Atheism plus religion

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Dreamweaver
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Atheism plus religion

Post by Dreamweaver » 11 Sep 2019, 19:44

Here is an atheist promoting the study of religion. He makes sense to me.
Philosopher Dan Dennett calls for religion -- all religion -- to be taught in schools, so we can understand its nature as a natural phenomenon. Then he takes on The Purpose-Driven Life, disputing its claim that, to be moral, one must deny evolution.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTepA-WV_oE
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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by Perrorist » 11 Sep 2019, 21:10

I watched only a few minutes of this, so my question may have been answered, but is it a natural phenomenon or just an attempt to make sense of the world through lack of knowledge?

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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by Warrigal » 12 Sep 2019, 13:49

I'm listening as I post this. He sounds like a learned, and may I say, wise speaker.
If he is criticising Rick Warren then he has my automatic attention.

In a very rudimentary way NSW schools already teach comparative religion in the GRE section of the curriculum. It is incorporated into the Human Studies section of the curriculum. This is different to the SRE section which is what is generally referred to as Scripture, and is taught by visiting teachers. GRE is taught by the regular classroom teacher and is compulsory. SRE is opt out.

When I taught at the Catholic junior high school Religious Studies was a full subject requiring 3 or four lessons per week, roughly one half a day per week. It was entirely Christian in focus with an overlay of catholic history, tradition and doctrine. It was compulsory for all students regardless of their personal religious faith or denomination. When the girls were in Year 10 they were exposed to 'other denominations' and 'other non Christian faiths'. This was done by visiting other places of worship e.g. The Great Synagogue of Sydney (and holocaust museum), my local Uniting Church building and a Salvation Army Citadel. Here they heard from speakers involved with that place and had a written assignment of complete. The kids were encouraged to ask all the questions that they liked. For other groups - Islam, Buddhism and other protestant denominations - speakers were invited into the school to address the girls.

A significant amount of time was devoted to this valuable exercise but I cannot see this being replicated in public schools.

I did something similar with some of my Sunday School students. I asked them what they would like to learn and they answered 'other religions'. So were took an historic perspective and looked at Abraham, Moses, Judaism, the defeat by the Romans and the beginning of the diaspora. We studies Josephus' account of the siege of Jerusalem in English translation. Then we turned to Christianity and looked at the early missionary activities of Paul and others. The hot issues of the time were forbidden foods and circumcision of males. As an exercise we went for yum cha on Sunday morning and they tried some chicken feet to understand how hard it must have been for conservative Jews to eat foods they encountered as missionaries. Surprisingly they did not find it hard at all. We also went to the Great Synagogue and the strictness of the Sabbath rules were understood when they realised that it was forbidden to play musical instruments during Sabbath worship.

Last we looked at the rise of Islam. We learned about the life of Mohummud, his wives, battles and how the Koran was delivered. We also studied the Christian Crusades, who started them, what happened as the crusaders passed through Europe and Asia Minor on the way to the Holy Land. Last, we looked at the religious obligations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity and compared the traditions.

As you can imagine, this kind of treatment requires interest from the students and I happened to have a small class of very intelligent boys. Two were minister's sons and one was from a quite religious and musical family. You cannot do all of this as a compulsory exercise in public school. That is why GRE is a very tiny corner of the overall curriculum.
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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by Dreamweaver » 12 Sep 2019, 16:39

He commences by considering cows, how they are part of nature, how they have evolved, how humans have influenced that evolution from the now extinct aurochs over thousands of years. They have had a big impact on human culture. And humans have been redesigning their religions in the same way over thousands of years, which has influenced evolving cultures all over the world.

He goes back to the brilliance of natural selection (not intelligent design) - sheep themselves were not clever to increase their genetic fitness by becoming domesticated. Humans have worked with these natural processes to have huge effects, and have multiplied so greatly that we now influence the whole world, and this is through culture.

He considers religion a natural phenomenon which should be studied. He believes democracy depends on an informed citizenship. Misinformed consent is worth nothing. He feels it indefensible that some religions are so determined to preserve the 'purity' of their faith that they insist their children be kept in ignorance of other religions.

More, but I won't add more 'spoilers'!
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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by mavisbramston » 12 Sep 2019, 18:54

Wonderfully interesting

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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by Perrorist » 12 Sep 2019, 20:45

Very.

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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by mavisbramston » 13 Sep 2019, 09:30

Sometimes I read posts on silver peers and I honestly have nothing to add but like folks to know ai read it. This is one of the very few sites and forums where I read respectful decent posts. I dont always agree but have not encountered the bigoted aggression of other forums.

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Re: Atheism plus religion

Post by Warrigal » 13 Sep 2019, 09:57

We are not usually aggressive with people in face to face discussions. I would walk away before I would resort to nastiness.

I try to carry the same calmness to my online interactions. Early on I was tempted a couple of times to make snide or sarcastic remarks. For that I punished myself with a 2 week suspension. That was enough to remind me to stay nice, no matter the provocation.
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