Thursday, April 24, 2014

Disbelief 101 by Chris Edwards

Disbelief 101: A Young Person's Guide to Atheism, Chris Edwards / S.C. Hitchcock. Tucson AZ: See Sharp Press, 2009.

     Disbelief 101 was written for teens, although adults new to atheism or endeavoring to find clear info on atheism will also benefit from this book. S.C. Hitchcock presents arguments for and against the existence of a god. The first chapter takes a page from various parody religions and presents the Invisible Flying Clown. [The flying spaghetti monster and the invisible pink unicorn bless her holy hooves immediately came to my mind]. 

     Leslie White provided the cartoon at the end of each chapter. They are well-drawn and funny. I was delighted to find the first one, and each subsequent one.

     The rest of the book takes issue with the idea that "atheism is a religion," intelligent design, survivor special-ness, the role of feelings in belief, and religious indoctrination of children.

     Also included is a bibliography.

sapphoq reviews says: It is rather unfortunate that the last chapter of Disbelief 101 takes on religious indoctrination of children as an example of child abuse. This I think is the author's weakest argument. The author states that the teens reading this book ought not to openly rebel against their parents over this. The author may have also been remiss by not encouraging teens to learn about the religion of their family and other religions.  
     It might have been better if the author had pointed out that the United States did not sign the U.N. Rights of a Child document. Therefore, in the U.S.A., it is the parents who have charge of their children's religious or non-religious upbringing.
     I have had the privilege of being close with two sets of parents who are atheists. One set took their brood to the Unitarian Church when questions of "What religion are we?" came up. At that particular congregation, the kids learned about evolution in Sunday School and also about different cultures and religions. The second set of parents said to their kids when confronted with proselytizing peers, "Your mom and dad are atheists. When you are an adult, you can decide those things for yourselves."
     I think there is great value in teaching kids [and those adults who don't know it] the various cognitive fallacies and how to construct a sound argument. Whether children decide to stick with familial religious practices or familial atheism, or pick something else as adults, logical thinking is one skill that serves all of us well.
     Disbelief 101 is a valuable book for those teens who have already decided that they do not believe in any gods. Other teens may feel brow-beaten by the continuous assertions that there is no god. Because I cannot endorse children or teens reading books that their parents do not approve of, recommended with reservations.

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