Your thoughts on religious science teachers

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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#21  Postby Sendraks » Apr 07, 2015 2:51 pm

Chris Putnam wrote:Please comment on devout religious people teaching other topics such as mathematics,language,and social studies.


What's your view on this?
"One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion." - Arthur C Clarke

"'Science doesn't know everything' - Well science knows it doesn't know everything, otherwise it'd stop" - Dara O'Brian
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#22  Postby Sloth on Wheels » Apr 07, 2015 2:59 pm

I once had a biology teacher who handed us a copy of Genesis when evolution was up, and sadly, it was the biblical version, not the musical one. I don't think there's a necessary correlation between teaching wrong things and being religious, but there are those who teach what they believe in themselves, and those who don't. It could just as easily have been some sort of pseudo-science thingy, like ancient aliens or something.

This particular teacher also felt up a girl from the same biology class when we met him by accident at a concert one night. He was a bit of an ill character really. Bad teacher!
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#23  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 08, 2015 5:27 pm

What's your view on this?


These don't seem like topics that would be better off taught by a religious or non religious person. The laws of Geometry and rules of grammar don't change because of the religious or non-religious mind set of the teacher. We are of course assuming that the teacher is trained and competent in the field. In my view the various topics covered in Social Studies course work are quite frequently subject to interpretation. A student challenged to think critically about such matters could sort out the teacher what ever his or her religious persuasion. We are also assuming the teacher is teaching the students to think critically about matters of history, government, etc. I suppose this is the good teacher verses bad teacher situation.

Thank you for your comments. I find this website forum interesting but I don't have a enough time to write very many of my own thoughts in detail. I discovered about 4 months ago that I could devote hours and hours that I don't have to these discussions. I am limiting my posts primarily to brief statements and inquiry.

Also, please endure my use of the mechanics of this forum as I am not a very computer literate old man. I hope I am using the quote function properly so that it makes sense to the rest of you. If there is an instruction page on this forum please let me know.

Thank you
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#24  Postby The Serpent » Apr 08, 2015 9:37 pm

Chris Putnam wrote:What's your view on this?


These don't seem like topics that would be better off taught by a religious or non religious person. The laws of Geometry and rules of grammar don't change because of the religious or non-religious mind set of the teacher. We are of course assuming that the teacher is trained and competent in the field. In my view the various topics covered in Social Studies course work are quite frequently subject to interpretation. A student challenged to think critically about such matters could sort out the teacher what ever his or her religious persuasion. We are also assuming the teacher is teaching the students to think critically about matters of history, government, etc. I suppose this is the good teacher verses bad teacher situation.

Thank you for your comments. I find this website forum interesting but I don't have a enough time to write very many of my own thoughts in detail. I discovered about 4 months ago that I could devote hours and hours that I don't have to these discussions. I am limiting my posts primarily to brief statements and inquiry.

Also, please endure my use of the mechanics of this forum as I am not a very computer literate old man. I hope I am using the quote function properly so that it makes sense to the rest of you. If there is an instruction page on this forum please let me know.

Thank you


Hi Chris

You might find this thread useful in terms of navigating the mechanics of the forum:

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/feedback/handy-hints-for-posting-on-the-forum-t32014.html
Religious traditions are the fault lines along which societies fracture when placed under stress. -- Sam Harris
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#25  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 08, 2015 10:43 pm

Thank you Serpent! I'll see how this works for me.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#26  Postby Jerome Da Gnome » Apr 08, 2015 10:51 pm

The state should not be imposing philosophical beliefs first off. And if a teacher's opinion of a particular belief is a danger, then we now know it is not science, but a belief.

I had teachers that were full blown communists, so what.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.
-Albert Camus
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#27  Postby mrjonno » Apr 09, 2015 1:26 pm

Anyone teaching religion in a science lesson should be sacked , and anyone teaching science in a religion lesson is probably in the wrong job and should do something more useful.

But as long as they keep their personal hobbies (like religion) personal it's not really anyone business what they get up in their own time.

Anecdote alert : my biology tutor for evolution as part of my biology degree was a devout christian and didn't like Richard Dawkins much (I brought up religion in the lesson first not her so I have no issues with her bringing up hers) but it didnt stop her being a decent tutor
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#28  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Apr 25, 2015 9:47 am

Jerome Da Gnome wrote:The state should not be imposing philosophical beliefs first off. And if a teacher's opinion of a particular belief is a danger, then we now know it is not science, but a belief.

I had teachers that were full blown communists, so what.

I agree Jerome: "One nation Under God" is an abomination. :thumbup:
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#29  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 27, 2015 5:22 pm

Interesting. I knew of a high school science teacher who gave evidence for and against the theory of evolution in class but never mentioned God, the Bible, or anything religious at all. He claims that he just took the theory itself to task purely on scientific grounds and called the whole idea into question. Would you call that giving multiple perspective? I know that a meeting with that teacher,a disgruntled parent and school administrators was called and the teacher was asked to account for his actions. He still kept his postion as a science teacher even though some argued that the theory itself was not to challenged in the classroom.

Two years latter at the same school a senior boy wrote his graduation thesis and presented it to a panel of teachers and others from the community. Such a project and presentation on an approved topic of the students choice was a graduation requirement at that time time. The thesis was a full rebuttle of the theory of evolution on scientific grounds, and the boy concluded that "The theory of evolution was nothing more than philosophical dogma and utterly unscientific". I read the paper and the boy gave absolutely nothing religious at all. The teachers and panel approved the thesis and the boy graduated in the top 10% of his class. This was followed by a huge fallout by faculty and administration, the involvement of the teachers union, school board and a verbal threat of legal action that was never acted upon. Two years after that the school stopped requiring a senior thesis for graduation.

It seems that this topic sparks great controversy no mater what, how or who presents it in a school setting.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#30  Postby Jerome Da Gnome » Apr 27, 2015 6:36 pm

By the accounting Chris gives, and there certainly has been that sentiment in this thread, and we have all heard like examples, it is a philosophical belief.

Science does not need the force of authority and the censorship of examination to stand. Anything that needs such help is not a science.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.
-Albert Camus
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#31  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 27, 2015 6:49 pm

Science does not need the force of authority and the censorship of examination to stand. Anything that needs such help is not a science.






Well said Jerome
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#32  Postby THWOTH » Apr 27, 2015 7:33 pm

Chris Putnam wrote:Interesting. I knew of a high school science teacher who gave evidence for and against the theory of evolution in class but never mentioned God, the Bible, or anything religious at all. He claims that he just took the theory itself to task purely on scientific grounds and called the whole idea into question. Would you call that giving multiple perspective? I know that a meeting with that teacher,a disgruntled parent and school administrators was called and the teacher was asked to account for his actions. He still kept his postion as a science teacher even though some argued that the theory itself was not to challenged in the classroom.

Two years latter at the same school a senior boy wrote his graduation thesis and presented it to a panel of teachers and others from the community. Such a project and presentation on an approved topic of the students choice was a graduation requirement at that time time. The thesis was a full rebuttle of the theory of evolution on scientific grounds, and the boy concluded that "The theory of evolution was nothing more than philosophical dogma and utterly unscientific". I read the paper and the boy gave absolutely nothing religious at all. The teachers and panel approved the thesis and the boy graduated in the top 10% of his class. This was followed by a huge fallout by faculty and administration, the involvement of the teachers union, school board and a verbal threat of legal action that was never acted upon. Two years after that the school stopped requiring a senior thesis for graduation.

It seems that this topic sparks great controversy no mater what, how or who presents it in a school setting.

I think the young fellow mentioned has been ill-served by his science education if he has left school thinking that the Theory of Evolution is somehow an open question, essentially unscientific, and/or a philosophical dogma.

The word 'theory' in 'Theory of Evolution' has a particular function, being used in scientific discourse to denote a specific causal relationship between specified observed phenomena and their explanation, a relationship which is inextricably bound to verified and verifiable predictions that can be, are, and have been reliably repeated by independent means.

Now we know from the activity of Creationist here and elsewhere that what Creationists count as 'scientific evidence' for the god-hypothesis is little more than incredulity about the Theory of Evolution itself, combined with a general disavowing of Science (big S) as being a valid domain from which to explain anything which countermands this-or-that religious dogma or doctrine.

So-called 'Creation Science' comprises in itself a body of arguments which in the main seek to cast doubt on the predictive and testable components of the Theory of Evolution while providing nothing in the way of data-backed observations and reliable predictions of its own, let alone those which can be repeatedly and independently tested.

It is in presenting the Theory of Evolution as not meeting the requirements for a 'proper' scientific theory which actually marks Creationism as an unscientific philosophical dogma because, on the whole, Science (big S) doesn't really care what the answer is, only that it is robustly supported, has both explanatory and predictive power, and can be verified by a repeatability in independent testing. The Theory of Evolution fulfils all these requirements, and this is why criticisms of the theory have to be expanded to encompass Science as a whole. This is exactly how a religion vs science dichotomy has arisen, and in its rising it has mislead the incredulous and the credulous alike.

Examining the objections to the robust and supported conclusions of an entire field of scientific study only gets one so far, and is not something on which to develop a sound understanding of the subject-matter or on which to base a firm conclusion about the validity of a theory, UNLESS those objections are methodologically and critically (aka, scientifically) robust themselves. That's an important qualification, because it describes how science progresses and how theories can be and are overturned, knowledge does develop, and understanding does expand over time - it's called progress for a reason after all.

In short, doing science is the best, and indeed the only, reliable way to overturn the body of works which comprise robust and established scientific principles, theories and laws. I wonder why this young man left school without this basic informations, without the proper tools with which to challenge any and all claims critically, and labouring under the assumption that science and/or the world operate by framing knowledge and truth as a matter of simple, dichotomous, either-ors.

"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#33  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Apr 27, 2015 8:42 pm

My first year Biology professor in college was LDS. The LDS church doesn't come out strictly against evolution, but they do stress belief in a literal, created Adam and Eve, so there's definitely some friction there.

I was very happy with how he made it very clear that he would be teaching the science and would brook no debate regarding alternative explanations for the origins of species. Generally, a very dedicated teacher with a great love for diatoms and telling stories. I very much enjoyed his classes.

Religious people- even those who struggle with the theory of evolution- should not be singled out as potentially bad actors. Let them act badly first, then remove them. Innocent until proven guilty, just like everyone else.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#34  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 27, 2015 9:54 pm

Thank you THWOTH. You response was noteworthy. If a PH D creationist presents a compelling case, and there are PH Ds out there with such religious view, laymen such as myself, and possilbly the young man in question, have to work out who they believe is presenting the best case. I have seen debates on this topic. Unfortunately emotions can take over leading the debate into degrading coments from one side to the other. It has happened on this forum. I bow out of participation at that point because it is impossible make progress. And this hard empirical evidence is not easy for some people to grasp. Espescially when "Scholars" disagree. I'll bet that if someone went to the school the young boy in my account above attended you would find teachers unwilling to discuss the topic for fear of "offending others". People are not persuaded by the "facts" because they don't understand the "facts". These "facts" are complicated for interested laymen.

This discussion has been interesting. Thank you.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#35  Postby THWOTH » Apr 28, 2015 7:46 am

Chris Putnam wrote:Thank you THWOTH. You response was noteworthy. If a PH D creationist presents a compelling case, and there are PH Ds out there with such religious view, laymen such as myself, and possilbly the young man in question, have to work out who they believe is presenting the best case. I have seen debates on this topic. Unfortunately emotions can take over leading the debate into degrading coments from one side to the other. It has happened on this forum. I bow out of participation at that point because it is impossible make progress. And this hard empirical evidence is not easy for some people to grasp. Espescially when "Scholars" disagree. I'll bet that if someone went to the school the young boy in my account above attended you would find teachers unwilling to discuss the topic for fear of "offending others". People are not persuaded by the "facts" because they don't understand the "facts". These "facts" are complicated for interested laymen.

This discussion has been interesting. Thank you.

No doubt there are PhD creationists out there, just as there are PhDs of every religious stripe, but are there PhDs in Creationism, and if so who is accrediting the PhDs and by what criteria? A PhD of an essentially philosophical, theological, or otherwise apologetical thrust is not necessarily the most reliable bed on which to assess the veracity and validity of a data-backed, peer-reviewed, independently verified, and as a result, compelling explanation of observed phenomena like the Theory of Evolution.

As to the apparent choice between essentially antithetical views: well, I'd just say, "Look at the evidence." One cannot put aside all conformation bias entirely but a sceptical approach to knowledge claims at leasts works to disinvest the honest enquirer from any particular, pre-determined conclusions, allowing them to explore the relevant material openly and, as TH Huxley put it, to follow reason wherever it might lead.
"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#36  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 28, 2015 5:04 pm

Thank you THWOTH
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