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Liberals for religious education

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Here's an article about religious ignorance in America. For example, 1/3 of Americans can't name the 4 Gospels, and 12% of Americans think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

To what extent is lack of knowledge about religion responsible for weird or destructive religious beliefs? If you believe that education cures all, and ignorance is always bad, I'd think religious education would be a good thing. For example, if you look at contemporary American conservative Christianity, so much of it is filled with, IMO, ignorance about the religion itself. Just look at the big issues for them: evolution, gays, abortion. None of those things were ever addressed by the founder of their religion. Do they know that? Could actual knowledge of the religion, rather than just opinions so ungrounded in knowledge that they're shaped mainly by personal prejudices and political views, moderate some of the weirdo beliefs?

Of course, I'm not talking about religious education in the sense of religious indoctrination, but rather religious history and comparative religion. So I wonder if religious people would like this. We're talking about taking an analytical look at a topic that some people think should never be analyzed.

(I first saw that article in The Washington Monthly. )
post #2 of 14
sounds good to me. However, I doubt that most fundamentalists have the self-restraint not to try to turn it into recruitment.
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by giant
sounds good to me. However, I doubt that most fundamentalists have the self-restraint not to try to turn it into recruitment.

They will oppose it.

The value of a belief to them is not inherent in itself as an existant thing but lies merely in its 'rightness'.

As they believe they have the 'right' and true belief, there is no need for comparison - it would put all religions on an equal footing and that is something they cannot believe or tolerate.

Therein lies the problem. An intractable one.
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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post #4 of 14
This is actually a valid point. There are too many Cristians who don't invest time studying the Word, who don't own even one set of commentaries, and who are generally ignorant of the various books of the Bible.

Jesus didn't say "go make converts" he said "go make disciples".

Big difference.

The Bible is a very complex kettle of fish. It takes years of study to digest the various threads and motifs that run through it.

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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post #5 of 14
I think that there should be a cultural education part of upper high school. Before that, I don't think that the students are able to separate themselves from the things they discuss...
"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Here's an article about religious ignorance in America. For example, 1/3 of Americans can't name the 4 Gospels, and 12% of Americans think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

She isn't? Wait...



Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
To what extent is lack of knowledge about religion responsible for weird or destructive religious beliefs?

I think this certainly quite huge.

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Just look at the big issues for them: evolution, gays, abortion. None of those things were ever addressed by the founder of their religion. Do they know that?

Well, it doesn't mean they are non-issues. The Bible doesn't speak about child porn either...but...we have something to say about that.

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Could actual knowledge of the religion, rather than just opinions so ungrounded in knowledge that they're shaped mainly by personal prejudices and political views, moderate some of the weirdo beliefs?

No doubt of this. However, two comments...first, what you consider weird, might be only a matter of perspective and opinion. Second, the majority of Christians (cannot speak about other faiths/people) that I know are not the "weirdos" that are so often featured and even caricatured in the media/press.

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
So I wonder if religious people would like this. We're talking about taking an analytical look at a topic that some people think should never be analyzed.

Actually...as far as Christianity goes...we, as Christians, are expected to be disciples...which is about being a student rather than a mindless follower. Most Christians (that I know) don't believe in a God that calls them to a blind or stupid faith (but there is still faith mind you)...but to a thinking faith. We believe that God has given us minds...intelligence...some more than others to be suer...but minds nonetheless...to be used.

One must be careful though...there is an issue of faith, trust. There are things about God that cannot/will not ever be proved. This is where He would call us to faith.
post #7 of 14
The thing is that there is also Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism, not to mention the world's minor religions, including Judaism, Indigenous Religions, Zorastorism, and each of these other faiths have many sects that believe different things. To be completely fair we would need to discuss all of these completely lest we bias our children.
"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
The thing is that there is also Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism, not to mention the world's minor religions, including Judaism, Indigenous Religions, Zorastorism, and each of these other faiths have many sects that believe different things. To be completely fair we would need to discuss all of these completely lest we bias our children.

I these should all be taught in parallel, comparatively.
post #9 of 14
But it doesn't actually work out that way. I took a number of religion classes in college at two different schools in two different parts of the country and the effect was the same: overrepresentation of Christianity due to either the teacher's bias or Christians in the class monopolizing the discussion no matter what we were talking about.

In fact, the same thing happens in philosophy classes unless the teacher knows how to direct the evangelicals back on topic.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by giant
But it doesn't actually work out that way. I took a number of religion classes in college at two different schools in two different parts of the country and the effect was the same: overrepresentation of Christianity due to either the teacher's bias or Christians in the class monopolizing the discussion no matter what we were talking about.

In fact, the same thing happened in my philosophy classes.

I took a "comparative religion" course in college (seems like a gazillion years ago)...and it seemed fairly balanced...if anything perhaps a slight favoritism for eastern religions could be detected...but not so much that it was worth a stink.

A lot will depend on the teacher of course. As with so many other subjects I guess. Which is why teaching to think...and think critically is so vitally important. It enables one to ferret out biases and imbalances. This is where public schools in the U.S. (I think) are really failing. Stuffing heads with facts doesn't equate to education in my book.
post #11 of 14
Not really. In fact, I work at a major university (tucked away in an extremely liberal part of an extremely liberal metro area) and still take philosophy classes in which we almost always have at least one of the evangelicals that won't shut up and stay on topic. It's extremely common.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by giant
Not really.

Not really what?

Is that (at least partly) the teacher's fault? The teacher ought to be able to maintain control and balance in his/her classroom, right?

That's (mostly) what I meant.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Is that (at least partly) the teacher's fault? The teacher ought to be able to maintain control and balance in his/her classroom, right?

Absolutely, but that's a totally separate issue. The fact is that, without a doubt, the most disruptive students in the many philosophy and religion classes I've taken over the years have been Christians who won't shut up about Christianity. Actually, in one case the christian minister teacher focused way, way too much on christianity (to the detriment of the class) and in another the teacher was borderline, which only encouraged the students who couldn't focus on the actual topic.
post #14 of 14
I myself went to a catholic high school when I was, er... younger, and, of course, we were required to take 4 years of Theology.

In Theology I we studied "The Word", in Theology II, we studied "The Man", and in Theology III, we studied "The Church". In Theology IV, as we got more mature, we studied other religions. We started with what could be called the first one, rituals of the Aborriginies, then Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

I don't think this was a balanced study of world religions, at least major ones, since we spent 3+ years on Christianity, but only about 3 weeks each on other major religions.

Granted, it was a catholic school but it appeared to lean more towards indoctrination rather than spiritual education. That's where I made my first contacts with The Buddha, and since, have dearly liked his ideas. But all of the first 3 years in that school de-indoctrinated me so bad, I'm now an atheist with a sympathy towards Buddhism. Though some may argue Buddhism is a complex form of spiritual philosophy, I tend to see it as pure philosophy, in a very practical package.
'L'enfer, c'est les autres' - JPS
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'L'enfer, c'est les autres' - JPS
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