Alabama Picks a Bible Textbook

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Beleth
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Alabama Picks a Bible Textbook

Post by Beleth » Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:46 pm

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article ... 27,00.html
TFA wrote:The textbook is a product of the Bible Literacy Project, founded and run by Chuck Stetson, a conservative Christian New York-based equity fund executive. Assessing scripture and its subsequent influence on literature, art, philosophy and political culture, it was specifically designed to avoid the Constitution's church-state barriers.
My take on this:

This is exactly what many of us (amateur, moderate) evolutionists have been looking for as a compromise. If you're going to teach about the Bible in school, then teach it as literature or history, and not as science. Whether one believes in the stories of the Bible or not, it is unarguable that it has had a major impact on Western culture; it therefore behooves folks, especially if they are from another culture, to learn more about its literary content.
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Post by clarsct » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:33 pm

History?!

The Bible has all the historical accuracy of a Superman comic.


Might as well teach the Silmarillion as history...At least it's logically consistent.
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Post by Nyarlathotep » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:40 pm

clarsct wrote:History?!

The Bible has all the historical accuracy of a Superman comic.


Might as well teach the Silmarillion as history...At least it's logically consistent.
But, to be fair, it has had an impact on history. Holy wars, witch burnings, persecutions of jews, pagans, native peoples, etc. :P

Smart assery aside, though. Even if there is no historical value in the book itself, there is value in learning how it has shaped history.
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Post by clarsct » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:57 pm

Fair point.

Indeed, THAT part should always be taught....just what impact the Bible has had on the world.

Unfortunately, I have my doubts about this actually happening.
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Post by Cloverlief » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:57 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:
clarsct wrote:History?!

The Bible has all the historical accuracy of a Superman comic.


Might as well teach the Silmarillion as history...At least it's logically consistent.
But, to be fair, it has had an impact on history. Holy wars, witch burnings, persecutions of jews, pagans, native peoples, etc. :P

Smart assery aside, though. Even if there is no historical value in the book itself, there is value in learning how it has shaped history.
I agree. After all, we read Gilgamesh and The Odyessy as well as the Green Knight and Beowolf in history class because these are also literature that shaped a culture or were shaped around a culture. The bible should be treated no differently than any other historical piece of literature.
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Post by Pyrrho » Sun Nov 11, 2007 2:48 pm

Yes, well, for as long as I was in school, the school library had copies of several versions of the Bible, and nobody needed to use any of them as a textbook. The evangelicals want the Bible to be taught in schools one way or the other, and this only opens the door for other religions to be taught "as literature". Other religions can now demand equal time.
Assessing scripture and its subsequent influence on literature, art, philosophy and political culture...
This has been one of the evangelicals' claims all along: that modern literature, art, philosophy, and laws are Bible based, or at least dependent on the Bible. The fight has never been exclusively about evolution per se -- that has only been the easiest avenue of attack for what is a much broader goal.

If we find this an acceptable compromise, then let the God times roll. We might as well roll over and let all the public schools become parochial schools for whichever religion can beat the other ones in terms of political influence.

The Bible does not belong in public schools as part of the curriculum. Neither does the Koran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita, nor the tenets of any other active religion. Allowing study of the Bible--whichever version of the Bible it is--is not an acceptable compromise, it is the proverbial camel's nose in the tent.

Politicians, of course, may find it to be an acceptable way to pretend to support religion in the public schools without seeming to support religion in the public schools.

Those of us who support science, cringe.

Oh, yeah, I thought I had posted about this before:

http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/vi ... php?t=7404

Two years ago...

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Post by Beleth » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:51 am

Pyrrho wrote:The Bible does not belong in public schools as part of the curriculum. Neither does the Koran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita, nor the tenets of any other active religion. Allowing study of the Bible--whichever version of the Bible it is--is not an acceptable compromise, it is the proverbial camel's nose in the tent.
This is a position that I believe is uncommon amongst names in the skeptical community.

Studying religious books as literature sounds to me like an excellent way to de-mystify them. Discussing what was known to be going on at the time the books were written, comparing them to each other, etc. would lead one to be less fundamentalist about any of them, not more.
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Post by Churchill » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:27 am

I agree with Beleth that the Bible should be studied in some part as historical or social context. In the same way most of us studied some of the ancient Greek myths (Odysseus was one of my favorites), we can learn from the stories, be they real or fiction, as they have influenced and shaped society. What was taboo 2000 years ago and isn't today?..or vise versa. What were the rituals, the age of consent, marital rights, family structure, social structure, etc... all interesting question that these books at least give us some hint of, even though they might not be completely accurate.

@Pyrrho
I do not believe that Zeus is god, even though we studied Greek myths. I sincerely doubt that someone will be swayed one way or another as long as the myth in question is studied objectively in a historical / societal impact / anthropological kind of way. No one is suggesting that the Bible be taught in Science class. And for good measure, throw in a bit of every major myth..errr religion in the same class.
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Post by Pyrrho » Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:40 pm

Beleth wrote:
Pyrrho wrote:The Bible does not belong in public schools as part of the curriculum. Neither does the Koran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita, nor the tenets of any other active religion. Allowing study of the Bible--whichever version of the Bible it is--is not an acceptable compromise, it is the proverbial camel's nose in the tent.
This is a position that I believe is uncommon amongst names in the skeptical community.
Names? Sorry, their opinion is no more valid than mine, and the so-called "skeptical community", whatever that is, is largely irrelevant as regards this issue.
Studying religious books as literature sounds to me like an excellent way to de-mystify them. Discussing what was known to be going on at the time the books were written, comparing them to each other, etc. would lead one to be less fundamentalist about any of them, not more.
That's not what this course is about. This is not a course in comparative religion, or of the Bible as literature. It is state-funded Bible study, and that serves the goals of one particular religion. The rationale is that various elements in culture and literature can be linked to stories and passages in the Bible. While true, the Bible is not the only source, and perhaps not even the most widely used source, for culture and/or literature. Recall the rationale commonly used for the placement of copies of a particular version of the Ten Commandments in public places? Same rationale.

Would mainstream America sit still for state-funded study of the Koran in public schools? How about the various books of Scientology? If you can imagine possible objections to that, those objections should apply equally to making other "Bibles" into textbooks with handy study guides.

Other religions will have the right to demand equal access, and I fully expect that they will.
Last edited by Pyrrho on Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Pyrrho » Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:51 pm

Churchill wrote:I agree with Beleth that the Bible should be studied in some part as historical or social context. In the same way most of us studied some of the ancient Greek myths (Odysseus was one of my favorites), we can learn from the stories, be they real or fiction, as they have influenced and shaped society. What was taboo 2000 years ago and isn't today?..or vise versa. What were the rituals, the age of consent, marital rights, family structure, social structure, etc... all interesting question that these books at least give us some hint of, even though they might not be completely accurate.

@Pyrrho
I do not believe that Zeus is god, even though we studied Greek myths. I sincerely doubt that someone will be swayed one way or another as long as the myth in question is studied objectively in a historical / societal impact / anthropological kind of way. No one is suggesting that the Bible be taught in Science class. And for good measure, throw in a bit of every major myth..errr religion in the same class.
Agreed, however, we didn't study Greek myths in the form of an anthology widely promulgated as the central text of a widespread, politically active religion.
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Post by Beleth » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:40 pm

Pyrrho wrote:
Beleth wrote:
Pyrrho wrote:The Bible does not belong in public schools as part of the curriculum. Neither does the Koran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita, nor the tenets of any other active religion. Allowing study of the Bible--whichever version of the Bible it is--is not an acceptable compromise, it is the proverbial camel's nose in the tent.
This is a position that I believe is uncommon amongst names in the skeptical community.
Names? Sorry, their opinion is no more valid than mine, and the so-called "skeptical community", whatever that is, is largely irrelevant as regards this issue.
Your second sentence nullifies the reason I would answer the first, but I will anyway: pretty much the entire panel of the second day of TAM4, which included Julia Sweeney and Michael Shermer.
It is state-funded Bible study, and that serves the goals of one particular religion.
The article says otherwise. "Assessing scripture and its subsequent influence on literature, art, philosophy and political culture, it was specifically designed to avoid the Constitution's church-state barriers." It is not "Bible study" as the term is commonly used. It is study of the Bible's influences on multiple facets of the country we live in.
The rationale is that various elements in culture and literature can be linked to stories and passages in the Bible. While true, the Bible is not the only source, and perhaps not even the most widely used source, for culture and/or literature.
What source is more widely used?
Recall the rationale commonly used for the placement of copies of a particular version of the Ten Commandments in public places? Same rationale.
The rationale was that they were the cornerstone of our legal system, which is demonstrably false, as there are only three commandments which are also illegal acts. Is the statement "Scripture has influenced Western literature, art, philosophy and political culture" as demonstrably false?
Would mainstream America sit still for state-funded study of the Koran in public schools? How about the various books of Scientology?
Heck, the Sci*nt*logists wouldn't sit still for state-funded study of Sci*nt*logy. And neither those books nor the Koran had had anywhere near the impact on American culture, art, etc. as the Bible has.
If you can imagine possible objections to that, those objections should apply equally to making other "Bibles" into textbooks with handy study guides.
Except that those other books haven't had the same level of influence.
Other religions will have the right to demand equal access, and I fully expect that they will.
As do I. I, however, see that demand, and the aftermath which wold inevitably follow, as a good thing.

As someone who is raising a skeptical, non-religious kid, I would welcome the chance for him to take this class. There are a lot of idioms, icons, and other assorted bits of information that children raised in a Christian home will know and understand that my son, unfortunately, will not. How can one fully understand, say, Dali's Crucifixion (Hypercubic Body) without an understanding of both Christianity and math?
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Post by Abdul Alhazred » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:05 pm

If I were setting the high school curriculum without regard to who will yell (or sue), I'd have as required reading selected portions of:

1) The Bible, especially including the creation and flood tales.

2) Ovid's Metamorphoses especially including the creation and flood tales.

3) An old fashioned mythology anthology such as Bullfinch.

4) The Golden Bough.


[1] King James version because it is the most famous and literary translation in English. Textual criticism could be for an optional advanced course.

[2] A good modern prose translation.

[3] [4] Yeah I know. Very out of academic fashion.
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Post by Pyrrho » Wed Nov 14, 2007 1:54 am

Beleth wrote:
Pyrrho wrote:
Beleth wrote:
Pyrrho wrote:The Bible does not belong in public schools as part of the curriculum. Neither does the Koran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita, nor the tenets of any other active religion. Allowing study of the Bible--whichever version of the Bible it is--is not an acceptable compromise, it is the proverbial camel's nose in the tent.
This is a position that I believe is uncommon amongst names in the skeptical community.
Names? Sorry, their opinion is no more valid than mine, and the so-called "skeptical community", whatever that is, is largely irrelevant as regards this issue.
Your second sentence nullifies the reason I would answer the first, but I will anyway: pretty much the entire panel of the second day of TAM4, which included Julia Sweeney and Michael Shermer.
My opinion is just as good as theirs. I am not awed by celebrities. Also, I distinguish between "skeptics" and "atheists". The "atheist community", if one exists, is certainly relevant.
It is state-funded Bible study, and that serves the goals of one particular religion.
The article says otherwise. "Assessing scripture and its subsequent influence on literature, art, philosophy and political culture, it was specifically designed to avoid the Constitution's church-state barriers." It is not "Bible study" as the term is commonly used. It is study of the Bible's influences on multiple facets of the country we live in.
A clever public relations statement, but the course does require that the student study the Bible, and although I do agree that this isn't quite the same as the "Bible study" conducted at churches, I don't find it all that different.
The rationale is that various elements in culture and literature can be linked to stories and passages in the Bible. While true, the Bible is not the only source, and perhaps not even the most widely used source, for culture and/or literature.
What source is more widely used?
I said, "perhaps", which can be taken to mean that I don't know, but I suspect otherwise. Most literature derives from human experience as a source and most writers allude to many other works of literature, the Bible included.
Recall the rationale commonly used for the placement of copies of a particular version of the Ten Commandments in public places? Same rationale.
The rationale was that they were the cornerstone of our legal system, which is demonstrably false, as there are only three commandments which are also illegal acts. Is the statement "Scripture has influenced Western literature, art, philosophy and political culture" as demonstrably false?
No. The question is, to what degree has "scripture" had influence, and does that necessarily validate "scripture"?
Would mainstream America sit still for state-funded study of the Koran in public schools? How about the various books of Scientology?
Heck, the Sci*nt*logists wouldn't sit still for state-funded study of Sci*nt*logy. And neither those books nor the Koran had had anywhere near the impact on American culture, art, etc. as the Bible has.
Well, the Bible is going to have a lot more influence. Perhaps too much, IMHO.
If you can imagine possible objections to that, those objections should apply equally to making other "Bibles" into textbooks with handy study guides.
Except that those other books haven't had the same level of influence.
Relative influence should not be a factor.
Other religions will have the right to demand equal access, and I fully expect that they will.
As do I. I, however, see that demand, and the aftermath which wold inevitably follow, as a good thing.
I see religious instruction in public schools as a bad thing, and that, in my opinion, is what this program is intended to produce.
As someone who is raising a skeptical, non-religious kid, I would welcome the chance for him to take this class. There are a lot of idioms, icons, and other assorted bits of information that children raised in a Christian home will know and understand that my son, unfortunately, will not. How can one fully understand, say, Dali's Crucifixion (Hypercubic Body) without an understanding of both Christianity and math?
Most children are already being raised in a religion which, in the US, is primarily the Christian religion. Someone could take time to explain the symbolism of Dali's painting without resorting to a course in studying the Bible in a public school--and even given a knowledge of the Bible, it is not a given that anyone would therefore fully understand the painting.
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