The Call for Religion in Schools
The segment of the population that calls for school reform on the basis of Christianity is no small group. Cases of violence that have reached their national apex in the Columbine shootings within the last few years have fed the fire of the religious movements. Repulsed by the seemingly growing violence, many conscientious parents have removed their children from public schools altogether—and not only Christians.
On the one hand this movement has great potential to direct tomorrow’s generation onto more socially prosperous paths. That parents have suddenly woken to the fact that they have been grossly unconscious to the raging hearts of adolescent minds is a good thing; our young have been left too much to themselves, left too far from positive influence. Our parents have suddenly remembered that there are a vast number of pitfalls we ought to warn our children of, a sea of discord from which we should steer clear.
But there is need for restraint when bringing tomes of ethics into the classroom and the studyhall. With sudden religious revival comes paranoia for everything that is not sanctified in holy texts. With that also is an irrational fear, at least in the last two hundred years, of science and the cautious wisdom of that field of philosophy.
Of all the claimed difference of the scientific mind and the religious belief, only one is truly fundamental*. Religion stands on the shoulders of unwavering faith, and it has always called for devotion to beliefs of the heart. Science, the very mother of technology and all the progresses of our age, is at the core a search for answers spawned with doubt, skepticism and questions.
The fear of the sage is that the religious sentiments of our time will turn a blind eye on the accomplishments of science. It’s a curious fact that ministers are nonplussed with the insights provided by science. They will claim that such revelations are insignificant to the revelations of religion, all the while failing to see that should their religion ring true, the revelations of science are a tribute to the wonder of their religious source.
Calling for religion in the classroom must be tempered with the realization that there are many religions with which our society must deal, and catering to them all is nigh impossible; the real need is soley the education of ethics in the classroom, not dogma. You need not be a Christian, Muslim or Buddhist to be ethical, to know that murder and theft and deceit are immoral. The minister may deny it, but it’s a well-known truth the world over.
A common Christian lesson is that God helps those who help themselves. One of the greatest tools in mankind’s hand is the scientific method. Science will not teach our kids how to behave well, but it will teach them what they can do with their world. Should the religious movement take root in schools there is the possibility that those who’s faith is so strong in the denial of science that science and the knowledge it can bring will be choked off and sealed away from many young, hungry minds.
* 2011-10-26 I wrote this article a long time ago. The older I get the more I realize that science and religion do differ in many more ways than I used to admit. The older I get, the less I cater to religion and the inherent magical thinking that goes along with it; the more I wish America would mature mentally enough to realize that science is far more important than religion. At the same time, I certainly don't want to remove ethics from society--but I wish people would learn that the field of ethics and morality is not tied intrinsically to religion: they are inherently cultural, not religious.