What should children be taught about religion?
There is a debate about the type of education that children should be exposed to in relation to the existence of God with some arguing for totally secular education that has no religious studies whatsoever. Secular education is one that discounts the existence of God and rules it out of the school curriculum altogether. This means that the child grows up ignoring the question of whether his or her life should be lived to some religious doctrines or God-imparted wisdom of any kind or indeed of whether there is a supernatural being of some nature that people call God. Is such secular education going to be fair for children? This blog explores the issue with specific regard to what is in the child’s interest.
The purpose of education is to fortify the child for the world they will grow up to live in. The school is therefore not just a venue for teaching children how to tap their learning potential so that they can get a job commensurate with their abilities, it is also to teach the child about issues such as morality, justice and living in a society in a productive manner. This cannot be done if we avoid the single most important question that has always confronted mankind, namely if there is a God and if so, the nature of that God.
We need to be honest with our children. We must accordingly teach them, in the public schools, that there is such a thing known as God that people have pondered and considered for thousands of years as an invisible power acting upon the universe. The children must equally be taught that there is no agreement in modern times on whether some sort of a power of this nature exists at all; with both believers and non-believers having strong arguments in favour of their positions but science having not yet found any evidence for God. The issue of whether there is a God is fundamental to how people live their lives and so it is a matter of great importance for the child to know that there is this debate and uncertainty. This is the umbrella under which religious studies must be taught in the classroom. For just in case that it is true that a God who is highly elusive exists the child has a right to try and find that God for his or her life as the entire motive for living depends on the result of his search.
It will be wrong for us to teach a child that God exists for in reality the child will almost certainly never find proof of that God. It is equally wrong to teach a child that God does not exist because millions of people have personal anecdotal evidence (but which is not scientifically valid) of the influence of God over their lives. So the best religious education that a child should be brought up with is that of atheotheism, namely that we do not yet have scientific evidence of the existence of God but there is a likelihood that some kind of a God may exist. This will leave the option open for the child to venture on to the question with an open mind and do his or her own truth searching if he is so inclined without any consideration of the direction that this could take the individual. This means that when evolution is taught the child has to be told that those who believe in God say that it is part of an Intelligent Design of the solar system and life on Earth in which evolution is seen as guided by God.
The child can then be taught the main world religions and philosophies critically and explained what freedoms one sacrifices and the injustices one perpetrates if they grow up adopting those religions. This will make the child think carefully about the nature of God if such a God exists and whether God has imposed any kind of ethics on humanity at any time.
Religious education of this nature will lead the child to become a better person and citizen because it will be better informed than a child would if these issues were avoided during its upbringing.
February 17, 2014 Posted by shantanup | Uncategorized | Leave a Comment