Dawkins refers to own experience of sexual abuse by priest, still insists teaching hell to children is worse
Atheist professor Richard Dawkins has clarified remarks he made when he stated that being taught to believe in an eternal hell as a child is worse than being sexually abused, reminding critics that he himself was abused by a priest at a young age.
By: Stoyan Zaimov
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
“It was a very unpleasant and embarrassing experience, but the mental trauma was soon exorcised by comparing notes with my contemporaries who had suffered it previously at the hands of the same master,” Dawkins writes on his official website. “Thank goodness, I have never personally experienced what it is like to believe – really and truly and deeply believe – in hell. But I think it can be plausibly argued that such a deeply held belief might cause a child more long-lasting mental trauma than the temporary embarrassment of mild physical abuse.”
The evolutionary biologist’s remarks come in light of a recent article by the Daily Mail that referenced an interview on Al Jazeera in which Dawkins said: “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.” The scientist wrote similar claims in his 2006 bestseller The God Delusion.
In his recent blog post, Dawkins reveals that he received a flood of Twitter messages from “horrified” people asking him to explain those remarks – which he does by admitting that “violent, painful, repeated sexual abuse, especially by a family member such as a father or grandfather, probably has a more damaging effect on a child’s mental well-being than sincerely believing in hell.”
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