No matter where you get your news these days, radio, television, newspapers or online, at least one of the headlines has something to do with religion. I am an agnostic, but I was raised in a non-dogmatic, Christian home. My kindergarten was a Bible school, I attended Sunday School from 1st grade through my confirmation, when I then attended church. I took lessons (Bible study classes) every Saturday for 2 years in preparation for confirmation in our church.
Growing up, I questioned much of what I read in and was taught about the Bible. One thing, however, stood out for me. I don’t remember what grade I was in, but we were studying Greek mythology. I was fascinated by it and the stories. I remember some kids making fun of it, which bothered me. I didn’t like the fact that they were ridiculing early Greek religion. How would they feel if someone ridiculed their religion? These weren’t Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they were the religious beliefs of a highly educated culture. It was how the Greeks explained the unknown, which IMHO is just what religion is. Scientific knowledge at the time of the Greeks’ golden age was limited.
Another curriculum item that fascinated me was Science. Learning about dinosaurs, the planets, the universe, atoms, electrons, neutrons – what’s not to love? Explaining and understanding the world around me, science unlocked those doors and revealed the secrets to so many mysteries. My love of science continues to this day because it better fulfills my need for knowledge and an understanding of the realities of life. I learned early on that death is inevitable and often comes unexpectedly, so LIFE became much more precious.
Needless to say the news about climate change denial, anti-contraception protests and laws, creationism vs. evolution, just to name a few is disconcerting, at the very least, and maddening at the worst. Instead of adequately funding our public school system we spend billions on military spending and war. Lawmakers and local school boards are trying to turn our public education over to for profit businesses using vouchers and by funding charter schools. These groups are replacing text books teaching FACTS with text books filled with misrepresentations and outright lies. High quality education is the bedrock of any country, civilization. It reminds me of the Dark Ages when most of the world's population didn't go to school and couldn't read or write. How better to dominate and exert control over the populace?
I have no problem with the teaching of religious studies classes in schools; classes which teach students about all of the world’s religions. However, religious beliefs don’t belong in science classes. Most, if not all, religions have a creation story. Yes, religion of all cultures strives to explain the world to its followers, but it is based on faith – NOT ON FACT AND NOT ON REALITY. Since religious beliefs cannot be proven, nor can they be replicated (anyone bumped into a talking, burning bush lately or has James Dobson descended from the mountain top with a new set of commandments?). Science is based on experiments, where results can be replicated. Science is based on FACT. Science is based on REALITY. Sadly, less than half of all Americans BELIEVE in evolution. How can they if they aren’t taught about evolution and Darwin’s trip around the world where he saw the different sub-species of finches on each of the Galapagos Islands? How can they if they don’t learn about carbon dating, which allows scientists to determine just how old the dinosaur bones they discover are? Science decodes the mystery and magic that exists in the world around us. It fosters not only a better understanding of the natural world, it fosters respect for the wonders of the natural world and why we must learn to live in harmony with all life on this planet. Personally, I would rather protect the only home we and future generations have than bet there is a happily ever after in some mythical Heaven or Nirvana and that I will be granted permission to enter.
For a much more eloquent and “enlightening” take on this subject, check out this piece from Common Dreams (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/18-2). John Atcheson sees a return of the Dark Ages in this article. And yes, I have feared a return to the Dark Ages for some time. I’ve told many friends that I have long anticipated being burned at the stake. Most of those persecuted as witches during the Inquisition and Dark Ages were older women who had cats and dared to be a bit more than contrary. If that doesn’t describe me, I don’t know what does.
And you can find more on The Burning Times here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_burn2.htm
There is a reason that America's constitution clearly outlines a separation of Church and State, and does not permit the government to "endorse" or favor a national religion. Feel free to practice your personal religion and let me have my freedom from religion. How about the believers practicing what they preach? DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.