Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ethics-based Complement to Scripture - WTF????

An email crossed my path today regarding a petition to "pilot a course in ethics to serve as a complement to scripture in NSW primary schools."

I would like to draw your attention to an important petition regarding
teaching ethics in schools as another option available for scripture
class time. It promises to more productively utilise scripture class
time for non-scripture students and provide an alternative for those
seeking a non-denominational basis for ethics education. It is an
initiative of the NSW Federation of P and C Associations and the St
James Ethics Centre. The website below ... blah blah blah blah blah

The website in question gos on to say that "all children have the right to ethical exploration, regardless of whether it’s tied to a particular religious tradition."


"another option" !!! when was scripture based ethics ever an option? I take energetic difference to the position that religious scripture of any denomination has any relevance to ethics or is in any way suitable to be given airtime in a classroom as anything other than, assuming, as we are in NSW the frame of reference is the Judeo-Christian tradition - the myths and stories of an iron age Canaanite culture.

Furthermore I posit that anybody who has had long term serious exposure to christian teaching should be required to undertake secular ethics training before they take any position of authority or public office.

I would like for them, and my kids, to know that unlike the teaching in the bible, it is not OK to burn your daughter alive because you have made a promise to god (Judges 11:29-40).

It is not OK to Burn pagans, priests or otherwise (2 Kings 23:20-25 NLT), nor is it OK to burn entire pagan villages (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT).

It is not OK to send your army to kill everybody in a town (except the virgins of course) and then, for want of more virgins, lay an ambush beside the road to kidnap and rape some more (Judges 21:10-24 NLT).

In the bible, it is not just OK to rape a woman, but she has to marry her rapist, (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) unless you gag and rape her in a city, in which case you have to stone her (Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB).

Rape the captives (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 NAB), yes, share them around (Judges 5:30 NAB).

The bible teaches that it is required to be intolerant, to kill witches (Exodus 22:17 NAB), gays (Leviticus 20:13 NAB, Romans 1:24-32 NLT), fortune tellers (Leviticus 20:27 NAB) fornicators (Leviticus 21:9 NAB), anyone who follows another religion (Exodus 22:19 NAB ,2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB, Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT), hell - kill the whole town, all it's animals and torch all the buildings if just one unbeliever is found (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

I want to sign a different petition.


Ute said...

Like the "Good Book", once I read anything to do with religion, my mind goes blank... I think it's a safety mechanism.

xl said...

The problem with teaching religion in schools is that it quickly becomes a question of "which one?".

PS: There are scripture classes in public schools?

Fusion said...

Hence the seperation of church and state over here. But it still is a sticky issues because those that believe wish to push their ideals and said beliefs on others. And like XL said, which one gets taught? Then you get to interpretation...
As you have shown so well here, there are quite a few "loopholes".

Memphis Steve said...

All the killing in the Old Testament was God's orders to Israel, not to Christians. It's in our Bible, but it's not instructions for us to follow, much like studying the barbaric practices of the ancient kings of Europe is not an instruction for Westerners today. Historically, it's pretty consistent with how other cultures treated everyone they conquered as well - horribly. But to Christians, whatever 'covenant' God had with Israel does not apply to us. So killing all those people for all the reasons you mentioned isn't an instruction to Christians. It was a historic instruction to Jews. And it isn't implied or stated as if it were for Christians. One of the many reasons certain corrupt Jewish religious and political leaders wanted Jesus dead, and ultimately murdered him, was because the legal and religous changes he brought were massive, and they didn't want it. If the Bible is in fact the word of God, then the new laws Jesus brought took God's followers from a very survivalist, sociopathic worldview, to a dramatically new way of life, and law - love your neighbor and your enemies. The Old 'covenant' blessed Israel for behaving like wolves. The new 'covenent' blessed those who behave more like sheep and do not prey on others in the very manner that you find abhorent, but which people of the past did not. The old wolves disliked this new way so much that they killed the messenger for it. And then they went after all the sheep who followed him. This slaughter has not stopped even to this day. Look at the Muslim 'fish' featuring a shark eating a Christian which they place on their cars.

Like it or not, and believe it or not, apart from the ethics of religion, the only ethics we have to take its place is for each of us to do whatever we feel is best for ourselves, answering to no God. That takes us back to justified killing, stealing, and pretty much anything else we want, in the name of 'social justice' or whatever other excuse soothes our fading consciences. Sure, people have killed in the name of God, but their actions didn't change the word of the bible itself. You can always point to where Jesus condemned it to show how they are wrong.

I'd also like to point out that the verse you quoted from the New Testament, Romans, condemns certain actions, saying that those who practice it are "worthy of death", directly quoting an Old Testamant law, but it does not say that this means we can or should kill them now. The verse from Chronicles is giving the history of Israel, 'chronicling' events of the past, WAY in the past during the 'reign of Asa', and is not giving instructions to the Christians. It's a reference to Jewish history that all Jews would have fully understood. Asa's reign came in the midst of a long series of evil kings that Jews studied from their distant past. It is like a reference to King George of England to all of us in the West today.

I do agree that the bible teaches to be intolerant. It says to stand up for what you believe is right and stand against what you believe is wrong. That's exactly what you are doing in opposing the teaching of the bible in school. You are standing against something you believe to be wrong. You are intolerant of it. You can't take a stand for anything without being intolerant. Tolerance simply means you don't stand up for what you believe to be true, or against what you believe to be false or wrong. But you still believe it. On the other hand, Jesus' own example shows a limit to intolerance. He was most intolerant of hypocritical religious leaders, the haters who hid behind the respectibility of their religious positions and twisted the laws of God to justify evil. Beyond this he was intolerant of sin. He called it 'sin' to the sinners face, but he didn't condemn the person, screaming hatred at them for it. That's why so many outcasts responded to him to strongly. He was intolerant of sinful actions, but still loved the people who were guilty of them. And they could tell the difference in him, which is why so many followed him.

unique_stephen said...

Ute > Religion is a window into our prejudices and fears. I find it interesting.

XL > I've written several letters to the NSW dept. of education asking that equal time be given to teaching about Baal and exact instructions taught on how to animate a golem, and yes, we teach scripture in public schools. I find it flabbergasting.

Fusion > One nation under god? Perhaps not so separate as the founding fathers intended.

Memphis > I'm comfortable with your response other than one point, claiming that "apart from the ethics of religion, the only ethics we have to take its place is for each of us to do whatever we feel is best for ourselves" is rubbish. The core of a just and civil society is the social contract, the covenant we have with each other. To carefully consider the impact of our decisions and actions on others. Not because there is a god watching but because it is simply the right thing to do. We do better pulling together and helping each other than we do pulling against each other. Altruism is rewarding in and of itself, kindness and generosity are not predicated on Christan teaching and those of us that are atheist still manage to ground ourselves in a moral consensus based on empathy and cooperation.

I would like you to read the "God Delusion" by Dawkins or "God Is Not Great" by Hitchens.

ksm said...

Memphis Steve: Jesus's own example does not show any limit to intolerance.

In fact the system of Jesus promises eternal punishment for finite sins.

I recommend

. said...

I was going to write a longer comment about what Memphis said, but Stephen already said it and in almost the exact same words i would have.

At the risk of starting a whole new argument. How is it that more schools are inclined to teach religion than are inclined to teach contraception? How can one be the responsibility of the family/parents but not the other?

AND - in my experience divine retribution does very little to motivate myself and most of the people i know personally.