Education Newspaper Letters

The Education Debate Continues – More Solas letters in the Scotsman – 26th June 2015

The education debate continues:

ROBERT Canning of the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) has kindly answered my question about what it means by universal virtues (Letters, 25 June). Unfortunately, his answer just raises more questions. “The avoidance of behaviour that others should not have to suffer and the cultivation of behaviour that benefits others”, is a relatively meaningless statement.

Who decides what is “suffering” and what is behaviour that benefits others?

I agree that as parents we want “a safe happy environment conducive to learning”. That is better done in the context of a school whose ethos is based on Christianity.

Anne Seenan (Letters, 25 June) thinks that my statement that the SSS has no rational basis for its values is “absurd”. Unfortunately, she provides no basis for her own statement. Mere assertion does not constitute rational, evidence or logic, nor does the somewhat superior view that those of us who disagree with atheistic secularism don’t know what its principles are.

David A Robertson

Solas CPC

Robert Canning regards it as “self evident” that schools should promote “avoidance of behaviour that others should not have to suffer and the cultivation of behaviour that benefits others.”

I heartily agree. The debate is about which behaviours meet these criteria.

For example, the average secularist would want sex education embodying the usual ‘don’t have sex unless you really feel like it, and use a condom’ philosophy, believing that any consenting sexual exploration and experimentation is healthy and harnless.

Using Mr Canning’s own criteria, I would want sex education to present the case for reserving sexual relations for marriage between a man and a woman. Pupils should be aware of the mountain of evidence showing positive correlations between the well-being adults and, more importantly, children, and adhering to the traditional Christian understanding of marriage.

However, “reasonable human beings” disagree about the issue.

The Scottish Secular Society wishes to exclude from schools the distinctive, and usually more demanding, moral principles of Christians, retaining only a lowest common demoninator code of ethics that is remarkably similar to the personal views of most secularists that I know. (This is what I actually wrote – the published version is edited)

Richard Lucas

Colinton, Edinburgh


  1. “The avoidance of behaviour that others should not have to suffer and the cultivation of behaviour that benefits others”. It sounds good doesn’t it? don’t we all want to be happy and free fro suffering?

    I heartily agree too David with why you say about who decides what is suffering and what Richard comments about secular groups wanting to exclude Christian moral principles fro the public arena in favour of code of ethics that is similar to the personal views of secularists.

    So, in that case in Hitler’s Germany the perceived utilitarian approach tat give the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people was that suffering was caused by the treaty of Versailles, Hitler was someone who provided political stability, employment etc. The swastica took up occupation in churches and there was what Hitler called “positive Christianity”. A few opposed that perhaps most famously Bonhoeffer with his “confessional Christianity”. One lady gets this and has learned from history “”Jesus Christ alone is Lord of Germany,”

    Can secularism and Christianity co-exist? Not without difficulty if anything is to be learned from the “spirit of the age” historically.

    Perhaps this kind of thing has been needed with secularism in order for Christian culture to stop with its petty squabbles and unite those remaining authentic to Christ coming to the fore and those not drifting away.

    Some tough times ahead.

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