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My Take: The case for including ethics, religion in science class
Science teachers must make their subject relevant to students' lives by tackling religion and ethics, argues Arri Eisen.
December 15th, 2011
10:48 AM ET

My Take: The case for including ethics, religion in science class

Editor's note: Arri Eisen, PhD., is professor of pedagogy at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, Department of Biology, and Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts.

By Arri Eisen, Special to CNN

A referendum that would have restricted in vitro fertilization in Mississippi, disagreements on the causes of global warming, the question of how to allot health care resources for desperate cases at the beginning or end of life.

Many of today's headlines and hyper-polarized political debates happen at the borders of science and society, especially where science meets ethics and religion.

At the same time, in at what first appears to be in an unrelated domain, President Barack Obama and others call for more and better science education in America to compete in innovation with rising giants India and China. This at a time when American science literacy appears to be decreasing, and even students who like science drop like flies from that pursuit once they hit college and its huge introductory lecture courses.

Is it possible that rethinking the ethical calculus of how we teach science could enhance the pool of future scientists and enrich the quality of conversation around controversial issues?

What’s the connection? Well, from kindergarten on we often teach science as a body of information not relevant to anything going on in the world. This is a cell and these are its parts; memorize them and their functions. This is the human body and these are the different systems of which it is composed.

Such facts are important, but without a meaningful context (cell functions gone awry can cause cancer; all the body systems talk to each other, so depression can affect your cardiovascular system) such information has little real substance and is poorly retained.

This approach violates the first rule of good teaching: Integrate the information into your students’ lives and worldviews, including those based in religion or ethical systems, and translate it into something they can connect with and use. Science has an especially rich and often fraught role to play in society; if we don’t at least acknowledge this we imply it is unimportant.

Not surprisingly, studies show that when teachers do integrate science knowledge into students' lives, the students learn the science better.

But rather than incentivize teaching innovation that would allow science educators to discuss religion and ethics –- for example, creationism in light of evolution and vice versa, or the scientific and ethical implications of stem cells and in vitro fertilization – many teachers are afraid to even mention these issues, despite their importance, for fear of losing their jobs.

The classic example is the public school biology teacher without tenure who, understandably, finds it much easier to skip any discussion of evolution because of its potential controversial nature. This would be OK except for the small detail that evolution is the fundamental, underlying principle of all biology.

I teach biology at a private university. When I ask students in my cell biology course, “How many of you believe in evolution?” almost all of them raise their hands. When I ask them, “How many of you think something in addition to evolution accounts for humans being on earth as we now exist?” almost all of them raise their hands.

Two inconsistent thoughts coexist without an attempt to reconcile or integrate them. It is this kind of dissonance of fundamental beliefs and science that good education should address and help explore, and certainly not ignore. Only when science educators can proactively engage all societal elephants in the room and illustrate science's relatively limited power will two vitally important things happen:

First, as they are forming their beliefs — whatever they may be — students will be aware of the nature of science and its relation to complex ethical and religious issues. That means they’ll better appreciate different types of evidence and will be more likely to argue from and about that evidence rather than from emotion. Second, more students initially interested in science will continue to pursue it through college because they will better see its value and importance to the big issues and will learn science better.

How to accomplish this? How to break the vicious circle? One way is to frame the benefits differently — economic competition and innovation, national security, improved learning, or more substantial political debate — for different constituencies. For example, perhaps a politically conservative, religious audience might appreciate the importance of good science education through the lens of its importance to the economy or national security.

Another break in the circle is to help teachers learn how to teach science in context more effectively. I often find that simply acknowledging the ethical or religious issue relaxes students; a few others  have explored approaches for better integration of these issues.

In my cell biology course, we investigate the biology and chemistry of a cell surface receptor that helps induce good feelings in us when it binds to a chemical compound found in incense; this may help explain why so many different cultures and religions have independently evolved the use of incense in their ceremonies and rituals.

We discuss the detailed cellular and molecular biology of the research in the context of ritual; the students report this opens a door that’s usually closed between those two sides of their minds. Religious students, who say they often feel their beliefs are ignored or belittled on campus, find this discussion especially welcome and thought-provoking.

High school educators in Wisconsin showed that students who read original texts from Darwin and intelligent-design scholars, and discussing those texts, critically learned evolution better (without rejection of other worldviews) than those taught it in the traditional didactic manner. Teaching potentially controversial science can work if done in an interactive, engaging fashion and in a rich historical and societal context.

Clearly, there are a multitude of reasons for America’s polarized politics and decreasing science literacy and innovation that go beyond just teaching science better. But sometimes a little creative wrestling with and engagement in systems and programs that already exist can make a difference.

Once I offered the opportunity for anyone in the cell biology course to simultaneously take a seminar course focusing on the societal and ethical implications of the biology discussed in the cell course. Half the biology class wanted to enroll in the seminar.

A dozen students — all future scientists and health care workers — wound up in the course, representing seven different religions and traditions, from Christianity to Jainism to Judaism.

Students were amazed so many of their peers took religion seriously, and those students tell me that the conversations and debates we had in the course, together with the seminar, resonate to this day. Many say science is now woven together with ethics and religion in their minds; they can’t think about biology without thinking about its meaning in the greater context.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arri Eisen.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Education • Opinion

soundoff (2,297 Responses)
  1. D Russell

    When reading some of the posts here it is imposible not to notice just how democratic Americans are in the way they think; like fish who do not even notice they live in water. Science however is not a democratic process. For example, just because some people think the world is flat (even if there were a lot of them) this does not mean that there is a "debate" on the 'roundness' issue. The scientific evidence that the world is round is preponderant. Increasing the number of flat earthers or even teaching 'flat earth theory' in schools would still not mean that there would be a "scientific debate" on the matter. In science, it does not matter what the majority of citizens think. There is no debate in scientifc circles over the earth being round or for evolution. For there to be a 'debate' in the scientific sense, those who believe in creation would have to bring supporting evidence to the table for peer review; using the scientific method. They can not change the rules of evidence or the scientific method or the peer review process. Science is what science is. The preponderance of evidence is clearly on the side of evolution and every new major scientific accomplishment such as the sequencing of the human genome just adds to that body of evidence. It is now much harder to argue that mankind is 6000 years old given we now have the genetic history of mankind going back a few hundred thousand years; as just one of a thousand examples.

    Still, it is amusing that some people think that their is some kind of "debate" on the issue of evolution. Perhaps in popular culture – but not in the scientific community. Don't like it? The truth is that your opinion does not matter and without proper evidence – it never will. Let me repeat that – it never will.

    December 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  2. Primewonk

    From the article, "Teaching potentially controversial science can work if done in an interactive, engaging fashion and in a rich historical and societal context."

    This gets to the root of the problem. What controversial science? Evolution is not controversial. 99.95% of the world's 400,000 + scientists in the related fields state that evolution is a fact, and the theory of evolution explains those facts.

    It is only amongst the fundiots (fundamentalist ldiots) who insist that Genesis is literal and the universe is 6,000 years old that we see this problem. It isn't even controversial amongst the vast majority of the world's Christians. There are 2 billion Christians on earth. And 90% of them (1.8 billion) belong to sects whose official position is that there is no problem with a faith in the Christian version of god, and an understanding that evolution is a fact. It is only the remaining 200,000 Christians world-wide that claim evolution is a lie, or there is a debate, or there is a controversy. And sadly, the majority of these fundiots live in the US.

    Look – people have the right to choose to be ignorant. They have the right (sadly) to try and force their children to be as ignorant as they are. They do not have a right to try and force everyone else to be as ignorant as they are.

    December 17, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I think you meant 200,000,000.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Primewonk

      Right – my bad

      December 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  3. David

    Evolution: The Creation Myth of Our Culture
    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth01.asp

    December 17, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • Primewonk

      David? Why is it that folks who purposefully choose to be ignorant about science, come onto internet message boards and demonstrate that ignorance for all to see?

      For example, you, just like the ldiots at true origins confound evolution, abiogenesis, and cosmology. Why is that? The very first page of your anti-science website states, "What follows is a partial list of questions that could be used to critically examine and evaluate evolution. They would make good classroom discussions, initiated by either teacher or student, or research assignments."

      However, they follow this with question # 1 – "

      Dr. Danny Faulkner, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of South Carolina (Lancaster) commented: "The Ptolemaic model (of the solar system) stood for 15 centuries, but ultimately was rejected in the 17th century because of the huge complexity it had. The real problem with that model was you couldn’t falsify it. No matter what new data, new observations came along, you could always patch it up with a fix of new epicycles or other effects."

      "Over the past three decades the Big Bang model has been changed tremendously. They changed the expansion rate, hence the age of the universe. They’ve thrown in dark matter, dark energy...inflation, ...string theory... and it’s starting to look more and more like the Ptolemaic model.... So at what point does the Big Bang model become as unwieldy as the Ptolemaic model, that caused people to reject it?"

      So, can you explain to the board what the Big Bang has to do with evolution? Please include citations to valid peer-reviewed scientific journals that link these two distinct separate fields.

      Look David, you and the other fundiots (fundamentalist ldiots) have every right to be just as ignorant as you want. Sadly you have a right to try and force your kids to be just as ignorant as you are. However, you have no right to insist that others be as ignorant as you are.

      I do think; however, that if you choose to be ignorant about science, and even worse, to denigrate and castigate science, that you would have the balls to not make use of the science you choose to ignore.

      No more antibiotics. No more vaccines. No more medications for any illness. Stop using your computer. Stop using the internet. Stop eating food that science has modified or made better. This includes all meat, all vegetables, and all grains.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Primewonk

      Also, David, if you are claiming that the theory of evolution has been falsified, you need to supply a valid reference for it. The falsification would have been published in a valid peer-reviewed scientific journal, like Nature, Science, Cell, etc. I have access to thousands of journals like these. You do to, via PubMed. Yet, whenever I query the database looking for this falsification, I get nothing.

      Why haven't you fundiots published the falsification?

      December 17, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  4. George

    Currently science is taught as though God doesn't exist. Children have evolution and the big bang spo.on fed them, but oh no, don't mention God. Every child should have the right to know that God made the universe and each and every one of us.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Which god George? We've invented 10,000 gods. The one you choose to worship is a latecomer to the party after being cobbled together from other gods that had already been invented in the area 6000 years ago.

      If you teach that YOUR version of creationism is real, then you have to teach that all thousand other creation myths are just as real and valid. What are you going to do and say when your kids or grandkids come home and tell you that this is the real truth on how the world was created:

      In the beginning there was nothing but Nzame. This god is really three: Nzame, Mebere, and Nkwa. It was the Nzame part of the god that created the universe and the earth, and brought life to it. While the three parts of Nzame were admiring this creation, it was decided to create a ruler for the earth. So was created the elephant, the leopard, and the monkey, but it was decided that something better had to be created. Between the three of them they made a new creature in their image, and called him Fam (power), and told him to rule the earth. Before long, Fam grew arrogant, he mistreated the animals and stopped worshipping Nzame. Nzame, angered, brought forth thunder and lightning and destroyed everything that was, except Fam, who had been promised immortality. Nzame, in his three aspects, decided to renew the earth and try again. He applied a new layer of earth to the planet, and a tree grew upon it. The tree dropped seeds which grew into more trees. Leaves that dropped from them into the water became fish, those that dropped on land became animals. The old parched earth still lies below this new one, and if one digs deep enough it can be found in the form of coal. Nzame made a new man, one who would know death, and called him Sekume. Sekume fashioned a woman, Mbongwe, from a tree. These people were made with both Gnoul (body) and Nissim (soul). Nissim gives life to Gnoul. When Gnoul dies, Nissim lives on. They produced many children and prospered.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      You are correct George, children should have "the right to know" – unfortunately for believers, you have no facts about the existence of any god so the discussion would have to start with "some people theorize that god(s) exist...". Do you really want the existence of your god investigated in science classes? I think 90% of students would conclude there are no gods and the other 10% would get "Fs" for shoddy or incomplete science. Again I say, let's bring religion into science classes – there's no way religion can survive open discussion and investigation.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  5. J.I.M.

    Children should know about religion. What passes for religion these days is a vapid insipid shadow of the richness that religion once was. Religion used to serve people but now it only serves power. "THE", the god that has replaced all others, is an empty shell that cares about power and nothing else. THE is a monster god that puts on whatever face it needs to acquire and hold on to power. I tell my son about religion. I don't tell him that it is all bad. I tell him that this thing THE has destroyed the other gods because they interfered with THE's thirst for power.

    December 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Primewonk

      "Children should know about religion. What passes for religion these days is a vapid insipid shadow of the richness that religion once was."

      Yeah, like when the SBC was formed in 1845, because those folks were just positive that their god said white folks should own black folks? Or how about when religion said that black folks shouldn't marry white folks. Heck, according to a poll last April in Mississippi, half the republicans said that interracial marriage should still be illegal.

      How about when religion said that little black kids shouldn't go to school with little white kids?

      How about when religion (still) says that women should sit down and shut up?

      But hey – at least religion today still says that you can hate gay folks and discriminate against them.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Ryan

      The first priests created religion to control the masses in ancient Sumer. I'm pretty sure religion (like civilization) has sucked right from the get-go.

      December 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Actually Ryan, the oldest god-type idol found so far is a proto-snake type god dating back 75,000 from what is now Botswana.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  6. truth and freedom

    Hey atheists. Its dumb to make an argument out of the fact I used the word changed instead of evolved. I know how the theory goes I got As in all my history and biology classes. By the way Chris L. no one sacrifices sheep anymore and only one denomination calls God Jehovah. Whose the ignorant one here?

    So use the correct terminology, let me restate the questions.

    Have you ever seen an ape evolve into a man?

    December 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • J.I.M.

      Ouch. It's the infamous "Ha Ha, we caught you in a lie" argument that evolution naysayers seem to love. Such silly joke based arguments only serve to undermine the shaky ground that you stand on. Have you ever seen the large hand on a clock make one revolution. I haven't and yet I am convinced that during the day it does it twice. When I look at the clock, the large hard is absolutely stationary. Of course, I know and you know that it isn't. It moves imperceptibly slowly. Now take that and slow it down a trillion times slower.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Snow

      Yep.. god is so true and real that he changes the accepted norms like a model changes her clothes.. gone were the sacrifices need to appease the god.. gone were the murders in the name of god.. gone were the truth about flat earth.. gone was the truth about earth being center of universe..

      if god was so true and timeless, have you ever wondered why these accepted norms and truths change?
      if there is one thing that is constantly changing/evolving/whatever-you-want-to-call, it is your god..

      December 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Primewonk

      "Have you ever seen an ape evolve into a man?"

      Except of course, that no one who understands science makes this claim. It is simply a prototypical creationist lie.

      Humans ARE apes. Along with gorillas, orangutans, and chimps/bonobos.

      If you would stop listening to "Pastor Dave" you would know this.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Chris L.

      It says in your stupid book that you've gotta make sacrifices, never eat pigs or seafood, and a bunch of other crazy crap. You can't touch a woman who is on her period or something. You say you've never sacrificed a lamb to Allah, Yahweh, Batman, whoever? You're going to the burning pit of sewage.

      Stop accepting a 2,000+ year old book as truth based on absolutely no valid reason.

      You were raised that way? What if you were raised to jump up and down three times before you went to bed every night? That's stupid and most people would grow out of it when they moved away from the crazies. Not you, apparently.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:10 am |
  7. George

    Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. -Albert Einstein

    December 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • HellBent

      George, Einstein found your views on god (a personal god) to be both ridiculous and childish.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Joe Everybody

      "Good people will do good things, and evil people will do evil things no matter where they are...But for good people to do evil things — that takes religion." Noble-Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg

      December 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Science with religion is limiting.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Primewonk

      "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” Albert Einstein

      December 17, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  8. AtheistSteve

    "High school educators in Wisconsin showed that students who read original texts from Darwin and intelligent-design scholars, and discussing those texts, critically learned evolution better (without rejection of other worldviews) than those taught it in the traditional didactic manner. Teaching potentially controversial science can work if done in an interactive, engaging fashion and in a rich historical and societal context."

    The first problem is that intelligent-design isn't science. Also referencing original Darwin texts in any capacity beyond historical to explore evolution is like using the Ford Model T to describe vehicle crash safety regulations. Evolution science has progressed beyond anything Darwin could have imagined. And finally how did they determine that including ID improved students' comprehension of evolution?

    This "teach the controversy" idea is garbage. If you wanted to put these ideas (creation vs. evolution) for students to assess on equal footing then both would need to be presented simultaneously. But that doesn't happen in real life now does it? Children arrive into the school system pre-tainted by creation myths. Long before meaningful science courses are introduced students have already been taught that, (a)God created everything, (b)the Bible is the inerrant word of God and (c)to question any of Gods truths is to invite eternal damnation. Is it any wonder then that students balk at the prospect of science that goes counter to their religious worldview. It isn't like kids are hearing both the science and the religious take side by side for the first time. If it were so then I highly doubt the creation stories would get much traction. It also doesn't help that teachers, most of whom are also religious, are not inclined to present scientific theories with due diligence.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bobby

      Evolution is not science either – it is a philosophy Natural selection is science Additionally, regardless of one's thought on evolution and natural selection, neither of these should impact one's belief or non belief in a creator because neither of them answer the question how did it all start and where did the physical matter come from?". The Big Bang was a death blow to scientific atheists because it marks a beginning point of what was thought ot be a static universe – if there was a beginning and the universe is expanding then there will be and end. And what caused the big bang? It wasn't self-generating because there was no self do the generating. This fundemental question will never be answered Using science to declare there is no God is as bad as using the Bible to say science is wrong Science is not the final arbiter of truth

      December 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Bobby

      Thanks for proving my point. Evolution is better supported, by mountains of evidence, than scientists understanding of gravity. Evolution has nothing to do with how life began or the Big Bang, but does conflict with biblical accounts of the origin or 'creation' of man.
      As for Abiogenesis and the Standard Model of Cosmology....you need to go back to school.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • sharoom

      The only death blow to a scientific atheist is if a god or gods reveals themselves, thus becoming observable and testable. And if they are truly a scientist, only then will they accept the existence of God. Sorry, but a scientist can't work with anything less.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Bobby, Wow... ignorant much?! Go read a book.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  9. James

    The author has identified a real problem, but I have an alternative solution. The content of a science course is to be science, not cultural perspectives on science, but actual science. Introducing science within the context of religion and its precepts will not only distract from the minutiae of the science but promote anti-scientific views in children who are already predisposed to have them.

    INSTEAD, introduce a new course altogether, a science appreciation course. It would be similar to an Arts Appreciation course at the college level, but within high school curriculum. Most high schools cover biology, chemistry and physics; a science appreciation course would make for four full years of science. It would be an overview of how the main disciplines have and CAN change the lives of each student. It would be an opportunity to be inspired, gratified and yes, to discuss cultural treatments of science - and why many of them are objectively wrong.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • dcdingo

      I agree. Science class is for subjects that follow the scientific method. Religions are based on belief, not observable truth. This would be similar to putting religion in math class.
      ethics is part of philosophy and I believe many universities require an ethics class for both medical and engineering fields. As for high school, rather than bringing (*one*) religion into science class, how about a required comparative religion class? You can cover the relationships of ethics/religion to science there. Personally I think a country based on freedom of religion would be greatly enhanced by a new generation that had been taught not only that other people believe something else, but what some of those other things are. comparative religion classes would help alleviate bullying, bigotry, and even racism. Only problem is with people who want to program their kids for those sorts of hindrances due to the primacy of their own beliefs 🙁

      December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  10. chasmass NYC

    I still don't understand why some people feel it's inconsistent to believe in evolution AND believe that something besides evolution contributed to us being here. To me, the better one understands about the universe - from the sub-atomic to the inter-galactic - the more wondrous and awe-inspiring it becomes, and the more it needs some Grand Creator to have set it all in motion. I say to my religious fundamentalist friends, "Why do you insist on limiting your God to stories written by people living in mud huts 3,000 years ago?"

    December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      " the more wondrous and awe-inspiring it becomes, and the more it needs some Grand Creator to have set it all in motion."

      The first part of that sentence is certainly true but the latter is merely an 'argument from ignorance'. What evidence do you have to make such a claim? Why couldn't the intricacies of nature be 'natural'? By what criteria have you determined the 'need' for a Grand Creator?

      December 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • sharoom

      Scientists don't rule out the possibility of there being a God, but they see no reason why there HAS to be a God. What scientists do reject is the description of God as religions define it and the anecdotal stuff in religious holy texts, such as the 6000 year old universe, the virgin birth, Noah's Ark, etc. The first is rejected from geology and cosmology, the second is rejected from biology, and the last is rejected from "not enough possible space on a man-made boat."

      December 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      sharoom

      Correct. Science is purely interested in describing reality using facts, methodology and logic. Science isn't on a mission to demonstrate Gods non-existence. It's just that God, being based entirely on faith and thus non-falsifiable just doesn't come into play. Faith based reasoning is problematic in that it can be used to justify anything. All religions are faith based yet all cannot be correct. How then does one discriminate between them to find which, if any, are true? Without a means to test the various claims they become indistinguishable from fiction.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  11. BoldGeorge

    The reality is that there is a steep decline starting with our country's public school system, our financial system, leadership and more importantly our society as a whole (am I missing something else?). There is not one intelligent person that can honestly say that things are looking well or that we have a bright future ahead of us in any of these areas. I have previously declared in this forum that I believe it all starts with our educational system, whether at home/private and public. There are so many broken homes, letting kids of all ages fend for themselves, a high divorce rate, the pursuit of immorality or acceptance thereof, and the biggest one of all, a huge media/entertainment industry following. I'm sure many will disagree with me (of that I'm sure of), but the more we stray away from God and his statues and standards, the steeper the decline becomes. The more we believe and teach as fact the theory of evolution, the more our kids will live purposeless. The more we accept s-e-x-u-a-l immorality, the more our society (and family) breaks down. The hardest we try to runaway from God and the Salvation is giving us through Jesus Christ, the less we have hope. Is there another solution?

    December 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • OhPlz

      85% of people in America claim to be Christians so it has to do with your religion and not atheism. LOL! Guess your religion ISN"T working! 😉

      December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • TR6

      Please explain Sweden's success

      December 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Remember this: There are only TWO types of religions in this world...only two roads to eternity. The first religion is the one where you realize that without acknowledgement of guilt from a sinful lifestyle and then repentance and trust in Christ for the rest of your earthly life, there will be no hope. This first road will lead you to eternity in heaven.

      The second road is all the other religions that do not fully support the first. This second road leads to an eternal suffering.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Snow

      George.. you are utterly wrong!

      December 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Of course I'm wrong, to the ones on the second road.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • OhPlz

      "The second road is all the other religions that do not fully support the first. This second road leads to an eternal suffering."

      Something that rules people based on fear of punishment this severe is a monster not a god.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Snow

      you are wrong on both sides.. read carefully what you wrote and maybe you will understand

      December 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      I know my comments here are not popular and it is not what people want to hear. Heck, I wouldn't even want to hear this. But it is biblical Truth, not mine. All I can do is live by it.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      It's biblical alright....as for truth...well now there's the rub. How exactly did you verify that claim?

      December 16, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • captain america

      If it draws a comment from a butt in canadian trying to erode the foundation of America, fair good bet it is Truth.The majority of "atheists" on these blogs are canadians undermining the very heart of America. In God we trust. There's your sign.

      December 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Chris L.

      "You know what? Things look pretty crappy right now. Lets believe in a bunch of crazy garbage and hope it gets better."

      Thanks for that. If you stop thinking hard to some dead middle eastern guy and actually work to improve things, you just maybe will see better results.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:15 am |
  12. AGuest9

    There is already too much religion injected into science classes by the right-wing extremists on so many school boards! Ethics should be taught in school, regardless (and not from the 2,000 year old fairy-tale book). Teach truth, not fiction.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  13. Primewonk

    Kingnpriest wrote, " If you die tomorrow do you have hope of anything? There is nothing more scary than a judgement before a God you refused to believe in! I am not willing to take a chance on that."

    This called Pascal's Wager, and it was refuted long ago.

    And of course you are taking a chance. You falsely assume that it is YOUR version of a god versus no god. In fact, we have invented tens of thousands of gods.

    If the Muslim version of god is the correct god – you're screwed. If the Jewish version of god is the right of, you're screwed. If the Mormon version is real, you're screwed. If Amma is the right one, you're screwed. See?

    December 16, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • AGuest9

      To add to this, wouldn't an "all-knowing/all-seeing" god also realize that you were taking Pascal up on his wager? This deity would realize then, that you were believing in it simply to avoid punishment. Isn't that worthy of punishment already???

      December 16, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Sue

      Primewonk and Aguest9, thanks for having the patience to push back against the latest attempt to foist Pascal's Wager on us as an "argument" for a god. Good for you. Especially Aguest9, for pointing out the insincere belief aspect.

      I get tired with these Christian ignorati who still don't get that.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Primewonk

      An all knowing / all powerful god precludes free will. An omniscient god, by definition, already knows who will end up in heave and who will end up in hell. And he had to know this before he even created the universe. You cannot trick an omniscient god. If god knows I am going to hell, I cannot surprise him and show up in heaven. Thus, god already knows that billions of people he created are going to hell to be tortured for all eternity – and there is NOTHING these folks can do to show up in heaven.

      Thus, this "all loving" god knowingly creates billions of people for the sole purpose of torturing them forever.

      This kind of makes him a sick twisted sadist.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Not to mention that most gods, and especially the god of the bible, have a moral standard that falls far below most of our own moral standards. Who here would be so petty as to create a race of beings whose sole purpose was to worship him? Who here would order the murder of women and children or send bears to murder children for mocking a priest(prophet)? Who here would make laws about adultery and murder and then play favorites with people you like (i.e., david)? And would anyone here ask a man to murder his son, just to test if he would actually do it? I think the more interesting point to make is that if there actually is a god as described in the bible, only cowards that lack a sense of morality would bow before him.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  14. truth and freedom

    For one thing, no one sacrifices lambs anymore. Secondly only one denomination calls God Jehovah. Third its stupid to call out that I used the word changing instead of evolving, I know how the theory goes. Plus who here has read the origin of species?

    December 16, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • derp

      "For one thing, no one sacrifices lambs anymore"

      Never been to the Caribbean have you?

      December 16, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • ashrakay

      Me.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Sandeep

    The author suggests a dangerous and meaningless way to attract students to science. Sure we need to teach science in the context of society, medicine, space and universe ..etc..but religion is not the thing of classrooms unless it is a religious study or theosophy class. A teacher can easily lose job or get into trouble as some students may be too sensitive about their religion and get offended easily by a simple scientific debate on religious beliefs and issues. I strongly suggest that the author retracts his opinion.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Mo

      If you read the article again, you will notice that what the author is trying to propose and the response given by the students currently in his class, is the exact opposite of what your comment states. The fact that the students now know a bit more about religion from other students within the same class, makes them more comfortable talking about religion/science/ethics in other places outside the classroom.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • AGuest9

      Well, Mo, if that truly is the case, then apparently the discussion of science must be stunted there to begin with.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  16. John

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_6PxnvaySw
    ,

    December 16, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • .....

      TRASH ALERT – don't bother viewing this garbage, click the report abuse link to get rid of this stupid TROLL!

      December 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  17. Reality

    Why Christianity should be restricted to courses on fiction and semi-fictional writing;

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    December 16, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      Again with that worldview of yours.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  18. RdclCntrst

    The writer is correct in saying that teaching science in a way that is meaningful is the best way to get science education to stick. That said, his approach to teach science in the context of ethics is much less troubling than trying to teach science in the context of religion (and if you're one of those people who thinks that ethics can only be present where there is religion, just go ahead and stop reading this now). I like religion; I use religion. But religion is about FAITH (it's easy to figure that out because in context, the two words are used interchangeably), whereas science is about FACTS. The demographic that feels as though there faith is under attack would never accept a curriculum that attempts to limit knowledge to what can be proven (NOTE: "The Bible says so" is not proof). However, discussing, for example, genetically modified crops as part of a lesson on plant cell biology might be an excellent way to provoke students' interest, and in that the author is correct.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  19. El Flaco

    Science has a lot to say about religion: archaeology, linguistic analysis of ancient religous manuscripts, historical research into the origin of the various religions, brain research showing what parts of the brain are excited by religious thoughts or objects, sociologica research regarding the beliefs of modern believers, etc.

    Religion is a product of our evolution. Our brains are hard-wired to provide the religious experience, though some people experience religion with a lot more intensity than do others.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  20. ArthurP

    You know what the oldest copy of the Christian Bible says about the Resurrection. The cornerstone of the Christian Religion. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. It is never mentioned in any of the gospels not even the the current favorites of Mathew, Mark, Luke or John. (Its entire text is on the net in English and original source language, Google it)

    December 16, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • mp

      Which early version are you talking about? If you look at the Gospel of Mark, two of the earliest (almost complete) manuscripts we have-omit some verses. What is also true is that the scribes who wrote these left blank space Showing they knew of something missing, but they did not have it available from the manuscripts they were copying.Even earlier evidence is found with the church leaders which followed immediately after the Apostles' deaths. They each made statements regarding the missing part. 200 years before the most complete copy we have.

      December 16, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • El Flaco

      The earliest known complete copy of the Gospel of Mark (the 'Jerusalem Codex') makes no mention of the Resurrection. Apparently, the story of Jesus' Resurrection had not yet been invented. Later copyists inserted the legend of the resurrection in later manuscripts.

      Mark is the oldest of the Gospels, and Matthew and Luke are essentially copies of Mark. Omitting the story of the resurrection is a rather odd lapse of memory, don't you think?

      December 16, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Doesn't actually matter what version it appeared in. It could have been written in version one, in minute detail, and yet still be the lies and exaggerations of the original writer. The fact that something is written down doesn't make it true, so whether it appeared in Mark or not is completely irrelevant.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:32 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.