Selective Secondary Schools
Education

Secularists must not be allowed to distort the argument for faith schools

Today a new book, The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schoolsby the think-tank Civitas is being launched in Parliament. I will be there alongside David Davis MP, Tristram Hunt MP and other leading figures from the world of education. I (Gillan) was asked to write on selective admissions by faith schools and below is an abridged version of the chapter.

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Try to imagine for a moment what sort of a country the United Kingdom would become if we could begin again from scratch. There are endless questions and few definitive answers to such a proposal – one person’s heaven many well be someone else’s hell.

Such a scenario is an entirely hypothetical line of thinking, but unlike any utopian flight of fancy, a vision for our society needs to start from the present and also be grounded in the past. We cannot detach ourselves from the history that surrounds and shapes us. This is the state of play with our education system. The current diversity of schools can be perplexing with historical anomalies, but that doesn’t mean we can or should tear up what exists and start over again.

Faith schools are very much part of this picture. 34 per cent of schools in England are faith schools and of these 99 per cent are church schools. Yet, despite their continued popularity and the fact that our education system was created by our churches, secular and humanist groups would rather see the back of them.

Their point of attack has been the perceived injustices relating to selection by faith. The two most high-profile campaigns are the Accord Coalition, which was launched in 2008, and the British Humanist Association’s Fair Admissions Campaign, which is less than two years-old. There is a great deal of overlap between the two campaigns with both being supported by a limited number of groups and individuals, including a handful from a religious background. Despite lacking widespread backing and being recently established, they have nevertheless been successful at getting their message out through the media, and their cause has received significant attention. Some of their objections against faith schools are superficial, but others appear to have some legitimacy and are worth considering carefully. Perhaps the two most substantial accusations against schools that reserve some places according to faith is that they increase the division between children along socio-economic lines, and that they segregate children on religious and ethnic grounds.

The Fair Admissions Campaign’s own research has found that 39 out of the top 50 most ‘socially exclusive’ schools are faith schools. Social exclusion in this case is measured by the proportion of faith-school pupils who are eligible for free school meals compared to the proportion of those who are eligible in the wider surrounding area.

Using eligibility for free school meals as a measure of social exclusion certainly has some value, but there is a limit to what conclusions can be drawn from numbers whose validity and reliability is contingent on the methodology used. It may be fair to assert that there is a different level of social exclusion that can be linked to faith schools, but that does not in itself provide any evidence that they are deliberately setting out to pick and choose along these lines, which the School Admissions Code clearly prohibits. Faith schools on average produce significantly higher results in league tables than other state schools. It is inevitable that for schools that are performing well, demand for places will increase, leading to a variety of consequences, most outside the school’s control, which will include a degree of socio-economic sorting. Research has shown that parents reporting a religious affiliation are more likely to be better educated, have a higher occupational class and a higher household income. Also parents from low socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to consider their child’s friendship groups and proximity to the school as more important than its performance table position.

To think that changing or removing admissions policies will eradicate socio-economic sorting demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding. It is unfair to lay the blame for the choices of parents wanting a decent education for their children at the feet of faith schools.

The other major grievance against faith schools is that they segregate children on religious and ethnic grounds, which is bad for community cohesion.

It is not difficult to understand this viewpoint. Children who mix with others from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths should be expected to have a better understanding of the world and their society and develop a higher degree of respect towards others irrespective of their differences.

These fears and concerns relating to segregation and multiculturalism have continued to grow in recent years with the rise of Islamic extremism, but it needs to be remembered that in the case of Operation Trojan Horse in Birmingham, which has been the most high-profile to date, none of the schools investigated was a faith school. It is a clear example of the way that social, religious and ethnic segregation is an issue affecting all schools and not just those with a religious ethos.

Despite the perception that faith schools act as a cradle for social division, the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think-tank and member of the Accord Coalition, has found that the intake of faith schools is ethnically diverse. Roman Catholic schools have a much higher population of black Caribbean and black African young people than any other group of schools. In addition, in some Church of England schools, up to 90 per cent of pupils are Muslim. The Church of England’s analysis of Ofsted inspection findings on schools and social cohesion has demonstrated that faith schools at secondary level fared better on average than schools without a religious character.

Anyone who has observed the way that children interact with each other will know that there is no guarantee that they will form friendly relationships with those from different backgrounds. Although there is extensive research which establishes that school diversity has a positive impact on community cohesion and mutual understanding, intolerance is still a common problem. In 2008 the charity BeatBullying published findings on bullying due to religious belief. It found that one in four children were bullied because of their faith. Those who had been bullied often began to question their faith, stopped talking about it, or even felt ashamed of it. It does not take a great leap of thinking to understand why some parents would want their children to attend schools where religious belief is encouraged and is part of everyday conversation.

Much of the disquiet raised by campaigners fighting for the abolition of faith-based selection revolves around pragmatic aspects. Is it unfair? Does it discriminate? Pragmatic issues deserve discussion, but really, when deciding whether faith schools should be allowed to operate as they do, the conversation should begin with principles and needs rather than grievances and failings. Systems that involve humans are not perfect. There are always some individuals or groups that will come out on top one way or another. If faith schools were universally hated, few would be bothered about their selection criteria because parents would be seeking to go elsewhere. It is the demand for places due to their performance and ethos that causes dismay and upset for those who fail to get their children accepted, and this creates the need for sorting in ways which will inevitably benefit certain proactive applicants.

There is no evidence that the majority of the population disapprove of faith schools. In a 2014 Westminster Faith Debates poll, 62 per cent did not even object to faith schools discriminating on religious grounds in their admissions. It is only secular humanists who are actively campaigning in any great numbers against both faith schools and their admissions policies. It is here that we see two worldviews collide. One sees religious belief as an important part of life for many people, and even for those without an obvious faith there is a recognition that the inherent principles and values can provide a strong foundation for life. The other is a belief that religion has no place in public and that faith schools are increasingly detrimental in a secular liberal society, propping up antiquated belief systems. The abolition of religious selection is one step on the road to removing faith schools and their influence altogether.

Sitting in the middle of these two opposing views are the majority of parents who care more about their children receiving a decent education than ideological crusades. Selection by faith is only a problem if the only school they believe is of a sufficiently high standard in their area is a faith school, and that they will miss out because they will not meet the admissions criteria. This then becomes a failing of the other schools rather than the faith school. Removing these criteria will not solve this problem and will just leave a different set of parents dissatisfied.

Most families with a religious faith want their children to grow up and be educated in their faith not just in the confines of their home, but outside it too. This is not an unreasonable expectation given the prevalence of faith schools, and it is logical to see schools make space for those who subscribe to their beliefs. For the parents, choosing a school is not like having choice over which hospital you might pick for an operation. The decision will potentially allow a child to spend years in an environment where they will be able to share their beliefs with others and be educated in accordance with these precepts as a natural part of their upbringing and personal development. If we see our country as a place where religion is to be valued, and where freedom of belief means being able to live out that belief in public, then it makes sense to have schools where religion is part of their inherent make-up. It is an undoubted sign of a mature and self-confident society that seeks to serve all of its citizens in the pursuit of the common good.

  • Albert

    Good post. The questions to ask about the opposition to faith schools seem to me to be these:

    1. Why do secular schools provide, on average, an inferior education?
    2. In the light of 1, why do secularists, having let down their own children, then decide that they must impose their own failing system on everyone?

    • William Lewis

      And possibly:

      3. Why are secular schools fomenting Islamic extremism?

    • The Explorer

      If you can’t equalise upwards, you can always equalise downwards. (It’s much easier to achieve.)

    • sarky

      Secular schools have ‘inferior’ pupils, not ‘inferior’ education. If you cream off the better pupils from better backgrounds, you attract better teachers and get better results.

      • Albert

        Untrue, when you measure the gap it depends on what you are looking for. Ask questions like how many children have free-school meals and secular schools have just about more children needed free-school meals than faith schools. But if you ask about more serious factors, such as ethnic minority backgrounds, you find Catholic schools have larger proportions of ethnic minorities. Now, this is significant as parents from such backgrounds are less likely to appeal for free school meals. Moreover, where parents are linguistically or culturally alienated from their children’s education, it is going to be harder to get the children to do well. The best measure is perhaps pupils from deprived areas. Here again, Catholic schools have a much larger proportion of children from such areas. Thus, if one looks at these figures, the evidence is the opposite of what you say. Moreover, if one looks at the gap in performance, it isn’t marginal. Catholic schools massively outperform secular schools, despite having, what you call “inferior” pupils.

        And this of course reflects every other figure: religious people are likely to be healthier, recover quicker from illness, contribute more to charity, suffer from fewer addictions etc. The reason faith schools are better (or at least Catholic ones) is because religious life is healthier in itself. Unbelief is irrational on so many levels, but never more so when one considers well-being and education. But I defend the right of any unbeliever to have an unbelieving education. I object only to their irrationality and lower standards being imposed on my own children.

      • Phil R

        Ah but why do Christian schools have children with better backgrounds as you say

        Put it another way why are children of Christians more motivated better behaved and so achieve more?

        • sarky

          Because christianity is a middle class pastime. So it follows that your offspring will be of the same ilk.

          • Phil R

            Christians are tend to be middle class in outlook because of the values of Christianity.

            I.e they drift to being middle class.

            Schools will not improve without in the main children and parents buying in to middle class values or at least aspirations of these values

          • sarky

            Agreed (for once)

  • JDale

    Hmmm, so your title argues against allowing distortion of the argument, yet you state “Their point of attack has been the perceived injustices relating to selection by faith”.

    Given your headline (and I also seem to vaguely remember some diktat or other about bearing false witness) I’m sure you would appreciate the correction of any distortions in your piece. May I therefore point you towards http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2013/new-survey-examines-the-faith-school-issue/ and http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2014/religion-and-attitudes-towards-faith-schools/ which clearly point to public funding as the being the main bone of contention.

    • Busy Mum

      I would suggest that ever since publicly-funded education was made available, standards have gone down. Education is not a right, it is a privilege. Quite frankly, there are children out there who have disproportionate amounts of public money spent on them; disproportionate in relation to what they are ever going to contribute to society as adults.

      High time for a cost-benefit analysis of the Department of Education.

      • sarky

        So you will be happy for your schools funding to be cut savagely will you?? Your pupils are statistically more likely to go to uni or get good jobs, therfore, let’s take money away from you and spend it where its really needed.

        • Busy Mum

          My schools (plural) already get about half the funding that inner-city schools do, yet still achieve as good, if not better, results. This might be something to do with the fact that the parents around here know that money is not the answer to everything – neither do we think of our children as statistics.

        • alternative_perspective

          Sir, it is not about funding but parental input.
          I was once told a simple anecdote about the English education system. For those children whose parents read to them for fun; the English education system is amongst the best in the world. For those parents don’t; it is amongst the worst.
          When you talk about funding, you are not actually talking about education but compensation for poor parenting by others. As Busy Mum has already noted, certain schools already recieve much greater funding for this exact purpose but the outcomes are hardly startling.
          All public expenditure should be run through a cost benefit analysis. The hard facts of the matter are that throwing ever larger sums for poor and ever diminishing returns just doesn’t seem sensible. We all want to improve the outcomes of children in the poorest of circumstances but we don’t necessarily all agree how that might be achieved.

    • magnolia

      The earliest use of the term diktat is 1919. The term “bearing false witness” is from the Ten Commandments., which is going back to Moses. Some historical awareness and linguistic appropriateness would be nice.

      Out of curiosity do you think it is a mean, repressive and oppressive rule that suggests you shouldn’t tell lies about your neighbour if it suits your purposes?

      That is a certainly a very outlying position!

      As for public funding, just how many times does one need to point out the very simple fact that the taxpayer would fave to pay considerably MORE not LESS tax if Church Schools were disallowed, as they have trust deeds, with varying conditions, one of which is frequently that the land reverts to the Church, the diocese, or sometimes private families should it no longer be used as a school.

      Maybe those pushing for the change are volunteering to divide the cost to the nation for this gruesome proposition and leading the charge by offering to pay it out of their own pockets?

      Thought not.

      And by the way, if my children were of school age I would not wish them schooled in thinking God was irrelevant, nor alongside those trained to think that rules about not telling lies were unreasonable.

      • Busy Mum

        Telling lies is actively encouraged in secular schools; for example, sixth formers who are applying for student finance are told to say they live with the lowest-earning parent, even if they don’t, in order to maximise their loan.

        • magnolia

          Gruesome.

          • Busy Mum

            …and of course, not possible, if the parents are still together….

  • sarky

    When I was choosing my children’s primary I had to make the choice of the cofe faith school, very white, very middle class, good ofsted ‘or’ the other local primary, very diverse, visibly poorer, poor ofsted.
    For me the choice wasnt just about results. To be immersed in your childs education you have to commit to all the out of school activities aswell. The cofe school tended to have its activities based around the church, to me it would be hypocritical to get involved and I didn’t want my kids to be singled out because of my lack of faith. So in a way I did feel excluded. I chose the other primary and they are thriving. I think alot of parents fail to grasp that education doesn’t finish when the school Bell rings. If you are able and prepared to put in the effort it doesn’t really matter which school they go to. However, the ethos of the school should never be a barrier and the children of less educated parents can suffer as a result. Faith should never be the difference between a good and bad education.

    • The Explorer

      I can believe in the reliability of the Resurrection, but I can’t believe in the reliability of OFSTED.

    • William Lewis

      “Faith should never be the difference between a good and bad education.”

      The onus is on secular schools to improve.

    • alternative_perspective

      Dear Sarky,
      have you considered the possibility that inter-generationally, where faith, particualrly of the Christian variety, is allowed to shape the lives of those involved, it produces on average happier, better adjusted and economically successful individuals than secularism?

      Perhaps faith schools are the cause of this segregation you note but not for the reasons you believe. Rather than creaming off the best of society, they generate the best in society who when they have children return to the foundations that benefited them so much?

      Look at Western Civilization. Christianity took it from an economical and technological backwater, stalked by paganism, superstition and rampant child sacrifice and turned it into the most advanced and enlightened continent on Earth.

      It has only been in the Judeo-Christian context that democracy, freedom and tolerance has germinated and been sustained. It was out of the Judeo-Christian context that human rights emerged, respect for property, mass education, health-care, social care etc. Granted it didn’t happen overnight, nor has it been without flawes: of course it has. But the general trajectory is obvious. Christianity has been an immense civilizing force for Europe. And it is this same force that is at work in Christian faith schools, which – where the faith shapes the individual – much good fruit is produced.

  • Busy Mum

    I have never come across a ‘person of no faith’ who withdraws their child from assemblies or RE lessons, even though they are quite entitled to do so; why not?

    ‘People of no faith’ may do the same as the rest of us; attend a school that has no religious ethos – there are plenty, especially at secondary level – and/or withdraw chidlren from anything conscience dictates is necessary.

    Faith schools are the living proof that having a faith is better for a society than having none at all. Rather than acknowledge this, ‘people of no faith’ would rather dispose of the evidence.

    It is interesting to see that RC and CofE schools clearly educate many children who are not of their faith; it would be interesting to know how many non-Muslim children attend Islamic schools.

    • sarky

      I have withdrawn my kids from sessions with visiting faith groups. After looking at their objectives I decided I didn’t want my kids evangelised to.

      • Busy Mum

        Very good – not only do I withdraw my children, I tell our CofE school in no uncertain terms why they are failing the children by allowing them to believe all faiths are equal.

        • sarky

          I bet they love you! !!

          • Busy Mum

            I couldn’t care less whether or not they love me; I just wish they would show their love for GOD to a greater extent than they show their craven fear of OFSTED.

        • cacheton

          Ah but it is not the CHILDREN they are failing, it is YOUR belief system they are not subscribing to.

          • carl jacobs

            So what belief system should the school subscribe to? And don’t say “None” for that is an impossibility.

          • cacheton

            I don’t agree that it is an impossibility. I think that in an educational establishment it is ‘belief systems’ themselves that should be the object of study – why they exist, how they are constructed, what purposes they serve etc, and I mean all belief systems, not just religious ones.

          • The Explorer

            Isn’t the conviction that ‘belief systems’ should be the object of study a particular belief about part of the purpose of education? A Muslim school, for instance, might disagree.
            As George Orwell put it, to say you have no belief in politics is itself to have a belief about politics.

          • cacheton

            Well quite – belief or stated absence of belief amount to the same thing, which is especially annoying to atheists who would like to think they do not have any beliefs!

            But that doesn’t change observation – does politics exist or not?

          • carl jacobs

            You can’t escape your own presuppositions. What neutral ground could you occupy to perform such an examination? Your description involves an implicit standard. Where is the neutral standard that you would apply, and by what authority do you apply it?

            Children come to us requiring instruction. We instruct them on all sorts of matters without asking either their permission or consent. We teach them from authority. We say “This is right, and that is wrong.” We don’t ask them to critically examine the difference. But when we come to this area, you say “Oh, no. Let’s teach them to critically examine.” And in so doing you would implicitly teach them something about the nature of truth and its relationship to man. You have already instantiated a belief system in your instruction, and they will not fail to inculcate the message.

            But that of course is the point.

          • cacheton

            ‘You can’t escape your own presuppositions.’

            But you can be encouraged to recognise them, and examine where they come from, and if or how it really serves you to have them. Is it not reasonable to suppose that adults, at least those who are in charge of guidance of the young such as teachers and religious leaders, are more able to do this and knowledgeable about belief systems than those in their charge?

          • Busy Mum

            It would be nice if this were the case. Most teachers I come across are ignorant about belief systems, especially Christianity.

          • Watchman

            The son of a friend is Head of Department in a large London School. He is a devout atheist. His depatrtment: RE.

          • carl jacobs

            Heal yourself, physician. Do you recognize the presuppositions in these your statements made elsewhere on this thread?

            I am guessing that is partly because some of those beliefs are simply no longer compatible with what we know about the nature of physical reality.

            And again …

            Only yesterday I discovered that our curate believes that Jesus is still physically alive, sitting in a physical body – somewhere. Surely it is reasonable, if he really does believe this, to expect him to be able to explain where, without denying certain facts about how physical human bodies behave when/if they have risen far up into the stratosphere ie: they cannot survive for long.

            Your posts are littered with them, and you evince no knowledge of them.

          • cacheton

            ‘Heal yourself, physician.’

            Absolutely! It is not possible to write anything without someone finding presuppostions – so maybe we should stop here?

            Did Jesus ever write anything down?

            Maybe you could tell me what you think I am presupposing in those 2 quotes.

          • carl jacobs

            btw, you didn’t answer my questions. What neutral ground can you occupy to perform this examination? What standard of examination would you apply and by what authority would you apply it?

          • cacheton

            Yes I sort of did, but not explicitly enough. Neutral ground is anathema to most people, as you pointed out. But is it not reasonable to suppose that adults, at least those who are in charge of guidance of the young such as teachers and religious leaders, are more neutral and knowledgeable about belief systems than those in their charge?

            Standard of examination? None – one could observe that certain people are able to be more neutral than others, but that is not a basis for a value judgment.

            Authority? I’ll say authenticity for the moment, but I’m not altogether happy with just that…

          • carl jacobs

            You say you have no standard of examination, but you have already used one. When you were confronted with the resurrection you responded by ‘examining’ the claim against the boundaries of physical existence – as if the Lord of Creation is bound by the limits of His own creation. That was the presupposition to which I referred, and that isn’t neutral ground.

            I didn’t say that neutral ground was anathema. I said it was non-existent. And I have no idea what authenticity means as an authority for examination.

          • cacheton

            OK – so here we are back to the limits of words, all the while keeping in mind that the bible, from which this info/these beliefs came, IS a book of words.

            The word ‘physical’ does not mean the same thing depending on what/who we are talking about. I see. The curate in question also insisted that god was ‘a person’. I’m guessing that the word ‘person’ likewise does not mean the same thing depending on who/what we are talking about.

            Or you too believe that Jesus is still a physical being but we who are seemingly bound by the limits of the physical universe cannot see him because – well because what? Our telescopes are not powerful enough? Where is this physical body? Do you really think heaven is a physical place too? Where?

            Why do you think Christianity needs to keep the belief that the body Jesus ascended with was, and therefore still is, a physical body rather than a spiritual one?

            Why would the Lord of Creation not want to be bound by the limits of his creation if his creation is perfect?

          • The Explorer

            Modern education theory seems so loony I’m not sure it is reasonable to suppose that adults are more knowledgeable than children. Think about why education has replaced ‘pupils’ by ‘students’. ‘Pupil’ implies one who is instructed, rather than self-directed learner. ‘Teacher’ implies one who instructs, and since that is cultural fascism it must be replaced by some less aggressive term, such as ‘cultural facilitator’ or ‘cultural enabler’.

          • Busy Mum

            Yes – see my comment below about ignorant teachers – I recall last year a headmaster who said that it was more important that he employed people who knew how to teach rather than what to teach. He wasn’t bothered by their lack of subject knowledge as he ‘could easily put that right’ once they were in the classroom!!

          • cacheton

            ‘I’m not sure it is reasonable to suppose that adults are more knowledgeable than children.’
            I agree entirely. Especially on spiritual matters. This is, in my opinion, a massive problem. Especially when talking about faith schools!!!

          • The Explorer

            In Victorian times, the ideal for schools was a retired army sergeant, preferably with recent war experience. He might not know anything, but the kids would be dead scared of him and stay in their seats while an usher instructed them.
            That might be a role for our own superfluous armed forces: to stop the kids from harming one another in the process of their self-directed learning.

          • Watchman

            I think it’s called inflation: pupils become students; schools become colleges or academies, colleges become universities etc. the net result of this is that the expectation of anyone leaving an academic institution is that their expectations in employment are unrealistic; they think they are educated when they are not, they are merely processed by the liberal/left sausage machine into being liberal/left sausages!

          • Busy Mum

            No – it is THEIR belief system as outlined in their trust deed that they are in theory subscribed to but in practice not upholding.

          • cacheton

            I see – so they are failing YOUR and THEIR own (apparent) belief system, but that still does not mean they are failing the CHILDREN does it.

          • Busy Mum

            Apparent? I grant that the CofE has not been at all clear about what its beliefs are.
            However, when a school trust deed explicitly says that the school must ensure that all teaching is in accordance with the foundation truths believed by the CofE, I think it is reasonable to expect that the governors will do everything in their power to follow God and the Bible rather than the government and OFSTED.
            I am sure you are capable of finding out for yourself what was the original ‘belief system’ of the CofE.

          • cacheton

            I agree – the CofE is not clear about what its beliefs are. I am guessing that is partly because some of those beliefs are simply no longer compatible with what we know about the nature of physical reality. Are you suggesting that those ancient beliefs be taught regardless?

            Only yesterday I discovered that our curate believes that Jesus is still physically alive, sitting in a physical body – somewhere. Surely it is reasonable, if he really does believe this, to expect him to be able to explain where, without denying certain facts about how physical human bodies behave when/if they have risen far up into the stratosphere ie: they cannot survive for long.

          • Busy Mum

            I thought you just said that all belief systems should be studied….but now you are horrified at the idea of children being exposed to some ‘ancient beliefs’. How will they be able to ‘make up their own minds’ if you select which belief systems they are allowed to ‘think critically about’?

            Oh, and thankyou for informing me that there is at least one curate left who believes in the Resurrection.

          • cacheton

            I think you confusing the system – its nature, construction etc, with the content – what the particular thing is that you believe. I am suggesting studying the former rather than the latter.

          • Busy Mum

            Surely a ‘belief system’ is constructed on the beliefs held? How can one study the system without understanding the beliefs by which it is underpinned?

          • cacheton

            Well yes the ‘surface’ beliefs are constructed on deeper ones etc, but that is still all content.

            Psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists etc are engaged in helping their clients/patients deconstruct their belief systems with the aim of making them happier/more functional/less desperate etc. This is a delicate undertaking as much of the belief system is unconscious.

            What is interesting about religious belief systems is that they are said to be conscious – I believe x because it says so in the bible being the core belief. Except that isn’t the core belief because in answer to ‘Why do you believe everything in the bible comes direct from God’ there is usually silence. If you don’t believe everything in it comes direct from God, if you want to be credible you have to come up with criteria for deciding what does and what doesn’t come from God. If you believe that it was ‘inspired’ by God, then if you want to be credible you have to have some kind of system to determine which bits are more or less inspired, and which bits are entirely human or inspired by humans. Etc etc.

            I do not know if this sort of discussion is encouraged in faith schools, or even churches.

          • Busy Mum

            Once something can be proved beyond all doubt, it can no longer be called faith.

          • cacheton

            Well quite. I would also say once something has been experienced beyond all doubt, it can no longer be called belief.

          • The Explorer

            What is the difference between a physical body and a resurrection body? Can we start with that?

          • cacheton

            OK. Go ahead.

          • The Explorer

            You started the discussion. You tell me.

          • cacheton

            Is there something about my claim that physical human bodies cannot survive outside the earth’s atmosphere that you find misleading/offensive/plain wrong?

          • carl jacobs

            Can God raise people from the dead, cacheton?

          • cacheton

            Who is God, Carl? Is he separate from you? If you believe he is, then do you believe that because it says so in the bible?

            Jesus was God, therefore Jesus, or God if you like, raised himself from the dead. That should give you a clue!

          • carl jacobs

            Your understanding of both the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union are poor if you think that is a valid argument. Is that another example of your non-existent standard of evaluation?

            But again you reveal your non-neutral basis. For you have now asserted that divine truth is unknowable.

          • The Explorer

            In a discussion I had a while back with cacheton, we established that he is a pantheist. In his view, we are all gods

          • magnolia

            I’m not, for one!

          • The Explorer

            Ah, that’s just because you’re not realising your divine potential. (C’s view, not mine. I’m not a god either.)

          • magnolia

            I couldn’t begin to sell it to my nearest and dearest. Not even yesterday!! Raucous laughter would ensue…..

          • sarky

            I am 🙂

          • cacheton

            ‘The question you should be asking is “What is too hard for God?”‘

            I seemed to have missed this. My answer is nothing, and I suspect yours is too. But if nothing is too hard for God, why does he choose not to end suffering? Are you going to give the usual cop out answer, which is ‘how can I a mere human know the will of god he has a plan that is nothing to do with me I can never understand….’

            My answer is that it is humans who are choosing not to end suffering, through ignorance and fear. Not God.

            And I would assert that Divine truth is knowable, though not in a normal everyday physical world state of consciousness.

          • magnolia

            So you believe you are potentially an eternal being through your own power of godhood? Am I getting this right? And you think you can access this power through drugs and other altered states of consciousness?

            Not far off Hinduism, TM and yoga from what I can adduce.

          • cacheton

            ‘..through drugs..’

            Personally no, though I have heard of others that claim this, I remain unconvinced.
            And I do not ‘think I can access this “power”‘, I have, like many others, accessed this state of consciousness.

            Jesus lived his life in this state of consciousness permanently, whilst remaining fully grounded in his physical body, and so could ‘do miracles’. That’s beyond my capabilities for now….

          • The Explorer

            All right, give me your understanding of ‘1 Corinthians’ 15:42.

          • cacheton

            Why on earth would I do that? What relevance does that have to the question?

          • The Explorer

            I you can’t see that, I fear any further discussion would be a waste of time for both of us.

          • cacheton

            You seem to be asking why I think the bible might not be a suitable source of scientific information. In that case, I agree that any further discussion may be a waste of time.

            Why do you believe the bible?

          • magnolia

            Your conception of God is far far too small. Do you not understand that we believe in a massive God.? If God created the universe He is not small now, is he, not confined to the space within your ears? He is infinite, beyond our boxing in and labelling, beyond our comprehension. Which makes your questions above rather peculiar.

          • cacheton

            I too believe that God created the universe, actually no I believe that God is all that is seen and unseen, created and not yet created, which would of course include the universe.

            What question in peculiar?

          • magnolia

            Ah, ok your post read like you don’t believe in Jesus as the first fruits of the Resurrection. I do believe in the physical Resurrection,and Jesus as the first fruits of that, and ourselves as later fruits, but also that our bodies are changed, as Jesus was- able to walk through doors, but also eat fish. I have no idea where Jesus is physically, nor whether he can bi-locate, tri-locate, or multi-locate, but surely in a sense he is everywhere potentially through the Holy Spirit anyway. I really just don’t get your questions about the stratosphere or why it matters at all.

          • The Explorer

            I’ve come across the question before from liberal theologians arguing against a literal Ascension. Heaven is a place of pure spirit; so Christ either had to discard his body, or he’s still in the ground somewhere.

            See the C S Lewis comment above.

          • magnolia

            Interesting. Now Ian McCormack claims that after death he had a body and could see it, but it was something which reflected lots of light or was light, I am not clear which , and he could see through it. Which is interesting as we generally think of solidity as body, but body does not need lots of solidity. All depends what it is made of….Which is partially where Cacheton’s questions make no sense to me.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            There will certainly be no empty tombs in our case: our own dead bodies will have crumbled into dust or have gone up in the crematorium smoke. St Paul taught that Christ’s resurrection is the type or pattern of our own future resurrection, and asserted that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; and the perishable cannot inherit what lasts for ever” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Belief in physical resurrection contradicts this.

            The Spiritualists, although they do not believe in physical resurrection, believe in what I think they call an etheric body, rather along the same lines as Paul’s idea of a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). They give us descriptions of the next world in which people behave very much as they do in this one: eating, drinking, sleeping, wearing clothes, living in houses, enjoying beautiful gardens and parks, attending concerts etc. While few of us are disposed to take these accounts seriously, I am bemused by the way in which ultra-orthodox religious people who insist that they believe in a physical resurrection of the body tend to be not just understandably sceptical of the Spiritualists’ accounts of “life in the world unseen”, but scornful or even outraged at the idea, even in principle, of people in the next world doing precisely those things that real, physical human bodies actually do.

          • The Explorer

            Hello again GM,
            Interesting points; although since Paul asserts that Christianity is meaningless without the physical resurrection of Christ he did not see the contradiction that you do.
            Re your point about the Spiritualists, there is the issue that those “asleep in Christ” are currently disembodied and do not receive their resurrection bodies until after the Last Judgement. On the other hand, Moses was physically recognisable to the three disciples at the Transfiguration.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            The only problem with that, of course, is that while there is no question that Paul believed in the resurrection, which he rightly regarded as a sine qua non of the Christian hope, he does not actually say that the resurrection in which he believed was a physical one. The fact that he included his own vision of Jesus in his list of Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances to his disciples, without any suggestion that it was in any way of a different kind from the others, suggests that he did not assume the other appearances to be physical ones, especially since he never makes any mention of any empty tomb. As the late Canon G.W.H. Lampe said:

            “…in this case I think that the argument from silence has unusual force. For the situation in which Paul wrote I Corinthians 15 was that some of the Corinthians were denying that there is a resurrection of the dead (I Cor: 15: 12). In answer to them Paul marshals every possible argument, and in particular, he adduces the known fact that Jesus was raised from the dead as the foundation for belief in the future resurrection of Christian people. If Jesus’ Resurrection is denied, he says, the bottom drops out of the Christian gospel. And the evidence that he was raised consists in the appearances to himself and to others. Had he known that the tomb was found empty it seems inconceivable that he should not have adduced this here as a telling piece of objective evidence.”

            That those “asleep in Christ” are currently disembodied and do not receive their resurrection bodies until after the Last Judgement is a mere matter of personal belief; it can hardly be said to be an article of the Christian faith, and I have no reason to accept it.

            As to Moses being physically recognisable to the three disciples at the Transfiguration, if we assume for the sake of argument that Moses was actually an historical personage, I would be most interested to know what pictorial record made this recognition possible. It can hardly have been a photograph or a video. By which contemporary artist had Moses had his portrait painted, and where had the disciples seen it?

          • The Explorer

            How about the Apostles’ Creed: “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”? (I grant you, that doesn’t cover when it will be. For that you have to look at ‘Revelation’.)
            It needn’t have been, “Ah, that’s Moses!” “Who are you? Ah, Moses!” would fit the data equally well.
            I’d love to continue the discussion about St Paul because you’re interesting to talk to, but I’m away for a week tomorrow and I have to pack. Apologies. Keep your thoughts on hold for some future relevant thread. Regards to you.

          • The Explorer

            Both Peter and James (Jesus’ brother) thought that they had seen the risen Christ in bodily form. In ‘Galat9ians’ and ‘1 Corinthians’, Paul says thqat he had met with them to ensure his preaching was the same as theirs.
            If one thinks of the restrictions of writing on a scroll, then the argument from silence is considerably weakened. Why repeat the already known if you wanted to cover new material?

          • magnolia

            I agree with much of what you say, but NDEs are much more widespread than just the spiritualists, and it is not their belief in an afterlife that is objectionable to orthodox Christians but all that stuff about familiar spirits, seances, and asking Aunty Mabel if she is alright, and mediumship, and sometimes, let’s be honest, the sheer lack of quality of the whole outfit.

            No problem about asking whether your Aunt, Uncle, parent, dog, pet parrot whatever is alright, or even sending them a message, but only through Jesus, who understands both this world and the next, is my understanding!

            Though no doubt someone will disagree, which is one of the pleasures of this blog!

          • Happy Jack thinks you’re confusing the physically earthly body with the resurrected body. The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns to earth, He will physically raise all those who have died, giving them back the bodies they lost at death before judgement and our eternal destinations.

            “Jesus said to them in reply, “You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
            (Mt 22:29-32)

            “Jesus said to her (Martha), “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
            (Jn 11:22-26)

            “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day.”
            (Jn 6:40)

            “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.”
            (Jn 5:28-29)

            These will be the same bodies people had in their earthly life—but our resurrection bodies will not die and, for the righteous, they will be transformed into a glorified state, freed from suffering and pain, and enabled to do many of the amazing things Jesus could do with his glorified body.

            “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
            (1 John 3:2)

            “But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.

            So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

            If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
            (1 Cor. 15:35–44)

          • cacheton

            fruits…. later fruits….??

            ‘…he is everywhere potentially through the Holy Spirit anyway.’

            Yes, but not PHYSICALLY. This is the point I seem unable to get across!

          • The Explorer

            Who was running the world while Christ was in the womb?
            Christ seemed to suggest the Spirit could not arrive until He left. Christ is, I believe, in Heaven (the temporary Heaven that is to be replaced by the New Heaven and the New Earth), in a resurrection body that is like and unlike a physical body. He also indwells believers through the Holy Spirit.
            All this is difficult, and I do not profess to understand it fully yet. But the fact that it is so difficult is in its favour. If it were merely a human invention, it would be much simpler.

          • cacheton

            ‘If it were merely a human invention, it would be much simpler.’

            Oh, then may I suggest that you have not fully explored your multidimensionality yet, then?

          • The Explorer

            Myself, I prefer St Paul’s solution. Now, we see through a glass darkly. But then, face to face. I’m quite content to wait.

      • cacheton

        I think you have nailed it there, with the word ‘objective’. A word which doesn’t seem to feature in this whole article about the pros and cons of faith schools. One has to wonder why!

        • Busy Mum

          And what is the ‘objective’ of organisations such as the British Humanist Association?

          • cacheton

            I don’t know, but I would expect it has something to do with pointing out incompatibilities in religious belief systems. Naturally, due to the nature of belief systems (what I think should be studied at school…) this will result in the person/people subscribing to particular religious belief systems feeling ‘offended’ or attacked.

            But, what is wrong with pointing out those incompatibilities?

          • Busy Mum

            This whole article is about people like the BHA feeling ‘offended’ by schools which operate according to a different belief system whilst obtaining better results. Rather than ‘critically examine’ their own belief system and acknowledge that a belief system to which they do not subscribe is not only incompatible with but may actually be superior to their own, they will attempt to impose their own ‘belief system’ on everybody. Removing faith schools will greatly reduce the opportunities for showing up these incompatibilities.

          • cacheton

            I do not understand how ‘not teaching what the bible says’ is imposing a belief system on anybody.

          • Busy Mum

            Where did I say that?

          • cacheton

            You said ‘Rather than ‘critically examine’ their own belief system…they will attempt to impose their own ‘belief system’ on everybody.’

            That is what secularists fear that faith schools do, which is why they are complaining. Secularists may themselves subscribe to atheist belief systems, but I am not aware of them actively teaching them in schools.

          • Busy Mum

            But secularists and atheists are not forced to attend faith schools so what are they complaining about? They are allowed to withdraw from specific lessons and assemblies and if they don’t agree with the over-riding ethos of the place, they can set up their own school or home-educate. That is what ‘people of faith’ do, so why cannot ‘people of no faith’ do the same? Or is it that people of no faith are actually jealous of people of faith and secretly wish their nonbelief was equally productive, positive and constructive?

          • cacheton

            They are complaining about having to, if their catchment school is a faith school. Why should they have to set up their own schools just because the state fails to provide a school near them free from belief? It is normal that those who want the extra set up their own schools, rather than forcing the extra on those who do not want it.

          • magnolia

            You are mistaken. Education began with the church. Teaching the basics of the faith in a church school is not “extra” it is core. Historically core. It is the atheists and pagans- a small minority, and those who think Eastern religions are cool (usually a Westernised trendy form of same with most of the angst felt by Easterners at things like reincarnation conveniently airbrushed out) who have moved and are the revisionists. Nothing “extra” at all.

          • cacheton

            Don’t you mean that it was the church who began the educational system? How does that justify teaching beliefs which have been shown to be false, or at least need clarification, still today?

          • magnolia

            Easy answer. Inculcating belief is not the way of any school these days. Teaching what Christians believe is part of the curriculum, and in a Church school there is worship and a relationship with the local church. In clubs there is space to have a Christian Union, or a group for those who are seekers. Roman Catholic schools may operate somewhat differently.

          • Busy Mum

            But these CofE schools were set up by Christians; so why should it be Christians who have to do all the hard work of setting up schools all over again and hand their existing ones to the secularists/atheists on a plate? Ii can sympathise with secularists who feel that they may not do quite such a good job as the Christians did, but that’s not the fault of the Christians is it?

          • The Explorer

            Agreed. One may not be fully conscious of one’s own world view. One may reflect it in what one says and does without even being aware that one is doing so. I know people who use the term ‘Mother Nature’ without full awareness of what they are saying.
            (Correction: Parent B Nature.)

      • Dominic Stockford

        I have just sent off letters doing the same myself. Did you, as I did, explain clearly and bluntly why you did so when you did so?

        • sarky

          Yep, also got the Christmas shoebox appeal stopped at the school, due to most parents not being made aware of the evangelising nature of samaritans purse.

          • Dominic Stockford

            There’s an irony in that action of yours – I dislike the Shoebox Appeal because we are banned from putting anything specifically Christian into them…

          • sarky

            Its just put in afterwards or given alongside. V v sneaky! !!

          • Dominic Stockford

            They remove them if they find them, and blacklist the source. They think presents are more important than truth.

          • sarky

            My understanding is that they want to put their own literature in, called ‘the greatest journey’. Kids are then lured to evangelising events, so the gift is not really free and comes at a heavy price.

    • cacheton

      ‘I have never come across a ‘person of no faith’ who withdraws their child from assemblies or RE lessons, even though they are quite entitled to do so; why not?’

      I read an article by a parent who did do this. The result was traumatic for the child, who did not understand why he was being segregated, resulting in great emotional upset (teachers had to enforce parents wishes overriding the emotional wellbeing of the child) and was bullied by others who also did not understand, but saw his withdrawal as a ‘difference’ and therefore reason to bully.

      People of no faith hope that their children’s critical thinking skills will eventually be able to deal with anything they may be subjected to in these assemblies and lessons, and do not withdraw them to avoid aforementioned scenario.

      • Busy Mum

        If I withdraw my children from something, I make quite sure that they fully understand why.

        • magnolia

          Probably with decent grammar too!! I withdrew my daughter from being forced to see plastinated cut up corpses displayed by that gunther von something with the scary looking face. It was at her request, and the biology teacher was furious. She was completely delighted, and many of the other children were envious! Disgusting to impose on children, and there is no need for it whatever but it is the kind of things that secularists love, because it flies in the face of normal human, and religious sensitivities about death, and decent burials, and so on.

          • The Explorer

            Decent grammar died with the grammar schools. Instead we got Chomsky, linguistic universals and the inequity of cultural imperialism. (Expressed, however, in decent grammar. Without that, we would not have understood the message. It’s why advocates of dialect always use Standard English to express their advocacy. If they wrote in dialect, too few people would understand them.)

      • Politically__Incorrect

        The fact that one child, forcibly withdrawn from the activities of the majority has suffered, is hardly an argument to bring the educatiob of everyone else into line with the wishes of parents, who seem more interested in dogma than the well-being of their child. Better to either let the child attend, or move him/her to another school.

  • IanCad

    Interesting post Gillan.

    Education needs a complete overhaul. For several centuries the same inefficient system has been followed. Why we are still promoting the same method of teaching is beyond me.

    The tools are available for a first-rate education that bypasses the state as the means of indoctrinating our young .

    Sal Khan is educating Bill Gates’ children. Why is he not teaching ours?

    • magnolia

      If we were beginning from scratch we would have a far more home and internet-based learning interspersed with days of seminars and socialising and debate, I suspect. There is, as some have pointed out, nothing normal in sitting in a room with 30 people of your own age group with whom you only have the age group in common, and there is no other stage in your life at which that happens, so to suggest it is preparing you for life afterwards is actually false.

      • Busy Mum

        Unless they mean preparing children for life as servants of the state….

        • alternative_perspective

          Which is of course what education has become!
          The state is gradually nationalising childhood and turning them in to apathetic, homogeneous consumers. It won’t be long until dissent is outlawed to prevent further disruptions to the political classes.

      • alternative_perspective

        May I add: 30 hormonal, generally insecure and presently ill (or partly) educated individuals. Surely it would be better to educate children amongst stable, civilized and well educated individuals?

    • donadrian

      It is not the case that ‘the same … system has been followed’. What we have seen in the past fifty or sixty years is a complete rejection of the content, philosophy and practice of the liberal and humane education which has been one of the glories of the Western world since the time of the Greeks. The values implicit in Church schools remain the last breath of a great tradition, so it is no wonder that they come under attack.

      • IanCad

        Good Point!
        Content has changed into meaningless tosh.

  • When I chose my son’s primary school, I had the option between our two village schools – both good schools though one definitely better than the other, both C of E. I also had the choice to try to get him into the nearest Roman Catholic school which was several miles away and in many ways inferior to either of the two village schools. It should surprise nobody that I chose to go for the better of the two C of E local schools, despite being a Roman Catholic. Practically every RC parent in the village made the same decision. I have had criticism of the choice from some RC relatives and friends – but not from my priest, or any Catholic in the village – or indeed anyone who knew the schools involved. So it isn’t just a choice between “faith” school or not – I can’t imagine many parents whose first priorities would not be to find a school where the child would be happy and well taught – whatever the faith ethos or lack thereof.

  • The Explorer

    What is education for?

    In the film ‘Full Metal Jacket’, the Marine Sergeant says, “You will be sent to Vietnam and some of you will die. But the Marine Corps will live for ever. Through the Marines, you live for ever.”

    Therein lies a materialist education theory for the nation state. The purpose of education is to equip the individual to be a successful member of the nation state; for the state is more important than, and will outlast, the individual.

    For the believer, however, the soul will still exist when the nation state is history.

    These two different views of time inevitably lead to profoundly different theories about the purpose of education.

  • cacheton

    ‘it is logical to see schools make space for those who subscribe to their beliefs.’

    Well there are several things that could be picked up on in this article but this quote particularly shows that Gillan is missing the secularists’ point. You do not mean ‘those who subscribe to their beliefs’, you mean ‘the children of parents who subscribe to certain beliefs, who (the children) will therefore have less opportunity of critically examining these beliefs and deciding what to believe for themselves’.

    • Albert

      There are two errors here. Firstly, parents are the primary educators of their children, not the Church, not schools, not the Government and certainly not secularists. Secondly, the idea that children of religious parents have less opportunity of examining their beliefs is false. In a society such as ours it is the lazy secularist child who never examines his beliefs.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        Very good point. I would add that what secularists call “critical examination” is often just anti-Christian propaganda. Nobody can make an objective assessment unless they are presented with unadulterated information and without prejudice.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Well, the choice is between deciding as a parent what is best for your kids or letting the state decide for you. By letting the state decide you are letting all kinds of people, most of whom neither you or kids will ever meet, decide the how your children are brought up. You have to assume that the state always knows better than you, the parent.

      Most parents, quite rightly, don’t trust the state any more than they trust politicians. Our children are not the property of the state. They are entrusted to their parents for safe nurturing, including (where desired) spiritual guidance. It is time the state understood that parents are more than just breeders and feeders

    • dannybhoy

      It is surely inevitable that parents will want their children to succeed in life? So loving caring parents will send their children to the schools which they as parents believe will give the best possible education.
      The same is true of other cultures, is it not? In fact some cultures actually worship their ancestors and actively seek to please them. Would you condemn them too, and if so what is your solution?

  • The Explorer

    ‘Critical’ is a loaded word. It need not mean evaluative. Trace its origins and they lead you back to the Marxist Frankfurt School who applied the principle of “critical theory” to every academic discipline.
    For ‘critical’, then, read ‘undermining of western values in whatever manifestation’.

  • Dreadnaught

    The issue of faith schools has been totally skewed.
    If the lessons of Northern Irish faith schooling have not been learned by now – too bad. They were Christian but promoted the cause of bigotry and division from an early age.
    Arguing for discrimination based on parents preferred religion or religious sect is a failed morality and should be denied any public encouragement.
    Stick to your Sunday Schools and after school Madrassas or whatever.
    Religion of one brand is hell-bent on over-population while another is hell-bent on wiping out anyone who opposes it.

    How would you like it if your kid the only Christian being sent to Allah Nokiddin Jihadist Academy?

    • magnolia

      Your argument is wretched as secularism is in itself a creed which you wish to force down the gullets of others, no matter how much they don’t want it. You assume that everyone does want it and it is good. Many of us don’t want our children brought up and educated in a dreary godless state-worshipping moral vacuum. We don’t just not want it, we hate loathe and detest the idea, and wish to retain our choice, if that is alright with you. And in a free society it is imperative that you honour that. Otherwise we are talking a godless fascist state. Surely to goodness your dislike of “discrimination” should work both ways if it works at all, and frankly I find it an overwrought and paranoid view of what actually happens.

      The state does not own our children. Our children own themselves, (and I would add under God) and their own parents are the supreme arbiters and caregivers other than in cases of very obvious and rank neglect.

      • Dreadnaught

        I sense a touch of indignation in your response which does not challenge the points I made.

        • magnolia

          Your timelines and historical appreciation are deeply wrong. Christians pioneered education. Christians resourced education. You are the revisionists.

          It is disproportionate and irrelevant to drag the disputes between adults in parts, only parts mind, of Northern Ireland and apply that to the whole of the UK. Incidentally much of the bad feelings in Ireland are due to the following of Malthusian doctrine which helped create the Irish famine and which, despite the fact that he was a clergyman, were deeply unChristian and unbiblical, but are still cherished by many social Darwinists.

          • Dreadnaught

            Christians pioneered education
            Only because it allowed the Church to replicate itself with drones and deprive the wider population any access.

          • magnolia

            Never heard of altruism and idealism? Never understood self-giving love? Never noticed how many of the underpaying self-sacrificial jobs are stuffed full of Christians?

            You are judging others by “The Secular Society” motives, and they are a cynical lot who “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

            No sense of wonder. Nothing logical about wonder, is there? Why one would wish to push this misery out on other people’s children, and rob them of their innate sense of wonder and assumptions of God and eternity is beyond me. It is not education it is destruction.

          • magnolia

            “Deprive the wider population of access”.

            This is laughably inaccurate historically, At the time most the first church schools were set up there were almost no atheists. Sorry, but your beliefs have mostly been thought ludicrous and self-evidently crazy through most of recorded history across the world. But even since then secularists and humanists have proven remarkably reluctant to fork out for any charities, have never initiated any major charity to my knowledge, and have a very chequered human rights history by %. Just think Soviet Russia.

            So you lot neither were, nor are you still, “the wider population” nor do you have the levels of numbers nor of altruism whereby you would or could fund education if you so wished, as latecomers to the party.

          • sarky

            Band aid, comic relief (30 billion and counting)
            Not bad for secularists. Funded quite a bit of education in Africa I believe.

          • magnolia

            How is that initiating? Comic Relief is essentially an imitative mixture which is mostly a funding vehicle in which the public give to projects chosen by a committee, with a lot of good publicity thrown in for the celebrities who give their time free, some of whom are Christians anyway.

            As for Band Aid it copied what other agencies had set up, sometimes funding them, and was run by Bob Geldof who I believe had or has some kind of faith.

            By “initiate” I meant being the first to see and meet the need, such as countless early education projects, the Clapham sect projects, the RSPCA, the NSPCC, the RNLI, the hospice movement, Oxfam, CAFOD, Tear Fund, CARE, and such. Pioneers. Not so much the famous giving half a % of their massive yearly incomes with inbuilt fanfares.

          • Royinsouthwest

            How does providing a service “deprive the wider population of access” when it increases the proportion of the population who have access?

            Most people in Wales were literate in Welsh a couple of centuries ago thanks to the activities of the Sunday schools which had the children for a fraction of the time that today’s schools have them.

    • Busy Mum

      I wouldn’t like it so I would home-educate instead.

      • Dreadnaught

        And if you were someone without the obvious intelligence you have – then what?

        • Busy Mum

          I cannot imagine any Christian, whatever their IQ, liking the situation you have depicted. Christianity is not dependent on intelligence.

          • Dreadnaught

            Christianity is not dependent on intelligence.

            So it would seem; judging by some peoples submissions. 🙂

          • Busy Mum

            Yet many intelligent people have been, and are, Christians.

          • DanJ0

            Indeed. Just in case I don’t say that enough here myself.

          • chiefofsinners

            Yep – people with the intelligence to realise how stupid they are.

          • Watchman

            Paul writing to the Corinthian church:

            “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the
            weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’

          • carl jacobs

            A gentleman would have let that opportunity pass by.

            Unless of course it was directed at Jack.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrr ………

            Can someone explain in simple terms what on earth this catheton person is going on about?

          • carl jacobs

            Goal!

          • Grouchy Jack

            Irony, Carl ….. you still don’t get it Grasshopper

          • carl jacobs

            Did you see that great corner kick Dreadnaught laid up for me? One barely had to move the head.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Own goal ….

          • Miles Christianus

            Well, pilgrim, he sure ain’t no scientist.

          • The Explorer

            Cacheton. It means ‘chubby cheeks’ in Spanish, I think; although that has no bearing on your question. He’s a pickn’mix new-age pantheist. We’re all god, or gods, and need to release the divine power within us. Christ did it more successfully than most. In a previous discussion with him he rejected my contention that only the repentant redeemed are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. There’s also an issue – gnostic in inspiration, I suspect – about Christ’s resurrection body. That’s the gist.

  • Dominic Stockford

    When my congregation started they decided, two years later, to found a school to promulgate the Protestant Gospel. They paid for it to be built, they paid for the land, they paid the salaries, they paid for its upkeep. All that despite their decision to allow all who wished to attend, no matter what their ‘faith position’.

    For 65 years they did and paid for everything. When an education act took over such schools they allowed the local authority to have use of their building for a peppercorn rent – which continued until the school was moved to a bigger site in the 1970s. And, when the education authority took over, the church stepped back from involvement.

    We wanted the school, a faith school – so we paid for it, lock stock and barrel.

    What annoys me, and many others today, is that people want faith schools for ‘their faith’ but aren’t prepared to pay for it. Preferring instead that the rest of us, who do not share their persuasion, should have too pay for it. And even, when places are short, that our children are forced to go there or nowhere.

    If your faith wants a faith school then your faith should pay for it, lock, stock and barrel.

    • Watchman

      Dominic, you have neglected to say that the state has already taken all our money to pay for a system which poses as education which is, in fact, no more than a method of ensuring that our offspring are brought under state control in what they learn about themselves and the society in which they are brought up. If we could start again we could have our money back and pay for whatever education we would value and the extent to which we would value it. I know this wouldn’t suit Gillan notion that we can’t start again but unless we try we are sinking deeper and deeper into a globalised hell hole where so many false assumptions are made and being taught about the nature of man and his relationship with God that we are eventually going to be incapable of even having an intelligent and informed debate on the subject. It will be announced by the BBC that, like climate change, the debate is settled and beyond discussion.

      I have travelled extensively in third world countries where education is bought directly by poor parents because it is valued and seen as a way of digging families out of poverty. It is not valued here because there is no real poverty, merely pretend poverty where people can accuse governments of being beastly to anyone they deem to be poor. Withdraw all state education, give us all our money back and let parents decide what type and length of education they want for their offspring. Universities should also be privatised. Sorry, Gillan, we could start again but won’t and not for the reasons you imagine.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes, indeed, not just our one little school, but taken money from all of us to teach us what they want taught to us.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Every child is entitled to a free education. If Christians should pay again to have a ‘Faith’ education, should not ‘Atheists’ pay extra for an education that excludes all religious teaching? Many years ago there was a suggestion that there should be a voucher system and you use your voucher wherever you wished including private education. Of course this did not fit with socialist thinking. If you want private you forfeit your education entitlement.

      Our church school is fully independent because it does not want state intervention. Ofsted visits do have to be handled with care of course!

  • preacher

    In my experience, children are quite capable of deciding what they believe in as they grow to maturity & are exposed to the different beliefs or non beliefs that they find in the World.
    I know of some who have been raised in a background of faith, in schools & family, who have rejected the principals of the faith that they were taught. I also know of others who have found faith despite the lack of teaching on the subject.
    The question really is, what is the starting point of a child’s education? Is it in the positive atmosphere of a historic faith, that has principles that govern ones life, attitudes & actions to others. Or in the IMO negative teaching of the humanists which seems to be outspoken & idealistic, but short on answers, most of which are ” Don’t Know”.
    We have seen the teaching of Christianity being slowly eroded in our schools for decades by the empty philosophies brigade, to the point that most state schools now teach a ‘don’t know’ excuse for R.E that they term ‘ Comparative religions ‘.
    So when can we expect Comparative Maths or Comparative English to arrive on the curriculum?.
    Surely this is why so many parents who have no personal belief or faith, choose to send their children to faith schools if possible, even attending their local places of worship in an attempt to prove eligible for a child’s place. Because they are generally of a better standard of education & thus offer their child a better start in life & prospects for a better life upon maturity.

    • cacheton

      ‘….short on answers, most of which are ” Don’t Know”.’

      Oh my! Please answer – Does Jesus have a physical body in 2015? Where is he now? Why do you believe that the Bible is the word of/has anything at all to do with … God? What was Jesus doing for the 18 years of his life that are missing from the Bible? In what way is the idolising worship of Jesus not breaking the commandment not to worship idols? How is discriminating against certain groups of people compatible with the commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself? Oh my oh my….

      • The Explorer

        “Where is he now?” Do you know C S Lewis’ essay ‘Miracles’: essay, not book?
        If not, here’s a flavour. “There may be natures piled upon natures, each supernatural to the one beneath it, before we come to the abyss of pure spirit… For if the story (the Ascension) is true then a being still in some mode, though not our mode, corporeal, withdrew at His own will from the Nature presented by our three dimensions and five senses, not necessarily into the non-sensuous and undimensioned but possibly into, or through, a world or worlds of super-sense and super-space.

        • cacheton

          Well quite. You seem to be making my point for me.

          though not our mode ie: non-physical

          I would say dimensions piled on dimensions rather than natures piled upon natures, for the very reason that ‘nature’ implies physical, to some anyway.

          • The Explorer

            supra-physical rather than non-physical. Not the same thing at all.

          • cacheton

            well i just found ‘adj not physical; without physical presence.’ for supra physical. I was taking them to mean pretty much the same thing.

          • The Explorer

            My dictionary treats ‘supra’ and ‘super’ as the same thing: above, beyond.
            So I’d say superhuman, for instance, is not the same as inhuman or non-human. It means human plus some, human on steroids, human on stilts. That sort of thing.
            So supraphysical = super physical = physical plus some. Able to eat fish, but also able to go through walls.

          • cacheton

            I see things the other way round. So ‘human’ or ‘physical’ is ‘sub spiritual’. I would say things start with God, rather than humans. God ‘densifies’ himself to operate in dimensions more and more – dense, physicality being really quite dense, so in this dimension we can even type on computer keyboards and converse with other physically incarnated people who we’ve never met, and physically touch the bodies of people we do meet. The downside of this is that due to the ‘density’ we forget where we’ve come from, and some of us even go as far as to find fun in killing others of us.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, I see what you’re getting at. What is the basis for your belief?

          • cacheton

            …falls off chair laughing ….

            experience. who needs belief when you have experience.

          • Miles Christianus

            Here’s an “internal experiment” for you: list the things that you believe in (physical and ephemeral) that you have no experiential evidence of. See you in a few years…

          • The Explorer

            Have you encountered DanJ0? He’s sceptical about those who claim to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Psychological rationalisation.
            I haven’t encountered what you’re describing. How do I know you aren’t mistaken? Why should I be persuaded by your subjective account? It’s like writing a reference for yourself for a job interview. I want an external opinion.

          • cacheton

            Oh dear explorer, you don’t know I am not mistaken, only I can know that. I can of course kid myself too. You should not be persuaded, but you could try for yourself and get your own subjective test results. And be honest about whether you are kidding yourself. External opinions are not possible, unfortunately. This is internal experience we are talking about, and the moment you put words to them they are diminished. If someone else voices an opinion on your internal experience, it tends to be counter productive.

          • The Explorer

            Another impasse, I see. We’re running out of things to talk about. Never mind, you have your inner resources. As Thomas Harris says about Hannibal L: he can entertain himself for years at a time. Have a nice life.

          • Miles Christianus

            And here you are talking about theoretical constructs that require as much faith as anything based on theology.

          • cacheton

            Not faith or belief, experience. As with any theory, you have to test if it works, and if it does you can then validate the theory. This kind of theory is only testable in the theatre of inner personal experience.

          • Miles Christianus

            Sorry, are you espousing faith here? How else are you going to believe in a non-testable multiple universe model?

          • cacheton

            It is testable, but as I said, only in the laboratory of inner personal experience.

          • Miles Christianus

            Whoa. Poles part here. Are you equating lab experiments to thought experiments (aka philosophy?)

          • cacheton

            Well call them thought experiments if you like, but if they have physical effects, if they cure people of so-called incurable diseases, then I would say that is a bit more than philosophy.

          • Miles Christianus

            Some people call it inspiration

      • preacher

        You seem to have a very limited response to most things my friend.
        I believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ so yes I know that He has a body.
        Do you know where the Prince of Wales is at this precise moment? If not, does that mean he does not exist?.
        The Bible is a historical work that has been proved true many times by archaeological finds, it explains the origins of a complex design that essentially needed a designer, rather than the vague ideas of evolutionary chance. Lives have been changed for the better after people, have encountered Jesus Christ & followed Him & His teachings from the Bible. If you’ve ever read a text book, you will understand my point.
        What relevance do the ‘Missing’ years of Jesus’ life have to do with anything? I’ve never met you & don’t know you, – never heard of you until today. But I believe you exist because of your post. So it’s irrelevant that I know your history.
        With regards to idols, I believe in the living person Jesus Christ, so sorry, I worship Him, not an Idol.
        If you’ve read any of my other posts, I think you will find that I try my best not to discriminate against people of any belief or none. I may not agree with their beliefs, but would rather indulge in open debate than resorting to bigoted criticism.
        I hope this answers your questions.

        • cacheton

          ‘I believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ so yes I know that He has a body.’

          I’m sure I’m not the only one here who would point out that belief and knowledge are not the same thing. You can base beliefs on knowledge, but not knowledge on beliefs.

          • Miles Christianus

            Are you talking about knowledge in terms of “facts” here?
            Like the fact of the clockwork universe?
            Or the fact of general relativity?
            Or the fact of quantum mechanics?
            Consider that all your beliefs are be based on a shifting scientific paradigm and will disproved in time, then come back and tell us why we’re wrong.

          • cacheton

            yes both christianity and science are based on shifting paradigms, because the scientific method is based on an unfalsifiable assumption and so is the existence of god.

            Science manages to update itself however, whereas christianity won’t update its’ 2000 year old book….

          • Miles Christianus

            I think you mean that the scientific method is based on falsifiable assumptions.

            Christianity doesn’t need to update itself as it is not a science, it is a faith.

          • cacheton

            No, I mean that the scientific method is based on the assumption of naturalism, which is unfalsifiable.

          • Miles Christianus

            The scientific method is based on falsification. You have an hypothesis (H1) and the null hypothesis (H0). You try to “prove” H0 by default. If you can’t, you accept H1. Science, man. Dig it.

          • cacheton

            No dear, SCIENCE is based on falsification, but the method by which science is done (ie; the falsification method) is based on the assumption of naturalism, which itself cannot be falsified. If something has an effect, there is a reason for it which can be proved using the scientific method, they say, even if we can’t prove it yet….. There are several things which have proven effects but for which the causes are unknown… not least the existence of life and consciousness. But by definition if these causes do not fall under the assumption of naturalism, they will not be able to be studied by science. Then we get the argument that neuroscience is only in its’ infancy, even though in order to contain and produce all the memories and imaginings of the mind the brain would have to have several times as many cells as it actually does have, then we get the argument about feedback loops being the key though nobody has ever seen one or explained how they may work….. on it goes.
            Yeah man science, I dig it as without it I wouldn’t be able to post this message.

          • Miles Christianus

            Dude, I got as far as science is but science isn’t. Science is. period.

          • cacheton

            NO.

            God is. Science does.

          • Miles Christianus

            Agreed

          • Miles Christianus

            Sorry, I was being un-Christian. I’ve re-read your post……Still not getting you. What’s your point. Science is science and faith is faith —- “Believe” it or not, but one can have both.

          • cacheton

            Mmmmmm.
            I’m not sure. Not if one wants to have integrity. You cannot use one method for finding out reality (science) and discard logic on Sundays. I know some people do, but I think there is a lack of integrity somewhere in there.

          • Miles Christianus

            You question my integrity? Really? Do you know me? My background? What I’ve done? What I’ve experienced? Why I seem to know a damn sight more about science than you do but still have faith? Careful.

          • cacheton

            Oops I seem to have touched a nerve (aka unconscious belief). What exactly should I be careful of?

            OK I’ll jump ahead a bit. Maybe I should be careful of ….

            ….inviting you to consider that your conscious religious beliefs may have grafted themselves on to unconscious beliefs about separation from god/divinity which are, for what I hope are obvious reasons, painful? And which, of course, in no way impair your ability to do or understand science.

          • Miles Christianus

            Stand by

          • Miles Christianus

            Sir. I am a scientist. I am a Christian, And, as a soldier in some of the worst hellholes in the world I saw some waking nightmares that people like you would never believe. Do not dare to tell me what reality is. Ever. Do you understand me?

          • cacheton

            Even in this internet conversation, I understand that you are very angry. About something.

            Have a good evening.

          • Miles Christianus

            About many things. But these impair neither my understanding of science, nor my faith in Christ. Good evening to you, also.

          • Anton

            Science is based on faith in the scientific method. I hope that we can all agree on that. The question is what it is. Falsifiability is a notion popularised by that overrrated thinker Karl Popper. When I held postdoctoral research contracts in physics and mathematics in our universities I assumed that Popper was the man who understood it, but deeper reading taught me otherwise. A theory must be TESTABLE rather than falsifiable, meaning that the probability we assign it must be capable of being changed by experimental data. That means it must make predictions. Also, theories are testable against each other, not in a vacuum, eg Newton nonrelativistic vs Einsteinian relativistic mechanics. The latter hoovers up all of the probability. but someday technology might improve to the point that discrepancies are observed and a better theory needed, in which case that, after discovery, would win.

            Popper got himself tangled because he accepted probability yet rejected induction, and they are the same when each is done properly. What scientist would say that he longs to see his theory proved wrong?

          • cacheton

            Thankyou. Very interesting.

            So how would you test the theory that everything has a material explanation?

            How would experiments that have shown that the power of the mind can overcome chemical properties (people given relaxants but told they were stimulants being stimulated rather than relaxed for example) change probabilities?

            People keep telling me to read Popper – I haven’t yet. Having read your post maybe I should read something else instead.

          • Anton

            Don’t read Popper. If you want to see where and why he is wrong read David Stove, a very witty philosopher who exposed his errors. But I don’t think you’ll learn much philosophy of science from Stove; indeed I think that the philosophy of science is a negligible subject that has been worked up by the likes of Popper and Kuhn (another anti-inductivist). I have far greater respect for the history of science. In fact Kuhn was a first-rate historian of science who fancied himself a philosopher.

            Physics is about material explanations and assumes them; it is a form of truth but has its limits.

          • Albert

            No. Science is based on methodological naturalism. If it were based on naturalism the whole project would be begging the question quite unnecessarily.

          • preacher

            How about – I believe that if I put my hand in a fire it will be burnt & painful?. So if it helps, I know that Jesus Christ was physically resurrected. Because a reliable source, The Bible states it as fact & the events following, involving personal & collective witnesses agree with the Scriptures.

          • cacheton

            Well of course you believe that, because you know what fire does. I do too.

            Jesus ascended into – well somewhere else, some other dimension. Why do you believe he has a physical body now? I am not questioning the physical resurrection.

          • preacher

            “Jesus ascended into – somewhere else, some other dimension”. If you are stating this as a fact, Which I hope, but doubt, the obvious answer is having physically survived death, – why not?.

          • cacheton

            WHY NOT? WHAT? Do you seriously think that is a credible reason or even hypothesis to put forward? I mean, why not spaghetti monsters, or chocolate teapots orbitting earth, or …. or …. ????

          • Miles Christianus

            Peace, Cacheton. You seem to have genuine inquisitiveness and wonder about you. Don’t belittle yourself by espousing tired Dawkinisms.

  • Owl

    Why were grammar schools destroyed?
    Simple, they were too successful.
    The search for the lowest common denominator is still in full swing.
    btw. It’s far easier to influence the uneducated as any good Fabian knows.
    Another point. Bullying.
    Common Purpose just take it to a higher level. Think “group think” or you’re out.
    Educated people are a danger to the system.
    ergo, the system is the problem, not faith schools.
    I will be voting UKIP.

    • Royinsouthwest

      They were destroyed by public school educated leftists at a time when they were suffering from the competition provided by people who had been educated in grammar schools. Ironically this was all done in the name of “equality” and even today. after social mobility has stalled for some decades, leftists are still in denial about the results of their educational policies.

      • Owl

        Agreed but…..
        are they in denial? I rather think that they have achieved what they set out to do.

  • Inspector General

    The secularists and the humanists will not rest until faith schools are binned. They whine on about the public purse paying for it, as if public money (taxes) is atheist money as soon as it is extracted from believers. To compound the situation, militant homosexuality views them as even worse. To this tiny but noisy crowd, Christianity has blighted gay people’s lives for two thousand years apparently, and we would have had gay marriage in the time of the Romans had Christ not paid us a visit. Furthermore, the only reason two men cannot freely make love in the street today is down to the products of faith schools, so you will be told by the enlightened.

    Now, these objectors when in alignment poses a very serious threat which cannot be ignored. It is also perennial in nature. Rather like God’s kingdom, never ending.

    So, the question is this. Can we entrust the survival of faith schools to the Conservatives. The same people who gave us same sex marriage, and as soon as 10 Downing was approached by homosexual militants demanding the pardoning of 48,000 convicted criminals, a Prime Minister who said he’d consider it.

    • Royinsouthwest

      “… we would have had gay marriage in the time of the Romans …”

      If gay marriage had existed in any country at any time since recorded history began I think it is safe to assume that gay rights campaigners, the politically correct media, and politically correct politicians would have made sure that we would all have heard of it.

      • Inspector General

        Well they have, the militants. Going on about the ‘noble love’ in the bath houses, so they were. They even tried to impress that Caligula (or was it Nero) ‘married’ a boy.

        The problem is, that despite the Inspector’s investigations, he cannot find any reference to homosexual goings on outside the Roman aristocracy. One is left to the awful conclusion (from the militants point of view) that a couple of plebeians caught bumming in the street would find themselves confined in the coliseum, close to the animal house.

    • Anton

      Makes you wonder what he got up to at Eton…

  • Jeremy Poynton

    The Left abhor the idea that parents should be able to choose what school they want their children to go to, indeed, what type of education their children should have. They need to butt out – it is none of their business how a parent educates their children.

    • DanJ0

      At some level, it’s everyone’s business how a child in our society is educated. Communally, we have to deal with the consequences of a poor education. Moreover, there’s surely an element of social justice involved too if we think equality of opportunity is a good thing. But perhaps some people don’t.

      • CliveM

        DanJo

        To a point I agree. Those who leave school without the skills required tend to have higher offending rates. Also as I help pay for education through my taxes I don’t want to see them wasted. So yes we all have a stake in education.

        I suppose where we would disagree is in the detail of what a good system is.

        • magnolia

          But it is unfair if everyone who pays taxes thinks that they have a right to decide how someone else’s child is educated. Not least because the parents and family of the child will have themselves paid taxes, and the child will pay tax, and above and beyond all that parental work is unpaid, but very necessary to society. No parental work no future workers put simply. All these factors complicate the picture substantially.

  • Miles Christianus

    In my experience, far from being elitist indoctrination machines, church schools are the only ones that are willing or able to attempt the provision of a decent education in the most deprived areas, whether urban or rural. My own school’s moto of Deus et Pauperibus wasn’t some trite mission statement.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Every child is entitled to a free education. If Christians should pay again to have a ‘Faith’ education, should not ‘Atheists’ pay extra for an education that excludes all religious teaching? Many years ago there was a suggestion that there should be a voucher system and you use your voucher wherever you wished including private education. Of course this did not fit with socialist thinking. If you want private you forfeit your education entitlement.

    Our church school is fully independent because it does not want state intervention. Ofsted visits do have to be handled with care of course!

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    If faith schools are not fair then what is? Comprehensive schools are certainly not fair as selection is based on proximity to schools, giving those with the most money the ability to buy their way into any school they wish for their children. I believe the London left have been able to work this scam very well for themselves (eg. William Ellis School in Camden).

  • Martin

    Secular schools are as much faith schools as any church school. And they also have their creation myth to go with it.

    • sarky

      So your saying creation is a myth? ??

      • Dominic Stockford

        No, he’s saying what they believe is a myth.

        • sarky

          What he actually said is “and they also”, which implies that he believes creation is a myth.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        I’m saying their creation story, that of Evolution, is a myth.

        • sarky

          Hmmm!

  • The Explorer

    About two thirds of the way though this thread, Guglielmo Marinaro asserts that Paul did not believe in a physical resurrection. I’m away for a week from tomorrow, and currently too pressed for time to take him up on it. But it’s a interesting point, if anyone else can follow it up with him. You can’t miss him: just look for the sailor avatar.

    • Miles Christianus

      I’ll try to have a butchers tomorrow.

      Happy trails

    • sarky

      If it wasnt a physical resurrection, how did doubting Thomas feel the wounds???

      • The Explorer

        Simple. Invented story. Prove Julius Caesar existed. Prove that the Armada happened.

        • sarky

          Hmm so the bible has invented stories in it? Who would have thought.

          • The Explorer

            Is that the issue? Or how to establish historicity?

          • sarky

            Pretty big issue isnt it?

          • The Explorer

            Yes, and equally so for secular history. Do you know the book ‘In Defence of History’, which tackles the problems raised by the posttmodern approach head on?

        • Linus

          There are contemporary inscriptions, sculptures and likenesses of Gaius Julius Caesar that place his existence beyond reasonable doubt. He passes the basic test of historicity: multiple consistent witness from independent contemporary sources.

          Whether or not every deed and word ascribed to him are accurate is another matter, of course. Much may be embroidered or even invented. It’s therefore best to maintain a healthy level of skepticism when discussing the detail of his life story. Did he really say “et tu Brute” when stabbed to death in the Senate? Is that how he really died? We don’t know for sure.

          When it comes to the Spanish Armada, again there are contemporary documents, artefacts and multiple consistent witness accounts that place its existence beyond all reasonable doubt.

          Try finding any of that for Christ. All we have are four manuscripts, only two of which support the thesis of a miraculous virgin birth, collected and compiled by a single organization with a vested interest in making sure the founder of their cult appeared as a superhuman being. There are no contemporary documents. Jesus didn’t leave any writings himself, nor do we have a single authenticated likeness or even a single artefact of his existence. Everything rests on the bible and on the passing comments of a couple of classical historians who mention having heard of a Jewish cult figure. Oh, and one inscription that proves the existence of a minor character in his life story. That’s it. Not very convincing, is it?

          We can safely say that Gaius Julius Caesar did exist. As did the Spanish Armada. But if we say that Jesus existed, we’re not stating a supported and independently corroborated fact, but rather expressing a personal belief.

          • The Explorer

            What about the statue of Poseidon? Does that prove his existence?

          • Linus

            No reliable consistent witness has ever reported meeting Poseidon, interacting with him and obtaining reasonable proofs of his identity and then affirming that his statue is a reliable likeness.

          • The Explorer

            Agreed. I wasn’t suggesting that Poseidon existed: only that the existence of his statue cannot be used as evidence for same.

          • Pubcrawler

            ‘Did he really say “et tu Brute” when stabbed to death in the Senate?’

            No. His actual final words are reported as ‘kai su, teknon’.

          • Linus

            “Reported as” by an historian who wasn’t present at the event, who may or may not have actually spoken to anyone who was, and who may just have been reporting a popularized phrase rather than a verbatim utterance.

            We have to be very careful of the detail of ancient history because so much of it is either heavily embroidered or completely fabricated in an attempt to cast figures in either a heroic or a villainous light.

          • The Explorer

            We’ve established that, using the approapraite criteria, the past is knowable. (That’s a huge concession to establish, for any form of history: secular or sacred.) The probelm of vested interest affects all history: the only account of Boudicaa is by a Roman historian whose son was killed by her. Objectivity issue?
            If you want a list of books about the evidence for the existence of Christ I can give them to you once I’m back home. In the interim, when an historian of the stature of Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen says we ought to take the empty tomb seriously tyhen it’s time to re-evaluate.

          • Linus

            Boadicea is a good example of a figure that everyone takes to be historical, but whose existence does not pass the basic test of historicity.

            Of course that doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. But it does mean we only have one account of her, with all of the problems and issues that a single witness statement creates. How accurate was that person’s view of her and her story? Did he have an axe to grind? Did she really exist or was she made up as an alibi to cover up incompetence or negligence?

            Multiple reports from independent sources all corroborating the details of Boadicea’s life would give us confidence in her existence. As things stand, she can really only be understood as a semi-historical, semi-mythical figure who may have existed and may have done some or all of the things attributed to her. That’s all.

            The same is true of Jesus. If there existed even one independent source that corroborated the stories outlined in the bible, his existence could be established as an historical fact. But such sources simply don’t exist. Plutarch and Suetonius merely report stories they had heard well after (and on a different continent than) the events they supposedly describe are said to have taken place. Their contribution to the discussion is hearsay presented as fact. They establish the existence of stories about a Jewish messiah, but they do not corroborate the biblical accounts in any way.

            The issue I have with Christians who maintain that we have historical proof that Jesus lived is that they seem incapable of distinguishing between fact and hearsay and are at best ignorant and naive (and at worst downright dishonest and manipulative) about how they present their claims to the world.

            The absence of verifiable historical evidence for Christ does not mean he did not exist. You can choose to believe that he did, but to do so is an act of faith rather than a logical deduction made by examining solid evidence.

          • The Explorer

            There’s more tthan hearsay. I’ll refer you to the books when I return.

          • The Explorer

            To be going on with, one needs to consider oral tradition, the proximity of the Gospels to the events depicted, archaeological evidence for the veracity of the general background, the criterion of dissimilarity, the criterion of embarrassment etc. Also, to account for the emergence of the Church and the readiness for martyrdom if Christ was a non-existent figure. Also why early opponents of Christianity did not use non-existence as an argument.

            Craig Blomberg’s ‘The Historical Relaibility of John’s Gospel’ is a good starting point; although extremely boring because so focused on minutiae.

    • magnolia

      2 Cor 12.3
      Referring to his own experience, he says he was “caught up into Paradise, whether in the body or out of the body I do not know”.

      In 1 Cor 15 he posits a different body. Surely the use of “body” means physicality, though not of the same sort we experience right now.

      Have a good journey.

  • Terry Mushroom

    I’m not clear how the Humanist Association, and others wish to answer the questions they raise. Is their solution similar to the Greens: ban religious instruction on the premises during school time? Nationalise the schools with appropriate compensation paid to the faith bodies that own the land and buildings? (EG. Roman Catholics build and pay for their schools.) Or what?

    • Linus

      Nationalise the schools without compensation. Assets like school buildings and land should be counted as part of the fine imposed on organizations that promote illegal discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, etc.

      • magnolia

        Etc.?

        Incidentally you seem pretty keen on discriminating against women, heterosexuals, Christians and the British, but no doubt we are all subhuman in your eyes. And that is quite a lot over 50% of the human race……. oh dear!

    • Dominic Stockford

      And why should Roman Catholic’s not build and pay for their own schools? It isn’t the religion of the British Constitution, and no more ‘belongs here’ than many other ‘faiths’ you might have mentioned.