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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Teach science, not religion, July 19, 2007
This review is from: Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't (Hardcover)
Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy makes some very good points. Number One: Americans are appallingly ignorant of even their own religions (I am not sure that this applies to non-Christians, but he sure makes the case that it applies to Christians). Number Two: This is attributable only in part to the Supreme Court and secularists. Number Three: This has serious implications for our domestic and foreign policy (it has been stated, for example, that George Bush had no knowledge of the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam on the eve of the invasion of Iraq). And there are other good points, too, but Prothero's solution (reintroduction of religious education into public schools) is unacceptable. It also ignores Americans' scientific illiteracy, which is even more appalling than their religious illiteracy, arguably more important, clearly within the area of responsibility of public education, and can be remedied without violating the First Amendment.

More Americans accept the possibility of miracles than accept the theory of evolution. What does this say about the state of science education in this country (rhetorical question)? How are Americans to make intelligent, informed decisions about bioscience issues (stem cell research, genetically modified foods, etc.), which will become increasingly important in the next few decades, when they do not even understand the basis of modern biology, now almost a century and a half old? While reasonable arguments can be adduced (as Prothero does) that it is the responsibility of public education to provide basic religious education, can anybody argue that it is NOT the responsibility of public education to provide basic science education? And yet, it seems that we are failing in science education even worse than in religious education. It may be possible to teach ABOUT religion without teaching RELIGION, as Prothero maintains, but even if it is theoretically possible, I seriously doubt that it can be carried out in the real world in a way that is acceptable to most parents, no matter what their religious views. And it is not at all clear how it could be done without violating the First Amendment. Does anybody really believe that teaching children about religion in government-supported schools is not an establishment of religion? No such issue exists for science teaching.

I say leave the teaching of (and about) religion to parents and their chosen religious institutions. They may be doing a lousy job of it, but they are doing an even worse job with science.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 22, 2009 6:16:50 PM PDT
Pete Zah says:
If the intent of a theologian is indoctrination of public school kids, then truly the US Supreme Court banned that activity in the mid 1980's. If the intent is not indoctrination, but to introduce the variety of religious experience to students (e.g. William James), then there's little likelihood of civil citations for impropriety being issued.
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