Dawkins funds atheist kid’s camp, according to Times online and BBC News 28 June 2009, and Daily Telegraph 29 June 2009. Prominent atheist and anti-creationist crusader Richard Dawkins has subsidised a five-day camp for children aged 8 to 17 that will teach that religious belief and doctrines can prevent ethical and moral behaviour. According to the Telegraph, “the camp is part of a campaign, backed by Dawkins and Professor AC Grayling, the philosopher and writer, designed to challenge Christian societies, collective worship and religious education.” Dawkins said the camp was designed to “encourage children to think for themselves, skeptically and rationally”.

The camp is the first British “Camp Quest” a US based camp organizations that was set up by Edwin Kagin, an atheist lawyer, in 1996 as an alternative to summer camps run by scouts, churches and faith based organizations. Along with usual camp activities such as canoeing, swimming and other sports, there will be sessions on evolution, moral philosophy and debunking phenomena such as crop circles, telepathy and spoon bending. The ultimate test in critical thinking will be to prove that there are no invisible unicorns on the camp site. The prize for coming up with such proof is a 10 pound note signed by Richard Dawkins. 2009 British 10 pound notes have a portrait of Charles Darwin on them. Samantha Stein, a post graduate psychology student who is leading the camp explained: “The unicorns are not necessarily a metaphor for God, they are to show kids that you can’t prove a negative. We are not trying to bash religion, but it encourages people to believe in a lot of things for which there is no evidence.” She also said: “It is not about changing what they think, but the way that they think.” A spokesman for the Church of England commented: “We would defend the right for anyone to set up an event like this, as long as the young people are happy to attend. But in his imitation of the type of youth events that religious groups have been running for years, Dawkins makes atheism look even more like the thing he is rallying against.”


Editorial Comment: Samantha Stein is right – you cannot prove a negative. Therefore, Dawkins and company cannot prove there is no God. Therefore, their world view is just as much a faith based view as the one they are opposing, and it is about time they were honest enough to admit it. One thing they are consistent about, however, is the connection between evolution and atheism. The belief that the universe, the earth and all living things made themselves is the foundational doctrine of atheism. In this, Dawkins and company are more honest than church leaders who try to insert evolution into the Bible. (Ref. Philosophy, education)

Evidence News 8 July 2009