The home-schoolers have responded, leading to the longest thread in the brief history of this website.
I realize, of course, that not all parents who home-school their kids are doing so for religious reasons. I have had some contact, for instance, with Susan Mule, who, as Dylan Lovan noted in his piece, is simply trying to teach her precocious daughter the best science on offer. And I’ve dealt with other parents who are looking for good material on evolution to give to their children. Sadly, there’s not much that is useful if you don’t want to force creationism down your kid’s throat.
But, as Lovan noted in his piece, “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.'”
I weep for those children. For many of them are simply being brainwashed by their parents. Yes, that’s what it is—brainwashing. For a parent to ignore 150 years of solid science, feeding their children lies based on theology, is to deprive those children of the wonder of the universe—a wonder based on truth rather than medieval superstition. It kills off the part of a child that most needs nurturing: her sense of wonder, and all the possibilities of life that are opened up by that wonder. How many budding biologists have been stifled by their parents’ willful ignorance of science, and on their insistence that the Bible is the real source of biological information? Generation after generation of ignorance and religious dogmatism, all perpetuated by religously based home-schooling.
Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, reportedly said, “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” That’s brainwashing.
On another note, I’ve been bombarded with private emails suggesting—and not in delicate words—that I am deeply ignorant of evolution, will go to Hell, and that I’m ugly, too. One or two of them are amusing:
Then again, by your photo your arms are so hairy perhaps you’re the missing link, and then I will have been wrong. Perhaps indeed your hairology recapitulates simianology.
But several of them (and some of the comments I have not allowed to go through the website) use the most vicious invective. Here’s one truncated specimen (warning: NSFW):
Hey Jerry Coyne fuck you. You evolution faggot. Darwinism and evolution are the biggest pile of shit lies ever made on the face of GODS green earth. People in the 1800’s thought Darwin was a dumb ass fucking lunatic. Home school books are lying to children? On no you son of a bitch you and all these liberal piece of shit scum bag evolutionists are lying to children and every public school in the world. . . So go fuck your self or an ape and evolve some grotesque ape kids you loser fuck. I beat the shit out of people like you, you cock smoking douche nozzle.
Ah, there’s nothing so vile as a Christian insulted! To those who are constantly whining about the “incivility” of atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, I suggest that you might first have a look at the behavior of some Christians.