Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Dawkins Delusion

Whether you watched the Raoul Moat Tapes on Channel 4, or the Richard Dawkins Faith School documentary on More 4, you were pretty much watching the same thing, two deluded nutters talking gobbledygook.

I’d like to begin this blog by confirming with everyone that I am NOT religious. I think this is important to my argument for my problems with Dawkins and most of his views.

Last night Dawkins tried to argue across that religious schools should be banned. His main arguments were that it indoctrinates children into believing in religion and that children shouldn’t be forced into their parents beliefs. It divides society and doesn’t allow children to mix. That they teach children incorrect information, that they should be taught about evolution and not about creationism.

I went to two faith schools and my experience was a positive one. We were supposed to sing and pray in assemblies, but to be honest if anything it gave us structure, discipline and thought. Science lessons were taught as science lessons according to the national curriculum and RE taught all religions, beliefs and faiths. The religion actually came into school in assemblies, where we did hear bible stories, sing hymns and pray; there was also optional communion once a week. Did I feel indoctrinated? No. Not at all. My peers around me were of different races and faiths, but mostly had already decided they were atheist. When in a Christian primary school, most pupils had made up their mind by the time they were seven years old that they didn’t believe in god, so clearly the ‘indoctrinating ‘ as Dawkins believes isn’t working.

But what is most interesting that most of my peers who turned out atheist in primary school went onto CHOOSE a religious high school, and it was the same for my jewish, catholic, muslim and hindu friends. Why?

Lets face it. The clientele and the grades. My high school was in the top 10 high schools in the England. It had a strict entry system that you had to be a member of a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other, and had to have a minimum number of weeks attendance at that school. From my point of view, it was about dedication. You really want to be in this school? Go to church. Prove you really want to go. Most of these people came from Christian upbringings or equivalent and brought a well behaved group of people to the school. The behavior compared to other schools in the area was spectacular, and the grades were brilliant. At no point do I believe God caused all this; but its religious structure and the clientele and background of the pupils along with of course the teachers. One year the school opened its doors to anyone, and after the behavior of that year was despicable and probably one of the worst years the school had ever had, they reverted back to the original, selective system.

Dawkins argued about mixing and childrens choice? Should the children be liberated and allowed their own choice? Or is it not the right of the parent to be able to raise their child in the religion of their choice. My parents chose to bring me up as a Christian. Are they evil for that? Have they indoctrinated me? Well as an unreligious gay 22 year old, I don’t think they were too successful if they had.

If it is about liberating our children to choice, then should churches, temples and mosques be closed to all under 16s? Allow them to go in at 16 and then make their own choice as anything before then would clearly indoctrinating?

And if its about mixing, should we close all single sex schools as it stops boys and girls mixing? Should we close independent schools because it broadens the divide between middle and working class people? No. Because those parents have the right to choose how their children are taught and who they are surrounded by. Just like my parents wanted me to be in a Christian environment.

I agree with Dawkins that religious schools should be heavily monitored to make sure they are teaching science correctly and that RE lessons are balanced and informs them of everything they need to know along with the national curriculum. But if they choose to have religious assemblies, prayer and hymns then who are they really hurting?

It wasn’t really just the program subject which got me last night. I put some of my thoughts on Twitter and some of the abusive replies I got from atheists and Richard Dawkins fanatics was unbelievable. It was as if I had insulted the Catholics or Muslims the reaction I had received, for putting up a couple of thoughts. It seems Dawkins is turning atheism into a religion in itself.

I’ve read Dawkins book and various programs, and it seems he cannot rest until everyone is atheist. Religion can be a beautiful thing, it gives hope, purpose and structure to so many people’s lives. Don’t like it? Don’t get involved.
Last night we saw him actually tell a Muslim man that he should be like Christians have, and change his faith and beliefs on creationism. The Muslim man looked like he was about to laugh out loud at the suggestion.

Lets face it, if we see a Christian preaching in the middle of a city centre, shouting Leviticus passages or the Revelations; we walk past and think ‘what a nutter’ and get annoyed at them for forcing their views onto us. And yet Dawkins is doing exactly the same thing?

To be honest, his shows and books are pretty pointless. Those who read or watch them have often made up their own mind already. I haven’t heard of any nuns or priests reading it and going ‘’yeh your right Dawkins, fuck it’’, or Our Ladies Catholic School Headteacher suddenly scrapping the religion in the school after hearing Dawkins views. Anyone watching the show was pretty much for or against, and those who hadn’t made up their mind most likely didn’t bother to tune it, because they weren’t bothered. Richard Dawkins like that ‘nutter’ in the street is only being listened to by those who already see his point of view or wish to argue against him.

But these are just a few thoughts and opinions of mine and I know others disagree; I’m not saying I’m right or your wrong. I’m just asking at least, please, formulate a more sophisticated argument than that cringe-worthy Richard Dawkins does, who in my opinion is just like his view of believers; deluded.

Next week a more sophisticated debate. Who should win big brother???