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Thread: Should Religion be taught in Schools?

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    Sassenach sherrilina's Avatar
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    It should, but in a scholarly light. I remember hearing a speaker on this who made a very convincing argument about how important it is that people are familiar with the major religions in the world to better understand geopolitics and such. For instance, if Americans (like Bush) had had a better understanding of the whole "Sunni vs. Shiite" divide/problems going in, we might not have gotten into as much of a mess in the Middle East. Likewise religion is so important to understanding the troubles in Northern Ireland, the genocide in the Balkans, etc. Not the only factor, but A factor.

    There's also the fact that, for all that we have 'separation of church and state' here, politicians drop Biblical references and such in speeches all the time (for instance, Bush in a speech about Iraq referenced the "road to Jericho", and nobody in the press picked up on the reference (ie the Good Samaritan story, and its implications), or discussed that bit. In other words, people aren't going to fully understand some of the things politicians and leaders say (and thus be able to better have a critical understanding of their speeches and such) if they can't pick up on certain references and such.

    And frankly, though we are a majority 'Christian' country, there are a lot of Christians who don't even know some major parts of their own religion. At the turn of the century Biblical study became waaay de-emphasized, in part because schools couldn't find a Bible to study that all students/parents would agree on, lol. I mean, there are a good percentage of people for instance who think that the Bible actually says "God helps those who help themself"--which, it really doesn't!

    So all around, scholarly study of the major religions is important, I think, and should be included in schools, as an academic subject like history, literature, etc--hell, given how often religion and religious themes comes up in history and literature it would be quite complementary, even! But obviously teaching a certain religion as the one and only truth and such, in a theological way, is a big no-no, same as prayer in public schools, etc. Because there are kids of all kinds of religion and belief systems, and you can't impose one on the rest, that's why we have separation of church and state/no established state church in the US.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post
    Oh, you mean in government schools. In a government school, it should still be taught vis a vis history, anthropology, economics, literature. It should not, in a government school, be taught as doctrine for its value as metaphysical truth.
    Public schools is the word you are looking for... Those schools where education is offered to all for free (god forbid, the horror!), as opposed to requiring students to cough up dough if they want an education there...
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrilina View Post
    Public schools is the word you are looking for...
    No, it sure wasn't. I was looking for a precise phrase to describe a school that has its hours, location, staffing, and curriculum determined by government, and government school was just right there, like magic. "Public school" is a euphemism to conflate the premise of open enrollment with the necessity of the state to administrate. A number of private, which is to say, not-government-administered schools, are public, i.e. have open enrollment, and are even (although it's not relevant) not-for-profit.

    Those schools where education is offered to all for free (god forbid, the horror!) as opposed to requiring students to cough up dough if they want an education there...
    Untrue. Government schools are paid for by all whose children attend them, and in fact by all those whose children do not attend them, through multiple sources of compulsory funding (taxes) as well as voluntary funding (lotteries, such as in Florida). Free, except for the price.

    Nixx --

    They assert that question doesn't matter as long as there is no reason to assume that something is there.
    Except... why do the atheists get to decide the default premise? There is no side that bears a greater burden of proof on whether the cat is alive or dead in its box.

    The idea that the teapot is out there is certainly not on the same level of rationality as the idea that the teapot is not there, or that the teapot question is completely void because it can per definition not be answered.
    There is no difference between the two premises, from where I sit -- they are both fully indeterminate until observed. As with all things, where 1 = absolute metaphysical certainty, reason can take us (1-N) of the way to a conclusion, and N is just what we decide sounds better.

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    Team Sanity Nixennacht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post

    Nixx --



    Except... why do the atheists get to decide the default premise? There is no side that bears a greater burden of proof on whether the cat is alive or dead in its box.



    There is no difference between the two premises, from where I sit -- they are both fully indeterminate until observed. As with all things, where 1 = absolute metaphysical certainty, reason can take us (1-N) of the way to a conclusion, and N is just what we decide sounds better.
    Bring up the cat and you bring up probabilities and bring up QM you bring up the point where probabilities become certainties as long as the system is big enough.

    The probability of a baseless assumption to be true is very low, whereas the probability of it being false is very high. The idea relevant for our reality is the one with the high probability, not the one with the infinitely low one.

    Your argument counts in the sense that both systems make an assumption, but those assumptions are by no means equal, since the atheist assumption is indeffinite smaller that of the theists and falls easily within the margin of assumptions we make every day to get through our lives (say, that the bus is really going to show up, or rather that we wont tunnel through the earth with the next step we take) where as religion assumes incredibly improbable things, which are by no means on the same level of rationality (that a flaming chariot whill come down from heaven and fly us to work).

    Also your argumentation conveniently leaves out the atheist as well as agnostic argument that a question that can never be answered per definition is not relevant.
    Last edited by Nixennacht; 07-12-10 at 10:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post
    Ultimately, anybody willing to talk to you about their religion is trying to sell you.
    I don't think that's true.If I am willing to tell you about my religion it's because I want to hear your opinion on the matter. I enjoy hearing people's opinion on religion. If I don't share my opinion it kind of just turns into a survey.

    And to answer the question, No I don't. I think one religion shouldn't be taught. If it is in History and a religion's people changed the coarse of history in the name of their religion then, sure, that is perfectly fine, and well needed. If you took religion completely out of history it wouldn't make much sense. However, teaching that a religion was the cause of history (i.e. God made this happen) is wrong. Everyone is entitled to there beliefs and shouldn't be forced(to pretend) to believe in what others believe.

    And I also think that church school shouldn't be on school time. My school has a system where every Monday morning first period of the day, kids are able (or forced by there parents, guess which I was) to go to church school in the morning. The period where people went to church school is repeated at the end of the day. The periods of the day are shortened for the church school period. The periods are shorter but the day takes forever and the schedule of the day is all messed up!!! Church school should be on the individual's time NOT on school time!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nixennacht
    The idea that the teapot is out there is certainly not on the same level of rationality as the idea that the teapot is not there, or that the teapot question is completely void because it can per definition not be answered.
    I'm not sure I'm reading your position correctly, but if you're saying there is some irrationality in believing there is no teapot (though less than there would be in believing that there is one), I beg to differ.

    We can tell, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is no such teapot. We don't need to go there to check it. We know how teapots are made. We know enough about how stuff interacts in space. We can expect rocks of different shapes and sizes. We shouldn't expect teapots. In fact, we should expect no teapots.

    So, my position is that we can establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is no such teapot.

    If you don't find that argument persuasive, let me try an analogy:

    Do you believe that, say, Ted Bundy was guilty of the crimes he was charged with?

    Do you think we can ascertain that, beyond a reasonable doubt?

    Suppose I claim that he wasn't guilty. Aliens from another planet came on a spaceship, and used their advance technology to conduct a number of experiments on humans, including framing Ted Bundy. Whenever you present an objection, I'm going to counter that the aliens used their technology for whatever they have to, in order to frame him.

    If you still believe we can ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt that Ted Bundy was guilty (even if the aliens claim is not contradictory), I would suggest that we can also ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no teapot.

    And if you already believed there is no teapot, and that we can ascertain that beyond a reasonable doubt, then sorry for misinterpreting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    There is no difference between the two premises, from where I sit -- they are both fully indeterminate until observed. As with all things, where 1 = absolute metaphysical certainty, reason can take us (1-N) of the way to a conclusion, and N is just what we decide sounds better.
    I know not what “absolute metaphysical certainty” even means, but I can tell, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is no such teapot, and that Ted Bundy was guilty.

    If you claim otherwise, and that all of that is held on faith, then it appears that everything (with the possible exception of mathematical knowledge and other a priori knowledge, if there is one) is held on faith (else, what's the difference?).

    If that's your position, I think you're not using the word “faith” in a standard way.

    But be that as it may, if that is your position, I don't think you're going to find any more similarities between atheism and Christianity than you would find between, say, atheism and the belief that the Moon landing happened, or that Bundy was guilty...but that's not what you actually hold.

    My point is that only by means of special pleading can you hold that belief that the teapot exists and belief that the teapot does not exist are epistemically on the same boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    Atheism takes faith; it makes an unproven (indeed, unprovable) statement as definitive; that there is no deity or deities, no divine or supernatural world, no creator, no this, no that, no nothin'.
    No, that's not true.

    You're putting a lot of people in the same bag, but that does not reflect usage within the non-theist community.

    Assuming for now that “unproven” and “unprovable” are precise enough, I'll say the following.

    First, you fail to distinguish between weak atheism and strong atheism.

    A distinction that is more or less common (but there is a lot of ambiguity here, so this is an approximation, not a definition), weak atheism is the epistemic position of having no belief in any god. Of course, this has the problem that “god” is a very ambiguous word, so atheism (weak or otherwise) has a lot of vagueness.

    But one can make it somewhat more precise: the weak atheist does not believe that “a god exists” or “God exists” is true.

    On the other hand, the weak atheist does not believe it's false, either. She holds no belief on the matter.

    Also, a weak atheist can consistently be an agnostic, who believes that we don't have sufficient information or means to know whether there is a god, or whether God exists.

    On the other hand, the strong atheist believes (and this is also a epistemic position) that “god exists” is not true.

    When someone ponders whether atheism is true (for instance), they're not talking about the epistemic positions, but whether or not some god exists (but that's also very vague), or one god within a certain class (more or less defined).

    But we can make finer classifications. And atheists usually do so. For instance, an atheist can be said to be a strong atheist with respect to certain gods, and weak atheist (and perhaps agnostic) with respect to others.

    In my case, I'm a strong atheist with regard to the gods of all religions, but a weak atheist in general (for instance, with respect to some kind of deistic god).

    Second, in the case of the supernatural, I question the coherency of the claim, but other atheists have different views.

    I question the coherence of the concept of “supernatural” as used in metaphysics, not only because it's hard to define (that's the case of many other concepts), but because philosophers try to put it in terms of “laws of nature”, and talk about a violation of a law of nature, which isn't coherent as far as I can tell.

    If there is a coherent common (not philosophical usage of “supernatural”), a definition that would approach it would be something like the following:

    List A: { Witches, ghosts, the Olympians, Yahweh, Odin, Thor, vampires, werewolves, demons, fairies, leprechauns, selkies, elves, gnomes, trolls}

    List B: {Q (Star Trek), Ori (Stargate), wraith (Stargate), Vulcans (Star Trek), humans, dogs, cats, chimps, flies, bacteria}

    X is supernatural iff X is on list A, or X resembles one of the entities on list A more than it resembles any entity on list B.

    That would give you a lot of vagueness, but at least, it won't have the problems (insurmountable, as far as I can tell) of talking about the violation of the laws of nature, or of definitions that are too far away from any common usage to be useful.

    So, given that, most atheists (but not all; it's not part of the meaning of “atheism”) deny there is any supernatural entity. I'm one of them. But there are plenty of good reasons for that (which I offer to debate as well).

    Third, I think you're mischaracterizing “faith”. It's not that they make an “unproven” statement as definitive, but it's the willingness to persist on a belief against sufficient evidence or reasoning to drop it.

    For instance, mathematicians used to believe there was a set of all set. Along came Russell, and showed that it was impossible. Then, mathematicians accepted the proof and concluded that there was no set of all sets.

    While they had a belief in an unproven and unprovable statement (clearly, since it was provably false), they did not hold that belief on faith – they just were mistaken, and when someone pointed the error out to them, they accepted the correction.

    My point is: it's not the same to be mistaken as to have faith. Religion relies on faith, not just on mistakes.

    It's true that some people may believe that a religion is true without having faith in it – for instance, their parents told them it was, and didn't have the time to question it, but if someone points our why it's not true (by means of providing evidence or argument), they will accept it.

    I'm not sure whether I would call those people “religious” (there might not be a fact of the matter, since the words “religious” and “religion” are ambiguous and different people might be using them differently in a way that's relevant in this particular case), but even if they are, religion, as a social phenomena, would not survive for long without faith (and, in my experience, nearly all religious believers do have faith).

    On the other hand, atheism requires no faith, as far as I can tell. At least, weak atheism doesn't. And neither does strong atheism with respect to the gods of all religions.

    But regardless, the key, crucial element here is that I'm willing to engage in a debate, using reasoning, and if I turned out to be in error, I would correct my error (if you don't believe so, then I offer to debate).
    That said, let's go back to the issue of “unproven” and “unprovable” statements.

    I would say that we can establish that, say, there are no vampires (myth-like, not the bats of course), beyond a reasonable doubt. It's not that we can prove it in some mathematical or absolute sense. But beyond a reasonable doubt is good enough a standard in daily life.

    If you think I'm in error about that (or about some other entity or event), again, I offer to debate. If I'm in error, I will acknowledge that I am. And if you think that even if you show that I'm in error I wouldn't acknowledge it, then you can still debate, show that I'm in error, and make your point because other posters will realize I'm in error and fail to recognize it.

    But in any event, I'm always willing (as time permits, but I can always take time between posts if RL gets in the way) to debate what I believe, using reason. I have no faith. And the same goes for many other atheists – this may not be true of all atheists, but atheism would go on without faith (I'm willing to debate this as well).

    By the way, you can question the definitions, but in that case, you'd have to be more specific as to what it is you mean by the words you use.


    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    And if you press an atheist for the empirical, explicitly demonstrable proof of this belief they are just as helpless as the most devout Christian to do anything other than "... 'cuz".
    I'm not sure what you mean by “empirical, demonstrable proof” exactly – i.e., in which way you're restricting the kind of reasoning that is acceptable.

    I'd rather go with “beyond a reasonable doubt”. But if you want to press me in that way, fair enough. Press away. What's the belief you want to press me for, exactly?

    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    The only people free and clear of being labelled as faithful to an unproven premise are the agnostics, who've made no conclusion at all.
    Actually, agnostics (with respect to some claim P) maintain that we have no means to ascertain whether or not P is true, or that we can't have the means (i.e., not now, not ever) to ascertain that that claim is true.

    Agnosticism can be held on faith as well. For instance, agnosticism with regard to whether Christianity is true, is false (since we can ascertain that it is not). Someone who is an agnostic regarding Christianity is in error, and that mistaken belief may or may not be faith-based.


    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    I'm saying that to assert, definitively, the non-existence of God is a positive assertion of unprovable fact, and not merely a handwave of skepticism over the alternative.
    Actually, asserting that whether God exists is unprovable is a positive assertion as well, so the agnostic is on the same boat.

    The question is not whether or not someone makes a positive assertion, but whether they are correct or mistaken, and if they're mistaken, whether they are willing to persist in their mistaken belief even in the presence of sufficient reasoning (reasoning that would persuade a person under normal circumstances; they're making special pleading) against it.

    By the way, if by “God” here you mean “the Christian god”, then the agnostic would be in error. We can show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Christianity is not true, and that the Christian god does not exist (as usual, I offer a debate on the matter, either with you as my opponent, or an agnostic on the matter).


    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    That is the domain solely of the agnostics. If you, an agnostic, don't know, you don't know. If you, an atheist, think you know I'm wrong, you don't get to win your point by simply claiming that I don't know I'm right.
    No, I conclude that you're wrong and Christianity is not true, not by claiming that you don't know you're right (?), but by reasoning.

    And if you (as I expect ) disagree, I offer - as usual - a debate on whether Christianity is true, here or in any venue of your choosing (as long as it's anonymous and there is no paywall ).

    Going back to something you said before, actually, not all religions are evangelistic to some extent. For instance, Judaism is not (in general, and doctrinally; I suppose some Jews might be an exception). In fact, it's hard to be accepted. They might try to convince you, but only if you seriously insist on it.
    Last edited by EvilVampire; 08-12-10 at 02:23 AM.

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    I went to a Catholic private school and was taught religion my entire life. I also had to attend masses, liturgies, and went through both the Reconciliation and Communion ceremonies. In primary school we mostly learnt about Christianity but in high school it also taught us about other religions such as Islam and Buddhism. There were plenty of kids who attended the school but didn’t come from catholic families and whilst they did have to attend masses they weren’t forced to partake in the Reconciliation/Communion ceremonies.

    In my senior year we didn’t actually have the subject “religion” and instead we would have 3 religious retreats in the year. Everybody loved them because it was basically just a vacation from school for the day and they were actually quite great. We had meditation sessions, we had time to go and reflect on what we hoped to achieve after school, and one night we even all sat in a circle and had to pass a candle around to anybody who we felt we had wronged in the past. It sounds lame but it actually brought the entire class closer together and everybody got along great after that.

    I’m actually happy we had religion in our school. It didn’t affect my other studies at all and the masses would bore us but it had some really positive benefits as well. I don't know if it's the same in other countries but in Australia nearly ALL private schools are religious. I don't think they should teach religion in public schools but it annoys the hell outta me when people send their kids to religious schools then complain that it's part of the curriculum. And quite frankly it annoys me that so many people can be so ignorant about religion and don't want their kids anywhere near it. I'm agonistic but even I can realise that it's just as important that kids learn about different religions and culture as it is they learn about math and science.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 08-12-10 at 02:33 AM.

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    Sassenach sherrilina's Avatar
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    Re: the ongoing debate about proving God's existence, I don't really see either to be honest how God NOT existing is any more certain or likely than God existing...*shrug* I mean, how did this giant ball of matter get placed in the ether to then explode into the Big Bang? Science only goes back so far....we can never know either way!

    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post
    No, it sure wasn't. I was looking for a precise phrase to describe a school that has its hours, location, staffing, and curriculum determined by government, and government school was just right there, like magic. "Public school" is a euphemism to conflate the premise of open enrollment with the necessity of the state to administrate. A number of private, which is to say, not-government-administered schools, are public, i.e. have open enrollment, and are even (although it's not relevant) not-for-profit.
    Yeah, and how do these schools get their money, exactly? I know there are charter schools and the like, but they still need money from the government to run....private donations and fund raising only go so far! How much is "a number" exactly?

    And lol, not relevant? Ah, but of course, a big business setting the agendas and such of a school, that's A+ awesome and fine, because Business are Teh Good, unlike Government which is Teh Ultimate Ebil! I bet all the Wall Street financial issues that led to the economy crashing were sekrit evil government agents staging it all in a conspiracy to make people dislike big businesses as well, even at risk of endangering their offices!

    Untrue. Government schools are paid for by all whose children attend them, and in fact by all those whose children do not attend them, through multiple sources of compulsory funding (taxes) as well as voluntary funding (lotteries, such as in Florida). Free, except for the price.
    Oh sure, there is tax money, but distributed out enough that it's obviously not the same as paying private school fees (especially since the really poor don't pay as much in taxes), and again, most charter schools and the like still get government money, meaning tax dollars. But really, HOW can schools be funded on a mass scale without tax dollars? Tell me, I'm really curious, because mere fund-raising/private donations cannot cover EVERYONE who can't afford private schools! (Ie majority of the country). Whatever my parents paid in taxes that went towards education (which admittedly was a greater percentage of the state/county budget than in other places, like Arizona, but that's why my county public school system is still one of the best in the country, if not the best) is certainly less than the yearly fee my friend paid at the non-elite Catholic school she attended!

    Education is extremely important, there are so many statistics showing the correlations between better educated populaces and economic and social prosperity, and of course we can't have a well-functioning democracy without some educated base to draw off of. The money needs to come from somewhere for people to be educated, and children have to be required to attend school up to a certain point for this all to work--and there have to be certain standards set so that children are not fed false or outdated information in schools (like that say, evolution has not a single shred of scientific evidence indicating it's a possibility--I don't care how religious you are, there's this thing called science, and it says otherwise, and in this class called science you need to teach...well, it's in the class name!). So yes, the Evvvviiiiil Government needs to have a role to some extent.

    Though IDK, maybe you think we'd be better off if the government had never stepped in, if we still had child labor/non-compulsory education, if we still had segregated schools, etc. I mean, you've said before here that the government has never done anything good, so...*shrug*
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrilina
    Re: the ongoing debate about proving God's existence, I don't really see either to be honest how God NOT existing is any more certain or likely than God existing...*shrug* I mean, how did this giant ball of matter get placed in the ether to then explode into the Big Bang? Science only goes back so far....we can never know either way!
    You would need to specify the event whose cause you're asking for, before one can address the question (by the way, it's a lot trickier than it may look at first ).

    But that aside, I maintain we can conclude the Christianity is not true, and neither is any religion, and what theologians would call "the God of classical theism", roughly an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect creator, "ground of being", whatever, does not exist.

    If you mean something else by "God", I'll ask you what you mean.

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    Sassenach sherrilina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilVampire View Post
    You would need to specify the event whose cause you're asking for, before one can address the question (by the way, it's a lot trickier than it may look at first ).

    But that aside, I maintain we can conclude the Christianity is not true, and neither is any religion, and what theologians would call "the God of classical theism", roughly an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect creator, "ground of being", whatever, does not exist.

    If you mean something else by "God", I'll ask you what you mean.
    The event is the Big Bang, as I said...you know, start of the universe?

    And by "God" I mean the existence of a higher power in the universe, in whatever form, that had some role at some point in the universe. *shrug* And why couldn't this entity be omnipotent or omniscient? Wouldn't mean it would act on said foresight and knowledge...
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrilina
    The event is the Big Bang, as I said...you know, start of the universe?
    But according to the Big Bang theory, the universe expanded from a hot, dense state.

    We don't know what happened before that, we have no theory that accounts for the four forces, and using GR alone isn't justified because it only considers gravity where the conditions do not justify ignoring the other forces.

    So, if your question is something like “what happened during the Planck Epoch”, all I can say “Who knows?”. But no reason to believe any person was there (quite the opposite, but we can leave that for later).

    That aside, if you're talking about some “initial singularity”, that's not a proper event in GR (General Relativity), and in fact, that “singularity” only indicates that, if we extrapolate GR back in time not counting the other 3 forces (which we're not justified in doing), then density tends to infinity – but GR does not propose an actual point of infinite density.

    So, I would ask again what event you're referring to, more specifically.

    Quote Originally Posted by sherrilina
    And by "God" I mean the existence of a higher power in the universe, in whatever form, that had some role at some point in the universe. *shrug*
    Suppose we find out there are advanced aliens.

    Would they qualify as “God”?

    If not, let's consider the case: What does “universe” mean?

    If you're talking about the stars, galaxies, etc.; suppose there was some other stuff before the Planck Epoch. Wouldn't that count as “universe” as well?

    In other words, how would you distinguish between “universe” and “non-universe” when it comes to ascertaining whether the universe was created?

    And if it's not creation the role the entity in question played, what would count to distinguish between "God" and "aliens"?

    Quote Originally Posted by sherrilina
    And why couldn't this entity be omnipotent or omniscient? Wouldn't mean it would act on said foresight and knowledge...
    I said it omnipotent, omniscient morally perfect creator (of pretty much everything but himself) – so, a Problem of Evil argument (several, actually) can be successfully made.
    Last edited by EvilVampire; 08-12-10 at 10:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilVampire View Post
    I'm not sure I'm reading your position correctly, but if you're saying there is some irrationality in believing there is no teapot (though less than there would be in believing that there is one), I beg to differ.
    I don't think you're understanding me quite correctly. What I was trying to explain to king is that "believe" in itself does not religion make. We all believe in things we have not seen ourselves (see my Mt. Everest example), it's the degree of rationality behind a believe that defines, whether it is a religion.

    To assume that there is no teapot is completely rational. If you tried to calculate a probability for the existence of the teapot it would be indefinitely small. Believing in things with a very high probability is not faith. That's why I reject the attempt to equalize theism and atheism, because we have a completely irrational, baseless and highly improbably assumption against one that is as well founded. Atheism takes no more faith than believing that the sun will go up tomorrow and that's the difference for me.

    As long as the degree of believing does not leave the believing we do to get through our every day life following probability, it's not faith.

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    In my opinion, unless the school is a religious school such as a Catholic school, religion should not be taught in schools. And even then, if it's a religious school, I believe the classes should be voluntary and not mandatory. That's why there's that thing about separation between church and state- religion is not something that should be forced on anyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HisMRS View Post
    In my opinion, unless the school is a religious school such as a Catholic school, religion should not be taught in schools. And even then, if it's a religious school, I believe the classes should be voluntary and not mandatory. That's why there's that thing about separation between church and state- religion is not something that should be forced on anyone.
    If taught academically--ie in a historical or religious studies context, not as dogma, and all religions were covered, then there wouldn't be any religion forced on anyone, or any violation of separation of Church and State.

    As for religious schools, if they are RELIGIOUS schools then anyone who goes there should expect to have to take part in religion classes--one signs up for it by choosing to go to a religious school--and in this case separation of church and state is irrelevant because it wouldn't be a state public school, but a church one anyway. I am all for not teaching religion dogmatically or theologically in non-religious, public schools, but to complain about it or find it unexpected in a religious school strikes me as a bit silly....it's voluntary to attend such a school in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nixennacht
    I don't think you're understanding me quite correctly. What I was trying to explain to king is that "believe" in itself does not religion make. We all believe in things we have not seen ourselves (see my Mt. Everest example), it's the degree of rationality behind a believe that defines, whether it is a religion.
    Okay, so just to be clear.

    Do you agree that believing in that Mt. Everest exists, and that the teapot in question does not, is not irrational/unreasonable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nixennacht
    To assume that there is no teapot is completely rational. If you tried to calculate a probability for the existence of the teapot it would be indefinitely small. Believing in things with a very high probability is not faith.
    I agree, with the minor quibble that I wouldn't say we need to assume that there is no teapot in this case.


    I'd rather say we can conclude that there isn't one beyond a reasonable doubt, just as we can do in other cases (see my Ted Bundy example, but many other examples can be given, like your “Sun will rise tomorrow” example (pretty good, by the way)).

    This is probably just a semantic quibble, since you (if I'm reading this right) would probably agree with that.

    But I've encountered Christians who would claim something like “Precisely. You assume it and you believe it, but you don't really know it. You have no empirical evidence. You are indeed a person of strong faith.”; which I find particularly annoying.

    If we lived in a world where teapots just pop into existence left and right, we would not be justified in reaching the same conclusion. But it's not the world we live in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nixennacht
    That's why I reject the attempt to equalize theism and atheism, because we have a completely irrational, baseless and highly improbably assumption against one that is as well founded. Atheism takes no more faith than believing that the sun will go up tomorrow and that's the difference for me.
    Okay, then, I think we're in agreement (probably ).

    I'm not even sure your beliefs are too different from mine on the matter, even if we pick different labels to describe ourselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nixennacht
    As long as the degree of believing does not leave the believing we do to get through our every day life following probability, it's not faith.
    Yes, that's my view as well.
    Last edited by EvilVampire; 09-12-10 at 07:58 AM. Reason: fixing smilie

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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrilina
    I am all for not teaching religion dogmatically or theologically in non-religious, public schools, but to complain about it or find it unexpected in a religious school strikes me as a bit silly....it's voluntary to attend such a school in the first place.
    But how voluntary is it?

    It's not voluntary for young children. It's the parents' choice.

    Perhaps, for some teenagers in high school it's voluntary, but that depends on the case and how much authority the parents have, in practice.

    The problem isn't easy, because even if people shouldn't teach religion as fact to children, banning it would be worse than the alternative, in most cases.

    But then, you have the problem of things like radical madrasahs.

    Should governments allow those as well?

    I think in general (unless, say, they're too powerful and would successfully resist any attempt of shutting them down, so passing a law banning them could be for the worse, or there would be too much public opposition, etc.), they shouldn't.

    But on the other hand, I think the consequences of banning, say, Catholic schools, would probably be worse than those of allowing them, so even though I believe children shouldn't be indoctrinated in Catholicism, I don't think that that would justify a ban.

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    Sassenach sherrilina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilVampire View Post
    But how voluntary is it?

    It's not voluntary for young children. It's the parents' choice.

    Perhaps, for some teenagers in high school it's voluntary, but that depends on the case and how much authority the parents have, in practice.
    But if a religion is running/offering the school in the first place, it's not rocket science that they're going to include it in the curriculum. Shouldn't come as a surprise, and the kids can take from it what they will. I doubt for instance a Jewish student who attends a Catholic school is going to feel indoctrinated by the religious ed classes, especially when they have their own religion at home. Kids can take from the classes what they will, roll their eyes if they wish.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilVampire View Post
    Okay, so just to be clear.
    Do you agree that believing in that Mt. Everest exists, and that the teapot in question does not, is not irrational/unreasonable?
    Of course.

    I agree, with the minor quibble that I wouldn't say we need to assume that there is no teapot in this case.


    I'd rather say we can conclude that there isn't one beyond a reasonable doubt, just as we can do in other cases (see my Ted Bundy example, but many other examples can be given, like your “Sun will rise tomorrow” example (pretty good, by the way)).
    I'd say that we make an assumption, but it's well within the limits on the assumptions we make everyday interacting with the world. Like that I don't question with every step I take if the ground is gonna swallow me.

    This is probably just a semantic quibble, since you (if I'm reading this right) would probably agree with that.
    Yep.

    But I've encountered Christians who would claim something like “Precisely. You assume it and you believe it, but you don't really know it. You have no empirical evidence. You are indeed a person of strong faith.”; which I find particularly annoying.
    Yeah, but they simply don't understand the concept of believing, assuming and probability. It's just a misleading simplification. To say "I don't believe in anything" is indeed a claim no one can hold. Based on the input we get we all make assumptions and predictions about the world around us. We do that by computing the input from the world around us. We have reasons for our believes, a religion has not (though there are of course psychological and evolutionary reasons for religion).

    Okay, then, I think we're in agreement (probably ).

    I'm not even sure your beliefs are too different from mine on the matter, even if we pick different labels to describe ourselves.
    There is not really much of a difference I think. In my mind the question of there being god is as relevant for my life is there a teapot in orbit. Even if there was I'd never learn of it so it's irrelevant for my existence until I do.
    Last edited by Nixennacht; 08-12-10 at 10:32 PM.

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    I don't believe religion should be taught in schools but I believe intelligent design should. In fact I believe Intelligent Design, Evolution, Direct and Indirect panspermia should be taught. The more the merrier! Ideas for everybody! But no if they do teach creationism they need to be as vague as possible when talking about the creator. You know call it "The Prime Mover" or "The First Cause". Maybe even TPTB?

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