Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cruising editorials

I like to read editorials. They can be a source of insight or a source of mirth. Or sometimes they can leave you saying huh-what? As is the case with Without God, mayhem is possible. An editorial by John F. Kippley of NFP and more.org.

Cincinnati is suffering under and increased murder rate. A satanic serial killer was recently put to death, and drug related violence and serial killings have been played up in the press. In this climate, Kippley suggests it is because we don't teach morality in public schools any longer. His editorial suggests the crime wave is the result of atheists. I guess he figures crime did not exist before Lemon v. Kurtzman.

This is aggravated by a widespread opinion that there is no punishment after death for unrepentant sinners. Some believe there is simply no life after death. Others believe that everyone goes to heaven no matter how many commandments he breaks or how unrepentant he is. The Christian doctrine of the possibility of going to hell is denied or ignored. Given the ugliness of life for some, such a belief system deprives them of internal motivation to live the good but difficult life of resisting temptations of every sort. They are given no reasons beyond "don't get caught" for obeying just laws.

Kippley offers no proof that atheists are to blame for the recent murders, nor does he explain how "teaching a culture of life" will help the problem. Instead he offers to increase local taxes to pay for more jails. So besides offering a red herring on the murders, he is promoting an increase in the prison population through spending more tax payer money. I imagine his values based changes to public education would cost some tax payer money too. Kippley managed to catch my attention on the atheism and libertarian fronts. Hitting both hot buttons in one editorial does not happen too often.

Criminals do not often struggle with moral issues. Simply teaching Christian morality in public schools will no more prevent felonious behavior than it does in the graduates of our many religious schools. The quality of education is what often one of the important factors that determines what path a life will follow. There are many other factors, like what a child is taught at home or at his or her church, which contribute to their behavior in life. Perhaps Kippley should focus his energy there?

On last thing, Kippley assertion that public schools are promoting practical atheism is absurd. "Just because a person doesn't want religion to control civil institutions doesn’t mean that, therefore, they don't believe in any gods and/or aren't religious". Atheism and secularism are not the same thing. Why so many people get this wrong?

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1 comment:

RG said...

Atheism and secularism are of course not the same thing. But I would suggest that Atheism requires secularism (Duh.) and secularism implies atheism, or at least its possibility. It implies it by suggesting that there are methods for constructing and managing societies apart from religious "revealed truth" This of course is a direct challenge to many major religions (or at least certain brands thereof). So his specific assertion regarding practical atheism being taught is not "absurd." Practical atheism *is* being taught in schools and doing so will likely relegate religion to having authority over smaller and smaller portions of even religious persons lives. This may well be a good thing as moderated, limited religion is likely a requirement for avoiding WWIII.