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Any fool can make a rule and any fool will mind it

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Andrew Brown, the Guardian’s Fool in Residence, has written another painfully ridiculous excuse for a column: “Richard Dawkins’s backwards logic over atheist schooling,” subtitled “Richard Dawkins’s belief that any properly brought up child will naturally be an atheist leads him into absurdity.”

Some choice bits from The Fool:

But “evidence”, tends to be defined backwards in these polemics – in other words, he starts from the axiom that there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of God, (implied here in his remark that “Every atheist I know would change their mind in a heartbeat if any evidence appeared in favour of religious belief”) and then find meanings for the term that fit this use. This is of course the same trick as defining faith as belief without evidence and then using this definition as proof that faith is irrational.

Andrew Brown, listen up. Try to follow me here:

  1. There is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of God.
  2. Any intellectually honest atheist indeed would change their position were there any such evidence.
  3. Faith, by definition, is “belief without evidence.” Of course it is “irrational.”

He goes on:

If that sounds unfair, consider the uses of “evidence” in his discussion of education here: “Children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be sceptical, critical, open-minded. If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.” It’s clear here that Dawkins is starting from the definition that “evidence” is what can’t justify a belief in God, whereas “tradition, authority, revelation, and faith” have all been used to justify religious belief, so they must be bad.

  1. Again: there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of God.
  2. Yes, believing something without evidence is “bad.” Teaching a child that tradition, authority, and revelation are good reasons for believing something to be true is cruel. Cruel. It stunts their intellectual and emotional growth. It discourages them from asking questions and thinking critically. It makes them into gullible little creatures, many of whom never develop the ability to think for themselves. It deprives them.

And more:
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