Pharyngula

Tell us what you really think, Jason

Rosenhouse plans to review the reviews of Dawkins’ The God Delusion this week, and he’s already off to a scathing start. Pop the popcorn, and sit back.

Comments

  1. #1 John Wilkins
    October 30, 2006

    I look forward to being demolished ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. #2 mndarwinist
    October 30, 2006

    Correct me if I’m wrong. But if it’s silly to bring logic and reason to bear on the God question. Doesn’t that make the question, by definition, illogical and unreasonable?

  3. #3 Kristine
    October 30, 2006

    I look forward to Orac’s take as well.

  4. #4 joe
    October 30, 2006

    Funny OT story.

    We were camping this weekend and my 7-year-old entered the campground’s Halloween costume contest. She was an Indian “princess” with the headband, fringe jacket, etc.

    On stage (in front of 300 people) the MC was introducing all the kids and announcing what they were dressed up as. When it was Emily’s turn he leaned down for her to tell what she was and he got the strangest look on his face, stood up and announced “Well, this little girl says she’s an Atheist”. The crowd laughed like crazy.

    Then my daughter got the strange look on her face and pulled the microphone down and said “Well, I AM an Atheist. What’s funny about that?”

    Good times.

  5. #5 dileffante
    October 30, 2006

    I look forward to the review of Jason’s review ๐Ÿ™‚

    Perhaps at Jeffrey’s Recursivity!

  6. #6 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 30, 2006

    joe,

    Great story! I’ve got an 8 yr old and 5 yr old daughter, what a great time of life!
    Did she win the “scariest costume”award? ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. #7 JohnnieCanuck
    October 31, 2006

    Neat story. Actually polls show that she was the scariest kind of person, in a costume.

  8. #8 Martin Christensen
    October 31, 2006

    Well, joe, I’m not really sure about that story. I don’t think that a 7-year-old is any more capable of making an informed, considered choice of atheism for the same reason he couldn’t make the equivalent choice of religion. When your daughter proclaims that she’s an atheist, I’d be astounded if she isn’t more or less parroting her parents as they’re wont to do at that age. It has some of the same ring to it as when another little girl would declare, “I love Jesus.” I’d hate for the saved to make claims of brainwasing against we atheists and be even remotely justified.

    My own little girl isn’t yet 7 weeks (and sitting on my arm), but I hope that if/when she declares her atheism, it’s after a fair amount of deliberation.

    Martin

  9. #9 Paul D
    October 31, 2006

    Correct me if I’m wrong. But if it’s silly to bring logic and reason to bear on the God question. Doesn’t that make the question, by definition, illogical and unreasonable?

    That’s called ignosticism (with an ‘i’).

  10. #10 Larry Moran
    October 31, 2006

    Martin says,

    Well, joe, I’m not really sure about that story. I don’t think that a 7-year-old is any more capable of making an informed, considered choice of atheism for the same reason he couldn’t make the equivalent choice of religion.

    All children are atheists by default. They need to be taught religion. They are nonbelievers until they’re capable of making up their minds about the particular Gods of their parents.

  11. #11 Martin Christensen
    October 31, 2006

    All children are atheists by default. They need to be taught religion. They are nonbelievers until they’re capable of making up their minds about the particular Gods of their parents.

    When someone claims to be an atheist, or to be the proponent of any other philosophical or religious position, I read into that a measure of conviction that I doubt that a young child can have on such a topic. I won’t argue that religion is something they need to be taught, so I suppose they’re nominal atheists by default, but they’re not atheists by conviction. And when I hear someone declare himself an atheist, I take that to be a statement of conviction. Calling a child an atheist because he has not yet learned religion is as hollow as me calling myself a Christian because I belong to a Christian demography.

    Martin

  12. #12 Derick Ovenall
    October 31, 2006

    A year or so ago, my now adult daughter reminded me of an incident that had happened to her when she was a preteen: She came home from school one day and said that a classmate had told her that unless she believed in Jesus Christ she would go to hell. Apparently, I then replied that since we were not Christians, she had no reason to fear that she would go to hell. She was perfectly satisfied by this, and, despite the fact that she later went to a private catholic high school, she is an atheist, reason having trumped superstition. Our choice of school was based on its academic excellence, with a nod to Bertram Russell’s advice (he of the orbiting teapot fame), that perhaps it was not a good idea to attempt to bring up your children as carbon copies of yourself.

  13. #13 David Marjanoviฤ‡
    October 31, 2006

    Wouldn’t you rather say all children are agnosticists by default? Can you have an opinion about something you’ve never heard of?

  14. #14 Damien
    October 31, 2006

    My parents are atheists, but my memory has been that I somehow didn’t pick up on this consciously as a kid, and around age 7 got up the courage to ask if they believed. Courage, because I knew I didn’t, but thought that outright disbelief would violate some foofy-ubertolerant-liberalism I thought they might have, and it’s tough to go against your parents at a young age.

  15. #15 Halfdan
    October 31, 2006

    I think it’s irrational to assume that negative reviews of the book reflect a hatred of rationality–unless of course you think Nature and Science are part of that pro-irrationality cultural conspiracy.

    But what I’m more puzzled by is the assumption that “irrationality” is necessarily a bad thing. Am I also supposed to stop reading poetry because metaphorical language is “irrational?” Or stop hugging my daughter because my love for her is “irrational?”

    I don’t believe in God either, but I just don’t see the point in this line of argument.

  16. #16 joe
    October 31, 2006

    T. Bruce McNeely: sadly, no she didn’t win. But the kid dressed as a Creationist didn’t either ;).

    Martin: When my daughter was 5 she came home from pre-school and announced that Jesus Christ was the son of God and she believed in God. Up to that point we had never had a God discussion of any sort. I explained my view and why I didn’t believe in God and she said that was OK because she did anyway (I found out later, BTW, that her teacher was telling Bible stories in class).

    Now, I could have told her she should believe as I did, but that’s what I imagined most Christian parents would do. If I had known it was an adult who was indoctrinating her I probably would have done differently (I assumed she learned of Jesus from her schoolyard friends), but what I decided was to simply say “you can believe whatever you want, but this is what I believe” and left it at that.

    Sometime in the last three or so years she stopped saying she believed in God, starting asking about how the earth was formed, where life came from, and what do you call someone who doesn’t believe in God (all unprompted be me) and I attribute this to her secular public school education.

    So, as far as I can tell, she came about her Atheism honestly and responsibly. If I helped her along the way by example, I don’t have have a problem with that. She made up her own mind.

    Or course, she told me the other day she was now a vegetarian and as such she couldn’t eat anything with “hooves”. Except for pepperoni, and anything else she likes to eat which she insists don’t have hooves, since, well she likes to eat them. So take that for what it’s worth.

  17. #17 Blake Stacey
    October 31, 2006

    I grew up without any sort of organized religion and with ready access to history and science books. Before the age of ten, or thereabouts, my head was filled with vague notions of mysticism: I thought there might be something to UFOs, for example, and I was sympathetic to “energy fields” radiating from Stonehenge. In other words, I sponged up the ordinary, nonsensical woo floating around in the Zeitgeist of late TwenCen America. Gradually, these ideas left my head, as I learned more about the way the world really worked. No trauma and little drama in the whole affair.

  18. #18 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 31, 2006

    You’re on deck Wilkins! You weak-kneed agnostic pantywaist!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. #19 Martin Christensen
    October 31, 2006

    joe, forgive me if I sounded like I implied that you were indoctrinating your child in the same way that many religious people do. That was not my intention at all.

    I cannot help but think that your daughter’s atheism is of much the same variety as her vegetarianism, and that was my original point. At age 7, one does not generally have the intellectual horsepower to make sound decisions on religion. In my own case, I reinvented – and fell for – Pascal’s wager at almost twice her age, but fortunately I fairly soon after saw through my own hypocricy and reverted (until much later) to the agnosticism from which I came.

    Blake Stacey, your story sounds very much like my own, although on a different continent, and it took a little longer for me to shed the woo. I’m guessing that in Denmark, growing up with religion being fairly in the background is much more common than in the US.

    Martin

  20. #20 Paguroidea
    October 31, 2006

    Uh oh – Wilkins! Now you’re in trouble.

  21. #21 joe
    October 31, 2006

    Martin: no worries, I didn’t take it that way at all. Frankly I don’t know when someone is capable of understanding, or deciding upon a religious belief. I was raised and confirmed a Lutheran, but I can’t remember a time when I actually believed, even as a small child. With my general antipathy toward religion all it required was a little push from some hypocritical Born-Agains in my late teens to make me a full fledged non-believer.

    Now, I’d like to say I was a super intelligent and self-realized teenager. But I remember being completely enthralled with the “Chariots of the Gods” nonsense of the early 70’s while laughing at the equally silly Hal Lindsey “Late Great Planet Earth”.

    Who’s to say how or why I ended up rejecting both?

  22. #22 RyanG
    November 1, 2006

    Halfdan:

    1. It’s never too late to stop reading poetry.
    2. Where in the sam hill did you get the idea that loving your daughter is irrational?

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