Letter: The contradictory spirit of religion

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Sir: You are so right. We need to open our children's minds to the rich human perspective of the spiritual dimension. They must be taught that there is only one God and, simultaneously, that there are many; that Jesus is the Son of God and, simultaneously, that he isn't; that we survive death and, simultaneously, that we don't ('The resurrection of religious education'; leading article, 10 August).

Tailoring our instruction to local needs, all Northern Irish children should be taught that the Pope is the Infallible Vicar of Christ and, simultaneously, that he is the Antichrist. Children must learn the rudiments of the exciting new Contradiction Theology: that all religions are simultaneously true and false, and that this is (don't you feel?) a very positive thing - a glorious manifestation of the deep mystery at the heart of human spirituality.

We should not, of course, stop at the religions so broadmindedly embraced by Gandhi. What about the Moonies; voodoo; Wacoism? The failure of our schools to devote hours each week to shamans, witch doctors, ancestors, totems, cargo, the dreamtime and all great spirits that dwell in rocks, mountains, rivers, chameleons and shrunken heads amounts to a racist insult to countless peoples throughout the world. And think what a spiritual treasury will have been lost if we do not revive the worship of Thor and Odin, Apollo and Zeus, Mithras, Baal and the Sun. The special needs of girl pupils today would be met by amalgamating the motherly Isis with the more butch Artemis in a neo-Marian theology.

Finally, we mustn't neglect the creative side of spiritual witness. Children should work together in mixed classes to devise their own brand new religions, paying special attention to theology, liturgy and ritual. To help raise the status of RE, these new faiths could all enter an annual competition, the winner being adopted as the established church for the following year.

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD DAWKINS

Oxford

10 August

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