WHERE DOES RELIGION FIT IN ?
In its diligence to preserve the wall of separation between church and state, the government has sometimes gone to extremes. By erasing all hints of religious concepts and values from textbooks, and especially by downplaying the vital role that religion has played in the history of mankind, school children have been robbed of their rightful heritage and kept in ignorance about the most significant element in the entire spectrum of education. For when it come to ultimates in both philosophy and science, the only viable rationale is religious. When there are no answers to the mysteries of life and the universe, the religious dimension immediately makes itself felt, and all knowledge must fall back, in the long run, upon a religious foundation. This being the case, education should equip future generations for at least a minimal working relationship with religious science.
Now, the term “religious science,” as used here, refers to the study of ultimate causes, a theological analysis of Scripture, the investigation of apparently supernatural phenomena in the universe, and inquiry into parapsychological possibilities. So-called “creation science,” if not used to discredit evolutionary theories and if not restricted to an exclusive Judea-Christian version of creation, but if taught in conjunction with scientific education, can be useful in adding the divine element into explanations of the origin of the universe. Of course, such instruction and discussion should not be a part of a science class, but fitted into the humanities courses.
It should be recognized that if religion is excluded from all classroom discussion, as a result of governmental antipathy toward the metaphysical underpinnings of human culture, future citizens will be philosophically bankrupt.
One of the greatest minds of all time, Albert Einstein, saw the need for the spiritual dimension, even in the world of science. He admonished: “Science without Religion is lame, and Religion without Science is blind.”
In times past, religion was at the heart of education. (This was not good either, because of the tendency to sequester all truth into just one domain of thinking.) In order to be properly educated, a person had to have a firm foundation in the classical and biblical languages and literature. In Puritan New England the Bible was the main textbook both in school and at home, witness the Bible-based alphabet as taught in the New England Primer of the day. Also, a real education included schooling in classical mythology, which was the religion of the pre-Christian Mediterranean region.
In the early days of this nation, a basic element of education was the mastery of Latin, and higher education commonly included Greek and, sometimes, Hebrew as well. Nowadays, however, formal instruction in these languages has greatly abated in favor of more “practical” courses of study and at the terrible cost of cultural and spiritual pauperdom. Whenever commerce has been exalted over culture in modern educational systems, the end product has been a loss of appreciation for the finer things of life. And truly for our age it may be affirmed, with Wordsworth, that “the world is too much with us,” and that “we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon” to the great capitalistic god, Mammon. In neglecting the classical languages and the study of the Bible as literature we are cutting away at our own ancestral roots and losing touch with those vital values that made us the greatest society in the history of mankind.
All aspects of life in the early days of this country were derived from a religious foundation. And according to an impartial French observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, it was this factor that made America the great nation that it was. Many of the early scientists were clergymen, seeking to find out more about God’s methods and purposes in the workings of the universe. And both law and government in that time looked to the Bible as the final authority.
Now these are the facts of history, for better or for worse, and they cannot just be swept under a rug. Therefore, this generation of students should not be left without cultural roots and without some philosophical link with their forebears, just because some educators view those times of yore as little more than the Dark Ages.
Discrimination against the reading of the Bible and the Scriptures of other world religions, as literature, creates a deficiency in education. And, thankfully, discrimination against student religious clubs meeting on public school property is no longer allowed, because it was a denial of the equal expression of a vital aspect of our culture.
In more recent developments, some governmental measures are softening the former antipathy toward religion, and they are indicators that a healthy balance between the free expression of religion and the rights of non-religious persons is being reclaimed for the American public.
Richard L. Atkins