The Real Trojan Horse – the threat to Britain’s Christian Education System

The atheist fundamentalists who want to get rid of all religion from the British education system are besides themselves with excitement.  The Ofsted report on muslim infiltration allows them to claim that since religion is the problem, the solution is to ban all religion from schools.  Here is my analysis of the situation – posted in Christian Today….let me know what you think…

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/trojan.horse.forget.islam.the.real.threat.is.secularists.who.want.faith.removed.from.schools/38021.htm

41 thoughts on “The Real Trojan Horse – the threat to Britain’s Christian Education System

  1. My thoughts on this are pretty much in line with where Melvyn Bragg is coming from. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, of faith or no faith I think there that what is promoted “secular values” has roots within Christianity and probably hugely influenced by the King James Bible, whether you consider the bible the source of much good or much evil.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00fj14z

  2. I found the words of the Evangelical Alliance in their production “What Kind of Nation” to be very helpful:

    “We believe in a society where people are given fundamental freedom to live in accordance with their beliefs, and where their individual liberty is valued and not oppressed. We support a Scotland in which the freedom of speech, conscience and religion are given fundamental importance. We have no wish to impose views on others but nor do we wish to have views imposed that impinge on the fundamental rights of individuals to live according to conscience in all areas of life. Increasingly there are concerns that current understandings of secularism can lead to an aggressive, imposed form of public life where no room for faith discussion is left at the table. Rather than tyranny of religion there can be tyranny of the secular in which all views are welcome except those of faith. We advocate instead for a plural public square in which both secular and faith views are heard.” (pp20-21)

    I think in our schools, these principles should also be adhered to.

    However, I think there is a real danger that in standing up to fight against militant secularists, Christians can accidentally give the impression they are fighting against all secularists/atheists/humanists etc. There is a danger then that someone who might be humanist or secularist or atheist (or obviously, a combination of these) might be given the impression that Christians do not respect them or their views. I think we have to take great care that in fighting extremist views, we do not give the appearance of being extremists ourselves.

    I noticed and was encouraged to see on the Scottish Secular facebook page that when some writers wrote in a very militant fashion, there were some moderate voices who wanted to clarify that they were not against personal belief. These are the people that I think we need to be having dialogue with about ways forward to create and support the “plural public square” mentioned by the EA.

    So, I would urge that when you do write about these issues, you take great care with your language, as at times it can read as if you are suggesting ALL secularists or ALL humanists or ALL atheists are militant and want to cause damage. While I do not think you mean this at all (I hope you don’t!) it would be worth emphasising and being clear on.

    While you are clear at the beginning, you let it slip at times. For example, you write:

    1. “Secular humanists would love to remove all faith schools from the State system but they know that politically it would be impossible because the faith schools are very popular with parents. So what is needed is a Trojan horse.”

    2. “The problem is that once secularists get control of all the state schools they will ensure that nothing that does not fit in with their philosophy and doctrines will be allowed.”

    Language can easily mislead, and dropping words like “militant” changes the group you are talking about and can result in alienating large chunks of the audience.

    I say these things to be supportive and constructive – it is not an attack on you or your views.

    God bless
    MM

    1. Monk – I have no problem with your points 1 and 2. They are the truth. I can’t not tell the truth in order to be ‘nice’. And I can’t add qualiifiers to every sentence. I’m sure there were some nice Nazis but that does not mean that Bonhoeffer and others should not have spoken out.

      1. You see, David, this is the problem. You have immediately become black and white, implying a dichotomy between being nice and truth telling. It is of course possible to do both.

        You have also done the very opposite of my advice! I am suggesting we can alienate people if not careful with our language (thinking of more moderate secularists/atheists/humanists) and you immediately draw a comparison with Nazis!

        Bonhoeffer might well have spoken out against Nazis, but I assume he didn’t lump all Germans into the Nazi label.

      2. Monk – you are of course right about alientating people because of language. I find a lot of your language very alienating. But I guess I just have to live with that! It is for example dishonest of you to imply that I was suggesting Nazis and humanists were the same. I was making a logical point and not comparisons as you well know. And your last point does not make any sense. Who argued that Bonhoeffer said all Germans were Nazis?! The point was that just because there were some nice Nazis does not mean that one should not speak out against Nazism in case you offend the nice ones. Likewise if there are some nice ‘ people who hold the ideology you don’t agree with’ does not mean that you should not speak out against that ideology. I’m sure you get the point.

    2. “I think we have to take great care that in fighting extremist views, we do not give the appearance of being extremists ourselves”.

      I agree and in that light not all evangelicals are fundamentalist extremists.

  3. David,
    I would be delighted to comment on your article, but I would like to know your comment publication policy first. You were good enough to publish one comment from me yesterday in the Dawkins Rant thread, but not the other.
    I do hope you are not censoring dissenting viewpoints? That would certainly be ironic given your charge of intolerance and fundementalism against secularists !!
    best wishes,
    Linear C

    1. I am happy to allow any comments – with the exceptions of those that are illegal, reveal personal details, are too abusive or are off subject. However because of the level of abuse I get all comments have to be approved first. And I don’t spend my life in front of the computer so sometimes it takes a day or two before they are posted.

      1. Thanks David. I look forward to contributing to your blog, and I hope you find my posts thought provoking.

        best wishes,
        Linear C

  4. You will not be surprised that I disagree with a lot of what you have written but I am interested in the next piece with your thoughts on “”Are children born atheists?”.

    From my point of view is of course they are not. Atheism is an informed choice, as is belief. Of course, this then impacts on who provides information about the belief and who then guides a child into worship. This is a role and choice for the family and where I really disagree with your article is that it is not a role for the state via schools.

    There is a fascinating talk on TED by Jonathan Haidt (https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind) which discusses the draft morals that babies are born with that then get overwritten/added to by experience and how that then informs various life choices and positions. Of course we will disagree on where that moral draft comes from (me=evolution, you=God) but it is expanded upon in this presentation: (https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_chalks_it_up_to_the_blank_slate#t-1336115).

  5. David,
    It’s difficult to know where to begin. Clearly you are concerned about the calls to remove the teaching of religious claims as true from public schools, and clearly you believe that Christianity should enjoy a privileged position of exclusivity. But your concern is clouding your cognitive facilities, for there is a complete lack of rational argument in your article. What you are essentially saying is that since Christianity has historically enjoyed a privileged position, it should continue to do so. You do not argue against secular calls for state neutrality as such, you merely demonise secularism.
    Take this statement;
    “The problem is that once secularists get control of all the state schools they will ensure that nothing that does not fit in with their philosophy and doctrines will be allowed.”
    Where do you get this from other than the paranoid recesses of your imagination? What philosophy and doctrines do you mean? Maybe you could spell it out for us, perhaps give the page number in the secularist manifesto?
    “Christianity, Islam, the Westboro Cult – what’s the difference?”
    Good question. The difference is that while you all share an imaginary friend, you cannot agree on what your imaginary friend wants. Lets say a Wee Free and a Westboro Baptist have a theological difference; what method do you use to determine who, if anyone, is right? After all, you both consult the same manual, but you just can’t agree on what it means. And you have no methodology to determine which one of you has the correct interpretation.
    This is the root of the secularist objection. Faith is a failed epistemology. Faith has no method or process to determine truth. And it has no business in the education of our children.
    Maybe you could address this point, instead of your usual distasteful tactic of simply tarring secularism with your brush of imaginary totalitarianism?

    Yours rationally,
    Linear C

    1. I am saying the because Christianity is true, and because it works and because it is the basis of our society, before we throw it away then it would be a good idea to know what is going to replace it!

      If you do not know what secular values and teachings are then I am not sure you should be arguing for secularism!

      As to determining what is right for a Christian to believe – its not really that difficult. We are followers of Christ so we let him determine – and he does so in his word. Christian faith actually has a great way of determining truth – Jesus is the truth.

      On the other hand atheist philosophy has no way to determine truth – because atheism is just the lack of belief in God and has therefore nothing to say about truth!

    2. 1) There is a world of difference between teaching that students must believe that a religion or worldview is true and teaching students about religion because one religion could be true.

      2) And for that matter, there is a difference between a school teaching students that they must believe that one religion is true; and teaching that the school happens to believe that a particular religion is true, but that students should assess the truth claims of that religion for themselves.

    3. I don’t understand. Why is it rational to make the claim that different faiths share an “imaginary friend”?

  6. Hi David,

    Some brief points;

    1. I know you say Christianity is true, the issue at hand is that you cannot demonstrate it is true.

    2. I know what secularism means, I’m challenging you to justify your continual demonisation of secularism.

    3. Again you misrepresent my question. I’m not asking what is right for a Christian to believe, I’m asking how theists determine what is true. Jesus will not help you. Jesus is a character in a book, and theists cannot agree on what the book means. Westboro Baptists use the same book that you do. On what grounds can you claim their interpretation is wrong? What standard do you use to say their interpretation of the bible is wrong? You can’t say the bible is the standard, because Westboro use the bible to say that your interpretation is wrong!

    No theist has been able to answer this question. What does this say about the ‘truth’ of theism David? Think !!!

    4. There is no such thing as “atheist philosophy”, so I agree that atheism says nothing about truth. In fact, atheism says nothing about anything, it’s as you say, just the lack of belief in gods.
    So why bring this up? Are you implying some kind of false dichotomy that there are only 2 possible methods of determining truth? Theism or ‘atheist philosophy’? This is absurd.
    We have very reliable method of determining truth; observation, hypothesis, testing, revision. This method has proved spectacularly successful. It works! Whereas faith fails, every time. Theism has yet to produce even one demonstrable truth.

    This utter failure has no place in our education system, wouldn’t you agree?

    best wishes,
    Linear C

    1. Linear,

      1) Yes I can.
      2) I don’t demonise secularise.
      3) Jesus is much more than a character in a book (once again your prejudices are getting in the way of facts!).
      4) On what grounds can I claim Westboro Baptists claim is wrong? On the basis of any sane, intelligent and rational reading of the Bible. Actually Westboro Baptists have far more in common with atheists – at least in how they read the bible! Your arrogance that no theist has been able to answer your question has once again been shown to be wrong.
      5) Atheism says nothing about anything….yep, thats just about right.
      6) Theism has produced many demonstrable truths – not least that the universe is ordered and so can be studied using the scientific methodology. You really do need to do some reading – again I suggest that you try Lennox whom you dissed in a previous post. As a professor of the philosophy of science at Oxford, I have a sneaking suspicion he might know something about it. And probably a great deal more than you do. After all as an atheist, according to your own admission, you know nothing! I wonder why you think such ignorance has a place in our education system?

      1. Hi David,

        Maybe we need to cut down the discussion points so we can address these issues in more depth, because you are not tackling at all the points I am making.

        So point 1,
        I said “. I know you say Christianity is true, the issue at hand is that you cannot demonstrate it is true.”
        To which you said, “Yes I can” !!
        Do you see the problem here? Just repeating the claim doesn’t make it true. Wouldn’t you agree that the only way you can support your claim is to demonstrate it? The longer you persist in failing to back up your claim, the greater the suspicion that you can’t in fact back it up. The ball’s in your court on this one.

        Let’s jump to point 4;
        As a demonstration of how you fail to demonstrate your claims are true, I pointed out that theists cannot agree even among themselves what is true. I asked what standard you would use to determine that for example, a westboro baptist had the wrong interpretation of the bible, and you said; “On the basis of any sane, intelligent and rational reading of the Bible”. Which is fine as far as it goes, but then what do you do when theists continue to disagree? A westboro baptist will say that their reading is sane, intelligent and rational, and that yours isn’t. How would you argue against that? We don’t even need to go to extremes of westboro; I’ve been reading in your blog about how the Wee Frees can’t even agree with the Church of Scotland on the subject of gay ministers. Are you accusing the Church of Scotland of not being sane, intelligent and rational? And if the CoS make the same charge against your reading, how do you determine who is right? Take a vote? Truth isn’t determined by vote, I assume you would agree with this, and yet that seemed to be the only method open to you to resolve the question. That’s not truth David, is it? The problem is that theism has no method at all to determine truth. I guess you could all pray for a solution and hope that Yahweh poofs down the answer (if you’ll pardon the pun), but you all know that doesn’t work. And the reason it doesn’t work is that Yahweh isn’t real, he is nothing but a figment of your own individual imaginations.

        And let’s end on point 6;
        I said that theism has failed to demonstrate any truths, so I’ll give you credit for at least offering something rather than simply repeating over and over “yes it can, yes it can”. And which truth has theism demonstrated? “that the universe is ordered”. On what basis do you make this claim? We know the universe is ordered by observing it. Theism has nothing to do with it. You’ll have to explain more about the alleged theistic method, because just claiming that an observed phenomenon is caused by your imaginary friend is no explanation. I’ll put it another way, I can read about accepted truths about cosmology in any good cosmology textbook; if I pop down to waterstones in commercial street, will I be able to find this ‘truth’ of yours in a cosmology book? Of course I won’t.
        Then you end with a completely bizarre piece of irrational logic, to accuse me of knowing nothing because I am an atheist. Sorry David, but I know lots, and I have a reliable epistemology that I can, and have, been demonstrating. Atheism says nothing about anything, except that I have no belief in gods. But atheism (a description of a position on a specific claim) and atheist (a person who holds that one position) are 2 very different categories. Surely you recognise this? You do understand these are different don’t you?

        I look forward to continuing our discussion, because there is a rational conclusion. I can support my position, and I can demonstrate to you why my position is correct. You on the other hand, cannot support your position. I mean, if Yahweh was really ‘real’, you would just demonstrate it to me, but no, we have this convoluted dance. Why is that David? Why not just show me that I am wrong and be done with it?

        Think !

        Best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. Linear –

        1) It is true that just asserting something does not make it true. If you will recall – you were the person who came on my blog, making assertions, which you offered no evidence for. The reason that there are so many subjects is that when one accusation is answered you just move on to another one!
        2) You assert that Theists cannot even agree amongst themselves what is true. Which is demonstrably false. I know plenty theists and we agree on many things. If you mean that theists do not always agree with each other on every thing then your point is just dumb – because there are no atheists, scientists, or any two people who agree 100% with each other. How we would ascertain the truth re Westboro Baptists is easy – we would use the Word of God. Of course your pre-supposition is that the Bible is not true and is not clear and so you cannot accept that answer. Likewise with the C of S and gay ministers – again you speak about what you do not know – just making assertions without evidence. The C of S report on the matter agrees that the Bible is clear about homosexuality – it just says that the Bible got it wrong – which is the real problem with the situation with the C of S – not its attitude to homosexuality but its attitude to the bible.
        3. Truth is not determined by vote. But if someone says ‘the Bible does not say that God sent his Son to die for us’, and it clearly does. Are you really saying that simply by making that statement, they negate the truth of the Bible? That if two people have different opinions about something then that something must be false?! It is not a logical way to proceed.
        4. As for the universe being ordered. You clearly do not understand scientific methodology or history. We actually don’t know that the universe is ordered by observing it. Many people when they observe the universe consider it to be disordered and chaotic. It was theism which taught that there was a creator God who created an ordered universe which then encouraged people to examine the ‘book of nature’. I know of no scientist who knows anything about the history of science who would deny that. And yes if you read any decent book on the history of science or cosmology you will find that that is the case. We all begin our studies with pre-suppositions. Modern science would have been impossible without theistic pre-suppositions.

        But of course for you all this is nonsense. Because you have made up your mind. Anyone who believes in God believes in an ‘imaginary’ friend. There can be no evidence for God because there is no God. That is your starting and finishing point and it means that you will just reject anything that contradicts that. Could you at least consider the possibility that the reason you cannot see is because your eyes are shut?

  7. If I may ask a question to Linear C?

    I would be interested to know what you think of the quote I gave earlier regarding a “plural public square”?

    I disagree with quite a few things that David writes (as you will have seen!). However, I am a Christian. I am also an educated scientist (BSc, MSc and Chartered in my scientific discipline). I also believe that Christianity is an evidence based religion and took my personal step of faith after study of the evidence*. I also respect that many do not share my faith and can understand why.

    It is true that many in the world have committed atrocities and called themselves religious, but there are equally many of no religion who have done likewise. The same is true of good deeds. The common factor is humanity, not religion of absence thereof.

    I personally do not wish my religion to be taught dogmatically as “true” in schools (even though I believe it to be so). I think this actually can drive more people away from it. To me, that is like saying concepts such as “love” should be taught as “truth”. What I equally do not wish, though, is for all religion to be expelled and classed as a purely private matter – to me that would be like saying ” let’s ban all talk of love at schools, as some of us think it doesn’t exist and there is no solid evidence that it’s an actual thing and in some cases it causes trouble”. I dont know if my analogy is making sense to you? Forgive me if it’s unclear.

    I think religion (and atheism) need to be explored, better understood and where people of faith wish to express that faith in schools, there should not be a blanket ban, but rather a discernment as to what is best for the interests of the children and society. I personally believe we have much to learn from each other in this world and believe that a “plural public square” (including schools) should be encouraged. At times it feels like some of the more vocal secularists are implying that all people who have faith are stupid or brainwashed and the intelligent person will reject all religion and we should push all religious activities into the shadows where it belongs. To be clear, I’m not referring to you here but other forums I’ve visited.

    Without knowing your views generally, other than what I read above, I’d be interested to know what you think of my views here about respecting different views and not dogmatically insisting one is true or false, but rather exploring where they come from and why they mean so much to people (and I’m including atheism here) – and what better place than a school to learn more about our fellow man?

    MM
    *just to be clear, there are different ways of dealing with evidence and I chose this word rather than “proof” as we each have to draw our own conclusions from what we see and hear.

    1. Hi MM,

      Thanks for your considered reply.
      I have far less of an issue with the concept of a plural public square, but given the mythological origins of religion, I think it would be far better for the state to remain silent. Additionally, there is the practical issue of ensuring neutrality.
      I also agree with your views on understanding and tolerance of a variety of outlooks, and the best way for this to happen is for us all to mix. However, I don’t understand what is special about religion in comparison with other subjects that are generally not taught in primary schools, like politics or philosophy.
      No, the heart of the issue is that the religious meme relies on early indoctrination to survive, and that is why the faithful clamour to have it taught in schools. Rarely is anyone reasoned into religious belief (are you one of the exceptions?), although plenty are reasoned out of it.

      PS I agree with your avoidance of the word ‘proof’; this is a concept best left to mathematics!

      Best wishes,
      Linear C

      1. Hi Linear.

        Thanks for your reply. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if all discussions and debates could be carried out in such a courteous and respectful manner?
        I am glad to see we have considerable areas of agreement, and thanks for highlighting these.

        Your use of the term mythological intrigued me so I checked the exact definition of myth. The Oxford first definition is: “A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events”. I am happy with this neutral definition of religion stories, though not with subjective alternatives such as “A widely held but false belief or idea”, as I and many millions do not consider my religion to be false.

        What I found interesting and perhaps helpful is where the focus is on origins – this is an area that we can put in a philosophy/religion classroom and I wouldn’t want to see the religious view as part of a science classroom (I should be clear, most Christians I know are not Creationists). Equally strongly, I don’t want science to try to deal with religious questions – just because we can understand how something works does not determine whether or not it was created by God or by chance etc.

        However, I can understand that you do not see why we want to see it taught in classrooms (such as politics etc.). What I would say to that is religion is much more than an origins story. It is equally an identity story. So much of our culture is embedded in religious tradition and in many ways religious ignorance is the cause of so much conflict in the world. Where I would be in total agreement with you presumably, would be that I would not want children to be indoctrinated with one single worldview. However, I do want my children to be educated and aware of different perspectives so that like me, they can make up their own minds. I feel equally strongly that to teach any child that God does not exist is also indoctrination – in this case to the atheist worldview.

        I think your experience teaches you that rarely is anyone reasoned into religious belief. However, my experience is quite different. I have heard many stories of people through courses such as Alpha or Christianity Explored finding themselves turning to faith through logical (and experiential) reason.

        What I would wholeheartedly agree with is that I have never heard anyone being debated into faith.

        I also don’t like my religion to be taught as unthinking truth. I want my children to ask questions, take views and explore it themselves. Far more harm is caused by the unthinking indoctrination you describe. What an atheist needs to reassure me of is that he/she is not doing exactly the same thing with their atheistic worldview.

        If David permits, it would be interesting to know your ongoing thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

        I normally sign off with God bless, so hope that doesn’t cause offence!

        MM

  8. I hadn’t until now made the connections between the whole “faith school/ alleged ‘Islam-by-the-back-door’ school” and this widely read article on the BBC website yesterday “Life in a Christian ‘fundamentalist’ school” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-27681560

    My pub quiz team is made up of a confirmed atheist and lapsed Catholics. After the quiz we always end up having fascinating conversations, quite often about current affairs and faith issues (they know I’m a Christian & regular church goer).

    Its really interesting hearing about their experience of faith schools & the Church in general. A tiny bit like Islam, they derive quite a lot of their identity & culture in the wider world from their faith label. And part of that is in no small way due to the grief that they historically got, as Irish immigrants, for their being a different minority faith in a strongly Presbyterian Scotland. They quite enjoy describing some of the ins and out and the quirks of their religious community to a rather clueless Prod, and in turn I’ve shared some of our own foibles. But I do try and emphasise personal living faith in Christ and His finished work and hope that they will come to know the Lord.

    All that said, I don’t believe in faith schools today (although I’m happy to be persuaded otherwise). I also am utterly bewildered at the American craze of home-schooling, often by highly religious parents for religious reasons. I found the whole business of setting up a separate Christian School in the Isle of Lewis of all places to be quite unnecessary, where ordinary schools have a high percentage of Christian teachers and a sympathetic Local Authority/ Council.

    Christian RE teachers and school chaplains certainly need our regular prayers. I was a real idiot in school as a school pupil, I argued endlessly with the RE teachers and, to my shame, mocked the pupils who were Christians or went to Scripture Union meetings. I had a visceral hatred of any expression of faith in those days.

    “How can you possibly know God?” – its one of the ultimate questions, and one that only Christians can answer. And helping children to know that answer is one of the most precious things – saving them from many of life’s illusions and the devil’s snares.

    1. Thanks for the prayer, Caliean. I have to say that I love teaching RE and would thoroughly recommend the life to anyone. July and August help too!
      Funnily enough, my best students are often atheists. My job in the classroom is just to help my students clarify and defend what they believe and why; and then they learn how to debate and discuss their beliefs constructively.

      Graham

  9. First, as someone who has taught Religious Education for 15 years, I can categorically state that anyone who says that “Jesus is just a character in a book” has lost the right to have their opinions about the teaching of religion to be taken seriously. As David says, this is rank, ill-informed prejudice. I don’t know how any educated person could make that comment in the context of this debate.

    Second, good hermeneutics deals with Westboro baptist. Unless you think that any text, or set of texts, can be interpreted in any way. But if you believe that, why are you typing on a blog?

    Third, why should I accept your version of secularism, and not anarchism, nihilism, relativism, Marxism or consumerism? Can you demonstrate, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that these versions of secularism are wrong?

    Fourth, if atheism doesn’t teach anything should I believe that it is true? Do you believe that atheism is true?

    To summarise: either you haven’t thought this through or you just enjoy antagonising Christians…

    neither is the worst crime in the world, I suppose. But it does become tiring having to state the obvious to people who really should know better.

    1. Hi Graham,

      Thank you for the reply.
      1. I recognise that using the expression that Jesus is merely a character in a book may seem jarring to you, and other believers reading this, but the point I am trying to make is that to non-believers, then it is a matter of fact that Jesus is merely a character in a book. You say I am ill-informed or uneducated to say so, but the opposite is true. I have taken the time to familiarise myself with the arguments of apologists and Christian philosophers, and I can conclude that Jesus, Yahweh are indeed mythological characters. If you want to claim this is wrong, then I would ask you to demonstrate why this is wrong, or even better, demonstrate that Jesus / Yahweh exists.
      2. I can see that the bible can be interpreted in more than one way, not necessarily any way. This is evidenced by the number of Christian sects. The problem is that there is no way for even Christians among themselves to determine which is the correct interpretation (if any!).
      3. But I’m not advocating, supporting or promoting any of those other ‘isms’, so this is a non-sequitur.
      4. Forgive my directness, but now you are just playing word games. Atheism doesn’t teach anything, so what are you asking is true? The claim here is that Yahweh exists. Atheism is the position of non-belief of this claim. This is the definition of atheism that I was referring to when I say that atheism teaches nothing. Now, I know there are typically 2 definitions of atheism, the one I gave above and the definition that atheism is the belief that gods do not exist. On this definition, you could reasonable ask if atheism is true, but this definition doesn’t fit with the claim that atheism teaches nothing. I’m personally not too fussy about which definition we should use, unless a theist claims that a god must exist if said god can’t be proven not to exist, so then the definition can be useful in getting the theist to think about where the reasonable burden of proof lies. But the most important thing is that if we are to have a discussion, we should use consistent definitions between us.
      5. In summary, I’ve thought about these issues quite a bit. It’s not that I enjoy antagonising Christians, you are welcome to your beliefs, it’s that I care about what is true, and I care about having superstitious nonsense imposed on the rest of us (again apologies for the what must seem like inflammatory language, but that’s how I see it).

      Best wishes,
      Linear C

  10. Thanks David!
    So long as schools teach students how to reflect critically on worldviews and religious beliefs, and so long as no privileges or penalties follow from holding a worldview or religious belief, then I cannot see what the problem is.

    Graham

  11. I am all in favour of teaching about religions in school. Religions have played a massive part in the development of most cultures and understanding them wil be key to our understanding of those cultures. But I am strongly opposed to teaching children in state schools that any particular religion is true.

    I’m not sure why saying “Jesus is a character in a book” disqualifies Linear from having his opinions about teaching religion taken seriously. Christians will usually say that they have a personal relationship with Jesus, but that is inevitably a private thing. When it comes to discussions about what shared knowledge there is about Jesus, then all have to resort to what is said about him in a book (or books, if you want to be pedantic). Whether you think he is a historical character or not, this still makes him a character in a book.

    Graham talks about good hermeneutics and David talks about a sane, rational etc reading of the bible. But there are no commonly agreed methods of determining what is or isn’t good hermeneutics or a sane reading of the bible. What makes Graham or David’s reading of the bible any more reliable than Fred Phelps’? Only their own self-supporting assessment of it. That’s the problem.

    1. Are you strongly opposed to teaching children in school that secular humanism is true? Or that atheism is true? Or that racism is wrong? Or that all humans are created equal? And yes there are good hermeneutics and a sane way of reading the bible. I realise that it is part of your belief system that there cannot be – but just because you believe it does not make it true, does it? The reason you can’t work out the difference between Fred Phelps and Graham is not because there is not one – its because you don’t want there to be one. Its your prejudice that is blinding you to the obvious. Its a bit like me saying there is no difference between Joseph Mengele and Richard Dawkins!

      1. I am not strongly opposed to teaching children in school that “secular humanism is true”, chiefly because I don’t know what that would mean. I might be strongly opposed to it if you could spell out what you have in mind here. I would be strongly opposed to teaching children in schools that God doesn’t exist, if that’s any help.

        Our society is founded on certain shared values and I would agree that schools should reflect those values. To that extent those values would be “taught”. I would not want to see formal lessons dedicated to inculcating those values. Apart from anything else, I suspect that it would be counter-productive.

  12. Hi David,

    I have to say it’s a bit rich of you to say that I never provide any evidence for my claims, since this my primary criticism of you! And it’s also a bit strange of you to bring this up now, why not bring it up in your responses to my posts?
    So let me state for the record, right now, 18th June, if ever I make a substantive claim without evidence, then please call me out on it at the time and I will happily provide the evidence.

    Theism has no METHOD to determine truth. You say good hermeneutics, but who is to say what is good? You have absolutely no way to show that your ‘good hermeneutics’ has arrived at the truth. This is evidenced by the multiplicity of religions we have had. (And please be careful with any reply to this, because this is not a claim of ‘proof’ that all religions must be false. It’s evidence that they are probably all false because there is no METHOD to determine if theistic claims are true.) Do you understand this point? If you do, please describe to me the METHOD.

    Theism has not provided us with any truths. You claimed the ordered universe was a truth provided by theism. But on examination, you retract this claim to one of theism teaches that God created the universe!!! Hardly a truth, and the theistic truth tally remains at zero.

    Finally, you are clearly not reading my posts, or at least not absorbing the contents. I went out of my way to clearly state that my mind is not closed. Atheism is my conclusion, not my pre-supposition. If there is evidence, present it, and I will gladly change my mind. I know we disagree, but can you please acknowledge that you understand my position, and please refrain from making false statements about me in future? It appears that your eyes that are shut, not mine.

    Best wishes,
    Linear C

    1. Hi Linear,

      “So let me state for the record, right now, 18th June, if ever I make a substantive claim without evidence, then please call me out on it at the time and I will happily provide the evidence.”

      Happy to do so – “Theism has no METHOD to determine truth. ” – please provide the empirical evidence for that claim.

      Incidentally perhaps you could tell us exactly what evidence would cause you to believe in God?

      1. Hi David,
        A bit of a strange request because I provided evidence in the remainder of the paragraph. Are you really just not reading my posts? Is that the cause of your failure to answer? Anyway, happy to repeat the evidence here.
        “Theism has no METHOD to determine truth. You say good hermeneutics, but who is to say what is good? You have absolutely no way to show that your ‘good hermeneutics’ has arrived at the truth. This is evidenced by the multiplicity of religions we have had. (And please be careful with any reply to this, because this is not a claim of ‘proof’ that all religions must be false. It’s evidence that they are probably all false because there is no METHOD to determine if theistic claims are true.) Do you understand this point? If you do, please describe to me the METHOD. “
        PS one thing at a time!
        Best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. Linear –

        You state “Theism has no method to determine truth”. All I asked was what is your evidence for that statement? Simply repeating the assertion is not evidence. You say that there is absolutely no way to show that good hermeneutics has arrived at the truth. That is just repeating the assertion in another form. It is your responsibility to provide evidence for your assertion, not just repeat it and then state that your assertion is itself proof! I cannot of course argue against someone who just keeps saying ‘no it isn’t’!

        AS regards our method – we believe that words have meaning. That they have to be set in context and that reason and revelation are necessary for knowing truth. And a doze of humility.

      3. Hi David.
        My goodness!!
        Please forgive my exasperation but I don’t know how to signpoint it more clearly than by writing “This is evidenced by ……..” in my posts!! Twice !!!!
        Let’s try it this way: The mulitiplicity of religions is evidence that theism has no method to determine truth. And to be crystal clear I am referring to the religions with mutually exclusive truth claims. And because there is no method, this is extremely good evidence that all religions are probably false.

        You are quick to claim that atheists abuse you on the internet, but when you behave so obtusely, perhaps it not a surprise that others have less patience than I?

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      4. Linear -still no evidence. The multiplicity of religions is evidence that there is a multiplicity of religions and says nothing about theism has no method to determine truth. Its like your claiming that the multitude of views about how we can travel from Dundee to Edinburgh means that there can be no one correct view!

      5. Hi David,

        First my apologies for the delay in responding, I have been travelling. However, on reading your response, I’m amazed that you would post such a weak and illogical reply, and I’m also still frustrated that you seem to be incapable of reading my posts.
        Your travel analogy simply does not work. There are competing religious claims to truth, but there are no similar claims about the ‘correct’ way to travel from D to E. You may prefer to go by Kirkcaldy, I may prefer to go by Perth, but for me to claim that my way was the ‘correct’ way, or that the only true way to Edinburgh was via Perth, would be ridiculous! Wouldn’t it?
        Now if I were to claim that the shortest way to Edinburgh was via Perth, well that is a truth claim. But we have a method to determine if this claim is true, so we could each both easily come to the same conclusion about the claim. This is NOT true of religious claims.
        Now here’s where I get frustrated by your responses; I specifically said in my last post that my point was about religions with mutually exclusive truth claims. This is the evidence that demonstrates there is no theological method to determine truth, not just the existence of more than one religion. Please engage with this point if you feel the need to reply to me.
        But given the brute fact that there are mutually exclusive religious truth claims, means logicaly, that there is no theological method to determine truth.
        You may not like this, but it is true. And the truth will set you free. This could be your first step to freedom!
        Fingers crossed for you David !

        best wishes.
        Linear C

      6. Yes – I’m sorry that you are having such difficulty with my logic. When someone says the way to get to Edinburgh is to head North – they are wrong. And they will find out when they go that way. And we do have ways to work out whether particular religions are true or not. I am happy to read and compare, to contrast, to think, to observe, to pray, to examine history. I have no problem with mutually exclusive truth claims – because I don’t believe that all religions are the same. For example the atheist says there is no God, the Christian says there is. ‘there is evidence that demonstrates there is no theological method to determine truth’….really? Would you like to share that evidence with us? It is indeed a brute thing to declare that mutually exclusive truth claims’ means logically there is no theological method to determine truth”. It is not however a fact. You can and do have mutually exclusive truth claims and you do have methods to find out the truth…but they are not much use if people don’t accept the methods!

      7. Hi David,
        I’m not sure if we can describe your posts as logical! After all, your latest attempt at your travel analogy is a direct contradiction of your first attempt!
        My point is quite simple, although I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that you are refusing to even engage with it, because it demonstrates why faith is a failed epistemology. If there were a reliable theological method to determine truth, then that method would be employed to find out which one was indeed correct! And yet we still have multiple mutually exclusive theological claims. Why is this David? If you have a reliable method to find the truth, then everyone should be able to use that method and arrive at the same answer! Contrast with the scientific method; a spectacularly successful methodology; it produces verifiable truth results, that everyone agrees on, time after time after time. Theology is an unmitigated disaster, having produced not a single verifiable truth. Not one.
        You don’t seem to want to face this uncomfortable fact?
        Let me give you a concrete example; Christians claim Jesus is devine, Muslims claim he isn’t. Both groups believe sincerely that they are right. At least one group is wrong. And you have no method to show to the satisfaction of both groups which claim is the correct one.
        Without a method, the likelihood is that both groups are wrong. You may both imagine you are correct – but that’s not truth, is it?

        Best wishes,
        Linear C

        PS this is a repost of my initial reply which didn’t make it through moderation.

    2. Linear, perhaps you would lie to provide evidence for your claims that John Lennox is not a scientist and he is ignorant about evolution.

      If you cannot provide such evidence, then perhaps you could explain why you would choose to make such claims while at the same time inferring that sharing what are Christian belief about truth that have been held by millions of people for the last 2000 years and evidenced by John Lennox is lying to children.

      Kind Regards

  13. Hi Adam,
    A google search on “John Lennox biography” invariably yields the following; “John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford.” He also holds an MA in Bioethics from the University of Surrey. I don’t know if you are aware, but a Philosopher of Science is a type of Philosopher, not a type of scientist.
    It is therefore entirely disingenuous of you to describe Lennox as first and foremost a scientist, the far more accurate description is mathematician, philosopher, apologist. I don’t disagree however that he is clearly a very intelligent individual, that is not in dispute.
    My criticism of Lennox, and of any arguments from cosmology or design, is that they all boil down to arguments from ignorance. i.e no-one has an explanation for x, therefore god. An argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy, it doesn’t not necessarily mean an individual is ignorant. Reading my earlier post, I should have made this clearer, so I would concede that point to you.

    Best wishes,
    Linear C

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