on Christian blogs.
Some other straw men Dawkins knocks down are:
“Religion should be kept out of school” – Dawkins believes teaching about religion is essential for our understanding of history, culture and literature. It also helps overcome prejudices if children learn about the beliefs of others. (Dawkins talked in more detail about teaching chidren without indoctrinating them in this video).
“Religion is the root of all evil” – No, it’s not the only motive for violence and war
“You shouldn’t make judgements about existence of a god without a thorough knowledge of theology” – Dawkins lampooned this position by talking about “thorology”, the study of the god Thor. “How can we decide on the existence or otherwise of Thor without a thorougth knowledge of thorology.”
“Religion has no value” – Dawkins believes that there is a lot in religion that can be appreciated at an aesthetic level – “Just don’t take it too seriously.”
A free ride for religion?
An important aspect stressed by Dawkins is that religion asks for a free ride. It asks that it should be respected and not exposed to the same critical assessments, standards of judgment or ridicule that are normal for other fields of human activity such as politics, sport and science. These are the standards that atheists are exposed to, and accept.
Perhaps this is why many theists see Dawkins as a threat and go out of their way to misrepresent and demonise him!
Richard Dawkins AAI presentation: Part 1 (45 min)
Richard Dawkins AAI presentation (Q&A): Part 2 (12 min)
Delusions about Dawkins
Lies and misinformation
Agnostics – what do they stand for?
Theology of the Emperor’s New Clothes
The Enemies of Reason
Richard Dawkins and the enemies of reason
Putting Dawkins in his place