Religious scripture in classrooms

24


Discussion by: Powell_Daniel

Hi Everyone.

I am a recent atheist, and at school we are basically forced to do religious scripture once a fortnight. I recognise that Atheism is not a religion, but the only religion you can use as a substitute is "Non-religion" I think that this is just ridiculous! It appears that they purposely make non religion absolutely horrible to force people into a religion of some sort. As a consequence I have been doing Bahai scripture for several years now. (I dont believe in the Bahai faith) But anyway, my question is;

Should there be some kind of Atheist so called "Religion" ? So to speak, as well as non scripture? But you learn about Darwin's theory of evolution. (Sorry for any gramatical errors, i'm only 14 years old and can't really express my question; but I hope someone understands where i'm coming from.

 

24 COMMENTS

  1. Have you asked your teachers in this subject to provide you with any suggestions? This doesn’t sound like a balanced exposure to religious or moral thought. Just between you and me, my opinion is that if they can’t give you at least one decent answer, they are incompetent, ignorant or dishonest. One pretty simple answer is Humanism or Secular Humanism. Here are some places to look for more info:

    A plug for an interest of mine: I had some experience with a zen buddhist group. I think the fundamental teachings of the Buddha are non-religious [[ As best I know, he did not claim divinity and did not advance any deities. So if you disregard any mystical or supernatural stuff that was tacked on, you don't lose anything.]] I concluded he was perhaps the “first” atheist (the story of his enlightenment has him being assaulted by all the various gods, Hindu I suppose, and withstanding each assault. To me this reads ‘he freed his mind from the concept of god(s)’.

    This essay might be of interest “Was the Buddha the First Humanist?” by P. D. Hutcheon http://www.humanists.net/pdhutcheon/humanist%20articles/buddha.htm. PBS did a good documentary program you can see online. http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/

  2. Powell_Daniel said, “I am a recent atheist, and at school we are basically forced to do religious scripture once a fortnight. I recognise that Atheism is not a religion, but the only religion you can use as a substitute is “Non-religion” I think that this is just ridiculous!”

    Yes, this is ridiculous, you can’t replace religion with something that isn’t a religion, just by claiming it’s a religion. . The only possible reason for trying to make atheism a religion, in America anyway, would be to make it possible to teach religion in a public school since we have separation of church and state and forcing religion on anyone in a public setting is illegal, however, they have been breaking the law for as long as I can remember and it’s only getting worse.

    • In reply to #3 by Linda TX:

      Yes, this is ridiculous, you can’t replace religion with something that isn’t a religion, just by claiming it’s a religion. . The only possible reason for trying to make atheism a religion, in America anyway, would be to make it possible to teach religion in a public school since we have separation of church and state and forcing religion on anyone in a public setting is illegal, however, they have been breaking the law for as long as I can remember and it’s only getting worse.

      In Australia, Secular Humanism was once legally defined as being not a religion, and that’s why it was ruled that it could be taught as an alternative to Religious Instruction. Fortunately that’s changing. Secular ethics is now considered an allowable alternative to R.I. in several states. There’s still a ways to go, though, in getting equal funding and access across the country.

  3. If you’re looking for something to replace these activities with on the basis of being atheist, I’d suggest that you do science instead. However, if it’s school mandated, in a class intended for scripture, I’d say – just do it anyway. You don’t have to believe it, but it is still knowledge of sorts… and that is never bad.
    Atheism is of course not a religion and shouldn’t be treated as such. I don’t know what sort of social climate you have at your school, and I realize it can be hard to voice your opinion on these matters. But what I would do here is apply the critical thinking of atheism in these scripture classes. Do what comes naturally to you as an atheist while writing scripture. You still learn about the Bahai faith and you’ve “practiced your religion” as your teacher probably would put it.

  4. atheism per se is no religion.. if you want to call it anything, let it be philosophy.
    there is not a lot wrong with doing scripture, as long as you remember that it is not true. (know your enemy..). clearly you are already at that point at a young age and many in your classroom are not.. that´s what´s a big pity.
    and you may be better off (assuming you live in the USA ??) doing the religious faiths that are practiced there in stead of a completely foreign one.. as I wrote a few lines back.. it is important to know/ recognise your enemy, know what bs their faith is based on and you can better fight their stupid notions.. good luck with non believing by the way.. which is the only way to go..

  5. Sorry, but did I miss something? “Scripture” is a term I associate more with fundamentalists and evangelicals but I didn’t incorporate that into my earlier reply. When you said “religious scripture”, were you referring specifically to the Old and New Testament? Is the distinction they’re making that [Old and New testament] = Religion and [Anything else] = Non-Religion, that is Islam, Hinduism, etc. just do not even qualify as religions? If Bahai is Non-Religion then I guess this might be the case. Any sensible person would admit that these are all religions and depending on which one you’re in the others are not the true religion. Maybe this is so, because I’d expect any sensible person to accept that these are religions. I’d expect that a member of one would consider the others not to be the true religion. Is this a public school? The answer should be “no” but I fear it’s “yes”.

    On a lighter note, you can add the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Pastafarianism) to your list of fun stuff to investigate. Wikipedia has entries and you can also check out this http://web.archive.org/web/20100427132348/http://www.venganza.org/

  6. From your post, I take it your school has some kind of “religious studies” curriculum, and you are able to choose which religion you study during these periods. If so, I’d second the Buddhism suggestion. Because, (a) it ought to be acceptable as a religion worthy of study (unlike Pastafarianism, which might be rejected for being a spoof), and (b) it’s very different from what I suspect is the “mainstream” religion you’re expected to study.

    Plus, it might actually be interesting.

    If they won’t go for Buddhism, how about Scientology? Last time I looked it claimed to be a religion (for tax purposes) in some countries.

    Nice try with “atheism”, but I’m sorry to say I wouldn’t expect that to work. You probably wouldn’t be allowed to study pottery or dance or cookery instead, likewise atheism, as none of these are religions.

    • In reply to #7 by OHooligan:

      From your post, I take it your school has some kind of “religious studies” curriculum, and you are able to choose which religion you study during these periods. If so, I’d second the Buddhism suggestion. Because, (a) it ought to be acceptable as a religion worthy of study (unlike Pastafarianism, which might be rejected for being a spoof), and (b) it’s very different from what I suspect is the “mainstream” religion you’re expected to study.

      Plus, it might actually be interesting.

      If they won’t go for Buddhism, how about Scientology? Last time I looked it claimed to be a religion (for tax purposes) in some countries.

      Nice try with “atheism”, but I’m sorry to say I wouldn’t expect that to work. You probably wouldn’t be allowed to study pottery or dance or cookery instead, likewise atheism, as none of these are religions.

      But keep in mind scientology is a pure nutcase scam invented by writer of science fiction The Church of the Spaghetti Monster was intentionally satirical. I had my first experience with the calmness and clarity of mind one can get from meditation when I spent a whole day at the pottery audio trying to throw 24″ cylinders; I went home feeling awesome.

      About #8 by fabi11975, it’s worth adding Baruch Spinoza. Given that religion was such a pervasive cultural force, looking at schismatic and heretical movements might be interesting. I think you can find precursors or parallels to non-secular thinking in a lot of them; for instance: Martin Luther, Roger Williams. Other stuff: the Abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglas, Women’s suffrage, Union movements.

      • In reply to #9 by whiteraven and N_Ellis :

        scientology is a pure nutcase scam invented by writer of science fiction

        and
        >

        Scientology is a dangerous mind control cult built around a spoof religion

        Exactly. Which would make it eminently suitable as a religion to study, don’t you think?

        As for Pastafarianism, I do like the point that getting the teachers to call it a spoof is a step in the right direction, so I’m happy to change my opinion on that one. Go for it if you want to hit them head on.

  7. Some writer and philosph hav the same question. For all argument against the scripture, : henri d’Holbach, against religion, Ludwig von Feuerbach, Friedrich Nietzsche, Dawkins, or Michel Onfray

  8. As an atheist, I’d say go for Pastafarianism (The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). Reducing religious fanatics to frothing incoherence is an endlessly amusing game if played properly. If your tutors say its a spoof religion and not a valid choice, they are already in your power, you can say they have offended your religious feelings. Pastafarianism uses all the same “logical justifications” that other religions use, and fanatics can’t object without conceding that their own religions’ use of them are ridiculous.

    Scientology is a dangerous mind control cult built around a spoof religion, but one that isn’t recognised as such by its own members (victims), and you should avoid it at all costs.

    Buddhism however, is the least bad genuine religion.

  9. Atheism is not a philosophy or ideology, and religion should be taught as myth 101 not as fact.

    What you really need to study (and enlighten all your friends about) is ‘The Church of the SubGenius’, the world’s only admittedly for-profit, non-tax-deductible religion! It teaches a complex belief system, which focuses on J.R. “Bob” Dobbs.

    Start with: YouTube – church of the sub-genius: SLACK explained (and)
    SubGenius Commercial – Episode 6: Reverend Ivan Stang & the Church of the Sub Genius by NewWorldManifesto – there is a lot to learn so I’ll let you get started.

    If you want to listen to some inspirational music while studying go to YouTube where you can find the great Wesley Willis. “They Threw Me Out of Church”.

  10. Hi Daniel,

    I understand your situation, I am the same age as you and used to go to a Church School where I found the sheer stupidity of some of the teachings in the bible to be extraordinary. This further displays why it is so important to get religious teachings out of schools and only teach fact not fiction. If it is a matter of grades then do the best you can on the religion you know the most about but make sure it is under protest. My current school is a grammar school for the inteligent and so I am lucky to now be at the head of a large and growing atheist community so I dont feel so alienated but it is still important to keep up the fight and not let them subdue you. For example, when one of the speakers at a lecture I was attending went on a rant about how we atheists were going to hell and how Darwin’s theory does not make sense and was written by Satan , myself and fifty other atheists stood up and disputed his easily counterable claim.

  11. “they purposely make non religion absolutely horrible” This should not be the case!
    If they are doing this they are biased against Atheiism and as someone else said they are incompetent.
    If they are talking about Darwin then the whole of science can be covered – that is not horrible, it’s wonderful! Then you have Secularism, Humanism, Philosophy, well anything that isn’t religion! After all ‘non-religion’ is really just that – everything else.
    So wherever you are going to school ask the ‘non-religion’ teacher to do better and suggest a few things…

  12. I think you should flatly refuse to participate in ANY form of religious studies at all. It is your right, and you should stand up for your rights IN FULL.

    Why not wear a blue shirt Religion Cure shirt from the RDF site while you’re at it. Good luck, be strong.

  13. Another thing you could do is ask them embarrassing questions such as why did god tell a biblical character to bake bread using human faeces as the fuel?

    Ezekiel 4:12-13 “And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.”

  14. Hi Daniel

    I was ‘forced’ to do Religious Studies right through to my O-levels. It helped me in a few ways:
    – I quickly realised how religion was man-made.
    – It means I know more about the bible than most Christians I meet.
    – I had a lot of fun asking my religious studies teachers lots of difficult questions.
    I don’t regret it at all and actually quite enjoyed it. It was, in some ways, my first experience of philosophy, too.

    Anyway, all power to you – you sound much smarter and self-aware than I was at 14! Best of luck.

  15. Hi Daniel

    I was ‘forced’ to do Religious Studies right through to my O-levels. It helped me in a few ways:
    – I quickly realised how religion was man-made.
    – It means I know more about the bible than most Christians I meet.
    – I had a lot of fun asking my religious studies teachers lots of difficult questions.
    I don’t regret it at all and actually quite enjoyed it. It was, in some ways, my first experience of philosophy, too.

    Anyway, all power to you – you sound much smarter and self-aware than I was at 14! Best of luck.

  16. to paraphrase calrsberg;

    atheists don’t make religion, but if they did it’d be the best religion in the world

    if atheism were to be given the same legal status as religions, the religious would crap themselves. imagine being able to claim to be “offended” by everything that disagrees with your atheism (basically anything ever spouted by any religion anywhere).

    but in the interest of fair play, we choose to be honest and state we have nothing to replace religion with. other than a complete failure to have any need for it or a replacement

  17. Atheism is for a person who does not believe in a supernatural being or God. It is wrong in my opinion to say that an Atheist doesn’t believe in anything. I became an Atheist when I was around 14 or 15. I haven’t changed my view and I am now retired. I am going to read Darwin’s theory of evolution sometime as I do believe in evolution. I think it would be detracting from the point of Atheism, if it were to be labelled as some form of Religion.

  18. Daniel,

    Good question. Atheists are often told they need to replace religion with something better if they are going to attack it. I agree with posters above that Humanism provides a good secular alternative (humanists can also be religious believers by the way). However, I feel that in saying this Christians make the mistake of assuming the things they do that are good are because of god. If god isn’t real then who is caring for the poor or giving comfort to the dying and sick – its just people doing these things. So for me the question is do humans need to believe in eternal punishment or reward to do these things or not? I seems to me that if god doesn’t exist then the religious are doing things because they are de-facto humanists doing things that they would be drawn to doing otherwise or they are doing it out of fear of punishment or hope of reward. I would hope that religious people would thing better of themselves than that. to quote Sam Harris ‘religion gives people bad reasons for doing things when good reasons already exist’.

    So the question should be asked of the religious, what would you do if you lost your faith? I’m optimistic enough to believe the numbers of volunteers to secular organizations would swell proportionately.

  19. Hello, Daniel.

    It appears as though this topic has been thoroughly discussed, but I don’t see the harm in another few cents worth of thought. Personally, if I were in your shoes as I interpret them from your submission, I would bring Pastafarianism or Scientology to the classroom for the purposes of rich conversation. Pastafarianism would be far more amusing, I think. Scientology, while it is certainly good for a laugh, is depressingly taken seriously. Either would make a good conversation, in my opinion, which would be my goal.

    However, in regards to considering atheism a ‘religion’ of sorts is I think contradictory and a poor solution to this issue. Atheism is fundamentally non-religious, and should be treated as such. That said, I can see why you would much rather speak of it as opposed to bronze age bullocks. You mention Darwin, I assume you mean to speak of reciting lines from ‘The Origin of Species’ as some kind of ‘scripture.’ I think not, it cannot be attributed to atheism, nor is it a scripture by any means, marvelous though it certainly is.

    You mention that you can choose ‘Non-Religion’ as a subject? If I understand correctly, you mean it as you can choose instead of a bit of ‘scripture’ you can pick a non-religious book? You could use this as a way to include practically anything in your area of study. You say they make it horrible, I say make them eat this slip in the system with a few good authors. You can present Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Darwin, so long as it is not religious the list is truly gargantuan. You could present practically anything, depending on how much trouble you intend to stir. I’m sure Dawkins and Hitchens would cause a tab bit of commotion, but you could choose something far more subtle. Personally, I like causing a stir, and they sound like their feathers need ruffling.

    Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to defend your beliefs or lack thereof, stay true to yourself and don’t let the religious keep you from enjoying your youth. Best of luck to you, Daniel, try to have some fun with what would otherwise be a miserable task.

    Mr. Meredith

  20. As the saying goes, ‘calling atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.’ ha ha

    I will have to agree with whiteraven’s answer.
    Buddhism (in it’s inception) was/is more a philosophy rather than a religion. You could even check into Confucianism and Taoism.

    Here is a great, unbiased link you can use to check these out:
    http://www.religionfacts.com/

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