Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Don't sacrifice your children to the Sun God

I find it hard to feel strongly about anything these days. But I still feel, in a sense, outrage when I think about some of the things that religious people are allowed to do. I think it's a fine thing to be religious, and I think you ought to have the right to do with yourself as you please (as long as it hurts no one else etc.), but when you force things onto to children, who probably (maybe not in the case of child geniuses) cannot give consent - not that consent would matter in this case as you'd force them into it anyway - you are impacting heavily on freedoms you would strongly defend if it were you in the place of your own children. I will provide three major examples: Indoctrination, Circumcision and Fasting. All three of these violate the consent of the child, and two of them cause suffering from the outset.

Indoctrination annoys me quite a lot. Not only because it creates yet more zombies hellbent on procreating this world into a nest of ants, with each of us crawling over one another to get by, but because having a religion is a sufficiently large enough decision that indoctrination will always be felt as a breach of rights. You may argue that parents can act 'by proxy' to consent for their children, but in this case doing so easily allows cults to spread, and for children to suffer nightmares from visions of hell and such. Clearly since this involves suffering, consent does matter. Is it not better to simply wait until the child is older to let them decide about matters of religion? Also consider a person forcibly brainwashes you into believing in his or her religion. Would you not protest against such a thing happening? Why don't you stop the same thing happening when you do it to your own child?

Circumcision is pretty easy to argue against: if someone held you down and cut off your earlobe, without anaesthesia, would you sue them? Is that clearly not assault? Does the consent by proxy argument work here? No, because clearly this is a matter that brings real suffering and is completely and utterly useless. If a parent can consent to circumcise their child, then a parent can consent to mutilate their child in any way they want as long as it heals eventually and doesn't bring lasting harm. Even if it brought no suffering, the fact that it can go wrong, and little boys can suddenly find themselves becoming more like little girls overnight, means that something for little to no reason can result in life-changing consequences. It's okay to get circumcised later on in life of course, and I don't see why a religious delusion has to be upheld like this just because we're afraid to step on a few toes.

Forcing kids to fast is something a lot of atheists don't address, but which annoys me all the same. That's the same thing as forcing them to suffer - for little to no reason at all, again. It is DIRECTLY forcing them to suffer, as constant hunger is exactly the same thing. As with all these things, it is barbaric - a relic of times when people had to show in-group loyalty fiercely as food was scarce. The nomadic Abrahamic religions' cruelty I suspect can all be traced back to these conditions.

Don't mutilate your children, don't let them starve, don't brainwash them, and don't sacrifice them for a good harvest next year. Be religious, but remember that greater powers than your imaginary beings should bind you at all times.

EDIT: Think I was wrong on the indoctrination part - it's committing harm because you're forcing them to believe in scary lies, but not forcing them to believe in barbaric rituals could also be considered a harm. It's a Catch-22 situation. Indoctrination is bad only if a scientific study proves religious from birth happier than atheist/agnostic from birth.

7 comments:

  1. Totally agree about the circumcision and fasting, estnihil.

    I think the indoctrination issue is a little more interesting, though, insofar as how it applies to atheist parents. For me, atheists have the least possible justification for breeding. If you're an atheist, that means you're a materialist; you believe everything is just matter squelching about in various forms until its dissolution. That being the case, I really cannot see how atheists could ever justify procreation.

    Sadly, though, they do. And what I find interesting is that having procreated, would the child not be better off being told that there is a loving God who cares for them and will ensure everything is alright in the end? I mean, is it really fair that Daddy sits down little Linda one day when she's four and says, 'Honey, you live in a godless, materialistic universe. There's no god, no salvation and ultimately no hope. When Mammy and Daddy die, you'll be alone in the midst of strangers who will be, at best, indifferent, and, at worst, outrightly hostile to you. And although we say we love you, I'm sorry to say that science tells us that 'love' is juust an illusion created by blind DNA molecules who perpetuate for no reason. Sorry, honey, but that's just how it is. Best of luck with it all. Now go out and play with your teddy.'

    I have a friend who's an ardent Atheist and Materialist who happens to be married to an equally fervent Roman Catholic. They have two girls (at her insistence), and I sometimes wonder what he's going to say to them. He's letting his wife raise the kids as Catholic but is, I think, planning to try and make them Atheist when they reach 12. Personally, I just view these kids as victims and him as being utterly irresponsible and hypocritical for having procreated given his strident Atheism.

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  2. I think indoctrination would actually be SOMEWHAT okay for a religion like Hinduism or Buddhism, but for the Abrahamic religions, filled with strict rules and extremely scary visions of hell, suffering is going to be caused by making your children worship them. Islam and Judaism basically say if you do X (or do Y Z amount of times), you are going to be tortured for eternity in hell. Christianity is a little better because it has the escape clause: "If you believe in Christ with all your heart and ask for forgiveness you will be forgiven".

    If I had a child also I don't think I'd raise them with any religion out of fear they'd grow out of it and hate me for it. That happens too. I wouldn't raise them Pessimist of course, I'd lie like hell about that. "The world is awesome and filled with great stuff sweetie, but it's wrong to gamble on another person's welfare, just saying".

    Still if you indoctrinate your children, you can argue pretty easily for them not to breed, because their children could go to hell for eternity. Doesn't work with non-children though, because people are really stubborn.

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  3. Atheists breeding is like... insanity in a whole other level.

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  4. My counter-contrarian take is that imposing from-the-outside horrible shit on your children is precisely what creates a sense of belonging and value for them, and gives them the illusions necessary to make life seem tolerable. It's us atheist SWPLs who really fuck our children by having them - no sacredness structure (strengthened by suffering) by which they can measure and organize their lives, just an unformed mass of optimistic bullshit.

    Cutting of pieces of your children and making them fast is awful, but it's better, I think, than telling them you just want them to be happy and then not giving them a sacredness structure in which to be happy.

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  5. I was wrong on that Judaism bit by the way, they sort of have a hell, but sort of don't. The information's on wikipedia for all who want it.

    If you can prove that a child will suffer less for being religious than being atheist then I suppose consent really goes out the window. You aren't doing harm solely by raising a child religiously - you're also doing it when you're NOT raising them that way. I think I've realised that just now. So in the Catch-22 situation, whichever turns out to be better in a scientific study wins. No question of ends-justify-the-means, even though it does initially look like that's what it's a case of.

    I think the utopian situation would be to either have a religion that satisfies in a superstimulus-like way the religious taste-buds in the brain, but without compromising on secular ideals, or simply remove the yearning for meaning from human minds.

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    1. This is extremely cruel, but I think parents should offer assisted suicide to kids, even if they're considered murderers for that.

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  6. Circumcision controversy in Germany:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0721/1224320527907.html?via=mr

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