Discussion: What is Richard Dawkins wrong about?

I got the idea for this post a couple weeks ago, before the debate over Bart Ehrman’s book. Now it feels sort of unnecessary; in fact I’ve thought the opposite may be true. But here it goes anyway: 

Most of the criticism I see of Dawkins is ludicrous. And seeing how much crap he gets for completely unfair reasons has done a lot to make me more sympathetic to the man. But I wonder if this makes me too inclined to ignore actual mistakes he’s made. So I’ve decided to have a thread for people to  tell what Richard Dawkins is wrong about. I won’t necessarily agree, but I’ll listen to what you have to say.

The truth is, though, that even on careful reflection, it’s very, very hard for me to think of things I think Dawkins has gotten wrong (whether you’re talking about religion or biology). For example, I just reposted a blog post where I defended Dawkins’ treatment of Aquinas, which Dawkins . Also, when I first read The God Delusion, I remember being a bit peeved at Dawkins’ use of “absolute” to refer to non-utilitarian morality, but now I think it’s silly to worry about that kind of word-definition issue.

I am, however, still uncomfortable with what Dawkins has said about religion and child abuse, namely:

What can it mean to speak of a child’s ‘own’ religion? Imagine a world in which it was normal to speak of a Keynesian child, a Hayekian child, or a Marxist child. Or imagine a proposal to pour government money into separate primary schools for Labour children, Tory children, LibDem children and Monster Raving Loony children? Everyone agrees that small children are too young to know whether they are Keynesian or Monetarist, Labour or Tory, too young to bear the burden of such labels. Why, then, is our entire society happy to slap a label like Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, on a tiny child? Isn’t that, when you think about it, a kind of mental child abuse?

I’m personally very reluctant to call anything non-physical child abuse. But then that means I’m reluctant to call turning your daughters into pro-Nazi pop stars child abuse. And even though we might not call it child abuse, I think most of us would be profoundly creeped out if political groups were putting members’ children through political catechism classes.

So again: what else do you disagree with Dawkins about?

And yes, you can use this thread to talk about Elevatorgate, but please don’t use it to talk only about Elevatorgate. I already know about Elevatorgate, so if this thread ends up being only about that, it doesn’t serve its purpose.

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