Ophelia Benson - Why The Truth Matters
Posted: 21 July 2007 12:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  64
Joined  2007-06-11

I have trouble with the whole idea of it being ‘acceptable’ for someone to choose their own truth for themselves, but ‘unacceptable’ to teach that to their children or other loved ones.  This brings up the whole argument of who gets to decide what is truth.  The government?  The scientists?  The courts?  Obviously for someone who believes in god, to them that is truth and how can you tell them they have to ‘lie’ as they would feel they were doing, to their children, by telling their children ’ God does not exist, but we believe he does’.  This doesn’t make any sense to me.  To me, the whole idea of freedom of thought and speech is that I can take what I believe and know and teach it to my children.  I don’t believe in a god in the normal sense, but in my community, it would be seen as child abuse to not allow my children to learn the bible and what it teaches.  So I would assume that it depends on your society as far as what is seen as truth.  I for one, do not want to be at the mercy of whatever the government’s current beliefs are, and would rather everyone have the opportunity to teach their children what they see fit, (within what is lawful) as an alternative to being told what I can and can’t teach my children by some authority.  If I have any kind of ‘faith’, it’s in a person’s ability to ultimately choose their own path and we see that in people growing up with and rejecting faith, or growing up without faith, and accepting it.  I think that’s a beautiful thing about being human - the ability to think differently from one another and learn to live together at the same time.  Any thoughts on this?

 Signature 

JF

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2007 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  150
Joined  2006-04-03

I understand what you are saying.  And, to a large extent, I agree.  But I don’t think that’s what she concentrates her time on.  I get the impression that she spends more time with the “outside world” and public beliefs (as opposed to the “inside world” of a person’s home and private beliefs). 

As with Ms. Benson, I, too, wish that children were spared the indoctrination of false things.  But, perhaps, what is more important is to make sure that the “outside world” is a place where objective truths can be spoken and heard.  Like what Harris and Dawkins say—we need to be vocal to everyone.  And to marshall the facts for when we are confronted.

Private is one thing, but in public places, children need to hear and learn the true things.  That the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  That life evolved from simple organisms to more complex and adaptable.  Lauren Becker did an editorial on the phrase “Drive by faith, not by sight.”  You need to listen to it, but essentially, the rest of us have to clean up the mess left by people who do not use their senses, or their sense (!) when making policy or decisions.  Why do we still have teenage pregnancy when we know that clear sex education for teens with contraception education also means that teens wait later and use protection when they do have sex?  We can’t have that kind of sex ed, because the right-wing religious consider it wrong, and they control the seats of power.

You can list all the stupid things done in the name of “personal truths” that are wrong.  And, as Lauren explains, we have to clean them up. 

So, here’s to the truth.  People can believe whatever they want, but when it influences policy negatively, personal truth needs to be called what it is: Wrong.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2007 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4108
Joined  2006-11-28

Yes, Dawkins’ comments about religious education for children are excessive and, more the problem, they are purposelessly inflammatory. As a parent, I present my version of the world to my children, and I see that as not a right but a duty. Now my world view happens to include critical thinking as a core value, so I don’t so much indoctrinate as encourage my daughter tho think for herself, even at the risk that she will come to see the world very differently from me. But any suggestion that I not teach her my values, and that doing so constituted child abuse, would be met with outrage and rude language. So I can’t then turn around and tell other people that because I think their most deeply held beliefs are nonsense, they are abusing their children in teaching them those beliefs. It serves secularism poorly to make such high-handed statements. And the fact that this, which is really a very tiny part of Dawklins’ and Ms. Bensons comments, takes a disproportionate share of the public discussion space devoted to their ideas illustrates why such comments backfire and distract attention from the much more positive, useful things they have to say.

Now I do think there is, in many matters, a “real” truth and that science is the best method by which we can come to know it, so I’m fine with crticising those beliefs that science can show fairly clearly are wrong. I think some truths are relative (and there are lots of threads already here on that subject), but that’s not the same thing as saying that we should not publically challenge the beliefs of others when we see them as wrong. We should do it respectfully, productively, and peacefull under nearly all circumstances, but we should continue to argue for our own understanding of truth. And teach it to our children.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile