Teaching children that dinosaurs didn’t exist: how public schools fail their brief

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Religious education in Australian schools should be scrutinised: most parents do not want children to be taught creationism, or their daughters told that their nipples are a ‘temptation to men’.

A Victorian primary school principal last week described lessons in his school as “rubbish,” “hollow and empty rhetoric” and with “no value whatsoever.” He closed down the special religious instruction (SRI) classes and explained:

I was blindly accepting and approving these activities in my school until I started taking a closer look at the material and an even closer look at the actual sessions that the volunteers were conducting. I concluded that the material and the associated teachers and teaching methods simply do not reach the standard of quality educational practise that this school requires.

A teacher who found her son’s SRI class taught that dinosaurs never existed (God just planted the fossil record), called the lessons “unpalatable,” “offensive” and “unacceptable”.

Another primary school’s principal demanded an apology and is now hosting a departmental investigation after SRI volunteers gave year 6 children a “Biblezine,” advising girls how to avoid making their nipples a “distraction and temptation to men,” explaining that wives must “submit” to husbands and instructing children never to act on homosexual feelings. She called the material “completely inappropriate,” “against fundamental school values” and said it “smacks in the face of everything we do.”

This is hardly new. “The image of religious instruction … is at best a free period and at worst utter chaos,” complained an Anglican clergyman to the church’s Newcastle Synod, as reported in the Newcastle Herald in 1969. The major churches had already pulled out of providing SRI in South Australia, beginning with the Methodists in 1968. During the 1970s, the Tasmanian, Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian governments held inquiries into SRI, and New South Wales followed in 1980.

All registered familiar frustrations: SRI segregated children by religion, when public schools’ essence is inclusion; it created organisational headaches as increasing numbers of families (and churches) opted out; it relied on volunteers, whose main qualifications were faith and enthusiasm, not necessarily teaching ability or knowledge of the subject; it was unfair, since minority religions had trouble finding volunteers, leaving their children ill-served; and short, weekly visits made it hard to build up any meaningful rapport between instructor and class.

The state inquiries advocated replacing or supplementing SRI with “general religious education” (GRE), in which professional teachers (rather than volunteers) teach about different religions (not just one) and non-religious beliefs, as part of the regular curriculum, to their regular classes (not groups segregated by religion).

In the 34 years since the last of the state inquiries, GRE has become standard in England, Ireland, much of western Europe and Québec; but in Australia were implemented minimally or not at all, though some states offer it to years 11 and 12. Worsening the situation, as mainline churches vacated SRI in frustration, hellfire-preachers and evolution-deniers often filled the void.

Conducting surveys and interviews in 23 public schools in NSW and Queensland between 2009 and 2012, education researcher Cathy Byrne found that SRI volunteers “preferred significantly more conservative approaches” to their subject than parents, principals or professional teachers.

For example, asked whether they thought the Bible should be taught “as fact” and therefore “accepted without too much questioning”, parents and education professionals favoured questioning, whereas SRI volunteers tended toward “biblical inerrancy,” the view that the entire text of the Bible is free from error of any kind. In almost a quarter of the schools, Byrne found teaching to the effect that students or their families or friends would “burn in hell” if they did not believe the volunteer’s version.

Written By: Marion Maddox
continue to source article at theguardian.com

116 COMMENTS

  1. I am distracted right this moment…. by my OWN nipples.

    Hey wait, why would a man even have nipples??? Now I am really distracted and will probably spend a full hour rubbing my chest and contemplating vestigial organs. Curse you nipples!!!

    Oh, and, I teach in the US and we have deplorable shitheads running classrooms in many corners of our vast country. I have never heard any claiming that there were no dinosaurs. Even the short earth dopes add t rex to their dioramas starring adam and eve. (special nod and wink to Ken Ham).

    It seems as if in Australian classrooms no one has been looking in or checking for a really long time. Perhaps that is my perspective or errant because of limited information (if so I’d be glad to be wrong)… But, what do you expect when those that run the business are asleep at the wheel??? Like having an alcoholic run a pub; lose/lose.

    • In reply to #2 by crookedshoes:

      I have never heard any claiming that there were no dinosaurs.

      I remember coming across such a claim in the late 70′s while researching for a college paper on the problem of creationism, where the “fossils” were supposedly put there by Satan.

      • In reply to #6 by Billions and Billions:

        In reply to #2 by crookedshoes:

        I have never heard any claiming that there were no dinosaurs.

        I remember coming across such a claim in the late 70′s while researching for a college paper on the problem of creationism, where the “fossils” were supposedly put there by Satan.

        That’s the thing about faith-thinking science denial! There can be as many different and contradictory versions as their are deluded faith-heads or faith-head cults!

      • In reply to #6 by Billions and Billions:

        In reply to #2 by crookedshoes:

        I have never heard any claiming that there were no dinosaurs.

        I remember coming across such a claim in the late 70′s while researching for a college paper on the problem of creationism, where the “fossils” were supposedly put there by Satan.

        When you come across any answer that is either God or Satan, do what I would do when I was a child. Act ignorant of this God/Satan character and ask them to explain. “Sorry what? What is God/Satan? I’m afraid I don’t follow.” They’ll just repeat themselves but you must ask follow up questions in deep serious interest. As they explain themselves (they will sound very childish and delusional), just start looking at them funny then start laughing. Walk away laughing, waving your hand at them and call them a great kidder. You really have to sell the “are you fucking serious” face. They’ll feel dumb, might keep their mouth shut next time.

    • In reply to #2 by crookedshoes:

      Oh, and, I teach in the US and we have deplorable shit…

      It seems as if in Australian classrooms no one has been looking in or checking for a really long time. Perhaps that is my perspective or errant because of limited information (if so I’d be glad to be wrong)…

      While no actually wrong, that statement can give, or come from, an impression that is not quite right. Not long ago, Australia had a declared aetheist Prime Minister. Now we have a Roman Catholic who started his education in a seminary. This says really nothing about Australian atheism, or Australian Catholicism. More than anything it says that religion, one way or the other, is not an issue in australian politics.

      Schools neglecting and ignoring religious education are probably more the norm than the exception, permitting the fanatics to leap in to fill the breach, and the awareness that is surfacing may be “asleep at the wheel” but probably more like simply too busy to notice.

      This is not the US where you have a constant fight against well funded opposition to maintain sanity within the educational system. you have my respect, teaching rational science within that chaos.

      • Thanks. I love what i do and where I do it. The operative there is “where”. i am outside of Philly and the mayhem tends to be south and west of me. I am right now instructing my kids in the second unit of our Evolution coverage. The first unit is dedicated to the process of evolution…. speciation, isolation, adaptive radiation, hardy weinberg, and of course, Darwin and others (Wallace, Malthus, Hutton, Lyell, Lemarck, Linnaeus, etc,…). And the actual tenets of the theory.

        We started (yesterday) the second unit which centers on Abiogenesis and construction of a mountain of the evidence. All my kids have iPads, so we are just cracking along. Today we opened with a 17 minute interview with Niel Shubin; followed by a discussion of biogeographical distribution, atavism, self assembly of embryos, and molecular homologies using Tiktaalik as our organism. Monday I will show clips of the Dover Trial with Ken Miller and we will discuss exaptation. The kids learn about all sorts of cool evidence culminating with a collection of casts of skulls, gorilla, chimp, A. Boseii, H. habilis, A. afarensis, neanderthals and modern humans. We measure cranial capacity, brow ridge, the angle of the face, position of the foramen magnum, zygomatic arches etc…Shit that would get me murdered in many US states!

        In reply to #12 by Sheepdog:

        In reply to #2 by crookedshoes:

        Oh, and, I teach in the US and we have deplorable shit…

        It seems as if in Australian classrooms no one has been looking in or checking for a really long time. Perhaps that is my perspective or errant because of limited information (if so I’d be glad to be wrong)…..

        • In reply to #15 by crookedshoes:

          Thanks. I love what i do and where I do it. The operative there is “where”. i am outside of Philly and the mayhem tends to be south and west of me. I am right now instructing my kids in the second unit of our Evolution coverage. The first unit is dedicated to the process of evolution…. specia…

          Absolutely excellent work, the likes of which I wish I could have availed myself of at school, and which I’m sure you’ll keep up, but careful how you go; it would appear that you’re in the middle of a minefield.

          S G

    • In reply to #2 by crookedshoes:

      It seems as if in Australian classrooms no one has been looking in or checking for a really long time.

      I don’t think that’s true for the mainstream classrooms. They are subject to endless checking at least in state run schools. Simon Case explains what is going on here in Comment 32. Unfortunately the nutty US evangelicals have spread to Australia like all the rest of US culture. Some of our governments pander to them by allowing them minor inroads into the state school system. There was the chaplaincy programme under Howard and now this religion instruction rubbish. Various religious groups like Access Ministries are pushing a lot of this.

      I advise you get something soothing for that nipple rash.

      Michael

  2. Dinosaurs never existed because God just planted the fossil record. Am I the only one having trouble sleeping with the idea that some prankster God is running around planting dinosaur fossils? Perhaps fundamentalist Christians exist to test my faith?

    • In reply to #3 by Bob Springsteen:

      Dinosaurs never existed because God just planted the fossil record. Am I the only one having trouble sleeping with the idea that some prankster God is running around planting dinosaur fossils? Perhaps fundamentalist Christians exist to test my faith?

      Bill Hicks would have had so much fun with these loonies.

    • In reply to #3 by Bob Springsteen:

      Dinosaurs never existed because God just planted the fossil record. Am I the only one having trouble sleeping with the idea that some prankster God is running around planting dinosaur fossils? Perhaps fundamentalist Christians exist to test my faith?

      Do you remember the first time you visited a natural history museum and saw a dinosaur? I remember how my imagination was hooked. All the scenarios my imagination created sparked my childhood interest in owning a microscope and collecting rocks. My father had a few arrowheads that he found on the property before he built our home. I would dream of “Indians” living on the land centuries ago. I even used to wonder if an Indian mound was hidden in the back woods. Science opens up possibilities for wonder in a child. Idiots who say this is all planted are dream killers. They are also setting themselves up to be hated, when and if the grown child wakes up and realizes the lies.

    • In reply to #3 by Bob Springsteen:

      Dinosaurs never existed because God just planted the fossil record. Am I the only one having trouble sleeping with the idea that some prankster God is running around planting dinosaur fossils? Perhaps fundamentalist Christians exist to test my faith?

      That God fellow, he’s such a crackup!

  3. This, it seems to me, is an excellent example of the neuroses and inconsistencies engendered by organized religion.

    Claims that Dinosaurs existed at the same time as Homo Sapiens, exemplified by models of people riding them at the Creation Museum, together with assertions that no Mesozoic reptiles ever existed.

    And this self serving tripe abounds among the serried ranks of credulous blind faithers; they really must, at all costs, be kept away from children.

    I feel very sorry for their own offspring, many of whom will doubtless spend much of their lives either believing this rubbish or struggling to rid themselves of its intellectual shackles.

    At least people are waking up to the fundamental dishonesty and deviousness of such groups, and our own precious Secretary of Sate for Education has written to every school in the UK warning them about FGM.

    Faith Schools – I never thought I’d use those two words in conjunction in the twenty first century – are sneaking in gender prejudice in the employment of teachers and the separation of boys and girls, and of course they’ve already tried it on in Universities.

    Clearly there is a growing danger of backward religious dogmas seeping into the political culture of a number of developed nations, and it needs to be stopped.

    Political short-termism and vote junky antics by our politicians will no longer do; even if the politicians get the religious votes if they don’t get religion they could eventually get beheaded!

    Remember, although Tony Blair has no reverse gear religions have nothing but.

  4. Should any society allow large portions of its childhood age citizens to be taught lessons regarding known facts that are “unpalatable,” “offensive” and “unacceptable”, not to mention wrong, lacking in evidence and fraudulent? If not, why are children allowed in church? I accept freedom of belief but I do not accept freedom of promoting beliefs as fact when they are known to be false.

  5. This is one thing we don’t have to contend with in the US. Our public schools are actually secular. They are plenty of teachers and administrators who try to slip in some religion now and then, but a program like the one described above during school hours would be bounced out of business by the ACLU and the various non-theist public interest law groups before you could say “Piatnitzkysaurus.”

  6. When fundamentalist Christians talk about either God or Satan planting fossils they are not biblically contradicting each other. Their ‘holy book’ informs us that Satan works for God (Job 1:9-12) to accomplish the all-encompassing divine purposes.

    • In reply to #11 by Bob Springsteen:

      When fundamentalist Christians talk about either God or Satan planting fossils they are not biblically contradicting each other. Their ‘holy book’ informs us that Satan works for God (Job 1:9-12) to accomplish the all-encompassing divine purposes.

      Well, I’m glad some one is getting a paycheck out of this bullshit……

  7. Just when Australia was well on the path to healthy humanism a 1996 win by a right wing Coalition Government promoted a dark, noisome and futile attempt to return to ‘christian values’ (racism, ignorance, prejudice). But the humanist genie is ‘out of the bottle’ and its grown too large to stuff it back in. The nonsense reported in this news item was all the rage in the 1950s, without any complaints from the general populace. Nowadays its viewed quite rightly as child abuse and the resulting wave of outrage will further marginalise the christian right from mainstream Australian society. About time, too.

  8. Generally speaking state schools (public) will have a teacher supervising RE so such permormances would likely be reported. Classes the danger now with the rise of Economic rationalism is that the state (both parties) have taken to selling off national services, in my mind equating to tax rises for the stupid.

    Anyway govenrment is happy to let religious organisations handle education and more and more and I think would like to exit the sector altogether (because Australians can’t handle tax increases). So more and more some relgious private schools fill out the paperwork but operate their own way. In class inspections are rare this would be the prinicpals job and if he/she is religious…So when a scandal like this happens and nipples become involved some action might be taken we hope. But don’t expect anything proactive.

  9. Possibly a misclassification of this article. It’s not about religion and it’s obviously nothing to do with actual education, as in kids actually learning something. Maybe belongs in the politics section, or possibly criminal fraud & corruption etc.

    I’m surprised that there’s a school principle rocking the boat on this one. A clear case of a career limiting move. Possibly approaching retirement or about to leave anyway.

    I’m a little out of touch on this as my kids are now beyond the age range for RI in Australian schools. Last time I looked the original RI arrangements in Australian schools resulted from a policy driven by electioneering and political trade-offs behind the scenes in Australian politics. Some religious leaders are capable of delivering significant vote numbers in marginal electorates. Marginal electorate votes count for very much more than ordinary votes. And some religious institutions can effectively deliver concentrated doses of these extremely valuable votes, which makes them disproportionately crucial to democratic processes. This is an extremely valuable asset. And as with any valuable asset, it can be exchanged for hard cash.

    Payment for these democratically vital electioneering services can never be made transparently because it would reveal the true nature of democracy – something that must be avoided at all costs because voters would act differently if they realised how easily they were manipulated by covert transactions intended to enrich demagogues. Knowing this might undermine the entire basis of national political activity. Which means there needs to be some kind of invisible pathway (i.e. money laundering) to transmit the relevant public resources in exchange for services ostensibly rendered.

    As a payment vector for specific religious groups we have this substantially funded RI ‘program’ in Australia. To the extent that the taxpayer’s money received by the qualifying non- profit service deliverer exceeds the actual costs of delivering the RI program then you have a difference representing the net payment by politicians for electioneering services delivered by those religious institutions appointed as official RI service deliverer. I don’t know the current situation, but the original process for institutions qualifying as an RI deliverer was shrouded in obfuscation, subject changing, and weasel words.

    The easiest way of maximising the difference between costs and revenue is to minimise costs. Aka denominator management. Basically the service deliverer pays their program teachers virtually nothing. This implies attracting religious educators who are motivated by non-monetary factors to obtain close proximity to unsupervised children. This occasionally involves undesirable side-effects. Among others, young and inexperienced YEC enthusiasts are eager to exploit these opportunities. Possibly because of the influence of the relatively youth oriented megachurches, and also perhaps because of the very significant youth unemployment situation. Combine these 2 and you can expect to see exactly what seems to be occurring.

    It might be a good thing because you end up with otherwise unemployable youths obtaining critical work experience including learning things like how not to play computer games all day, how to show up somewhere on time, and how to engage socially with other humans in a non-church environment. They would also be learning essential influencing and sales skills which would equipment them well to sell financial or telecommunications services in a call centre selling ice to eskimos.

    This may be a good thing and possibly not really worth complaining about too much because these well-meaning enthusiasts effectively crowd out the alternative of having the RI classes delivered by other very low cost but highly ‘child’ motivated groups. Possibilities being drug dealers, pedophiles, rap musicians, tobacconists, star football athlete ‘role models’ (think performance enhancing underage nightclubs), sports drink manufacturers, or Islamist cells. Actual teachers being too busy and too willing to enjoy any excuse for a break from the little brats.

    You need to keep in mind that the expense that could otherwise be incurred by service deliverers actually providing genuine religious instruction by competent experts, in both subject matter and in pedagogy, would undermine the real purpose of the policy. (i.e. funds transfer, being too expensive and denominator too high.) This kind of concealed trade-off is an inevitable requirement of the democratic system of government. The prevailing situation is only noticeable at all because of some bizarre aspects of YEC dogma that children might inadvertently reveal to their parents.

    My experience with my kids and RI in Australian public schools is that the kids pretty much know it’s stupid. The outcome being merely that kids become uninterested and contemptuous of pretty much everything they’re exposed to at school. They particularly develop a healthy contempt for religion and religious people.

    Fortunately sports are not directly taught like this in most Australian schools. Both of my kids attended different primary schools and each school had a policy of not even allowing boys to play football in the school grounds during lunch breaks. Reason being to avoid costs of window breakages, there being negligible maintenance funding for most public schools in Australia. (Presumably funds having been diverted to RI programs instead.) This has the unintended consequences of allowing Australian kids to take their sport seriously, especially football, in contrast to their educational ‘opportunities’ or RI. So, unlike things like science or religion etc. Australian’s tend to be relatively successful internationally at sport. Though there have been some notably exceptional YEC players now earning huge professional incomes after qualifying for entry to the major USA creationist leagues.

    If anything it may be better to continue the RI policy both to avoid fatally undermining democracy and also to allow some of the more exceptionally gullible kids to adopt YEC beliefs as early as possible during their schooling. This could serve as a means of reliably identifying these kids as qualifying for some kind of special treatment as would apply to any other childhood learning disabilities.

    Continuing YEC classes in Australian public schools may also eventually lead to the collapse of religious institutions in Australia, which would have profound political implications for future electioneering processes, including the demise of democracy as we know it. Probably a good thing in the long run.

  10. Ah yes the old “you will burn in hell” bollocks if you don’t believe our lies. Sadly what these muppets fail to understand is that this only works if you believe in fairy tales.

  11. And I though Australia was a bright intelligent country run by those who want our children to progress in education.!!!!! If you really want to teach the Bible as fact then go to church and don’t expect the masses to believe such rubbish.

    • In reply to #19 by ikinmoore:

      And I though Australia was a bright intelligent country run by those who want our children to progress in education.!!!!! If you really want to teach the Bible as fact then go to church and don’t expect the masses to believe such rubbish.

      I’m sure it is. However, what those that peddle religion subconsciously realise, is that what religion needs to survive is ignorance and closed-mindedness.

      It isn’t a conscious realisation in many of them except for the few like Ken Ham, Ray Comfort and William Lane Craig who may or may not actually be religious themselves but who use religion as an industrial process for making money from the ignorant

  12. The article stated -” the entire text of the Bible is free from error of any kind ” – who’s error we talkin about ? Men…Roman scribes, Printers ?

    I think religiots underestimate the Ease with which they can be so easily deceived and indoctrinated…Its quite funny for atheists as ‘we’ are immune to the ‘magic religious dust’ – However we are not immune to the affect of religious delusions spilling over into laws in their favour…That’s a major error for all society….The truth always comes out in the end…..no matter how much you delude yourself….

  13. The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously, yet commenters are using this ridiculous idea to set up a straw man argument and mock all people of faith as lunatics on the fringes of pseudoscience. I guess if you want to rouse up the militant atheist base, this is effective, but if you want to address the deficiencies of science education around the world, it is counter productive.

    Millions of Christians accept the tenants of science while still embracing our faiths, but we get lumped into the “planting fossils” camp. Objective polls consistently show that a significant percentage of scientists (40% is the number I see quoted most often) are also men and women of faith. Many members on this site cannot accept the fact that science can neither prove or disprove God and just move on to larger issues at hand. Many other Christians believe the Ken Ham crap because they’ve been taught nothing else, and they just need some patience and a clear presentation of the facts. For example, I convinced a seminary trained friend of mine that a global flood was impossible. He changed his view in just 10 minutes. When you mock people of faith, you are not mocking humorous caricatures, you denigrate real people who are just trying their best to do good in the world and understand this life the best they can.

    I guess the big question for the members on this site is: Do you want to cling to this 19th century notion that religion (and by default all people of faith) poison everything and go on mocking all people of faith as morons, or do you want to acknowledge our differences and work together to help everyone understand our universe better?

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      Do you want to cling to this 19th century notion that religion (and by default all people of faith) poison everything and go on mocking all people of faith as morons

      What!!??

      Hardly a nineteenth century idea.

      Religion has found it way into all aspects of contemporary living. The fact that it has managed to adversely affect all of them to some degree is a reasonable position. Though finding many admirable religious people and instances of genuine boon, and in earlier times the clear sighted morality of Quakers with their return of moral responsibility to all individuals, the foregoing still stands and seems to worsen.

      You have, anyway, poisoned this chalice by all that you’ve poured into it. The fundamentalists are clearly identified. The sterling work of Ken Miller is identified. I can’t see the great preponderance of moron-callers…

      Do you see evolution as God’s mechanism? Did he simply press the start button? Did he get us over the hump of abiogenesis or the bigger thermodynamic hump of multi-cellularity? When and where? Are we created in his image?

    • HI Nordic. I’ve heard the one about Satan putting fossils in the ground to deceive man a few times but a much more common assertion is that scientist are rebelling against god. There are many smart Christians like you out there who are scientifically literate but I wonder why the bible couldn’t just get the creation of the universe right considering it was being inspired by the very entity that was supposed to have created it.Or at the very least explicitly stated that the genesis story is a metaphor. That’s all god would have had to do to avoid this silly situation.

      In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      • hey Ryan,

        That’s a great question. Many Christians, including myself, interpret the first two chapters of Genesis symbolically and not literally. In the Hebrew language, these two chapters are drastically different in form from the rest of Genesis, and the first chapter has strong poetical devices such as the use of “morning and evening.” These chapters were written centuries before true science even began (let’s say with Aristotle) and were intended for a nomadic people dwarfed by two dominate cultures: Egypt and Babylon. These first two chapters can be seen as a reintroduction of God to the Hebrew people while denying the gods of the other two cultures. Science and technology are so important to us, but in this ancient culture, science did not really exist and explaining science principles was not the purpose of these writings. This is where Ken Ham and scientific creationists go horribly wrong when trying to use Genesis as a science text.

        Hope that helps. Cheers!
        In reply to #26 by Ryan1306:

        HI Nordic. I’ve heard the one about Satan putting fossils in the ground to deceive man a few times but a much more common assertion is that scientist are rebelling against god. There are many smart Christians like you out there who are scientifically literate but I wonder why the bible couldn’t just…

        • In reply to #44 by Nordic11:

          hey Ryan,

          That’s a great question. Many Christians, including myself, interpret the first two chapters of Genesis symbolically and not literally.

          How about interpreting them as what they are? The made up stories that pre technological people told each other to try and explain a world they didn’t understand.

        • Hi Nordic. Thanks for the response. I guess what I’m trying to get down to is how much (if at all) do you think god was involved in the writing of the Torah. If it was involved in some way, the Jews who wrote it wouldn’t have needed science to have been invited yet because god is all knowing. If your saying that genesis is just something Jews made up them selves then were on the same page. If you think god was involved then it would have known that a literal interpretation of genesis was going to be fairly common and could have nipped the whole problem in the bud with a simple statement that the first two chapters of genesis are symbolic. That’s something your average red neck could understand without having to know ancient Hebrew. I actually live in a place were creationism is not considered a 19th century idea and it’s a real problem for anyone trying to teach modern scientific ideas.

          The way the first two chapters of genesis reads in Hebrew is an interesting fact, but it’s also one of the problems I have with the Bible. There is so much side information about ancient languages and customs and poetic devices that an average person around the world is never going to know and it makes it very difficult for people to understand what many biblical passages are trying to convey. Which is a problem when so many people look at the Bible as a guide book for life. Some of the Catholics who have posted here have twenty different books by all these saints and philosophers that you need to read before you understand the thousand or so pages of the bible. I all ways thought of the Bible as a book for the common man but in many ways little has changed from the days when everything Biblical was in Latin and you had to rely on the Church to tell you what it said. People today go to see their pastor at their church, the pastor went to a Bible college and knows a lot about the Bible that his congregation won’t know (many of the points you brought up) and it’s up to him to tell them but in many, many cases he doesn’t, and the people get whatever he decides to give them.

          Look forward to hearing from you. Cheers!

          In reply to #44 by Nordic11:

          hey Ryan,

          That’s a great question. Many Christians, including myself, interpret the first two chapters of Genesis symbolically and not literally. In the Hebrew language, these two chapters are drastically different in form from the rest of Genesis, and the first chapter has strong poetical device…

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging.

      Boo hoo! Sorry that’s no way to start a sensible discussion is it. But let’s look at what appears to be your assertion that religion does not poison everything. I presume you would further argue it does not poison anything.

      So here are a few examples. You are a science teacher. I’m guessing you are aware that evolution is part of the curriculum (at least it is in the UK) and yet my highly devout biology teacher refused to educate us in that section of the curriculum because it conflicted with his beliefs. The school (a Methodist run public school on the North Wales coast) did not intervene and provide us with an alternative teacher so we were left without that portion of the education. Do you assert that it is acceptable for a teacher to pick and choose what he or she teaches?

      You may be aware that if I were to refuse to employ a woman for a specific position or if I refused to employ half of a happily married homosexual couple I could be taken to court and sued and probably fined. Yet because God moves not in mysterious but rather misogynistic and homophobic ways, the big wigs at the church are allowed to get away with such violations of employment law.

      Undoubtedly you are aware that a certain church holds all life as sacred and therefore the use of prophylactics is banned. The result of this is that in certain parts of the world HIV/AIDS is being spread more rampantly that necessary. On the same note, in certain parts of the world a woman who is raped will be denied the opportunity of an abortion. While we are on the subject of sex, you being a science teacher and all, do you teach your pupils that they will go blind if they masturbate? Are you actually aware of any side effects of masturbation? No thought not, and yet it is a sin apparently.

      If I threaten you that some third party will beat you up unless you change your mind is that acceptable to you? So how about being told that unless I start believing in God he will have me burn in hell, is that OK.

      Coming back to the subject of sex for a moment, because we all know how deeply the religious love this subject. What is your opinion on the mutilation of the genitalia of children? Are you prepared to take a public stand and at least state that by performing these barbaric acts the perpetrators are effectively saying that God got the design of male and female genitalia wrong? How is it that a government that is prepared to ban the docking of dogs tales is prepared to look the other way when it comes to young boys?

      I really could go on like this for a very long time but nobody really wants that and by the sound of it my dinner is ready. But these few points just go to show how religion is poisoning the world to this day. I have no desire to mock the average believer, some of them are perfectly lovely people, but they are being fed misinformation either by charlatans or otherwise similarly misguided people.

      • In reply to #27 by naskew:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        While we are on the subject of sex, you being a science teacher and all, do you teach your pupils that they will go blind if they masturbate? Are you actually aware of any side effects of masturbation? No thought not, and yet it is a sin apparently.

        Does any religion actually teach this? I know it has been said by various religious but I’m not sure it is actually a doctrine or dogma anywhere. The Catholic reasons for opposing masturbation are more complicated than damage to your vision. Still stupid. in my opinion, but more complicated. Even if you can find such a religion do you have any evidence that Nordic11 is of that particular Christian persuasion? There are a lot of people who call themselves Christians and many of them, in fact most where I live, are quite sensible on matters scientific.

        Michael

      • More strawmen. Choose the very worst of religion and make me try to explain it. Heaven forbid we talk about the millions of “degenerates” murdered under the atheist regimes of Soviet Russia, N. Korea or Mao’s China. But I guess we both have better things to do that lob emotionally charge grenades at each other.

        Enjoy your evening.

        In reply to #27 by naskew:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        The comments on this thread are very discouraging.

        Boo hoo! Sorry that’s no way to start a sensible discussion is it. But let’s look at what appears to be your assertion that religion does not poison everything. I presume you would further argue it does not poison anyt…

        • In reply to #45 by Nordic11:

          More strawmen. Choose the very worst of religion and make me try to explain it. Heaven forbid we talk about the millions of “degenerates” murdered under the atheist regimes of Soviet Russia, N. Korea or Mao’s China.

          Strawmen you say.

          Stalin’s regime was based on atheism was it? Not Bolshevism? Not Socialism? Not Communism? Not Marxism?

          The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), not Union of Soviet ** Atheist ** Republics.

          In Russia atheists currently make up about 13%. 5% are undecided, spiritual but not religious 25%. So about 57% currently consider themselves to be religious. Unless we are to accept that all these believers were converted post Stalin, this suggests that the atrocities under Stalin were carried out by a predominantly religious population with only a small proportion of self defined atheists.

          They drink tea too in Russia, will you tarnish the reputation of tea on the same grounds.
          Strawmen you say.

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously, yet commenters are using this…

      ” Many members on this site cannot accept the fact that science can neither prove or disprove God ”
      That’s nonsense. We know science cannot prove a non-entity. There is a burden of proof on the Christians to “prove” god, not for science to disprove it. Are you sure you are a teacher?

      • Hey alf,

        Unfortunately, this another fallacy propagated within the cozy bubble of this website. The burden of proof does not fall to the theist; it falls to both the atheist and theist. The atheist challenges the theist to prove the mystical, miraculous nonsense of belief from the pure scientific method of reason. The theist challenges the atheist to deny thousands of years of faith, miraculous experiences, the ridiculous odds that intelligent beings are on this planet, the yearning humans have for the spiritual, and the improbability that some third rate group of tribes and a nobody carpenter from the backwater of the Roman Empire could evolve into dominate religions that persist for thousands of years and boast billions of followers.

        Both theism and atheism can explain the existence of the universe and humans when starting from their basic presuppositions, but the burden of proof of those basic suppositions falls on both of them. To the atheist, theism is absurd, but atheism is just as absurd to the theist. Sorry, but we have a stalemate regardless of the atheist’s protests to the contrary.

        Have a great day.
        In reply to #30 by alf1200:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously,…

        • In reply to #46 by Nordic11:

          Hey alf,

          Unfortunately, this another fallacy propagated within the cozy bubble of this website. The burden of proof does not fall to the theist; it falls to both the atheist and theist.

          This is nonsensical. The burden of proof of any proposition falls to whoever makes it. I can propose that unicorns really exist or that a very small chocolate teapot orbits the moon but it’s ridiculous to expect anyone else to waste their time trying to disprove the infinite multitude of such idiocies I could invent.

          Religion seems to think it has the right to make claims in a way that science never could or would. Any scientist, or even non scientist I suppose, could write a paper, submit it to a peer review journal and ask for an opinion. It will be judged on its evidence. No evidence, no peer approval. Simples. If the proposer then starts whinging that no one can disprove his crackpot idea so he’s just going to stick to it then he’ll be rightly dismissed as an idiot and ignored in future.

          There are circa 4000 religions today, all of them making absurd claims with no supporting evidence. Why would anyone sane waste their time needing or even wanting to try and disprove them when they have already failed for lack of evidence?

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously, yet commenters are using this…

      ” For example, I convinced a seminary trained friend of mine that a global flood was impossible.”
      Straw man argument?

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging…. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously, yet commenters are using this ridiculous idea to set up a straw man argument and mock all people of faith as lunatics on the fringes of pseudoscience…

      The thread does seem to have drifted away from the original topic, Special Religious Education in Australian schools. For those who live outside Australia, this was a scheme designed to win religious votes in marginal electorates. Although it was a bad idea to start with, there was precious little money for the scheme, so it is taught by volunteers, largely from fundamentalist organizations, who operate in a curriculum free zone. So one school might get “dinosaurs didn’t exist, God made the fossils for a joke”, another gets “dinosaurs did exist, and the Garden of Eden was fertilized by dinosaur poo”. In the original scheme, parents could opt their kids out of the scheme, but they were forbidden to use the time for studying, as this would disadvantage the kids who went to the classes. [I kid you not.]

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously,

      Just out of interest where do you teach ? This kind of think seems enormously variable.

      Michael

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      Objective polls consistently show that a significant percentage of scientists (40% is the number I see quoted most often) are also men and women of faith.

      From wikipedia:

      Among members of the National Academy of Sciences, only 7.0% expressed personal belief, while 72.2% expressed disbelief and another 20.8% were agnostic concerning the existence of a personal god who answers prayer.[133]

      Note this is the US National Academy of Sciences so I would expect weaker outcomes in other countries. The Telegraph in the UK says

      A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God – at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.

      Michael

      • Thanks for the source, Michael. My source was a 1996 Gallup Poll sited by Alister McGrath. I know I’ve seen other sources (perhaps in one of Gould’s books?) showing a 40% belief rate among scientists, but I can’t recall them now.

        As for where I teach, I teach in a Christian school with a wide diversity of opinion on creation issues. I teach a unit on various forms of creationism, and I’ve had several parents thank me for teaching the topic of evolution and theistic evolution to their children. But just yesterday, my son told me that his friend’s entire church hates me because I teach evolution. Fifteen years ago, I published an article on the old age of the universe and earth in a Christian teacher’s magazine, and I received hate mail for more than a year.

        So it’s not just on this site that I get beat up for my views.

        Thanks for your civility! Cheers!

        In reply to #37 by mmurray:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        Objective polls consistently show that a significant percentage of scientists (40% is the number I see quoted most often) are also men and women of faith.

        From wikipedia:

        Among members of the National Academy of Sciences, only 7.0% expressed personal belief, while 72….

        • In reply to #48 by Nordic11:

          my son told me that his friend’s entire church hates me because I teach evolution. Fifteen years ago, I published an article on the old age of the universe and earth in a Christian teacher’s magazine, and I received hate mail for more than a year.

          Have you ever received hate mail from atheists? I do believe, and I use the word believe intentionally, that creation is a myth. However my general attitude towards those that believe in creation is more along the lines of pity and not anger and certainly not hatred. However remember that you are in a position of power over the future of young minds. I would say it is your duty as a teacher to try to keep your mind as open as possible, and I will admit that by some standards the fact that you appear to believe in evolution (presumably kick started by a deity) is refreshing. You should be constantly seeking the truth. If you are not prepared to believe the 60% of scientists that are, according to you, atheist, then you can still draw on the 40% who are not for your truth.

          Your experience at the hands of the religious is, of course, nothing new. We atheists have been told for centuries that actually a kind and loving God will happily burn away our flesh in hell for eternity. Now as a good Christian you must firmly believe that the worst possible threat someone can make against you must surely amount to that they will deliver you to paradise a few years early.

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. I’ve heard … commenters … mock all people of faith as lunatics on the fringes of pseudoscience.

      Hi Nordic. By definition, all people of faith in gods are believers in pseudoscience….

      Millions of Christians accept the tenants (sic) of science while still embracing our faiths, but we get lumped into the “planting fossils” camp.

      Christians can only accept the tenets of science by ignoring or cherry-picking the revelations, dogmas & commandments of their faith….

      Objective polls consistently show that a significant percentage of scientists (40% is the number I see quoted most often) are also men and women of faith.

      There are many areas of science where conflicts with biblical inerrancy don’t occur or are easily slid past, but in biology, geology, genetics, physics, cosmology & other segments where conflicts are great, the compartmentalisation is much harder to maintain & faith is far lower.

      Many members on this site cannot accept the fact that science can neither prove or disprove God and just move on to larger issues at hand.

      Science cannot disprove any god until somebody tries to prove one first – we’re still waiting on that….

      Many other Christians believe the Ken Ham crap because they’ve been taught nothing else,

      Virtually all Christians are deluded believers because they’ve been taught nothing else….

      and they just need some patience and a clear presentation of the facts.

      Apart from the mundane bits, the facts of revealed Christianity are…?

      For example, I convinced a seminary trained friend of mine that a global flood was impossible. He changed his view in just 10 minutes.

      But The Flood is in your inerrant bible, so how can you argue against that Truth & still be a Christian…?

      When you mock people of faith, you are not mocking humorous caricatures, you denigrate real people who are just trying their best to do good in the world and understand this life the best they can.

      They are repeating the Trroooff as they have been ordered to believe it throughout childhood, with suitable threats for deviations….

      I guess the big question for the members on this site is: Do you want to cling to this 19th century notion that religion (and by default all people of faith) poisons everything . . .

      Unlike in religions, the facts & evidence speak for themselves on this subject….

      . . . and go on mocking all people of faith as morons . . .

      Only the ones who spread their crap in public or teach it to children.

      . . . or do you want to acknowledge our differences and work together to help everyone understand our universe better?

      Our differences are intractable when you insist that the universe was poofed into existence by your specific magic deity dude, while we tentatively accept non-magical reality as we have so far uncovered & explained it…. Mac.

      • Hi Mac,

        I guess the question is can we live with each other considering our “intractable differences”?

        I hope so. I have no problem living with my atheist friends out here in the real world.

        Have a great weekend!

        In reply to #38 by CdnMacAtheist:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. I’ve heard … commenters … mock all people of faith as lunatics on the fringes of pseudoscience.

        Hi Nordic. By definition, all people of faith in gods a…

        • In reply to #50 by Nordic11:

          Hi Mac, I guess the question is can we live with each other considering our “intractable differences”? I hope so. I have no problem living with my atheist friends out here in the real world. Have a great weekend!

          I can not ‘live with’ people who teach religious mythology as either fact or ‘science’ to children in schools. There is no logical basis or scientific evidence for ‘theistic evolution’ – if you understand the definitions of evidence & evolution – since it’s just another temporary place-keeper for your god in the long retreat that all religions have been forced into in the face of reality.

          Faithists only accept the findings of science to suit their presuppositions & if they can live with the cognitive dissonance it produces, so they are not ‘doing’ science, just using it as they see fit. Theists usually keep up their delusions until reality hits them face-on, at which time their ‘poetry, metaphors & allegories’ step in to save them from more semantics, logical gymnastics & ‘special pleading’ to maintain their demands for acceptance of supernatural magic & undeserved respect for their own interpretation of one specific my-god-did-it sect of the many deity cults.

          I’m a fairly rational a/non/anti-theist who tries hard not to confuse fantasy & reality, or wish-thinking with living in nature – as uncovered by the scientific method, which is open to new methods, technologies, discoveries, theories & adds real information to the Human Knowledge Library – something that no religion business or faithist thinking has ever done.

          Faith, religion, theology, doctrine & dogma can only talk & confect word salads of obvious nonsense since there is no actual ‘work’ (using facts, evidence, processes, theories or predictions) that can be done on historically unsupported mythology in all the revised, reinterpreted & rewritten texts published to suit the theological & political powers of the time. All you can do is claim to know things neither you nor anyone else can know. At least some of us are stable & humble enough to be able to say that “we don’t know – yet”.

          I note that your response to my detailed criticism of your Comment 23 ignores nearly all my points – not the first time that’s happened with you, or with most other faithy folk who make claims here.

          I realise your Posts have been less dogmatic since you returned after your illness, but the basics are still there from when you incited my 1st RDFRS Post – after a year of lurking & learning – replying to your 1st Apr 2011 Post, as written by a religious teacher of Chemistry & Environment making very basic errors (it’s not driven by random chance) about the workings of evolution…. Mac.

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      Millions of Christians accept the tenants of science while still embracing our faiths, but we get lumped into the “planting fossils” camp.

      Assuming that to be true, and further assuming that you don’t like the “lumping,” what are you doing about it? The “planting fossils camp” are actually members of same club as you. What are you doing about kicking the rat-bag members out?

      I have asked the same question of so called “moderate” Moslems, and have received the same answer: Nothing.

      While you believe any of this nonsense, you can make no real claim to thinking rationally. Cherry picking parts of the hocus pocus, such as “redemption” or “forgiveness of sins” and trying to sound smug and elevated by rejecting the other absurdities such as the literal flood and ark does not really make you sound any more sane than Ken Ham.

      Either you live in the real world, or you live in fairy land. There is no middle ground.

      • Hey sheepdog,

        I guess I’m in fairyland then. Come visit sometime.

        Enjoy a great evening in the real world.

        In reply to #39 by Sheepdog:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        Millions of Christians accept the tenants of science while still embracing our faiths, but we get lumped into the “planting fossils” camp.

        Assuming that to be true, and further assuming that you don’t like the “lumping,” what are you doing about it? The “planting fossi…

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      Hi Nordic11,

      I’m glad as a Christian you come onto this site and comment (I hope you continue to do so even though I am going to disagree with you here).

      I too teach science, In school I was taught by a really nice guy who was a Christian science teacher. He took the time during our senior biology class to tell us about his personal opinions that evolution was not real but that the curriculum required him to teach it. I told him that as we had Religious Education classes could he please stick to teaching us science (I’m sure I came off as a pain in the arse but having just left 15years of indoctrination a year or two prior I was in no mood to listen to a sermon).

      In your circles you may not be subjected to what you consider to be threat from religious belief but I wonder what point your view of yourself as a rational person and my views about what I would consider rational belief part company?

      Do you for example believe that a dead man came back to life? If so as a science teacher, what evidence would you use that would pass muster in any of your classrooms? In a peer review journal? No. You would have to tell the student that the claim remains unproven. You use reason to dismiss the flood but happily accept that Christ came back to life? With what authority do you deny one and accept the other? To my mind you can only do this because there is physical evidence that the flood did not occur as claimed in your holy book. As no evidence is presented other than contradictory views of Christ’s resurrection (none written by eye witnesses) the only reason you can claim it might have happened is the one you claim to believe would produce no physical evidence at all so you are using a claim of no evidence to dismiss one with authority but the absence of evidence as a way of justifying belief in the other. You can only be doing this on the basis of faith so your being a science teacher has nothing to do with this unless that science informs your belief.

      Now let me be clear I don’t believe you are in any way mentally diminished compared to atheists. As a former believer who used my reasons to reject my faith I know that reason came to be either genetically or within the context of a religious upbringing. However if you are holding beliefs without good reasons to do so then about these claims you are not using you rationality. I am sorry if this offends you but it is so. If it isn’t then please provide me rational reasons for believing as you do.

      Now let me address some of your specific claims made about people on the thread:

      commenters are using this ridiculous idea to set up a straw man argument and mock all people of faith as lunatics on the fringes of pseudo-science. I guess if you want to rouse up the militant atheist base, this is effective, but if you want to address the deficiencies of science education around the world, it is counter productive.

      No, for one many here vent because it is not safe to do so in public. I go under the name Reckless Monkey because it would risk my job to express my views publicly where students and parents may seek information about me and use it against me. I have been harangued by Christian parents for teaching evolution here in Australia. I need to take care, so the majority of religious people restrict my freedom of speech because I do not share their basic beliefs. This makes me angry and frankly sometimes this site gives me a forum to express that frustration. You should try to understand that.

      Secondly, as a teacher you should understand that as social creatures peer pressure is tremendously important. Smoking I believe more than anything has reduced in recent years due not to laws but to social pressure of the mob (backed up by laws and education) to make smokers feel very uncomfortable. I personally think that believing things without good reason should put you under mild social pressure, you should feel uncomfortable at least to the point where you accept that that is what you are doing. The prominent atheists are awareness raising, your discomfort is likely due to this pressure. Perhaps you should stop worrying about the fact that some of us criticise you and let your reasons stand for themselves? If they can.

      Millions of Christians accept the tenants of science while still embracing our faiths, but we get lumped into the “planting fossils” camp.

      The majority of Americans do not accept evolution as fact. Mistrust of science bred in part from Christianity has lead to many not accepting the fact of AGW. Irrationality threatens us all. Which of the miracles you do believe in are more rational, have more justification than these? Are you not falling into the same trap you claim that we are making, insulting your own and offended that you might be tarred with the same brush.

      Objective polls consistently show that a significant percentage of scientists (40% is the number I see quoted most often) are also men and women of faith.

      What of it? How many of those have published in peer reviewed journals about their beliefs to prove any of the miracles they believe?

      When you mock people of faith, you are not mocking humorous caricatures, you denigrate real people who are just trying their best to do good in the world and understand this life the best they can.

      I agree this is sometimes the case. Sometimes however I am mocking people who have succeeded in my country from allowing me to die with dignity so if I’m unlucky enough to get a nasty cancer. Because of them if this happens to me I will die writhing in agony. If I was a homosexual I would not have the same rights as you, religions do not pay tax. So first fix up those things and we can talk about offence. Your mob are doing more than offending your mob are causing real pain and suffering needlessly to millions. So sorry their best is not good enough, a little ridicule they can take.

      I guess the big question for the members on this site is: Do you want to cling to this 19th century notion that religion (and by default all people of faith) poison everything and go on mocking all people of faith as morons, or do you want to acknowledge our differences and work together to help everyone understand our universe better?

      There have been atheists for much longer than that. However it wasn’t until the 19thC that you could do so without being burnt alive after being tortured. My question to you is how far are you prepared to go in understanding the universe better? You seem unwilling to admit that not being able to disprove God does not make God any more likely than unicorns or anything else. Your positive belief in Christianity implies you believe in some things that directly contradict the working of the universe. Are you prepared to subject your beliefs the same rigour you would expect out of your science students?

      • Hi Reckless Monkey,

        Great discussion, and I take no offense, but I’m sorry, I’ve run out of time and must go for now. I’ll try to respond to your comments later today.

        Sorry about that! I hope to return soon.

        In reply to #40 by Reckless Monkey:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        Hi Nordic11,

        I’m glad as a Christian you come onto this site and comment (I hope you continue to do so even though I am going to disagree with you here).

        I too teach science, In school I was taught by a really nice guy who was a Christian science teacher. He took th…

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian.

      I find it incomprehensible how anyone can both teach an evidence based system of what is essentially logic and simultaneously believe in things that both defy logic and for which there is zero evidence. So you persuaded someone that a global flood could not have taken place because the evidence precludes it. Why do you then believe in any bits of the rest of your particular one in circa four thousand different made up religions in the world today for which there is also no evidence?

      Cherry picking out bits of the bible you don’t believe but continuing to hold to the truth of other bits makes even less sense to me than those who think it’s inerrant, the literal word of god and that he somehow personally supervised each word of every translation, edit and reprint despite the hundreds of blatant contradictions and errors that are obvious for all to see. At least I can just write them off as lost causes and totally batshit crazy and not waste any time on them. But you already recognise that bits of it are nonsense. Why not make the even smaller logical leap to the conclusion that all religions are man made fairy stories and that if every one believes it’s the only true one and all the others are wrong then it’s vanishingly unlikely that any of them can be true?

    • In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously, yet commenters are using this…

      Hello and welcome Nordic 11.

      If I may, I’d like to ask you one two part question please.

      Would you say that there is any single fundamental factor which distinguishes science from religion?

      And if so, what is it please?

      S G

      • Great question, Stafford.

        The one difference is faith.

        Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside the natural world are beyond the bounds of science. From a strict scientific perspective, the resurrection of Christ, the writings we have by Aristotle, and the existence of William Shakespeare can all be soundly rejected.

        Religion holds dearly to a faith in what cannot be observed or measured. It explores the possibilities of things beyond the natural world. The faith of the atheist is that all things beyond the boundaries of science do not exist, but this exertion cannot be proven or disproven. Religion values spiritual experiences outside the limits of science, and through faith, it recognizes that there is more to reality than the matter and energy of this one universe.

        I’m neither a scientist nor a theologian so I hope this feeble attempt to distinguish between these two pillars of civilization answers your question. I’m certain there are many who could give you a much better answer.

        Thanks for asking. Cheers!

        In reply to #43 by Stafford Gordon:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously,…

        • From a strict scientific perspective, the resurrection of Christ, the writings we have by Aristotle, and the existence of William Shakespeare can all be soundly rejected.

          You can’t really believe that, can you? I have heard some people questioning the authorship of Shakespeare’s works but never his actual existence. When you get the time, here is some reading for you.

          And how can you possibly compare the evidence for the existence of Shakespeare with the evidence for the resurrection of your Christ. Don’t be surprised if you receive a fair amount of mockery of your reasoning.

          In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

          Great question, Stafford.

          The one difference is faith.

          Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside…

        • In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

          Great question, Stafford.

          The one difference is faith.

          Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside…

          Thanks for responding so promptly Nordic 11.

          However, you didn’t actually answer the question.

          I submit that the one thing which distinguishes science from religion is its consistency.

          Religions everywhere vary but the boiling and freezing points of water never do so.

          The principles of nature apply throughout the known universe.

          As to what lies beyond nature, the supernatural, you’re quite right, that’s beyond science.

          However, it is not beyond religions, and they are thus enabled to make fantastical claims safe in the knowledge that evidence is surplus to requirements.

          One such claim fundamental to the religion to which you happen to subscribe is, that two thousand years ago the natural order was suspended in order to allow an instance of parthenogenesis to occur in a mammal.

          As an adult you’re perfectly at liberty to believe that, but I think it’s intolerable that such things should be imparted to the young vulnerable minds of children.

          And that’s what’s occurring increasingly with the reintroduction of faith schools into our education system, many of which have their curricula determined along doctrinal religious lines.

          Which is leading to the seepage of those self same doctrines into the teaching of science, especially in the case of denying the veracity of evolution.

          I feel sure that as a science teacher of twenty eight years standing that is not something of which you approve.

          Apropos of Shakespeare, I recommend you read Bill Bryson’s slim volume “Shakespeare.”, in which he puts forward a cogent, scholarly, and I think irrefutable case, that our beloved and increasingly irascible Will did indeed live, and wrote all that’s attributed to him.

          Personally, I don’t care whether or not Shakespeare ever existed, I’m just grateful that the canon does.

          Anyway, happy daze.

          S G

          • In reply to #58 by Stafford Gordon:

            I submit that the one thing which distinguishes science from religion is its consistency.

            The principles of nature apply throughout the known universe.

            That is correct, but details are important.

            Religions everywhere vary but the boiling and freezing points of water never do so.

            You need to specify that boiling points and freezing points vary with pressure. Water only boils consistently at 100°C at normal sea-level air-pressure. At altitude, with lower pressure it boils at a lower temperature. http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/boiling-points-water-altitude-d-1344.html

            However the consistency is demonstrated in the graphs and chart shown on the link.

            If the pressure goes up way beyond the Earth scale of pressures, all sorts of weird variations may turn up! Recently discovered planet may contain ‘hot ice’.

          • In reply to #60 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #58 by Stafford Gordon:

            I submit that the one thing which distinguishes science from religion is its consistency.

            The principles of nature apply throughout the known universe.

            That is correct, but details are important.

            Religions everywhere vary but the boiling and freezing points of…

            Thanks for that Alan4discussion.

            You’re absolutely correct; I was trying to make a general point and made a bad choice, or rather, I put the point across badly.

            I also failed to deal with the matter of faith. It’s right that it’s a distinguishing factor, in that blind faith has no place in science and is at the heart of the problem with religions.

            I’ll follow the links you provided; thanks again.

            S G

          • In reply to #60 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #58 by Stafford Gordon:

            I submit that the one thing which distinguishes science from religion is its consistency.

            The principles of nature apply throughout the known universe.

            That is correct, but details are important.

            Religions everywhere vary but the boiling and freezing points of…

            I should of course have couched my argument in terms of the correlation between the environment and h2o never changing.

            Thanks again for the heads up.

            S G

          • In reply to #61 by Marktony:

            Why wouldn’t you want to meet Shakespeare?……

            In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

            Great question, Stafford.

            The one difference is faith.

            Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been a…

            I hope the mods will permit me to go off thread sufficiently enough to say: ah, the sorely missed Christopher Hitchens!

            S G

        • In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

          Great question, Stafford.

          The one difference is faith.

          Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside…

          In my haste to respond to your reply I failed to deal with your assertion about faith.

          It is indeed a distinguishing factor, which has no place in science and is at the heart of the problem with religions.

          But it’s blind faith I’m alluding to.

          I was once told by a Catholic Priest that he pitied me for having no faith in anything.

          He was a total stranger who I’d met and had a pleasant ten minute chat with in a pub after a seminar, and it was his parting shot, so I was so astonished that I couldn’t think of anything to say.

          But I can now tell you that I have faith in many people and things, but it’s based firmly on knowledge and experience; there’s nothing a priori about it.

          Now back to water: it’s been pointed to me that I was wrong in saying that it has constant points of boiling and freezing, because they do vary according to the environment. But the correlation between h2o and air pressure remains constant, I just didn’t express it very well.

          Anyway, enough.

          S G

        • In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

          >

          But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside the natural world are beyond the bounds of science.

          Nonsense. Nothing is beyond the bounds of science to at least look into but if there is no evidence then there is nothing to evaluate. Speculating any further based on “faith” is an utterly pointless waste of time. Faith, the act of pretending to know things one does not know, can achieve nothing more than go round and round in ever decreasing circles until it either disappears up its own backside or resorts to yelling “I’m going to believe in this whatever you say and I’ll scweam and scweam and scweam until you stop being nasty to me”.

          Religion is, and can never amount to more than, the illogical arguing about the unproveable with the gullible.

        • Couldn’t help noticing, Nordic, that in an earlier post you let us know you’d been a science teacher for 28 years. But not a scientist? How is that?

          In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

          Great question, Stafford.

          The one difference is faith.

          Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside…

          • It’s quite simple. DUUUUHHHHHH. I have been practicing dentistry for 30 years but I am not a dentist. I have been playing hockey for decades but am not a hockey player. I have played cards for ten years but am not a card player. I would take a shot at a gynecology joke here, but well, I don’t have the balls.

            BTW, I was a scientist long before I earned any credential that allowed me to claim that I was a scientist. I have taught science for 18 years (Biology in particular — Chemistry too)…. but I was a scientist when I realized that Santa would have to travel faster than the speed of light to get to 3 billion plus houses across the globe in a mere 10 hour window. I guess I was about 10.

            It is very very curious that Nordic would take such pain to distance themselves from being a scientist. My definition of scientist is so inclusive that few people fail to live up to it. Do you problem solve????? If “yes” then you are a scientist. There are chimps and gorillas and octopi and magpies that are technically scientists. What the hell you are doing teaching science if you do not problem solve is beyond me. Must be another one of those “outside science” things that Nordic keeps fostering.

            In reply to #74 by Zhap135:

            Couldn’t help noticing, Nordic, that in an earlier post you let us know you’d been a science teacher for 28 years. But not a scientist? How is that?

            In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

            Great question, Stafford.

            The one difference is faith.

            Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as…

        • In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

          Great question, Stafford.

          The one difference is faith.

          Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside…

          How is anything even recognized if it’s “outside the natural world”? Firstly, the best anyone can do is to just speculate that there might be a place/zone/dimension that even exists which could be considered “outside” of the natural world. THEN, there is literally nothing that could be said about it which wouldn’t be just be total fantasizing.

    • Nordic11,
      I want to discuss the things on the threads that are posited as discussion topics. If I decide to comment on a thread (or if you decide to comment on a thread) it is for a reason that should have something to do with the OP.

      This thread is titled “Teaching Children that dinosaurs don’t exist….” And, the folks here who have commented are commenting on the OP’s topic.

      I am sorry that you are discouraged by the comments, but what would you expect?? A treatise on fairness in Castro’s Cuba??? I am confused by your need to chastise the people who are simply commenting on the topic at hand.

      You seem to be the one with the axe to grind here. You are a member of the “poor persecuted” and misunderstood religious. BTW, a way way way overplayed hand.

      If you’d like to see what everyone here thinks about the 40% of scientists who are also believers, start a discussion thread on that topic and I think you’ll be satisfied that most of the people here are tolerant of most things. However, when you enter a discussion about a topic and then lament the topic, it is very very wacky.

      As a fellow educator, I have zero issue with you believing (I think it shows a bit of disconnect). I’d work with you, next to you, and stand for your right to believe. You also put forth some great statements regarding interpretation of genesis and what a misguided man Ken Ham is. These are things that are great to discuss and I think if you proffered a thread that you supervised, we’d all have a “middle road” conversation.

      BUT that conversation is NOT for this topic, as it has been laid out: we are discussing the very people you do not want to be lumped in with. So, stop giving out the apologetics because that is exactly what the problem is. Your stance covers their asses. Expose them and stand against them. Or continue bitching about how “poor me” you have it.

      In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

      The comments on this thread are very discouraging. I’ve been a science teacher for 28 years, and I’m a Christian. During my career I’ve heard about “Satan planting fossils” once or twice but never heard of it being taught in schools or actually being taken seriously, yet commenters are using this…

      • Hi Lonevoice. Nordic is a big boy and has been posting here for years. He’s not a young Earth creationist like you though and I think a conversation between the two of you would be pretty interesting to see unfold. It would leave the whole St. Paul, “you know there’s a god but your denying it so you can live your sinful lifestyle”, aspect out of the conversation.

        In reply to #81 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        Welcome to this website, Nordic11. Enjoying the replies to your post? Don’t be discouraged – it’s all par for the course.

      • In reply to #81 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #23 by Nordic11:

        Welcome to this website, Nordic11. Enjoying the replies to your post? Don’t be discouraged – it’s all par for the course.

        Nordic11 has been here since 5 April 2011. Just click on people’s avatars and you can see when they joined.

        Michael

  14. Nordic 11, I’ve asked far too many questions @ #25 (so please feel free to ignore them), when in fact I wanted to establish a simple single point and it is this-

    Do you (would you) encourage the budding scientists within your care to use the methodology of science to look everywhere (every thought/experience ever had and to any of the mooted termini of existence), no exception?

  15. Teaching kids that dinosaurs didn’t exist and that Gods and Demons do exist, is like the most archaic backward anti dis informational indoctrination and brainwashing excuse for ‘education’ any rational person could cringe to see…
    Its atrocious from the most advanced and richest country in the world…..You would expect this level of ignorance from some primal stone age tribe somewhere but not 2014 USA – God Bless America – and sprinkle you with dumb twat dust…..and condemn your children to wilful ignorance of the truth…which you are the most inaccurate judge of….. I hope the seeds of rational logic stay hidden in your children’s brains until they grow up and realise how much they’ve been cheated then rebel against you so hard that they dismiss your parenting as fake lies and question everything they’ve been told and realise how much their lives have been based on absolute wilful ignorance….

  16. These vile cult ideologies of brain washing spread outwards from America to Australia and other educated places ….It cant be a legitimate education system it must be a wilful attempt to un enlighten the educated populations…. I can’t imagine what harm its doing in places that are not so educated as Australia and other western nations – an absolute abuse of privileged and educated populace

  17. Others have answered Nodic 11′s remarks admirably. If I could just pick one nit: Nordic says (52)

    Religion values spiritual experiences outside the limits of science, and through faith,….

    Ah but science is getting there ! These so-called “spiritual experiences” appear to a part of the brain’s normal functioning, according to the latest brain research.

    Nordic then goes on to say:

    …..it recognizes that there is more to reality than the matter and energy of this one universe.

    Now that is one BIG ASSUMPTION !. Religion might HOPE that there is “more to reality than the matter and energy of this one universe.” but it has absolutely no evidence to support such a view. Sure, some religions make some people feel good and “spiritual”, but as pointed out above, there appear to be materialist explanations for such “revelations”. !

    No need for the supernatural !

    • In reply to #66 by Mr DArcy:

      Others have answered Nodic 11′s remarks admirably. If I could just pick one nit: Nordic says (52)

      Religion values spiritual experiences outside the limits of science, and through faith,….

      Ah but science is getting there ! These so-called “spiritual experiences” appear to a part of the brain’s…

      Exactly so. This is the reason for my re-vamped question @57. As a science teacher will Nordic11 discourage his pupils from the application of scientific investigation to areas he thinks it inapplicable? As a teacher, how unfilled are his gaps?

  18. I am an Australian skeptic with a keen interest in science education and the infiltration of scripture classes (SRI) in our public schools and the teaching of creationism in a private schools (which are predominantly Christian).

    I recently sent an email to 19 private Christian schools in my local government area, asking them how they approach the subject of evolution in the science classroom. of the 19 emails sent, I have only received three replies.

    One of those replies was deeply disturbing to me and I have yet to decide what action to take regarding it.

    I will post an excerpt from the reply I received, which was from a principal of a large Christian College in the Lake Macquarie region of NSW.

    “Dear Peter,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding the teaching of Creation vs Evolution in our College.

    I must admit it is strange question to be asked by someone who had no (known) connection with the school, but I am nevertheless happy to respond.

    Our College is based on the premise that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

    We also teach Evolution as we are required to do by the NSW Syllabus.

    Evolution is taught as a theory that was developed by men to explain a universe apart from God.

    Creation is seen as part of God’s design for mankind and His world. Man is made in God’s image and were given stewardship of God’s created world.

    I, personally cannot watch David Attenborough’s productions as they cause me pain to watch a wonderfully intelligent and committed man trying to explain the intricacy of an eye or the marvels of a hummingbird as evolved over millions of years.

    Science shows that almost all genetic changes are negative not positive in nature.

    Having said that we know that there are changes and mutations in animals over a shorter period of time which have helped them to adapt to changes in climate etc. This is more adaptation than evolution.”

    I have created a Facebook page to document the original questionnaire and any replies I receive….
    https://www.facebook.com/evolutioninfaithschools

    • In reply to #69 by Skeptic Pete:

      I am an Australian skeptic with a keen interest in science education and the infiltration of scripture classes (SRI) in our public schools and the teaching of creationism in a private schools (which are predominantly Christian).

      What the hell happened to our country? Where did all these religious nutters come from ?

      Good job on exposing them.

      Michael

  19. I hope this is not wandering to far off topic, but since Nordic11 has been talking about faith, I might continue with an example.

    I have two friends, although I have not seen them for some years, a husband and wife team, both Anglican Ministers. Both are pillars in their respective communities. Sudden tragedy, personal crisis, spousal abuse, illness, you name it, they are there, doing whatever it takes all hours of the day and night with apparently limitless compassion and humanity.

    If those concerned feel that they will be comforted by prayer, they pray. If those concerned need counselling, they counsel, if protection is needed, they protect.

    Never have I heard them proselytise, and they are in no confusion about evolution, or the benefits of science in our world. When questioned about faith, the response is along the lines of:

    “Yes, I have faith, but I am not entirely sure in what any more. Obviously not the absurdities, or even the allegories, or supposed history of the old testament, maybe in the messages of decency in the new, but mostly what is called faith is really more a confidence to continue in the face of the amount of human misery that gets thrown at me as a Minister.”

    Their language on the subjects of radical evangelism, YEC, and school teachers pushing biblical literalism is downright sinful, and their own children have been brought up to think for themselves.

    If practitioners of religion were all like this, I would have far less concern than I do. Teachers however are a different matter, and it seems that while in some ways, some religions, may be approaching a maturity, the worst of the zealots are using the class room rather than the pulpit. For this underhanded, back door indoctrination, I have nothing but contempt, and it relies on the fact that unlike going to church being a choice, going to school is not. The children have no escape.

    And, I see little to ameliorate my concerns, Skeptic Pete’s post below is particularly concerning. The idea that a creationist, a person with a mindset for which there is absolutely no intellectual support, is allowed to stand in front of children presenting non factual ideas as fact, is appalling, and tantamount to abuse.

    Nordic11 has no business teaching science, ethics perhaps, but not science, I hope for his sake he does not run into my daughters, who have grilled YEC and religiously bigoted teachers mercilessly, and demanded their non involvement with their kids.

  20. god makes fossils to waste people’s time/test faith etc (I defer to Bill Hicks on this subject), now he’s making nipples just to distract people.

    I now believe in in God thank you christians.

    no one could invent such a prick

  21. I agree that telling children that dinosaurs never existed is misinformation. This erroneous view is clearly wrong in itself, but moreover those who propogate this long-discredited idea are actually presenting the God they believe in as a prankster. There is no biblical reason to suggest that God planted the fossils to fool people.

    In addition, although I advocate the view that the Bible is the word of God, I do not believe a teacher’s views should be accepted without too much questioning. Asking a question to aid understanding is not the same as doubt. And, the teacher is not infallible and should not be beyond questioning – and doing so should not be equated with blasphemy.

    I think I’ll steer clear of the other topics that have captured people’s imaginations in the original post: interesting, though they are!

    Have a good day.

    • Hey Lonevoice,
      This is pretty level headed stuff. I play a game with my students at the end of about half my class. I call it “Stump the crookedshoes”. I actually use my last mane instead of crookedshoes.

      Anyway, my kids are challenged to stump me with a question. The first couple times we play, they invariably ask me questions that currently stump everyone, not just me. They ask huge over riding why are we here questions.

      Then something awesome happens. They start to realize just what the game is. They try to stump ,me about the topics we are discussing. They get to sit and THINK! They scour their heads to try to kick my ass. Sometimes they do. When that happens, I totally let them know that the teacher is NEVER infallible. The teacher is learning just as they are, the teacher is just further down the learning curve than they are === in the particular subject that the teacher specializes in.

      I tell hem all the time that they (you) do not want ME teaching anything other than Biology or Chemistry and if a learned individual wandered into my classroom and knew a lot of awesome stuff, then I would sit and learn from them.

      I’d listen and ask questions, just as expect my kids to.

      Here is the most important thing: Every subject/ topic REQUIRES skeptics. They drive it along. They make it advance. They are a healthy addition to any lesson. DENIERS??? Well, they are a detraction from any lesson.

      Oh, wait, I said every subject topic needs skeptics…. That is not true is it??? Religion does not tolerate skeptics. Branding them heretics and often ostracizing or even murdering them.

      So, to summarize, you are correct. Skeptics are welcome and teachers are fallible. Now take that same sentiment and aim it at your faith.
      In reply to #80 by Lonevoice:

      I agree that telling children that dinosaurs never existed is misinformation. This erroneous view is clearly wrong in itself, but moreover those who propogate this long-discredited idea are actually presenting the God they believe in as a prankster. There is no biblical reason to suggest that God pl…

    • In reply to #80 by Lonevoice:

      I agree that telling children that dinosaurs never existed is misinformation.

      I am curious, lonevoice, exactly when you think the dinosaurs existed. If the world is as young as the bible claims then the evidence that the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago must be falsified and we are back to some prankster god.

  22. Hi Lonevoice, You really do need to reread the New Testament. St Paul obviously believes his God is a prankster: God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie ( 2 Thessalonians. 2:11).

    • In reply to #82 by Bob Springsteen:

      Hi Lonevoice, You really do need to reread the New Testament. St Paul obviously believes his God is a prankster: God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie ( 2 Thessalonians. 2:11).

      Thanks for the encouragement to read the New Testament more. I certainly will.

      The delusion that Paul referred to was a spiritual one, and this is consistent with other parts of both New and Old Testaments where people who persist in believing a lie will eventually be unable to believe the truth. This Thessalonians reference is similar to that in Romans 1, where Paul states that people who willfully reject God’s ways are ‘given over’ to their own ways, which, in turn, is similar to the episode in Exodus where God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. God didn’t start the hardening of his heart: Pharaoh did that himself. The lesson from this is that there is a spiritual ‘point of no return’ that is determined by the person in their ‘disobedience’ and subsequently confirmed in their hearts by God in his sovereignty.

      Another biblical illustration of this thinking is when the people of Israel asked for a human king, like all the other nations had, instead of letting God set the rules. God initially said no, and gave reasons why not: then when they persisted and he eventually gave them what they wanted – and it brought them troubles – but it was not his way. Funnily enough, the context of Paul’s comments in Thessalonians is about the coming of a man so wicked that it’s hard to believe and this is like Israel persisting in asking for a human king. Paul’s point is that when we throw off God’s ways in favour of man’s ways, we will end up being led by the worst man who has ever lived.

      While you may not agree with the following comment, the Bible sees returning to God as a good thing and therefore the idea of being too far gone to be able to return is, well, a bad thing. Paul’s reference to ‘a powerful delusion’ being a kind of spiritual blindness is therefore, not the same as the silly idea than God planted fossilised bones in order to deliberately deceive people. Everything at creation was given by him for our good. I can’t see how fake fossils would fit that description.

      • In reply to #85 by Lonevoice:

        In reply to #82 by Bob Springsteen:

        The delusion that Paul referred to was a spiritual one, and this is consistent with other parts of both New and Old Testaments where people who persist in believing a lie will eventually be unable to believe the truth. This Thessalonians reference is similar to that in Romans 1, where Paul states that people who willfully reject God’s ways are ‘given over’ to their own ways, which, in turn, is similar to the episode in Exodus where God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. God didn’t start the hardening of his heart: Pharaoh did that himself. The lesson from this is that there is a spiritual ‘point of no return’ that is determined by the person in their ‘disobedience’ and subsequently confirmed in their hearts by God in his sovereignty.

        Hi Lonevoice,

        First a warm welcome.

        I am Inclinded to disagree with you here. The Pharaoh was willing several times to let Moses people go but in each case God hardened his heart. You will also remember that God told Moses that this was exactly what would happen before Moses begged for his people to be freed.

        So I do not see in what sense he had any free will in this whole brutal episode. What choice did Pharaoh really have created by God in full knowledge that he would not let the people go, mentally altered (God hardened his heart) so that even when he was ready to free the Jews was influenced not to only to be punished for his possession with the murder of his people (including his own son) and the destruction of crops and disease? Please get on line for me and copy and paste in the relevant sections that speaks to your claim that the Pharaoh would have behaved as he did without being possessed by the spirt of god to his peoples detriment. And then please explain to me if this was the case and god knew he would behave in this manner what possible reason would he have not just let the Paraoh stuff it up himself. It reads to me like God was going out of his way to make a bloody and brutal point about what he is capable of. What is more you need to explain how it is justified to kill the first born son of every person who’s only crime was to be born in Egypt. Were they responsible for the Pharaoh’s decisions? God could have simply inflicted Pharaoh alone with disease, no he punishes the inoccent instead babies in the cribs where given no say, but that is okay because God can kill the inoccent and still be seen as moral. Please explain this too me, I may be a little slow on the uptake but for the life of me I cannot see how.

          • In reply to #93 by Agrajag:

            In reply to #90 by Reckless Monkey:

            It reads to me like God was going out of his way to make a bloody and brutal point about what he is capable of.

            This and many more of god’s charming actions are highlighted in Drunk with Blood- God’s Killings in the Bible by Steve Wells. It makes great bed-time…

            Thanks for the tip, I just finished re-reading the bible again a few weeks ago and I need another book I shall look it up.

            Actually as an after thought to the whole Pharaoh thing. It strikes me Gods acts much like a bully in this, grabbing the whimpy kids fists and making him hit himself repeatedly…”Why are you hitting yourself?! Stop hitting yourself!”

          • In reply to #95 by Reckless Monkey:

            Another book you might (I dare say “will”) like is God is Disappointed in You. I just finished this one. It’s quite entertaining and, like DWB, makes great bed-time reading. It also “feels” like a bible and has a red satin ribbon for place keeping. The cartoons are quite good, and are the only reason you can’t pretend to be reading the bible. ;-)

            Steve

  23. In reply to NUMBER 85 by Lonevoice. Why should anyone living in the 21st century respect the teachings of St Paul? St Paul’s advocacy of slavery (Ephesians 6:5) was used by a plethora of Evangelical Christians to justify the practice of slavery. As George Whitefield put it, “What God permitted in the New Testament cannot be a sin.”

  24. Hi Lonevoice, According to Reformed theology, God is supposed to be the Author of history. To label the actions of the Pharaoh as “free will” is a theological misnomer. Perhaps you are a confused Arminian who cannot stomach the boldness of strict Calvinism?

  25. WHAT the heck is wrong with telling girls their nipples are a temptation to boys? They ARE. Teenagers and men under 50 don’t need any extra encouragement. They need to be covered up unless you’re an adult and trying to act slutty. My husband likes to see mine. They are there for temptation.

    • Paula, in my younger years i may have said something sexist and even a bit racy and then been regretful….

      However, as I approach 50 all I can say is “HEY, guys around 50 and over 50 like nipples (and although I sometimes could use the extra encouragement), my ego requires me to say HEY, over 50 likes them too!!!!”

      In reply to #99 by paulalovescats:

      WHAT the heck is wrong with telling girls their nipples are a temptation to boys? They ARE. Teenagers and men under 50 don’t need any extra encouragement. They need to be covered up unless you’re an adult and trying to act slutty. My husband likes to see mine. They are there for temptation.

      • In reply to #103 by crookedshoes:

        Paula, in my younger years i may have said something sexist and even a bit racy and then been regretful….

        However, as I approach 50 all I can say is “HEY, guys around 50 and over 50 like nipples (and although I sometimes could use the extra encouragement), my ego requires me to say HEY, over 50 l…

        You can count me in on that as well, and I am way past 60, going on 70, and it just keeps getting better!

        But, what is wrong with it Paula, is including it as a part of a religious dogma that is really running a different agenda. When you look at the deeply mysogynistic sub text, I would question anything they tell children, young girls especially.

  26. You almost feel sorry for the poor fundamentalist. As opposed to the scientific community that reaches its conclusions through empirical research, the fundamentalist crowd, and they are legion…(using one of their terms) are not allowed the luxury of truth validation. In the sciences when something is discovered and verified, the knowledge base is modified to include the new findings. When discoveries are made that challenge the fundamentalist beliefs, they either make up non nonsensical (often comical) explanations, or ignore the new evidence completely. Part of the trouble with such an unenlightened populace is poor basic educational training in the sciences. That is why stories of wholesale lies and distortions in the early grades are so disturbing. That instruction is (or should be) criminal. It is difficult enough for the children of fundamentalists to overcome their early burden of prejudice toward science, but the exploitation of children by authority figures dishing out subjective wrong-headed dribble is intolerable.

  27. What are they talking about down there? Don’t they know that in NSW we have our own living dinosaur in the presence of gay hating Rev. Fred Nile? Fred heads up the Christian Party in Govt. as a member of The Legislative Council of NSW. He also leads the “Call To Australia” party and is presently presenting his “Ethics Repeal Bill” in Govt. When Ethics courses were called for in schools to sort out the mish- mash confusion between secular and religious interests for the benefit of both beliefs, good old Fred voted against it with the apparent conclusion that it should be Fred’s Morals or none at all. Religion classes could still be taught with the lies and superstitions of fanatics as happened in Victoria, while it is okay for the others to be denied any educational classroom moral ethics.

  28. In reply to NUMBER 107 by Lonevoice. Hi Lonevoice, According to orthodox Christianity, God does not engage in laboratory experiments in order to learn how things will turn out. He is supposed to know already. Can you explain why God, knowing full well that the Pharaoh would turn out evil, nevertheless proceeded to create him anyhow? The book of Romans informs us that God hated some people and loved others. It is that simple. “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (Rom. 9:13). God, says the apostle Paul, hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but there is no court of appeal for Pharaoh to go to. God simply predetermined to use him, and God “hardens the heart of whomever he wills (Rom. 9:18).” Christians regard the Bible to be the final answer to any topic that it purports to speak explicitly about. What about this chilling dircect quote from God: “I create evil (Isaiah 45:7).”

  29. My children go to a Uniting Church school in Western Australia. The teachers and principal there seem to wholeheartedly embrace the biblical inerrancy posture. I have heard reports that a teacher threw a small child out of class for answering ‘The big bang’, in response to the question ‘How was the Universe created?’, and allow creationist statements to be made in science class. It is of great concern to me as a parent that children in that school, among many others, do not receive a broad base of religious education.

    • In reply to #113 by tarzibumbles:

      My children go to a Uniting Church school in Western Australia. The teachers and principal there seem to wholeheartedly embrace the biblical inerrancy posture. I have heard reports that a teacher threw a small child out of class for answering ‘The big bang’, in response to the question ‘How was the…

      Yikes! Are the local public schools that bad in your neighbourhood?

  30. Couldn’t help noticing, Nordic, that in an earlier post you let us know you’d been a science teacher for 28 years. But not a scientist? How is that?

    In reply to #52 by Nordic11:

    Great question, Stafford.

    The one difference is faith.

    Science explores the universe using objective (as objective as a human mind can be) observations, measurements and repeatable experiments. The results have been amazing. But many historical events, one time occurrences, and anything outside…

  31. In reply to #99 by paulalovescats:

    . They need to be covered up unless you’re an adult and trying to act slutty.

    One wonders how the Kalahari Bushmen survive with so much flesh on constant display! Of course Iranian men are supposedly driven to distraction by the merest glimpse of hair protruding from tthe hijab.

  32. In reply to #90 by Reckless Monkey:

    “It reads to me like God was going out of his way to make a bloody and brutal point about what he is capable of”

    In reply to #85 by Lonevoice:

    In reply to #82 by Bob Springsteen:
    The delusion that Paul referred to was a spiritual one, and this is consistent with other parts of both New and Old Testaments where people who persist in believing a lie will eventually be unable to believe the truth.

    Thank you for your reply to my comment and, while we disagree, I want to assure you that I respect your view. Indeed, I can understand why many people hold the opinion you’ve expressed.

    Your comment has certainly caused me to look very carefully at the text about God’s dealings with Pharaoh, as your take on this is quite different from mine.

    I hope the Moderators will allow this reply, on the basis that it is a direct response to your earlier comment. Was God as harsh and unfair as your comment suggests?

    Pharaoh was an oppressive ruler (Exodus 1:11-14;) and deliberately chose to make the Hebrew slaves’ lives harder. He then planned their demise by ordering the Hebrew midwives to let all the baby boys die (Exodus 1:15-16;). Their only crime was to be born a Hebrew. The midwives revered God and disobeyed Pharaoh’s order and, when challenged, made up some comical story about the women giving birth before the midwives got there. That way, they showed their compassion on the mothers and babies by saving their lives. Pharaoh was so angry that his plan hadn’t worked that he instructed his own people to cast the Hebrew baby boys into the river (Exodus 1:22;). (Notice it was the people of God who sought to save the children’s lives, rather than destroy them.)

    The harsh oppression under Pharaoh caused the Hebrews to cry out and God heard their cries. The reasons God later called Moses to lead the people to freedom was because he wanted to give them relief from this. It was not because he was eager to find an opportunity to inflict suffering on people. The latter might be your conclusion, but it’s not actually in the text you referred to. It takes compassion to set captives free, not brutality. Indeed, the first mention of God saying anything in this passage (Exodus 2) is the reference to him having heard the cry of the people because of the oppression. May I ask that you consider the point that this shows kindness rather than brutality.

    It is true that the first mention of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart is in Exodus 4:21; which comes before the account of Moses’ first visit to Pharaoh, so I can see where people might get the impression that God hardened his heart first. However, from the account in the earlier chapter that I have referred to above, you can see that Pharaoh’s heart was already very hard indeed. And I can’t see any reference to Pharaoh being willing several times to set the people free, as you said in your post.

    Thinking about it: Pharaoh’s first reason for making the slaves’ lives harder still was because he feared their numbers would grow so as to present a military threat in time of war – i.e. that they might join an enemy side (Exodus 1:10;). Militarily, it would make no sense from Pharaoh’s point of view to let these people go, as that could make it easier for them to join an invading army. Knowing he had mistreated them they would certainly turn against him given the chance. Therefore, I think my previous comment was valid: that Pharaoh set his own course and God, in his sovereignty, confirmed this and thus rendered that course irrevocable.

    Given the details about Pharaoh’s treatment of the Hebrews, I don’t agree with your inference that Pharaoh would have been a decent chap if it were not for that horrible God hardening his heart.

    The plagues that were dispensed on Egypt were undoubtedly harsh and nobody should try to pretend that it was a pleasant demonstration of God’s power – especially the final one of the death of the firstborn. However, it’s worth noting that sorrow over the loss of the Egyptians’ firstborn is part of the Jewish Passover meal, so the annual recollection is one of sadness and sympathy at this part of the story. There is no gloating or rejoicing over the suffering meted out on the oppressor regime, even though that did lead ultimately to their freedom.

    This account of God’s dealing with Pharaoh should be balanced with other biblical passages that describe God as being slow to anger and swift in mercy. Sometimes, his patience with us all is mistaken for impotence against (or even tacit approval of) man’s evil actions, however, when he does act, he’s accused of brutality. Please remember that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for 430 years in total (Exodus 12:40;). That’s patience.

    Now, what about your very fair point about the children in this story? I don’t have a simple answer for this one, and I don’t mind admitting it. I’ve heard and read answers that seek to explain this point, but frankly, I’ve found them a little insensitive to say the least. However, the inability to have an answer for this precise point does not persuade me to think that God cannot exist. What I recognise, which you may not agree with, is that as a mere human being I cannot stand in judgment over the Creator and Judge of me. Do I like the judgment of God? No! Does anyone like being judged? Probably not. Does that make it wrong? Not at all.

    I’m quite prepared to accept that my finite understanding is no match for the infinite understanding of God. I therefore accommodate the possibility that my understanding of his ways is incomplete, but I do not write him off because of the bits I don’t like or fully understand.

    Regards,

  33. I’m quite prepared to accept that my finite understanding is no match for the infinite understanding of God.

    Just one thing. How do you verify that the god thing is actually possessing infinite understanding? Or do you just claim it?

    Your sentence is humble and shows thought. But is is not possible to know, yet you claim to know it. That is the problem with the whole of religion (IMO).

    So, prove that god has infinite understanding. DEFINE infinite understanding. VERIFY infinite understanding. Otherwise, we can all just claim anything we want. My shiny green rock is luckier that your shiny green rock.

    In reply to #107 by Lonevoice:

    In reply to #90 by Reckless Monkey:

    “It reads to me like God was going out of his way to make a bloody and brutal point about what he is capable of”

    In reply to #85 by Lonevoice:

    In reply to #82 by Bob Springsteen:
    The delusion that Paul referred to was a spiritual one, and this is consistent wit…

  34. In reply to #107 by Lonevoice:

    Now, what about your very fair point about the children in this story?

    Children deserve the truth Lonevoice. Your superstitious nonsense has no place in schools and you refuse to address the issue raised by Marion Maddox. SRI is not education and the zealous individuals who lie to children about your triple-headed deity are not legitimate teachers. Telling children such ridiculous tales as you’ve related on this thread predisposes them to reject authentic knowledge just as you do. You’re entitled to believe anything you want but public schools are intended for education not indoctrination.
    Earlier you wrote:

    I think I’ll steer clear of the other topics that have captured people’s imaginations in the original post: interesting, though they are!

    Your conspicuous avoidance of the issues raised by the OP followed by

    I hope the Moderators will allow this reply

    after which you wrote:

    this precise point does not persuade me to think that God cannot exist.

    We’re discussing educating children Lonevoice, despite your refusal to participate. Your insistence that your imaginary friend is real is unsupportable and off-topic. Kids who learn about such delusional beliefs, along with the equivalent tenets of Islam, will derive benefit from thinking about the fairy tales which your respective cults promulgate so uncritically. More importantly, by teaching kids about a variety of cults rather than focussing on the divisive, misogynistic, anti-science, homophobic Xian sect, they will consequently appreciate why religion fosters such bigoted intolerance and hatred.

    mmurray wrote:

    What the hell happened to our country? Where did all these religious nutters come from?

    Also by Professor Maddox – God Under Howard: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australian Politics

    Amazon summarises thus: Examining how Australian Prime Minister John Howard has harnessed the conservative social agenda and market-based ideology of American fundamentalists, this book argues that Australia’s democratic, egalitarian culture is now under serious assault.

  35. In reply to #107 by Lonevoice:

    In reply to #90 by Reckless Monkey:

    Hi Lone voice first thanks for the reply, I genuinely appreciate it when religious people engage on this site. I will also need to keep this somewhat brief so forgive any sloppy edits as I need to go to work.

    Pharaoh was an oppressive ruler (Exodus 1:11-14;)

    I think you misunderstand me, I never doubted that the Pharaoh was a typical tyrant all you say about what he did before his interactions with Moses (and God) is as I read it in the scriptures. So no argument from me there I am anti slavery (unlike God who condones it). I am interested in what happened upon the interaction with Moses.

    The harsh oppression under Pharaoh caused the Hebrews to cry out and God heard their cries. The reasons God later called Moses to lead the people to freedom was because he wanted to give them relief from this. It was not because he was eager to find an opportunity to inflict suffering on people.

    This point is a little off topic but why did they need to cry out for him to know of their suffering? This leads support to me to the hypothesis that people in that time believed in multiple gods and your god was one of them, that the Jews made a exclusive pact with this god implies that he was not the only god. However leave that for another time.

    May I ask that you consider the point that this shows kindness rather than brutality.

    You may and it would if he carried out the process with more kindness to all involved. After all how much choice did the Egyptians have about who their Pharaoh was?

    It is true that the first mention of God hardening Pharaohs heart is in Exodus 4:21; which comes before the account of Moses’ first visit to Pharaoh, so I can see where people might get the impression that God hardened his heart first. However, from the account in the earlier chapter that I have referred to above, you can see that Pharaohs heart was already very hard indeed. And I can’t see any reference to Pharaoh being willing several times to set the people free, as you said in your post.

    “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. 3And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.”

    and

    “And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. 13And he hardened Pharaohs heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.”

    “Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
    [16] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.
    [18] And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.
    [20] But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
    [24] And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.
    [27] But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.
    [28] And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.”

    that Pharaoh set his own course and God, in his sovereignty, confirmed this and thus rendered that course irrevocable.

    Is it free will to send someone to demonstrate that they need to preform a specific action ‘letting my people go” at threat of plague and then harden the Pharaohs heart when he may be convinced otherwise?

    The plagues that were dispensed on Egypt were undoubtedly harsh and nobody should try to pretend that it was a pleasant demonstration of God’s power – especially the final one of the death of the first-born. However, it’s worth noting that sorrow over the loss of the Egyptians’ firstborn is part of the Jewish Passover meal, so the annual recollection is one of sadness and sympathy at this part of the story. There is no gloating or rejoicing over the suffering meted out on the oppressor regime, even though that did lead ultimately to their freedom.

    Not interested in how people react after the event, I’m interesting in the alledged justice of a forgiving and benevolent god.

    This account of God’s dealing with Pharaoh should be balanced with other biblical passages that describe God as being slow to anger and swift in mercy.

    You’re getting this backwards, claims that God is slow to anger and swift to mercy are refuted by the numerous stories like these in the bible, it’s a bloodbath.

    Sometimes, his patience with us all is mistaken for impotence against (or even tacit approval of) man’s evil actions, however, when he does act, he’s accused of brutality. Please remember that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for 430 years in total (Exodus 12:40;). That’s patience.

    However your God condones slavery.

    Do I like the judgement of God? No! Does anyone like being judged? Probably not. Does that make it wrong? Not at all.

    You need to justify the last bit “Not at all.” . Why?

    I’m quite prepared to accept that my finite understanding is no match for the infinite understanding of God. I therefore accommodate the possibility that my understanding of his ways is incomplete, but I do not write him off because of the bits I don’t like or fully understand.

    With respect, you first have to write him in before you write him off. There is lots I don’t understand the universe but if all the information I am given about a subject clearly leads me to the conclusion that the God advertised is a monster then that is my provisional answer, he is a monster until proved otherwise.

    Again thanks for engaging on the site regards

  36. In reply to #109 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #107 by Lonevoice:
    We’re discussing educating children Lonevoice, despite your refusal to participate. Your insistence that your imaginary friend is real is unsupportable and off-topic.

    I want to add my voice to the request, Lonevoice, and Nordic11, to stick to the topic. While you have agreed, Lonevoice, that teaching that dinosaurs did not exist, or are “God’s little joke,” is wrong, you sound somewhat lukewarm about just how wrong it is. And Nordic11, as a science teacher, what exactly do you propose to do about it?

    So far, both of you are sounding very much like part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    The entertaining discussion about the validity or not, of divine entities who live somewhere in the sky, and who are non stop obsessive about human behavior has ample opportunity for discussion in other threads.

    Please, I for one am particularly concerned with, as I said below, religious zealots using administrative loopholes to move disinformation from the pulpit, where it can be listened to or not, to the classroom where there is a captive audience at an impressionable age. This thread to me is not for the endless debate about God in general, or the motives of Herod, but hopefully to lead in some direction to a solution to what is tantamount to child abuse. SkepticPete has taken up the cudgels, and I applaud him for it, and would like to join in some effective way.

    Consider the response were I to go into the schools preaching neo-nazi eugenics? That, and this SRI, rest on an equivalent factual base, zero, and an equivalent moral basis, zero.

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