Posts tagged ‘education’
Back in my early Christian days, I was in the crowd that wanted prayer, religious instruction, bible studies etc. back in school. Then I met and married a girl from Denmark. I learned that they had prayer, religious assembly, etc. in their schools and that Denmark had one of the lowest percentages of believers on earth.
Later I worked with some blokes from England and got the same story. I also heard the same story from a Swedish friend.
The more I learned, the more I saw that religion sponsored, taught, and promoted by state/school was the most consistent correlation I could find with an areligious society.
I’m convinced that the main reason we still have such strong religion among the U.S. populace is the state’s hostility to religion. We CANNOT pray in schools. We CANNOT teach anything from the Bible in schools. We can hardly even display the 10 Commandments in public. All of these restrictions give massive amounts of fuel to those who are religious to scream “persecution” and this gives them life and energy.
So, I cry loud “amens” whenever I hear religious folks screaming for prayer in school. In fact, I would give anything for the various Christian groups here in the U.S. to finally succeed in getting religion back in the schools.
In America, apparently, many people say they want it but can’t get it, and in the UK many don’t want it, but can’t get rid of it – god in school, that is.
As a school pupil I had to endure it every day – the compulsory hymn and routine prayers. Just imagine it, 600 teenage boys with their mind focused on one thing (and believe me, it wasn’t god or their Latin homework), growling the hymn as quietly and as nonchalantly as possible (you could get punished for not singing), then standing and trying to provoke other people to laugh during the troubled stillness of the prayers being monotonously intoned by the headteacher. It was a ‘really meaningful’ religious act.
The Roman Catholics were excused, of course. As I remember it, we didn’t persecute them or try to burn them in the school yard at break-times. They were held in awe for having the mysterious secret that enabled them to avoid the daily assembly torture as well as escape the compulsory Religious Education lessons where we quizzed the aging teachers about sex (again, and again, and again, and again).
By the time I became a teacher the hymns had gone, but in the schools I worked in, there had to be an inspiring little homily, usually on a religious theme, and there were still prayers. Although at the time I was a Christian, even I could see the pointlessness of it…
Recently, many books and websites have been written on the dangers of theism. Theism is described as an irrational belief leading to irrational actions including flying planes into buildings, bombing abortion clinics, or considering prayer to be an appropriate alternative to seeking medical care. Because these actions can affect more people than the acting theist alone, and sometimes affect them in a fatal manner, non-theists are being called to not settle for being non-theist, but to become anti-theist.
There are choices to be made, though, in what goals one will choose to pursue, and what means one will employ to pursue those goals. Is it best to spend time and energy challenging every theist or even every theistic argument one encounters? Or is this like giving money to an individual begging you for money instead of giving to a charity that provides food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, or medicine for the sick? I have heard this latter question debated in classrooms and hallways, on Internet forums and television shows. In some ways, it depends on what you are trying to accomplish by giving your money away…
I’ve long been familiar with the type of argument that is known as “the God of the gaps”, though it has only been within the last year that I’ve heard that name applied to this particular argument from ignorance.
Shortly, for those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, a “God of the gaps” argument points to one area where either humanity as a group, or the individual making the argument in particular, have less than complete knowledge. The one proposing the God-of-the-gap argument then declares that God fits into that gap of knowledge. At one time, it was possible to respond to any question of how or why by responding that God was the answer, or at least the cause. As humans have discovered how various things work or why they happen, the gaps for this God to live in have gotten increasingly smaller.
The God of the gap is popularly invoked to explain the very beginnings of the universe, consciousness, common understandings of morality or the existence of living organisms. If we don’t quite know how something happened, God did it. If we aren’t sure why something happens the way it does, it happens that way in accordance with God’s plan…