I need my kids to be indoctrinated at school because I don’t trust their judgment or the persuasive power of my personal religion

The Herald Sun reports:

A massive billboard has been erected in Bulleen claiming state schools “are not church playgrounds”.

Which is stupid. Of course they are!

More relevantly, of course they should be. The thing is, I want my children to be indoctrinated with my religion before they have a chance to think critically about it themselves. I don’t want them being presented with unbiased information about the world’s various faiths – what if they ultimately choose a different one to mine! I can’t stop that happening when they’re adults, sure – but I can at least make sure that they associate any kind of spiritual feeling with my preferred religion.

So if they decide there is something out there, they’ll see it as evidence for my personal belief structure, not one of the other ones that it fits just as well.

You can’t necessarily force all children to believe what you do, but you can give your religion the best chance to own them by

  • having it taught to them by their teachers at school as if it were an objective truth like maths or chemistry – the credibility their teachers work hard to earn teaching them indisputable facts can then be squandered on making vulnerable children think that what their teachers are teaching them about “God” is equally indisputable. (And sometimes my religion really does need the help. Particularly when trying to convince someone that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, even the bits that contradict the other bits, and even the bits where what my supposedly kind and benevolent God does is monstrous.)
  • presenting it as the only spiritual choice in the atheism-religion fake “binary”. It’s surprising how many adults genuinely fall for logical fallacies like Pascal’s Wager – something they’d never do if we hadn’t burned this “Christianity or Atheism” false choice into them.

As a parent, I can’t indoctrinate my kids into my religion every hour of the day. It’s vitally important that the six or seven hours they’re at school aren’t wasted teaching them stuff like Maths, English, Chemistry, Physics, History, Music, etc without my personal religious beliefs constantly being imposed on them.

All parents have the right to deny their children a religiously-neutral education where they get the information about the various philosophical options in a neutral fashion and are free to make up their own minds.

I don’t trust my kids’ judgment. And I don’t trust my religion’s ability to persuade new adherents in a fair marketplace of ideas. And that’s why my religion must be forced on my kids when they’re most gullible and prone to indoctrination. At school.

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165 responses to “I need my kids to be indoctrinated at school because I don’t trust their judgment or the persuasive power of my personal religion

  1. having it taught to them by their teachers at school as if it were an objective truth like maths or chemistry

    While I personally agree in raising all kids with a strong ecumenical grounding in multiple religions and asking them to think critically, you DO realise that whether religion is an objective truth or not is precisely one of the things people of different religious viewpoints disagree about? So “don’t let anyone teach kids religion as ‘truth’ because its not objective” is a claim that has a strong implicit religious viewpoint? And that it goes much further than the general secular principal of “lets all agree to disagree about religion and not kill one another”, because you’re trying to impose “religion is not objective” on EVERYONE ELSE’S KIDS by force of government control of the education system – essentially, you want to indoctrinate kids with religious relativism, which (unlike science) is NOT a clearly correct thing we should generally agree that kids need to be taught?

    Oh, and I think in fact I think the “let kids figure it out for themselves” meme was first introduce into the West by the Anabaptists, who did the hard yards by martrying themselves at the stake for their views, so that you atheists could come along a couple of centuries later and reap the benefits. That’s ok though, they would have wanted you to reap the benefits of the beliefs they died upholding, funnily enough they’re kind of like that as people, some weird “religion” thing they have going…..

    That’s right everyone, I will be laying into what I consider the patchy arguments of atheists across ALL ze threads in this blog, even when I practically agree with them, so long as religion is a topic! Lets see who gets bored about talking about religion first!

    😛

  2. So “don’t let anyone teach kids religion as ‘truth’ because its not objective” is a claim that has a strong implicit religious viewpoint?

    You can’t see a distinction between disciplines based on logic and testing (maths, science) and the subject of faith?

    essentially, you want to indoctrinate kids with religious relativism

    No, I want to not indoctrinate children that “all religions are equal” or variants thereof. I want kids educated to know what other people believe and then to be free to choose for themselves what they will believe, having weighed up the alternatives. Obviously if Christianity speaks to them then they can’t simultaneously believe that Islam is an equal path.

    The point is not having someone else tell them which path they should be taking on the intensely personal subject of faith.

    you atheists could come along a couple of centuries later and reap the benefits.

    (a) I’m agnostic – I don’t believe in God, or Gods, but I don’t believe that there are definitely no Gods, either.
    (b) Exactly how am I “reaping the benefits” of the anabaptists?

  3. You can’t see a distinction between disciplines based on logic and testing (maths, science) and the subject of faith?

    You know as someone who studied Advanced Pure Mathematics at uni level, you’ve changed my mind.

    School will ONLY teach logical truths. No humanities, and no classes in English. The Axioms of ZFC in primary school, and from there the kids can just speak Peano Arithmetic to one another all day and discover the Secrets of Everything.

    Plato would have approved.

    I want kids educated to know what other people believe and then to be free to choose for themselves what they will believe, having weighed up the alternatives.

    This happens anyway if the kids are not locked in dungeons. Its called “being alive”. But since you’re so determined to get to them while they’re still tabula rasa, why not cut out the middlemen and begin preaching from the catchecism of secular agnostic humanism in maternity wards? This is the logical endpoint of the slippery slope. Obviously the fact you’re on such a slope doesn’t mean you endorse the valley, that’s a fallacy. But why aren’t you content to let kids hear about religion in school and fix their brains afterward?

    Is it because their scary religious memes are too powerful for you to dislodge from an 18 year olds head?

    So much for competing in the marketplace of ideas.

    (a) I’m agnostic – I don’t believe in God, or Gods, but I don’t believe that there are definitely no Gods, either.
    (b) Exactly how am I “reaping the benefits” of the anabaptists?

    a) You say potato, I say poTAHto. You’re an agnostic, I’m an agnodeithiest.

    Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto, I’m not the one trying to pressure the government to change the school system to make evangelising my philosophical views easier, because I’m more confident I’m right and can convince them later, lets call the whole thing off.

    b) You’re benefiting because the Anabaptists thought kids couldn’t meaningfully consent to be baptised, so they opposed infant baptism, which was a heresy at the time, and because they had the courage of their convictions, they were willing to die to stand up for their belief in the correctness of letting kids decide about religion for themselves (this was the “murdering people who don’t agree with our religion” era in Europe, if you’ll recall).

    How much do you value this component of your morality? Enough to die for it?

    No? I somehow doubt it. Luckily you don’t have to, because the Anabaptists martyrs died for the benefit of all mankind, so you get to live in a world where the idea is taken from granted and no one murders you for it. That’s what we economic rationalist call a “positive externality.”

  4. School will ONLY teach logical truths. No humanities, and no classes in English.

    Not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting religions be taught neutrally, not entirely absent. The problem with the teaching of religion at school at the moment is that it teaches something entirely subjective as if it WERE objectively true. Which no-one can possibly prove.

    I’m more than happy for religion to be taught like politics or history or any other subjective humanities subject where teachers don’t pretend that they’re handing out objective truth. Or where they shouldn’t, anyway.

    Teach subjective things by all means – just don’t pretend they’re objective.

    This happens anyway if the kids are not locked in dungeons. Its called “being alive”.

    Actually, it doesn’t, which is why so many people are so easily scared by religions of which they only have a passing knowledge. And why the vast majority of people in the world with a religious belief share either the religion of their parents or the dominant religion of their country (or both). The percentage of religious people who picked a religion that either isn’t the dominant religion of the country in which they live or the religion of their parents is vanishingly small.

    why not cut out the middlemen and begin preaching from the catchecism of secular agnostic humanism in maternity wards?

    Since I’m advocating the teaching of all religions, I fail to see how that makes any sense at all. Could you try addressing what I’m actually arguing?

    But why aren’t you content to let kids hear about religion in school and fix their brains afterward?

    Is it because their scary religious memes are too powerful for you to dislodge from an 18 year olds head?

    Why aren’t you content to let kids hear about all religions and let them make up their own minds? Is it because many religious memes are so ridiculous it’s difficult to get them into an 18 year old’s head unless you’ve been indoctrinating them since childhood?

    a) You say potato, I say poTAHto. You’re an agnostic, I’m an agnodeithiest.

    I thought you said you adhered to a particular set of religious beliefs. Do you hold them without doubt or do you doubt them? Do you believe they’re definitely true, or do you think maybe they’re not?

    I’ve never heard of a religion that holds THESE THINGS ARE TRUE OR YOU KNOW WHATEVER. They all require belief, confidence, certainty.

    Agnosticism requires no belief, confidence or certainty. It’s the sceptical position of not accepting anything on faith. It is not equivalent to religion, because it doesn’t make any declarations from authority at all.

    I’m not the one trying to pressure the government to change the school system to make evangelising my philosophical views easier

    Uh, what? I’m pressuring the government to STOP evangelising your arbitrary philosophical beliefs in school, not impose my own. It couldn’t, anyway, because I don’t HAVE any firm theological beliefs. I’m calling for the school system to advocate for NO-ONE, but to present the different options for the students to choose. You’re advocating for the school system to be free to indoctrinate kids with ONE religion over all others.

    You’re benefiting because the Anabaptists thought kids couldn’t meaningfully consent to be baptised, so they opposed infant baptism… How much do you value this component of your morality? Enough to die for it?

    That makes little to no sense. I don’t think we should be indoctrinating kids and it has nothing to do with what the Anabaptists did or didn’t do. If they agreed with me to some extent, great, but it doesn’t mean my views are dependent on their sacrifice.

  5. “Teach subjective things by all means – just don’t pretend they’re objective.”

    The only objective things are the a priori mathematical truths; for the rest there’s always the possibility of mistakes. So if you’re going to demand disclaimers about religion, I demand disclaimers about every other field of human knowledge.

    Actually, it doesn’t, which is why so many people are so easily scared by religions of which they only have a passing knowledge

    So you ARE scared that once the religious memes get into a kids head, by the age of 18 they cannot be redeemed into sanity.

    So why not demand secular education from age zero instead of age five? 0-5 is at least as critical as 5-18.

    Since I’m advocating the teaching of all religions, I fail to see how that makes any sense at all. Could you try addressing what I’m actually arguing?

    Teaching that “no religion is objectively true” is more or less equivalent to “we can’t know objective things about religion” which IS agnosticism, and I’ve thrown in the secular and humanism bits too because you match those to descriptions. Some branches of Christianity, Juasim etc DISAGREE WITH AGNOSTICISM. They think there IS objective truth in religion, and you call them passing that on to their kids “brainwashing.”

    Why aren’t you content to let kids hear about all religions and let them make up their own minds?

    I AM content. More than content, I prefer it, because I am a secular humanist agnodeitheist. But I am ALSO content for asecular theists to teach their kids whatever they want, because I have more trust in humans being able to reach the right answer in the end from any given starting point no matter how bad.

    I don’t like the fact that you don’t understand that preaching “religions are all equal and subjective” is a form of evangelising agnosticism, and not a non-controversial thing that you should expect everyone else to roll over for without complaint.

    I thought you said you adhered to a particular set of religious beliefs. Do you hold them without doubt or do you doubt them? Do you believe they’re definitely true, or do you think maybe they’re not?

    I do. Ecumenical, memeticist, syncretic, agnodeithistic Christianity (with some stolen bits from Buddhism and Taoism.) Some parts are definitely true, because they’re maths. Most of the beliefs live elsewhere on the spectrum. Its rather complicated. This is why the position needs so many long words to describe it. Apologies to lynot.

    You’re advocating for the school system to be free to indoctrinate kids with ONE religion over all others.

    I have never done this, in this thread, or anywhere else in this blog, where I have always been an outspoken advocate of things like Ethics classes and a more ecumenical approach to religious education in genereal. Please re-read what I’ve written.

    That makes little to no sense. I don’t think we should be indoctrinating kids and it has nothing to do with what the Anabaptists did or didn’t do. If they agreed with me to some extent, great, but it doesn’t mean my views are dependent on their sacrifice.

    Their disagreements with the existing authorities, along with those of other “rebels” over the course of the reformation, is what lead to Christians in Europe eventually agreeing to disagree about religion; whence our modern concepts of religious tolerance. The freedom of conscience and seperation of church and state are doctrines first famously articulated in the West by Martin Luther, whom you may have heard of. Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the people who really popularised these concepts were building off the ideas that Christian humanist scholars established in the Reformation.

    The deaths of the Anabaptists, and the deaths of others like them (Michael Servetus for instance, who was martyred at the hands of John Calvin AND the inquisition – persecuted by both sides), mattered.

    They demanded the right to hold opinions like “A baby can’t be a Christian, only an adult (this is more or less anabaptist doctrine)”. Their going willingly to their deaths to defend these beliefs showed everyone why burning people at the stake was a futile and awful idea.

    And now its a few hundred years later and you get to take all of this stuff for granted. Its OBVIOUS babies can’t have religious opinions and its OBVIOUS we shouldn’t burn people to death for disagreements and its obvious precisely because other people died to prove that these ideas were correct. If they’d fought back against their persecutors, history probably wouldn’t have vindicated them quite so readily.

  6. I have never done this, in this thread, or anywhere else in this blog, where I have always been an outspoken advocate of things like Ethics classes and a more ecumenical approach to religious education in genereal. Please re-read what I’ve written.

    I will pay you the same courtesy I demand, and clarify this point of contention in light of a closer reading of your words.

    I ask for the school system to teach an ecumenical view of religion, but I don’t demand it, and I am content for them to be free to do otherwise. Demanding it is equivalent to pressuring schools into a more agnostic agenda (“I am CERTAIN they should have less certainty about religion!”).

    I believe in state schools SRE should be more neutral, because the State is secular, and many taxpayer dollars come from theists, atheists, deists, agnostics and sundry, alike. But SRE should not be abolished because atheists say so any more than it should be Catholic because Catholics say so. And parents should have the right to tell their children that God is Real, so long as they don’t literally lock them inside to prevent them from hearing outside opinions (there are a few cults in America that come close to violating this disclaimer.)

  7. The only objective things are the a priori mathematical truths; for the rest there’s always the possibility of mistakes.

    Are you saying the outcome of a physics or chemistry experiment has some dependency upon what the person carrying it out believes it should be ?

  8. jordanrastrick

    Yes. As Karl Popper put it, “data is theory-laden.”

    The actual outcome is (probably) objective, but the actual outcome is unknowable, because we have to interpret the universe from inside our brains, which are very finite and biased cognitive engines that rely on a whole heap of assumptions out of textbooks and history and basically the entire zeitgeist of humanity, to make sense of what goes on inside an electron microscope.

    The only thing the mind can discover to be true are platonic things, and that’s probably because platonic things like theorems don’t even exist in the same kind of “true / false” category as empirical observations.

    Or to put it another way, “there are infinitely many primes” is True with probability 1 – epsilon, where epsilon is the inescapable and unmeasurable error that my brain made a mistake when thinking about prime numbers. Any claim about “the universe we all live in” has a smaller probability of being true – its at best 1 – epsilon – delta, where delta is the chance my sense are faulty, or my textbooks are wrong, and so on. Delta cannot be zero, so empirical observations are strictly less trustworthy than basic reasoning about mathematics.

    At least that’s the classic platonist view, I’m sure some empiricists would love to argue the toss about how I only learned about primes from looking at the universe….

  9. Wow.

    So your argument is, because we all might be living inside a cave, we should bestow religions the same credibility as physics and other sciences ?

  10. Two things, Jordan, as I see you in the past couple of threads getting all hot under the collar about religion:
    First thing is Agnosticism IS non-controversial! Even if you think you are an atheist or a cardcarryingcrossbearingfuckingcatholic, you are really agnostic. Yeah, I know, it’s a feature not a bug. But let’s face it, nobody really knows one way or the other.
    (no matter how much you or me or anyone else protests)
    Which leads me to the second thing – which is you trying to pass off the idea that teaching kids to question what they are told and learn for themselves is some kind of quasi-religion and that therefore you can turn the tables and use the anti-proselytising in schools argument against them… like the perversion of an idea that is reverse racism.
    IT IS NOT THE SAME THING!
    Not by a country mile.
    If I didn’t know you better (and I don’t really, apart from the odd rant) I would say you had some kind of persecution complex (like the rest of conservative middle age middle class australia). Maybe you have just had a bad week?
    Anyway, as far as I can see, the usefulness of teaching basically fits neatly in two boxes. The first is quite simply to provide a common and useful basis of knowledge – which is why we teach the decimal system rather than binary, which is why we teach history and home ec and how to use a condom. This is an OBJECTIVE process. It does not mean these things are ‘true’ in the sense of an absolute truth. But they are true in a ‘it is much easier to punch the sin-theta button on the calculator than prove pythagoras every time’ kind of thing.
    The second is to provide the basis or perhaps the confidence to gain an understanding of these things and the world around them in general. This is much more tricky because it requires creativity and a sharing of ideas and for students to use their own reason. It is a SUBJECTIVE process. For understanding to exist at all, it has to be shared – sort of by definition.
    That is why there is a massive, gaping, fundamental difference between being indoctrinated by the adventists, proselytised to by the baptists or given a copy of mere christianity and told to figure it out for yourself.
    This is not an argument about whether religion should be taught in public schools (and if you think it is, ask yourself if you are comfortable with your lil christian kids being taught all about Zarathustra or Vishnu) this is an argument about how is best for kids to learn.
    And to be quite frank, religious teaching doesn’t have the best track record for encouraging open, honest, creative application of reason and understanding in its students.
    ..but I still think religion needs to be taught in schools. It is an OBJECTIVE truth that religions exist and a lot of people for better or worse subscribe to them.

  11. narcoticmusing

    After the somewhat defensive after some ignorant, inappropriate comments were made in another thread, I don’t blame Jordan for feeling defensive as if this place is no longer a safe place to share ideas but one where he needs a sword and a shield. I don’t think, when you consider Jeremy’s argument (teach all religions neutrally, but not just one), that Jordan disagrees given his post at 3:50pm.

    The reality is that we all teach our children our beliefs and deny them a certain level of choosing for themselves because, as parents, we do believe we know better. But I think we all agree, Jordan included, that it is not the right thing for the child to have choice denied. It is, equally, inappropriate to deny that child understanding of his/her parents religious views too.

    DrSmithy – Jordan is not saying that at all. I think you are deliberately misinterpreting his comments in order to play that ‘Make the religious guy look foolish’ card. Given the comments on the previous thread, I’m becoming more… to be tame, disappointed, with the lack of respect paid Jordan (granted, Jordan became very defensive but at what was to me, significant attack at the truth he holds dearest).

    This argument got sidetracked by words like ‘objective’ etc. I get where both Jordan and Jeremy are coming from. The book of John starts with the Word of God is the Truth and the only Truth and that Jesus is that word become flesh (I’m paraphrasing of course). Ergo, there is no greater truth to a Christian so it is quite inappropriate to use words like ‘objective’. Besides, ‘objective’ is a test of a ‘reasonable person’ and most reasonable people in Australia believe in god.

  12. narcoticmusing

    nobody really knows one way or the other

    Spoken with the true ignorance of someone who has never known the conviction of a devout religious person. I wouldn’t start by my belief in gravity with the fervor of some Christians I know – there is no greater truth to them. For you to belittle it just because you don’t get it, is quite ignorant. We don’t really know anything. How do you know red is red? Try asking someone who is colour blind and get re-educated about your conceptions.

    Unfortunately my other post was stuck in moderation. Hopefully, it gets out and reassures Jordan that we aren’t all so intolerant that we become hypocrites, telling people what to believe (and don’t tell me calling someone’s most deepest truth is a stupid lie is not telling them what to believe).

  13. So.. we all agree that schools shouldn’t be teaching any religion as “true”, but should be teaching kids about all religions, and leaving them to decide which one (if any) is correct?

    That’s what I’m advocating.

    I am NOT advocating that schools tell students that any religion is false, or stupid. Or that anyone who believes in religion is dumb or ignorant.

    Simply that religion is a personal choice, and that the best way to come to a decision as to what belief system you will follow is to investigate them all (well, as many as practicable). And that’s what religious education in schools should be – education about religion, not education according to and limited by religion.

  14. I’m quite calm, and not upset at all, here, or in the other thread.

    I am vaguely irritated that even smart atheists who I can talk to IN REAL LIFE where communication is MUCH more efficient and honest and in good faith still fall into “religion is just dumb” routine.

    I am venting that vague irritation by acting super indignant and defensive to the atheists here, because when people want to peddle “only those who have never read the Bible, studied philosophy or studied science could possibly be christians”, they are Just. Plain. Wrong. I know Christian scientists, agnostic scientists, jewish philosophers, muslim philosophers, atheist mathematicians, and buddhist computer scientists, and they are all brilliant people. And most of the atheists here, frankly, come across as not being fit to proof read the least penstroke of any of these people’s merest scribblings. Yet these atheists are so full of themselves, so lacking in humility. And that lack of humility is how Calvin and Luther went wrong and fucked up the Protestant Reformation, and… yeah, most of history is full of such tragedy.

    And so I could be humble and Christian and keep quiet and let you persecute a faith you don’t understand, in your ignorance, with faith in God’s plan to save you all in the end, as I am commanded to do, and let my actions speak for themselves.

    But no one here sees my actions, and most will never hear the Gospel and react to it with anything but a sneer.

    So maybe if you all get a taste of your own arrogant medicine you’ll come to realise that MAYBE someone could have read the Bible and done mathematics and science and philosophy and history, and gotten better marks than you, and still believe in God. You know. Its a vague possibility.

    The arrogance is real, its a real part of who I am, but I temper it for the sake of God. Except, you know, when I don’t see the point, and where I think maybe a little of arrogance wouldn’t go astray. And I CAN out arrogant any of you; I don’t think anyone here appreciates the significant of “Type 1 bipolar disorder”. I choose not to; arrogance has so little value. But sometimes… maybe it can shock the complacent into questioning things, a little. As some have done in this thread.

    So…. mission accomplished.

    Thank you all, most especially narcotic, without whom I think I wouldn’t have even bothered with engaging in this clusterfuck of a conversation 😉

  15. And Jeremy, yes, we basically agree about education, but not quite. Just don’t be so sure that Agnosticism is right, because then you have FAILED to be a meta-agnostic. I hope that is easier for you to understand than some of the other crap I wrote. Agnodeitheism isn’t a word from a dictionary; it describes my views on religion, almost uniquely as far as I can tell (I am bringing a few people around to non-Christian versions of Agnodeitheism and maybe even a Christian here or there).

    That’s all. You blog is great, especially lately. Keep it up…..

  16. DrSmithy – Jordan is not saying that at all. I think you are deliberately misinterpreting his comments in order to play that ‘Make the religious guy look foolish’ card.

    No, I’m trying to understand what he means by “so if you’re going to demand disclaimers about religion, I demand disclaimers about every other field of human knowledge”. Because the idea that, say, Chemistry and Christianity should be considered equivalently authoritative because we might all be living in the Matrix, *is* foolish.

    I have no idea what other thread you’re referring to. When I participate in any forum, I make a deliberate and explicit effort to not keep track of who posts what, so even if I have read the comments you’re referring to, I wouldn’t have associated them with a particular poster.

    Besides, ‘objective’ is a test of a ‘reasonable person’ and most reasonable people in Australia believe in god.

    No it’s not. Objective means (paraphrasing): independent of the actions, prejudices, beliefs, etc of an observer or actor. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a majority opinion. You can’t get things to stop falling at 9.8m/s/s by convincing “most people” it won’t happen.

    Back on topic, I argue that in a secular society like ours ostensibly is, religious education (outside of learning about it as a subsection of, say, history) has no place whatsoever in State schools. Anything else is the State implicitly picking and choosing which religions are legitimate (by teaching/allowing them to be taught) and which are not, which if nothing else is the epitome of discrimination.

  17. narcoticmusing

    So, Dr Smithy, are you aware that the model of atomic structure taught in schools is incorrect and merely a useful approximation for stoichiometric purposes? You see, it has a subjective purpose of being taught despite that most students won’t ever experience that purpose unless they do senior chemistry. Nevertheless, the incorrect model is taught despite us knowing a far more accurate representation.

    Forgive me falling to a more legal definition of objective; primarily because the version you describe doesn’t exist. Even Einstein and Newton opined the troubles of making observations – that they are always made with their eyes. Yes, for many things we make equipment and such to assist, but it is still up to us to interpret, find patterns, etc. As a chemist, I am comfortable with that, but I am also not so arrogant to suggest that it is all completely context and assumption free – hell the whole ‘keep everything constant and change only one variable’ method of testing is a farce that all in science understand, just as we all understand we are only really trying to achieve a better approximation.

    Science, like religion, contradicts itself and is full of theory. Should we teach all of that as fact? Chaos theory doesn’t sit will with Newtonian physics which doesn’t sit will with universal expansion theory which doesn’t sit well with string theory except at sub-atomic levels, etc etc. Hell, most people think gravity is a force – hell some people are taught that it is – oh but it is all completely objective right? (Ps gravity is an acceleration due to the attractive force of mass). Nevertheless, it is a simple convenience to refer to the observation of small force drawn to large (similar to diffusion) and call it gravity. Why not?

    My point, is that objective isn’t objective because it is still people who observe/define/etc. Hence, courts, the arbitrators of this democracy, determined that objective would be a ‘reasonable person’ test.

  18. So, Dr Smithy, are you aware that the model of atomic structure taught in schools is incorrect and merely a useful approximation for stoichiometric purposes? You see, it has a subjective purpose of being taught despite that most students won’t ever experience that purpose unless they do senior chemistry. Nevertheless, the incorrect model is taught despite us knowing a far more accurate representation.

    This is completely and utterly irrelevant. Using an approximation for the sake of expediency doesn’t make that approximation any less objective. Newton’s laws only work at certain scales, but they work for everyone in the same way at those scales, regardless of how many people believe they should or shouldn’t. The apple isn’t going to fall up just because a sufficently large number of people want it to.

    Forgive me falling to a more legal definition of objective; primarily because the version you describe doesn’t exist.

    The definition of objective I used is the one relevant to the discussion. Yours, is not.

    Science, like religion, contradicts itself and is full of theory.

    The rather substantial difference being that when science contradicts itself, science changes.

    My point, is that objective isn’t objective because it is still people who observe/define/etc. Hence, courts, the arbitrators of this democracy, determined that objective would be a ‘reasonable person’ test.

    How the heck courtrooms and democracy infiltrated this discussion I have no idea, but they’re even more off-topic and irrelevant than the philosophical meanderings about whether reality is really real, or not.

    Objective “facts” remain the same regardless of the observer. That’s what objective means. You put X in, you get Y out, and that happens no matter whether the observers are certain it’s going to happen, or truly and deeply believe with every inch of their souls that it’s impossible.

    The courts don’t define science – not any more. They don’t decide what is and isn’t a scientific theory based on how many people agree with it.

  19. I am glad you are not upset Jordan. I was being quite serious, I have read posts of yours before and on that basis you don’t seem like the kind of person to suffer a persecution complex and you do usually argue in a rational manner, but your posts did seem a touch angry so I thought maybe you had a bad week. I wasn’t trying to be rude and I apologise if that is how it came across.

    “I am vaguely irritated”
    Fine. Call them on it. Quite obviously they are just hitting out because they are sick to death of their families, friends, media, politicians etc looking down on them, telling them it is sad that they are going to hell, telling them they are bad people, telling them that which of their actions and thoughts are immoral or wrong or evil. Show a bit of empathy and understand why they believe that organised religion is all about power and control of the masses. But still call them on it and show them a religion that is not just about power and control.. and show them a religion that is not dumb.. give them the smart version.. the one they don’t hear in church or school or the media.

    “let you persecute a faith you don’t understand”
    “Spoken with the true ignorance of someone who has never known the conviction of a devout religious person.”
    I guess everyone is guilty of jumping to conclusions. I myself was a devout christian for twenty something years. Introduced my family to church, i did the whole bible study, church groups, evangelism, insatiable reading on the subject, writings, lay-preaching etc etc. I absolutely knew the conviction, and still do though I no longer possess it. I very strongly believe the conviction is false, but I certainly understand it. In my experience the people with the strongest convictions are the least ‘christ-like’, the most judgemental. The people who doubt, really doubt (the meak maybe?) that I have known, christians and non christians alike, are the most accepting, the most truthful.

    And my point still stands – “(no matter how much you or me or anyone else protests)”.

    “realise that MAYBE someone could have read the Bible and done mathematics and science and philosophy and history, and gotten better marks than you, and still believe in God.”
    I know this to be true, as I did all those things.. and have read lots of books in different fields by people who did those things and still believed in god. My personal turning point was discovering drugs and women (later in life as I was ever so fucking devout). Which is not a facile remark. It helped me to understand my mind, and then other people’s minds. Which is how I started to understand where other people’s convictions arose, which helped me to understand my own. A sort or pilgrim’s regress, if you will.
    And by the way, just so you know, marks are just not that important.

    “How do you know red is red?”
    My point exactly! I am so glad you understand! There is no such thing as answers, just more questions. And that is why I completely disagree with Jordan’s assertion that agnosticism is just another doctrine and that allowing kids to be taught in such a way that denies them the application of their reason and their curiosity is a very, very bad thing.

    That was the point of my previous post that no-one really commented on. This should not be an argument about whether religion is welcome in school. This should be an argument about how children can be taught in order that they learn (or learn to learn), that they function in society and that they flourish as people. But everyone is just stuck arguing religious semantics. It’s almost as if most care more about the rights of the parents or the state than the kids.

    And agnosticism IS meta. No-one is claiming agnosticism is a truth, it is merely an understanding. And I am pretty sure you cannot meta recursively. It’s like zero or infinity. Meta x meta is still just meta.

  20. And I am pretty sure you cannot meta recursively. It’s like zero or infinity. Meta x meta is still just meta.

    Au contraire! Existence is nothing but the endless recursion of the meta. Cantor and Godel know where that shit is at. Glimpses of God may be seen in the Big Omega 😉 Sadly to stare straight at the burning blaze of infinity is….. well, I think there’s a reason the mathematicians of that school tend to be the craziest ones, I will leave it at that.

    @drsmithy, I am no anti-scientist. I don’t quote Karl Popper for nothing, my friend. The degree I dropped out of was a science degree, and most of my friends are scientists.

    A physics experiment of course tells us something more certain and more well defined than the Bible. Unfortunately it also tells us something less important in the grand scheme of things.

    @narcotic, thank you again for your wisdom and kind words! I was most glad to have you around for these threads….

    @milfot, I wish to reply to you at more length, but I must run… I will write something later.

  21. @drsmithy, I am no anti-scientist. I don’t quote Karl Popper for nothing, my friend. The degree I dropped out of was a science degree, and most of my friends are scientists.

    I never said you were “anti-science”.

    Though with a reply reminiscent of “I’m not racist, I know lots of black people”, I’m now inclined to think you are.

    A physics experiment of course tells us something more certain and more well defined than the Bible. Unfortunately it also tells us something less important in the grand scheme of things.

    What does the Bible tell us that other religions’ texts do not ? What do any of them tell us that could not be told equally as effectively without resorting to fear of the unknown and supernatural powers ?

  22. “How do you know red is red?”
    My point exactly! I am so glad you understand! There is no such thing as answers, just more questions

    You know red is red because red is defined as a particular spectrum of visible light.

    Whether someone – or even everyone – is colour-blind, or completely blind, does not change what red is.

  23. You are rude, drsmithy. I also quoted Karl Popper (one of my philosophical heroes) and mentioned that I went to university to study Science, but you chose to overlook those points and focus on my friendship with scientists exclusively so that you might gratuitously insult me with a cheap analogy to racists. I have been nothing but civil in my words directed to you, and I put it to you that it is a prerequisite for us to have a constructive dialogue. You may couch your sentiments in more sophisticated words than lynot and others from the other thread, but disrespect is the same thing no matter how eloquent the expression or educated the speaker.

    What does the Bible tell us that other religions’ texts do not ? What do any of them tell us that could not be told equally as effectively without resorting to fear of the unknown and supernatural powers ?

    The Bible tells us many things in common with other religious texts – which is unsurprising as the religions that have survived through the ages have done so not purely at random, but because, as “memes”, they possess fitness; generally not the same truths you would find in a physics textbook, but certainly truths about human nature, and also beliefs of the kind that people are motivated to share (which may be right beliefs, wrong beliefs, or beliefs of the “that’s not even wrong” kind as Pauli so eloquently phrased the unfalsifiable.)

    The Bible also explains certain truths that belong uniquely to the Bible.

    To take one example. Have you heard of Robin Hanson? He is an economics professor, and a polymath, who applies evolutionary game theory and the study of signalling in a surprisingly effective way to human behaviour (given the weakness of most non-expert musings in evolutionary psychology to humans). He has an hypothesis called “homo hypocritus” which has strong explanatory power for the moral failings of humans. Many religions have echoes of the theory [the existence and consequences of hypocrisy that is, without the part about its biological origin], but it is expressed by far most clearly (to my knowledge) in the New Testament.

  24. Tell me narcotic, or Jeremy, was I too hard on drsmity? I know people are uncomfortable when given such blunt opinions about their behaviours, but I felt he had earned a rebuker. Maybe I overstepped the line?

  25. narcoticmusing

    You know red is red because red is defined as a particular spectrum of visible light.

    Whether someone – or even everyone – is colour-blind, or completely blind, does not change what red is.

    And yet, it wasn’t always so. We didn’t always have instruments to identify colour spectrums. Ergo, it was often assumed we all saw red and saw the same thing. Indeed, do you see what I see? Who knows. How many people see something and one says it is pink, the other says purple, the other says blue, the other says red.

    I already said that we have instruments to assist with observations (which you of course on your ‘everyone is stupid’ version of argument chose to ignore), my point being that science isn’t as absolute as you claim – and our greatest scientists agree.

    My Smithy – objective being about reasonable people isn’t relevant to this thread? Really? Even your example doesn’t work because there are few things in this world that are truly objective by your standards. Even mathematics concedes this and it would surely be the most objective and rational study known of. Did you read the blog post or did you just jump in to attack comments? The whole thing is about what is reasonable and whether it is reasonable to teach religions to young children. I’d say, as with Jeremy, it is providing we teach it neutrally (ie not favouring one religion over another).

  26. narcoticmusing

    What do any of them tell us that could not be told equally as effectively without resorting to fear of the unknown and supernatural powers ?

    Oh for goodness sake, by that standard what is the value of anything we do? FFS Mr Smithy – really, is that your argument? Come on, do better than that. So no one has EVER resorted to fear using a power greater than what an ordinary man has in order to gain something? What about, say, the law? Shall we abolish laws because they encourage certain behaviours and restrict others via a penalty driven enforcement system – a system whose power is above and beyond the ordinary man. A system, by the way, that owes much of its history and development to religious tenants.

    FFS that is the stupidest freaking argument I’ve ever heard.

  27. Just to throw another log onto the fire – I have worked with teachers of Science, who completed their degrees at the same universities as everyone else, who teach VCE etc etc … and who still believe the world was created six thousand years ago.

  28. Holy crap I just read some of the comments to that article Jeremy linked to … I say “some”, because I had to stop. Getting too depressing.

  29. Truly, narcoticamusing has more faith than most of Christendom.

  30. Narcotic if you ever want to hang out online with my bunch of philosopher friends who use much more sophisticated arguments to insult one another :P, give me a bell.

    SB too if you’re reading. And mondo. And Jarrah! I miss you Jarrah wherever you are.

    The rest of you are also welcome but I’d expect a bit of respect shown first as a sign of good faith.

  31. JR seems to have successfully trolled this thread into a discussion about the nature of truth. Rather than what is going on in schools. As a parent I do not wish to have my children formally indoctrinated into an exclusive christian world view. But as I live in Queensland I have no choice in the matter as the word “secular” does not exist in the education act in this state.

    “Queensland State school students are placed in Religious Instruction according to the faith or denomination provided, as an option, within their enrolment documentation.

    It is a fact, acknowledged by Education Queensland, that beyond 80% of parents across the State have chosen not to disclose a faith or denomination in the space provided on enrolment forms.

    Since the vast majority of Queensland children in this category can not be positively identified as “members of a religious denomination or society”, it follows, according to the Education Act, that the school principal must not allow them to attend Religious Instruction without parental “written consent”—these students are, by statute, required to opt-in to, rather than opt-out of, Religious Instruction.

    Yet, throughout Queensland, more often than not the Education Act—the law—is being ignored. Children of undisclosed faith or lack of faith are being placed in Christian Religious Instruction—often nothing other than evangelical Christian worship—as the ‘default option’.

    While in 1875 the original Queensland Education Act guaranteed a free and secular education for all children, the Act was subsequently amended in 1910. So began the Religious Instruction arrangement which remains in legislation to this day—unchanged for 100 years, and in defiance of the vastly changed cultural, religious, and philosophical make-up of the 21st century State

    The amended act also gave State school teachers the right to provide Christian only Bible lessons to Queensland public school children as part of the State curriculum. This also remains in legislation to this day. To accommodate this Christian privilege, in 1910, every occurrence of the word ‘secular’ was deleted from the Queensland Education Act.

    Queensland Government staff school teachers are permitted to inject Christian beliefs and dogma including creationism and Intelligent Design into any lessons, on any subject matter, at any time and at any level from Preparatory year upward.

    From: http://www.thefourthr.inf

    I would humbly suggest that the point of the thread was to point appalling situations like this out. That all theological (dressed up as philosophical) huffing and puffing above is vaguely interesting if you like that sort of thing, but completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

  32. “You may couch your sentiments in more sophisticated words than lynot and others from the other thread, but disrespect is the same thing no Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Let me massage your ego for a while. You are something else aren’t you? I would appreciate you 1. Insulting me indirectly. 2. Questioning my sophistication or lack there of, 3. The size of the warts on my testicles.

    I didn’t know one had to be able to quote Karl Popper or any other philosopher out of the mists of time for that matter, in an argument that has no evidence supporting anyones position. So a little Kant for you one of my favourites.

    “It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of thing s outside us … should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof.”

    Further a little science question for you Jordan if H2O is water what’s K9P that’s right dogs piss, the latter having about the same strength as your argument.

  33. JR seems to have successfully trolled this thread into a discussion about the nature of truth.

    Thanks! You’ve noted I imagine that I started with a statement in broad agreement with Jeremy’s policy position but criticising the strength of his statements because I disagree with the fundamental assumption he makes that “schools should be agnostic”. As a reminder for anyone who missed it:

    While I personally agree in raising all kids with a strong ecumenical grounding in multiple religions and asking them to think critically, you DO realise that whether religion is an objective truth or not is precisely one of the things people of different religious viewpoints disagree about? So “don’t let anyone teach kids religion as ‘truth’ because its not objective” is a claim that has a strong implicit religious viewpoint?

    This was the start of our disagreement, because no atheist or strong agnostic (i.e. believes NO ONE can know the truth about God) would concede that their assumption was too strong, or even (AFAICT) that they were making such an assumption.

    To be clear: I’ve said, repeatedly, that state schools should be secular institutions. That to me means essentially that they should be teaching all religious viewpoints (as far as that is practical), or else no religious viewpoints.

    But the notion that parents don’t have the right to “brainwash” their kids into Christianity is as wrong as the notion that Jeremy doesn’t have the right to teach his kids Strong Agnosticism. Of course parents should be allowed to communicate their religious views to kids, so long as they don’t excessively restrict their kids right to hear opposing views. So children SHOULD be allowed to attend denominational private schools, unless the school is so removed from shared secular values (i.e. it teaches Science is wrong and creationism is correct) that the state has grounds to withdraw funding.

    I’m happy to talk about the nature of truth or government policy on education; its just that you can’t pretend your position on the latter is unrelated to your position on the former. These debates come down usually to conflicting values and worldviews, and those conflicts must be acknowledged or we will forever past one another.

  34. Parents should, of course, be free to choose to send their children to a school that does not indoctrinate them in any religion the parent does not wish them to be indoctrinated in.

    The problem I have with Jeremy’s argument, however, is that I strongly suspect he does not recognise that this same basic right also applies to parents with strong religious conviction. That is, I don’t think he recognises the right of religious parents to send their children to schools that will indoctrinate them, as per their wishes.

    In a free society parents should be able to choose whether to indoctrinate their kids in religion or not – and should equally be able to choose a school that facilitates that choice. While the State should play no role in any religious indoctrination (i.e. State schools should be strictly secular) there should be few restrictions preventing private schools from electing to do so.

    There’s not much difference between laws that force parents to expose their child to religious education and laws that force parents not to expose their child to religious education. Both are authoritarian and a denial of free parental choice, and both should be avoided.

  35. that the state has grounds to withdraw funding

    Ho ho ho – like that’s gonna happen!

  36. narcoticmusing

    I guess everyone is guilty of jumping to conclusions.

    I wasn’t suggesting you hadn’t experienced that conviction or had a view on it, rather that to understand it is to know there is nothing more truthful about for that person. So if you understood it, you wouldn’t have said that no one really knows – the religious person believes they know. It is called faith.

  37. Parents should, of course, be free to choose to send their children to a school that does not indoctrinate them in any religion the parent does not wish them to be indoctrinated in.

    The problem I have with Jeremy’s argument, however, is that I strongly suspect he does not recognise that this same basic right also applies to parents with strong religious conviction. That is, I don’t think he recognises the right of religious parents to send their children to schools that will indoctrinate them, as per their wishes.

    Well said Mondo! The Kantian imperative here – It is a universal law that we should leave people free to teach their kids what they wish about religion, provided the kids are then free to go and hear contradictions – is EXACTLY what I’ve been getting at the whole time. I’ve been frustrated that Jeremy et al seem to think that this particular freedom applies only to agnostics and atheists, and that “religions aren’t objective” isn’t something schools should be evangelising.

    You put it much better than I have despite my repeated attempts. Many thanks!

  38. Well, you’ve both enunciated precisely the attitude I was trying to criticise in the post.

    You’re fine with parents using the school system to impose their views about religion on their kids, apparently.

    I think that’s an abuse of the child’s rights to a neutral education. That’s right – I think education is about the rights of the child to a decent education, not about the rights of the parents to limit it.

    I don’t think an atheist parent should be able to prevent their child learning about religions, and I don’t think a religious parent should be able to prevent their child from learning about other religions either.

    The education system should educate, not indoctrinate. And the imposition of one single religion – or no religion at all – is indoctrination. It is denying young people the information they deserve in order to make up their own minds. We’re imposing a false choice on them, one from which many never graduate.

    For the remainder of why I think that’s a problem, please see the actual post above.

  39. You are rude, drsmithy. I also quoted Karl Popper (one of my philosophical heroes) and mentioned that I went to university to study Science, but you chose to overlook those points and focus on my friendship with scientists exclusively so that you might gratuitously insult me with a cheap analogy to racists.

    No, I chose to highlight that a leap to an accusation I called you “anti-science” – despite no such implication on my part – was remarkably similar to the kind of reaction gotten from people with guilty consciences.

    You might want to add a persecution complex to those other personality flaws you like to boast about.

    I have been nothing but civil in my words directed to you, and I put it to you that it is a prerequisite for us to have a constructive dialogue. You may couch your sentiments in more sophisticated words than lynot and others from the other thread, but disrespect is the same thing no matter how eloquent the expression or educated the speaker.

    Far be it from me to question your understanding of rudeness and disrespect, but you explicitly accused me of doing something I did not, which seems to qualify for both.

    The Bible tells us many things […]

    Can I conclude from the verbiage you have exercised in not answering my questions, that you are trying to avoid doing so ?

  40. And yet, it wasn’t always so.

    Yes, it was.

    We didn’t always have instruments to identify colour spectrums.

    That doesn’t make any difference to what “red” is.

    Ergo, it was often assumed we all saw red and saw the same thing. Indeed, do you see what I see? Who knows. How many people see something and one says it is pink, the other says purple, the other says blue, the other says red.

    What everyone else sees is irrelevant. Red is defined as a particular portion of the visible spectrum.

    My Smithy – objective being about reasonable people isn’t relevant to this thread?

    It’s certainly not relevant to the part of the discussion _I_ was having.

    Really?Even your example doesn’t work because there are few things in this world that are truly objective by your standards.

    If that were true then pretty much everything from cooking to flying a plane wouldn’t work.

    The whole thing is about what is reasonable and whether it is reasonable to teach religions to young children. I’d say, as with Jeremy, it is providing we teach it neutrally (ie not favouring one religion over another).

    Unless you are teaching every single religion – even the sillier ones like FSM and Jedi – you are implicitly biased. Which is why religious education has no place in a secular education system.

    Oh for goodness sake, by that standard what is the value of anything we do? FFS Mr Smithy – really, is that your argument? Come on, do better than that. So no one has EVER resorted to fear using a power greater than what an ordinary man has in order to gain something? What about, say, the law? Shall we abolish laws because they encourage certain behaviours and restrict others via a penalty driven enforcement system – a system whose power is above and beyond the ordinary man. A system, by the way, that owes much of its history and development to religious tenants.

    Sorry, I did my best with your other barely coherent posts, but whatever it is you’re trying to say here, and its relevance to what I wrote, is just beyond me.

  41. You’re fine with parents using the school system to impose their views about religion on their kids, apparently.

    Jeremy, could you define how, to you, parents imposing their views on their kids differs from simply telling their kids their views. I have made it clear I think parents should not be able to unduly restrict their kids from hearing other points of view, but should also be free to tell their kids that the Bible or Koran or the God Delusion or the Atheist Manifesto is true. Do you disagree with those two points? If so, why?

    @drsmithy

    Which is why religious education has no place in a secular education system.

    I’ve already stated that I’m comfortable with no religious education at all in State schools, but I think schools offering a pragmatic mix of the majorly subscribed to religious (and quasi religious) positions – including secular humanism/agnosticism/philosophical ethics/etc, as for instance proposed in NSW, is a more pragmatic compromise. Put simply, most parents want to have this option, and so in a democracy, its reasonable. Indeed most humanist or agnostic parents I’m sure would be happy to let their child take such a course, or take a course in comparative religion. Indeed the religious studies course that is compulsory at most denominational schools in the HSC, and is taught no doubt with a denominational slant, is comparative in nature.

    As for persecution complexes, we’re practically commanded to have those!

    And they’re not personality flaws, they’re my personality, glorious and awful as it is in its squalid human splendour.

    You know lynot, I think I’m starting to warm to you a bit more. Your arrogance is akin to mine, acquired from simply being brilliant and misunderstood due to lack of formal education 😛 Whereas drsmithy no doubt thinks he’s far more superior to me than you ever would, despite how ready to are to take the piss 😛 Indeed taking the piss out of me is a kind of mark of respect from you! Or at least I choose to interpret it so and will happily return the favour henceforth 😉

  42. I don’t think anyone much, religious people included, really cares about the rights of children, Jeremy.
    This has been my experience in the past, and sadly also here. Most parents have complete faith that children are their god given property, with which they can do as they like.

    [Faith is, by the way, entirely different to knowing. Faith is a belief you cannot look in the eye.. an unquestioned belief. It can be a wonderful thing (faith in a friend), or it can be avoidant (faith in an afterlife), or it can be downright fanciful and ultimately damaging. Most people I have met who expound on their faith treat it more like a prize to covet than a gift to share.]

    Aaaanyway..
    Jordan, you still have not answered my argument that agnosticism is not a doctrine. I think you might need to step outside your own beliefs for a second and take a good look at what it might mean to start from an agnostic position with regard to education. To start from a position of not knowing, just questioning, learning and being given the space to create your own meaning. I do not give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to “humans being able to reach the right answer in the end from any given starting point no matter how bad”. Conformity is a very powerful thing.

    narcotic, no one really knows. The whole question of faith is predicated on a lack of proof and an over abundance of confidence. And all you can try to do to question my assertion is to question my faith? Because if I really understood I wouldn’t say that, so therefore I just never had faith? Such a fucking holier-than-thou thing to say.

    drsmithy, firstly, the test of a reasonable person is valid in the sense of knowledge I outlined previously, with regard to education. That is, a person with the ability to reason can use a set of common assumptions to enable them to apply a short-hand description of a morsal of knowledge to a purpose. The usefulness of the knowledge is limited to its commonality. It is entirely un-useful to describe the length of the lightwave in nm to the girl at the paint counter at bunnings.
    Secondly, start for just a moment to question those assumptions and the artificial edifice of knowledge comes crashing down (as does your ability to function in the world) and a wonderful set of questions, set of sets of questions, takes its place.
    Beyond the colorblind, there are the synesthetics who see colours as smells or sounds or numbers or shapes. Beyond the spectrum there is the question of what makes something only reflect light in a red shift. Is it absorbing the other photons or changing their frequency? Or is the object merely travelling away from you in a superspeed doppler effect? And what are photons anyway? And how does the eye register the frequency of light? Why is red called red anyway? etc etc
    …all the way down the rabbit hole.

  43. “You know lynot, I think I’m starting to warm to you a bit more. Your arrogance is akin to mine, acquired from simply being brilliant and misunderstood due to lack of formal education Whereas drsmithy no doubt thinks he’s far more superior to me than you ever would, despite how ready to are to take the piss ”

    Jordan how serious do you really think I take this? I have met people in shearing sheds that have more insight into the world, than any university education can give most people. Some of them religious too. It’s called common dog, Jeremy Sear has it, that’s why I come here.

    If he was of the right, I wouldn’t be debating you.

    But take the piss, Yep, especially people who think they having been to university makes them superior. I have been on this planet over sixty years I know that’s bullsh!t.

    Peace.

  44. Jeremy, could you define how, to you, parents imposing their views on their kids differs from simply telling their kids their views

    Insisting on the child’s formal education – the compulsory part, the part that is every child's basic right – being limited by the parents’ personal beliefs about religion.

    Obviously parents can teach (almost) whatever values to their children they like. We’re talking about their formal education here – and rather than dividing children into ghettos according to their parents’ beliefs, we should be raising a generation that makes its religious choices freely and with a good understanding of the alternatives.

  45. School Education is a “basic right” in the West partly because the Jesuits et al thought poor kids deserved it just as much as the rich ones…..

    Mlifot, sorry not to have answered you yet. But agnosticism IS a doctrine. Even if it is an “approach” rather than dogma, taking the agnostic stance about epistemology – knowledge is doubtful, objective truth is hard to find, etc – has to be an assumption in your worldview. Whether you apply it to your thoughts about God or about anything else. It may be a good assumption (I am a type of agnostic!!) but it is not self-evident or self-justifying. Some people think there are objective truths – in maths, or science, or religion, or whatever – and if you disagree with them, that’s fine, but you have to be aware that the disagreement stems from different axioms about knowledge and truth, if you will.

  46. Well, you’ve both enunciated precisely the attitude I was trying to criticise in the post.

    Hey, well at least that shows we’re engaging with each other’s actual argument! That’s got to be a good thing.

    I think that’s an abuse of the child’s rights to a neutral education. That’s right – I think education is about the rights of the child to a decent education, not about the rights of the parents to limit it.

    OK, but you’re making an incrediby sweeping (and obviously innacurate)generalisation by blithely asserting that religious indoctrination denies a child “a decent education”. You went to a school that pushed a particular religious worldview – were you denied a decent education? I went to a school where R.E. was a compulsory subject – two periods a week from memory – and I can tell you it would be an utter absurdity for me to claim that I was denied a decent education. Hell – one of our chaplains used to teach us about how the devil uses heavy metal music to possess the souls of the weak – yet I still managed to absorb lessons in calculus not one period later.

    Children of religious schools are still taught science, maths, humanities, history – all the ordinary and important subjects. Religion can only ever be a very part of a curriculum – generally a small part – otherwise the students would all fail their exams and no parents would send their children to the school.

    As such your entire position turns on an obvious fallacy – that children cannot be indoctrinated in religion and still receive a proper, “decent”, education.

    They obviously can – and do.

  47. The choice one has as a parent in Queensland is interesting and the reverse of many peoples assumptions. If one wants to avoid formal indoctrination, since formal indoctrination is ubiquitous in the State system, one has to find a private school and pay to avoid it.

    There are of course very very few options here, unlike the various form of christian who has numerous private schools to choose from, there are very few schools that offer a secular education.

    So, this means that those unable to afford private schooling have no options at all: their children will be indoctrinated into a christian world view.

    This in an apparent secular nation that prides itself on diversity. An insult, a vicious imposition of one world view onto the poor.

    And of course makes a complete mockery of the “if you want religious education you can pay for it” argument.

  48. You went to a school that pushed a particular religious worldview – were you denied a decent education?

    On the subject of religion, yes! I graduated from Melbourne Grammar with pretty much no understanding of Islam, Buddhism, Hindu beliefs, even the distinction between Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists… and I had only a very cursory understanding of what Roman Catholics believe. I was basically conditioned to associate any religious or spiritual feelings with Anglican Christianity.

    I had a very good grounding in the musical tradition of that church, though.

    As such your entire position turns on an obvious fallacy – that children cannot be indoctrinated in religion and still receive a proper, “decent”, education.

    I take it you grasp my point now. That I am saying in respect of the subject of religion or philosophy, they receive an unnecessarily and unhealthily limited education.

  49. narcoticmusing

    Because if I really understood I wouldn’t say that, so therefore I just never had faith?

    Milfot, that was not what I was trying to suggest. My apologies, upon re-reading my comment I can see how that interpretation could be made. I was simply trying to say that to the person of faith it isn’t just ‘belief’ it is objective truth. Again, sorry for how poorly I expressed that.

  50. I agree with Eric that the situation is bad as it stand in Queesland. But for reasons I’ve already stated, I think introduction of a “non religious religion” option in Scripture time, as per the model in NSW, is an easier solution than total abolition of SRE. Indeed, given the fuss that was kicked up in NSW just about the Ethics classes, and that they live under perpetual threat from Fred Nile, I suggest that is the only compromise position that has much chance at the political level. Complete removal of the classes is a hopeless cause – the political lobby on the other side is simply too powerful. Well they are in this state anyway, and I assume the same goes elsewhere.

    Obviously parents can teach (almost) whatever values to their children they like. We’re talking about their formal education here – and rather than dividing children into ghettos according to their parents’ beliefs, we should be raising a generation that makes its religious choices freely and with a good understanding of the alternatives.

    To me, this seems like you’re fetishising school time a bit. If parents get to be present and providing indoctrination in the majority of a child’s life, why does a tiny slice of school time make such a difference one way or another? If parents get to control their kids social circles, the books they read, the TV shows they see, the websites they visit, what’s so special about an hour or two here or there in a classroom? Formal education is more powerful than the informal stuff, I guess? I’m interested to hear where you get this concept from.

    @milfot

    To start from a position of not knowing, just questioning, learning and being given the space to create your own meaning. I do not give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to “humans being able to reach the right answer in the end from any given starting point no matter how bad”. Conformity is a very powerful thing.

    You don’t have Jeremy’s faith, then, in the marketplace of ideas. You don’t think Atheism or Weak Agnosticism or Strong Agnosticism are sufficiently convincing positions on religion to dislodge a the ideas a child picks up from a two hour per week scripture class. Is that what you’re trying to say? Because if so it sounds to me like your arguments must not be very convincing to others, at least in the form you and others of your creed currently present them.

    Also – create your own meaning indeed! Very existentialist (although Kiergaard was a Christian) or absurdist perhaps 😉

  51. I take it you grasp my point now. That I am saying in respect of the subject of religion or philosophy, they receive an unnecessarily and unhealthily limited education.

    Indeed – and I take it you will now make clear in your future argument that it is only the religious component of a child’s education that suffers when they attend a religious school – not their educational in general.

    Anyway, good luck in your quest to have denominational religious schools banned in Australia. I think that would be an appalling restriction on a parent’s right to choose the spiritual basis on which they raise their own children. But hey, if a neutral approach to religious education is of such fundamental importance to you that wou would ask the State to police and enforce it then go for it.

    It’s still a free country, notwithstanding your efforts to the contrary.

  52. Mondo, your adherence to your libertarian faith is nothing short of dazzling.

  53. Come on mondo. I’m the resident tone-escalator in this thread, don’t steal my schtick!

    We are surely getting closer to an agreement with every comment. Which is practically an internet miracle. Lets not get sidetracked with the goal in sight.

    Jeremy, I’d like to hear in more detail your answers to the critique of mondo and myself – why do you think you have the right to restrict a parents choice of where to send their kids to school so heavily, in the name of avoiding two hours of bad religious propaganda a week?

    Your balancing of the conflicting rights and freedoms here seems very skewed, to me.

  54. Religion can only ever be a very part of a curriculum – generally a small part

    There are quite a few religious schools whose determination to cram religious content into every orifice of the curriculum is remarkable.

  55. why do you think you have the right to restrict a parents choice of where to send their kids to school so heavily

    I think Jeremy has already adequately explained this: he believes that children should have a right to a religiously neutral education. He believes that this right trumps the parent’s right to choose to indoctrinate their child in whatever they believe.

    So the discussion has come down to one of which right should be prioritised over the other: an ideological question that I doubt we will ever reach agreement on.

  56. My position is that there IS no religiously neutral education, by the nature of religion. “There is no objective truth about religious matters” is itself a position about religion that is contestable in a religious context. As I have been trying to argue all along. So I think Jeremy’s belief, if you have described it correctly, is a literal impossibility,

    But as this is back in the stupid sophistry about what “truth” is department and so I’m sure some kangaroo court philosopher might come along and shout me down again. So the “agree to disagree” seems the only way out, as you’ve stated. I’ll just spread my views and Jeremy can spread his and we’ll let the marketplace of ideas sort it out.

  57. Mondo, your adherence to your libertarian faith is nothing short of dazzling.

    I’m certainly more comfortable occupying the space of left-wing libertarian than I was as a left-wing authoritarian. I would encourage you to come on over RM – its the best of both worlds.

  58. “why do you think you have the right to restrict a parents choice of where to send their kids to school so heavily, in the name of avoiding two hours of bad religious propaganda a week?”

    Mondo’s already explained why – because I think the kids’ right to a neutral education on the subject easily trumps the parents’ claimed right to indoctrinate them.

    Why school when we can’t stop them being indoctrinated at home? Well, because that’s the part where they’re supposed to receive a comprehensive education. Why care about religion when its impact is so small? Because its impact is NOT small. A couple of hours of indoctrination a week, plus the lack of time given to understanding significant social and historical forces in terms of other religions and other philosophies, has a significant impact – both on the students as individuals and our community as a whole.

    If someone really believed strongly in the persuasive power of their beliefs, then why would they feel the need to make sure their kids were shielded from hearing alternatives?

    Submitted on 2012/02/07 at 1:05 pm

    My position is that there IS no religiously neutral education, by the nature of religion. “There is no objective truth about religious matters” is itself a position about religion that is contestable in a religious context.

    Presenting all the alternatives fairly and without bias is neutral.

    I’ll just spread my views and Jeremy can spread his and we’ll let the marketplace of ideas sort it out.

    But not in the religious schools themselves, of course…

  59. It’s funny – 50 years ago the part of Jeremy in this discussion would be played by a religious fundamentalist arguing that not indoctrinating children in Christianity was a form of child abuse, and that therefore the State should step in (and legislate to enforce their preferred worldview).

    Now the tables are turned, and we find a prominent left-winger arguing the opposite position but exactly the same solution.

    Ironically both positions are wrong – not because of what they believe but because they employ an authoritarian solution. Why can’t we all be happy to just let people lead their lives the way they want to lead them? Why do people keep agitating for the Government to interfere in our freedom to choose?

  60. exactly the same solution.

    Yeah, the education system providing all points of view and educating equally on all major philosophical perspectives is just the same as schools indoctrinating kids with one.

    Seriously, Mondo? That’s seriously your argument?

    Why can’t we all be happy to just let people lead their lives the way they want to lead them? Why do people keep agitating for the Government to interfere in our freedom to choose?

    Because your “choice” is to take away ANOTHER person’s freedom to choose.

    This is very similar to the “hey, what about my freedom to discriminate against women/blacks/asians/gays? You’re oppressing me by denying me the right to oppress others!” line.

    Nobody is telling people they can’t choose their own religion. We’re talking about their right to use the school system to impose it on someone else.

  61. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “Why do people keep agitating for the Government to interfere in our freedom to choose?”

    There are two issues here. One is whether the government should interfere so much in our lives. The other is whether government interference can actually achieve its stated aims.

    The government should, to the maximum extent possible, stay out of our lives. It should also realise that when it does interfere it generally makes a mess of things.

    Parents make many decisions about their children and that is a much better situation than having some bureaucrat make those decisions.

    The reason we are getting all the anti-religious agitation these days is because atheism has become a religion and it is the most intolerant of all religions.

    Having said that, state schools should not be in the business of teaching religion (including atheism). However, if parents want to send their children to schools which do teach religion they should be free to do so. Students are pretty cynical and generally make up their own minds on these things.

    As it is the state rams a lot of bullshit down students’ throats by its control of the curriculum in both public and private schools. It is better to just tell the kids that they need to learn and regurgitate the bullshit and understand how little respect the educrats have for freedom of thought.

    Universities are much the same. Smart lecturers enjoy the challenge and encourage dissenting views. The dumb ones (and their are plenty of these) insist on intellectual submission by students.

  62. “authoritarian”?!? Boy oh boy, he really is mired in the faith of his choice.

    “Not libertarian? Ha! You must be AUTHORITARIAN!!!1!”

    Nothing like black and white, is there? Those shades of grey can GO GET STUFFED!

  63. This is very similar to the “hey, what about my freedom to discriminate against women/blacks/asians/gays? You’re oppressing me by denying me the right to oppress others!” line.

    As I say, pure libertarian.

  64. Presenting all the alternatives fairly and without bias is neutral.

    Fairly and without bias. As measured by you, a totally fair an unbiased participant in this debate, naturally.

    Your argument increasingly is moving towards “Religions aren’t true! So its fair and unbiased for me to present that argument to the schoolkids of religious parents.”

    Which should be self-evidently farcical.

  65. Fairly and without bias. As measured by you, a totally fair an unbiased participant in this debate, naturally.

    Nope. As measured by the religions and philosophers themselves about each other.

    Your argument increasingly is moving towards “Religions aren’t true!

    I said and suggested no such thing.

    It is not the role of schools to say WHICH if any is true. It is the role of schools to provide children with knowledge about the religions and philosophies.

    Which should be self-evidently farcical.

    As are many strawmen.

    atheism has become a religion and it is the most intolerant of all religions.

    The absence of religion is not a religion. Not a religion is not a religion. How can it be? If it was a religion, then it wouldn’t be not a religion.

    However, if parents want to send their children to schools which do teach religion they should be free to do so.

    I don’t think anybody here is suggesting schools shouldn’t teach religion in general. Just that they shouldn’t teach a religion. I certainly agree they should teach about the world’s religions, and kids who don’t learn about such major forces in human society have a major gap in their education.

    Students are pretty cynical and generally make up their own minds on these things.

    Not if they never learn about them they don’t.

    I repeat for your consideration the fact that the vast majority of religious people just HAPPEN to have picked the dominant religion of the country in which they were raised, or their parents’. The percentage of religious people who pick a DIFFERENT religion is vanishingly small.

    Do you wonder why?

  66. Mondo and Jordan’s arguments are approaching hysteria-like levels.
    Nobody light a match.

  67. Students are pretty cynical and generally make up their own minds on these things.

    … and now we have our favourite libertarian from the OTHER end of the spectrum.

    Biological fact: the brains of primary school children, who are EXACTLY THE CHILDREN WE ARE TALKING ABOUT, are extremely pliant and easily molded, and therefore are very absorbent of what is taught to them, particularly if they are framed in absolute terms and accompanied by fear. Cynicism is a LONG WAY from these children.

    And by “bureaucrats”, do you include social workers? Because I can tell you, in spite of the underfunded and therefore highly flawed welfare system, there are plenty of social workers whose opinion I would value well above a significant number of parents. These parents I have in mind make a hell of a darker mess than your bogeyman “government interference”.

  68. This is very similar to the “hey, what about my freedom to discriminate against women/blacks/asians/gays? You’re oppressing me by denying me the right to oppress others!” line.

    As I said above – it comes down to a question of competing rights.

    Whenever you find yourself advocating for a right to be taken away from us, whether that be the right to send our kids to a religious school or the right to discriminate against black people, it is necessary for you to establish that the social ‘ill’ resulting from the right is sufficiently grave to justify its removal.

    In the case of discrimination against minority groups that justification clearly exists – society is significantly damaged by discrimination. There is ample evidence, both empirical and otherwise, to establish that this is the case.

    But no such evidence exists in the present instance. You have offered nothing other than your personal opinion to establish that religious schooling a sufficiently grave problem that we should do something as extreme as legislating against it.

    In fact your own personal experience argues against you – you recceived a religious education and appear none the worse for it.

    Do you really want to see people fined and/or put in jail for the crime of teaching religion to children at school? Can’t you see how far you’re drifting towards an instinctively authoritarian mindset?

  69. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “The absence of religion is not a religion. Not a religion is not a religion. “

    The irrational belief that there is no god is not a religion per se. When it becomes a common cause and acolytes gather to hear their heroes and to laugh and bray when other religions are mocked, atheism appears to have all the trappings and fervour of a fundamentalist religion. Its fangs of intolerance are bared when it seeks as much as possible to denigrate other religions and campaign against them.

    I don’t know about other people, but I made my own choice as an adult. Plenty of people do that.

  70. As I say, pure libertarian.

    Of course the fact that I don’t subscribe to any of those policies should be the tip-off you need to realise that I’m not “pure libertarian”.

    You’re being an arse-hat RM.

  71. The irrational belief that there is no god is not a religion per se.

    Ah, I see you’re presenting agnosticism as militant atheism again.

    You get the difference, right? And you know we’re not advocating the latter?

  72. jordanrastrick

    If a strawperson drives someone in a debate to more clearly define their own position as a defence, so that I can come closer to agreement with them, I’m not ashamed to use one in an honest fashion (hence “your argument is moving towards.”)

    It is not the role of schools to say WHICH if any is true. It is the role of schools to provide children with knowledge about the religions and philosophies.

    OK. But who is to draw the line between providing knowledge and evangelism?

    If you say “The New Testament claims Jesus Christ rose from the dead” that’s all very well and good and most people can agree to it. The Christian teacher can go on to add “and here are all the reasons Christians have believed that to be true down the ages” while the agnostic/atheist teacher presents “and here are all the reasons we have to be highly skeptical about that claim.” And no one has taught something not objectively true, but clearly there is bias in both cases.

    So you need an unbiased curriculum. Well, who is going to write it? Clearly not you – you’re a strong agnostic, which makes you biased! And clearly not me, for similar reasons!

    Hmmm. Quite the pickle.

    I would perhaps agree the idea of a “truly secular” comparative religious curriculum is possible at least in the pragmatic sense, if it is drawn up by representatives from all of the most highly represented faith communities. I know that in NSW, SRE ends by the time kids get to the senior years school, and religious education then comprises a comparative religions course of this kind. And indeed, most private religious schools gladly teach comparative religion, with perhaps a slight bias toward their own denomination.

    It is still, in the scheme of things, a ridiculously trivial influence on a child – one hour out of 100 waking hours or so per week – that it seems silly, to me (as a consistent supporter of secular education both as a Strong Agnostic nonbeliever and now an Agnodeitheistc believer) to take this tack on it (and I don’t refer to Eric’s objection to the state of affairs in queensland, I mean this step further that Jeremy et al are taking the argument).

    Private schools take taxpayer money, but also private money. They could easily give all students an hour off during the week, discount the school fees, and allow a separate religious group come in and provide religious teaching to kids on school grounds, just as parents can send those kids to Sunday School – and the parents would sign up for these “informal class” for the same reasons they send their kids to religious schools now. The net effect would be exactly the same but the policy requirements you are currently stating of “no taxpayer funded religious education in school” would be satisfied.

    Unless you then want to ban like minded parents of a religious background from sending their kids all to one school. The state will force you to send your child to school X! Now this really is starting to look authoritarian. Another strawman, but it seems the logical endpoint of your argument.

    There are way more important battles to be won against the religious right in this country. Why not get your message about comparative religion to the kids at your own time and expense, rather than fighting a bloody political war over a sliver of a teenager’s attention?

    I maintain, again, that this is a sign of non religious people lacking faith in the strengths of their arguments to convince an adult from a religious background to change their mind.

  73. jordanrastrick

    Ah, I see you’re presenting agnosticism as militant atheism again. You get the difference, right? And you know we’re not advocating the latter?

    Strong agnosticism can be just as militant as atheism (and in the end distinguishing between the philosopies is a “nature of truth” kind of argument that tends to matter little in practice.)

    Dawkins for instance could fit into either category, partly because he’s so unclear on the distinction himself.

    Weak agnosticism is by its nature not prone to militancy; but weak agnostics are very unlikely to be hot under the collar about one hour of scripture class a week in a private school (although they make take issues with it occurring in a public school), precisely because they are so un-militant.

  74. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “You get the difference, right? And you know we’re not advocating the latter?”

    I get the difference but you don’t. I was replying to a specific claim you made, and it was not the one you mentioned in your reply.

  75. I was replying to a specific claim you made, and it was not the one you mentioned in your reply.

    Oh yes? And where did I advocate for “The irrational belief that there is no god”?

    OK. But who is to draw the line between providing knowledge and evangelism?

    The religions/philosophers themselves. Each gets say a term to teach their view of the world. The students can weigh them up at their highest.

    Not a “pickle” at all.

    I would perhaps agree the idea of a “truly secular” comparative religious curriculum is possible at least in the pragmatic sense, if it is drawn up by representatives from all of the most highly represented faith communities.

    There you go! Just what I was suggesting!

    most private religious schools gladly teach comparative religion, with perhaps a slight bias toward their own denomination.

    Much more than a “slight bias”. And in fact they try to apply their religious views against the students themselves – for example “Christian” schools that teach gay kids that they’re evil and sinful and teach their classmates that they’re lesser people… so that the classmates then conclude bullying them is okay.

    Unless you then want to ban like minded parents of a religious background from sending their kids all to one school. The state will force you to send your child to school X! Now this really is starting to look authoritarian.

    Why exactly should kids get a different school education according to who their parents are? Some kids are being advantaged and some disadvantaged by that, inevitably. Hell, it’s the whole justification for a private education system, in which we pass privilege from part of one generation to its own offspring in the next – at the expense of other children. Where those with wealth and privilege don’t have to care about the public system because their kids aren’t in it. The main reason the private system exists is because the people in power want to make sure their kids get a better education than somebody else’s kids. Which is not exactly fair to those other kids.

    We would be vastly better off as a community if all kids had the same right to the same quality of education, where extra resources might be available to develop talent but where they’re allocated on the students’ merit, not their parents’ fortunes. And if we didn’t divide schools into ghettos of Roman Catholic kids, and ghettos of Jewish kids, and ghettos of Muslim kids – if all those kids were educated together and learned about each other in those formative years.

    That’s the sort of education system that would lead to a stable, civilised society.

    “Authoritarian”? I’m not suggesting they be taught to salute the flag and worship our leaders and go out and fight our enemies. I’m suggesting all kids get the same first-rate access to education.

  76. drsmithy, firstly, the test of a reasonable person is valid in the sense of knowledge I outlined previously, with regard to education. That is, a person with the ability to reason can use a set of common assumptions to enable them to apply a short-hand description of a morsal of knowledge to a purpose. The usefulness of the knowledge is limited to its commonality. It is entirely un-useful to describe the length of the lightwave in nm to the girl at the paint counter at bunnings.

    Indeed. Which is why we call it red (or various other words if you don’t speak English).

    That doesn’t change what “red” actually is, however.

    Beyond the colorblind, there are the synesthetics who see colours as smells or sounds or numbers or shapes. Beyond the spectrum there is the question of what makes something only reflect light in a red shift. Is it absorbing the other photons or changing their frequency? Or is the object merely travelling away from you in a superspeed doppler effect? And what are photons anyway? And how does the eye register the frequency of light? Why is red called red anyway? etc etc

    None of these things change what “red” actually is. The first examples are just a matter of tom-ay-to vs tom-ah-to, the following are just details of “implementation”, and the latter a simple issue of linguistic practice.

  77. I don’t think anybody here is suggesting schools shouldn’t teach religion in general.

    I am (State-funded schools, of course – wholly privately-funded schools can teach whatever they want, so long as it meets some basic and established standards).

    Because, as I’ve said, by not teaching _all_ religions, the state is implicitly dictating which religions are and are not legitimate. Since teaching all religions is, at best, completely impractical, the only reasonable conclusion is to teach none.

    You do not need religious beliefs to be a moral, ethical and productive member of society. There is no compelling reason whatsoever for the teaching of religion in school, it driven only by inertia and evangelism.

    Teaching *about* religion – the diversity, the impacts, etc – is a different matter.

  78. The irrational belief that there is no god is not a religion per se.

    Which part of not believing in a supernatural being (or beings) for which neither evidence exists nor consistent, coherent argument can be made, is irrational ?

  79. I am (State-funded schools, of course – wholly privately-funded schools can teach whatever they want, so long as it meets some basic and established standards).

    Well, we disagree on that. Because I oppose the concept of multiple school systems where kids don’t get equal access to the same quality of education.

    Because, as I’ve said, by not teaching _all_ religions, the state is implicitly dictating which religions are and are not legitimate. Since teaching all religions is, at best, completely impractical, the only reasonable conclusion is to teach none.

    That’s silly – we can teach a good balance of subjects even if we can’t teach “all” of them. And you could easily have a two year religion and philosophy course with a term on various forms of Christianity, a term on various forms of Islam, a term on Judaism, a term on Buddhism, a term on Hindu beliefs, a term on various atheist philosophies etc. Do it in order of the number of global adherents of the various religions.

    That’s not dictating “legitimacy”, it’s just covering subjects based on a fairly objective measure of their significance – the number of their adherents.

    Understanding religion is pretty important for understanding history, as well.

  80. “The irrational belief that there is no god is not a religion per se”.

    Breathless. Lynot passes out.

    Whilst SB is on the p.c. he gets a tap on the shoulder, two men in white coats are standing there, one says “I think you need to come with us for a little while SB.”

  81. Well, we disagree on that.

    Which part ? 🙂

    Because I oppose the concept of multiple school systems where kids don’t get equal access to the same quality of education.

    Well, ostensibly, that’s why you have minimum standards that any school must teach to be legally considered a school.

    That’s silly – we can teach a good balance of subjects even if we can’t teach “all” of them. And you could easily have a two year religion and philosophy course with a term on various forms of Christianity, a term on various forms of Islam, a term on Judaism, a term on Buddhism, a term on Hindu beliefs, a term on various atheist philosophies etc. Do it in order of the number of global adherents of the various religions.

    I’m not sure a popularity contest is the best way to decide what is and isn’t part of a quality education. For a start, you’re pretty much going to have to exclude atheism.

    Understanding religion is pretty important for understanding history, as well.

    Whoa there. There’s a difference between teach *about* religion, and its impact on things like philosophy, law, etc, and *teaching religion* as a set of beliefs to be followed.

    The former I agree with. Religion has had a significant impact on our (and other) societies, and the importance of that needs to be passed on. The latter I do not, firstly because of the problem with the State picking and choosing which religions are “worthy”, and secondly because I think religion in general is a force of exclusion and negativity.

    Which is, I’m pretty sure, the distinction you were trying to make in your original post.when you referred to not teaching religion is an objective truth.

  82. jordan – “Also – create your own meaning indeed! ”
    where else does it come from? do you just borrow someone else’s or did you get it from some random book? ; )

    narcotic – no worries

    drsmithy – you actually illustrated my point. without the inclusion of the reasonable person test (you and me), and the common use test (tomato, tomato), the whole red concept is pretty meaningless. once you define red as being six hundred something nm light wave (which, buy the way, relies completely on the particular device we happen to measure it with, just as with our eyes and is then in fact just another reasonable person / common use test), and lack the visual, cultural and historical importance of the color as way of explanation, you have got to ask, why is it any different to a five hundred something nm lightwave?

    jeremy – “That’s the sort of education system that would lead to a stable, civilised society.”
    ..finland?
    ..and “Understanding religion is pretty important for understanding history, as well.”
    I actually think history is also a good way of understanding religion, not to mention mathematics, science, etc as well.

  83. jordanrastrick

    I must point out to those participating in this thread in good faith – I have at times been almost the LONE non-atheist/agnostic in both this thread AND the other thread, so if I haven’t given the full extent of what you’re written as much attention as you feel is fair and reasonable in my replies, please keep in mind its been close to two concurrent debates of about one versus about twelve or so at various points. I have also (I would like to emphasise) been on the snarky side at times, but only in the face of what I would call much greater hostility and disrespect toward my views and myself than what I dished out.

    So if I have been unfair to any of you on an individual level – and possibly this applies in particular to drsmithy, who seems to have written some reasonable things I simply missed entirely on first reading – you have my apologies. But I request that if you are going to be one of several people arguing one side of a debate on the internet where you outnumber your opponents, adjust the effort you are personally investing into coming to a consensus in good faith accordingly.

  84. jordanrastrick

    where else does it come from? do you just borrow someone else’s or did you get it from some random book? ; )

    Now now. Existentialism was invented by a Christian so you can hardly expect that to be a “gotcha” argument for me 😛

    In the end we must create our own meaning, yes. Nothing else is possible, even in a universe where God exists (because in a sense God is just as arbitrary a meaning sources as any other); we must confront the Absurd as Camus termed it and indeed embrace its inevitability. But if the meaning we create happens to accord with God’s will, so much the better, for us, for God, and for humanity.

    @drsmithy and others: For the record Red is NOT a certain frequency of light. Red is a psychological phenomenon experienced by humans (and possibly, other animals) generated by the eye and its various associated nervous system components, that happens to be caused most typically by monochromatic photons at a certain frequency, *provided* you are a relatively genetically regular trichromatic person. Light has objective frequencies, and colour is a real scientific phenomena (of human psychology), and there is absolutely not a one to one map between the two.

    This is why “purple” does not correspond to ANY particular frequency of light.

    Colour theory is well worth a read. There was a great xkcd post on it which is a good starting point if wikipedia articles aren’t your thing.

  85. jordanrastrick

    Important comment (for tone reasons) stuck in moderation, it seems?

  86. “Authoritarian”? I’m not suggesting they be taught to salute the flag and worship our leaders and go out and fight our enemies.

    That’s not what “authoritarian” means Lefty. An authoritarian is simply someone who believes that people should be controlled through enforceable rules, rather than someone who believes individual freedom.

    You generally subscribe to libertarian positions – on issues like abortion, drug criminlisation and gay marriage – but occasionally you lurch towards authoritarianism in a way that baffles me.

    As I said above – authoritarian restrictions can obviously be justified if a libertarian approach presents an unacceptable risk to society but in the present case you’re not even close to establishing such a risk. You’ve got absolutely no empirical basis for claiming that a religious education is harming those Australians who receive it (like you and me) – you just don’t like religious schools on principal.

    I’ll ask you again – do you really want to turn the act of “running a religious school” into a crime? Because THAT’S what you’re advocating for – you’re asking our Government to create laws banning such activities. Do you want to see people jailed under these laws?

  87. narcoticmusing

    Mondo – that is a bit extreme. There is no one that would go to prison for teaching or not teaching religion in schools, even if they did it in secret. It would be a mere breach of a funding condition or regulatory requirement, similar to the current curriculum. Do you honestly believe that if a teacher doesn’t teach calculus that he/she goes to jail? Sure, they might get reprimanded because it was a core subject if they were paid and instructed to teach, but jail? No one is saying religious instruction should be criminalised. Indeed, Jeremy is advocating teaching many religions rather than just one.

  88. Narc – Jeremy’s not arguing that religious schools should be de-funded, he’s arguing that religious indoctrination of children is a breach of their fundamental rights and should therefore be prohibited.

    He’s not saying “if you want your schooling to include religious indoctrination you must accept that the State will not support that school” – he’s saying that schooling that involves religious indoctrination is wrong on a human rights level and should therefore be outlawed. He’s saying that even if a group of parents decided to fully fund a private school in order to ensure religious indoctrination of their kids the State should step in and prevent them.

    So how do you think the State would prevent people from doing just that?

    How can you ban a particular practice without implementing a punishment for those who ignore the ban?

  89. religious indoctrination of children is a breach of their fundamental rights and should therefore be prohibited

    Hear hear.

  90. narcoticmusing

    We currently enforce curriculum prerequisties on schools without criminalising the schools. Compliance is 100% – because it is tied to a whopping big carrot – Government funding. Criminalising it, is not required. Whenever the Cth want some new fad taught, they tie it to a carrot – this is no different. State schools are so utterly dependent on this, they will comply.

    You also forget that we have institutions dedicated to teaching religion that parents are free to take their children to – they are called churches, synogogues, mosques, etc.. If a school wasn’t teaching only the one religion, then market forces would enable these facilities to teach children before school or whatever in order to meet that partent’s need. The main result from this, really, is is is no real gain in stopping private schools teaching one religion. The arguement Jeremy got distracted with about the prima facie benefit of private schools isn’t particularly relevant here.

    I do agree Mondo that I don’t think Jeremy has justified his case that teaching a religion for 30min once a week is a violation of that child’s right to choose. I know of specific examples where the teaching of one religion was particularly destructive to the young person involved, but I also know of glowing examples where the teaching of that same religion has been of significant benefit for that child in terms of their understanding of fairness, right/wrong, etc. I was witness to one incident when conducting research in a Catholic school – I felt utterly chastised about my own internal bias that I had harboured unawares until I saw the very just approach taken to manage a dispute between two children. It made me – an atheist – decide that I don’t know better necessarily and I would seriouly consider sending my child to a Catholic primary school (although my teen years and teh reputation of the all girls catholic and prod schools neer me leads me to hesitate at sending a daughter to any religious all girls school).

    These ideas – justice, sharing, fairness – are not in the formal curriculum per se (not at least once they hit school); they are part of the unofficial curriculum that is learned in the school grounds mostly.

  91. We currently enforce curriculum prerequisties on schools without criminalising the schools. Compliance is 100% – because it is tied to a whopping big carrot – Government funding.

    I’ll say it again Narc – that’s not what Jeremy is proposing. He’s not proposing that we de-fund religious schools – he’s suggesting that we ban them entirely.

    If Jeremy was merely arguing for de-funding, as you seem to be, then I’d support him as I also believe that religious indoctrination is a bad thing and that our government should not be subsidising it. Let the Catholic and Islamic schools fund themselves if they want to indoctrinate their students with religious nonsense.

    But that’s not what Lefty wants. He’s arguing that religious schooling should be prohibited even where it is entirely funded through private resources. He wants that sort of schooling declared illegal.

    I don’t think he’s really considered what that means. A rule like that is VERY likely to be subverted (religious types are nothing if not committed to their faith), which means the State will need to address non-compliance with the law. Which means fines and, eventually, criminal prosecution for the true recalcitrants.

    From what you’ve written it seems that you wouldn’t support such a proposal either.

    RM, on the other hand, seems positively excited by the prospect . . .

  92. jordanrastrick

    I think I’m just going to let mondo carry my side of the argument in this thread for a while. He’s doing it better than I did.

  93. narcoticmusing

    He’s [Jeremy] arguing that religious schooling should be prohibited even where it is entirely funded through private resources

    I’ll leave that to Jeremy to confirm or not. I am simply saying it is futile to ban religious schools as the market will just correct the issue – you won’t stop parents indoctrinating their children if that is what they want. I also argue that we all indoctrinate our children – without even realising – because we all know better than the kid does and are arrogant enough to think we know best in general. We wouldn’t post here if we didn’t think we knew it all 🙂 (Ok, I certainly know I don’t know it all, but that doesn’t mean I won’t indoctrinate my kids with a belief that complies with mine). Visual mickery is the most powerful tool for young minds – so the day to day of watching mum and dad will have more impact than the religious instruction imo.

    Ergo, I don’t think it is easily justifiable.

  94. To be clear, I’m advocating that the compulsory school attendance, the part that parents can’t avoid – because of our “authoritarian” compulsory education laws – be neutral on the subject of religion. Not exclude religion – but not force one particular one down students’ throats. (And, while we’re on the subject, in most religious schools there’s a hell of a lot more impact from their preferred religion than “half an hour a week”.) And that any “school” unable or unwilling not to indoctrinate its students simply would not qualify as being part of the recognised school system.

    You could take your kids to a religious school in the evening if you liked, if you’re so desperate to indoctrinate them.

    But they should be as entitled as any other kid to be exposed to all different points of view during their formal school education. They shouldn’t be kept exclusively in ghettos of kids with like-minded parents, or prevented from learning about alternative views. That is not a “right” parents should have, any more than they have the right to refuse to let their kids learn science.

  95. narcoticmusing

    But pragmatically, Jeremy, your solution would simply create a need for churches to fulfill more of the curriculum as they expand what they are required to teach in order to meet the needs of busy parents and eventually they’d be these huge institutions that parents pay to teach their… oh wait, we have that already.

    Parents rights vs children’s rights is a very subjective argument and I’d certainly say we are far better off focusing on the very serious abuses that are still rampant rather than something like this where the evidence you cite could simply be a product of the dominant mainstream culture.

  96. drsmithy – you actually illustrated my point. without the inclusion of the reasonable person test (you and me), and the common use test (tomato, tomato), the whole red concept is pretty meaningless.

    No, it’s really not. For example, Evolution has been happening forever, and would have been equally useful to learn long before it passed “the reasonable person test”.

    Further, “the reasonable person test” has zero bearing on whether something is objective or not. To reiterate, gravity won’t stop accellerating things just because the majority of people decide it’s bunkum.

    once you define red as being six hundred something nm light wave (which, buy the way, relies completely on the particular device we happen to measure it with, just as with our eyes and is then in fact just another reasonable person / common use test),

    No, it doesn’t.

    Red doesn’t stop being red just because you can’t see it, no more than the the world disappears when you close your eyes.

    “Red” is a name we give a particular phenomena – light within a (loosely) specified range of wavelengths. It doesn’t matter whether we call it red, the Germans call it rot, or some alien species calls it something we can’t even comprehend. It’s still red.

    and lack the visual, cultural and historical importance of the color as way of explanation, you have got to ask, why is it any different to a five hundred something nm lightwave?

    What I do have to ask, is why this has anything remotely to do with a discussion of objective facts (like, say, something being red) with subjective beliefs (like, say, Christianity is right).

  97. jordanrastrick

    Red doesn’t stop being red just because you can’t see it, no more than the the world disappears when you close your eyes.

    But it DOES, because red is a feature of human psychology, correlated only in part with the frequency of light. Read what I said on colour theory upthread.

  98. But it DOES, because red is a feature of human psychology, correlated only in part with the frequency of light.

    No, it doesn’t, because red is merely a word we use to identify a particular portion of the visible spectrum. That portion of the visible spectrum doesn’t cease to exist just because it cannot be perceived by certain individuals (or scientific instruments).

  99. And that any “school” unable or unwilling not to indoctrinate its students simply would not qualify as being part of the recognised school system.

    So religious schools would not be recognised as “schools” under the law, and thus parents who send their kids to them (instead of to a secular school) would be in breach of the “compulsory education” laws in Australia and exposed to prosecution.

    It’s a nice little roundabout way to do it – but you’re still advocating that we turn parents who choose to send their kids to religious schools into law-breakers.

    De-funding these schools is one thing Jeremy, but making devout religious parents into criminals?

    That’s pretty extreme – particularly when you’re not able to produce any persausive evidence that religious schooling is a particularly harmful or dangerous practice, or indeed that it has had any substantially negative impact on anyone who’s ever received it (yourself included).

  100. narcoticmusing

    Drsmithy – you miss the entire point. It was a simple example to show that not everything in this world is black and white, many things are open to interpretation. I limitied it to a simple example. Had I used a colour like, purple, your arguement is gone. There is no agreement on what purple is, does that mean we can no longer acknowledge it as a color?

    But you stick to your safe little black and white world that cannot see the forest through its perfectly defined trees.

  101. So religious schools would not be recognised as “schools” under the law, and thus parents who send their kids to them (instead of to a secular school)

    INSTEAD of to a school presenting a comprehensive education, that’s the critical point there. They can send their kids to a religious school in the evening if they must (I note we’ve now abandoned the “we’re only talking about half an hour a week!” line) but they shouldn’t be able to deprive their kids of exposure to alternatives.

    It’s a nice little roundabout way to do it – but you’re still advocating that we turn parents who choose to send their kids to religious schools into law-breakers.

    What if some parents wanted to send their kids to schools that didn’t teach, say, science, and so set up their own school that just did not have any science curriculum? The relevant government department would then eventually prosecute them for not sending their children to a school teaching the recognised curriculum… but I suspect you wouldn’t have a problem with the state enforcing those standards.

    You authoritarian tyrant!

    De-funding these schools is one thing Mondo, but making devout anti-science parents into criminals?

    That’s pretty extreme – particularly when you’re not able to produce any persausive evidence that taking science out of schooling is a particularly harmful or dangerous practice, or indeed that it has had any substantially negative impact on anyone who’s ever received such an education.

  102. Mondo and Jordan – my take on the deal is that religious indoctrination IS a form of child abuse.

    By child abuse, I’m referring to the fact that it takes advantage of a very particular stage in a human’s life when the way that they perceive the world is developing and very vulnerable. Telling them that they will go to hell if they “sin” – for that matter many of those “sins” are what today would be regarded as “human nature”, that “God” is watching and judging everything that they do, that people who don’t believe in the same things that they do are (let’s use the kindest possible word I can think of) different, just to name a few, is setting them up for life with impaired psychological health. Throw in the “fact” that your local Catholic priest is in fact Jesus incarnate and … well, not hard to join the dots there.

    I’m sure this is not how the Quakers and Unitarians approach their teaching – but these groups form a very small minority of Christians. Same as the Sufis and other more open-minded groups form an even smaller minority of Muslims.

    Heck, I can also see a lot of pedagogical value in using the Creation story with very young children, as it can be padded out later with more detailed information as their minds begin to grow. Aboriginal Dreamtime stories are traditionally used in the same way. Science can (and should) also be taught in that way as well – the argument over what gravity “is” is a great example. 13 year old children learn about gravity being a “force” because that’s probably the most educationally appropriate manner. In VCE Physics they learn that there’s a little more to it (I’m not an expert here so don’t call me out on the details!). There’s a term for this but I can’t remember what it is.

    Obviously it’s not possible to police everything that people do in their homes. If a family were to threaten their children’s misbehaviour with a punishment of being driven out to a lonely country road in the middle of nowhere and abandoned there (though never actually carrying it out), we would regard that as pretty nasty abuse (and I have literally heard of parents using it – they refer to it as “dumping”), but would also acknowledge that there’s little we can do about it besides appealling to the parents’ better natures. But what if this family and others would regularly meet up because of their shared use of the “dumping” punishment, reinforcing their reality in the children’s minds, perhaps showing them pictures of children standing at the side of the road, saying this could happen to you? We would regard it as pretty distasteful, and generally most people would shy away from such groups.

    But what if these people were given money from our government (that is to say, us) to carry on with their way of disciplining children, even to create their own schools where teachers could “easily” deal with misbehaviour by threatening them with “dumping”? I’ll tell you what – this group of families would feel immense justification in their choice of discipline techniques, as the rest of society would be effectively giving tacit approval.

    I hope this explains my side of things – I DO NOT give approval, tacit or otherwise, for my public infrastructure to be used for this form of child abuse.

  103. but I suspect you wouldn’t have a problem with the state enforcing those standards.

    You seem determined to paint my position as a simplistic “all authoritarian policies bad, all libertarian policies good” but allow me to remind you what I’ve actually said (from above):

    As I said above – authoritarian restrictions can obviously be justified if a libertarian approach presents an unacceptable risk.

    In other words authoritarian rules are fine where they are shown to be necessary. Denying someone an education in science would have obvious negative consequences and so I’d probably not support an attempt to remove it from the compulsory curriculum. So yes, I’m comfortable with our governmnet forcing parents to educate their kids in science .

    But, as I keep pointing out, you’re not even close to establishing any negative consequences in the case of one-sided religious schooling. You haven’t provided a shred of actual evidence that schools biased towards a particular religion – like the one you went to – present any real risk to the quality of education a child recieves.

    To be honest the idea that spending a couple of hours a week schooling kids in a particular religion (to the exclusion of others) is akin to failing to provide them with a ‘comprehensive’ education is ludicrous on its face. It’s just a wild exaggeration you’re using to cover your real purpose: which is to try and minimise the influence of religion within society.

  104. jordanrastrick

    I suspect you still harbour misconceptions about colours, drsmithy.

    For example, if we make it clear cut and change the colour to a certain shade of purple instead of red, I can now ask you to look up for me which range of frequencies of photons correspond to that colour, and you won’t be able to. Because colours are not a linear gradient of light wavelength, they are a neural phenomena generated by a number of different cells in the eye that each detect photons most heavily in certain ranges.

    In most people, colour space is curved and has a three dimensional basis, hence Red Green Blue monitors instead of just “change the pixels hertz a bit” monitors. Some people are Tetrachromats and see a 4D space; they see colours which you can’t see, and if they all died and all traces of those genes/neural structures were lost, those colours could not be meaningfully be said to exist in the universe (even though the objects which were seen to possess those colours by those people would obviously still exist.)

    But its a bit of a side tangent. Just saying that as someone so big on science, its worth looking in to what science actually says about something where you’re trying to use it in an argument.

  105. narcoticmusing

    It is very disrespectiful to victims of child abuse to suggest that religious education is even remotely close to the sort of heinous abuse you use in your example. I could list a lot of offensive abuses that you’ll agree are awful but that doesn’t contribute to whether this is abusive. Your comparison is an abuse; it is manipulation using an obviously harmful abuse and pretending that if we condeone something we feel is not abuse, suddenly we condone this other harm too. If this is how you teach your children – is that not abuse? So how would that lesson go? ‘No honey, ignore what they are talking about, we disagree so just find out what a really bad parent does and say it is the same. QED.’

    Why don’t you just call them nazis and get it over with if you are going to jump to the Glenn Beck school of debate methodology?

    By child abuse, I’m referring to the fact that it takes advantage of a very particular stage in a human’s life when the way that they perceive the world is developing and very vulnerable.

    Because atheist parents don’t force their values and ideals on their children. No sir. Even the contempt we see on this forum, they’d NEVER relay that to their children or influence their child’s decision in any way. No sir.

  106. On one level this is nothing more than a plain vanilla ideological disagreement.

    Those with religion believe that passing on that religion to their kids is beneficial, while those of us without religion believe that passing on religious bias to kids is harmful in the broader context of things.

    We obviously don’t know who is right, and so we’ve left space for both sets of views within Australia. The problem I have here is that Lefty, as a member of the non-religious side of the argument, is asking the government to force his view onto his opponents.

    When someone insists that the government step in and ban something – for example Christians trying to ban gay marriage – there should an automatic presumption that they will provide real and compelling evidence that not banning it will be harmful to our society.

    Simply saying “it’s wrong to indocrinate kids into religion” or “it’s wrong for gays to marry” doesn’t cut it. It’s not even close.

    But we all know that already – and that’s why people like RM end up arguing that religious indoctrination is a form of child abuse – he’s looking for something concrete to justify his demand that the government step in and enforce his worldview.

    The same applies to Jeremy’s obviously overblown claim that any education that includes a biased religious element is so “incomplete” that the Government should step in and ban it. It’s nonsense – it’s a fig leaf to disguise the reality that his policy preference derives from little more than an ideological objection to religion.

  107. Simply saying “it’s wrong to indocrinate kids into religion” or “it’s wrong for gays to marry” doesn’t cut it. It’s not even close.

    Can you see why those two things are not equivalent? In fact, why they’re opposite?

    I’ll give you a hint: the latter is insisting on discriminating against people, on taking away their rights. The former is insisting on NOT discriminating against people, on NOT taking away their rights.

    But again, I’m looking at education as being about the kids’ right to a decent education. I keep forgetting that some people think it’s about the PARENTS’ “right” to take away that right from their kids.

    We obviously don’t know who is right, and so we’ve left space for both sets of views within Australia.

    But not for many kids, stuck in schools where they are denied that plurality of views.

    The problem I have here is that Lefty, as a member of the non-religious side of the argument, is asking the government to force his view onto his opponents.

    Yeah, I’m so discriminatory about objecting to discrimination. I’m so intolerant by objecting to intolerance. I’m such an indoctrinator, objecting to indoctrination. I’m such a bigot by objecting to bigotry.

    Denying someone an education in science would have obvious negative consequences… So yes, I’m comfortable with our government forcing parents to educate their kids in science .

    I suspect your “obvious negative consequences” about denying a science education are as difficult to prove as the “obvious negative consequences” from indoctrinating a child with a single religion.

    And yet you’re happy with compulsion there.

    To be honest the idea that spending a couple of hours a week schooling kids in a particular religion (to the exclusion of others) is akin to failing to provide them with a ‘comprehensive’ education is ludicrous on its face.

    Ah, we’re back to the “couple of hours a week” line, as if the system doesn’t permit religious schools to make religion a MUCH bigger part of their students’ lives.

  108. Wow, you managed to mix hyperbole, strawmen AND Godwin’s all into one paragraph! Methinks a little less of the narcotic and a little more of the musing wouldn’t go astray.

    Amazing how NM and JR seem to have missed my point about indoctrination using fear and threats. I DID mention fear, didn’t I? Oh, I did! And threats and manipulation, didn’t I? Let’s see … oh, I did that too! Which I guess leads to three questions:

    1. Does religious instruction include the idea of hell?
    2. Is using hell in your teaching by definition using fear?
    3. Is using fear (by that I mean irrational fear – if you run out onto the road you may get hit by a car, but you WON’T go to hell) in a child’s upbringing NOT a form of abuse?

    And NM, NO ONE has a monopoly on understanding or having a definition of child abuse. Saying that one thing is a form of child abuse does not denigrate all sufferers of child abuse. To use a close analogy, I do not look at a victim of severe and violent rape and say “That is rape. Anything less than that is not rape.” Although the psychological abuse itself might be not visible or even that acute, the fact that it is perpetrated under a mask of collective acceptance and approval makes it even more pernicious. To use an example from not so close to the fringe as many might argue, members of the Brethren take great pains (to put it kindly) to prevent their children socialising with others or even hearing ideas or points of view from outside their church. That, along with the consequences administered if children breach these ridiculous conditions, is child abuse.

    Amazing how some people declaring that religion should remain out of a shared, public institution evokes such rancour.

  109. he’s looking for something concrete to justify his demand that the government step in and enforce his worldview

    Is keeping CRE out of public schools going to cause damage to children?

  110. Jeremy – I’m not calling you intolerant, nor am I accusing you of being an indoctrinator or a bigot. I honestly don’t believe any of those things of you.

    What I’m saying is that currently parents have a right to choose a school that will educate their children with a religious bias and you want that right to be taken away from them. That’s just a statement of fact.

    Furthermore, I’m saying that when you want a right taken away from people – any right, even one that you and I believe to be detrimental to both individuals and society in general – you’d better have a damn good reason for doing so. Convincing evidence that the right actually is detrimental would surely be the minimum.

    Evidence that’s generally accepted by a majority of the population would be even better.

    And when I say that I’m struck by the similarity between your approach to this and the approach of the anti-gay marriage lobby I’m not saying you’re the same as those nutters, nor am I saying that the two issues are in any way equivalent in merit.

    I’m just saying that IMO you’re employing a similarly flawed rationale for imposing your will onto another’s freedoms: a thinly supported assertion that the practice is bad for society and a specific appeal to protect children from (what you believe is) a corrupting influence.

    I’m also trying to shift you to a more libertarian position because . . .well because I think it’s a more intellectually consistent way to approach social issues land that you’ll enjoy it once you embrace it.

  111. Is keeping CRE out of public schools going to cause damage to children?

    Depends who you ask.

    In my opinion no, but since I can’t be certain there’s not a God out there I’m not sure. Religious types would undoubtedly take a different view and without something more conclusive to hang my hat on I don’t think it’s desirable to to simply overrule them, for a multitude of reasons.

    Amazing how some people declaring that religion should remain out of a shared, public institution evokes such rancour.

    Maybe it’s just me, but Narc’s complaint that “It is very disrespectiful to victims of child abuse to suggest that religious education is even remotely close to the sort of heinous abuse” doesn’t seem to bear much relationship to your characterisation of it, either in content or rancour.

  112. narcoticmusing

    Rancour RM? You introduce comparisons with child abuse and rape as if you aren’t trying to make it emotive and then accuse those who disagree with you of rancour? I was suggesting it was disingenuous to actual child abuse to throw in anything you don’t like with those terms. Again, your comparison of religious instruction to rape (no rancour from you, oh no) is insulting. You essentially label anyone who disagrees with your self-righteous view of endorsing any rape that isn’t overtly obvious and any child abuse that isn’t immediately obvious to the eye.

    So, are you going to push those values on to your children? Perhaps you’ll just tell them that their best friend’s parents are actually child abusers because they are Christian? I mean, wow! Love how that one to one ratio works for you. And don’t say you aren’t calling religious people child abusers because what parent doesn’t want their children to know the truth? So, if a religious person believes the truth = the religion, they will of course tell them. If you believed in hell, wouldn’t you want to save your child from it?

    Your standards could be applied to everyday life, for eg.

    1. Does the law/rules include the idea of (often harsh) punishment?
    2. Is using punishment in your teaching by definition using fear?
    3. Is using fear (by that I mean irrational fear – if you shop lift you might get a fine but you won’t go to jail – but many say that is so) in a child’s upbringing NOT a form of abuse?

    Is keeping CRE out of public schools going to cause damage to children?

    But that isn’t what we are arguing. There are MANY schools that do not teach any religion or have religious instruction classes etc – no one is suggesting that religion be a mandatory part of the curriculm. Schools have councils run by parent bodies who can, each year, decide if they want religious education in the school or not. They choose to have it. You are wanting to over-ride that decision.

    I am an athiest and I don’t particularly like the idea of one religion being taught in a non-neutral way; but you are suggesting that as an athiest I automatically know better what is best for someone else’s children than they do and that that view should be forced on top of them by the State, including the implicit view that goes with that: to do otherwise would be abuse.

  113. If you believed in hell, wouldn’t you want to save your child from it?

    Awesome – that’s pretty much my whole argument in a nutshell.

  114. “If you believed in hell, wouldn’t you want to save your child from it?

    Awesome – that’s pretty much my whole argument in a nutshell.”

    Then go to church.

    “Is keeping CRE out of public schools going to cause damage to children?”

    That’s a better argument.

  115. Drsmithy – you miss the entire point. It was a simple example to show that not everything in this world is black and white, many things are open to interpretation. I limitied it to a simple example. Had I used a colour like, purple, your arguement is gone. There is no agreement on what purple is, does that mean we can no longer acknowledge it as a color?

    For example, if we make it clear cut and change the colour to a certain shade of purple instead of red, I can now ask you to look up for me which range of frequencies of photons correspond to that colour, and you won’t be able to. Because colours are not a linear gradient of light wavelength, they are a neural phenomena generated by a number of different cells in the eye that each detect photons most heavily in certain ranges.

    You have both, spectacularly and completely, missed the point.

    “Red” was just an example someone else used that I followed on with. It could just as easily have been purple, Beethoven’s Fifth, a mathematical equation, or the chemical reaction that turns hydrogen and oxygen into water.

    The _point_ is that these things are objectively defined. They don’t change or cease to exist due to the beliefs of any observers or actors. They still exist even if someone lacks the ability to perceive or understand them. You could convince the whole world that gravity didn’t exist, but things would still fall down.

    But you stick to your safe little black and white world that cannot see the forest through its perfectly defined trees.

    Wow. I disagree with an argument that the world is defined by either a handful of self-defining mathematical axioms, or experiences that are completely subjective and therefore equivalent, and *I’m* supposed to be the one seeing the world in black and white ?

  116. jordanrastrick

    Religious instruction need not involve hell. The early church were often universalists – all will be saved, even those who pass through fire, as Zoroaster had originally conceived when he dreamed up that eschatology. It was only later on that the self-righteous came along and conceived of themselves existing in a better place whilst lesser men burned – an unchristian message.

    There is plenty of biblical evidence to support this view.

    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

    King David, Psalm 139.

    “God is present even in Sheol (Old Testament Hell).”

    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

    According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

    St Paul, First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 3.

    “Build what you think is right in the service of God. If you make a mistake, what you build will be destroyed by fire, but you will pass through the fire and be saved.”

    And when Jesus speaks of the fire itself being eternal in the Gospel, he says nothing of people being sent there for eternity. The only entities that are spoken of being confined to hell are spirits and demons, not humans – for no human is fully evil, and therefore no human can earn eternal punishment, any more than any human can deserve eternal reward.

  117. jordanrastrick

    There is without doubt a great deal of fear present in the Gospel. But that is because God is desperately trying to warn people of great evil that is coming, of man’s own creation. The hope of the Gospel though triumphs over fear.

    The same is true of the other great religions and philosophies of the world – they preach hope and compassion over fear and hatred, if you only listen closely enough to the words.

  118. jordanrastrick

    It could just as easily have been purple, Beethoven’s Fifth, a mathematical equation, or the chemical reaction that turns hydrogen and oxygen into water.

    What confusion! To throw in the creation of a human musician that ceases to have meaning in the absence of humanity to listen, with physical phenomena that maintain a reality independent of the human mind, with mathematics which is both the language of nature itself AND a human creation at the same time (hence the reverence it holds from Plato.)

    Of course there are points of view that unify all of the phenomena above coherently, but “these are objective and religion and god are not” is not such a point of view.

    Drsmithy, with all due respect to your clear intellect and education, I think you would benefit from reading some of the great (non-religious) philosophers and what they have said about the mind, the universe, knowledge, truth, and the rest.

  119. “The same is true of the other great religions and philosophies of the world – they preach hope and compassion over fear and hatred, if you only listen closely enough to the words ”

    Of course they do Jordan and if my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle.

    But of course you are right, I see your absolute clarity of a wonderful compassionate God everyday I switch on the T.V. The bombs raining down on the women and children in Syria, car bombs in Iraq, possibly my son (who serves) coming home in a body bag from Afghanistan, the starving in Africa, the latter starving mostly because of western exploitation, and indifference. Young Chinese women being held by soldiers whilst they are dispatched with a bullet to the back of the head, for doing a few drugs. Yes a wonderful compassionate God indeed. Oh that’s right you can’t count China they’re mostly Buddhists and confucionists they don’t matter. Who could forget the opium wars? Oh that’s right that was us again wasn’t it? Spreading love and compassion.

    Some where in Australia this very evening there will be a knock on the door of some poor schmuck who is about to be told a member of their family has been killed in a road crash. Ah !!! more compassion, possibly a Doctor will tell a father or mother their child has leukaemia, and is terminal so much compassion in one week, I’m bubbling all over thinking about it. And lets not get started about all those earthly representative’s of your God, the Catholic priests, I mean for heavens sake why have a women when you can have the real thing, a little boy no doubt. Not so much to indoctrinate, but a bit of the old penetrate so to speak. Oh here we go more love, and don’t forget the compassion.

    Yea they should teach religion at school alright it should be taught in conjunction with comedy, not forgetting the love of course, after all you can never have enough religious jokes can you?

  120. jordanrastrick

    But of course you are right, I see your absolute clarity of a wonderful compassionate God everyday I switch on the T.V. The bombs raining down on the women and children in Syria, car bombs in Iraq, possibly my son (who serves) coming home in a body bag from Afghanistan, the starving in Africa, the latter starving mostly because of western exploitation, and indifference.

    Need I point out that all the great religions claim humanity is messed up, and that their claims will be misunderstood by messed up humans until whenever we enter the next era of our species?

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    For Christians at least then the test is simple. Westboro Baptist Church, turning people off God, making gay people feel hated? Bad fruit. Christians who think based on tenuous biblical evidence that the lives of fetuses demand the murder of doctors? Bad fruit.

    Gandhi, who studied Christ’s teaching but disliked establishment Christianity, and applied nonviolent principals to ovecome colonialist power? Good fruit.

    The test of being a good prophet is not calling yourself Christian, its whether your message helps people achieve good things or bad things. And in the end Christ’s own message will be judged by his own standard. For now, the results are mixed.

  121. “no one is suggesting that religion be a mandatory part of the curriculm….”

    except the Queensland Government; in a so called secular Australia. And of course school chaplains aren’t religious instruction.

  122. 1. Does the law/rules include the idea of (often harsh) punishment?
    2. Is using punishment in your teaching by definition using fear?
    3. Is using fear (by that I mean irrational fear – if you shop lift you might get a fine but you won’t go to jail – but many say that is so) in a child’s upbringing NOT a form of abuse?

    Guess what, narcotic? I am an adult. All my discussions before were about children, and the particular developmental stage that they are at in terms of their brain psychology. Your arguments do not apply to children – mine do. The law doesn’t really apply to a five year old (unless you’re an aboriginal child in the Northern Territory but that’s an injustice that can be discussed in another argument) – it’s generally understood that parents or adults accompanying them are RESPONSIBLE for them.

    Using your examples, we could hypothesise, say, a child being told by their parents that if they misbehave then that’s breaking the law, and they can be put in jail. Who knows – perhaps the parents could organise something with the local cop shop and have the sergeant clap them in the cells for five to ten minutes, then let them out and say “That’s what we do to naughty little boys”.

    You know what? That scenario actually happened – to Alfred Hitchcock as a little boy. He was traumatised for life because THAT IS, ONCE AGAIN, A FORM OF CHILD ABUSE. If you don’t believe that he was traumatised, just watch a few of his films 😉

    Interesting that you mention punishment as a part of teaching – you know what? Teaching and child psychology is actually trying to move away from punishment and towards ways of working WITH children and communities in all sorts of ways, because IT VERY RARELY WORKS. Why? Because it is OFTEN traumatic. Maybe short term it works, you might argue, but long term behaviour management works well and truly beyond the rewards and punishments cycle.

    And I say it (yet) again – using the idea of hell is psychologically damaging to little children. I can see the policeman. I can see the jail. I can see the hospital and know that people get injured and go there. I can see the news on TV and hear it on the radio (although little children should also be protected from the excesses of these). Can I see, hear, smell, or touch hell? No. Is there any evidence that it exists? No. If I DON’T use the idea of hell, and bring my child up with OR WITHOUT religious instruction, can I still get them to be a good person? Hell yes! (sorry)

    Incidentally, mondo, narcotic and JR – do any of you believe in hell or the devil?

  123. narcoticmusing

    Rm – I was simply saying your examples were applicable to other situations. Yes, teaching is moving away from punishment (corporal punishment for example is already gone from schools) – nevertheless, it is equally child abuse to not discipline your children.

    RM I have said repeatedly that I am an athiest and I thus do not believe in god, or any supreme being for that matter. Thus I also do not believe in hell in the bibilcial /mythological sense. Indeed, I would posit, for some of the ample reasons Lynot provided above that even if there were a god, he/she/it is either a cruel sycophant; an abusive parent; or just a powerless ghost who can’t change a damn thing so everything you pray for will be met by that powerless cop out. That is MY view; that does not make my view superior to another’s view. IF i believed in hell, i would certainly want to save my children from it.

    And no Eric, no one is seeking to make it mandatory where it currently isn’t – even in Qld. Hence the question is still – should we overturn the status quo, not ask those of the status quo to justify not being overturned.

  124. narcoticmusing

    RM- I am also not sure of the prevalence of the use of Hell as a serious mechanism for enforcement of behaviour and /or punishment. I attended church for many, many years and rarely heard Hell mentioned. I had religious instruction taught to me at a State school and I do not recall hell – I’ve read the bible several times and, sorry to say, it isn’t really that prevalent (nor are angels for that matter – and yes I’ve read the additional books from the Catholic bible too). The general principles from relgions, which are what is taught during religious instruction, from my experiences / observations are not this fear based distortion you refer to.

  125. You obviously weren’t exposed to this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_house

  126. “Need I point out that all the great religions claim humanity is messed up, and that their claims will be misunderstood by messed up humans until whenever we enter the next era of our species?”

    Eureka, hang out the flag, let the party begin. At last, your very own Archimedes moment. Something that makes sense at last.

    All that flapping of gums about ol Newts theory on the light spectrum, how the eye interprets colours, the theory of gravity, how far a bull ants arse hole is from it’s eyes etc. I now don’t have to get out my copy of Paul Davies the ‘Fifth Miracle’ to show you how I can use and quote science to further the imponderable. What was it? Oh yea is red really red? That wasn’t you….? Oh well.

    So summed up nicely in three lines. When we rid our selves of religion, which we will, as sure as night follows day, in the new era of our species no more problems. I knew I could rely on you to come good in the end Jordan.

  127. jordanrastrick

    Thanks lynot! I think we were always meant to be friends. And I have had a Eureka, indeed as a result from speaking to one of the mentally ill who seem to be getting a bad name around here (a trend I hope doesn’t last.)

    You are a cynic. But you are a noble cynic who I think sees goodness in the world and despairs that it is so messed up. And Christianity has a place for that, or it should – any church I attend would have to.

    You laugh at everything because that is the natural reaction to seeing evil in everything and not being overcome by it. So I welcome your laughter directed at me, Mr Joker. I am not ashamed to admit my imperfections, not anymore.

    It is only the bitter pseudo-cynics who see no good left in the world that I have no patience left with.

    narcoticamusing: Thank you for your ongoing support as a humble defender of a plurality of views, including those you disagree with. But don’t let this become a fight just because I started it as one! I wasn’t thinking quite as clearly then.

    As for hell – I don’t think hell as it was misconceived by a few theologians, chiefly Calvin, and then corrupted further by their distant disciples, should be let anywhere near children. What if it were to turn them away from the love of God? That is a grave crime, as Jesus specifically states.

    Hell is an adult concept for adults to rationally discuss (or irrationally if the atheists prefer that phrasing), like sex or drugs. Children should not be aware that evil even exists in the world until it becomes necessary for their own protection, as they grow to becomes adults. Parents should protect their children from evil, and teach them about it once it is safe.

  128. “You are a cynic. But you are a noble cynic who I think sees goodness in the world and despairs that it is so messed up.”

    Indeed. I am only to aware the world is messed up, but as you would or should know, at the end of the day, it is caused by and on the alter of money. Too bad and my detractors wont/don’t agree (which I could care less about) it is only a certain clique of individuals that cause it. Uber rancid right wingers in the main, who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Some who comment here wax lyrical about religion but are as fake as a nine bob note. They, and you know who they are, despise the fact that their faux caring and sharing routine is exposed as a sham, and by a grade six drop out. Oh the temerity. Religion I’m sorry just won’t cure what ills the human race.

    But enough of this, my wife and I will soon be off on our yearly sojourn to the Simpson desert and other places of spiritual pleasure. Yep, where the grass moves in the breeze, and wedge tail eagles soar above, and Dingo’s stand and stare (Where is Azaria) at you, and don’t move a muscle.

    If there is a God Jordan, the old cliché ‘The best things in life are free’ still applies. Well to me anyways.

    Peace.

  129. That is MY view; that does not make my view superior to another’s view. IF i believed in hell, i would certainly want to save my children from it.

    Save your breath Narc. RM is either incapable of understanding, or unwilling to address, the point you’re making. His position essentially boils down to “I think religious instruction is a form of child abuse and thus I think it should be banned”.

    Apparently RM, like many others here, doesn’t accept that religious people have a right to pass their belief on to their children. He knows what’s good for their kids better than they do, so they’d better just STFU and do what their intellectual superiors tell them to do.

    You’ve shown remarkable restraint in the face of his ridiculous hyperbole and offensive nonsense, but I think to pursue this issue further would be a waste of your time.

  130. Apparently RM, like many others here, doesn’t accept that religious people have a right to pass their belief on to their children.

    More specifically, that they don’t have a “right” to stop children being exposed to alternative viewpoints in their formal education.

    He knows what’s good for their kids better than they do

    What’s being advocated is an education that presents alternative viewpoints, not simply a single competing one.

  131. narcoticmusing

    You obviously weren’t exposed to this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_house

    Well considering this is about Australian schools and Australian kids, I’m not sure how that is relevant. Again you take the Glenn Beck approach – lets grab and extreme example out of context and not even relevant to the particular situation in point (in this case completely wrong jurisdiction, not to mention different traditions etc) and use it as proof of some wrong! Halloween in general is a completely different tradition in the US as here.

    Christian teaching by definition cannot damn or lead astray children – it is a one of the commandments of the gospel (it is repeated in most of them, Mathew 18:6, Mark 9:30-ish – sorry I don’t have a bible on hand so just quoting from memory – perhaps one of the Christians here can correct me).

    For every extreme example that doesn’t accurately depict religious instruction I could give you hundreds of actual examples right here in Australia that are really fabulous of how children learned that they mattered, that no matter what they are loved, that they are special despite x, y and z; etc etc. Hell, I’ve used Christian scriptures to talk a person from the brink of suicide – was it worth it? Yes, the person is still alive and happy. Did I believe? No. Did they? No. Do they now? No. But the lesson is still relevant.

    I still agree with Jeremy that all religions should be taught and that it would be preferred that it was neutral – I have always agreed with that proposition. Regardless, there is a lot of the curriculum I’d like to see modified. I am simply not ok with over-ruling the current set of rights; the current set of choices that parents have made for their own children. Not without more evidence that it does more harm than good, and my experiences (not just my own personal school experience) would suggest that it is either neutral (I’m a strong atheist) and likely to have positive/negative consequences for particular individuals – like pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE they are exposed to.

    The way teachers teach can traumatise children. Teaching arithmatic right to left instead of left to right can traumatise children. Giving attention to the low achievers can traumatise the smart ones. Challenging the smart ones can leave the poorer ones out. Letting kids pick the teams can stigmatise the fat kid. Where do you stop?

    I strongly advocate for the rights of children and see parents put their own rights first all the time – I would much rather us want to address this – some of the real social ills out there – rather than want to address something because we don’t personally agree with it anymore than Christians personally agree with us.

  132. More specifically, that they don’t have a “right” to stop children being exposed to alternative viewpoints in their formal education.

    Indeed. I look forward to watching you explain to devout Muslim parents why you’re going to force them to expose their kids to the wonders of Judaism. Or to devout Christians why you’re going to open their children’s eyes to atheism as a valid philosophical choice.

    Should be a doozy.

  133. zaratoothbrush

    Mondo, why do you assume that parents just know what’s right for their kids? I mean, it’s good for your argument and everything, but I think you have a bit of explaining to do.

    It sounds to me that your saying that the state doesn’t own children, their parents do. Is that right? I’m pretty sure the state doesn’t “own” the people whose rights it’s safeguarding. I mean, because the state guarantees my right to habeus corpus, that doesn’t mean I own the state a damn thing, far as I can tell; well, maybe taxes, if I was working.

  134. zaratoothbrush

    One more thing: the state is legislated to defend children from their parents’ attempt to genitally mutilate them (the girls, that is), or murder them in the name of honour, or deny them education in the first place; why should it not be able to protect them from other abuses, just because you have arbitrarily decided that they are not abuses, just parent’s rights?

  135. Hi Zara

    Some good questions, even though I think they show that you haven’t fully understood what I’ve been arguing.

    why do you assume that parents just know what’s right for their kids?

    I don’t assume that at all. Let me be clear – my argument isn’t that all parents know what’s best for their kids, it’s that all parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their kids (within reason).

    It sounds to me that your saying that the state doesn’t own children, their parents do. Is that right?

    No – “ownership” doesn’t enter into my position. I certainly don’t believe that parents own their kids.

    why should it not be able to protect them from other abuses, just because you have arbitrarily decided that they are not abuses, just parent’s rights?

    Again let me make myself clear – I think the State should be able to protect kids from abuse and I haven’t decided that religious indoctrination isn’t abuse (or that it is). I’m saying that, at this point, the issue boils down to a simple difference of opinion. No-one, on either side of the argument, has mounted a particularly convincing case either way.

    Without evidence to back you up who are you to accuse religious parents of child abuse? Without evidence that their worldview is categorically wrong, who are you to undermine their efforts to pass on their belief system to their kids?

    So you see Zara, I’m not the one making “arbitrary decisions” about whether religious education is a form of abuse – you and Jeremy are.

  136. zaratoothbrush, spot on.

  137. christians, really nice healthy people:

    http://www.disinfo.com/2012/01/atheist-girl-in-rhode-island-faces-stream-of-death-threats/

    oh, but they are the nasty christians, pardon me…cause the nice christians pick and choose which bits of chrisianity they like, and which they don’t of course. sorry, forgot that for a second.

  138. Dammit – I always think of a better way to make my argument after I’ve hit “Post”.

    But anyway Zara, let me put it this way: assume I believe that religious indoctrination is beneficial to children (I don’t – but let’s assume I do) and that you believe a religiously neutral one is superior (which, incidentally, is what I actually believe).

    What right would you have to insist that the government pass laws that enforce your beliefs over mine?

    If you could present proof you were right and I was wrong then sure, that would be a different story, but in the absence of proof how can you justify a demand for government intervention into decisions I make about my family?

    Don’t you see the irony here? This is exactly the same argument secular progressives have been having with the Church for years, except now the positions are reversed. Now you’re the one asking the government to enforce your beliefs on Christians!

  139. narcoticmusing

    What is it with you guys and bringing up the most extreme examples of abuses imaginable and lumping it in with something that has no evidence of being harmful beyond your own personal bias? Great, we now have at least 3 Glenn Beck trained debaters. Why don’t you just jump to calling Christian parents Nazis, hmm? Why not? You are throwing them in the same category as parents who would mutilate their children.

    No one here is pro-abuse, but there is no one tiny piece of evidence given here beyond your own personal hatred and bias that religious education is harmful. Mondo is absolutely correct, you are all wanting to enforce your view on others in the same manner you hated having done to you.

    why do you assume that parents just know what’s right for their kids?
    Why do you assume that you do?

    why should it not be able to protect them from other abuses, just because you have arbitrarily decided that they are not abuses, just parent’s rights?

    We should and do – but why should we redirect resources to ‘protect’ children from something that you have arbitrarily decided is an abuse just because you have a personal grudge? There is no evidence of RI being harmful. Should we start calling child protection to any Christian homes to monitor if the parents are talking to their children about their religion? How far do you think it should go Zara? Eric? Do you think the State could do a better job raising these children? It has such a great track record!

  140. cause the nice christians pick and choose which bits of chrisianity they like, and which they don’t of course. sorry

    And you’re not doing the same thing at all are you Eric? Finding the most extreme examples of Christian intolerance you can – behaviour that would qualify as abuse under anyone’s definition – and trying to pass them off as representative of religious education.

    What about all the mainstream Christians preaching brotherly love, doing unto others and loving thy neighbour? Helping the poor, eschewing material gain and committing to the community? Aren’t you conveniently forgetting them because it suits your purposes?

    Behaviour like that in your link is obviously appalling but prescribing a total ban on religious denomination schooling as the cure is simply a hysterical overreaction. You’d be unnecessarily trampling all over the rights of millions of good, honest and innocent parents.

  141. jordanrastrick

    The Bible predicts that there would be many people who would invoke the name of Christ, but would barely understand a word of his teachings and would behave not in a charitable and graceful fashion like the Lord but in the opposite way. In the end, Christianity will save people, but until then, there are Christians

    I don’t think parents know what’s best for children; I don’t think anyone knows what’s best for children, because we are all very finite children. But nearly all parents know more of what’s best for their children than other people do in nearly every other respect. Most parents know their children very intimately, and understand them much better than other adults and CERTAINLY much better than the average person writing a regulation to control what that parent can do. Most parents love their children and want to do everything in their best interests that they possibly can.

    Parents mess up, often, because everyone makes mistakes; but a parent is nearly always better positioned, on these grounds of superior understanding and greater motivation for the welfare of their child, than other parties to make decisions on the child’s behalf about what general course their life should follow (although obviously in some cases specialists like doctors or teachers might be better placed to deal with specific parts of life).

    So never mind a parent’s rights. A child has the right to be with its family and have values aligned with his or her family, (provided they are not extreme enough incompatible with a liberal secular multicultural environment), free from the meddling of well intentioned legislators who by definition can know practically nothing of the life circumstances of the child..

    I do make exceptions where there is strong scientific evidence to back it up – like the increasingly strong case against smacking for instance. But “kids must be told that religions are subjective to save them from their irrational parents”, if anyone is still advocating that, is just wrong, a massive leap too far IMHO.

  142. jordanrastrick

    My first paragraph above was truncated, it was supposed to finish something like “there are Christians who are far less Christlike than many non-believers and who urgently need to gain a better sense of scripture and repent of their self righteousness (and the many other sins it can breed).”

  143. narcoticmusing

    Exactly Mondo – What is it with this ‘pick extreme example, treat it as the same as normal behaviour for this class of people, then who ever defends that group must be endorsing the extreme behaviour’ type argument?

    This is the sort of crap I’d expect from idiot shock jocks

  144. Yawn, yeah yeah yeah..I am pretty sure there were really nice people in the Nazi and Stalinist Communist Parties as well..and I am sure they picked and chose which bits they went fully along with and which bits they didn’t. But see the christains you are calling “extreme” examples are not. Just like any “fundamentalists” there are following the doctrine to the letter…the actual personification of the belief, with no sidesteps, in the real world. Blasphemers should be stoned to death or burnt alive. That or something very like that, is what the bible actually tells you to do is it not?

    But the nice ones, the nice christians that you like (and believe should have the right to indoctrinate other people’s children at school – not at home, home is their business – into a belief system that actually does require people to be stoned to death) show the ridiculousness of this so called fixed doctrine. It also demonstrates that people are quite capable of settling on a set of their own ethics outside of the need of a supernatural or godhead or dictator style ideal. As Jezza has aptly pointed out, many (the majority of) people sign up to a doctrine simply because their parents and culture expect them to, without thinking deeply about it, when one thinks deeply about christianity as it is actually practiced by its true and full believers…well, no one can hear you scream.

    What we are talking about here is education. A secular education is (to my mind) a universal right. Those of you arguing for a relaxation of the states’ responsibility to children….What? You are against the state stepping in to stop child abuse are you? Because if you are not against that then you are signing up to just the bits of a libertarian doctrine that you like and ignoring the bits you don’t. LOL.

    And the “the state should only step in when there are harmful circumstances…”.LOL….nice little sidestep that one. Either you believe in a libertarian ideal or you don’t. Picking and choosing, just like a lot of christians do..is a major cop out, especially when some here have the blatant audacity to quote bits of the bible…but only the bits they like. It’s a joke but it is also very very dangerous.

    And further, I would expect and demand that my children, if they are in a State school have the opportunity to examine these doctrines deeply actually, and properly, from a fully critical perspective…little jesus meek and mild..what a load of b@ll@cks..currently they don’t, currently they get handed erasers with pictures of the mary and the old halo on ’em…and collectable cards with little jesus and lambs and stuff…and they get forced to deal with school chaplains appointed to schools by fundamentalist groups, (yes indeed comrades, the sripture union, real ugly fundamentalists, in schools, now)…some of these chaplains actually talk to jesus in their kitchen..who asks them to “bring the children to me”. Oh yes indeed. And you are crapping on about how this is not child abuse…???

    Get a grip and deal with contemporary Australia as it actual is, because it’s a scary place this state school system run by jesus freaks, and it’ll get so so much worse if the Libs get back in.

    Apols for long rant but honestly, get a grip and be aware of what you are actually talking about. This is not a semantic exercise on how to make an argument; it is children, being systematically indoctrinated, by fundamentalist christians, in state schools, right now.

  145. jordanrastrick

    And, as Mondo and Narcotic are demonstrating, there are many non-believers who will stand up and defend Christianity (and other faiths) from mockery and disrespect regardless of their skepticism as to its truth or usefulness.

    To paraphrase scripture, perhaps amongst the agnostics and atheists there can be found more faithfulness to God’s will than in all Christendom.

  146. narcoticmusing

    Those of you arguing for a relaxation of the states’ responsibility to children….What? You are against the state stepping in to stop child abuse are you?

    Please find anywhere where anyone has suggested even implied that the State’s responsibility to children should be relaxed. You and others like you have given extreme examples which no one supported. You are yet to demonstrate how teaching RI in a State school (which is once a week for about 30mins) is akin to child abuse.

    Again and again you use this stuipid Beck style reasoning of because I defend others rights i disagree with I must be a child abuser.

    And the “the state should only step in when there are harmful circumstances…”.LOL….nice little sidestep that one. Either you believe in a libertarian ideal or you don’t. Picking and choosing, just like a lot of christians do..is a major cop out

    So then you advocate child protection removing children from homes in any circumstance where you disagree with an opinion of the parent. Wow. It doesn’t even have to be harmful. You just have to disagree with it and BAM they lose their kids because YOU know better than the entire world.

  147. narcoticmusing

    I would expect and demand that my children, if they are in a State school have the opportunity to examine these doctrines deeply actually, and properly, from a fully critical perspective

    But you are advocating that disagreement should = enforcement. So, if I disagree with your view, can I enforce that against your children or else you are abusing your kids? You see how you are all “I should have the right to demand for MY kids” without even hearing what you are saying? You aren’t talking about your kids, you are talking about someone else’s kids that you want YOUR view imposed on. I am opposed to Christians doing this to others and I’m opposed to doing it to Christians. You, however, are a hypocrite.

  148. jordanrastrick

    Look, can we all agree to the following (or perhaps at least state where we disagree with any of the below.)

    1) A lot of organised religion is messed up and can cause people to absorb bad ideas.

    2) This doesn’t mean we need to throw out the baby with the bathwater and treat all forms of religion as toxic.

    3) The state has the responsibility to intervene and protect children under grave threat from physical, emotional, or mental danger

    4) This power of the state is a “last case resort only”. It is better for most parents, given the average parent is a decent person, to have most of the say in how their child is raised. The average parent knows their child extremely well and cares for their child a great deal. Only the worst parents are so bad as to be better replaced with some alternative form of child raising.

    5) Tying together 2 and 4, the fact that some exceptional cases require intervention is not a strong argument for more intervention broadly. You can’t base an entire model of how the rights and responsibilities of children, parents and the state interact on outliers, and you can’t over generalise from small samples.

    6) What this has to say specifically about schools and loco parentis etc, I’ll come back to later when I have time 🙂

  149. “You are yet to demonstrate how teaching RI in a State school (which is once a week for about 30mins) is akin to child abuse”..

    Well if you don’t think the extreme fundamentalism of the Scripture Union actively traing chaplains to proselytize in schools (that’s all state schools in Queensland, no exceptions) is not child abuse then I would suggest you are living in a fantasy land. Because you see it’s not just 30mins, it’s the whole school year, and anyhow those 30mins are nothing at all like the nice little RE classes you and mondo had at school. Those 30mins are full of the absolutism of the worst kind of christian hatred, they are designed to be like that, and the Scriture Union actively trains young chaplains to indoctrinate kids.

    in fact they don’t even dispute that claim at all, you see, it’s their “calling”.
    In a secular society I consider this, actually, evil. And yes I would ban them from getting anywhere near children in State schools, ever. Because these are State schools, and as I have stated clearly above, it is not a matter of choice, it is enforced onto children whose parents can not afford to buy their kids out. Disgusting, no excuse for it at all.

    But lok out Australia, a model for other christians in other States, who argue for the Queensland situation to be replicated across all states. So if you think that it is “not going to happen here” it already is, and unless you are vigilant it’ll be your kids next, especially if the mad monk gets his way. I mean, what do you the the national chaplaincy program was all about, enacted by fundamentalists (mainstream according to you) of the Liberal right and then supported and expanded by the fundamentalists of the Labour party…….what? It was a plan to really nice to people and feed the poor with some loaves and fishes..

  150. Most parents love their children and want to do everything in their best interests that they possibly can.

    The problem is the things many parents think are best for their children most definitely are not. Muslim attitudes towards women, and Catholic attitudes towards contraception, for example.

    But “kids must be told that religions are subjective to save them from their irrational parents”, if anyone is still advocating that, is just wrong, a massive leap too far IMHO.

    Kids must be told religions are subjective because they _are_ subjective.

  151. Excuse the spelling please, written in haste on way to pick up kids from community swim club 😉

  152. Splatterbottom

    1. State schools are better off not teaching religion, other than comparative religion.

    2. If parents want to send their kids to a private school which teaches a particular religion, that is their right. It is no different to their right to pass on their religious beliefs directly or through classes at another institution.

    3. Dawkin’s idea that teaching a child religion is a form of child abuse is insane.

    4. The family is the appropriate institution for raising children. The state is a poor substitute and should only intervene in extreme cases.

  153. If parents want to send their kids to a private school which teaches a particular religion, that is their right.

    I agree.
    Unfortunately there is almost no such thing as a private school, much less one which is religious.
    Have you any examples of these mythical ‘private schools’?

    By private, I assume you mean one that is funded in the main by non-taxpayer money.

    Cheers.

  154. Splatterbottom

    Marek, a private school is one that is not run by the government.

  155. Yawn, yeah yeah yeah..I am pretty sure there were really nice people in the Nazi and Stalinist Communist Parties as well..

    “Yawn”? That’s your contribution to this discussion Eric – yawning and a comparison of religious parents to Nazis?

    Fucking brilliant stuff mate. Your cognitive skills leave the rest of us wandering aimlessly in your dust.

    A secular education is (to my mind) a universal right.

    So – something is obvious “to your mind” and thus it must be passed into law against the wishes of millions of your fellow citizens. No need for any argument, debate or consideration of why we might trample on the wishes of good parents all over Australia – it’s “obvious” to you and that should be good enough. What an utterly insipid basis for interfering in other people’s lives.

    You are against the state stepping in to stop child abuse are you?

    FUCK ME! I ask for evidence that religious education is child abuse and am thus accused of being opposed to efforts to stop child abuse? Are you serious?

    I don’t know who’s the bigger moron: Eric for trying on such an idiotic and childish non-sequitur, or me for assuming him capable of approaching this debate honestly.

    I’ve tried to remain polite and to address all points raised on this thread directly and with respect but I find Eric’s mind-numbing refusal to honestly recognise and/or engage any counter-argument to be as pointless as it is deeply, deeply unintelligent.

  156. As usual, extreme right wing zealot that he is, mondo ignores the actual point someone has raised and feigns (badly) deep indignation.

    Double yawn.

  157. narcoticmusing

    eric – you blatantly accused all who simply sought evidence beyond your opinion and your own personal grudge as endorsing child abuse and withdrawing assistance from children. And you have the gall to comment on Mondo missing the point?

    Read your own posts. Then take the log out of your own eye before wanting to remove the flake from anothers.

  158. Ugh – suddenly, in addition to being a supporter of child abuse, I’m now a “right wing zealot”.

    And so the intellectual dregs of the Left show that they can do ‘stupid’ just as well as the dregs of the Right.

  159. Splatterbottom

    Eric: “extreme right wing zealot that he is, mondo ….”

    Your style seems to be to abuse anyone who does not agree with your illogical arguments. You really don’t have a brain to bless yourself with, do you? (Apologies if, as appears from your juvenile comments you are in fact only 6 years old.)

    Based on many years of argument with Mondo on this blog I can assure you he is neither right-wing nor a zealot. He does however think for himself which puts him completely out of your league.

  160. LOL. Apparently I have nothing to say and just insult hard working ‘stralians and run round scaring the horses and such like. So what the heck, I’ll just recap briefly what I have actually said:

    That the Queensland situation is indicative of where the christians active in education policy would like to go nationally.

    That only rich people in Queensland can fully opt out of religious instruction by buying education outside the State system.

    The Queensland Education Act does not use the word “secular” anywhere.

    The “Scripture Union” that is feeding chaplains into (all State) Queensland schools is an extreme fundamentalist organisation, well known as such, and active in recruiting young people into fundamentalism via their chaplaincy programs, that this situation is real, happening now, not some debating ploy.

    That the RE classes currently offered are not the nice safe little sessions mondo and others had at school. They are very different, and are IMHO (that’s MHO) equivalent to psychological abuse of children. IMHO then, the Scripture Union should not be allowed to do this to children, sanctioned as it is by a State Government in a so called secular country, and its government contract should be withdrawn, effectively banning them from Sate Schools.

    That signing up to only the (nice) bit of a particular doctrine or belief system, be it christianity or far right libertarianism, is a cop up.

    That mondo is an extreme right wing zealot.

    There, now you can carry on taking issue with me for what I haven’t said.

  161. jordanrastrick

    I am a Christian and I say that Christianity is *only* nice, and that people who think it involves horrible things like persecuting others are completely misguided, whether they identify themselves as Christians or non-Christians.

    For instance, while some Christians preach homophobia, both Splatterbottom and myself (the only Christians who regularly participate here) are anti-homophobia to the point of fully supporting Gay Marriage. Likewise, we are both in favour of increased intake of refugees. And this despite the fact some around here like to label us right wing partisans and religious nutjobs.

    Calling mondo an extreme right wing zealot simply makes you look like a fool Eric, I’m afraid, because all of the regular participants in this blog’s comment sections know mondo to be neither zealous nor right wing. Mondo, like myself, is perhaps best characterised as a liberal-tarian (as they call it in America) – a person who follows a pragmatically libertarian framework that leans toward the left wing rather than the right. This means an emphasis on freedoms involving speech, conscience, sex, drugs and so forth, and also respect for the benefits of a free market whilst retaining plenty of skepticism of unbridled capitalism, and a preference for a welfare state and some redistribution of wealth to the poor.

  162. Up a bit in this particular thread I said:

    “The “Scripture Union” that is feeding chaplains into (all State) Queensland schools is an extreme fundamentalist organisation, well known as such, and active in recruiting young people into fundamentalism via their chaplaincy programs, that this situation is real, happening now, not some debating ploy.”

    We now have the CEO of the Scripture Union about to take his LNP seat in the Queensland Parliament. So the indocrination of school children in Queensland has the potential to go from very very bad, to very very much worse.

    Just pointin’ this out for those of you that might not have noticed….

  163. Which one? Peter James doesn’t seem to be in the list of Qld candidates.

  164. Tim Mander. http://lnp.org.au/tim-mander
    They’ve tried their best to hide it by calling him a former NRL referee, but he’s the former CEO.

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