Another essay by a prominent scientist and science popularizer, this one by arch-nemesis of Creationists everywhere, Richard Dawkins: Viruses of the mind.
In this 1993 essay, which helped establish the field of memetics, Dawkins attempts to answer a question that obviously bugs him: why do people persist in believing silly religious myths?
A beautiful child close to me, six and the apple of her father’s eye, believes that Thomas the Tank Engine really exists. She believes in Father Christmas, and when she grows up her ambition is to be a tooth fairy. She and her school-friends believe the solemn word of respected adults that tooth fairies and Father Christmas really exist. This little girl is of an age to believe whatever you tell her. If you tell her about witches changing princes into frogs she will believe you. If you tell her that bad children roast forever in hell she will have nightmares. I have just discovered that without her father’s consent this sweet, trusting, gullible six-year-old is being sent, for weekly instruction, to a Roman Catholic nun. What chance has she?