Thursday, February 28, 2008

Age Appropriate Education Material

Couple weeks ago I attended a one-day lecture series at Faith UCC here in Clearwater. The featured speaker was Dr. Hal Taussig, Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York. During one of the question and answer periods the subject of education material came up. A discussion ensued regarding levels of material for various age groups. Dr. Taussig made the comment, “Once upon a time stories are appropriate for six year olds.”…

In that moment it struck me… This is the crux of the ‘intellectual honesty’ gap that plagues the Church today. The only thing the Church ever preaches or teaches is – ‘Once upon a time stories - no matter what the age group. We begin and end our Church life hearing nothing but ‘Once upon a time’ stories.

Age appropriate education material seems like such a simple answer to this problem…Write it, introduce it, teach it, problem solved… but its not that simple, is it?

The Church hierarchy is not likely to promote such an agenda. Although they have known for decades of the great differences between what is preached and taught to ‘the-people-in-the-pews’ vs. what is taught in the seminaries and universities, I have little hope that the current practice will change in my lifetime. And yet that’s all it would take to overcome today’s bane of superstition and folklore… Age appropriate Christian education material, to bridge the gap between ‘Once upon a time’… and… Reality… From pre-adolescent, to teen, to young adult, to mature adult.

Think about it....................... barry e

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A sad fact.....

It is a sad fact that most people’s lives are primarily characterized by boredom and drudgery. Lacking an appreciation of music, art, literature and/or even an entertaining hobby, they seek escape through the exotic and/or occult.

Religion can also fill the bill nicely. It is small wonder, then, that no matter how inherently contradictory or downright absurd a religious dogma is, it remains a cherished belief for most members of society.

Joseph McCabe

The results are in...

Well… this morning my faith in humanity has been somewhat restored. The Florida State Board of Education, by a vote of 4-3 agreed to include evolution in our school science curriculum . Certainly not an overwhelming endorsement, but a win for the side of intellect none the less.

A majority was not achieved, however, until it was agreed that evolution would be taught as a ‘scientific theory’… Duh!!… I guess the opponents were unaware of the use of the word theory in the world of science.

The St. Petersburg Times stated this morning, there will probably be numerous lawsuits at the local level when classes start next fall… The saga continues.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Value of religion in the 21st century

Perhaps the world’s religions might be of real value in the 21st century and beyond, if they:

1. admitted that religious beliefs are derived from ancient myths, but sought to explain why many of the lessons conveyed in those fables may have enduring value.

2. acted as an independent body of scholars dedicated to investigation of ethical issues utilizing reason and evidence rather than ancient traditions and/or divine revelation.

3. attempted to influence human morality through appropriate behavior modification techniques rather than superstitious promises of eternal reward or damnation.

4. refrained from using its unique position of trust for personal, political or monetary advantage.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Science Standards for Florida?

Hard to believe that in this day and age there would be so much controversy over teaching evolution in our schools, but that’s the situation we find ourselves in here in Florida. The state Board of Education is to vote next Tuesday (Feb. 19th) on whether or not evolution will be included in the state’s new science standards.

The proposed standards say evolution is the “fundamental concept underlying all of biology” and is “supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence. This position is supported by scores of scientific societies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Associations.

Last night in a public hearing in Orlando, forty-five of seventy speakers were OPPOSED to the changes that would include evolution in the science curriculum.

When I hear people argue that creationism and/or intelligent design are equally valid theories I shake my head in disgust and wonder how they can be so uninformed, but then I remind myself that, that is what the Church has taught them.

I have no doubt the Church knows better. I have no doubt the Church Academic has taught evolution for decades… So where are the voices of the Church? The voices that could squelch the ignorant and the uninformed opposition to the teaching of evolution?

They are silent…afraid…unwilling to lead,... and again I shake my head in disgust.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

All Religions Since Ancient Times...

All religions since ancient times can be characterized by superstition and ignorance of natural processes.... At best, ancient religions incorporated some rules and customs that had some hygienic or economic value long ago. But it is senseless to try to build a modern-day society on the words of simple minded 'prophets' and priests of by gone ages.