When God goes to school
By Paul Willis
GOD IN SCHOOLS: Is religious education a plus or minus for kids?
Does God belong in schools?
As the father of a school-aged son with no beliefs, this question is easy to answer. The thought that someone from some religious tradition wants access to my child as a potential convert chills me to the bone.
Keep your gods away from my son.
As a bemused outsider of all things religious, my first response would have to be, “Which God?”
With so many different interpretations of the God of the Jews, Christians and Muslims, can you seriously propose that only one be presented in schools? Surely, you ought to present all of them. Then, there are the non–Abrahamic gods such as those of the Hindu traditions, they ought to get a look in.
What about other religious icons and beliefs? The list keeps going on and on.
But this is not what is meant by proponents of religion in schools. Usually, they just want only their particular God, or their interpretation of God, presented and they are horrified when others want the same right of exposure for their deities.
The best examples of this have occurred recently in the US where several states have had a successful push from the Christian Right to have their God introduced into public spaces only to recoil in shock when the Satanists turned up demanding the same exposure.
This gets to the nub of the problem with introducing belief systems into schools. There’s no yardstick for belief, no comparative measures as to what’s worthy of our children’s precious learning time and what they should be allowed to ignore. To be fair, you would have to introduce all religions with equal merit and gravity, a path that would leave little time for them to study anything else.
I have no beliefs.
As I understand it, ‘belief’ is to accept a proposition without evidence. The simple production of evidence removes a proposition from being a belief. So ‘belief’ is a fool’s tool for knowledge, unable to objectively discriminate between conflicting faith propositions and leading to an illogical, irrational and incongruent set of unsupported propositions of no value.
Do we really want to drag our kids through that quagmire of ultimately inconsequential folly when they could be spending their time learning evidence-based, rational and logical realities of the world around them?
There is already more than enough content in the curriculum that demands the attention of our kids. Practical skills like reading and writing. Brain-building subjects such as the sciences and the arts. Inquisition tools such as mathematics.
There is simply no room for gods in schools, particularly if you only want them to learn about your personal favourite to the exclusion of your neighbour’s god.
So, no. No god belongs in school. The fertile minds of our next generation are too precious to corrupt with stone-aged thinking.