Friday, March 7, 2014

Do Atheists Desire State-Sponsored Atheism?

Sure, it does seem to be that case that almost all the time there is a legislature somewhere in this country trying "smuggle creationism" into the science curricula of our taxpayer-funded schools. I don't agree with that. But here's something that caught my attention yesterday.

Jerry Coyne has a popular science blog called Why Evolution Is True. Mr. Coyne is a biologist and a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. And if you click this link it will take you to an item on his blog where he comments on a BBC story about a "Jewish girls school in Hackney [that] has been redacting questions on evolution on science exam papers because they do not fit with their beliefs."

In Coyne's commentary he writes:

It’s time for Britain to get rid of its state-supported faith schools. Given that parents can (unfortunately) legally proselytize their children at home, there is no justification for publicly supporting religious education outside the home. Really, my British readers, why do you tolerate this? After all, you’re supposed to be more enlightened, and less marinated in faith, than us Americans. Yes, I know you have no First Amendment, but you didn’t have to pass laws allowing such schools!

Am I reading Coyne wrong or is he actually suggesting that parents shouldn't have a legal right to teach their children their religious faith? It seems to me he is clearly indicating it is unfortunate that parents can do this legally.

This calls to my mind comments another well-known biologist made last year. I'm speaking of Richard Dawkins, who said:

There is a value in teaching children about religion. You cannot really appreciate a lot of literature without knowing about religion. But we must not indoctrinate our children.

Dawkins even went so far as to say:

What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That's child abuse.

It's fair to ask where that attitude might lead. Our government will and should keep God out of the science classes in our schools. But will the day come when it will be used to root God out of our homes? That would seem to be reasonable and desirable if teaching religion to children really is child abuse.

Will freedom loving atheists speak out against their brothers and sisters who seem to be moving in that direction? 

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