Richard Dawkins' highly critical documentary attacks the pulsing heart of all mainstream religion- faith; with special focus on Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Contains repeated ... See full summary »
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Before I start my review proper it's may be only fair that I give away something of my background . Just before my eighth birthday I found myself leaving Edinburgh and living on the Isle Of Bute . The West of Scotland in terms of culture many light years away from the rest of Scotland . They have an entirely different mentality more in keeping with Northern Ireland and nothing epitomises this more than the education system where Catholics go to one school and Protestants to another school . A " Protestant " in the West of Scotland isn't defined as a potentially murderous evangelical theocrat as you would get in the American Bible Belt or one of those effete happy clappy vicars you'd get in SONGS OF PRAISE but simply someone who is not a Catholic . It wasn't until the week after I left secondary school ( A mixed denomination school) that I decided to stop referring to myself as being a " Protestant " and referred to myself as to what I really was - an atheist brought up by agnostics . Why would any child refer to themselves in a euphemistic way ? This Dawkins documentary helps to explain why and the inherent dangers within sectarian education
Up until Tony Blair's New Labour government the only publicly funded faith schools in Britain were those of the Christian faith both Catholic and the differing Protestant denominations . This changed when Jewish , Hindu and Sikh schools were also ,included and funded by the public purse . Dawkins - who hasn't got the nickname " Darwin's Rottweiler for nothing - grills the education minister of the time Charles Clarke about this . Clarke , possibly the most inept minister of the Blair cabinet squirms away with chateristic gutlessness when asked why the concept of faith schools had been extended:
" It's difficult have faith schools that are exclusively Christian "
" So why not just do away with faith schools all together ? "
" Well that means we'd have to close schools " etc and other cowardly excuses becoming of Clarke . Trust Dawkins to point out Clarke was a supporter of closing down faith schools when he wasn't a cabinet minister . How easily some principles can be bought and sold especially where an odious little cretin like Clarke is concerned
Dawkins then talks to a both teachers and children as to what type of education they can expect in a faith school . What is telling is how some faith schools are happy to reconcile science with faith when it suits them and just as happy to ignore science when it doesn't . He doesn't mention it in this documentary but he is very critical about Islamic schools ignoring the fact of evolution and that all schools teaching creationism in Britain are exclusively Islamic . This might be why so many people on the political left are very quick to label Dawkins as a " racist " "fascist " and " Islamaphobe " . Dawkins does try to explain evolution to a class of Muslim schoolgirls but you do think he's fighting against the tide
Dawkins then takes a trip to Northern Ireland and this is the best place to visit to get a handle on Dawkins criticism of the human psyche in wanting to belong to a certain tribe . Obviously not all the problems of the recent troubles are down to people sending their children to different schools but it certainly didn't and doesn't improve matters . Sadly Dawkins sees the problem of both sides of the divide when both sides use the trump card of " It's my human right to be able to send my children to any school I want " . That's always the problem with democracy - " it's me human rights innit " and those screaming loudest about human rights and democracy are those who think such concepts exist only for themselves . The documentary ends with one of Dawkins favourite examples of the ludicrous nature of sending children to religious schools by comparing religion to politics " Oh look there's a right wing Tory child , and there's a socialist child and a couple of Lib Dem children and an existentialist child .... "
To be fair this won't change anyone's opinion but I don't think Dawkins was trying to change any one's mind , just perhaps bring about a little more debate in to the public eye which unfortunately didn't take place for some reason . Your opinion of it probably comes down to Richard Dawkins but I appreciated both Dawkins the man and this documentary
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