I, like, really want to be one of the cool kids here on Science Blogs so I am reading The God Delusion by that Oxford don Dawkins. I ventured into what passes as campus town here in Einsteinville, and bought the last copy on the shelf at a proudly independent and somewhat self-congratulatory bookstore. After reading Dawkins’ thesis that religion should not be accorded special respect, I remembered my stash of old National Lampoons (circa 1972-1977ish) mouldering away in the basement. Those NatLamPoo boys respected nothing, and I vaguely recalled that they certainly did not spare religion. I hit paydirt when I came across the “Strange Beliefs” and “The Joy of Sects: The Judaeo-Christian Tradition” issues. I scanned some sacredelicious items into pdf form. Check back at this space for the occasional image.
In my nostalgic perusal of the frayed and yellowed rags, I stumbled across a series of cartoons by Gahan Wilson. The theme is “Strange Beliefs of Children.” I had just read Chapter 9 of The God Delusion , “Childhood, Abuse, and The Escape from Religion” (OK, I skipped ahead) in which Dawkins argues that religious indoctrination is tantamount to child abuse. He has a point, and offers florid examples of the religious coercion of juveniles. However, kids are odd little critters who are prone to magical thinking, even if their parents are the most rational of beings. If parents or religious institutions are not beating strange beliefs into their young noggins, children will come up with their own. So says Gahan Wilson (text and images from The National Lampoon, August 1973)…
Outside of the occasional surviving stone age tribe come across on an isolated Pacific island or discovered tucked away in some obscure bend of the Amazon, there is no observable group of humans living on this earth more darkly benighted, more shuddersomely superstitious, or more grossly misinformed than the ordinary children we see pottering about daily at our knee level. Constantly forced to obey the incomprehensible rules of a society they cannot even dimly begin to understand, menaced by awesome diseases and fearsome technological poisons, endlessly presented with unanswered questions, these tiny creatures in a brave, if faltering attempt to explain their basically alien environment to themselves, have created one of the richest troves of strange beliefs ever assembled.
Here are a few of the cartoons.