Aussie Christians and Ethics Education

Monday, 13 September 2010 18:21 by salim

Jim Coyne of Why Evolution is True writes about the NSW (New South Wales) policy of teaching Christianity in schools. Apparently until recently students who did not want to go to the religion class were prohibited from doing any other educational work. Recently they introduced an alternative course on Ethics for students who does not want to listen to the brain washing by the priests. Below is a sample of the Ethics class

From the description and the video it looks like a very creative way of encouraging students to think for themselves and to learn that it is ok to dissent. Of course the church is all offended by this. One pastor says, “it creates competition” to telling (translation – indoctrinate) students about Jesus. It appears that over 50% of the students are now opting the Ethics class to the religion class.

For a very long time, I thought that India was so backward when it comes to adherence to religion compared to the developed countries. But, it appears that, Indian secular roots is much stronger than anywhere else, especially compared to many of the developed countries. I have studied in government and christian missionary schools, and there were absolutely no teaching of religion. Many of my teachers in highschool where nuns, but they seldom brought faith and religion into the classroom. Well, in a few times when they tried to bring it up, I and a few other atheist students could effectively question it and stop it from being repeated. While that put me slightly in the not-so-liked group, there never was any adverse reaction from the teachers.

It is good to have brought up in a secular country. Though the larger society in India is still mired in religious factions and superstitions, the educational institutions and the state are very clearly separated from it albeit efforts, mainly by the religions fundamentalist parties (Bharatiya Janata Party, Muslim League, some Christian political organizations etc.) to dilute this separation.

(Most of my experience here is from Kerala, which might not be representational of the rest of India, but I don’t think anyone will try to introduce creationism or young earth theory into the curriculum)

Even though I am not particularly a nationalist, secularism of India is something to be proud of.

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PalMD thinks PZ has no empathy!

Monday, 13 September 2010 00:59 by salim

PZ Myers posted about the burning of Qur’an by a nutjob pastor in FL. I liked the post very much since it approached the problem from a very logical stand point. However, PalMD thought that PZ was showing lack of empathy.

What I got from PZ's post is that, the overly dramatic reaction to the news from so many people including the president is not the best way to approach the situation. 

Pal’s lack of empathy argument goes like this. Some of the poor, deluded people (condescending much?) might feel threatened by destroying something sacred to them and PZ does not consider that from his white, male atheist chair!

US and other western countries have done a lot of destruction of life and property in the Muslim countries (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan), and continue to blindly side with Israel in their efforts to demonize and marginalize Muslim population of Palestine. So, stating that burning a Qur'an is directly going to affect the security of US is a bit of an overstatement. The security of US has been threatened by very material actions of war and exploitation that has been going on for several decades. So, instead of being distracted by the burning of a book, we should concentrate on the real issues. I think this is what PZ is trying to say.

It is true that there is a very strong anti-Muslim sentiment in the US these days. In real terms, the violence that Muslims (well, a very very small group of fundamentalist Muslims) have brought upon US is miniscule compared to what the US and the rest of the western world has done on the Muslim world. The real reason for the Islamophobia is the same as other sorts of xenophobia that is quite popular among the right wing. The main arsenal of right wing politics is the separation of “Us” and “Them”. The attempt to burn Qur’an, the opposition to the Islamic Community Center in NYC, various attacks against mosques and other Islamic centers around the US are all just that. This is to be criticized.

However, bullying by religious groups for anything that happens around the world that is not exactly to their liking is not acceptable. Unfortunately, there has been a growing trend even among the so called atheists and rationalists to pander to the religious people saying that atheists (Gnu Atheists) are being too mean to them. For e.g, the F-Word, a site claims to be the face of contemporary UK feminism had a post about how Jesus was a feminist. There were a few comments to this questioning the voracity of this conclusion pointing out the dubious state of historicity of bible. Zelda correctly pointed out that bible is just a fairytale. This apparently caused great distress to a christian. She argues that calling Bible a bunch of fairytales is showing disrespect to christians. This prompted the author/admin of the site to condemn such actions and lecture about the need to treat the religious sentiments of people with respect and not to criticize.

As an atheists, I do have rights. One of those right is to express my distaste and criticism about religion. I will try to express it without disrespecting the person, but by definition, I do not respect her religion. But, telling me that I should always try not to hurt their feelings about their religion is ridiculous. For I could argue that, them believing in their religion is hurting my feelings, though I would not. You know why? Because I am a rational, mature person.

"Religion infantilizes people. It makes them humorless and blind to others' ideas

I will end with this nice video.

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On Faith Panelists Blog: A president of faith is all we need - Shmully Hecht

Sunday, 12 September 2010 00:11 by salim

The author shows a pathetic ignorance of world history by making statements like "Faithlessness and nihilism are the greatest threats to humanity..." Just one example, the first prime minister of India, Nehru was a very vocal atheist. Many of the political leaders of India have been and still are self proclaimed atheists including prime ministers and presidents. But, the largest genocides in India are instigated by religion, especially the militant Hindus and Muslims. It is also interesting to compare India (which is secular) with the faith based Pakistan and how the civil societies have evolved there.

But, this is to be expected. The main modus operandi of religious people is to distort facts and proclaim complete knowledge of everything.

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