UK: Summer Camp for Skeptic Kids?

2 07 2009

Aw mum, not more THINKING even though school’s out??
😉

[Richard] Dawkins, who is subsidising the camp, said it was designed to “encourage children to think for themselves, sceptically and rationally”. . .

Afternoons will be filled with familiar camp activities such as canoeing and swimming but the mornings will be spent debunking phenomena such as crop circles and telepathy.

UPDATE – Dawkins “grooming” kids, cock of the snook to Lynn for the mental image:

Bugs Bunny Rabbit_of_Seville

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19 responses

2 07 2009
Mrs. C

It sounds like an atheist’s VBS!!

2 07 2009
JJ

It’s been too long since I visited vacation bible school, if they’re teaching crop circles and telepathy now! 😉

2 07 2009
Mrs. C

Well, it depends on the church… mine doesn’t! We’re boring that way.

2 07 2009
boremetotears

Somewhere there’s an article that talks of Dawkins “grooming” atheists. Considering a post on the topic, I even started tinkering around in photoshop for a graphic representation of what that might look like. Sadly, I never got past the mental image, which is, nonetheless, still cracking me up 🙂

2 07 2009
JJ

Ooh, ooh, I can see it too –Bugs Bunny and the Barber of Seville!!!!!

2 07 2009
Crimson Wife

I’d love for my kid to hear Richard Dawkins discuss evolutionary biology but I’d pass on this particular camp for obvious reasons.

I do have to wonder what there is to teach kids about atheism that would take more than about 5 seconds. It’s not like there’s a whole huge book of atheist doctrine akin to the 800-some pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Can’t it all be summed up in 4 words (“There is no God”)?

2 07 2009
Mrs. C

Oh, JJ. I hate to break this to you, but usually when one speaks of “grooming” a child… well… it kinda has a “for sex” sort of an implication. Sorry. (Wow, I hate mentioning it, but there it is.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_grooming

Ick.

2 07 2009
Mrs. C

Hi, CW! We must have cross-posted. Wouldn’t “atheist doctrine” be a contradiction in terms?

3 07 2009
JJ

It was a headline writer’s idea of a joke, I guess, and it literally said “groom atheists” not child grooming but in any case, Dawkins has less to worry about in that department than the Catholic Church . . .

3 07 2009
JJ

I’ll take a pass on the notion there’s nothing but religious doctrine worth learning or teaching. And only one weighty catechism at that? — atheists have to learn ALL the religions, in self-defense. 🙂

Not to mention all that other pesky critical thinking stuff.

3 07 2009
boremetotears

Love the graphic, JJ! I never considered Bugs 😀

fwiw,
Richard Dawkins responded to the accusatory claim about “grooming atheists” in this way:

“Camp Quest encourages children to think for themselves, sceptically and rationally. There is no indoctrination, just encouragement to be open-minded, while having fun.” Isn’t that about as far from Jesuitical grooming as you could imagine? One of my dominant motivations, passionately expressed in The God Delusion, is an abhorrence of childhood indoctrination, of atheism just as much as of religion. It is in this spirit that the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science has made very modest contributions to Camp Quest. Lois Rogers’ traducing of both Camp Quest and me is, alas, par for the course for religiously motivated journalists. Fortunately, I am not the litigious type, but an apology would be nice.”

It’s true that Dawkins has been consistently adamant that religious – as well as anti-religious – indoctrination of children is wrong.

Here’s a link to more on the story.

3 07 2009
boremetotears

(Whoops, I didn’t mean for the bolded text to look so screamed; instead, try for a mental image of me (or Bugs) saying it more quietly.)

3 07 2009
JJ

So like education choice during the school year, parents can choose between Camp Quest and Jesus Camp for example. Which sounds more compatible with American Ideals?

Or as BEattitudes blogging puts it:
Now let me ask you … and be honest … would you rather send your child to Camp Quest or Jesus Camp?

3 07 2009
Crimson Wife

Hunting for imaginary unicorns sounds like a lot more fun than being trained for holy war. And I’m not sure but what a bunch of atheist kids might not be less intolerant towards a Catholic kid than a bunch of ultrafundamentalist Protestant kids would be.

But I’d much rather send my kids to a traditional Scout camp than to either of the others. The Scout values are much more aligned with my own: trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courteousness, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thrift, bravery, cleanliness, and reverence.

I would further argue that the Scout values are also the ones best aligned with traditional American values.

3 07 2009
JJ

😀
CW, this is brilliant, we should put it on t-shirts:
“Hunting for imaginary unicorns . . . more fun than being trained for holy war. ”

Where would the gay kid (who might not even realize it himself yet) find the most kindness and American tolerance, though?

3 07 2009
JJ

Wow, Lynn, not so benign a joke then. Sounds almost like holy war’s been declared on Dawkins.

3 07 2009
Mrs. C

JJ, that’s kind of what I was pointing out when I mentioned the “grooming.” It isn’t a neutral sort of headline.

Thanks for digging that up, Lynn. After reading the article, I didn’t get the idea that it was an “anti-religious” camp so much as a training exercise in secular “critical thinking.”

4 07 2009
boremetotears

“The Scout values are much more aligned with my own: trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courteousness, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thrift, bravery, cleanliness, and reverence.”

Just thought I’d post a reminder that these character traits are valued by atheists, too 🙂

…although, last year, when my daughter was in Scouts, it was explained to me (online, by a handful of Scout leaders) that because our family didn’t believe in God, my daughter (age 10) would be a bad influence on the other girls. They suggested that I start my own troop for girls who don’t believe in God.

4 07 2009
JJ

Not to mention this, despite Godwin’s Law. Scouting is militaristic and nationalistic.

Even benign jingoism’s not for me. The bigger issue is, on this Fourth of July, is it “for America”? — which is more American, obedient nationalism or celebration of individual life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?

Are they even compatible in one culture?

See Lessons of Freedom Learned Best IN Freedom.

Obedience and reverence? No way I’d send my kids to a camp instilling those, because in the hands of authoritarians, they’ve proven to be weapons, not virtues — conventional weapons (pun intended) rather than exceptional virtue, like Luke’s “fitting children to their stations” by treating them like utilitarian arrows to be shot toward a patriotic and godly target. I imagine a camp with scouting uniforms to be authoritarian, militaristic and against individual deviance from the canon at all costs.

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