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← Effect of the concept of hell on children

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Richard Dawkins

If there's one thing above all else that I loathe and despise about religion generally, and Roman Catholicism in particular, it is telling lies to children with the deliberate aim of terrifying them.

Maybe you'd be amused, and even consoled by, Dawkins' Law of Conservation of Terror:

"Threats expand to fill the vacuum of their implausibility."

The more implausible the threat, the more terrifying it has to be in compensation. A plausible threat, such as a teacher's threat of punitive detention, doesn't have to be very terrifying in order to be effective, because the child knows that it will probably be carried out. A very implausible threat is unlikely to be believed, so it has to be made very terrifying in order to have any hope of persuading the child. Now think about the most terrifying threat you have ever met, namely the threat of hell. What does that suggest to you about its plausibility?

Richard

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 11:21:02 UTC | #950032