There is a lot of talk lately about School Vouchers, Faith Based Schools, Intelligent Design, Climate Change Deniers, Loch Ness Monster Disproving Darwinsim (that's my current favorite). It all gets me thinking.
I remember Sunday School well. Most of my friends went to the same church I went to and we spent our formative years getting indoctrinated into the church beliefs and norms and traditions. When I was young the stories were cool and when I got older the girls were hot. So I was contentedly indoctrinated. Like kids everywhere, I was discouraged from such questions as ‘where did Adam and Eve’s kids come from’ and ’how does anyone know for sure what heaven is like’ and ‘so, why do good people still go to hell?’ Now before you get upset with me, you need to understand that I think that was okay. I enjoyed it, for the most part. And as long as that indoctrination remains in the church setting I’m okay with it. More or less anyway
Here’s the problem, as I see it anyway. Indoctrination is by definition anti-critical thinking. In matters of faith, critical thinking must eventually break down and fail you. If you can critically think your way through your belief system, there is no need for faith. And I understand that. People can choose to do this. The church’s very existence is predicated upon faith.
While faith must eventually abhor critical review, education must constantly demand it. Education in its grandest sense is about testing and experimenting and observing and making determinations and thinking critically about the things around us. Critical review requires a scientific approach. One must weigh evidence and examine inconsistencies. This is exactly where the desire to bring Christian teaching into public schools become scary. The fight for Christian Churches to inflitrate the public school system is nothing less than the desire to restrict critical review. Take for instance climate change. Conservative leaders have made certain that Evangelicals associate ‘Global Climate Change’ with liberals which in turn connects them to Obama, abortion and godless communism. Thus, simply accepting what the vast (vast is an understatement) majority of scientists say about the truth of global climate change, would be akin to becoming a liberal, and by association a Godless Communist. Oh My God!
Evangelicals who insist man was made as a distinct and completed species on a particular day in the history of our universe may teach that at Sunday school all they want, but they may not teach it in public school specifically because it will not stand up to critical review. It doesn’t even take much of a philosophical argument to show how that particular dogma is probably insulting to any God, due to its small mindedness.
Water to wine, walking on water, flaming chariot rising to heaven, giant fish eating a man and spitting him out after he learns his lesson–these all require no small amount of faith to accept, and solid, swift indoctrination kick-starts the young’uns. (When I was young we colored pictures and sang songs and used those funky felt boards--remember them--to memorize stories we knew nothing about.) Teach faith if you must but leave it out of the school. Or could it be that those who want us to replace critical thinking with church dogma are concerned (insecure) that their faith won’t stand up to scutiny? What does that say about their faith? Then again, maybe that’s the whole point.