See how much nicer I am, to give The Dawkins the benefit of the doubt? One will apparently wait in vain for the favor to be returned.
“Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place” (p. 317, The God Delusion).
This is indeed one of The Dawkins' most disgusting and ludicrous positions. We teach children not to drink window cleaner. We teach them not to eat rat poison or dirt. We teach them explicitly and implicitly, by example.
An atheist may or may not raise his children to be atheists. He may take them to atheism sunday school or not. Either way, he is at the very minimum exemplifying atheism to his kids. I may not like it. I may think it's a terrible thing. I may even be angry about it. But is it child abuse? Each side can throw that sort of invective back at the other, and it's 100% based on one's prior worldview commitments. Given a society like ours, how does this sort of thing help anyone?
So let's think about this:
If Christianity is true, it's not child abuse to teach a child Christianity.
If Christianity is true, it's not child abuse to teach a child atheism. It's sin, yes. It's regrettable, it's not preferable, etc. It's not child abuse.
If atheism is true, we've seen countless times that morality is based on nothing more than personal preference.
Whether anything, in this case child abuse, is right or wrong, worthy of praise or condemnation, is a moral stance. But atheism can't sustain anything of the kind beyond the statements "I don't like it" and "I like it".
Further, what it means to abuse something or someone is a moral stance. One could argue that abuse of, say, a computer would be to pour coffee onto its motherboard and drop its hard drive off a 100-meter cliff. This would be contrary to its designed purpose, its raison d'être. It is supposed to compute, and it can't if you pour coffee on it and smash it to smithereens.
Do children have comparable purposes? On atheism, no, of course not. They weren't designed, for one thing, so they have no end goal. The Dawkins might argue that their goal is to survive, to pass on their genes, but of course he has no way to know whether cruelty on a massive scale to children would enable them to perform that task better. Indeed, such seems to be an evolutionary stable strategy for quite a few other species of animal.
Do children come with instruction manuals? What, you mean like the Bible? On atheism, no, of course not.
So, what's the right way to treat a child? An atheistic system can't tell us, since that's a moral question. Thus, an atheistic system can't tell us what constitutes abuse either.
This means that --surprise!-- The Dawkins is just pulling moralistic platitudes and me-first self-righteous stupidity straight out of his rear end.
Thus we see that, if atheism is true, whether it is child abuse to teach a child atheism is based on every person's personal preference.
If atheism is true, whether it is child abuse to teach a child Christianity is based on every person's personal preference.
So why does The Dawkins insist on this position? Is he not shoving his beliefs down my throat? Why is he trying to indoctrinate me with this moral tyranny?
For one thing, he is making a lot of money these days being inconsistent with his own worldview. On the one hand, there's no Moral Authority. On the other, he is perfectly able to call out teaching Christianity to children as morally objectionable. Which one is The Real Dawkins? Don't ask me.
In an article on the topic, he seems to point to the teaching of the doctrine of Hell as that which constitutes abuse, mental abuse.
An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is.Of course, and it's amazing that one should have to keep saying this, on atheism, there is no morally good or bad. Hell is morally neutral, since there is no basis for morality. You may dislike Hell. Fine. I dislike broccoli.
The question of Hell is, by the way, well discussed here.
The Dawkins continues:
If you can sue for the long-term mental damage caused by physical child abuse, why should you not sue for the long-term mental damage caused by mental child abuse?To be fair, The Dawkins goes on to say that he doesn't necessarily think that's the right course of action, but the concept remains. Yet could not someone come along and say the exact same thing about atheism?
"Your Honor, I was a happy, well-adjusted person until my coworker lent me his copy of The God Delusion. Its stunning and well-crafted argumentation, completely free from any pitiful misunderstandings of the limitations of atheism, unjustified assumptions, or vapid arguments against the weakest statements of its target religion (Christianity), destroyed the bedrock on which my life rested. Now I am bitter and angry, at I-know-not-whom. My life has no meaning. Other atheists say I should just create my own meaning, but I'm not that creative, so I'm stuck. I am just going to grow old and die and cease to exist, and my life will mean nothing at all since the universe will just go into total heat death in several tens of billions of years anyway. I scoff at things of beauty in churches and noble acts done by noble people of good faith b/c they are done b/c of a delusion as The Dawkins has taught me. They are meaningless. I am meaningless. But perhaps several million pounds sterling, if Your Honor would be so kind and just to award me for my suffering, would make my life slightly less meaningless."
What is a judge in a society like ours to do?
What would The Dawkins recommend? Don't we as a society remove children from their parents when they are being abused? Give them to other parents? Would The Dawkins recommend that? Would he then be OK with it if a Christian majority did the same to atheist parents?
Presumably, he would argue that, no, since atheism is true such should not be.
That gives me an idea, though! Since atheism is not true, we should sue him and ask him on the stand questions that would force him to state at some point that atheism is true. Then we can imprison him for perjury and freeze all his assets! And his children can be functional orphans. What? His children are grown, you say? OK, we'll throw his kids in prison too and make his grandchildren wander the streets and beg for bread. For good measure, we'll deport them to Greenland.
Why wouldn't we do that? B/c children need their families, such would be bad for society, and it is morally upright to allow even fools a degree of freedom of speech and not deprive even fools' children of their parents. For better or worse, we teach our children millions of data; calling sthg "mental abuse" without being able to justify it is despicable. May The Dawkins sell several dozen fewer books as punishment for his short-sightedness and wicked thinking.
I recommend this article also for your edification on this subject.