Your thoughts on religious science teachers

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Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#1  Postby Jain » Nov 02, 2014 11:48 pm

I was just wondering how people feel about science teachers that are religious. Maybe even religious enough to not accept the theory of evolution. Do they need to be passionate about their subject to be able to teach it well? Even if they are professional enough to hide their own beliefs, could their lack of true understanding for the subject be inhibiting?
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#2  Postby hackenslash » Nov 03, 2014 12:54 am

Generally, no. I've worked in training environments (not quite the same, but many of the principles are correlated) where I've had to deliver training material that I didn't fully grasp. As long as the material itself is solid, and you have the engagement of your class, it isn't a problem, unless you're faced with a class containing pupils that themselves have the proclivities of the teacher, and who might ask difficult questions that your palsied understanding might not be able to answer in line with the material.

Ultimately, it depends entirely on the situation. I can see it not being a problem, but I can equally envisage situations in which it might be.

Incidentally, I've come across people who genuinely understood the material and still rejected it, so it's not a simple matter of non-acceptance equating to lack of understanding. Kurt Wise and Todd Wood spring to mind. Both could easily make good teachers of evolutionary theory, despite rejecting it.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#3  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 03, 2014 1:10 am

Jain wrote:I was just wondering how people feel about science teachers that are religious.


Personally, I would hope not to know about their religiousness on account of them not telling anyone about it. If they do tell everyone about it, then I would consider it troubling.


Jain wrote: Maybe even religious enough to not accept the theory of evolution.


As long as they're not teaching Biology, and they keep their religious views out of the classroom - fine.


Jain wrote: Do they need to be passionate about their subject to be able to teach it well?


Teach it, no. Teach it well: possibly.

However, if they had religious motivations for denying evolution then I don't think they have any credibility to teach Biology.


Jain wrote:Even if they are professional enough to hide their own beliefs, could their lack of true understanding for the subject be inhibiting?


If they are not open in the religious beliefs, I do not see how anyone could know in the first place. However, if I were to meet a Biology teacher who told me they rejected evolution, I would already consider that problematic. As for inhibiting: it would depend on the level they're teaching at - most Biology curricula are not going to address evolution to any level until high school.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#4  Postby Anontheist » Nov 05, 2014 2:00 am

Jain wrote:I was just wondering how people feel about science teachers that are religious.


I was educated at a Jesuit Catholic school. Several of my science-subject teachers were priests or lay clergy, including for biological sciences.

My experience is that they taught science in science class and religion in religion class and never the twain should meet.


I do acknowledge that the Jesuits are somewhat unlike US mainline Protestants though. I also spent some time in my early 20s in the US and met a few US teachers who felt that they had a duty to teach both evolutionary biology and creationism in a science classroom.

I feel this is officially a 'Bad Thing'

Jain wrote: Maybe even religious enough to not accept the theory of evolution.


I feel that if a teacher its religious enough that they cannot accept basic science as fact and cannot separate their personal religious beliefs from their work and teaching the basics of the curriculum, then they should never have been a teacher, or at least not teach in subjects where the facts and their beliefs come into conflict.

Jain wrote: Do they need to be passionate about their subject to be able to teach it well?


Speaking from personal experience, passion for the subject matter helps any teacher. I worked on and off in teaching positions for primary and middle school students for a little under two years (mostly after school group English tutoring), and its a hard job.

I found standing up in front of a class of 12 to 14 year olds just about the most intimidating job I've had.

The easiest way to inspire students about a topic is enthusiasm on the part of the teacher, doubly so if you can teach the fundamentals in ways that are unique, or at lest different from the presentation in the text book.

Jain wrote: Even if they are professional enough to hide their own beliefs, could their lack of true understanding for the subject be inhibiting?


I think there are plenty of affirmed creationists that understand the theory of evolution perfectly, but still reject it anyway.

It puts me in mind of William Lane Craig's line of bovine fecal matter - that even if there is certifiable evidence that is contrary to the Biblical account the "self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth" is enough to override this and the "only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role".

Shudder. Bad philosophy and bad theology rolled into one.

Lots of creationists are scientifically literate enough to know intellectually that the creationist position is an impossible one, that contravenes almost everything we know about biology and cosmology. But, they're so committed to their prior beliefs, for whatever reason, that they still willing to take the position regardless of the evidence.

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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#5  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Nov 05, 2014 3:24 am

I am a secular fascist, and proud to be one. To my mind religion, ANY religion is by definition, faith-based, not logic or evidence-based. True education is logic and evidence-based. Anything else, however one "pretties-it-up" is just propaganda. Thus a religious teacher is guilty unless proven innocent. The vast majority of religious teachers can't be trusted. In the past they were, and the result was a lot of abuse of children's bodies as well as abuse of their minds. Sorry to reverse the burden of proof, but there you have it.
Even if a religious teacher is beyond reproach, and can teach in an intellectually honest manner, it sets a bad example. For if there are talented and honest religious teachers, does that not also imply to the student that religion has something going for it?
IF a religious teacher can stand in class and actively encourage students to critically deconstruct their faith, then maybe it would be OK.
Religious teachers are often on their "best behavior" when teaching in secular schools [but often, not even then!]. But imagine a student in a church, or mosque, or temple, or synagogue. Do these students have the right to say : "Religion is bollocks?" Are they ACTIVELY encouraged to do so, without fear or favour? I suggest not. And so long as that is the case, so long as students cannot with reason and evidence [or for no reason at all] criticize or even mock religion, then religion has no business in assisting in the growth of young minds.
Science education may not be perfect, but questions are welcomed in science class. If they are not, then the science teacher is not doing it right. It is fucking strange that a thing like a whale should have an ungulate ancestor, and students deserve to both ask the question and have it competently answered.
Science fucking thrives on questioning and controversy. No idea has standing until it has run the gauntlet, and even then is not sacred. And the general public is saying things like: "Isn't the new Pope cool, he accepts evolution!" What utter bollocks. If Popes really accepted evolution, they would no longer be gobbing off about magical disembodied souls being injected into human meat by a magic man. :doh:
It is true that some questions can't be answered by science. What is also true, but hardly ever stated is religion can't handle those same questions either, it just pretends to. Religion thrives on mental laziness and intellectual dishonesty. If student feel that they can't take the piss out of a religion out of some respect for a teacher's beliefs, then they are being denied their natural right to question everything. Exposed to such a system, many will cease to ask any questions at all.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#6  Postby Blackadder » Nov 05, 2014 8:33 am

I have a friend who is a senior medical researcher, teaches medical science at post-grad level, is an assessor for Ph.D applicants in one of the UK's most renowned universities, has a significant body of published work on her specialist subject, namely environmental health. She is also a regular church going Christian.

I find myself baffled by this but she appears able to compartmentalise her mind and keep these two facets of her life separate. Perhaps it's because she belongs to a fairly non-evangelistic church (C of E) and doesn't wear her religious views on her sleeve.

So there are examples of when it is possible to successfully combine the two but I think it is only possible when the religious component is kept quite subdued. Those with more religious zeal than my friend could perhaps more easily fall into the trap of allowing their religion to influence how they teach the subject. Being a religious science teacher is not impossible but It's certainly not a desirable situation.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#7  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Nov 06, 2014 2:07 am

Blackadder wrote:I have a friend who is a senior medical researcher, teaches medical science at post-grad level, is an assessor for Ph.D applicants in one of the UK's most renowned universities, has a significant body of published work on her specialist subject, namely environmental health. She is also a regular church going Christian.

I find myself baffled by this but she appears able to compartmentalise her mind and keep these two facets of her life separate. Perhaps it's because she belongs to a fairly non-evangelistic church (C of E) and doesn't wear her religious views on her sleeve.

So there are examples of when it is possible to successfully combine the two but I think it is only possible when the religious component is kept quite subdued. Those with more religious zeal than my friend could perhaps more easily fall into the trap of allowing their religion to influence how they teach the subject. Being a religious science teacher is not impossible but It's certainly not a desirable situation.


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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#8  Postby The_Metatron » Nov 06, 2014 2:23 am

I never knew that my high school chemistry and biology teacher was a seventh day Adventist until ten years after I graduated. Oh, he believed that crap all right, but it never made it to his classroom.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#9  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Nov 06, 2014 4:16 am

The_Metatron wrote:I never knew that my high school chemistry and biology teacher was a seventh day Adventist until ten years after I graduated. Oh, he believed that crap all right, but it never made it to his classroom.

Many of the "old school" wibble -merchants were quite honorable. Today's ideological warriors for doctrine have a somewhat looser definition of intellectual honesty, and less manners. :thumbup:
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#10  Postby ughaibu » Nov 06, 2014 4:47 am

Jain wrote:Maybe even religious enough to not accept the theory of evolution.
There is the fact of evolution and a body of evolutionary theory, which consists of a bunch of differing theories of evolution. Some of these theories of evolution have been rejected by the majority of scientists, so being religious doesn't seem to be important as far as any theory of evolution goes. What is worrying is denial of the fact of evolution.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#11  Postby Fenrir » Nov 06, 2014 4:56 am

Science yes.

"religious science" no. There is no such thing.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#12  Postby Jain » Nov 08, 2014 11:39 pm

Thank you all. Your replies have been very helpful. X x
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#13  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 02, 2015 10:12 pm

Are there atheists who don't believe in the theory of evolution? Does one require the other?
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#14  Postby BlackBart » Apr 02, 2015 10:30 pm

I know of no reason why atheism and skepticism of Evolution must be mutually exclusive. An atheist only has to lack belief in deities to be an atheist - they could have any other number of beliefs or disbeliefs, reasonable or not, and still be atheist. And theists can and do accept the theory of evolution, so no, one does not require the other.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#15  Postby Matthew Shute » Apr 02, 2015 10:32 pm

Chris Putnam wrote:Are there atheists who don't believe in the theory of evolution?


Evolution isn't something to "believe in". One can be unaware of the overwhelming evidence for evolution, and so be sceptical of it for that reason. Or one can know about all the evidence, and look for a way to deny it and/or explain it away. Religious theists are sometimes motivated to do so, if evolution contradicts a tenet of their religion. "If reality contradicts my dogma, find a way to chuck out reality" seems to be the "reasoning", there.

It looks as though the vast majority of atheists do accept evolution:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_s ... ous_bodies

Does one require the other?


No.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#16  Postby Macdoc » Apr 03, 2015 6:56 am

as do senior scientists even in the US ....with the biological scientists leading the pack for atheism as their world view.

the National Academy of Science charted belief in God as low as 5.5 percent among biologists and 7.5 percent among physicist and astronomers in a 1998 study.


http://news.discovery.com/tech/are-scie ... heists.htm

There are too many truly wonderous things out there....evolution and it's diversity and marvel being a leading one....to bother with fictional sky daddies.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#17  Postby Blackadder » Apr 03, 2015 7:23 am

For me, my journey towards being an atheist began with learning rational thinking. That led to an understanding of the theory of evolution, which then played a significant part in my becoming an atheist. I imagine that applies to many others too. Which is why theists are so afraid of it being taught to children in schools.

If the theory of evolution is valid, then the theory of divine creation of humans in our present day form is blown away. Once you do that, there is no need for the rest of the theological edifice and it crumbles and collapses.

So, being an atheist does not require one to accept the theory of evolution but if one applies the same standards of rationality to a rejection of belief in god(s) and to the theory of evolution, I cannot see how one could easily accept one and reject the other.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#18  Postby Clive Durdle » Apr 03, 2015 7:48 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:I am a secular fascist, and proud to be one. To my mind religion, ANY religion is by definition, faith-based, not logic or evidence-based. True education is logic and evidence-based. Anything else, however one "pretties-it-up" is just propaganda. Thus a religious teacher is guilty unless proven innocent. The vast majority of religious teachers can't be trusted. In the past they were, and the result was a lot of abuse of children's bodies as well as abuse of their minds. Sorry to reverse the burden of proof, but there you have it.
Even if a religious teacher is beyond reproach, and can teach in an intellectually honest manner, it sets a bad example. For if there are talented and honest religious teachers, does that not also imply to the student that religion has something going for it?
IF a religious teacher can stand in class and actively encourage students to critically deconstruct their faith, then maybe it would be OK.
Religious teachers are often on their "best behavior" when teaching in secular schools [but often, not even then!]. But imagine a student in a church, or mosque, or temple, or synagogue. Do these students have the right to say : "Religion is bollocks?" Are they ACTIVELY encouraged to do so, without fear or favour? I suggest not. And so long as that is the case, so long as students cannot with reason and evidence [or for no reason at all] criticize or even mock religion, then religion has no business in assisting in the growth of young minds.
Science education may not be perfect, but questions are welcomed in science class. If they are not, then the science teacher is not doing it right. It is fucking strange that a thing like a whale should have an ungulate ancestor, and students deserve to both ask the question and have it competently answered.
Science fucking thrives on questioning and controversy. No idea has standing until it has run the gauntlet, and even then is not sacred. And the general public is saying things like: "Isn't the new Pope cool, he accepts evolution!" What utter bollocks. If Popes really accepted evolution, they would no longer be gobbing off about magical disembodied souls being injected into human meat by a magic man. :doh:
It is true that some questions can't be answered by science. What is also true, but hardly ever stated is religion can't handle those same questions either, it just pretends to. Religion thrives on mental laziness and intellectual dishonesty. If student feel that they can't take the piss out of a religion out of some respect for a teacher's beliefs, then they are being denied their natural right to question everything. Exposed to such a system, many will cease to ask any questions at all.


Isn't this also an argument that all faith schools are corrupt?
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#19  Postby Fenrir » Apr 03, 2015 8:42 am

There is no such thing as a 'religious science teacher'.

There are science teachers, some of whom may coincidentally be religious, and people who are not science teachers.
That some of the latter pretend they are the former does not change this simple fact.
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Re: Your thoughts on religious science teachers

#20  Postby Chris Putnam » Apr 07, 2015 2:43 pm

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