Who hasn’t been sickened over multiplying stories of child abuse? What makes these sad sagas even worse is those who are entrusted with the children—teachers, priests, pastors—violating that trust by abusing, often sexually, the ones entrusted to them. Only God and the angels know just how sordid are the record books of heaven with the tally of these outrageous sins.
Unfortunately, in recent years new claims of “child abuse” have arisen. The abuse? Well, it’s the teaching of children about religion. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, among others, has warned that the teaching of religious doctrine, particularly about God’s judgment and hellfire are, indeed, forms of “child abuse.”
Now, I am not defending all that is taught to children about religion, and certainly not the common understanding of hell as eternal torment. Of course not. As Ellen White said: “It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment . . . . The appalling views of God which have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made thousands, yes, millions, of skeptics and infidels.”*
However, if one wants to expand the common use of the phrase “child abuse” to include indoctrination, especially negative indoctrination (that is, teachings that could have persistent negative effects on children), then the common teachings on origins and atheistic evolution advanced in almost every public school certainly should be included.
After all, what is entailed in the secularist, Darwinian model of origins, the model that is common fare in public education today? The gist of it goes something like this:
About 13.7 billion years ago, a point of infinite density, called a singularity, existed. This singularity exploded, in what is now called the big bang, and out of this explosion space, time, and matter were instantly created. (No one has yet been able to explain the origins of the singularity itself, though some argue that it arose from “nothing.”) After the explosion, space itself began a superfast expansion that ended up being our universe. Meanwhile, inside the expanding space, giant clouds of gas formed and eventually, out of them, galaxies. Some of that matter cooled off and, because of the force of gravity, coalesced into planets. On our planet, billions of years ago, simple chemicals arose, and then somehow (and no one knows how, despite years of research) self-replicating molecules formed that, through the process of natural selection and random mutation, evolved into all the life-forms here, including human beings.
We are, to quote Richard Dawkins, nothing but “African apes.” Period.
The crucial point in this model of origins is that nothing planned us, and nothing foresaw us coming. Our lives, our existence—everything about us—was the result of chance. Hence, when this model is taught to children, these children are taught that they exist only because of cold blind forces that care nothing about them, their family, their future, their pets, or their happiness in general.
If those beginnings aren’t bleak enough, then think about what they mean for our endings. In such a cosmos, children are also taught that then when a friend, or a sibling, or a grandparent, or parent, or a pet dies—that’s it! These children will have no chance, no hope, no possibility of ever seeing them again, ever. Their dead loved ones are gone, decaying in the ground, and that’s the ultimate future that they are told that they are going to face too.
Children are also told that not only will they die, but that they turn to meaningless dust on a planet that will itself be destroyed, either when the sun blows up or when the universe peters out. Thus, all that these children could ever hope to accomplish, all that their innocent selves aspire to, ends in the meaningless bleakness of a cold, dark, and empty cosmos.
Such a view certainly should cheer up little minds, shouldn’t it? What a positive, uplifting, and encouraging picture the secular model of origins offers our children!
The secular view of origins, of evolution, and the hopelessness it ultimately engenders is an intellectual version of molestation, leading to the loss of identity, the loss of self-respect, and the loss of any purpose in life.
We recoil at the idea of child abuse, as we should. And yes, some things that certain religions teach, especially about hell, are hardly positive and uplifting. But replacing the biblical worldview with the secular view of origins creates only more problems—and more abuse.
On the contrary, Mr. Dawkins: child abuse can come in many forms.
* Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 536.
E. Edward Zinke is a retired businessman living in Silver Spring, Maryland. He serves as a senior advisor to the Adventist Review.