The purpose of any teacher, therapist, nurse, doctor or parent is the same. It is the principle of self-enforced redundancy. And it hurts. Oh God does it hurt. I recently became a parent. I stopped being a Christian years ago when my little church failed after the minister’s wife ran off with the guitarist from the church band, and that’s just fine.
My job as a mental health nurse is to coach, teach and train my patients to a point where they are able to care for themselves without depending upon me and my colleagues.
As I have been teaching my son how to read, use the toilet and dress himself I realised that the purpose of my role as a parent is the same.
My university lecturer’s role was to prepare me to be able to make difficult decisions well and, more importantly, to know what to do when I didn’t know what to do. I became a competent nurse when I realised that I didn’t need my teacher anymore.
My father taught me how to tie my shoelaces, how to change a car tyre and how to think. My mother taught me how to cook, tend a garden and how to think. When they die, I will miss them terribly, but i do not depend upon them any more. (Well apart from financially, but that’s economics for you.)
Every step I have taken in my life has been a step closer towards true independence. Every little thing I teach my son how to do by himself is a step closer to the day when he can say, “Dad, I don’t need you”. It tugs the heartstrings, but its my job.
The thing about religion is it teaches dependence. You are dependent upon God to provide you with guidance and answers. You are dependent upon God to provide you with the promise of a new and better life after you die. The purpose of any church is to teach dependence upon that church. In this way it keeps itself alive, much like any other parasite. If God really did exist as the Father of Life, the universe and everything, what would he be more proud of. “Dad, i need you to provide me with everything” or “Dad, I want to do this myself”?
The only thing that we do as a parent that is of any lasting value is to teach our children how to be independent. It is to get our children to a point where they no longer depend upon us and can carry on and make the world a better place. It is to make ourselves redundant.
Thank you for teaching me this Prof. Dawkins