When anti-enlightenment forces rise to power in the US, people tend to die in large numbers abroad and basic human rights are trampled at home, so there tends to be a lot less navel gazing on the issue.
Yes, in the USA the whole evolution/intelligent design debate is part of a much bigger cultural war. In Britain we are under less pressure to take sides.
I didn't see the programme, as I was afraid it would be bad for my blood pressure (I don't like faith schools, but find Dawkins own assurance over such things irritating, so it looked like a bad combo). But when I've argued with people over this in the past, the thing that has tended to get to me isn't so much whether or not they teach evolution (I rather had the idea that in Britain they did, which is maybe why!) as a) the tendency faith schools have to perpetuate the "othering" of people of different beliefs and races* simply through isolating children from them, and also b) the tacit encouragement of corruption so nicely illustrated in that programme you recommended, Rev: "Get on your knees and avoid the fees." I really can't see why my council tax should go to fund a state school that would exclude my children living next door because of my beliefs, while bussing in co-religionists from different districts. The Americans have it right on this one. If state-funded faith schools, why not state-funded faith doctors, dentists, opticians, social workers...? Or, as Spike Milligan put it:
"Now what's this?" said the fire chief,
"Is this church C of E?
It is? Then we can't put it out -
My lads are all RC!"
Unless I'm intending to become a naturalist or a palaeontologist does it really matter what my opinions are?
I'd say it does. We ought to prefer truth to error. That's not to say the truth is easy to pin down, or even that there's only one truth, but if we start saying it doesn't matter whether what we've been taught is a bag of shite, then I don't see the point in education other than as an instrument of social control.
* Race ought not in theory to be a factor, but it is in practical terms, especially where we're talking about Jewish and Muslim schools rather than Christian denominational ones.
Dawkins took us to an Islamic school where they taught evolution- as they're bound to do by law- then allowed the kids "to make up their own minds" about it. Oddly enough, they all concluded it was nonsense (or at least said they did on camera).
As a Church of England vicar I had people coming to my church simply so they could get a place at Oldham's Bluecoat School. I hated it.
Yes, truth matters- but I feel evolution is a less important and central truth than Dawkins wants to make it. I think he's trying to import the American culture wars.
Dawkins being reasonable??? What's happened to him?
I dislike him because I find him just as bigotted as the religious extremists...
I don't think he's up to the job he's set himself. Not clever enough, not informed enough, not imaginative enough.
2010-08-19 09:54 pm (UTC)
It's the "zombie-bite" theory of pedagogy...
...that is, one little uncontrolled exposure to your opposition's beliefs will turn your children into fanatical believers.
We tend to think of this as being something religionists do to each other and to secular cuture. But a few years ago, when the first Narnia movie came out, we saw secularists behaving the same way.
Overall, I think bigotry is not something religion creates. It exists at a more basic level of behavior and can express itself in any power structure, secular or religious. The Soviet Union was a grand experiment in which religion was very succesfully edited out of all aspects of public life, and out of most people's private lives as well, yet it produced bigotries and inquisitions bigger than anything seen before.
When you eliminate what you think causes the disease and the disease still occurs, you've learned that you haven't found the case afterwards.
--Skarl the Drummer
"case afterwards" = "cause anyway." Good lord.
2010-08-20 09:11 am (UTC)
Re: It's the "zombie-bite" theory of pedagogy...
That's it. That's it exactly. You let one burkha onto the street and in no time at all we'll all be wearing them. Religion is infectious, catching- "ware leper!"
The USA bans religion from public classrooms and we admit it- and yet the USA is a much more religious country than Britain. Something doesn't compute.
Ha! Your second paragraph - I never thought of it that way before, but I love it. That is exactly how I feel.
Dawkins pisses me off, to be honest. Last paragraph = well said, absolutely.
2010-08-20 09:21 am (UTC)
Re: Agreeing with you...for a change!
Dawkins is an ideologue. Secular religion is like a religion to him- and Darwin is its prophet. It bothers me how Darwin has been turned into this Mohammed of secularism. Yes it's interesting that we're descended from apes, but is it really that important? Is it- as Dawkins seems to think it is- the central truth about humanity? Darwin himself would, I think, be shocked by the use that is made of his name and his theory.
Isn't it indoctrination to teach kids to disbelieve what they are told by parents and clergy and to believe what they "learn" in school? We had the conversation about evoloution being taught in grammar school a while ago, and both agreed that our own education did not deal with evolution when we were in lower grades. In fact, we barely touched on it in high school biology. By the time I got to college in the 1980's a sociology professor, of all things, was demanding that everyone in her class accept evolution as a first premise, while the biology professor simply taught us about life on earth and said nothing about evolution per se, allowing us to see for ourselves and draw our own conclusions. I stated before and will state again, I have no problem with either faith or science and do not find them incompatible unless one is so terribly biased as to possess a completely closed mind. However, I do have problems with school systems that would brainwash children into trashing the values system their parents - and yes, clergy - are teaching them. Some of the stuff that is going on in kids' classrooms over here, at least, makes my head spin!
I've never seen there was any conflict between Evolution and Theistic belief. Most of the more intelligent Victorian Christians who had to cope with Darwin when his ideas first came out took a deep breath, adjusted their beliefs a little- and carried on as before.
I broadly agree with Dawkins, but I have always found his "if you don't agree with me you must be thick, how can you entertain such rubbish?"-approach tiresome, to say the least. Michael Shermer
writes in a more convincing style (especially with regard to the "just-so" observation).
I'd like to see the back of faith schools too, but Dawkins can convince me of the merits of anything he opposes.
Shermer looks interesting.