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The big lie: No religion in schools

Dave Richardson's picture

Recent local and national events have raised the ardor of the discussion regarding religion in public life. Whether it is the political debates surrounding the Presidential candidates or the religious beliefs of our school board chairman, the appropriateness of religion in public policy is a hotly disputed subject.

What amazes me is that we miss the obvious when it comes to metaphysics, religion, and theology in public discussions. It is what I call a tale of two assumptions.

Assumptions are funny things, because people rarely discern what ones they are making nor overtly discuss them. Because certain things are perceived as self-evidently true, they are seldom questioned and just assumed to be true.

Most people in America assume in one of two ways.

One type of assumer contends that there is no God, and the only thing that really exists is the natural material world. God is as imaginary as the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, leprechauns, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

These assumers would also say that somehow natural laws made nature, and only the laws of physics run the universe.

The other type of assumer contends that besides the natural material world there is also a personal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of everything. He made the laws of physics and operates the universe through them but also around them as he sees fit.

These assumers find it difficult to see how something comes from nothing by nothing. Likewise, it seems nonsensical to attribute the origin of everything to natural laws. For the laws of physics to create a universe, the laws would have to exist prior to the universe, yet those laws are tied to the universe, creating an impossible chicken-or-the-egg scenario.

The point is that these two very different conceptions of what is really real, where everything comes from, and how everything works are not derived from science. They are metaphysical and religious.

BOTH types of assumers have religious and metaphysical explanations, doctrine, stories, and experiences.

In a June 2009 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, atheist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse, freely admitted, “In the Darwinian case there are 2 levels of activity and interest ... there is the level of science and the level of metaphysics (recognizing that this includes things that might be considered scientific at one end and religious or otherwise ideological at the other end).”

The metaphysical and religious explanations of both types of assumers are their undeniably deep core beliefs from which neither can divorce themselves.

Here is where most people miss the obvious. We assume that there are those who inject religion into public policy and debate and there are those who don’t. It is assumed that there are people of faith and there are people who are not of faith.

This is patently false. Everyone is a person of some kind of faith who can’t help but inject their religion into the public arena, because everyone holds to certain undeniable though differing basic metaphysical beliefs.

A common objection is that we live in a secular society, so religion is not part of public life. Educators explain that we have state universities or public schools, so they have to leave religion out of the discussion.

This is a bald-faced lie. Every teacher in every class in every school every day teaches from a particular set of metaphysical and religious assumptions whether out of conviction or because of a mandate from administrators.

It is inevitable and unavoidable that religion will be taught. It may not be Christian religion, but it is religion nonetheless.

Our “free thinking” neighbors wish us to believe that their atheism means they are non-religious. This is a thin smoke screen for assumptions that, while not traditionally religious, are no less metaphysical than those of Christians.

The Darwin Fish on the cars of some humanists and secularists, while a tongue-in-cheek jab at Christians, really hints at the religious core of their beliefs.

They don’t want to admit what is unavoidable — that they too promote a religious and metaphysical view, just one quite different from the Christian majority.

So when citizens express their concern over the religious principles held by politicians or that our school board chairman belongs to the Free Thought Society, this is perfectly legitimate and responsible.

When our chairman assures us that his atheism will play no role in public policy, though, he is lying, because atheism is what our public schools teach our children every day.

Don’t let that shock you. No, you will not usually find Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, or Richard Dawkins overtly discussed in class.

However, do our schools teach how God informs economics, government, science, history, literature, or the arts?

Instead, we teach every subject as if there is no God who contributes to knowledge.

So what religious ideology is that?

I’ll give you a hint — it starts with an “A.”

Rather than deny that there is religion in the public arena, let’s be honest about what religion is being promoted and whether it is adequate to the task.

[David Richardson of Peachtree City coordinates the Assumptions Project. He has a Master of Theology degree from Oxford University and is a recognized expert on the religious attitudes and beliefs of university professors. He, his wife, and his children have lived in Fayette County for over 22 years.]


citizenal's picture

Thank you Mr. Richardson for some clear common sense. We were designed as a pluralistic society where all religion would have free and open expression at the adherent's choice - not the government's. It is time the religious atheists learn to respect their religious practice and that of others. Mr. Presburg is not 'dangerous' because he is an atheist but he is evidencing his ignorance to say that his religion does not inform his thinking and actions. Ignorance is not a good qualification for Chairman of the School Board - nor is covering up ones beliefs.

As a high school teacher in this county I am continually reminded of the fine line that must be walked in teaching science class. I am not religious in any way, and some people might interpret that to say that I am an atheist. I would choose not to describe myself in that way, even if it was technically correct, because the fact is that in my personal experiance the atheists that I have met have been so nasty, over the top and blatant about their liberal political agenda that under no circumstances do I want to be associated with them. It irritates the heck out of me how in-your-face atheists get in pronouncing that people with religious beliefs are stupid or brainwashed or other such nonsense. i keep to myself, keep my opinions to myself (especially in the classroom) and let other people believe as they please. It takes a smarter man than I to decide if God is real or not. Just because religion doesnt make sense to me as a personal philosophy doesnt mean i have the right to make that decison for others.
It damn sure doesnt mean that the seperation of church and state was meant to be used as an axe by liberal activist judges to ram through their perverted idea of what American society should be like. That irritates the snot out of me too.
I get around the issue in class by telling the students that what we are going to learn is the best idea scientists have at the moment (subject to change at any time), based on what can be observed and proven by the scientific method. Religious questions cannot be proven or studied with the scientific method so are therfore outside the scope of the class. Science does not try to prove or disprove religion and anyone who says otherwise has an agenda, one way or the other. That usually suffices for the kids.
Outside school I tell the neo marxists who have hijacked the term atheist to 'eff off. The right to not have to belong to a government sanctioned church ( the founders intent) does not give you the right to try to destroy other peoples beliefs. These idiots that want to sue over manger scenes and "under God" being in the pledge of allegiance really need a good square punch in the face, or at least, forced to spend some time where people really do all have to think the same way and act the same way or they get shot, not punched (North Korea anyone?).
I say "under God" while reciting the pledge everyday and my head has yet to explode nor, will I note, has the world or even America come to an end. This, despite the fact that I do not particualarly belive in gods or religion. As a military vet who deployed 3 times, I suppose i say the words as an homage to the founding fathers, trying to keep hold of some of the spirit that I think they would have wanted us to hang on too.

But Dave is right. Even as a person who reluctantly calls themselves atheist, I can tell you that people like the free thinkers are dangerous to your children. In the same way the colleges have been taken over by liberals and tend to turn out liberal kids, their agenda will inevitably wind up in the schools somewhere, somehow.

You are perfectly free to cast your vote based on whatever you decide is important, be it a candidate's personal theology or anything else.

Please don't presume to tell me how to cast mine.

I've always liked what Thomas Jefferson said about personal religious beliefs: "I inquire of no man's, and trouble none with mine."

Then again, he was a Deist and so, I assume, would never get your vote.

kcchiefandy's picture

...the statement 'if there is no God, then make a tree'. NOT grow a tree, create it from something else, combine DNAs & RNAs, just simply 'make a tree'. So, who MADE the trees?

..the statement that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. If you were to travel back in time to Europe 5000 yrs ago and ask someone to "Make a flashlight" they wouldnt be able to do it either. Yet thousands are made now on a daily basis. But this item we consider to be trivial and common would have you worshipped as a god back then.
I'm not saying there is a God or isint one, but it's overly simplistic to say that because the average person cant make a tree out of nothing then He must exist. The lack of an alternative explanation or understanding does not prove a supernatural explanation.
If someone says they got blackout drunk and then coundnt remember what happened to them for 5 hours last night therefore they must have beeen kiddnapped by aliens and therefore it proves aliens exist, youd look at him like he was a moron. Maybe aliens do exist, but you cant make that claim just 'cause some dude doesnt remember a chunk of time. That argument is as overly simplistic as the "make a tree" argument.

Nope, Ithink that should be "nil heard" and you missed a sked! Back to 'knobbin!

But the next question would be... if God made the tree, or made the stuff that made the tree, who/what made God? You can play the reduction game all day long and you will never arrive at an answer.

My point is, if you want to believe, believe. But don't pretend, as does Mr. Richardson, that by doing so you have answered the question or disproved anyone else's beliefs.

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