Thursday, 19 October 2017

An Atheist Born Every Minute

An old meme from Richard Dawkins goes round the block again thanks to Linda Beale, a comedian who seems to think atheism is still cutting-edge.
Now, I guess fundamentally I just can't see how a newborn can be an atheist. To me being an atheist requires a decision that there is no god or gods - at least an intellectual assent. A newborn baby is just a baby. If being at the default setting (ie with absolutely no opinion on the existence of god(s) is the right one, here's a few other things babies don't do:


  • Understand the philosophy of science
  • Know where Tarporley is
  • Drive cars
  • Ride bikes
  • Operate smart phones
  • Understand the metanarrative of "The Woodlanders" by Thomas Hardy
  • Write haikus
  • Get comedy
  • Use Powerpoint to create memes
  • Read Twitter
  • DIY
  • Care for pets
  • Speak Dutch - or even, let's be honest, whatever their native language is scheduled to be
  • Be smug


No, all these things have to be taught and / or learnt by experience. The only thing babies can do are drink milk, excrete and accept love. Along the way babies, as they grow into adults or comedians, will learn the power to discern, to pick up or reject ideas, to know the difference between an edgy tweet and a 3-year-old idea that was never right in the first place. They will pick up nationalities, their local culture and - hopefully - the cultures of the world. They will learn about their context in the world. They may or may not grow up in a religion, and they may or may not decide to reject it, or indeed embrace one. They may grow up in liberal families or conservative ones - and again they can choose to accept or reject. They may grow up with parents that like Elvis Presley, Russ Abbott's Comedy Madhouse or W1A - and again, they can rebel or not.

In short, babies have got a lot of learning, growing and changing to do. Don't go thinking their default setting is the right one. Babies are useless.

There's a better response to Dawkin's original comments here from Andrew Brown. Don't go "below the line." They're not very edifying.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

7 comments :

  1. Well, at least I know where Tarporley is!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. It's the place that suffers worse in the world from Dutch Parking Meter Disease.

      Delete
  3. Flashlight Annie19/10/2017, 17:36

    You seem to be agreeing with The Guardian, are you feeling quite well?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been known to agree with Andrew Brown on occasion.

      Delete
    2. Is Andrew Brown feeling quite well?

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

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