Religious Tolerance in School

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Religious Tolerance in School

Postby 1337goose » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:32 am UTC

Not being able to find a thread as specific as this one, I am starting this thread to discuss the levels of religious tolerance in public schools today. I am currently attempting to start an "atheist club" ("teapot agnostic club" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue) at my high school (in Toronto), where I am facing predictable resistance.

“It’s an undeniable fact that to own up to being an atheist is tantamount to introducing yourself as Mr. Hitler or Miss Beelzebub.” -Richard Dawkins at a TED talk on militant atheism.

I certainly agree with his observation, being given many dirty looks from other students. Frankly, I couldn't care less about the dirty looks that I get from others, in fact I relish the thought, knowing that I'm making such a large impact. However, what does concern me is the looks that teachers have given me when I tell them about my intentions. In a school with a Jewish Culture Club and a Christian Fellowship, why can't there be an Atheist Club? Everyone I speak to is either furious that I would dare to criticize someone's faith, or concerned that I might be immolated if I don't look behind my shoulder every five minutes. And these opinions were only emphasized when I visited my old elementary school.

I was visiting an old teacher of mine, and I asked him what the school board's procedure would be were evolution to be taught in said school. As I'm starting a new thread, you could probably assume that the answer he gave me was that the school would also have to explain the "alternative theories" in as well as evolution by natural selection. I understand that a school is a place where all the children of a community should feel welcome, but it is, first and foremost, a school, a place of learning, a place of education and science and reason.

As such, the question I am posing is this:

Do you think that the teaching of "alternative theories" should be accepted as a societal norm for elementary schools (and why is teaching "godless" theories like evolution by themselves so terrible)?

Personally, I do not approve on the grounds that:
1) teaching things that are unscientific and categorically wrong (in a school, of all places) is not acceptable at all, and
2) promoting this level of religious tolerance makes it unacceptable to criticize religion* (e.g., all the religious students in my school are livid because of my Atheist club proposal)

*I want to make it clear that I believe that people have the right to be stupid, but that that right should not intrude on public education.*



"Let's all stop being so damned respectful." - Richard Dawkins

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:21 am UTC

Well obviously it is difficult to disagree that your school ought to teach proper science, and that while "teaching" Creationism isn't in itself a problem (although almost always a waste of time in an already tight schedule), claiming that it is science or that it is true, or even presenting it in a science class, is doing a great disservice to the children.

As for forming an atheist club, I personally find the idea slightly odd (in the sense that there isn't a whole lot atheists need to do together the way people of a specific religious group do, and perhaps you should consider forming a humanist or skeptic club instead), you of course have the right to do so, and I would assert that anybody who disagrees doesn't really support freedom of religion or the U.S. constitution, among other things.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby guenther » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:33 am UTC

1337goose wrote:Personally, I do not approve on the grounds that:
1) teaching things that are unscientific and categorically wrong (in a school, of all places) is not acceptable at all, and
2) promoting this level of religious tolerance makes it unacceptable to criticize religion* (e.g., all the religious students in my school are livid because of my Atheist club proposal)

For number 1, I'm not a fan of teaching unscientific things in a science class. Perhaps there's a place for Creationism in schools, but it should be in more of a religious studies type class.

For number 2, tolerating religion is not the same as changing science curriculum to appease people. And in my opinion, the message should be about tolerance in general, which means atheistic perspectives should be tolerated as well.

1337goose wrote:"Let's all stop being so damned respectful." - Richard Dawkins

Isn't the problem with your atheist club a lack of respect from everyone else? How does throwing more disrespect into the mix help? We can strongly disagree with someone and still be respectful, it just might take more effort.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:35 am UTC

1337goose wrote:Everyone I speak to is either furious that I would dare to criticize someone's faith, or concerned that I might be immolated if I don't look behind my shoulder every five minutes.
It's fascinating to me that the mere existence of atheism can be taken as a criticism of someone's faith.
1337goose wrote:Do you think that the teaching of "alternative theories" should be accepted as a societal norm for elementary schools (and why is teaching "godless" theories like evolution by themselves so terrible)?
I think the answer is pretty simple, and I don't think you'll get much controversy here (I'd be surprised if anyone disagreed with you).

If we teach biology to produce effective biologists, then we must teach evolution in biology class, because effective biologists understand and believe in the theory of evolution. Effective biologists do not believe in Biblical Creationism anymore than effective geologists believe the world is six thousand years old.

One of the other fascinating things to me--a lot of resistance toward evolution might be because, like so many scientific theories, it demands that we displace humanity's position as the central figure in the material plane. Spatially--Earth is not the center of the universe; temporally--humans have occupied it for only a fraction of a fraction of its existence; and biologically--we are products of the very process that produced the stinkbug.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Velict » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:37 am UTC

Spoiled musings about religious tolerance, as I've experienced it:

Spoiler:
My school (a large public high school in Colorado) is somewhat odd in this respect, I think. Religion is a negligible (or non-existent) part of student life, and atheism is publicly tolerated, even socially desirable in many circles. To the extent that people care about religion, we're very highly religious tolerant.

My AP Human Geography class had a survey of religious beliefs, and a plurality of students (about 45-49% I think) identified as either atheist, agnostic, or nonreligious (about a fifth of the plurality). Of the rest, Judaism was the single largest religion, with Catholicism slightly behind it, Mormonism a little behind that, and Protestant Christianity comprising at most 5-10% of the student body. About 1 in 9 people at my school graduate haven taking the class; this, while not an incredible large percentage of students, suggests that a sizable number of students are nonreligious or atheistic. Less accurate methods (general perceptions and Facebook) suggest that this number is a reasonable estimate.

People who are religious here aren't overwhelmingly so. We have a Bible Club that meets after school, but it consists of only five members (out of 3500-odd students here). Teachers occasionally make disparaging comments towards religion or a particular aspect of religion (conservative upbringings or 6000-year-old-Earthers) and don't suffer any penalties or complaints. I'm an agnostic, and my religious beliefs have occasionally come up; I've never once so much as suffered a disparaging comment about my religious beliefs.

We don't have an atheist club, but I've never seen the point.


With regard to your question, however, I suspect the answer on this forum will very heavily be "no." This is the internet, where Christians are ridiculed and Dawkins is a god amongst men (also the only one we believe in).

I believe that resistance to evolution as a scientific theory is a result of the politicization of the issue in Western society, as well as the longstanding conflict between naturalists and the religious right. I would suggest that the politicization of this issue has also twisted the common man's perception of evolution, creating a perception of atheist undertones in Darwinism that do not exist in the pure theory. I can't do more than speculate as to why this politicization came to exist, but I am convinced that its continued existence perpetuates itself.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:49 am UTC

guenther wrote:
1337goose wrote:"Let's all stop being so damned respectful." - Richard Dawkins

Isn't the problem with your atheist club a lack of respect from everyone else? How does throwing more disrespect into the mix help? We can strongly disagree with someone and still be respectful, it just might take more effort.
The problem is that it isn't just a matter of disagreement, but a matter where lives might be at stake--see the anti-vaccination crowd, who are directly responsible for the death of children, old folks, pregnant women, etc. Of course, I don't think such a clear connection is obvious in matters of religion (supporting anti-vaccination supports the death of children--but supporting religion? Well, that supports a lot of things), but I know that when we start talking about religious institutions, a lot of the passion, anger, and disrespect stems from people angry over specific things those institutions are doing which lead to actual human suffering. And it's nearly downright impossible to respect someone when they are both supporting such an institution and defending or otherwise refusing to own up to what evil that institution is doing. You can't honestly expect me to treat Catholics decently when they're saying shit like "Condoms don't prevent AIDS! Abstinence only education in Africa!". People are dying because of those words.

All that being said, I don't think a general antagonistic perspective on religion is at all helpful. But I can understand why someone would be antagonistic, and if you gave me a choice between two assholes (one atheist, one religious--Dawkins versus Haggard springs to mind)--it's not hard for me to know which side I'm on.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby guenther » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:07 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:And it's nearly downright impossible to respect someone when...

That's the problem. It's so easy to justify treating someone like shit. And I think that's connected to why we see so much of it when we look around. This is why I think it's so important to try that much harder to not do it. But if you don't want me to expect it out of you, I won't.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Entropy » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:08 am UTC

I'd just like to say that forming a skeptics club (based on the idea of debunking unscientific claims through the use of logic and research) sounds like an awesome idea. IMO too much learning in school is based on memorization, and this would give students an opportunity to practice using logic to reach their own reasonable conclusions about things they care about.

I'm sure that if the proposal was worded right the more religious folk might even support it, unaware of its potential subversive effect :) Though admittedly you have tipped your hand a bit, so it might be harder to pull off...

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:27 am UTC

guenther wrote:That's the problem. It's so easy to justify treating someone like shit. And I think that's connected to why we see so much of it when we look around. This is why I think it's so important to try that much harder to not do it. But if you don't want me to expect it out of you, I won't.
Well, yeah. When you are engaged in something that leads to people dying or suffering--and refuse to own up to it--I can't respect that. I make plenty of room for misunderstandings (maybe you honestly think abstinence is more effective than condoms), especially since misunderstanding can go both ways (maybe I honestly don't understand the situation as well as you do)--but when we have evidence, it becomes a pretty clear situation where we're valuing our personal interpretations of God's will before the lives and well-being of God's children. I mean, fuck, Christians are supposed to acknowledge that their understanding of God is imperfect--valuing their comprehension to the point of willingly endangering other people's lives for its sake is narcissism to the point of sociopathy. I can't think of anything nicer to call it beyond wickedness. And I neither respect wickedness nor people who practice it.

Edit: Something else to consider, as far as the evolution vs Creationism debate goes--there's so much misinformation floating around amidst the Creationist arguments, so many misquotes of Darwin (which are irrelevant to everyone except Creationists anyway), so much misrepresentation--where did all these lies come from? Who misquoted Darwin first? Who misrepresented this science for the explicit purpose of undermining evolution? These didn't all happen by accident; someone in the Young Earth Creationist movement must have lied. On purpose. Someone in the movement must have realized they were misrepresenting facts to support their point. Someone values their interpretation of God's will more than they value the spread of factual, useful information--more than they value the progression of biology as a science and medicine as a field. This person is engaged in a wickedness, and we should have no respect for them.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby guenther » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:48 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Well, yeah. When you are engaged in something that leads to people dying or suffering--and refuse to own up to it--I can't respect that. I make plenty of room for misunderstandings (maybe you honestly think abstinence is more effective than condoms), especially since misunderstanding can go both ways (maybe I honestly don't understand the situation as well as you do)--but when we have evidence, it becomes a pretty clear situation where we're valuing our personal interpretations of God's will before the lives and well-being of God's children. I mean, fuck, Christians are supposed to acknowledge that their understanding of God is imperfect--valuing their comprehension to the point of willingly endangering other people's lives for its sake is narcissism to the point of sociopathy. I can't think of anything nicer to call it beyond wickedness. And I neither respect wickedness nor people who give it respect.

Well, condoms in Africa seem like a poor excuse for not being respectful to fellow students when starting up an atheist's club, which is where my original note was aimed. Are you just generalizing about why my advice isn't as universal as I hold it to be, or were you actually disagreeing with it in this specific case?

I think 1337goose raises some good points, and I think it's quite healthy for religious people to have their mind opened to other ideas. But returning intolerance for intolerance seems bad, and then complaining about the intolerance seems worse. I don't actually know how 1337goose really deals with people though (EDIT: and I don't want to give the impression that I assume the worst), I'm just reacting to a quote and providing my opinion.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:53 am UTC

guenther wrote:Well, condoms in Africa seem like a poor excuse for not being respectful to fellow students when starting up an atheist's club, which is where my original note was aimed. Are you just generalizing about why my advice isn't as universal as I hold it to be, or were you actually disagreeing with it in this specific case?
More the former, but in a general sense, I'm trying to foster some understanding as to why Dawkins and Hitchens and others are just so spiteful toward religion--because lives are at stake, and there are at least a few religious people (the pope, for instance) who don't seem to care. I don't think antagonism is ultimately helpful or the best policy, but I can see situations where such antagonism is a perfectly reasonable response (when someone values their interpretation of God over the lives of others). I think the problem is that it's hard to separate when someone is honestly misinformed ("I think condoms are bad because abstinence is just a much better policy") or puts more value on their religion than saving lives. I imagine there's a great deal of overlap, too.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Le1bn1z » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:12 am UTC

nowfocus wrote:Do you mind my asking what high school in Toronto? I believe when I went through, evolution was part of the curriculum.


Yeah. As a fellow Torontonian, I have to say, I smell a straw man. According to the Ontario Secondary School Cirriculum, the Theory of Evolution is to be taught as the working system which describes both the emergence of new species and related biological functions. Other theories may be mentioned, but it must be made clear that they are not supported by empirical evidence, whereas evolution is a scientific system based on empirical observation.

1337goose wrote:Not being able to find a thread as specific as this one, I am starting this thread to discuss the levels of religious tolerance in public schools today. I am currently attempting to start an "atheist club" ("teapot agnostic club" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue) at my high school (in Toronto), where I am facing predictable resistance.

“It’s an undeniable fact that to own up to being an atheist is tantamount to introducing yourself as Mr. Hitler or Miss Beelzebub.” -Richard Dawkins at a TED talk on militant atheism.

I certainly agree with his observation, being given many dirty looks from other students. Frankly, I couldn't care less about the dirty looks that I get from others, in fact I relish the thought, knowing that I'm making such a large impact. However, what does concern me is the looks that teachers have given me when I tell them about my intentions. In a school with a Jewish Culture Club and a Christian Fellowship, why can't there be an Atheist Club? Everyone I speak to is either furious that I would dare to criticize someone's faith, or concerned that I might be immolated if I don't look behind my shoulder every five minutes. And these opinions were only emphasized when I visited my old elementary school.

.......

"Let's all stop being so damned respectful." - Richard Dawkins


OK. Now lets get to the meat of the issue.

You sort of remind me of a few people I knew in highschool, including myself. I'm from a Christian family, and during my teenage rebellion, decided to rebel against my broadly atheist peers by reading the Bible, cover to cover. I even brought it to a camp thing we did at the begining of grade nine. I was teased relentlessly. In grade eight, I even had by Bible stolen and torn up.

One of my buddies was a rabid stick-it-to-the-man style atheist living on the fringe between liberal and socialist; a rebel for a lot of causes, including militant atheism. He was also mocked relentlessly.

Another friend was and is a diehard partisan activist for right-wing parties such as the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and the Federal Conservatives (he was an early Toronto Reform fan.) He, likewise, was constantly mocked and derided.

Now, it could be that the kids at our school had a mad hate on for Christians, Atheists, Liberals and Conservatives. Could be they were all die-hard Bloc Quebecois stuck in the wrong province, inability to speak French notwithstanding.

I think the quote with which you chose to end your post cuts closer to the truth of the matter. We weren't mocked for holding particular views. I was not the only Christian. My friends not the only Conservatives, Liberals or whatever. It wasn't what we believed, but the fact that we were all either obnoxious about it, pushy, nerdy or otherwise grating.

Since your signature quote is Dawkins' clarion call to abandon respect and civility, I suspect that you're closer to where we were in highschool. Do you tend to get lectury? To steer all conversations back to politics or philosophy or whatever? Do you come off as a know it all? Do you wear the inflamatory tacky T-Shirts favoured by such people? These are the things that get you stared at and mocked, whatever your personal beliefs.

Finally, schools have all sorts of wonderful places to discuss "alternatives" to empirical science, such as philosophy class or history or even litterature. However, if we're going to be honest, there is a fundamental difference between the Theory of Evolution and its competitors. Evolution is the theory proper to instrumental science, the branch of knowledge we use to build cars, cure cancer, fight blight, feed the world and breed SuperCats (c). The dissenting theories do NOT appeal to instrumental science, but are critiques of it. If they are going to be taught, they should be studied in classes devoted to the disciplines which inform them, such as theology, metaphysics, rationalist-speculative science, so that people grow up with a proper understanding of how these arguments stand or fall.

Good luck with your club. I'm not entirely sure what you'd do in it. I don't think prosetylisation is allowed in schools, which limits conversion campaigns favoured by Dawkins. I'm not sure how much fun an Atheist Day would be. Maybe you can take up the Clone High tradition of "Snowflake Day." It's the flakiest day of the year. Lamb tacos, anyone?
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Religious segregation in schools

Postby Waylah » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:21 am UTC

I can't wait for the day when religious segregation in schools will be banned - completely a thing of the past. Racial segregation in schools was a stupid idea, and religious segregation is even worse.

This thread is about how harmful it is to bring up children indoctrinated in a religion they get slotted into, how religiously segregated schools not only condone this, but facilitate it, how it divides communities as sets people apart, how its just generally not a good idea. I wonder how much longer it will last. Will our grandchildren be shocked to hear about how it was not only legal but common when we were young for there to be a Catholic school and a Jewish school and a Muslim school? My mother was taught by nuns. That was not that long ago, and now it just seems bizarre.

Teaching children -about- religion is a different matter, and teaching children to think about ethics and to care about people is not a bad thing at all.
But teaching children that any organisation has a monopoly on truth, and encouraging people to separate themselves from other people who have different views to themselves - this divides communities. It doesn't 'celebrate diversity', it causes divisions, socially and mentally, shrinking the world a child's developing mind has access to - the opposite to what a school is meant to be.

There is a growing emphasis in media targeted at children on teaching tolerance and understanding, which is encouraging. Hopefully this trend will extend to the abolition of religiously divided schools, and will see a future where all schools are places of learning that are open, unbiased, undivided, places off acceptance, tolerance, and unity.

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Re: Religious segregation in schools

Postby Azrael » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:37 pm UTC

I'm not sure what system you're referring to, but in the US religiously-sponsored schools account for only 11% of the school age population. These schools are also private institutions -- just like the churches themselves.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Waylah » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:53 pm UTC

So in the USA, one in ten school-age kids? That's a fair amount. The fact that the school is private doesn't make it any better. Every child should have the right to develop mentally without indoctrination in a religion, no matter who is funding their educational institution.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Sharlos » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:56 pm UTC

Honestly, I don't get the point of atheist groups or associations, what do you plan on doing in them?

(edit because of merge)

So in the USA, one in ten school-age kids? That's a fair amount. The fact that the school is private doesn't make it any better. Every child should have the right to develop mentally without indoctrination in a religion, no matter who is funding their educational institution.


Is their religious indoctrination really going to change all that much even without going to a religious school? Almost all religious people inherited their religion from their parents, no matter what school they went to. While I dislike most of the world's religions, I am firmly against the idea of telling parents they aren't allowed to pass on their ideals onto their children. You only run into a problem when children aren't allowed to independently explore other ideas that conflict with those their parent taught and even if they go to a religious school there should still be plenty of opportunity for that.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Azrael » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:02 pm UTC

Waylah wrote:Every child should have the right to develop mentally without indoctrination in a religion...
They already do, within the public school system. However they can opt to attend a parochial school. Unfortunately, since they're minors, the right is exercised by their parents.

Banning private religious schools will never, ever happen. Enrollment is already dropping (with Catholic schools, the largest single provider down nearly 50% since 1960) and may eventually extinguish itself. But the right to freely exercise religion cuts both ways.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby icanus » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:05 pm UTC

Sharlos wrote:Is their religious indoctrination really going to change all that much even without going to a religious school? Almost all religious people inherited their religion from their parents, no matter what school they went to. While I dislike most of the world's religions, I am firmly against the idea of telling parents they aren't allowed to pass on their ideals onto their children. You only run into a problem when children aren't allowed to independently explore other ideas that conflict with those their parent taught and even if they go to a religious school there should still be plenty of opportunity for that.

When would this opportunity come? Sure, for most kids they may have out of school interests/peer groups that their parents don't dictate, but for some of them it'll be:

Mon-Fri:
Wake up, get $religion over breakfast.
Go to school, get $religion all day.
Go home, get $religion over dinner.

Weekend: go to $place_of_worship with parents, then go to $religious_youth_group or $religiously_sactioned_social_activity with parent-approved peers from $place_of_worship.

It's those kids that really need a space where their parents religion is not the only option.

The problem with religious schools is that it is entirely possible for a child to reach adulthood never having had a conversation with anyone whose religious views significantly differ from their own. I'm all for parents being able to pass on their values and beliefs to their children, but 30 hours a week of not having religion rammed down your throat isn't that much to ask.

Certainly churches should be allowed to offer their own education or even indoctrination, but it should have to be in addition to a core, religiously neutral education, not instead of.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby sje46 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:28 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote: I would assert that anybody who disagrees doesn't really support freedom of religion or the U.S. constitution, among other things.
Remember that this is Canada. Of which I don't really know too much about the situation with religion and government.
guenther wrote:[quote=]"Let's all stop being so damned respectful." - Richard Dawkins

Isn't the problem with your atheist club a lack of respect from everyone else? How does throwing more disrespect into the mix help? We can strongly disagree with someone and still be respectful, it just might take more effort.[/quote]
Well, religion isn't a "someone", it's a something. A something which arguably has caused a lot of unnecessary suffering in the world. What Dawkins is referring to is the privileged state religion is in in the world. People view it as disrespectful to challenge it. Perhaps it is, but it has to be done. Religion doesn't deserve respect because it's not a person; only a person can deserve something.
Sharlos wrote:Is their religious indoctrination really going to change all that much even without going to a religious school? Almost all religious people inherited their religion from their parents, no matter what school they went to. While I dislike most of the world's religions, I am firmly against the idea of telling parents they aren't allowed to pass on their ideals onto their children. You only run into a problem when children aren't allowed to independently explore other ideas that conflict with those their parent taught and even if they go to a religious school there should still be plenty of opportunity for that.

Do you mean, you're against passing laws telling parents what they can and can't teach their children? I don't really think there should be laws at all. I, however, think it's immoral to teach your children religious beliefs before the kid is old enough to decide for himself. Especially when you bring the kid to church and built up a big social network thing. At that point it will greatly pain the kid to question his beliefs, to leave that life. At that point, the kid really can't independently explore other options. At least, it will become a great struggle for him.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby guenther » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:31 pm UTC

icanus wrote:It's those kids that really need a space where their parents religion is not the only option.

If you think it's such a great need, sell it to the parents in the free market of ideas. Having the government step in here sounds like a pretty terrible thing.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby icanus » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
icanus wrote:It's those kids that really need a space where their parents religion is not the only option.

If you think it's such a great need, sell it to the parents in the free market of ideas. Having the government step in here sounds like a pretty terrible thing.

I do. I've done my best to talk parents of children I've taught at nursery out of sending them to the local church schools whenever they asked my advice.

But I don't see why government involvement in education is a bad thing - an educated populace that knows how to live and work amicably with people of differing religious beliefs to their own is in the public interest, and ghettoising children based on their parents' faith works directly against that (se Norhtern Ireland) - government's job is to serve the public interest, so I also push for political change as best I'm able. (I'm in the UK, so at the moment my effort is mostly focussed on stopping public funding of religious schools.)

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby guenther » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:33 pm UTC

icanus wrote:I do. I've done my best to talk parents of children I've taught at nursery out of sending them to the local church schools whenever they asked my advice.

This sounds like a good approach. And people that advocate religious schools will make their pitch too. We'll let parent's make informed decisions.

icanus wrote:But I don't see why government involvement in education is a bad thing - an educated populace that knows how to live and work amicably with people of differing religious beliefs to their own is in the public interest, and ghettoising children based on their parents' faith works directly against that (se Norhtern Ireland) - government's job is to serve the public interest, so I also push for political change as best I'm able. (I'm in the UK, so at the moment my effort is mostly focussed on stopping public funding of religious schools.)

"Government involvement" is a broad term. If I don't support banning private religious schools, that doesn't mean I want the government out completely. I like the idea of people make better choices themselves rather than the government making better choices for them.

EDIT: I missed this before.

sje46 wrote:Religion doesn't deserve respect because it's not a person; only a person can deserve something.

I mean respectful of other people. If Dawkins means to simply withhold respect for ideas, he should be more explicit. People are very good at finding reasons to treat others badly, and I don't think we need to encourage it.

And in regards to your point, religion should have to earn respect in the free market of ideas, just like atheism should. May the best idea win. (Or more realistically, let each of us find the idea that best suites us, since there may not be a single best answer here.)
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby MEGAMANTROTSKY » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:34 pm UTC

I'm a first time poster, so I apologize in advance for any informalities or indiscretion.

Granted, this topic is supposed to entail a discussion of religious tolerance in schools. But so far, from what I've read, most points of contention have been drawn from personal experience or prejudices. There's one argument on atheists respecting religion, and short stories regarding bad experiences with both atheism and theism. But what does this really contribute to the debate other than our own personal feelings (which unfortunately, are not likely to be changed in the course of these types of discussion)?

It seems, from what I've read, that there is confusion regarding the legitimacy of both science and religion in schools. Here of course, being an atheist, I must object to the presence of religion in schools not only because of its anti-scientific and tendency to distort the truth, but also because of its politically reactionary history, especially in the United States. This discussion, I believe, should turn to the social forces outside our control that are cultivating this atmosphere. That is, the attempts of the state to disallow any public criticism or religion without character assassination or suppression by the right-wing bloc.

These are a few documented examples that I will rattle off for you:

-In the late nineties, the House of Representatives passed a bill known as the "Religious Liberty Act," which essentially allowed individual practice of religion at public schools in defiance of the separation of church and state. Though the House majority was Republican, the Democrats also endorsed the bill, by a margin of 306-118. The bill is still in effect today, along with a number of federal provisions that would provide financial aid to religious groups. A motion to overturn the ban on organized prayer in public schools had only just been introduced.

-In the 2000 presidential campaign, and in 2005, Joseph Lieberman promoted a falsehood that the Constitution does not guarantee "freedom from religion," effectively repudiating Jefferson's explicit call to build a "wall of separation between Church and State."

-In 2007, the Supreme Court, seeming to echo the previous sentiments, issued decisions on three cases that will further undermine these elementary civil rights. More on this can be found here: [url]http://wsws.org/articles/2007/jun2007/supr-j28.shtml

-Finally, in July of this year, President Obama appointed Francis S. Collins as director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins has long been an active advocate of evangelical Christianity, rejecting Darwin's theory of evolution on the basis that it cannot explain humanity's morality. Further adding fuel to the fire, he has stated that there are no contradictions between science and religion, promoting the unsubstantiated claim that evolutionary biology is the will of god.

[edit] This of course, does not ignore or belittle his efforts on the human genome.

The list is nigh on endless. These are only minor examples of the state taking action undermining scientific progress, in order to confuse and vilify atheist sentiment. The notion of religious tolerance is a philosophical red herring, designed to directly affect education, and by association subsequent generations of children. And all the while, the political significance of continued state endorsement goes by almost entirely unnoticed.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby breintje » Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:50 pm UTC

I can imagine why you face resistance trying to set up an atheïsts club. While there are lots of activities that can only be done in a community of (for instance) Christians, I can't think of many that require only atheïsts. A Christian club would probably do things like Bible readings, gospel singing and perhaps religious education, as well as general non-faith-specific things like organising holidays, etc.. The Christian student's fraternity here does not disallow atheïsts atheïsts to join, although there probably won't be many in, since they have no interest in those activities. Anyone who wants to participate in the non-religious activities only would rather join the scouting, since (at least here) they organise those activities, for both religious and atheïst people.
What kind of things would you like to do with your atheïsts club? I can't imagine things other than anti-religious rallies/speaches/book readings and the like that would require a solely atheïst community. Your school probably fears that these incite hate. Most other activities would make your club more of a "(anti)theological debating sociëty" or "general activities club for youth". Either way, you can't block religious people from entering either, at most you could have your statutes disallow propagation of religious views, or discourage non-atheïsts from joining some other way.

As for your question: I think that schools should teach a little about most religions and their views, knowing a bit about other cultures and their ways can't hurt. Schools also shouldn't propagate views that have been deemed incorrect scientifically (f.i. youg earth creationism). Personally I think that evolution doesn't yet belong in elementary, but rather in secondary school, where students will actually be able to understand the underlying principles, as goes with all subjects.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Mokele » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:32 pm UTC

Personally I think that evolution doesn't yet belong in elementary, but rather in secondary school, where students will actually be able to understand the underlying principles, as goes with all subjects.


I've gotta disagree there. Maybe kids aren't ready for Hardy-Weinberg equations, but I actually had a pretty good grasp of evolution while I was in elementary school (mostly due to an extremely high dinosaur fixation). You don't have to pile it on, but you can cover some of the simple rudiments about there being past animals that were very different, about how animals changed as the world changed, about how you can see various groups appear, change, and vanish over time in the fossil record.

And the whole thing can be done just by teaching kids about dinosaurs. Kids *love* dinosaurs.

Plus, it'd do wonders for them later on. Trying to understand biology without knowing paleontology is like trying to understand politics based only on the events of the past 5 days.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:58 pm UTC

I agree with Mokele. Why shouldn't kids at primary school level learn the most important scientific theory at a rudimentary level? If they cannot answer the question of where we come from at such an early age, then it leaves the path open for others to input their own ideas, which are not scientific to say the least. Already we see in the UK that kids going to secondary schools can have a biased view of where we came from as a species, that is, they'll actually come out and say their religion states such and such. It may not be the majority of children, but there are enough Muslim and Christian kids ready to question the teacher, and even claim offence is being caused by their teaching of something totally opposite to what they may have learned from their family or faith. Dawkins even asked several science teachers why they weren't pressing for firmer putting forth of the idea of evolution, and the response came that they didn't want to have to deal with irate parents who were pissed their kids were being taught something that discriminates against their religion.

So, I say we get these kids learning the facts from an early age. Hell, they should be taught appropriate critical thinking skills to enable them to ask these questions and keep on asking, rather than assume "Goddidit" or some other bullshit. Rather than drilling them in how to pass tests and only tests, they should be able to think for themselves. Getting them to embrace an idea that turned the world upside down and showed how erroneous human thinking was for millennia is a damn good start.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby qetzal » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:22 pm UTC

breintje wrote:What kind of things would you like to do with your atheïsts club? I can't imagine things other than anti-religious rallies/speaches/book readings and the like that would require a solely atheïst community. Your school probably fears that these incite hate. Most other activities would make your club more of a "(anti)theological debating sociëty" or "general activities club for youth". Either way, you can't block religious people from entering either, at most you could have your statutes disallow propagation of religious views, or discourage non-atheïsts from joining some other way.


Seriously? By that logic, the only thing that Christian clubs would be doing is pro-Christian rallies/speeches/book readings. Is that your experience?

I'm surprised and disappointed at how many people can't imagine why an atheist club might be a good idea. I can think of lots of positive activities and justifications:

* promote awareness that atheism and atheists are OK and deserve respect
* provide support to other atheists that might be getting flak from family, classmates, etc.
* share stories of how people arrived at atheism, or their doubts about whether some god may exist after all
* become active at school or in the community to address unfair discrimination against atheists or inappropriate school or gov't endorsement of religion

You or I might not be interested in participating in such activities, but so what? I'm not interested in stamp collecting or Zoroastrianism either, but I can still imagine that some people are. The OP has every right to try to start an atheist club and see if there are enough like-minded students for it to fluorish. (I do agree that an atheist club should have to follow fair membership rules; if Christian clubs can't ban Jews or atheists, then atheist clubs must also accept theists.)

I'll also echo The Great Hippo and say that I'm amazed at people who think that the existence of an atheist club (or an atheist, for that matter) is an inappropriate criticism of their religion. If that's the case, why isn't the Jewish Culture Club an inappropriate criticism of the Christian Fellowship, and vice versa?

I recognize that an atheist club could engage in inappropriate and disrespectful behavior towards religions and the religious. But the mere possibility is not a reasonable objection. Maybe the OP has a bit of attitude, but there's no stated intent to proselytize, act disruptively, be rudely disrespectful, or do anything else that would be inappropriate in a school setting. Besides, religious clubs have just as much potential to act that way. The school needs to discourage and deal with such actions if they occur, of course, but that's not an acceptable reason to discourage the club's existence!

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby breintje » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:13 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:Seriously? By that logic, the only thing that Christian clubs would be doing is pro-Christian rallies/speeches/book readings. Is that your experience?

I was saying that doing activities like ... would require a solely atheïst community. Thus: this atheist community can obviously do other things together (see my post), but not doing these would make your club not specifically atheist, but more a general youth club.
qetzal wrote:* promote awareness that atheism and atheists are OK and deserve respect
* provide support to other atheists that might be getting flak from family, classmates, etc.
* share stories of how people arrived at atheism, or their doubts about whether some god may exist after all
* become active at school or in the community to address unfair discrimination against atheists or inappropriate school or gov't endorsement of religion

Although I don't think there are a lot of problems with atheïsts getting "flak" and such, those would be fair causes.
@rest of post: Agreed, I won't oppose an atheïst club, although I can imagine people doing so.
Admiral Valdemar wrote:So, I say we get these kids learning the facts from an early age. Hell, they should be taught appropriate critical thinking skills to enable them to ask these questions and keep on asking, rather than assume "Goddidit" or some other bullshit. Rather than drilling them in how to pass tests and only tests, they should be able to think for themselves. Getting them to embrace an idea that turned the world upside down and showed how erroneous human thinking was for millennia is a damn good start.

Bolding mine Or, shows how we now think human thinking then was erroneous.
Children will not understand "the facts", or know what to do with them until they have developed sufficiëntly. Depending on the age of children in your elementary schools, this probably won't be before the last two grades.
As for the last two boldings, schools shouldn't let children embrace any ideas other than that they have to think for themselves, and support this with research/experiment if nessecary.
Mokele wrote:I've gotta disagree there.

I don't know what age you were in elementary, here we learn next to no biology (a bit about how organisms live, not how they came to exist) in elementary, then again, elementary ends at age 12 here. In my opinion it is better to teach things with a good basis, in my case some genetics from Mendel (this was first or second grade secondary school). This way children learn what the theory is based upon, and can understand how and why, rather than just what and "what gives".
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:45 pm UTC

breintje wrote:Bolding mine Or, shows how we now think human thinking then was erroneous.
Children will not understand "the facts", or know what to do with them until they have developed sufficiëntly. Depending on the age of children in your elementary schools, this probably won't be before the last two grades.
As for the last two boldings, schools shouldn't let children embrace any ideas other than that they have to think for themselves, and support this with research/experiment if nessecary.


There's no reason a foundation course can't be implemented. We teach basic maths and science that leads on to bigger areas should they choose to study it in more detail. You just have to explain that we know how we came about in a secular, scientific manner. As for "embracing the idea", you're right in repeating my point that children should think for themselves and make their own calls, rather than having teachers ram home points and have them just accept them. But I would hope that most children who have developed those traits would embrace evolution, since it's the only sensible option.

Unless they come up with a better theory, or find rabbits in the pre-Cambrian.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby mastered » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:15 pm UTC

Unless it is a religious school, they should not be teaching "alternative theories" because they are not, in fact, scientific theories. They're just rehashings of Creationism with different terminology. In the original papers advocating teaching intelligent design as an alternative theory, the writers actually took the old papers advocating Creationism and replaced the word with intelligent design. Ultimately, the entire "theory" is based on the assumption that the complexity of advanced life could not possibly occur without the intervention of an "intelligent designer," who must according to description be godlike (omnipotent, omniscient etc.) And if there are religious groups at your current school, then opposing an atheist group is intolerance. You have the "moral high ground".
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby 1337goose » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:29 pm UTC

I think there have a few misunderstandings with what I've written in the original post, so I just want to clarify that:

1) In my high school (Thornhill Secondary School, as someone inquired), only evolution is taught (unless it is taught in religious studies courses, with which I am unfamiliar). I meant to discuss the teaching of said "alternative theories" in elementary schools

and

2) My "atheist club" will be more of a scientific skepticism club than just a "we hate religion" club. I wouldn't prohibit religious people from entering, in fact I would welcome them, because the entire purpose of this club is to be informative and to teach, not simply to complain about the religion's follies. If they stir up angry dogmatic debates, I'm not to blame.


Also, any tips or suggestions for my club would be sincerely appreciated.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby sje46 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:18 am UTC

You live in Toronto, which is a big city, so I assume there has to be a good amount of protests regarding teaching intelligent design in schools, or people opposing gay marriage for religious reasons...maybe not so much because you live in Canada, but still. You can organize counter-protests. You can also organize debates, extending a hand to the Bible club or whatever. It doesn't have to be something like "does God exist" but it can be about if t eaching religion to kids is alright, or if ID should be taught in schools. Also, if you are going the skepticism root, it doesn't have to be all about atheism. You can also have debates about the anti-vax movement and the september 11 conspiracy. You can host speakers, like ask a former priest who became atheist to come and speak. That might be a bit unrealistic. To tell the truth I've never been part of a club.

I would also recommend you get an account on reddit.com, and join the /r/atheism subreddit, and start a thread asking them some good ideas. It's probably one of the biggest atheism communities on the web, so they're bound to have better ideas than me.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby G.v.K » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:44 am UTC

qetzal wrote:Seriously? By that logic, the only thing that Christian clubs would be doing is pro-Christian rallies/speeches/book readings. Is that your experience?

I'm surprised and disappointed at how many people can't imagine why an atheist club might be a good idea. I can think of lots of positive activities and justifications:

* promote awareness that atheism and atheists are OK and deserve respect
* provide support to other atheists that might be getting flak from family, classmates, etc.
* share stories of how people arrived at atheism, or their doubts about whether some god may exist after all
* become active at school or in the community to address unfair discrimination against atheists or inappropriate school or gov't endorsement of religion



i think this is actually a key weakness for the atheists. for better of worse, christianity is ingrained in our culture. i've never heard anything from the leading atheists which shows they have even the first clue about ethics and morality, especially the history of these. they imply that we all have some kind of 'natural' ethics which guides us. they should spend a little more time studying this and they would realise how much of what they think is 'natural' comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition. in the area of ethics and morality, the most successful proponents took what was already there and incorporated it into a new outlook. the atheists seem to just want to totally discredit what is there.

where is the atheist inspired art, music, literature? where are the atheist charities? where are the atheist schools and holy places and all the rest? they don't exist. atheists might say that we don't need them. but then they must admit that many people seem to need such things. if christianity is just a meme, why on earth has it been so successful? until atheists figure out hte answers to such questions, they have no credible alternative as far as i can see.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:44 am UTC

I'd shy away from calling it an atheist club. Not because of the stigma but mostly because I don't value the word or general understanding of the concept. It would seem that the one of the largest schema's correlating to challenging a conviction in the Jeudo-Christian God is critical thinking. Personally I'd put little value in creating a club that is trying to gather power and community for atheists and would much rather see individuals gathering and learning about logical fallacies, correlation vs causation, marketing, political science, psychology, history, economics and sociology and then discussing morality, ethics, honor and integrity to be of much greater use of your time.

I suppose I just seem little value in trying to fight conformity and group think by creating a direct opposition. These groups will quickly dehumanize each other and the result will just perpetuate everything that most atheists associate with religion.

I recently attended a Atheist Group in Los Angeles and they were everything I was afraid the would be. A group of individuals who cared more about beating a Theist in a debate then about increasing education and critical consciousness. This is what people associate with Atheism this is not a progressive concept to build a club around.

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Earl Grey » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:50 am UTC

MEGAMANTROTSKY wrote:-Finally, in July of this year, President Obama appointed Francis S. Collins as director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins has long been an active advocate of evangelical Christianity, rejecting Darwin's theory of evolution on the basis that it cannot explain humanity's morality. Further adding fuel to the fire, he has stated that there are no contradictions between science and religion, promoting the unsubstantiated claim that evolutionary biology is the will of god.

[edit] This of course, does not ignore or belittle his efforts on the human genome.


Some of this requires correction. Dr. Collins does NOT reject Darwin's theory of evolution (and addressing your above paragraph, you cannot simultaneously reject something and make claims about it being the will of god). He identifies himself as a theistic evolutionist, the key components of which can be found in his book 'The Language of God', p.200:
1. The universe came into being out of nothingness, approximately 14 billion years ago.
2. Despite massive improbabilities, the properties of the universe appear to have been precisely tuned for life.
3. While the precise mechanism of the origin of life on earth remains unknown, once life arose, the process of evolution and natural selection premitted the development of biological diversity and complexity over very long periods of time.
4. Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.
5. Humans are part of this process, sharing a common ancestor with the great apes.
6. But humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout history
.


(emphasis added)

Dr. Collins is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and is a key figure in the campaign to show that religious belief does not have to preclude good science.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Griffin » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:00 am UTC

Okay, really just one point.

Teapot Agnostic Club is a MUCH better club name idea than "Atheist club". Hence why your two examples were "Jewish Culture" and "Christian Fellowship" club. You need a name that welcomes people, and Athiest aint a word that does that (at least not by itself, you might come up with other good ideas that use it)

The other problem being that those clubs are about some social tradition that ties people together, while yours isn't. People generally don't support clubs that operate on the negative. Atheist isn't something you ARE, its specifically, by definition, something you're not, so there's probably a more inclusive, positively defined way to approach the issue. The idea of a skeptics club definitely has merit, moreso than an atheists club anyways.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:26 am UTC

Griffin wrote:The other problem being that those clubs are about some social tradition that ties people together, while yours isn't. People generally don't support clubs that operate on the negative. Atheist isn't something you ARE, its specifically, by definition, something you're not, so there's probably a more inclusive, positively defined way to approach the issue. The idea of a skeptics club definitely has merit, moreso than an atheists club anyways.
Th'fuck you talking about, Willis? Atheism is far more diverse and varied than you're proposing, and besides--we call it an 'Atheist Club' because it's a club for atheists. The goal isn't to be inclusive, it's to be exclusive--to everyone but atheists. Sanitizing the name of the club for the sake of Basic Human Decency is silly ("Oh shit, don't call it the BIBLE club, that excludes everyone who doesn't read the Bible! Call it the... the religious book reading club!").

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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby Mokele » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:27 am UTC

breintje wrote:I don't know what age you were in elementary, here we learn next to no biology (a bit about how organisms live, not how they came to exist) in elementary, then again, elementary ends at age 12 here. In my opinion it is better to teach things with a good basis, in my case some genetics from Mendel (this was first or second grade secondary school). This way children learn what the theory is based upon, and can understand how and why, rather than just what and "what gives".


For context, in the US elementary school typically is from ages 5-11, and I went to a small private school, but I've heard that there's at least some level of very basic biology in public schools too. I was more thinking of the "Yay Dinosaurs" approach for the very young ones, maybe first and second grades, and ultra-basic, nothing really intensive.

However, I'm rather skeptical that the "genes first" method actually works better than an organismal approach would. Sure, it's all math-y and provable and suchlike, but IMHO there's a real powerful, visceral impact to phenotypic changes in organisms over time. It's got a story, and real, visible changes, and that grabs people in a way that Punnet squares, Hardy Weinberg equations, and gene sequences just can't. I'm certainly not saying we should avoid genetics, but if the goal is to convince students / the public, we should lead with the evidence that's most persuasive, inuitive and gripping.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:30 am UTC

Ever consider making it a pastafarian club? If you kept the focus on being pro thought/anti fundamentalism it is both more tolerant to theists and you get to explain what pastafarian means fifty times.
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Re: Religious Tolerance in School

Postby sje46 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:01 am UTC

G.v.K wrote:
qetzal wrote:Seriously? By that logic, the only thing that Christian clubs would be doing is pro-Christian rallies/speeches/book readings. Is that your experience?

I'm surprised and disappointed at how many people can't imagine why an atheist club might be a good idea. I can think of lots of positive activities and justifications:

* promote awareness that atheism and atheists are OK and deserve respect
* provide support to other atheists that might be getting flak from family, classmates, etc.
* share stories of how people arrived at atheism, or their doubts about whether some god may exist after all
* become active at school or in the community to address unfair discrimination against atheists or inappropriate school or gov't endorsement of religion



i think this is actually a key weakness for the atheists. for better of worse, christianity is ingrained in our culture. i've never heard anything from the leading atheists which shows they have even the first clue about ethics and morality, especially the history of these. they imply that we all have some kind of 'natural' ethics which guides us. they should spend a little more time studying this and they would realise how much of what they think is 'natural' comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition. in the area of ethics and morality, the most successful proponents took what was already there and incorporated it into a new outlook. the atheists seem to just want to totally discredit what is there.
You think that atheists don't "have the first clue about ethics and morality"? You honestly think that Christians are more inclined to "have a clue" about ethics and morality? They're more inclined to put creedence in what their priests say or what their Bible says, sure, but to suggest that Christians think about morality and ethics more than atheists is really ignorant.

You're acting like you know exactly where all morality comes from. I'm sure that people thought murder was wrong before Moses came down with the Ten Commandments. I'm sure that lots of people thought it was good to turn the other cheek, to follow the Golden Rule (which is incorporated in pretty much all major religions) before the New Testament was written. Not that that matters anyways. Just like people may follow the philosophy in Atlas Shrugged knowing the whole thing is fictional doesn't unjustify their rationale in following it. I think that the fictional character Jesus had a decent philosophy, therefore I incorporate what about that philosophy I agree with, minus the things I don't agree with (that homosexuality is wrong, that God exists, etc). How many atheists do you think want to "discredit what is there"? Or are you just stereotyping?
where is the atheist inspired art, music, literature? where are the atheist charities? where are the atheist schools and holy places and all the rest? they don't exist. atheists might say that we don't need them. but then they must admit that many people seem to need such things. if christianity is just a meme, why on earth has it been so successful? until atheists figure out hte answers to such questions, they have no credible alternative as far as i can see.

There's secular art, music, schools, and literature everywhere. There are no holy places because atheists don't worship anything, since it's NOT A RELIGION. To be an atheist, all you need is to not believe in God. That's it. Because of that, there isn't really much of an atheist culture. A few Flying Spaghetti Monster and crocoduck jokes, and that's it. Culture is possible without religion, of course. Look at Europe; they're no less cultured since they became so much more secular.
"Atheists might say we don't need tht.em."
Yes. Find me an atheist who says we don't need schools and art. I'm sure Dawkins will totally agree with that statement. STOP STEREOTYPING. You have no idea what you're talking about.
"If Christianity is a meme, why on earth has it been so successful"
This shows you don't even know what a meme is. The word was invented precisely to describe why it is so successful. It's a successful meme. Memes spread themselves. Good memes will make it so you think you will go to Hell if you don't believe in them.

This has probably been the most ignorant post I've seen in the past month. Now I'm pissed off.
General_Norris: Taking pride in your nation is taking pride in the division of humanity.
Pirate.Bondage: Let's get married. Right now.


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