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History of religion
Posted: 24 April 2007 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I don’t see how this is mixing myth and history. Treating all the stories as myths, stories is what I’m talking about. Where do you get that this legitimizes myth as history?

Certainly teaching about the objective historical facts that can be found related to religious myths is not a bad thing, but I’m not sure how much of this information there is for each of the myriad traditions.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]I don’t see how this is mixing myth and history. Treating all the stories as myths, stories is what I’m talking about. Where do you get that this legitimizes myth as history?

Certainly teaching about the objective historical facts that can be found related to religious myths is not a bad thing, but I’m not sure how much of this information there is for each of the myriad traditions.

It has already been discussed in the thread.

Krishna never existed.

Abraham never existed.

There was no conquest of Canaan by the Jews.

Judaism isn’t as old as Jews claim that it is.

Buddha almost certainly never existed.

Buddhism isn’t as old as Buddhists claim it to be.

Jesus probably never existed.

Muhammad probably never existed and early Islamic history is flawed, and it wasn’t as expansive as they claim it to have been early on.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Rationalrevolution,

Ok, I guess I’m confused. You quoted my post about reading religious myths as bedtime stories to prevent the mythology of one’s native culture from seeming better than any other and then labeled what I said as an example of teaching myth as history. Clearly, that’s not what I was talking about, and your concern seems to be with the video at the beginning of the thread basing it’s dates and events on these myths as though they were historically accurate, which is a separate issue having nothing to do with what I said. Just trying to clarify.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Well, first of all I think Brennen’s desire to discuss myth as myth in schools wouldn’t be problematic even if we agree that these are all mythical figures. The only concern I would have is that, politically, any such propsed course of studies would almost certainly be coopted by believers to promote their sectarian ends. We have to be careful that religious studies—even of the innocuous “comparative religion” sort—doesn’t become the camel’s nose in the tent in public schools.

That said, just for the record, it is far from demonstrated that these people didn’t exist. One may say that our knowledge of them is very sketchy, and that (like most everything historical over a thousand years old) may be quite inaccurate. But it is one thing to say that the evidence is inconclusive, and quite another to say it is conclusive that these people never existed.

At any rate, it seems to me we should not be fighting that fight. We should be prepared to grant for the sake of argument that they all existed and said more or less what their earliest documentation claims. (I am assuming there is something like early documentation of Krishna, not knowing anything about the history of Krishnite Hinduism).

If we allow this, nothing follows about miracles, since we have independent evidence that miracles are vastly improbable, that tales of the miraculous are a dime a dozen, and that all those who accept the miraculous when coming from their own preferred deity reject it when it is said of other deities. We are left with some more or less interesting preachers, who said some things that we may find agreeable and others which we certainly do not.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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When do we starting teaching kids that Zeus, Apollo, and Hercules were real people too?  rolleyes

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Posted: 24 April 2007 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Just for the record, I wasn’t actually talking about teaching religion in schools, but about secular parents using the technique at home as a way of illustrating in a subtle way that all these myth systems are much the same and are probably all just stories people make up. I try to encourage independant critical thinking in my daughter, and while I’m not above stacking the deck by filtering the content and format of the information I give her, I prefer not to just announce “religion is all BS” and expect her to conform to my opinion.

As for teaching comparative religion in schools, I do think it sounds like a good idea, but I also agree it would be politically impossible in most of America to do it in a truly neutral, objective way that didn’t favor Christian and Jewish myths in particular. At least at the secondary level. I have been in B ible-as-Literature courses which did a pretty bgood job of studying the text from a literary, rather than a theollogical perspective, so it is possible, but it requires an independance from parent influences on the curriculum that probably can’t happen before college level.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Sure, my parents did the same thing with me at home. We learned about all sorts of myths—Biblical, greek, norse, etc. All in the same basket. I loved them, but never thought of them as true ... or at least no truer than Tolkein.

:wink:

And re. comparative religion classes, I think we’re on the same page there as well. Would be nice to have them in high school, but probably not doable properly until college. (With a minority of good exceptions).

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Posted: 24 April 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Whether the founding entities of the various religious movements ever historically existed should be immaterial in the cause of enlightened secularism.

Those issues are for the religions themselves to sort through. Everyone is entitled to their own brand of stupidity, even atheists. But what we are not entitled to do is force our stupidity upon others.

All that “over simplistic error ridden” video clip demonstrates is how the so called great religions have forced their brands of stupidity on the rest of the world.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I was surprised that our local high school had a course in comparative religion.  The way I found out about it was when a kid I previously had in the youth group I was an advisor of, gave me a paper he wrote for the class.  It was an excellent job explaining how he had decided against the existence of any god, but that he saw religion and ethics as separate.  He said he revered humans and accepted the principles of humanism.  (Of course I didn’t bias him earlier :D )

He got an A on the paper and in the course.  I asked how the topics were presented.  He said the teacher explained that these were a variety of beliefs by many different groups of people, and each group is sure the others have false beliefs.  He discussed the major and some of the minor religions, but he also included atheism, agnosticism, earth based religions, etc. 

I think this approach is excellent.  Remember that most of the U.S. kids come from one or another particular religious background.  If this challenges their thinking about the absolute truth of their faith, it’s a first step away from religion.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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OK here is where I have a problem with teaching religion in schools.  Two words:  Religious Reich.  They would not allow the Bible to be taught as myth and as you see, right here in the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt, they somehow want it to be protected that the Bible is inerrant.  I’m sorry, but I will not teach my sons that.  Never have and never will.  I won’t teach my grandchildren that!

I don’t mind it being taught in colleges and universities. HOWEVER, if it is a secular university or college, then whatever is taught about it should be secular, not some sort of Bible thumping teaching.  In Evangel college, they can have their inerrant belief.  At Drury and Bible Baptist college, they can have their inerrant teachings.  Even at A of G univeristy for all I care, but not at a state ran univisity.

As far as I am concerned, the Religious Reich can take their cute little unevolved fish and well you get the picture.  A myth is a myth is a myth and you can not teach it as being otherwise, esp not at a state university.

Sorry, I’m getting a wee bit tired of seeing all the chalk fish on the sidewalk with their messages and all written beside them.  So God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son in a morbid way.  So did Mithra, Zeus, Horus, etc., but that does not mean myth became fact and I don’t have to believe there is a reincarnated anthropomorphic Zeus sitting in the sky watching our every move ready to strike us down dead if we screw up.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Posted: 24 April 2007 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I know, but the religious right is so dense and deluded, as well as delusional.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Well, teaching religion (even Christianity) properly as history is an excellent thing. We shouldn’t denigrate that angle. The only question, as I think we agree, is whether it would be taught “properly” in some randomly selected high school ... or whether it would end up becoming proselytization.

The history of religion is a fascinating and enlightening subject ...

:wink:

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Posted: 24 April 2007 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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What is there to teach anyway?

I disagree. Of course, my original point was to teach the stories as a way of showing kids that they are basically all the same, which helps them not to buy into the dominant mythology when living in a culture in which so many people think one particular set of stories is true. But as a literature major in college, I found a lot of great poetry in the ol’ King James. And you cannot deny that a HUGE amount of our language and literature invoke images and tropes from Christianity. I was recently part of a discussion on a language/grammar forum about how entrenched religious language is in our expressions of intense, sudden feelings (Goddammit, Jesus Christ, oh my God, etc). There is some bathwater with the theological baby that we don’t necessarily need to throw out. Just as good art and architecture can come from efforts to glorify bad ideas, so good literature and stories can come from myths intended to perpetuate a mistaken belief.

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Posted: 24 April 2007 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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