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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Texas battling over Creationism - again

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Nov 23, 2013.

    And what they do there, affect what goes into text books.

    http://news.msn.com/us/evolution-debate-again-engulfs-texas-board?ocid=ansnews11

    This just seems like a ridiculous debate. I don't care if people believe in creationism - fine, that's their choice. But whether you believe it or not, it clearly isn't science, so there shouldn't even be debate as to whether it should be taught in science class. Put it in a philosophy class.
     
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  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, it needs to be taken out of science textbooks for sure. In fact, anything having to do with religion shouldn't be taught in a science classroom.
     
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  3. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Personally, and this is a bit off topic, but I'm wondering when the whole debate between religious persons and atheists is going to end.

    Fact of the matter is neither has an answer, but yet both parties like to act as if they do, which makes the debate circular and stagnant.

    And sure, you can say the Atheists have more 'evidence' to support what they always communicate as absolutes, but in the end, it's just an idea, a product of the language they've created to understand said evidence.

    I'm also wondering when a complete separation of church and state will happen. I'm all for people expressing themselves, right or wrong, religiously or non-religiously, but as such things have no place in science classrooms/textbooks, religion has absolutely no place in government.

    And the latter only adds to the religious person's conviction.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You got that part right.

    If you are talking about evolution theory, I'm sorry, the evidence is so overwhelming the theory is not in doubt.

    Since I'm not sure that's your argument, I'll leave it at that.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It is a ridiculous debate. But the local GOP in a number of states and districts have had a longstanding policy of stacking school boards with Republican and religious extremists' that hold unscientific positions regarding the science that contradicts Biblical myths. The Discovery Institute with its Wedge Strategy is behind a lot of it. A few million in one's coffers goes a lot further in school board elections than it goes toward national office candidates.

    The judge's ruling in Kitzmiller v the Dover School District is worth a read on this issue. Keep in mind he was a conservative Bush appointee. Restore's ones faith in common sense over dogma.

    It's encouraging to read the publisher of the biology book in question is refusing to cave to political and religious group pressure.
     
  6. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I'm going to ignore your typical snide comments from here on out, so I'd suggest either you communicate civilly, or you're not going to be heard. This once again goes back to the reason why people often can't take you seriously.

    So much of your rhetoric is emotionally compromised.

    Anyway, I digress, AGAIN..

    I'm talking about the GOD debate, which is more or less about the existence of God. Yes, evolution theory plays a large role in that discussion, but it's also much more than just that. For the laymen Christian, it's mostly about evolution. For the Christian who understands evolution, it's a deep dive into the waters of metaphysics and other theories.

    Anyway, it seems that you've completely ignored the most important part of my first post:

    "Fact of the matter is neither has an answer, but yet both parties like to act as if they do, which makes the debate circular and stagnant.

    And sure, you can say the Atheists have more 'evidence' to support what they always communicate as absolutes, but in the end, it's just an idea, a product of the language they've created to understand said evidence."

    And usually, they (Atheists) are as convicted, fundamental, and extreme in their beliefs as devout Christians. You can almost say their religion is Science, considering they put Scientific Theory and its Evidence on such divine pedestals, they cannot stand to be questioned or viewed differently by anyone who rejects the evidence and theories as absolutes, which I do.

    I do not view them as absolutes, but as half-truths. Until we can figure out a way to transcend our human-ness--our ability to assign symbols to things both real and abstract, in order to communicate, translate, and understand reality--I'll stay a skeptic. They are just attempts, products of our minds. Do they serve a purpose? Certainly. Do they work well? Incredibly.

    Are they flawed? I say so.

    I'm sorry you feel the way you do and lack the doubt--something I believe to be such a necessary ingredient when it comes to searching for answers and truth. That's not how genuine scientists should view the world, in my honest opinion. They should always be in doubt. Doubt is what pushes them to find certainty. And Doubt's counterpart, Confidence, breeds complacency, and when one becomes complacent, it's hard to take them seriously, because it implies they have a great understanding of everything, as if they have all the answers, and if they have all the answers, why are the rest of us still in the dark?

    AS for evolution, I am not in disagreement, but let's not deny the reality--it's a theory. You even said it yourself, so it boggles me as to how you could also conveniently ignore such an obvious thing.

    Let's also get another thing straight. I totally believe in it and think it's a more than real thing, but I'm not arrogant enough to believe I can talk in absolutes.

    [serious] I don't know why, but you seem to constantly be searching for an argument--of any kind. Do you enjoy conflict?
     
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  7. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess the thing - as a politically charged subject - will ebb away in the US. Most religious folk subscribe to a pretty unsophisticated theology which eventually and appropriately crumbles in the face of modernity, social flux and science. (The Thomist doctor of divinity is appropriately unmoved in the face of those same forces.)

    Religion plays very little part in the public discourse in Britain (where incidentally there is no separation between church and state). A move to introduce ID or whatever into science class would be met with incredulity (and given very short shrift). The same is true for many places in Europe.

    Peculiar that two of the most vocal atheists of recent times - Dawkins and Hitchens - are Brits since they are/were pushing on an open door here. (That open door revealing not necessarily a room full of radical atheists but of folk who hold the admirable philosophical position of not giving a fuck.)
     
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  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First off, what I learned about the evolution at school hasn't played a significant role in my adult life. I might as well have been taught creationism (any kind, of any religion, not just that of Christianity). That said, to teach creationism as science is one of the weirdest debates that come from the US that I've followed as of late.

    I can't but shake my head. I could write a book about how this world came to be and since no one can truly disprove me, we might as well teach that. How is creationism even science if virtually no scientific methods to prove it have been used? How is the Bible a theory?

    To me that read like "hey, you teach climate change, so you might as well teach creationism!" Science doesn't always offer the truth, sometimes "facts" change when new information is discovered, but the information derived through scientific methods is a little more reliable process than adhering to the rather shoddily translated book that, for one, is of the opinion that you shouldn't put elongated objects in the pooper.

    Way to waste the tax payers' money.

    I'm with @GoldenGhost about seperating Church and Government. Let's see, the most powerful state in the world has its politics partly dictated by people who believe in Heavenly Father, and sometimes they let that belief affect their political decision making instead of, I don't know, using common sense and rationale? Not that there seems to be a lot of that going on in secular governments either, to be honest...

    Again, I think it's important to have faith, and I also think it's important that students learn about evolution and creationism, but I agree with @thirdwind and @Steerpike ; the former belongs to the science class, the latter to either philosophy or theology, depending on the curriculum.
     
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  9. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    Just to clear something up, scientific theory stands above scientific fact since a theory is comprised of multiple facts and explains how they are linked. You may be right that we can never be wholly certain of anything, but scientific theory definitely comes closest and has been the most adequate tool yet.

    Also, when someone in your family is ill and goes to the doctor, do you doubt the theories of medicine? When you go out for a walk, do you doubt you'll return because gravity might suddenly and inexplicably disappear?

    99.9% certainty cuts it for me because I know that's the best I will ever be able to get. Beyond that point, doubt simply isn't useful anymore.

    You seem to be arguing that there is no objective truth and that whatever is claimed as truth comes to us through human filters. Well yes, gravity is a human word, but just because we invented that word and used a system of mathematics to describe that, doesn't mean the actual phenomenon doesn't exist in reality.


    --

    Now, to get back on topic. I recall that the Supreme Court ruled that Creationism isn't science. Ergo, it shouldn't be taught in science classes.

     
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  10. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I'm hoping that it's the case @art .. and I'm also hoping that our government does something about it, eventually. Until the government steps up and says they want/have nothing to do with religion, ever, then things like this Texas dilemma won't stop occurring. If the government acknowledges god as a thing, then people who believe in god feel they deserve to have their place in the school system, or something along those lines, because they feel less alone.

    Which I've identified @Macaberz , acknowledged, and have said I agree/believe with--I'm not disputing any of that. What I am disputing is how Ginger is constantly trying to ignore that it is, as you've put it, a tool--something we've constructed--by treating it as Absolute Truth.


    When it comes to doctors, yes, I do doubt them, their practices, AND their medicine, which is exactly why I'll get second, third, and in some cases, fourth opinions. Mostly due to them being human and capable of making mistakes, and mostly due to how many times their medicinal practices have caused people to die.

    But as a whole, I will say, I have faith in their practices and methods, because they have a good track record. I won't, however, view and treat them as gods.

    As for Gravity, no I don't think that will happen. I have faith it'll stick around as long as whatever keeps it in place is able to do whatever it needs to do. I do however think that us not being able to see gravity adds to the point I'm trying to make--we see how it works by seeing objects move, and that's how we make sense of it.

    So then if doubt isn't useful, and 99.9% certainty is all you need, life's pretty much in the bag, right?

    Do you know everything?

    To a certain extent, I am, but you're 100% right about gravity.

    There was another discussion similar to this that I chimed in on, and I had a light bulb moment the other day when I was contemplating objective and subjective truths, and thought of gravity. I for sure think there are some absolutes, but when it comes to things we don't truly know about or can even understand, I myself don't understand how such things can be viewed or treated as absolutes. The only reason why those things have meaning to us is because they exist within a mathematical/scientific context, hence the evidence supporting whatever is being explained. That's what I'm disputing. It just doesn't make sense to me.

    To me, as I've described it before, those things are more or less half-truths. To say they are something more just blows my mind.
     
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  11. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Even the Pope said that evolution is real. I learned about evolution in my Catholic school.

    When will people learn?
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The scientific definition of 'theory' is not, "we don't know for sure yet".
     
  13. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a dismaying debate, for sure.
    As far as atheists, most atheists are live and let live type of people. Although there are some militant atheists, most of them are simply non-believers. The hostility occurs when they encounter a very devout believer who is shocked and offended that anyone would live in a way other than they do. Simply expressing disagreement is often declared as an attack.

    Atheism is not so much a faith or belief system, but more of a lack of one. Similarly, viewing all of the scientific evidence we have acquired since the beginning of human existence, concluding that evolution is the most likely possibility, and basing scientific theories on that conclusion is not a "belief" or "religion," as a lot of creationists try to claim.
     
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  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Slightly OT, but there're so many ways to practice, say, Christianity, and sometimes a representative of a different branch can face "hostile" reactions from non-atheists as well. Reminded me of this comic:
    [​IMG]
    Note, there are crosses in every single flag, marking Christianity... It's just that in certain communities and cultures religion (in this case Christianity) is perceived something that is your own business, and forcing others to buy into one's creationist views is considered rude.

    I've always admired the notion of freedom many Americans cultivate, so I wish that parents would still have the freedom to teach their children creationism. New Age parents probably teach all kinds of stuff to their kids. That's fine, but in my opinion, the schools, however, have to be able to draw the line between what is science and what is a belief system.
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    While the subject might be of no interest to every individual, which can be said about anything one learned in school, one should at least care that schools teach valid science. (Not saying that you two don't.)

    And I get it this particular debate isn't raging in the EU, but you might keep an eye out for the "Global Mission" coming soon to a neighborhood near you. A new generation of missionaries who call themselves Evangelicals have been actively re-engaged in spreading the Good Word around the world since the 80s, or maybe even earlier but that is when I first encountered them in Mexico. Evangelicals are behind the Discovery Institute here and the not so insignificant campaign to inject Christian Biblical myth into science curriculums around the world. I'm not sure how deeply they've reached into Finland or the UK. They have a harder row to hoe in countries where surveys don't show large swathes of the population that have been indoctrinated to believe the Bible is more literal than not.


    You might be surprised as to the lengths these believers have gone to to discredit credible science from denying the validity of radioisotope dating methods to claiming geological science can explain how the Grand Canyon was formed in Noah's Flood.

    Their beliefs are threatened as modern scientific discovery chips away at Biblical myth after myth. No evidence the Earth is the center of the solar system (that one took 400 years for the Catholics to officially admit they were wrong about), no evidence of a worldwide flood, no evidence of the Adam and Eve account, and no evidence the Bible has the age of the human species right by any stretch of the details. The age of the Earth is problematic since counting up the begats (generations) since Adam and Eve, one can't get past 10,000 years.

    For some, the age of the Earth is unacceptable so they began believing that radioisotope dating and geological science has it wrong. Fossils are misinterpreted. These folks are referred to as Young Earth Creationists. Others of the Christian faith can fit the age of the Earth into their belief system by redefining quantities of time in the Bible. A 'day' and a 'night' must mean some other quantity of time.

    But when it comes to evolution, it crosses the line for more believers (obviously not all believers). The whole idea of Original Sin and Jesus make little sense if there was no Garden of Eden and a god creating the first two people. If scientific discovery undermines one's beliefs, the reaction of some Evangelicals has been to undermine science.


    If you are going to say students should learn about Creationism in public schools, whose creation myths are you going to teach? And are you going to call some of them myths and some of them beliefs or will the teachers be allowed to equate Biblical Creation with creation stories of other religions and cultures? It's easier said than done, in this country anyway. If you think evolution science is threatening, just imagine teaching Biblical Creation in a class on creation myths.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's cute irony. :)

    The problem comes when parents want to teach their children certain things that the parents believe public schools then undermine. And if you make exceptions then what happens to children who reach adulthood lacking a whole sections of knowledge about science?

    It's been an issue here when students arrive in university biology classes adamant that genetic theory is wrong, or in geology classes adamant that radioisotope dating isn't valid and the Grand Canyon was formed in a worldwide flood?

    George W Bush ordered a 'minder' for NASA that oversaw anything they put out or spoke of in public whose job it was to censor anything they might say about cosmological science (like the Big Bang) that might conflict with Genesis. He ordered park rangers that worked in the Grand Canyon to treat modern geological theories about the formation of the canyon equally with the worldwide flood story of formation.

    It would be nice if beliefs didn't contradict each other, but the problem is, they do.
     
  17. chicagoliz
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  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think that what KaTiran points out though is the degree of fetish we and some other countries make of the topic itself. I'm sure the science being taught in the schools of those other charmingly drawn representatives of countries with crucifixes on their flags is probably even more in conflict with the belief systems the children are taught at home for simple fact of there being less (or no) meddling from non-secular sources in the textbooks and course material. But it's just not something that gets their blood up. It doesn't flip their berserker/jihad/crusade switch the way it does in our country and in other countries like ours that are more or less blatant theocracies.
     
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  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Given all of the public policy and political debate around creationism and intelligent design, it makes no sense to keep children ignorant of it. That's just part of their education. Put it in a class on social policy, or something like that, and teach the mainstream I.D. viewpoint, as well as the counters to those viewpoints. You don't have to teach every creation myth on the planet to address the issue. Within context, the intelligent design movement centered in the U.S. around biblical creation is the one people should be aware of, so teach that one, as well as the criticisms of it.

    We don't teach every competing theory on every subject of science, either. Nor should we. It's not hard to assign varying levels of importance to these things. Teaching is, by nature, a process of deciding what is important enough to include in a class and what is not.
     
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  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, you don't have to teach the specific dogma embraced by the most fervent education opponents. All you have to say is that certain religious zealots want creationism in schools, and about the separation of church and state. You can go on to say that religion is a personal thing, and the student's families may have other beliefs, and those are things to learn about in church and at home and at places other than school. You teach that faith and religious belief are entirely separate from science.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Nobody has to, but I don't have a problem with it in the proper context - a theology class, or a class on social issues, or whatever. Saying it can't be taught in any context is no better than the people who want to eliminate evolution from schools.
     
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  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with you here, @Steerpike. You can teach about Religion without having to teach a religion. My degree is in applied linguistics. The subject is about how languages function, not about a particular language. ;)
     
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  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. For example, we discussed Intelligent Design in a fair amount of detail in a college philosophy class I had. We got into a lot of the specifics, as well as a lot of the criticism of those specifics. It was part of the class load I took for general education credits - ostensibly part of what was considered a well-rounded education.

    The focus should be on the educating people. If you are lobbying for kids not to be able to hear about something that is real (in the sense that it exists), and particularly when that something impacts social policy (like evolution, intelligent design, and so on), then you have some other motive (namely shutting up of a viewpoint you don't like) apart from educating people. I'm not in favor of that. Kids are smart. You can teach them the tenets of Intelligent Design, and also the problems with it, in a theology/philosophy class or some similar class, and you're educating them, not forcing a belief system on them.

    Just don't put it in science class, because it isn't science.
     
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  24. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I see these people from time to time. We do have Laestadianism, but they're a tiny minority and have a really bad reputation 'cause certain extra conservatist sects have given it a bad name. Then there's Pentecostalism, but they also seem to have a toe-curling effect on most people. I still wouldn't worry. Creationism and Intelligent Design would be laughed out of the biology class at this point.

    Presidents shouldn't have that kind of power, but I can imagine it's hard to find balance. Our previous president was an atheist. She was in the office for quite a while, and we got used to her not bringing God into any political issues. The current one is an average Christian, I believe, and already caused hubbub when he said in his thank-you speech that may God bless us all.

    Considering the two superpowers of the world, the US and Russia (ok, China is emerging) are also quite heavily influenced by Christianity, I can only wonder what would our world look like if these were two largely atheist nations.

    That's a good question and can probably be answered only by specialists of the American education system. I'm not sure if it's possible to teach children a little bit about everything. The religious curriculum over here includes learning about other religions and world-views, the major ones, that is. I quit going to religion classes at 15 though (sad story; our teacher killed himself. Just one of the things that spurred me to go irreligious), so what I know is from friends. I did take one Bible course in senior high, but the stories in the Bible were treated as fables and morality tales, which I thought quite interesting. Anyway, Steerpike took the words right out my mouth here:

    This is quite rare though, statistically speaking? I wouldn't go down the German/ Swedish way and ban homeschooling, for example.

    Wreybies kindly hit the nail on the head there :) Suppose there will always be conflict, and I only wish we could find peaceful compromises. I am loath to go down the path of restricting individual freedoms, but of course, sometimes it seems necessary.
     
  25. HarleyQ.
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    HarleyQ. Just a Little Pit Bull (female)

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    Why is that even a debate? Evolution should be taught in schools no matter what the crazy-Christians say. Though it is a 'theory,' it's also extremely plausible. Dogs came from wolves, no? How did that happen? Humans stepped in and sped the evolution process up. I don't think that it goes against God (I'm Catholic) at all.

    It blows my mind to see people actually debating about whether or not to include science in science textbooks.
     
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