Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Slimy Equivocation

Schools Urged to Teach Religion:
"A lot of New Zealanders, I think, are very nervous of the word 'religion' because they think it's indoctrination, but the danger is if you miss that whole dimension of intellectual debate out, you deprive young people of the opportunity to engage with some of these really important issues, such as genetics, or the war in Iraq."

Ugh. Just look at it. The blatant idiocy just jumps right out of the page at you: that unquestioned assumption that religion and values are the same thing. Has nobody heard of secular philosophy?

There's a common bit of intellectual dishonesty on display here, whereby someone defines 'religion' to mean one thing (usually 'thoughtful reflection', 'values', or some other aspect of philosophy), and then uses that to advocate a different sort of 'religion' altogether (i.e. belief in a supernatural deity). Ophelia Benson was talking about this sort of slimy equivocation not so long ago, so I won't repeat her.

I just want to make one (surely obvious?) point: If we want more young people to think about important moral issues, why not cut straight to the point and encourage the discussion of those issues? There is no reason here to be teaching religion in schools. Just teach philosophy. It's infinitely better.

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