Earlier this week I hosted Adam Laats’ engaging argument that, while teaching Creationism in schools might be a bad move, it’s not something it makes sense to ban.
Now Adam has kindly posted my reply on his blog. For those of you that have the patience, there’s already a long debate with a committed creationist in the comments.
I think my argument is plausible, but at the same time, I don’t think that many people agree with me. I welcome your objections. In particular, what would help us to settle the question is a clarification of what is meant by “harm”, and what types of harm to children justify state intervention.
First, we need to get the misleading notion of parents’ rights off the table. Parents are humans, with human rights; children are humans, and they also have human rights. Parental rights are not human rights; they are rights that one human being has to exert control over another. Can you think of another instance where liberal democracies allow a person to act in this way? The only similar examples I know are slavery, imprisonment, and archaic ideas of marriage where ownership of a woman passes from her father to her husband. These do not seem like paradigms to emulate.