Scary Thought: What if Folks in the New Atheist Crowd Held Political Office?
As Michael Egnor points out, Jerry Coyne has written in such a way as to give the impression he finds it "unfortunate" that parents can "legally proselytize their children at home" -- meaning, give them a religious education. Dr. Egnor is concerned to give Dr. Coyne a route of escape from his own words: "Slip of the pen, you say? He doesn't really mean that? Then let him clarify."
Coyne could say he wrote imprecisely and in fact only finds it "unfortunate" that many parents do choose to educate their children in a religious faith, not that they may do so legally. Coyne should clarify unless he wants to appear to be on the record as saying teaching children about a faith should be illegal, the kind of thing that under atheist totalitarian regimes past and present would get your kids taken away from you by the state.
Responding to Egnor's post, a reader tweets another good point.
@d_klinghoffer isn't this same concept promoted regularly by dawkins? (although much more carefully to avoid this faux pas)— Matt Landis (@matthewlandis) March 6, 2014
Actually I'm not sure Richard Dawkins was any more careful than Coyne. The reference is to Dawkins's statements in the past equating religious education with child abuse:
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.
Obviously this raises the same question that Mike Egnor put to Coyne. If sending your kids to a religious school, studying religious texts with them at home, reminding them that "You are a Jewish child" or the like -- I do all three -- is a form of "child abuse" it naturally follows that right about now, Child Protective Services or the police should be taking a hand in how my wife and I raise our kids. That is what logically follows.
New Atheists like Dawkins and Coyne may just be trying, clumsily, to assume a provocative stance. That's the charitable interpretation, and perhaps it's true. Or perhaps as Egnor says, "Sometimes the totalitarianism inherent in atheism doesn't even run deep: it sits right on the surface."
We've seen how secular governments like Sweden, Norway and Denmark already are curtailing religious freedom. Yes, Coyne is an admirer of Scandinavia. We've also seen what this crowd can do in our own country, exercising influence over a public university like Ball State to silence dissenting scientific views. Definitely, I would be worried if it ever got to the stage where Darwinian-atheist activists stood to hold public office.
I'm now on Twitter. Find me @d_klinghoffer.