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Humanists take legal action on GCSE exclusion - Comments

Ishruul's Avatar Comment 1 by Ishruul

Are they really saying: 'Imaginary, good. Reality, bad' ?

What kind of retarded decision is that?

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:04:00 UTC | #239424

root2squared's Avatar Comment 2 by root2squared

Don't see why the humanists want to associate their philosophy with religion in any way whatsoever.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:05:00 UTC | #239425

Ishruul's Avatar Comment 3 by Ishruul

Religious study is akind to the study of belief system, humanism being one of them...without any superstition.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:06:00 UTC | #239427

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 4 by robotaholic

I'm interested in the opposing viewpoint. I mean what is the reason for the QCA's decision?

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:10:00 UTC | #239429

Ishruul's Avatar Comment 5 by Ishruul

Probably they thought 'one less religion to think about'!

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:14:00 UTC | #239431

TuftedPuffin's Avatar Comment 7 by TuftedPuffin

My guess is they're trying to preserve the "humanism is not a religion" position. To be fair, that is the kind of position that allows, for example, philosophical systems of ethics or evolutionary theory to be taught in public schools...though the ideal situation would of course be an understanding of the difference between humanism/atheism and secularism. Perhaps if these people had actually taken the RE class on humanism before they removed it.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:19:00 UTC | #239437

Notcrowingbutyawning's Avatar Comment 6 by Notcrowingbutyawning

Stop teaching RE per se and introduce a broader study of Philosophy. Simple. Mind you, doesn't trying to shoehorn Humanism into a religious education class sort of smack of trying to get creationsim into biology?

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:19:00 UTC | #239436

Eric Blair's Avatar Comment 8 by Eric Blair

I'm not sure why the QCA decided to drop Humanism from the curriculum but it may be because its definition can be pretty broad.

Wikipedia's entry for Humanism includes sections on Religious Humanism and even Islamic Humanism, so it seems there may be some room for debate about what it truly is.

It seems to be more of a philosophy than a "belief system." Existentialism, liberalism, socialism and even communism all have roots in (small "h") humanism.

The BHA's notion of Humanism itself is vague and overlaps with other ethical philosophies - the key elements seem to be its contra-distinction to religion and any belief in the supernatural, and a commitment to skepticism and reason in its approach to the world (though not, apparently, in its approach to its ethical principles and optimistic faith in humans to solve problems).


Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:44:00 UTC | #239456

larhule's Avatar Comment 9 by larhule

I would like to hear the actual QCA decision and any explanation related to such a decision. You would think that would have been important enough to include in the article.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:56:00 UTC | #239461

Sargeist's Avatar Comment 10 by Sargeist

We need to teach the controversy in religious classes.

Was anyone else surprised that Clare Rayner is the vice president of the BHA? This is the same Clare Rayner that I'm thinking of, right?

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 11:05:00 UTC | #239468

Pony's Avatar Comment 11 by Pony

Phillip Pullman wrote: "Saddened ... but not surprised, because the public knee still makes an automatic genuflection towards 'faith' however it manifests itself."

That has got to be the classiest way of saying "knee-jerk reaction" I've ever heard.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 12:19:00 UTC | #239514

Freethinker15's Avatar Comment 12 by Freethinker15

Yes!! This is the ulitmate goal I feel if we are going to truly educate the young of the beauty of life without religion and hocus pocus. That is if BHA win, I can't see how they could possbily lose.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 12:43:00 UTC | #239532

Donald's Avatar Comment 13 by Donald

Andrew Copson is an able and articulate advocate for humanism in education and against the enforced teaching of religion.

However, his drive to get Humanism taught within "Religious Studies" is double-edged and I do not support his stand in its current form.

Of course, I support a drive to get humanism into the currriculum, and as an alternative to religious studies.

But I think it is a mistake to treat humanism under the overall heading of "religious education", even for the good purpose of getting humanism into the national curriculum. To me, the disadvantages of having humanism labelled as "another religion" outweigh the specific goal of getting humanism as a GSCE topic. I think it's better to press for humanism be an alternative GSCE under its own name. (Or press for a change of the title of the GCSE into "Religious Studies and Humanism")

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 13:04:00 UTC | #239541

mrjonno's Avatar Comment 14 by mrjonno

Well there is a difference between Humanism ( a belief system) and atheism (someone without believe in a deity).

You can't really teach atheism in an RE lesson but you could teach Humanism (which is a belief system like other religions but without the supernatural)

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 14:15:00 UTC | #239624

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 15 by the great teapot

Fair decision in my view.
Religion is a belief in things that clearly can no be rationally supported.
Do humanists really want tarring with the same brush.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 14:17:00 UTC | #239627

ThoughtsonCommonToad's Avatar Comment 16 by ThoughtsonCommonToad

Stop teaching RE per se and introduce a broader study of Philosophy. Simple.


All I ever read in the press about Humanism is whining Humanists. Seems like Humanists are pinned from now on.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 14:31:00 UTC | #239643

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 17 by rod-the-farmer

Based on what I have heard about the frequency of this response in UK polls about religion, I would then expect "Jedi" to be one of those religions that was chosen.

And what about the Flying Spaghetti Monster ? Is that part of the course too ? If not, why not ?

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 15:27:00 UTC | #239676

njwong's Avatar Comment 18 by njwong

The BHA should tell the QCA that withholding the teaching of Humanism (read Atheism) is the same as teaching about numbers and not teaching the concept of ZERO.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 16:44:00 UTC | #239702

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 19 by phasmagigas

humanism alongside religion in RE lessons could be useful.

In a typical RE lesson the only kids who will be thinking 'this is me' are the 'muslims', the 'hindus' the 'jews' and any kids in the UK who consider themselves the 'christians', the defaut position for most non muslim kids in the UK is 'dunno, not sure , maybe, i dont really think about it' so to actually show them that if you are not religious there is still and 'option', ie a code of outlook/philosophy (whatever you want to call it) that does not include going to church/mosque and believing in a god, i think its a good inclusion mechanism for all those other kids who without a specific religion to identify with are suddenly left cold in RE lessons.

Religions power is that it gives kids identity, that what the average british kid does not have, ask a pakistani kid 'who are you?' and they will say 'my name is XXXX, i am XXX years old, i am a muslim, ask the same to a white classmate and its more like 'my name is XXXX, I am XXX years old and er, well i like football.

as others have mentioned maybe religions and other world views could be taught under some other umbrella, like 'human culture' that could include religions of course but put christianity on a level with baka tribe philosophy or good old humanism.

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 18:00:00 UTC | #239723

theantitheist's Avatar Comment 20 by theantitheist

Religions power is that it gives kids identity, that what the average british kid does not have, ask a pakistani kid 'who are you?' and they will say 'my name is XXXX, i am XXX years old, i am a muslim, ask the same to a white classmate and its more like 'my name is XXXX, I am XXX years old and er, well i like football. t

I disagree, ask any kid in ol'blighty who are you? and there answer will be 'fuck you, I aint telling ya my name, pervert, nah giv me ya wallet or i'll fucking knife ya" (or maybe that's just my old neighborhood Bury/Bolton/Burnley))

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:14:00 UTC | #239797

TalkyMeat's Avatar Comment 21 by TalkyMeat

I'm with the BHA (and Phantasmagigas) on this. RE should never take the form of preaching or religious instruction. It needs to be taught as an exercise in understanding what people believe and why, the social and psychological functions of religious belief, and so on; none of these topics are inimical to their study from a non-religious point of view. It seems pretty sensible to me to suggest that such a study could not be complete without including coverage of what people who reject all faiths believe and why, and the responses the irreligious take to the social and psychological functions traditionally taken up by religion. I can see how you could draw an analogy to teaching creationism in a science class if the coverage of Humanism were used to deconvert the religious, but if the whole subject is taken, as it ought to be, as a sociological exercise, the analogical case would be a biology class where the teacher whips out a well-thumbed copy of Breaking the Spell and discusses the biological basis of religious belief for an hour.

Incidentally, I don't think absorbing RE into a Philosophy course is a good idea. I think most philosophers would regard this as a great disservice to their discipline, happy as they would be to get a toe-hold in secondary education at all. I'd love to see philosophy classes in every high-school, but it would suck to have that chance and blow it by demoting philosophical schools to faith-positions, wasting class time on aspects of religion (rituals, festivals, myths etc) that not even the faithful pretend are "philosophical", and denigrating the core issue of philosophy teaching, critical thinking.

Of course, the main historical arguments for and against the existence of god are classic philosophical parlour tricks that undergraduate Philosophy classes have traditionally used to get students' attention and accustom them to thinking philosophically, and I'm not saying that one shouldn't give them a week or two's attention; but there are meatier and more interesting issues in philosophy that merit a greater share of class time.

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 07:23:00 UTC | #240064

StewE17's Avatar Comment 22 by StewE17

The Humanists are playing the religion game where the rules are made by the religionists.

Religious education in the UK is influenced by local committees called SACREs (no, not sacred), or Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education. These are committees of representatives of churches and other religious denominations, along with teachers and local councillors. With the persistence of deference to "faith" in the UK, you can guess who has the most influence on these bodies.

Humanists want to take part in these SACREs so that they can get humanism taught along with the various religions. They also want a secular society where the state neither promotes nor discourages religion. This really means that if religion is to be taught as a school subject, then it should be taught as a proper academic discipline in an objective way, including criticism of its tenets and of its holy texts etc., and the subject matter should be in the hands of academics and educators, not priests and imams.

How do they square the circle of wanting the state to be secular while trying to get their philosophy taught in religious education classes?

They want to have their cake and eat it.

Thu, 25 Sep 2008 03:01:00 UTC | #240687

Romaholic's Avatar Comment 23 by Romaholic

'Stop teaching RE per se and introduce a broader study of Philosophy. Simple. Mind you, doesn't trying to shoehorn Humanism into a religious education class sort of smack of trying to get creationsim into biology?'

Pretty much it is now. My R.E. teacher always seemed like he was rather bored when teaching about Religious ritals etc. He liked broader questions about secularism and Zionism and always prefered say, Philosophy or Ethics to Religion.

Who cares about the name? To use a cliche, what's in a name?

Mon, 20 Oct 2008 11:57:00 UTC | #253756