1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Faith School Menace?

Discussion in 'Serious' started by Frohicky1, 20 Aug 2010.

  1. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    Religion fulfills three basic purposes:
    • It offers a 'catch-all' explanation for events that do not appear to make any sense, thus allowing people to preserve the integrity of their mental blueprint of how the world (should) work(s). If an innocent child gets cancer, it was obviously God's will. If bad things happen to good people it is a divine test. Stuff like that.
    • It offers a framework of existential meaning in an apparently cold, dangerous and indifferent universe. If we think too much about how we are tiny, fragile specks going nowhere on a tiny fragile planet that could be wiped out any second, we'd go crazy. Religion is an attachment phenomenon: it promises a Big Daddy to who we really matter and who will look after us. The child dying of cancer will go to heaven. It's a secure base, a safe haven, and religious objects and rituals its transitional objects.
    • It offers a framework for tribal and cultural bonding. It allows you to make a distinction between tribal members and outsiders, reinforces tribal rules, structures and cooperation and provides bonding rituals. For leaders, of course, it provides a framework for authority (as above, so below).

    To an extent philosophies like Communism or Humanism can do the same, but before science came along religion ticked all the boxes. And for most people, religion is easier to understand than science and more comforting. Science makes most people feel dumb. Religion makes them feel special.
     
  2. thehippoz

    thehippoz What's a Dremel?

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    5,780
    Likes Received:
    174
    you make it sound like science is only for atheists.. imo athiests are a lot more like your stereotype of religion- they'd rather put the blinders on and fill all the check boxes :D
     
  3. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    Atheism is a philosophy too. It makes sense of certain events in the same way (why did the innocent child get cancer? Because there is no God) and can offer the same group identity. For some atheism is a reaction against religion but it is not an absence of philosophy. To dismiss atheism as that simplistic is to make the same mistake as those who dismiss religion as simplistic.

    Each to their own. We find our own meaning in life and are naturally drawn to frameworks of belief that resonate with our own. The important thing is not to impose your own meaning on others. I think that is where Richard Dawkins goes wrong. His firebrand proselytising against religion is a religion in itself.
     
  4. Krazeh

    Krazeh Minimodder

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2003
    Posts:
    2,118
    Likes Received:
    56
    Perhaps you're trying to make a point in an oversimplistic way but as an atheist I don't think i've ever made sense of an event such as a child getting cancer by relying on the claim there is no god.
     
  5. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    It is an oversimplification. A more accurate answer would be that there is no (moral) reason why the child wouldn't get cancer-- fairness or morality don't come into it. The universe is what it is.
     
  6. Vigil

    Vigil Not geek enough

    Joined:
    20 May 2009
    Posts:
    91
    Likes Received:
    5
    I see Dawkins as promoting science as the realistic alternative to religion. He is in favour of the phasing out of religion in general but no where did he say personal belief and philosophy isn't important to have, just come away from the mystical figure in the sky from 3000 years ago and a book.

    Plus, I didn't see it at the focus of this particular program. Rather it is about education; what is appropriate to teach in schools and what is unnecessary. In your words, he is trying to teach kids to believe sensibly.

    People can't get away from having their own beliefs but it's not fair for children to be taught a certain outdated set of facts is the way to go under the title of "religion" instead of the facts of the real world. A child has very little resource to gather all the knowledge on science and all the different religions of the world and will naturally rely on the authoritative figure of the teacher to provide them with knowledge. Isn't is the teacher's responsibility to teach the facts rather a set of outdated beliefs that does match what we know in this day and age about the world around us?

    Religion is what humans used to have. Sure it's nice, but there are lots of people with no religious beliefs and they haven't had a mental break down yet. You can teach kids morality and ethics without bringing god into it and quoting from an ancient book as the singular truth. I want my kids to learn about the diversity of this world and universe in school, about the history of human society and all the different religions of the world... not "faith" in a single religious belief.

    Thought, tbh, most schools aren't as extreme as the example shown in the program but still, stories about jesus gets old rather fast, I want to learn about something else.
     
  7. cyrilthefish

    cyrilthefish What's a Dremel?

    Joined:
    15 Apr 2004
    Posts:
    1,363
    Likes Received:
    99
    I don't see how this is a good thing overall. Denying children the opportunity to understand life/the real world by lying that there is meaning when there is none is not helping. It's just pushing back (and in the process amplifying) potential problems for later in life.
    Better to get a handle on life early on, than pretend it's all fairly-tale happiness until reality hits you around the head like a brick later in life :)

    And how is the 'catch-all' answer of 'god-we have absolutely-zero-evidence-even-exists-did-it' better than the answer of 'we don't know yet, but we're still looking'?
    The God answer, while technically being an answer, is a total non-explanation that shuts down further enquiry, whilst the other leads to more research and likely to lead to a useful answer that actually furthers human knowledge.

    And the equivalent of shouting "LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING!" is a better response how exactly?
    It's reality, best get used to it rather than pretend it doesn't exist until later in life if/when it suddenly hits at full force.

    The "The child dying of cancer" is a tricky one indeed and i'd have to leave it up to the people involved. I'm still not convinced lying to them all the time is the best solution though myself.

    I don't see much in that list that simple country(/local) tribal bonding does not also accomplish.
    Again i see no need at all for religion here.

    Easiest option =/= best option

    Religion has many negative aspects (IMHO far more than positive ones by a large margin)

    How about we have a discussion on the best option, rather than just religion because 'thats what we did in the past'?
     
    Last edited: 22 Aug 2010
  8. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    You make valid arguments but it is not as simple as that. You realise that yourself when you back away from the child dying of cancer issue, "leaving that to the others involved". That would amongst others be lill' ol' Cancer Psychologist me, then. I have dealt with terminal cancer patients who found some measure of comfort in the belief that their death would not be the end; that there is a God who loves them (even at a lonely 3.00am in the morning when they can't sleep for the pain) and a heaven their soul will go to. Do you think it would be helpful for them to tell them the "truth"?

    Yes, you have to teach children about the real world and prepare them to live in it but you can't dump on a six-year old the kind of knowledge and thinking we can master as adults. You'll find yourself telling a lot of 'lies to children': the oversimplified (and therefore inaccurate) stories(!) of reality which prepare their minds to understand the more complex truth later on (we do this in education. This is why your University professor starts the first lecture with: "Forget everything you were thought in secondary school. This is how it really is...").

    Humans think in story. We are not Homo Sapiens, Thinking Man, but Pan Narrans, the Storytelling Ape. It is through our ability to think out various story lined that we could make sense of what was happening and predict (and thus influence) what happened next. It developed our imagination and hence, our problem solving and planning. It also developed language so we could share our 'stories' and thus plan and problem solve together.

    Our stories became tribal stories, tools that promoted tribal bonding and cooperation. And since stories are an attempt at making sense of and influencing the world, and we tend to anthropomophise (interpret events as action and ascribe an agent to them --it is potentially life-saving to be a bit paranoid about rustling in the bushes. Could be wind, but could also be a animal or (in)human threat) they were about gods and spirits and supernatural forces. Such stories helped cooperation (every hunter knew how to tackle a bison as a hunting party, because the story of the hunter-god told them, and the cave paintings showed them) and to maintain the rules necessary for tribal functioning. But they also helped to distinguish tribe members from outsiders. Only one of us would know why you don't, say, eat pig on Fridays, or to worship on Sundays... The rules of the tribe: what is forbidden and what is mandatory, with very little left to free choice. It is how you get a big group to work together smoothly (think of the army).

    Thus religion was born. Religion is a story. People tell it to their children for the same reasons we tell them fairytales that teach them to be wary of strangers, to stay away from deep water ("otherwise Green Jenny will get you!") and not to be greedy and not to lie. We try and prepare them for a dangerous world filled with monsters and to integrate them into society but have to shape such knowledge to accommodate the minds of children (how do you warn a child of molesters when they don't understand sex?). Similarly people tell them the religious stories to prepare them for living in the culture they grow up in. A Jewish, Muslim or Christian child born and living in a Jewish, Muslim or Christian community must know its rules, and all the stories behind them. It is acculturation, just like language and dress.

    I'm not arguing for or against religion; I am just explaining how it works and why it is integral to human existence. One day scientific (natural) stories will replace the supernatural ones, and perhaps that will make the world a better place. I doubt it; people are people after all. Science did not just get us antibiotics and clean drinking water; it also got us the A-bomb and Facebook.

    However science also gives us virtual reality: an opportunity for our imagination to think up new and different stories more than ever before and to transcend our current worldview that is firmly anchored in this world. A VR program in Italy allows men to feel what it is like to be an abused little girl for the first time. We can virtually recreate Millgram or Zimbardo's experiments. A game allows you to be God; see if you can do any better, what moral choices you make over people's lives. For the first time we can learn without boundaries and constraints not about the nature of the universe, but about us. How we perceive, how we think and feel and why.

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding"


    T.S. Eliot was talking about exploring the wasteland. We perceived the vast, cold universe and have been filling it with gods and spirits and supernatural forces ever since. But the wasteland we've been trying to fill really is inside ourselves. Perhaps we should explore that. Perhaps one day we shall know ourselves for the first time, and become our own salvation.

    Research has shown that psychologists are the least religious of all professions. We know how it works, see? We remember that we are Storytelling Apes.
     
    Last edited: 22 Aug 2010
  9. xXSebaSXx

    xXSebaSXx Minimodder

    Joined:
    21 Aug 2010
    Posts:
    496
    Likes Received:
    45
    Having gone to a Catholic school from Kinder Garden all the way up to my second year of Uni... (Yes all at the same school)... I can happily say that I am now on early release for time served...
    One thing that amazes me with the US Education system (or the lack of it) is how polarizing the whole Religion stuff is in this country.

    I grew up in a country that was, is and most likely will be 99% Catholic (Colombia). And as stated before; I spent 15 years of my life going to school where all the teachers were priests and where mass was a daily event not just a weekly one. Now that I'm in the US and I see in the news how entire communities get all worked up about the fact that their kids are being taught about Darwin's evolution; I can't help but look back at those 15 years and remember that it wasn't unusual for us to have an hour (or period) where we'd get Bible Study/Catholic History and we'd cover the whole Creation part... Only to then go to the next period and have the Biology teacher (Yes, a priest with a Biology degree)... teach us about Darwin and evolution and the Big Bang theory and all of that good stuff. Even in such a school where you would have expected the big push for Creationism; both the religious and scientific aspects of human nature were equally covered and never exclusive of each other.

    I just don't understand why it is that people nowadays seem to be so hell-bent on separating the two.

    I would have to agree with Nexxo's statement above; but only to an extent; and here's why...

    True... Humans need something to believe in (even if it is believing that there is no God). But the problem lies in the fact that Faith and Religion are two entirely different things.
    To me Faith is believing that there is purpose for our being here. For others it may be believing that there is a higher being (call it whatever you want); and that said being has a plan for us.

    But Religion is just a bunch of rituals made up by men in order to express their Faith (at least that's what it was in the beginning). Nowadays, the whole Religion thing has mutated into some kind of for profit business where a few people at the top get to control the rest of the sheep.

    As I see it; we need to have Faith... Religion? The world would be a better place without it.
     
  10. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    Totally agree, and I tend to make the distinction myself. Unfortunately a lot of people don't. Like they have to be taught the difference between enjoying a glass of a good quality wine and getting drunk on cheap booze for the sake of getting drunk, they have to be taught that faith is not the same as religion. It promises less glamour and more hard work, learning, doubt and uncertainty but in the end is far more rewarding.
     
    xXSebaSXx likes this.
  11. xXSebaSXx

    xXSebaSXx Minimodder

    Joined:
    21 Aug 2010
    Posts:
    496
    Likes Received:
    45
    Amen to that!
     
  12. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

    Joined:
    9 Feb 2004
    Posts:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    88
    Despite what you read, there is little correlation between Catholicism and Creationism. The bible is full of 'parables', stories designed to convey a particular moral message. Much of the bible is explicitly intended not to be taken literally. With regards to the rest, the interpretation has changed over time. Nowadays, most Christian churches look for the message within the text, and don't take the text too literally.

    And thus it is mainly American Christians and those influenced significantly by American missionaries that tend to believe in Creationism.

    Most of the rest of the broader Christian church happily believe that god created the earth - specifically that he created the primordial soup from whence we came and also created evolution and natural selection. They take greater pride and comfort from the fact that their god created a really cool sandbox that spawned a billion evolving variations, and yes, he did create man, but he did it by creating a simple organism that eventually became a man over. Far better than that noob Creationist god that could only created a static system...

    Accordingly, they are happy to also believe in the Scientific Method, and accept the findings of people like Darwin. Religion is based on faith, and the fact that they can't prove there is a god doesn't prevent them from believing there is a god. After all, they believe that science is merely a small part in god's repertoire - perhaps we simply aren't advanced enough to recognise the signs, or perhaps god intends us not to see proof - after all, proof removes the need for faith.

    My long-winded point is that science and Christianity are not mutually-exclusive, unless a) you steadfastly don't believe there is a god, or b) that you believe the bible should be taken literally. It is normal that they can be taught in the same school.

    Personally, I'm a born-again agnostic - that's my twee little way of saying that I was raised as a Catholic, but now I vary from a relaxed Christian belief when it suits me, to a firm atheism when that suits me too.

    My personal ire is not that somebody believes something or doesn't believe something; it's when the ignorant confuse faith with science. Sure, teach creationism alongside Shintoism, Islam and Buddhism in a Religious Education class if you want to, but not alongside science. Don't confuse your belief that the earth is merely 6,000 years old with the scientific proof that it is not.

    Take a look at the Clergy Letter Project.
     
    Last edited: 12 Oct 2010
  13. Thatguy119

    Thatguy119 Minimodder

    Joined:
    17 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    707
    Likes Received:
    8
    It’s interesting reading this and seeing how some people can make very logical arguments about what I believe is a very important point. I myself went to a Church of England primary school for 6 years, during which we sang hymns, were led in prayer, and took occasional trips to the church / had visits from the pastor.

    I am now 17 and have a strong Christian faith. I would say however that going to a faith school had no bearing on that, in fact I would go so far as to say it was counterproductive. I had a close group of about 6 friends who I have known since nursery, all of whom are no Christian, none of whom were from religious families. We all went to the faith school because it was by far the best in the town. Over the last 5 years each one of us has slowly tried to free ourselves from the bad impression we got from our faith school and come to understand how to really come to Jesus.

    I am very very thankful that the fact that we were a faith school had no influence on the curriculum, and the idea that it could frightens me. Evolution can be taught in biology and the idea of creationism should stay firmly in the RS classroom. I think that faith schools should do, they are counterproductive and are very bad at fulfilling their aim as well
     
  14. AcidJiles

    AcidJiles Minimodder

    Joined:
    19 Jun 2006
    Posts:
    377
    Likes Received:
    4
    I agree that we need faith but not in the areas most associated with it. I have faith that there is no god in the same way I don't need to have faith that there isn't a small man playing a trombone at the centre of the moon.

    I often wish I had more faith, faith in humanity for which I have far less than I would like. Faith in myself to make the right choices and faith that everything will turn out alright but I don't need faith that certain absurd things for which there is no evidence don't exist. This does not mean I can be certain that there isn't a small man playing a trombone at the centre of the moon but I don't have to think about it or form an opinion until there is actual evidence to suggest this is the case.
     
  15. okenobi

    okenobi What's a Dremel?

    Joined:
    3 Nov 2009
    Posts:
    1,231
    Likes Received:
    35
    Not that you need it Nexxo, but +rep from me.

    Dawkins is just as fundamentalist as the Bible belt, just for the other team. I prefer a more balanced and open approach myself. One which you have brought in spades, so thank you.

    To refer to the OP, "Faith school menace" is exactly the kind of tabloid title I'd expect from Dawkins. Making you feel like other people are infantile should not be the goal of any man IMHO. Each of us has something to bring to the party and whilst there are different means of helping different people to reach their potential, making them look stupid in the eyes of others is not one of them.

    We do not live in a secular society. The UK, along with Europe, the States and all the former imperial nations were built on Christian principals. Whether you personally agree with them or not, the symbolism, language, rites and architecture are endemic to our culture.

    No need to hate. Better to understand and decide what you feel best suits YOUR children.
     
  16. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

    Joined:
    12 Mar 2001
    Posts:
    5,398
    Likes Received:
    584
    Ask most Christians, born into a Christian family, if in hindsight they chose to be indoctrinated from birth.

    It generally takes very many years before you go from the point of "wilful child" to "adult capable of making decisions" and are thus truly able to make a personal choice about practicing a religious faith.

    I'm quite lucky in some ways; my parents aren't really religious, and aside from going to a Christmas carol service now and then (and mostly for the singing) they don't attend. But when I was younger, I went to a CofE primary school so had to attend church services, stuff like christingle, harvest festival, etc. Even at secondary school we went to church at christmas and had a end-of-school-year service every July, something they still do at that school today.

    I'm left with a belief tucked into my brain that God just may exist somewhere or somehow, but I do not believe in the slightest in any kind of religious doctrine.

    The reason children are indoctrinated at birth and have to wait so long to choose either way - by which time its not as easy to have an objective opinion - is that you're gullible in your early life and its easier to control and implant this information. And if they go to a "faith school" then they get it all day, and all night when they go home. This ensures a steady flow of followers is always going to be in a church, which enforces the power base of the religion, and in turn allows it to keep doing what it's doing.

    Is it right? My opinion says no and as I now have a choice, my own children - assuming I have any in the future anyway- will not be going to a CofE school, or similar. They will be taught science, and evolution. They will be taught about religions, and the various creationism views. I believe one should not remain ignorate about such important topics; if they find any "Truth" therein, I would support their decision, like any good parent should.
     
  17. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    I would point back to my previous lengthy post #28. Religion is part of culture. Teaching children the religious beliefs and practices of the community they grow up and live in is acculturation. It is no different than teaching them about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

    This is not about ensuring a steady supply of followers --this us about tribal cohesion. It would indeed be nice if children could be left to make ip their own minds but that does not work so well. They are surrounded by the religion of their community so they have to be told something about it to help them make sense. Same as sex and violence: it is everywhere, unavoidable so you have to tell the kids something, at an age-appropriate level of their understanding, so they can make some sort of sense of it. They will anyway, with or without adult help. And trust me, it is better if they get adult help.
     
  18. Rkiver

    Rkiver Cybernetic Spine

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2009
    Posts:
    930
    Likes Received:
    42
    I disagree that we "need" religion. I disagree with faith based schools getting any sort of goverment support or funding. However I agree that religion should be thought in schools as "this is what the varying faiths believe, make up your own mind".

    Religious indoctrination at a young age is not required, but if you wish to raise your child that way, that's fine. Just do not try and force those beliefs on my child. That is all I ask.
     
    mvagusta likes this.
  19. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    Joined:
    23 Oct 2001
    Posts:
    34,444
    Likes Received:
    1,822
    Yeah, well, 1 million years of (frequently rather bloody) human history seems to suggest otherwise.

    ...because you want to indoctrinate your child with your own beliefs, thank you very much (even if those are the beliefs in open-mindedness, rational thinking and science, and the belief that superstition is bad).

    Nothing wrong with that (and that's how I would do it), but that's how it works. If you think that we leave toddlers to 16-year-olds to "make up their own mind" you are mistaken. We tell them when to get up and when to go to bed. We tell them to brush their teeth and wash, how to dress and what to eat. We tell them to share and play nice and that upset and anger are not a valid excuse for having a temper tantrum and throwing/breaking/thumping things/people. We tell them to go to school where they are told and made to do a whole lot more stuff whether they like it or not. We don't leave our children very much choice at all, really.

    For good reasons. A (say) 6-year-old does not have the cognitive ability and emotional insight/self-control to make sensible decisions in terms of behaviour, personal self-care, social interaction, what to eat, when to sleep or whether school is a worthwhile activity to engage in. In fact, even when kids are 16, although we allow them a bit more self-determintation --only if they show signs of the previous indoctrination taking hold, mind you-- we find that they are still not always making very sensible choices. At some point we have to let them get on with it and face the consquences however, and in this culture(!) this line is (somewhat arbitrarily) drawn at age 17.

    Now ask yourself how much we indoctrinate our children with stuff that is based on pure evidence-based scientific rationale. Santa Claus, anyone? Easter Bunny? Fairy tales? "Eat your spinach and you'll grow big and strong"? Much of it is culture, not science.

    That does not mean it is not pragmatic, though. It is indeed (scientifically proven to be) good to eat your greens. Children used to be told faery tales, for instance, about water hags such as Peg Powler and Jenny Greenteeth who liked to dwell in lakes and rivers and jump out to drown unsuspecting passers-by who strayed too close to the edge. This was much more effective in keeping them from accidentally drowning than warning them to be careful not to fall into the water. In fact many scary faery tale monsters who eat children paradoxically appear to have a real fondness for living in places that are dangerous (but often oh, so tempting) to children... Now, what do you tell a 6-year old whose pet has died? Or grandparent? Or even (as was not unusual even less than a century ago) their parent? Ah, lies-to-children...

    Of course adults should know better, but the fact is that they don't. Most people don't understand science. You can get a farmer in a third world country to move his well away from the privy more quickly by telling him that that location is being poisoned by evil spirits, and moving the well far away from there will thwart and confuse them, than if you tell him a story about water-borne microbes he can't see (after which you'd have to tell him that, yes, microbes are in all water, but most of them are harmless, but that yes, these are harmful, and why...). Then you make sure that he sends his children to school, and start teaching them the basics of biology. When they are still young and 'indoctrinable'. And before you start arguing: "Yes, but they are Third World farmers, raised in a superstitious culture...", how many people in our Western, science and technology based culture still believe in homeopathy? Astrology? Faith healing? Crystal therapy? The food supplement industry alone is worth £50 billion. And there is no scientific evidence that large doses of vitamins contribute to your health more than a ordinary healthy diet does. In fact, sometimes they are even quite harmful. Gillian McKeitch has no scientific qualifications but she is a 'food doctor' who appears in glossies and had her own TV programme. Witchcraft medicine? You tell me.

    Never mind religion. Let's get the mote out of our own eyes first. It is the way people think that is the problem, not what they believe in.
     
  20. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

    Joined:
    20 Nov 2005
    Posts:
    12,239
    Likes Received:
    1,523
    Faith schools aren't a problem.

    Most of the parents sending their children deliberately to a faith school are likely to have involved their children in the specific religion from an early age anyway.

    I'd be a might more concerned if it had appeared that faith schools were imbuing a sense of Religious intolerance and/or a lack of respect for people not of their religion, but if that's not the case, then we as tolerant, rational, people ought to be saying;

    "Big who cares."

    If you don't want your child getting a faith based education, what the devil are you doing considering a faith school?
     

Share This Page