Thursday, November 11, 2004


Secular v. biblical education

Mr. Carl Johnson, a long-time proponent of small Kitsap government and long-time candidate for a variety of Kitsap government positions, weighs in on secular v. biblical education in this Kitsap Sun article. I will state up front that I agree with his conclusion that there will be no solution to this dilemma that is satisfactory to everyone but that all persons involved should be tolerant of other points of view.

I firmly believe that public schools should not teach religious education. Theology, where all major religions are examined, yes. Religious education should be taught in the church/temple/synagogue/mosque or home.

Mr. Johnson claims in his article that his purpose "is to help people understand the differences between two significantly opposing world 'views', and not to suggest that we should (or even can) change public education to accommodate a biblical philosophy." This is a good, even-handed approach to the topic. But the approach is the only portion of the article that is even-handed.

In examining both sides of the issue, he states the secularist viewpoint in a negative fashion and the religious viewpoint in a positive. He does so by briefly examining how history and science are taught in the public school and in a church. Here's his take on history:

History, in our public education, is taught as merely a record of the lives of people, events, and circumstances that are random and without any divine or eternal meaning or purpose. Whereas history, from a biblical worldview, is His (God's) story, and is vested with His sovereign and divine guidance. In fact, a biblical worldview would affirm the concept that, "every life has purpose."

So, in essense, he's saying that his biblical worldview is a better way to teach all children - no matter their religious upbringing.

And on science:

We're told in no uncertain terms that the rigors of scientific investigation has confirmed such things as: the universe exploded into existence by some unknown cause; that life happened by chance; that humans are the result of an evolutionary process; and that only through scientific inquiry can anyone know that something is true or provable. However, by contrast, a biblical worldview acknowledges two sources of truth: natural revelation (the sciences), and divine revelation (the Old and New Testaments of the Bible). In addition, a biblical worldview acknowledges God as the Creator of the universe; that He brought it into existence by His power and Word; that all life is His handiwork; that the human species was created in "His image" and for His good pleasure; and that someday, this universe will be destroyed, and God will replace it with something completely new ... including new physics and a sense of timelessness.

Notice in the above paragraph that he portrays science as a cold and demanding form that has "proven" three theories, implying that further examination is not accepted. (I disagree - they're theories and examination has never ceased) Biblical "revelation", on the other hand, is delivered in a soothing, loving fashion much like a parent teaching a small child at bedtime. He fails to mention that this "revelation" is a theory based on faith. Revelation - more specifically, divine revelation - is necessary, he implies, to understand the sciences because we humans can't figure it out on our own.

Consider one more item: Mr. Johnson thinks he is correct to frame the issue in this manner. But if Mr. Johnson had been born and raised in Syria or Iran or Egypt or some other muslim country and written such an article regarding Islamic teachings in public schools for the local press, would he be considered a religious fanatic by Americans?

We are all a product of our environment - familial, social, cultural, religious, economic, geographic, physical, etc. Mr. Johnson is but one example.

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