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These dim-wits believe in anything but God - Comments

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 1 by Henri Bergson

Solution: Rename & alter, 'Religious Studies' to 'Elementary Philosophy & Religion'.

It is important, I believe, that children know about religion so that they can realise how absurd it is. Knowledge is power.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:21:00 UTC | #172225

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 2 by Colwyn Abernathy

Parents should be warned that there is a growing threat to their children, undetected by the electric gates and security cameras of their schools. It is insidious because it is absolutist, intolerant and threatens the opportunity for young people to complete their education as rounded individuals with critical, discerning minds.


OO OO! Uh...is it...Religious fundamentalism?

EDIT: Henri...knowledge is also freedom. :)

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:24:00 UTC | #172227

HoyaSaxa87's Avatar Comment 3 by HoyaSaxa87

what kind of secularist group wouldn't want children learning about religion? How are you supposed to resist and argue against something you don't understand?

Religion should be kept out of the science classroom and also not preached about in school. But to not learn about it at all? That's just plain dumb.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:28:00 UTC | #172230

PJG's Avatar Comment 5 by PJG

Solution: Rename & alter, 'Religious Studies' to 'Elementary Philosophy & Religion'.

It is important, I believe, that children know about religion so that they can realise how absurd it is. Knowledge is power.


Agree

I am sure one of the quickest ways to encourage critical thinking in children is to teach them comparative religion and answer their questions HONESTLY. (I can dream!)

Children should not be forced to attend religious worship though.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:29:00 UTC | #172232

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 4 by Henri Bergson

Freedom = power

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:29:00 UTC | #172231

Philster61's Avatar Comment 6 by Philster61

The study of religion is not the same as studying religion.You shouldnt have to buy into it in order to understand it.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:33:00 UTC | #172233

SilentMike's Avatar Comment 7 by SilentMike

Are they seriously suggesting that the only pupils for whom religious education should be compulsory, against their will, are the immature, thick and ignorant?

Sounds like about the right fit.

And they seem to take no account of the danger of extremists at the margins of religion - better, apparently, to ignore than to understand how they pervert the precepts of the faiths they claim to represent.

But reading the books always seems to indicate that the fundamentalists are correct (or at least closer to the original). Doesn't it?

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:33:00 UTC | #172235

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 8 by Caudimordax

What, exactly, is "negative utilitarianism?"

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:34:00 UTC | #172236

Thurston's Avatar Comment 9 by Thurston

There's a great reply to this in today's Telegraph:

Sir-George Pitcher claims that children are better off learning about theology than thermodynamics. Please let me, as a "dim-witted atheist", suggest why he is wrong.

Simply put: the real world into which children must grow up is not adequately described by the Bronze Age mythologies of Abraham - however intellectually easy it might be to accept their narratives.

The real world is beautifully described by evolution, chemistry, quantum physics and relativity - although these concepts require insight and even a few brain cells.

Mr Pitcher says he failed to "get" science at school, and so he condemned himself to cling, like an eternal child, to myth and magic.

Dr Chris Scanlan
The Queen's College, Oxford

OUCH!

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:35:00 UTC | #172237

moderndaythomas's Avatar Comment 10 by moderndaythomas

Are they seriously suggesting that the only pupils for whom religious education should be compulsory, against their will, are the immature, thick and ignorant?


You said it, not me.

intone the parliamentary thought police.


Thought police that allow you to chose what to think for your self? Say that out loud and tell me if it makes sense.

We can easily substitute education for God.


They're on to us!

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:36:00 UTC | #172239

moderndaythomas's Avatar Comment 11 by moderndaythomas

Henri

It is important, I believe, that children know about religion so that they can realise how absurd it is. Knowledge is power.


I also agree, but young children do little differentiating between real science and the impostor. Teaching about religion should be an elective at a later age more along the lines of anthropology, say.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:41:00 UTC | #172243

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 12 by DamnDirtyApe

Lol @ 'We can easily substitute education for God.'

Well, perhaps they have forgotten that education is also the mechanism the religious use. I mean COME ON - god isn't going to give a vision to every Joe Smith. There have to be flocks for the shepherds, otherwise who will they have to boss about and tell what to do?

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:44:00 UTC | #172245

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 13 by Barry Pearson

Gosh! And again ... gosh!

Is this the George Pitcher described in Wikipedia as:

... a journalist, author, public relations pioneer and an Anglican priest.... Pitcher had undertaken training for ordained ministry in the Church of England and was ordained curate of St Bride's, Fleet Street, London - known as The Media Church
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Pitcher

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:46:00 UTC | #172247

Mbee's Avatar Comment 14 by Mbee

those who stop believing in God don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything


This quote (actually a miss quote I think - sorry haven't checked on it) really is completely ridiculous. If these theists actually believe this statement they are showing that they are the dimwits!

I look at the evidence and make conclusions.

Edit: The exact quote is "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." so I guess that is close enough - It still is stupid though!

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:49:00 UTC | #172249

nalfeshnee's Avatar Comment 15 by nalfeshnee

As one commenter on the Telegraph pointed out, for those not in the know:

REVEREND George Pitcher, CURATE of St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.

Profile and CV (I kid you not) here: http://www.brandrepublic.com/InDepth/Features/772981/PROFILE-Reverend-George-Pitcher/.

All this article is is advertising to try and indoctrinate more people to join his club.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:50:00 UTC | #172250

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 16 by Henri Bergson

MDThomas,

We're talking about 11-16 year olds. I would make it mandatory at around 13 or 14 to avoid the confusion you rightly suggest may occur.

It should be mandatory though else they may never hear critiques of religion, but only the usual "respect religion" and what the religious state. This is important as religion, unfortunately, once again, is taking hold of politics.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:52:00 UTC | #172252

Corylus's Avatar Comment 17 by Corylus

Sigh.

This is about children being able to opt out of collective worship, not only education.

See the press release from the National Secular Society on this subject.

http://www.secularism.org.uk/legalactionthreatenedoverreligio.html

I can't be bothered to examine what a bunch of dim-witted MPs can possibly mean in this context by under-16s "of sufficient maturity, intelligence and understanding".
Can't be bothered to read a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Human Rights have to say??!

What a dreadful indictment upon not only his journalistic skills, but his morals. Doesn't say a great deal for his understanding of the separation of church and state either. Or, for that matter, his respect for officials elected by the people.

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:55:00 UTC | #172254

Ailes du Serpent's Avatar Comment 18 by Ailes du Serpent

Forgive me my lack of expertise about the british newspaper landscape, but surely this must be a satirical op-ed piece ?

I mean, maybe I have no reading comprehension, but as far as I see it, it's about giving children the opportunity to opt out of (mandatory, or how is it handled in UK ?) religious classes, if he/she (and their parents, I presume) want to.

And the article makes it sound like 1984 is right around the corner and the state forces children to atheism, etc.

That's why I originally thought this was satire, because I have a hard time believing someone can rage against the "secular thought police" while simultaneously denying people the choice of their conscience to opt out of religious indoctrination.

The real issue this brings up is, and excuse again my lack of expertise, the nature of the religious classes. I assume this is about courses in public (state-run) schools ? Are they (a) non-proselytizing and do you learn facts about world religions, history and culture, or is it (b) just an extension of sunday praise and worship ?

Sat, 17 May 2008 07:56:00 UTC | #172255

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 19 by Henri Bergson

Collective worship should be banned as child abuse, in a sense. But I do think the NSS have got Religious Education wrong here: it should be compulsory but never taught as fact.

Sweden have just (or are about to I think) passed a law which forbids religion being taught as the truth. This is the position the NSS should adopt.

Richard Dawkins himself stresses the need for religious education, so that one knows one's enemy.

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:01:00 UTC | #172257

moderndaythomas's Avatar Comment 20 by moderndaythomas

Ailes

The real issue this brings up is, and excuse again my lack of expertise, the nature of the religious classes. I assume this is about courses in public (state-run) schools ? Are they (a) non-proselytizing and do you learn facts about world religions, history and culture, or is it (b) just an extension of sunday praise and worship ?


A good question. I'm not from the UK myself and and across the Atlantic in Canada, my kids have had some lessons in ancient cultures as well as aboriginal(native) cultures and spirituality.
But a modern, powerful and influential religion gets no time in schools.

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:02:00 UTC | #172258

AshtonBlack's Avatar Comment 21 by AshtonBlack

me (as a member of the NSS) = "A Dreary Ogre."

George Pitcher = Delusional Lunatic.


Yay for the NSS!!

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:04:00 UTC | #172260

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 22 by Henri Bergson

I can tell you about GCSE Religious Studies, as I once taught it as easter revision in a college in London (as I wanted the money then).

There are three boards, all of whom have varying syllabi. But they are not much different. Most of it is very basic: the fundamentals of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, sometimes Buddhism and Hinduism. There is some mention of Marx, Darwin and other atheists, but not much.

It reeks of political correctness: all religions must be respected. However, the fact that it includes a number of religions means that students will reflect on that fact, eroding their families' beliefs, if they have any.

There is some more interesting stuff such as the transition from the dark ages to the enlightenment. This, I believe, is useful to all people and shows the danger of slipping back into the shadow.

What is the deciding factor, however, is the teacher. Usually RS is taught by religious people, this unjustly influences students' views. I quickly pointed out, for example, that the ontological argument is fatally flawed by logic, something their usual teacher had not dwelled upon...

---

Having said that, I did find some of the RS stuff infuriatingly pointless non-information. It should be replaced, as mentioned, with the GCSE 'Elementary Philosophy and Religion' or 'sociology & psychology' or 'history of religion'...

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:13:00 UTC | #172264

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 23 by Szymanowski

I agree with M. Bergson, though I think the article may have somewhat misrepresented the NSS's aims.

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:23:00 UTC | #172271

jeepyjay's Avatar Comment 24 by jeepyjay

The NSS's agenda is simple: it wants to force the next generation to stop thinking about the spiritual, the transcendental and the mysterious, in favour of a negative utilitarianism.


Translation: The NSS's agenda is simple: it wants to force the next generation to stop thinking about meaningless theological waffle, in favour of something clearly useful and worthwhile.

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:25:00 UTC | #172272

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 25 by Sally Luxmoore

Given that the UK is very largely a secular society, perhaps we should encourage schools to keep on with what they're doing; turning out people bored with the very idea of religion and antipathetic to bible bashers like this one.

At least it's better than it used to be. When I was at school there was never any mention of any religion other than Christianity. Comparative religion is an improvement.

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:36:00 UTC | #172279

Geoff's Avatar Comment 26 by Geoff

But to bin what the Judeo-Christian tradition has bequeathed us in terms of responsibility for the stranger, care for the vulnerable, collective consciousness and our sense of what is right and wrong is utterly ludicrous.


That has to be satire, surely?

Sat, 17 May 2008 08:37:00 UTC | #172280

PJG's Avatar Comment 27 by PJG

Hmmm - the guy wrote a reply to the letter by Chris Sanlan posted at 9 above:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ukcorrespondents/faithbook/may08/queens-college-letter.htm

I had to laugh at this bit though:

And it's good to have confirmed that it's not just religious types that have a monopoly on misrepresenting the truth.


Hahahaha

Sat, 17 May 2008 09:02:00 UTC | #172291

eddington's Avatar Comment 28 by eddington

Currently its the law (enforced by OFSTED or ESTYN) that every child must take part in collective worship everyday. Personally I find it appauling when we (I'm currently in a sixth form) get told such fallacies as morals come from religion.
If anything in the UK we tend to suffer from a lack of religious education. Generally the sexism and genocide in the bible are not mentioned.

Sat, 17 May 2008 09:24:00 UTC | #172296

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 29 by phil rimmer

Henri

Solution: Rename & alter, 'Religious Studies' to 'Elementary Philosophy & Religion'.


Spot on!

I have proposed elsewhere that churches should see it as bad form to for children (of primary school age, through to 13 or so, for instance) to be made to join in with their services. Such children should be offered a simultaneous Sunday-school-type session of philosophy and comparative religion (inevitably with an added sprinkling of love and niceness). I think more enlightened churches may see the moral superiority of this approach, (the informed faith of its new young adult congregation being preferable to the mindless indoctrination of the kids at the rabble rousing church down the road.)

Slowly does it.

Sat, 17 May 2008 09:25:00 UTC | #172298

Demotruk's Avatar Comment 30 by Demotruk

I opted out of religion in secondary school, but it was different at the time, Catholicism was taught as true, and only a small mention was given to other religions.

I think it's different in a class that teaches about religion. As long as they're only teaching what people believe, I don't see why you should opt-out. It's important to understand what people are widely deluded about, as it could affect you some day.

Sat, 17 May 2008 09:40:00 UTC | #172306