No RE
Education

AC Grayling's call to abolish RE in schools is dangerously ignorant

A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a BBC producer discussing faith schools and their admissions policies. We talked about the possibility of my appearance on BBC1’s Sunday Morning Live to debate the subject.

In the end it didn’t happen, but I wish I’d had the chance to take on the British Humanist Association’s chief executive, Andrew Copson, as he repeatedly made claims that there was factual evidence that faith schools select wealthy pupils by the backdoor, are divisive and basically have nothing good to offer. He didn’t mention that the ‘factual evidence’ was drawn from the BHA’s own research which only suggests that these might be the case if you join a few dots and squint a bit.

Faith-school bashing continues to be a popular pastime for the BHA and their friends but given that they employ someone full-time to campaign for their abolition,  it’s not entirely surprising; they’ve got to do something to keep themselves busy after all. It also doesn’t help that the Accord Coalition, which includes the BHA alongside the NUT and ATL teachers’ unions, campaigns against faith school admission policies with the support of an eclectic bunch of religious individuals.

“Look!” they say, “It’s not just humanists who don’t like faith schools; there are plenty of religious  leaders who have a problem with them too.” Even though the majority of these ‘leaders’ represent a miniscule number of people. Still, it adds enough credence to their message for the media to take notice and sow a few more seeds of doubt as to whether faith schools should be allowed to carry on as they are despite their continuing success and popularity.

The Accord Coalition might want to dump admission policies based on belief and collective worship, but they do at least admit that Religious Education serves a useful purpose. Apparently not all of their public supporters agree with this, though. The Philosopher AC Grayling, who has been referred to as the ‘Fifth Horseman of New Atheism’, may have his face on the Accord website, but he has written a stinging attack in this week’s Times Education Supplement on not just faith schools but the entire subject of RE, which he sees as being no more than a sad and pathetic branch of philosophy.

AC Grayling is a clever man who has held a number of high-profile positions and now appears to want to take over the role of arch-antagonist-towards-all-things-religious from Richard Dawkins. He has plenty of form when it comes to this matter, having described religious indoctrination of small children as “child abuse” in the past. In his five-page feature that will be sitting on the coffee tables of staff rooms across the country right now, he continues the dogged bombardment, setting out to undermine Religious Education legitimacy as a subject within the school curriculum. He writes:

Suppose that instead of RE, schools taught the history of humanity’s attempts to make sense of itself and the world around it. In this system, it would be seen that religions are just part – and truth be told, a rather primitive part – of a much larger and more complex adventure of thought…

Placing religion in this much larger context dramatically changes how it is viewed by students. How would our schoolchildren react to the Christian story, for example, if they knew that it was an iteration of commonplace tales abounding in Egyptian and Greek mythology? One could show how every feature of the Christian story is lifted from earlier mythologies.

Moreover, the “answers to the deepest questions in life” offered by religions are often very bad ones, and it needs to be made clear that much better answers exist in the secular traditions of thought.

RE should be replaced with a far more general history of ideas, in which the various beliefs of the world are merely one strand. Knowing something about religions is good; it is often remarked that otherwise one could not make sense of paintings in a public art gallery, and this is true.

Religion is organised superstition, and setting an example for children to respect superstition is wrong… The stories are silly, the promises vague and the concepts largely undefined.

Grayling is right when he says that philosophy should be an established part of children’s education, but his view of religion as a feeble-minded strand of it exposes how little he understands about the nature of religion. If all religions were like Buddhism, which requires no belief in the supernatural, then he might have a point. But reducing religious faith to a set of ideas and fairytales that can be fully explained away at a purely rational level completely misunderstands what it means to believe in the existence of a God or gods. Grayling reveals that his atheistic mind is unable to make sense of this and it leaves him little option but to dismiss it all, lock, stock and barrel. To him, religion is little more than an outdated curiosity.

Perhaps AC Grayling could do with a gentle reminder that, as an atheist, he is in a small minority in this country and even more so globally. Atheists make up 2 per cent of the world’s population and the non-religious another 16 per cent. That leaves 5.9 billion supposedly deluded people he and his comrades in atheism have to convince that religion is of no real significance.

It would be an interesting experiment to put Grayling’s proposals into practice and allow him to do the teaching. Would he be able to teach all aspects of philosophy and a neutered version of religion in a way that genuinely allowed pupils to make up their own minds entirely without prejudice? Given his inability to give the New Testament account of Jesus’ life a fair hearing, would he be able to find a way to impart to his students what he has been unable to do himself?

Grayling, in his own disgust, appears to have missed a basic truth. As soon as you begin to teach children, you start to impart your values and understanding of the world on to them. Encouraging independent thinking is not the same as passing on knowledge, and this is always under the control of the teacher. If the whole concept of God is a load of rubbish, then Grayling may potentially have a point about child abuse, but if God is real in any form, then surely Grayling’s staunch atheistic approach is actually the one that is potentially more abusive to children.

We are painfully aware in these times that religious belief can lead to suffering, division and bloodshed. But it is also capable of producing far more good than evil. Deliberately reducing a generation’s already-slender grasp of religion and belief is not going to do anything to increase community cohesion in our multicultural society or make sense of the role of religion in the politics and conflicts we are witnessing daily further afield. Ignorance is certainly not bliss in this case.

Religious Education is far from perfect as it stands. The Church of England revealed last week that more than half of its primary schools are delivering poor quality RE lessons which give pupils little more than a “superficial” grounding in the subject. This serious failure to deliver acceptable levels of understanding is not going to be fixed by abandonment. Instead, there needs to be a move away from the observation and study of religious paraphernalia to the understanding of core theologies and the impact of faith on the lives of individuals and groups.

AC Grayling’s views on this matter are both blinkered and dangerously ignorant. Those who oversee the delivery of Religious Education would do well to look elsewhere for wise advice on the subject’s future.

  • dannybhoy

    “As soon as you begin to teach children, you start to impart your values and understanding of the world on to them.”
    Children (God bless them!) initially learn by osmosis. From day one they are scrutinising you, observing your responses, your strengths and weaknesses and how you as an adult interact with your world, how you treat those around you.

    We cannot stop that process but what we can do is show that however imperfectly, we try to live our lives according to these values; and this is where religious education comes in.
    In my young days many kids attended Sunday school,or a church affiliated youth club or mandatory school assemblies where we sang,
    “Glad that I am live am I”
    As a true Englishman I was taught the basics of Christianity and of course, class deference.
    When I grew up I found faith in Christ for myself and realised that class was a cultural thing not an absolute, and adopted meritocracy instead..

    Our young will be shaped firstly by those who brought them into the world (nature) and then those who guide their formative years (nurture).
    In an ideal world the values we hold are reinforced by the educational and socializing processes of our society..
    Of course in a multicultural society, that ideal is fraught with difficulties..

  • It seems you want RE so long as it focuses on Christian teachings (judging by your reference to the New Testament and your apparent disdain for Buddhism).

    Grayling’s position is far more reasonable – recognise all religions as just a branch of philosophy that attempts to understand life by assuming the existence of some supernatural power (and show how the different religions have fed of each other) but don’t put religion on a pedestal. Nothing you say against Grayling undermines his position (as you have quoted it).

    You merely say he doesn’t understand why people have these superstitious beliefs as if that is a counter argument – it isn’t (it’s just a logical fallacy). “Reducing religious faith to a set of ideas and fairytales that can be fully explained away at a purely rational level” does not completely “misunderstand” what it means to believe in gods. It fully understands that belief is irrational – which is why it is called belief – and you can’t prove your belief is right. But you can come to a rational understanding of why superstitions – beliefs in the supernatural – exist (brain chemistry, social pressure, poor reasoning, fear, egotism, anthropomorphism, etc).

    If god is real ‘in any form’ then children and adults will come to that belief by independent means – no need to promote religion as a belief system and certainly not in schools. It would be better to use time wasted on RE to teach STEM.

    • William Lewis

      Huw

      Your belief that “belief is irrational” is irrational I believe.

      • It’s called belief because you only have to believe – you don’t and can’t rationalise belief – therefore it is irrational. If it were rational, logical, there would be no debate about it or hundreds of competing beliefs. I don’t have to believe in science for the technology that’s based on it to work – but all the beliefs in the world can’t light a single bulb.

        • William Lewis

          Huw

          “It’s called belief because you only have to believe”

          That’s not true. All beliefs are based on evidence.

          “you don’t and can’t rationalise belief”

          I can and I do.

          “If it were rational, logical, there would be no debate about it or hundreds of competing beliefs.”

          You seem to be begging the question there.

          “I don’t have to believe in science for the technology that’s based on it to work – but all the beliefs in the world can’t light a single bulb.”

          Without belief there would be no light bulbs: belief in the good of shining a light in the darkness – for instance.

          • Rubbish – there is no evidence for belief in gods – only belief and wishful thinking.

          • William Lewis

            I beg to differ.

          • Keep begging – it won’t make any difference.

          • William Lewis

            Yes. I can see that.

        • All you believe in is material. How did this materialise? From nothing?

          • No – it doesn’t take belief in the world for it to exist – mere acceptance of the self evident nature of reality around me suffices.

          • Er, well yes. The “self evident nature” of the physical world is material. It came from somewhere. Is that “reality”? True reality is understanding how matter, time and space came from no-thing.

          • Philosophical drivel (like all philosophy that presupposes some divine precursor to account for all the unknowns or unknowables). I don’t have to understand the universe to make a cup of tea – or believe it is real for the kettle to work.

          • Of course not – who said you did? Carry on being a materialist and scientist. Just accept there is something beyond the sphere of empiricism and that this is the correct subject of philosophy – not pseudo-scientists like Dawkins and Krauss.

          • I don’t have to accept any such nonsense – if there is something ‘beyond’ then prove it – otherwise it is a useless supposition – and a waste of time debating it.

          • There’s the thing – it can only be approached through philosophical reasoning – something neo-atheists want to ignore. Look at the muddle Krauss got himself into.
            Prove to Jack some-thing came from no-thing.

          • I don’t have to prove it (for a start, you offer no Evidence to the contrary) – you will never know and neither will I (I leave it to scientists to come up with possible ‘explanations ‘- but none of them would change how I lived my life) – all your ‘philosophising’ is mere wild conjecture and fanciful speculation that gets us nowhere. You merely (like so many drawn to religion) make assumptions based on your deep rooted fear of the unknown and desire to have a ‘reason’ for existing’ beyond mere evolutionary accident and to feel wanted by some greater power. You seek ‘meaning ‘ (as in personal meaning) – so you claim you are asking ‘meaningful’ questions – but the questions start from the assumption that there must be ‘meaning’ – yet you have no evidence that this is so.

            Because you can’t accept that we might live in just one of an infinitely repeating sequence of universes with no beginning or end (and that we are all as inconsequential in this vast non-scheme of things as nano-particles to a star)) – you assume there must have been an ultimate beginning (you call it logic but it is just an assumption – based on another assumption). And because you can’t understand (how could you with such a limited human brain) how something might spontaneously erupt from a state of nothingness you presume that something must ultimately be ‘created’ by something else – an ultimate being outside of all time and space (whatever you mean by that – and please don’t pretend that you are blessed with some supernatural insight that allows you to understand).

            You then presume to suppose that that ‘something else’ must be a conscious thought (a leap of quite ridiculous illogic – made only because you can’t conceive of an alternative not because you can logically prove that an alternative doesn’t exist) – you presume it is an all seeing mind – and then (in what seems to be an ultimate statement of arrogance and vanity – having already presumed to understand how such a thing can exist) you presume that such a supreme being would actually be aware of your existence and, more to the point, might actually care for you as an individual.

            It’s as absurd as you claiming you are aware of and take a personal interest in the progress of every neuron firing across the synapses in your own brain. If there is a supreme mind beyond time and space then this universe (like all before or since) might just be one aspect of that thing – and every galaxy a synapse and every star a neuron and ever planet just a random sub-atomic particle – an every human a mere fluctuation in a quantum-wave – and the mind might not even be aware of its own existence.

            Philosophical ‘reasoning’ (idle speculation) doesn’t allow you to approach this subject any more closely than science – in fact it makes it harder for you to come up with a reasonable or useful attempt at an explanation (that at least has some relation to what we know about the world around us) because all your suggestions are based on limited experience and limited reasoning with no ability to test your theories in any meaningful sense. So you end up answering “it’s turtles all the way down” or “because god made it so” – and then you try to build a philosophy of life on your conclusions. That’s not being happy – that’s being deluded.

          • SidneyDeane

            Awesome post.
            You know what response youre getting (if it hasnt crawled back into its hole): “Yeh but how can something come from nothing. Therefore god”. hahaha

        • CliveM

          Belief is not irrational. My belief that I will have tea tonight is not irrational. Neither is it yet a certainty. Don’t come up with dodgy definitions in an attempt to prove a point. If your definition is incorrect, then the conclusion you come to based on it is also incorrect.

          • That’s not a belief – that’s just a thought.

          • Belief in something that resulted in creation of the material world from no-thing is more than just a thought.

          • Semantic gymnastics – no it’s not a belief in the sense of religious belief – no need to believe that you might have supper – you think you might and they you do or don’t – no belief required. Stop trying to dress up the mundane as profound – it’s just silly.

          • Jack shifted the subject away from the mundane to the profound.

          • No – you just shifted it from the mundane to the meaningless.

          • To avoid how material came to exist may be “meaningless” for a man who only wants to understand what he can see and measure. However, it avoids the most meaningful question of all – even allowing for us not being able to answer it or, indeed, understand the answer.

    • The reference to the New Testament was Grayling’s not mine.

      • You said: “Given his inability to give the New Testament account of Jesus’ life a fair hearing, ” – As such, you seem to want something more than a passing reference to a story that is mainly fanciful embellishment. Just because that particular story caught on doesn’t make it any more valid than many other stories of supposed ‘divine’ humans throughout history that have since faded from view – it’s just survivor bias that makes it appear special. It’s only real importance is in the affect it had on the history of the Roman empire and the rise of western civilisation – but that still doesn’t make the original story true or worth prolonged study. Better to study the conflicting stories that were suppressed by the early church leaders (much as other cults suppress dissent) so as to understand the political nature of many religious leaders and their love of power.

  • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

    Let’s address some of the factual errors,

    “Atheists make up 2 per cent of the world’s population and the non-religious another 16 per cent”

    Such a number is a guess at best, due to the fact that in large parts of the world to declare that you don’t believe in a set ideology can be detrimental to yourself in a large number of ways, in some parts of the middle east it even comes with the risk of the death penalty for saying such, and in western nations such as the USA those who don’t believe in a god are viewed as being less trustworthy than rapists? Both of which are reasons why a rationally thinking person may not wish to be to open about things like that.

    Aside from that, you fail to look at the demographic of the UK, which inherently is important in such a discussion as you are talking about the UK. If you look at the UK and the data gathered on religion on a regular basis, the British Social Attitude survey shows that the majority of the British population don’t subscribe to your Christian world view.

    But all that aside, his point that a christian centric RE should be replaced with a more rounded philosophical consideration for all the historical explanations made by humans over the many 1000’s of years is actually a rather good one. Let’s teach them about Thor, Zeus, Mars, the Aboriginal creation ideas and so on. Then they can compare and contrast them all and make a well informed decision when they can see all the information side by side.

    • Busy Mum

      Schools do already teach about Thor, Zeus and all sorts of legendary creation stories, including the Biblical version in this category. C of E schools are very accommodating and are so scared of promoting their own creed as the truth, they cover every ideology under the sun. No wonder children emerge with a very poor understanding of Christianity – all they understand is that to be a ‘Christian’ they must agree with everybody. Teachers cannot use RE lessons or indeed ‘Christian’ assemblies, to broaden this understanding because in doing so, they would contradict everything they tell the children in the politically correct PSHE lessons about all religions being equal.

      • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

        Good nothing without evidence to back it up should be told as being the truth, especially with regards to impressionable children.

        Plus all religions are equal, they all equally lack the evidence to back up their spurious ideas.

        Schools, especially publicly funded ones should not favour one religious ideology over another. They should in my opinion say, this is what all these different religions have believed over the centuries, this is how they say we came in to being science on the other hand says this. Now you have all the information you can go away and make your own mind up.

        • Busy Mum

          That’s my point; publicly-funded C of E schools are not favouring one ideology over the other and that is why the children come out with a very poor understanding of Christianity. Schools can only treat religions equally by withholding much of the information so although in an ideal world, the children will get all the information and be able to make up their own minds, that simply does not happen.

          • SidneyDeane

            You seem concerned about a poor understanding of Christianity. Are you saying that they they come out with a full understanding of other religions?

          • Busy Mum

            ‘Full understanding’ is a subjective phrase. For example, they come out from a C of E school fully understanding that they mus believe that Islam is a religion of peace.

          • SidneyDeane

            So you dissatisfied with the understanding they come out with with all religions? You singled out Christianity is all.

          • Busy Mum

            Singled out because the C of E is concerned at how its own schools are failing at RE, as reported in the article above; other faith schools are much better at promoting their own version of the truth. Yes, I am dissatisfied as children come out firmly indoctrinated with the secular/atheist belief that all other beliefs are inferior.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            Believing that the earth is only 6000 years old is an inferior belief, when all the evidence says it’s not. Telling children that it is, is essentially child abuse.

          • Busy Mum

            So although as humans we are so very equal, you are entitled to denigrate my belief as inferior?

            Telling children that there is no God and nothing beyond this life is essentially child abuse.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            Your belief is not equal, its a figure someone without all the available evidence pulled out of thin air, and some how some people seem to think it is true even though there are literally mountains of evidence to state it’s wrong.

            Until you or anyone else can provide empirical evidence that there is a god, there is no reason to tell people that there is.

          • Busy Mum

            Until you or anyone else can provide empirical evidence that there is no God, there is no reason to tell people that there isn’t.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            You also seem to lack a basic understanding with regards to burden of proof, that my dear lies firlmy with you to prove your assertion that something exists not with the person saying it does not.

          • The burden of proof?

            Prove to Happy Jack the Universe came into being from nothing.

          • IanCad

            Who lit the match?

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            There are plenty of books out there on that very topic that explain the situation from some very intelligent cosmologists. Lawrence Krauss a universe from nothing is a good starting point that deals with the topic.

          • Go on then, enlighten Happy Jack about how something comes from nothing.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            Well the basic premise, is that nothing is highly unstable and that something is more preferable then nothing. As such nothing will spontaneously generate both matter and anti-matter in order to reduce this instability. If you are trulley interested i would suggest reading the book i cited above it goes in to great detail about the quantum phenomenon that’s involved.

          • You are referring to a quantum vacuum. That is something and not nothing.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            As i said go read the book, it explains it in a much more eloquent way than your goddidit explanation, which is lazy and infantile at best.

          • Ah, so you don’t actually understand the propositions, assumptions and arguments of Krauss. Happy Jack thought not.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            I understand them, it’s just the book can explain them in better terms than i can. Which is why he wrote the book and not me.

          • Really? How terribly convenient to hide behind an obtuse book.

            If you can’t explain the theory in simple terms, to a child, for example, then you either haven’t grasped it or it is riddled with holes.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            trying to quote Einstein to sound smart, there are plenty of scientific and mathematical theories that you can’t simplify so a child can understand. Which does not make them invalid.

          • Go on; give it a shot. Let’s keep it simple, explain how the quantum vacuum came into existence.

          • “your goddidit explanation, which is lazy and infantile at best”
            How eloquent a rebuttal. Apart from Happy Jack having said no such thing, you will have to establish with reason the ‘First Cause’ of our material world. This can not be done.
            How the ‘First Cause’ “did it”, once started, is the realm of scientific and empirical inquiry. The nature and attributes of the ‘First Cause’ and how/why He/She/It/They brought matter into existence, gave it shape, form and direction, are subjects for philosophy and theology.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            No they are not, they are subjects for science to tackle, and science will find an answer to those things as it previously has with stuff that has been declared as such.

          • Lol …. in you dreams!

            Tell Jack how can science investigate phenomena that existed before time, space and matter?

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            So you are dismissing hypothesis’ about the multiverse then, on what premise?

          • Not at all. It is a hypothesis. Jack cannot see how it can be proven by science. But, if it exists, where did this multiverse come from? From nothing?

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            But you do realise that your answer of goddidit only pushes the question of where did it come from back one, and is just lazy.

          • Jack has not mentioned God as He is understood by people of faith. He is just asking for an explanation of the First Cause of the Universe as, seeing you claim to know about this topic, you’ll know that “nothing can come from nothing.

          • Stephen Raftery

            Ah, so you are using the ‘Atheism of the gaps’ argument. You don’t know how to explain it, but you know, you just know that it couldn’t possibly be God

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            So you are using the god of the gaps argument, because we can’t explain something therefore god must have done it. Hmmm how’s that argument worked for you in the past? Oh wait it never has, as the majority of things where god was the explanation for it have been eroded further and further away with things like the explanations for illness, earthquakes, lighting and so on.

          • Happy Jack is not using any such argument. All he’s inquiring about is the ‘First Cause’ that brought the Universe (or what existed before it) into being.

          • SidneyDeane

            Classic diversion.
            We’re talking about your claim God did it. And you have nothing, nothing at all to back that up.

          • No. Jack is simply asking you to demonstrate how the material world came into existence contingently and without a ‘First Cause’.

          • SidneyDeane

            The First Cause wasn’t God. It was a big gypsy that farted on your mums face.

          • Personal experience, Sydney? Is that what you’re mummy told you? Happy Jack was informed he was delivered by a stork. Then he grew up.

            Did you not think to ask mummy where the gypsy came from? Perhaps you’re leaving that until you’re a wee bit older.

          • SidneyDeane

            No its not what anyone told me. I just have faith that thats what was the First Cause.
            It’s at least as valid as yours. Possibly more so.

          • Grow up.

          • SidneyDeane

            You first.

          • Happy Jack is asking about the atheists view that the material world popped into being from pre-existing matter of some sort, including the latest ‘theory’ of a quantum vacuum.

            This is logically an impossibility, as this pre-existing something must have come from something, and that something from something. Eventually, a First Cause is required capable of creating matter from nothing.

          • SidneyDeane

            The only thing you have to back up your claim that god made this whooooole universe just for little old us (lol!) is: something cant come from nothing therefore god. It’s hilarious. hahaha.

          • IanCad

            I do remember Richard Dawkins stating on NPR that religious instruction is child abuse and that the parents should be prosecuted.
            Do you guys have a script?

          • SidneyDeane

            No that’s you lot remember. 🙂

          • CliveM

            No script, just unable to thing for herself. Full of half understood ideas, masquerading as facts.

          • Phil Rowlands

            I is pretty rich for any Atheist to talk about child abuse when they have murdered so many, especially in the last 200 years and continue to do so.

            You need to rethink your current persecution and contempt for women as well.

            Get you own house in order before you throw those stones around.

            Child abuse? You should know.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            What an interesting word salad, are you perchance Sarah Palins script writer?

          • Phil Rowlands

            Just one example of an atheist utopia in action

            http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/blog/?p=1801

          • CliveM

            “Essentially child abuse ” sly, snide and lazy. A second hand piece of nastiness. Get out into the real world where there is real child abuse and then perhaps you will understand how smug and self satisfied you appear.

        • SidneyDeane

          Of course, but religions are terrified of teaching a child this way – giving them the information and letting them make their own minds up.
          Because they know that without indoctrination of children their religion is doomed.
          Look at the Chief Rabbi this week saying that children should only be taught about one religion in schools. I wonder which that would be Rabbi. Why are you so scared of children being given an alternative view? Says a lot about the insecurity of religion.

          • Phil Rowlands

            Sidney

            You forget the main point.

            People do not choose to be a Christian. So it is not about a smorgasbord of religions that one picks or not on the basis of any rationale thought process.

            I doubt if any Christian becomes a Christian because they are convinced by the facts or the argument.

            It is because they know.

            The closest way to describe it is it is like why a flower, woman or sunset is beautiful.

            But far far more than that.

          • SidneyDeane

            It’s funny how only tiny minorities in non-christian countries “know”.
            Whereas many many more “know” that are born in christian countries.

          • Phil Rowlands

            Is not remarkable that anyone would “know” in a non Christian country?

        • carl jacobs

          Good nothing without evidence to back it up should be told as being the truth,

          Oh I can’t want to hear you tell about the innate inequality of man since there is not one piece of empirical evidence to suggest that men are equal.

          Bring on the meritocracy. Might have to get around to limiting that franchise, though.

          carl

        • dannybhoy

          “Schools, especially publicly funded ones should not favour one religious
          ideology over another. They should in my opinion say, this is what all
          these different religions have believed over the centuries, this is how
          they say we came in to being science on the other hand says this. Now
          you have all the information you can go away and make your own mind up.”

          But if a child is brought up in a household in which dissension from the norm is punished, in which a child is not allowed to believe something else, what then?
          You are making the mistake of assuming everyone accepts your Western post Christian, liberal democratic world view:
          and manifestly they don’t.

        • dannybhoy

          You didn’t answer my question below…

      • dannybhoy

        That’s where a belief in multiculturalism falls down. It used to be said by idealistic politically correct handwringing liberals that all faiths are of equal value, and it was racist to think otherwise.
        None of them bothered to ask why if this mantra of cultural equality is true, why is the demographic shift overwhelmingly one way?

        • Busy Mum

          Exactly – and unfortunately the pc handwringing liberals are still saying it.

          • dannybhoy

            My wife is a foundational school governor, we attend a CofE church, and we were both brought up to respect other peoples’ beliefs, but that is very different from believing all beliefs are equal….
            Wishy washy doesn’t come close.
            Personally I would much prefer that RE was taught by devotees of the various faiths than a teacher who believes in nothing.

          • Busy Mum

            I agree – but RE as the government wants it to be taught can only be taught by atheists; no true believer of any religion would be able to teach the government’s curriculum with a clear conscience!

      • The Inspector General

        One is reminded of his own school days…
        “Did you learn anything today son ?”
        “Yes mum, I learned there ain’t half been some clever bastards…”

    • SidneyDeane

      Yes I also noticed the lie about atheists being a small minority in the UK.

      • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

        Indeed, and even if you use the very low census data on it (which has massive flaws in it) the percentage is still larger than those who regularly attend a christian church every sunday too.

    • The Westminster Faith Debates analysed the views of those who describe themselves as no religion. They found that only 16% were what we would class as atheists and only 7% of the population were influenced by secularism or humanism. That is a fairly small minority by all accounts. Just because someone says they have no religion does not automatically make them an atheist.

    • CliveM

      Again assertions, generalisations and sweeping statements. You started by promising “facts” and came up with none. Promise only what you can deliver.

  • SidneyDeane

    “Placing religion in this much larger context dramatically changes how it is viewed by students. How would our schoolchildren react to the Christian story, for example, if they knew that it was an iteration of commonplace tales abounding in Egyptian and Greek mythology? One could show how every feature of the Christian story is lifted from earlier mythologies.”

    “His Grace” doesnt touch on this I notice.
    A little embarassed perhaps?

    • Busy Mum

      On the other hand, one could show how every feature of Egyptian and Greek mythology is lifted from the Biblical record.

      • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

        Pray tell how, when the Book of the Dead was written in 1550BCE, the Iliad is from 1260 BCE, the Epic of Gilgamesh is 2100BCE.

        In fact, orthodox judiaism only came in to being in 1500bce roughly, at which point the Egyptian Civilisation was already 1500 years old, and had been practising their religions for that long.

        It’s quite clear chronologically speaking that if anyone copied anyone else it’s the abrahamic religions that did the plagiarism.

        • Busy Mum

          ‘In the beginning’….approx 4004 BC.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            How do you explain then fact that we have dendrochronologically dated trees that are well over 6000 years old?

            Or the fossil record that can be dated to 100’s of millions of years ago.

            If you seriously think that the world is only 6000 years old then no wonder you are not happy that people are being told the truth.

          • Busy Mum

            Science falsely so called (2 Timothy 6 v 20).

            And the earth was without form and void (Genesis 1 v 2) This one Biblical verse covers all time from eternity past, until the Creation.

            If you seriously think that there is no God – and no eternity to come – no wonder you are not happy that many people are convinced there is.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            Thanks for the laughs, it always makes me giggle when i find someone in the UK who denies the age of the earth. I do hope though, that to save being a hypocrite as you obviously don’t believe in evolutionary biology too, that you don’t use any modern medication when you get ill as that was all derived using the principle of evolution at it’s core.

          • Busy Mum

            I respect other people’s beliefs too much to laugh about them.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            I respect beliefs that are worthy of respect, however i don’t respect beliefs that deny all reality like the earth being 6000 years old or that a man flew in to space on a winged horse and that the moon split in two for him to fly through. Both are laughable and don’t deserve respect or a place in the education system.

          • CliveM

            Dear me you are full of unsupported assertions aren’t you. “All” is a mighty sweeping generalisation, evidence please?

          • “you don’t use any modern medication when you get ill as that was all derived using the principle of evolution at it’s core”

            No it wasn’t. Medicine is a distinct science from evolutionary biology and predates it significantly.

          • John Knox’s left foot

            Whit hae auld trees to dae wi the Gospel? Ye are confusin me. There are ony 3 things ye need to ken : Christ has deed, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
            There are proofs o the furst twa. The third we tak on trust.

          • SidneyDeane

            Oh gosh, a literalist.
            Shouldn’t you be out stoning people who work on the sabbath?

          • Busy Mum

            Why? God is the ultimate judge, not me.

          • SidneyDeane

            Thank god you were told that christianity was the correct religion and you were not told that it was Islam. Otherwise you’d be in Iraq right now, with a gun over your shoulder.

          • IanCad

            I can’t but notice your pettiness. Lower case “christian.”
            Upper case “Islam.”
            The same discourtesy is also evident in jane imogen elisabeth mcqueen’s screeds.

          • SidneyDeane

            I omitted the capital letter on that occasion, by mistake. If you scroll down you will find I included the capital letter for Christianity in other posts.
            Certainly I would not wish to elevate islam above Christianity. I much much prefer the latter.

        • dannybhoy

          “It’s quite clear chronologically speaking that if anyone copied anyone
          else it’s the abrahamic religions that did the plagiarism.”
          Genesis gives a history of man from day one. Nobody really knows the timescales involved, and I don’t buy into the Bishop Ussher dating. Chapters 4 and 5 of Genesis are intriguing.
          I believe the Bible. I believe that God created the universe and He created us too. I also believe that there can be no conflict between true science and true faith.

          What we can say is that both Biblical apologetics and the theory of evolution have undergone various adaptations…. 🙂

      • Guest

        which post-dated it.

        hahaha. yeh.

    • “SidneyDeane” might care to check the authorship of an article before hurling disparagements.

      • SidneyDeane

        Ha, now that is a fair point.
        Apologies.

    • Certainly not embarrassed; more that this is not the time nor place to address this in detail.

    • Malcolm Smith

      It’s quite possible he didn’t touch on it because he knew most people would see it for the nonsense it was. Certainly, as someone who does know the old myths, I am well aware that this thesis can be supported only by the most eclectic cherry-picking of those myths.

      • So true. I blame that ‘Zeitgeist’ video. Very popular, but also very inaccurate – especially in it’s religion section.

  • len

    It must be very tiring being an ‘aggressive atheist’ watching out for that little spark of Christianity and frantically trying to stamp it out like some sort of demented flamenco dancer.
    The fire of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is something no atheist can put out because it just keeps coming back…………

    • Should you be talking about sparks, flames and fire here?

  • Paddy S

    For a religious blog the Archbishop does get quite a number of ill informed atheists ranting at the seams. Anyway for this catholic and history teacher I am amused by Graylings lines. Firstly that he claims any teaching would be objective (his Grace is right all teaching comes back to the knowledge and prejudices of that teacher, for good and for bad) and secondly that his knowledge of religious believe is to be fair terribly ignorant. The last line of his statement betrays his bias at its worst: the stories are silly (actually their quite beautiful, and he’s obviously never read the latest nonsense on evolutionary biology) the promises vague (that Christians will be hated above all else by the world A.C., seems true to me) and concepts largely undefined (no serious considering of orthodox Christianity betrays this). A.C. as many have noted much earlier seems like many new atheists obsessed by religion (sorry Christianity, its always Christianity).
    Although I must give him his due His secular bible nonsense was one of the funniest plagiarisms of the Good Book I have seen in a long while.

  • JayBee

    Now listen up kids. Throughout your time in this Faith-based academy you will be subjected to a process of learning known as indoctrination. A big word which means that you will be taught how to think for yourselves in a way that ensures you always arrive at pre-approved conclusions. Yes, yes, I know it’s a form of child abuse but it is the best we teachers can do in order to satisfy the inspection regime and delight our Rulers and betters. Therefore your eager ears and open minds must regularly feast on a concoction of all the current irreligious prejudices, social experiments, secular fads, and political follies. Its for your own good you know and furthers your chances of flourishing in a politically correct environment liberated from the temptations of thoughtcrime. The early signs are good. You are all believers! The first box has been ticked. For none of you remain in a state of climate change denial. Not one!
    But why, oh why, when I warn you about wet paint must you stick your fingers in it
    just to make sure that it isn’t dry?

  • Dreadnaught

    If a person is in favour of Faith Schools or Faith being taught in state schools they should ask themselves do you want your child being taught as a fact that English Kings ruled by divine command or that cavemen lived alongside dinosaurs.?That the same God promised a tiny insignificant tract of land to an even more insignificant band of wandering tribesmen, while all the time working on a plan to pass messages to man-kind through an illiterate Arab murdering slave trader, plunderer and child despoiler?

    • Dreadnaught
      Happy Jack most certainly wouldn’t want you anywhere near a classroom spouting that nonsense.

      • Dreadnaught

        Quite … its nonsense all right – taught as fact,

  • The Inspector General

    Nothing wrong with Christian or Jewish faith schools. One makes that point straight away. If the BHA have time on their hands, then they can devote it to campaigning to rid our fair land of Johnny Muslim’s junior terror training camps, to give these Islamic children’s concerns their correct description. Any attempt by the BHA to rid us of our own culture will be vigorously opposed. Remember this, we who love God, Queen and Country take any attempts to dismantle what our indigenous race has achieved very seriously, and so do the EDL. Interfering elderly atheists – beware !

    • Dreadnaught

      I had no problem with English faith schools Catholic or Prod because in the main they they taught a common morality and allegiance to the Country that was concurrent in State schools. Sadly left-wing social engineering opened the door to the normalisation of extremism and the breakdown of social cohesion through non-selective immigration and enforced multiculturalism at the cost of assimilation and Britishness let alone Englishness. For a once advanced island nation we live in sorry times.

      • The Inspector General

        Well, there you go. Fight left wing extremism alongside this man. That imposed alien idea of cultural Marxism is over ripe and ready to burst.

        • Dreadnaught

          I’ve never advocated anything else.

      • dannybhoy

        Well said Sir. The thing is that unlimited immigration eventually destroys the culture of the people who built the nation so attractive to those who wish to enjoy its benefits and opportunities.
        It comes about because people who despise and sneer at the faith that undergirded our culture, have opened the doors to all faiths …and speak of them in hushed and reverent tones.

  • The Inspector General

    Campaigning homosexuals will be attracted to this topic today. It is Big Gay’s dearest wish that RE be abolished. Then, other people’s children can be taught the ‘wholesome value’ of homosexual experimentation with the lads who kick a football around with them. Surprised ? Why all things gay is the new normal these days, don’t you know !

    Watch out too, for those fanatical same that hang around the school gates at going home time to ‘prevent’ homophobic bullying. Of course, what they really want is to be in the classroom, where they can recruit to their cause or failing that, demand their disordered lifestyle choice be respected.

    Ironically, it will be done through good old fashioned preaching to a captive audience – there’s a thing ! But, unlike pupils today, they will NOT be allowed to obtain parental permission to be excused attendance as can happen with RE. Unlike RE, gay appreciation is for everyone’s good, apparently.

    It’s the replacing of the worship and appreciation of God with the dubious honour due to men, no matter how distasteful the men’s activities.

    • Busy Mum

      Dear Inspector,
      They are already in the classroom. A powerpoint for my 12 year old classed sexual orientation with race, climate, natural resources and physical/mental disabilities as unchangeable factors; religion, government, economy, politics as secondary and changeable factors in our lives. A second slide of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need had food, water and sleep…and sexual gratification….as the very basic human needs with sexual intimacy three tiers up. This in a lesson for these CHILDREN about global wealth disparity and challenging poverty! I was proactive in accessing the lesson plans and spared my child…..

      • The Inspector General

        hmmm. Sounds like the teacher is reminiscing on her student days…

  • No atheist, no matter how hard they try, can get around this self-evident truth:

    “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.”

    They cannot establish or demonstrate how the Universe came into being from nothing – and, as a child knows, nothing can come from nothing.

    • John Knox’s left foot

      Ay. Or as a aye used tae say, when I was getting the fire gaun, ‘Meester Atheist, ye silly scone, ye havnae explained whare a the atoms come frae!’

      • Or quantum scale “particles” and such things – but knowledge of these is way after your time.

    • SidneyDeane

      So what?
      Whats your point?

      • That belief in a ‘First Cause’ Being, the Creator of time, space and material, is both rational and reasonable.

        • SidneyDeane

          Because we don’t know the answer that means a belief in a supreme being is rational and reasonable?

          • No. It’s use of reason.

            Nothing can come from nothing. So, this means, logically, it came from something. There must have been a “First Cause” that arranged for there to be things of some sort or other in the first place that sprang into Creation – a Being who created the material Universe. A necessarily existent being who grounds the potential for the existence of contingent things and who actualises that potential via a freely chosen act of omnipotence.

            This is a logically coherent answer to the question of why the physical universe exists. The modern formal argument, known as the Leibnizian form, runs like this:

            1) Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
            2) The universe exists.
            3) Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence.
            4) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
            5) Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

          • SidneyDeane

            Why must the first cause be a being?

          • Think about it, Sidney. It would have to be a non-physical, non-contingent Mind that eternally exists within and of itself outside of time and space and matter. It would have self-awareness and unimaginable power.

        • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

          But then who created god? As if everything that exists have to have a creator then by your own rational your god has to have one too.

          • Lol …. you really don’t understand theism or deism to ask such a question. Now your starting down the path of infinite explanatory regress. Logically, this leads to nothing coming into existence – ever.

            Like Krauss, you’re simply begging the question. The First Cause rests on a concept of an uncreated First Cause. An uncaused First Cause who created the universe a finite time ago. A being, who, unlike the physical universe, has an explanation of its existence in the necessity of its own nature.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            No it’s a prime example of just how logically flawed your argument is. You need special pleading to make it work, which in itself is a logical fallacy.

            What you are saying is nothing can come from nothing, with the exception of my deity which did just that .

            Plus your argument ignores spontaneous generation of virtual particles, which we know has happens. So the first premise of your argument is also wrong.

          • What special pleading?

            Has Happy Jack claimed a deity as his own?

            And “virtual particles” require a quantum vacuum to pop into being – which is a thing. Where did the vacuum come from?

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            You quite clearly state that the first cause is a being who created everything. You need special pleading to have a being that exists without a cause, for your argument to work. Otherwise your argument collapses because your first premise is incorrect.

            As you state ‘Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause’ so the being you are crediting with the first cause by your own argument has to have an explanation.

          • The “First Cause” is a non-physical, self-existent Being who exists in and of Itself. Thus, this First Cause exists “in the necessity of its own nature.”

            Dallas Willard stated: ” … the dependent character of all physical states, together with the completeness of the series of dependencies underlying the existence of any given physical state, logically implies at least one self-existent, and therefore nonphysical, state of being.”

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            Yup special pleading

          • No – its called philosophical argument and the use of reason. You need to demonstrate this first and self-evident premise is flawed:

            “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.”

            All physical material is contingent on something existing before it and one can’t embark on infinite regression – because nothing would ever exist. External causation for the physical universe is the only logical conclusion.

          • Jane Imogen Elisabeth McQueen

            No it’s not, its the least logical thing to say, as you are invoking the “supernatural” as the solution to your own problem that you have caused in your argument. Invoking something for which there is no evidence to substantiate the claim.

            If you try to claim that well the universe is evidence for it having happened, then you like Billy Craig are producing a circular argument.

            The greatest living minds on the planet reject such an argument because it is inherently flawed. Cosmologists and theoretical physicists who spend their lives learning about and understanding this, and do so substantially better than you or I do, reject your idea as being a logical nonsense.

            The reason you and many others don’t wish to accept such is because by doing so it undermines your entire world view.

          • In saying there is “no evidence to substantiate the claim” you miss the entire point. This is not about ‘scientism’ and old school verification and positivism. It is about the philosophy of science.

            “The greatest living minds on the planet reject such an argument because it is inherently flawed.”

            Oooops …. evidence please. And you’ll have to do a whole better than Dawkins and Krauss.

            Logically, the ‘First Cause’ argument is unassailable. That’s why neo-atheists reject philosophy.

            “Cosmologists and theoretical physicists who spend their lives learning about and understanding this, and do so substantially better than you or I do, reject your idea as being a logical nonsense.”

            Again … evidence. So you’re actually relying on scientists to support your worldview? That makes it a faith system. And an unsound one too because materialism can never explain how existence came into being. All it can do is strive to understand and describe how it works.

            There are many scientists of faith too who make great discoveries. Such findings do not dismantle the ‘First Cause’ argument. Science and philosophy are two separate disciplines and religion is not necessarily in opposition to science.

          • dannybhoy

            It’s not special pleading, it’s saying one of the reasons we worship God is because He is other than, that He just Is! Whilst that may be difficult for our minds to comprehend, it ‘s entirely what one might expect from a creature living in a world where everything has a cause.
            Rather like a character from Flatland trying to comprehend three dimensions..
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland

          • DanJ0

            They try to kick the explanation of their god’s existence into the long grass by limiting the definition of existing to our type of reality, which seems to operate on a cause and effect basis. It seems to me that there are things to be asked about how our reality started, and science may be able to suggest stuff about that, but beyond that seems to be unknowable despite what theists of many different flavours claim. These so-called proofs of the existence of god are interesting in themselves, but mostly for the acrobatics they perform.

          • “They try to kick the explanation of their god’s existence into the long grass by limiting the definition of existing to our type of reality, which seems to operate on a cause and effect basis.”

            Long grass? Jack thinks not. The cosmological First Cause argument is really very simple. Nothing comes from nothing. Something is contingent on something else existing before it. This applies whatever reality you occupy – except one above and beyond nature i.e. super-natural.

            ” It seems to me that there are things to be asked about how our reality started, and science may be able to suggest stuff about that …”

            Well it can speculate and hypothesise and use imagination but that’s all as it tools and methods cannot apply beyond time, space and matter.

            ” … but beyond that seems to be unknowable despite what theists of many different flavours claim.”

            It’s about logic. Either you accept that the universe had a First Cause – that is a non-physical, outside of time, space and matter, Being. A Being with self-awareness and unimaginable power. Or, you believe that matter itself has eternally existed. There are insurmountable flaws with this position.

            “These so-called proofs of the existence of god are interesting in themselves, but mostly for the acrobatics they perform.”

            What acrobatics? It is really a very simple argument. The acrobatics come from atheists who attempt to explain the sudden appearance of the universe – scientifically.

          • DanJ0

            No. And I’m pretty sure we went over this the last time you were Googling around for supporting points and trying to hold the argument on another thread. You are limited by your imagination and mistakenly think that your limits imply a restriction in logic on others. If you really are interested in the topic, rather than for your normal reasons for interacting with me, then look there for the flaw in your position there. But, really, there’s no need to come back to me about it. I don’t care whether you spot it or not, and I’m not interested in discussing it with you.

          • There is no logical flaw in the argument for a First Cause.

          • DanJ0

            I invite silent readers who are not well-read in this area simply to google to see how blatantly untrue this is. There’s barely any need to read further than the results page.

          • Is it “blatantly untrue”?

            Here’s a good, simple summary of the argument and objections for the ‘silent reader’.

            http://www.manyworldsoflogic.com/cosmologicalArgument.html

          • DanJ0

            The editing shows that you’re googling as you go, which is no bad thing in this instance. Carry on.

          • You’ve nothing of substance to offer – as nothing comes from nothing.

          • DanJ0

            As I said the last time you tried to attach yourself to me over this, I refuse to indulge you in ‘combat by Google’. The topic is well covered elsewhere by people on both sides who know what they’re talking about, and I have no interest in simply rerunning the arguments themselves here. In particular because I hold you personally in contempt for the obvious reasons, as well as because it’s pretty tedious doing that sort of thing.

          • Some ego … Jack’s world does not revolve around you. Sorry to disappoint.

            Look back, it was you who jumped into this particular discussion with a series of rather pompous and dismissive assertions about some of the greatest minds who have lived. Why bother if all you want to contribute is personal attacks?

            Now that you’re on the back foot and have no where to go, just throw more mud around.

            Jack had rather hoped past *issues* were behind us on this new blog. Guess not.

          • DanJ0

            *shrug*
            Dodo, I talk to the ventriloquist not to your latest dummy. You haven’t changed at all as far as I’m concerned and the transactions essentially remain the same whatever style or ID you adopt. No matter how many times I tell you I have no interest in your nonsense, you follow me about trying to get my attention here. You have an obsessive-compulsive disorder or something, and I can do nothing about that other than just verbally punch you every time you try to latch on yet again. Sheesh, if there is a benign, human-interested god thing then I deserve a place in its heaven just for my putting up with you and your constant crap. Only, I expect you’d be sidling up to me on your feckin’ cloud in no time (no pun intended) in the unlikely event that you got in too.

          • Lol ….
            They can treat most delusions nowadays. Yours, Jack isn’t so sure about.
            Keep smiling.

  • len

    I think atheists(used to be one myself so I understand the position)pride themselves on using’ logic’ and ‘reason’ to understand and define’ facts’ .Facts of course are entirely different to truth because facts can change but truth doesn`t (whatever they tell you in those ‘Churches of atheism’ our education system)

    So the atheist looks for God(presumably?) and decides that God doesn`t exist. Is this based on logic or reason?. This decision that God does not exist is not based on science or reason but on limited knowledge of the facts.
    To state categorically that God does not exist is to state that one has total knowledge of everything in the entire Universe..Who would be that conceited arrogant or foolish? .So the best one can say in total honesty about the reality of the existence of God is to say they are’ uncertain’….because they do not have all the facts…which can and do change.

    Of course evidence of the creator is everywhere in His Creation , His Word , and He even walked this Planet so there is no lack of evidence.
    But the problem with atheism is as soon as you recognize the Creator you become ‘accountable’ and not everyone wants that.

    • Well quite. The only sound position of people who disregard faith is one of agnosticism.

    • DanJ0

      “This decision that God does not exist is not based on science or reason but on limited knowledge of the facts.”

      But you have decided that god, when its name is Allah or Brahman, doesn’t exist too. You’ve rejected those god hypotheses, even though you don’t know everything. I am an a-theist because I reject theist explanations of our reality in general, as well as in the specific. There may be some sort of design and intention for our reality, there may even be a very special place for our species in it, but it seems to me that it’s all just wild speculation. Hence why we have, and have had, many different religions: people speculate differently over time and space, preferring this or that explanation in the absence of any significant knowledge.

      • SidneyDeane

        Nice post, great rebuttle.
        We can watch IanCad slink away now lol.

      • “I reject theist explanations of our reality in general, as well as in the specific.”

        The specific Jack can perhaps understand. But why the general?

        “There may be some sort of design and intention for our reality, there may even be a very special place for our species in it, but it seems to me that it’s all just wild speculation.”

        Really? You don’t sound terribly convinced. Where would acceptance of design, intention and a special place for humans, lead you?

        • DanJ0

          You haven’t shown yourself to be very good at recognising a position from my words. Especially recently.

          • Well you do keep hedging your bets between atheism, sorry a-theism, and agnosticism.so your “position” is confused.
            Really, you muddle two separate questions. First, is there a God/Gods?. Second, can we know Him/Her/It/Them? Your stance in that last post seemed more deist that atheist, or a-theist, to Jack.

          • DanJ0

            I don’t care a hoot what you think, as I have said many times. It’s just offbeat noise for the most part. But having to endure your constant and obsessive attention is the cross I have to bear for commenting here. *shrug*

          • Lol …. and you do it so gallantly too.

    • DanJ0

      “But the problem with atheism is as soon as you recognize the Creator you become ‘accountable’ and not everyone wants that.”

      One of a number of problems with theistic belief is that if a theistic god does exist and you’ve picked or inherited the wrong religion then you’re still accountable. There’s a bit of a gamble there, and the stakes are huge. It’d say choose wisely, but on what basis does one choose? Perhaps we just wear our lucky underpants on the day and hope for the best.

      • Ummm … so, instead. you advocate taking the lazy route and advise not even bother seeking?

        • DanJ0

          It’s naught to do with being lazy, you berk.

          • Not scared, surely?

            “There’s a bit of a gamble there, and the stakes are huge. I’d say choose wisely, but on what basis does one choose?”

            A Christian would say that you don’t actually get to choose. Open yourself to the reality of God existing and see what happens.

            And there’s no need to be rude.

          • DanJ0

            There’s years of reasons to be rude to you, over and above your continual following me around and ‘misinterpreting’ what I write.

  • SidneyDeane

    The good news is, with free access to information, atheism is on the rise whilst the church continues its decline and there is nothing that will reverse that trend. 🙂
    Faith schools wont be around eventually and disestablishment is inevitable.
    Lol.

    • Phil Rowlands

      The facts do not support this. Most major religions are growing worldwide with Christianity being one of the fastest growing.

      BTW. Imagine sending your kids to a proper atheist school to be taught by people like Dawkins! What a miserable experience that would be. The suicide rate would be off the scale and/or they would all be into drink and drugs just to cope.

      • SidneyDeane

        Atheism is growing faster than any religion worldwide I believe. But I was talking about the UK anyway.
        I don’t want atheist schools either. Just secular ones.
        Although I would love to have been taught by Dawkins. Miserable? What on earth do you mean it would be brilliant. Evolutionary biology is fascinating.

        • Phil Rowlands

          e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria 2% to 50% Christian in 100 years.

          South Korea 1% to 60% Christian in 50 years.

          But this will be dwarfed by China…….

          The official statistics for the Chinese city of 5 million where my daughter is working. (This is official Church Attendance unofficial Churches are of course excluded)

          1995 3500 Christians

          2011 255000 Christians.

          Other religions little or no change.

          Put the numbers in perspective. There are more Christians worshiping in this one city than Anglicans in the entire UK.

          I doubt if Atheism is growing in the UK overall but if it is, ask your brothers to start persecuting us properly. It works wonders for Church Attendance!

          • Malcolm Smith

            I myself did a bit of number crunching using what appeared to be the most conservative figures available, and I still came up with an estimate that the Christianity is doubling in China every 5½ years. See here.
            You might also care to google “Survival of the Godliest” by Phillip Longman.

          • Phil Rowlands

            Malcolm

            Your link does not work.

            However after 60 years of state atheism and telling children the “truth” about God in schools. You might have expected very low growth and not see the hunger for God, even though it still comes in may places in China with a personal cost.

          • Malcolm Smith

            I’m not certain what went wrong, but I shall write it out in full:

            http://malcolmsmiscellany.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/the-christian-explosion-in-china.html

        • Albert

          Sidney,

          It’s easy for your percentages to grow quickly when there are hardly of you. Let’s suppose I start my own cult. If only one person joins, then I’ve doubled my numbers.

  • Albert

    Grayling, in his own disgust, appears to have missed a basic truth. As soon as you begin to teach children, you start to impart your values and understanding of the world on to them.

    It’s unlikely that Grayling has missed that. It’s just that he’s clever enough to realize that most of his followers will miss that.

  • DanJ0

    Incidentally, I’m happy for RE to be taught in schools … but not faith, at least in state schools anyway.

  • Darter Noster

    “Suppose that instead of RE, schools taught the history of humanity’s attempts to make sense of itself and the world around it.”

    Well, duh! How exactly does he think RE is taught? If he thinks that the RE curriculum equates to some sort of Christian madrasah, he is seriously deluded. When RE, or Theology for that matter, is taught in schools or universities, it is taught in exactly that manner, not as some sort of religious indoctrination in which the existence and nature of God is taken for granted. I have taught undergraduate theology, and I know for a fact that what we teach is what religions and peoples believe; we do not make any comment whatsoever on whether or not it is correct. When I lead seminars on Thomas Aquinas It matters not one jot if my students are Catholics or not; we teach what Aquinas said, wrote and taught. I have taught classes on paganism; I am not a pagan, nor were any of my students, and neither did we need to be. I am a teacher, not an evangelist.

    “Placing religion in this much larger context dramatically changes how it is viewed by students.”

    What does he think theology faculties and RE students do? Chant verses like some lunatic Pakistani religious school with a work experience programme in Al Qaeda?

    The man’s an idiot.

  • Darter Noster

    “How would our schoolchildren react to the Christian story, for example, if they knew that it was an iteration of commonplace tales abounding in Egyptian and Greek mythology?”

    If they were taught RE properly then they’d know that it wasn’t, and would be able to see past such a shallow, misleading and propagandistic portrayal of Christianity given by ignorant bigots like Grayling.

    The resemblance of the Ankh to the cross or crucifix of Christianity is entirely coincidental; the cross was the Roman method of execution, and has no connection whatsoever with the Egyptian symbol. Resurrection and the overcoming of death has been a common trope in many religions, and there is no reason whatsoever to connect the resurrection of Osiris with that of Christ. All Grayling does is demonstrate why RE should be taught properly, to avoid the falsehoods he uses for sectarian reasons. His bigotry and ignorance of the subject he devotes so much time to speaking publicly about is a perfect example of why RE should be taught properly.

  • bockerglory

    I have read all the atheist comments and found them very interesting and enlightening. Thank you.

    However, I have faith which is different to belief. I have experienced God’s overwhelming presence which is terrifying – because it is like a pure sentient energy and God knows me. Some may think I am mad or stupid or it is some defect of the brain’s synapses but that is what I experienced. I was a “rational” person mocking Christians – but not anymore. I am so fortunate to have Jewish friends who guide me in my interpretation of the Old Testatment (OT) – it is a history of the Jewish people and how they struggled with their Faith. It is part history part folklore part prophecy – written in the style of its time but inspired by God. And what non-believers do not understand is that the OT is ironic and mocking – King Solomon was the wisest King but even he on his death left his nation in financial ruin! King David was the most brave believer – but even he had his lusts and his son turned against him. Abraham disclaims his wife to save his own skin. Read the Bible in this light and it has so much to say about the way men behave.

    I have Faith and the Bile is a history of how many people through history have struggled to interpret their Faith. I accept that the world and universe is as old as it is – billions and billions of years. The Bible is not a work of science but faith. Jesus Christ has found me and won’t let me go!

    So I respectfully agree to disagree with the atheists. Do not be annoyed with me as I am not saying you are wrong or right and my heart leaps with joy whenever anyone discusses God. It is a matter of faith. God bless and good night.

    • SidneyDeane

      “I was a “rational” person… – but not anymore”
      Lol. Yes indeed.