Richard Dawkins: Give me the Child and I’ll Give you the Man
by Anthony Horvath
Religious leaders are well aware of the vulnerability of the child brain, and the importance of getting the indoctrination in early. The Jesuit boast, ‘Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man,’ is no less accurate (or sinister) for being hackneyed.
The above quote comes from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion in the chapter titled “The Roots of Religion.” I was thinking about that chapter when I heard that Mr. Dawkins was putting out a children’s book. Has Dawkins decided he needs to get into the ‘indoctrination’ business?
Of course, the word ‘indoctrination’ has taken on a negative air, and is only applied when one disapproves of what is being transmitted—even if one is about the same business. Dawkins’ real problem is not with the Jesuit’s ‘sinister’ approach. He admits it is ‘no less accurate.’ His real beef must be with the content the Jesuits presented.
Good! Then we are all agreed! ‘Indoctrination’ isn’t ‘sinister.’ Transmitting the beliefs, values, and perceptions of one generation to the next is an important and unavoidable necessity that must take certain definite forms because of the nature of who we are transmitting them too: children.
Now, we cannot really believe that atheists and secular humanists have every really thought that ‘indoctrination’ was the exclusive domain of the religionists. For the last hundred years, they have been on a tear doing all that they can to purge any vestige of anything that even smacks of religion from public society and the public schools. A more accurate assessment would suggest that even when Dawkins bemoaned the tawdry work of the Jesuits, his side knew early on the importance of ‘getting the indoctrination in early.’
So what, then? What might motivate this upcoming release? There may be some clues in Dawkins’ Delusion.
In his chapter “The Roots of Religion” he faces up to some very difficult facts. He would like to chalk up the continued presence of nonsense-believers to the ‘sinister’ work of those like the Jesuits but he is prevented from doing so by the apparently scientific observation is that children are psychologically primed for religion.
Now, in a sane world, this observation would be recognized by all for what it is: positive evidence for the Christian claim that people are made in God’s image, meant from the start to be in a relationship with Him. Dawkins already ‘knows’ that this can’t be the case, but since he also knows that we are ‘psychologically primed for religion,’ he has got to find himself a way out. Because of the constraints of his worldview, he is compelled to search out some strictly materialistic evolutionary explanation…
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