I regularly discuss religion with all manner of people, I have the belief that anyone who seeks to do good things and not harm others is on the right track, regardless of their system of belief or lack of it. I believe that anyone who seeks to use religion or athiesm to harm other people, or compel them to do things they don't wish to do to be evil. I believe we are all part of the same family and we should treat each other with respect and dignity. People have used religion for many evil purposes throughout history, but I happen to believe that in countries where Athiesm was adopted, such as the USSR and China the same thing happened. I personally see religious disputes in the same light as football violence. I believe it to be tribal hatred, practised by idiots who have rather missed the point of it all. I would not associate myself with any view which seeks to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their religion. That is why I was shocked and moved to write this blog when I saw the following Tweet posted by Richard Dawkins
Would you ban yr children's grandmother for a difference in politics? Or music? Food? Sport? No only 1 thing. Yes, poisonous religion.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2013
In effect Mr Dawkins is saying that he encourages families to ban contact between Grandparents and Grandchildren if the Grandparents are not athiests. I cannot imagine how hard this could possibly be for a Grandparent. It is cruel and unfair. My parents were both staunch Roman Catholics. Both of my elder brothers are athiests. My parents would have preferred my brothers children to be baptised. This did cause a little heartache to my parents, but my brother was not prepared to compromise and that was that. My father loved his children as much as he loved my sisters children who were all brought up in the faith. When my father died unexpectedly in 1987, the whole family was devasted. I cannot imagine the heartache that would
have been caused had my brother adhered to Mr Dawkins directive.
I believe that anything which drives wedges into families is evil and corrosive. We may not agree with the religious views of our siblings/parents/children etc, but we have to respect them and love them anyway. My brothers both disagree with my views on faith, but we would defend each other to the death and we respect each others right to hold those views. One would assume that most athiests subscribe to the view because they have a sound intellectual argument to support their views. They should also have an understanding of why their parents subscribe to a different view. Surely the correct way to deal with this situation is to say "Grandma believes this for these reasons, but we have a different view because...." using this approach will allow the child to think about the issue and decide on which road is right for them. I have always encouraged my children to think for themselves about such issues. I have suggested that whatever decision they make is informed and rational. I have no idea whether they will grow up to follow my faith. To be honest, it is their decision and whatever one they make, it will be the correct one for them and I will respect it.
I happen to believe that the existence of God is and always be impossible to scientifically prove or disprove. Belief is a matter of faith and for the individual to decide upon. As such I believe athiesm is simply another form of religion, albiet one with no deity. It is a system of belief. Whilst most athiests I know would recoil at Mr Dawkins suggestion, it does trouble me that in his role of as the Archbishop of Canterbury for athiests, he is spreading a message of hate and division. I support free speech and the right of anyone to hold whatever view they choose. I do however think that in light of his comment, I have formed the opinion that in some ways Mr Dawkins is a dangerous religious fundamentalist. In my book anyone who preaches division in families is someone who has gone too far.
********** Updated 12:43 ***********
Many thanks to Aaron Shaw who suggested I look at the full twitter exchange preceding this. When I see a tweet which I use in a blog, I will check it for a chain, but the one above had none. Mr Shaw rightly observed that there were two preceding tweets, which when read as an entirity change the meaning.
@RichardDawkins My daughter will not let me see my grandchildren strictly because I voice my non-belief. This is discrimination!
— Kathy Massey (@KathyMassey07) August 20, 2013
"My daughter will not let me see my grandchildren [because of my non-belief]". "@KathyMassey07 Obscene to allow her stupid god to interfere.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2013
It seems that the whole situation is a little more complex than I originally assumed. What I hadn't realised was perhaps how accurate my description of Mr Dawkins as the Archbishop of Canterbury of Athiesm actually was. I find it truly bizarre that someone would tweet him about a family row. Whilst I can understand his initial response, does it really help? It strikes me that the mother and daughter are both similar characters, who have issues backing down. If I had a row with my daughter, I most certainly wouldn't email the Pope. Mr Dawkins response is extremely hard line. As none of us know the background and what caused the fallout, as it is unlikely to be a single issue, it is a bit difficult to draw too many conclusions, but Mr Dawkins clearly does not feel at all constrained.
In his comments, he mentions things that families don't fall out over. I know families who have fallen out over all of the things he mentions. Politics, food and sport have caused all manner of issues. Even music, I know loads of families where musical difference have caused punch ups. Look at the Davies brothers in the Kinks.
Aaron Shaw is right that I misinterpreted Mr Dawkins tweet, but I am not sure that his response is any less fundamentalist. Surely he has merely given reinforcement to a family feud over religion. If it was between a Catholic Mum and a Protestant daughter, he would surely have reacted different. As one of the protagonists belonged to his faith, he took sides, without any knowledge of the full background. I'd say that is a fairly fundamentalist world view.
My view. Girls, get over yourselves and start thinking about the daughter/grand daughter rather than this silly grandstanding.