Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dennett on Religious Education

Dennett argues that public schools should teach "facts" about all religions.

He seems to think this would be the easiest thing in the world. "No problem! Just teach the facts."

But there are two problems with his plan that he doesn't address:

1) The facts are disputed. Who wrote the Bible / Quran / Vedas? When? Why? Did the events reported occur? Did Jesus die and rise like the Christians say, die and not rise like the atheists say, not die on the cross at all like the Muslims say? Or did he even exist? What are the facts?
2) Which facts are to be selected? Do we emphasize the Crusades, or the Abolitionists? The selection of facts itself creates a different image in the mind of the student. Who decides what the balance is to be?

Those two decisions are philosophical, not factual -- and they will be made by the teacher.

And the reason I don't want religion taught in school is because I don't trust teachers -- any teachers -- to make those decisions.

The problem becomes clear as he goes on -- he quotes PDL, but his only response is essentially, "I think that's wrong," and/or "I want this meme to go away." Well, yeah. You two disagree about the facts. That's why I don't want either of you teaching religion in school.

He also, off-handedly, says, "Intelligent design? Not from Francis Crick." But Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA, was an advocate of ID -- specifically, directed panspermia.

Dumbass can't even get his own facts right. Why should I trust him or his philosophical minions with the mind of my child?

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