Re: Teaching (Was: Re: Final Textbook Insert)

George Murphy (
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 12:49:47 -0500

Janet Rice wrote:
> George Murphy suggested the idea of a class dealing with the theory of
> origins and had these two items as possible topics.
> > 5) The fact that many members of these communities believe
> >Genesis to be true & authoritative but _not_ chronicle-like accounts of
> >origins. (This would provide some opportunity to teach about literary
> >types, &c.) These people think that evolution can be consistent with
> >their religious beliefs.
> > 6) Perhaps some attention to other religious traditions,
> >depending in part on the makeup of the school. (But you can't cover
> >everything.)
> I think the idea of a seperate "orgins" class is an interesting one -
> although the thought of adding one more required class to the load that
> either high school and college students already have seems sort of
> difficult. However, my question is whether or not teaching such things
> would be acceptable to those from Christian traditions that require a
> literal interpretation of the Bible? If people are unhappy at their
> children being taught evolution as a science, what are they going to say
> about teaching their children about other religious traditions, even other
> Christian traditions?
> The question of teaching about non-Christian traditions is particularly
> germane in my own school district. Our former school board, who were
> collectively very conservative, fired a superintendent because he wouldn't
> fight a court ruling on prayer before football games. But the district
> also includes devout Zorastrians, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, and animists,
> so teaching only Christian tradition (of any sort) could be a problem. But
> I'm not sure how giving equal billing to other traditions would work with
> people who are legitmately serious about their Christian faith. But it
> sure would be interesting to watch.

I'm sure some Christians would be upset about their children
learning about other faiths, or other Christian traditions, though I
can't see how any plausible legal challenge could be raised against it
(which doesn't mean no one would try!) Greek & Roman mythology used to
be a fairly standard topic.
As I noted, anti-evolutionist religious beliefs would also be
presented in such a class. There would undoubedtly be some who would
object to that too.
Among other things, it might be enlightening for fundamentalist
Christians to realize that, on this topic, they are in basic agreement
with the great majority of Muslims, over against Christians who accept
There would have to be some choices made of what religions to
include because you can't do everything. E.g., inclusion of Zoroastrian
beliefs (which BTW had some influence on the Judaeo-tradition via the
Persian period) would be reasonable if there were any significant
Zoroastrian presence in the community, but otherwise you'd probably give
the time to something else.
George Murphy