There is a crucial point to be taken away from Peter Hitchens’ last chapter in the The Rage Against God. This issue of whether God must be recognized by us collectively is at the heart of the culture wars, and culture means generations, and generations means that the education of the next generation is right at the heart of these culture wars.
“It is notable that my brother’s work and that of Richard Dawkins coincide closely on one striking point. My brother devotes a chapter to the question ‘Is religion child abuse?’ Amid a multitude of fulminations about circumcision, masturbation, and frightening children with stories of hell, he lets slip what I suspect is his actual point: ‘If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.’ This is perfectly true . . .” (p. 201).
Yes, it is perfectly true. If religious instruction were not allowed, we would be living in a totalitarian police state, argued for and robustly advocated by no less than Christopher Hitchens, champion of our freedoms.
Peter points out that both his brother and Richard Dawkins use the phrase child abuse to refer to the practice of bringing a child up in the faith of his parents. And Peter notes that they are provocatively used a loaded term.
“To use the expression ‘child abuse’ in this context — of religious education by parents or teachers — is to equate such education with a universally hated and despised crime” (p. 203).
There is no way to interpret these calls for the elimination of religious education as anything other than what it is — a naked power grab.
“However, the new anti-theism is emphatically not just an opinion seeking its place in a plural society. It is a dogmatic tyranny in the making” (p. 206).
Not only is this tyranny in the making, but it is a tyranny being championed by advocates of individual liberty and, in the case of Christopher, by someone who thinks that George Orwell was something else. Well, I guess that’s okay. If up is down, and liberty is slavery, then I suppose Orwell manglers could be great Orwell fans.
And this is a fitting place to end our review. It is not possible to deny the existence of God without launching a corresponding bid to replace Him. But the one enthroned in Heaven laughs.