Religion and bad desires

The Atheist Ethicist is continuing his study on the wrongness of teaching religion to children. This time he is considering why we shouldn’t teach bad desires. First of all, i wish to say that i, of  course, agree entirely that one should avoid teaching bad desires to anyone. However, there are two objections i wish to make on a more general level:

Objection 1: Even though it certainly is the case that teaching bad desires is at times, and perhaps often, a feature of religion, this does not imply that teaching religion is bad, only that the bad desires need to be extracted from the teaching of religion. Of course, if you can show that the bad desires are intrinsically linked to the very essence of religion, then you could ban the whole thing, on account of the former. However, this does not seem to be the case, if only because of the numbers of very good religion children and people who were obviously not taught bad desires – or who at least overcame the teaching of them, which would also prove that there are workarounds should a complete extraction prove difficult.

Objection 2: I am certainly not convinced that it is all that easy to get rid of religion simply by not teaching it anymore. I would rather lean towards the opinion that certain fundamental features of a religious attitude are biologically determined, i.e. that more or less religious attitudes evolved overtime and cannot therefore be brushed away with a national educational directive.  If such is indeed the case, then changing religion and that entails of course changing the teaching of religion – perhaps gradually turning it into ethics – would be the more effective route, regardless of whether or not completely doing away with religion would be the ideal solution.


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