Shane posts about how he thinks you should get into programming. One thing he says is that you should start with a harder language (C, Java, C#, VB.NET).Personally I started with Pascal, about 11 years ago. For those who don't know, pascal is a procedural typed programming language like C but originally meant for teaching purposes, it's also a safer language than C (you can't write in element 20 of a 10 element array). Programming was easy and fun. Later on I tried C (which was very hard because of the excessive use of pointers) and I got a book on Java (it was 1996 back then, Java 1.0 had been out for a short while). I read the book on Java, but it was too hard for me. I didn't get the OO concepts and didn't get their advantages. I dropped Java. I started learning languages such as Perl and later PHP. While using those languages I gradually understood more about object oriented programming and the more high-level engineering of software and started to feel less comfortable with PHP. That's when I picked up Java again and this time it felt good.
What I'm trying to say is that if I was "forced" to learn C or Java at once, I might not be programming today. The most important is to have fun from start to end. That's why I'm happy PHP is here. People with no programming experience or feeling for it can easily slap together a simple PHP script or make minor adjustements to current ones. PHP makes programming possible for the "average Joe", you no longer have to take computer science classes.
A programming purist/elitists may say that it's totally wrong to start with PHP, but given the fact that now many more people are trying to get into programming through PHP, I think it's not a bad thing. If people really want to dive into different programming concepts after they know PHP they might try other languages such as Java, C#, Haskell etc.