A very good Speech Day Talk was given by this old person, who is definitely, one of the last in the old bastion of institutionalised and muddled thinking. He looked as though he was from the best of the ‘smart upholders’ of old English tradition. Who could not really fail to be very impressed by his jokes, his complete lack of any notes to deliver this speech, with such very good timing. However, I just felt that something was seriously lacking: it was the great British tradition of humorous disrespect that we have towards any unnecessary overbearing authority, and a very humorous cynicism towards any overly popular Deity, or even; the greater British tradition of secularism after Darwin and the scientific format of our present enlightenment. Maybe, it is, only now : a new modern attitude to be so very seriously politically correct in thought, and speech; as if these could cause some embarrassment or ‘exclusive offence’ to the ‘over religious’. It feels, as if this could cause as well, some horrific and murderous result for this infringement. Oneself personally that you may be made culpable for, and does seem as if, only now, a serious hang up to the personal freedom of any individual denied a right to fully expressing themselves. Modern political correctness is now getting the edge on the forceful expression of any reason or discernment, and even that particular reasoning is then being prevented from being taught to our children. Ignorance is an easy winner, in an easy answer, and superstitious society, which has become an appalling fact of life for many trying to learn within our standardised educational system. One could add, in these troubled times of mass terror: not one single life has been lost to that reasonableness I am writing about. Huxley in 1926, below, had not the slightest hesitation to write about it, and get some depth out of the easily acquired, popular, and mostly; accepted shallowness of his time!
This was the Speech Day Talk for the whole of the School, and not just an Assembly, or even, a Church service. All parents were invited from many ethnic groups and prizes were handed out at the end the talk.
At the end of the speech Mr Bissell asked everyone, "Who has drunk any milk today?" Everyone, said, "that they had"! Then he explained about the three legged milking stool, used in the old days for the milkers’ to sit on whilst they milked the cows. Oh no! I thought the three legs are going to be: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, but they were not! They were parents, teachers, and you! Then he quietly said, "The round top of the stool that holds the legs together and the legs that fit in to it, is the thing that will hold you together: it holds everything in the world together, and is – God". Then I just thought of the war burning, war fried, AIDS ridden, drowning, and starving children. This is mostly due to an ignorance, selfishness, and poverty, in the world; so on…I wondered what I would put as the round stool (top) in this story and then really shout it? I know, it is so easy, not religious, it is – Love. Love can get passed God, or anything else, for that matter and all that happens in the world. Is their a specific ‘tyrant’ and a certain type of ‘confusion’ in our midst, or in some of our hearts? Would we, or I, be better of without it ? I am sure that Mr Bissell is a very genuine chap though, and it was such a very nice speech.
Level of Importance:-
His Reach – A few hundred children, before their critical faculties are developed, unfortunately (‘unfairly’?).
My Reach – Over 10,000 to date, on this blog site, and over 10,000 on another! Richard Brodie (designed, ‘Microsoft Word’) ‘Virus Of The Mind’ and Level 3 group. "Modern communication or Global Interconnectedness is lethal against all mass religions, and mass ideologies", as was said by one particular student.
Love Sex and God
The only thing we can do is to hazard a hypothesis, to create a mythological figure, call it Human Personality, and hope that circumstances will not, by destroying us, prove our imaginative guesswork too hopelessly wrong.
But myth for myth, Human Personality is preferable to God. We do at least know something of Human Personality, whereas of God we know nothing and, knowing nothing, are at liberty to invent as freely as we like.
If men had always tried to deal with the problem of love in terms of known human rather than of grotesquely imagined divine interests, there would have been less `making of eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, less persecution of ‘sinners’, less burning and imprisoning of the heretics of ‘unnatural’ love, less Grundyism, less Comstockery, and, at the same time, less dirty Don-Juanism, less of that curiously malignant and vengeful love-making so characteristic of the debauchee under a Christian dispensation.
Reacting against the absurdities of the old mythology, the young have run into absurdities no less inordinate at the other end of the scale. A sordid and ignoble realism offers no resistance to the sexual impulse, which now spends itself purposelessly, without producing love, or even, in the long run, amusement, without enhancing vitality or quickening and deepening the rhythms of living.
Only a new mythology of nature, such as, in modern times, Blake, Robert Burns, and Lawrence have defined it, an untranscendental and (relatively speaking) realistic mythology of Energy, Life, and Human Personality, will provide, it seems to me, the inward resistances necessary to turn sexual impulse into love, and provide them in a form which the critical intelligence of post – Nietzschean youth can respect. By means of such a conception a new fashion in love may be created, a mode more beautiful and convenient, more healthful and elegant, than any seen among men since the days of remote and pagan antiquity.
From, ‘Do What You Will’ (1929). Aldous Huxley. (Relevant)
Professor Richard Dawkins FRS Channel 4 TV ‘The Root of All Evil’?
No faith in the Absurd
There is something exceedingly odd about the idea of sectarian religious schools. If we hadn’t got used to it over the centuries, we’d find it downright bizarre. The Church of England proudly disclaims any intention to convert pupils away from the faith of their parents. But isn’t there already something deeply absurd in the presumption that children ought to inherit beliefs from their parents in the first place?
Think of it this way. Many of the subjects we study are controversial. In civil war history, it’s Roundheads versus Cavaliers. In cosmology there is the steady state school of thought to set against the now dominant big bang theory. In economics, monetarists vie with Keynesian’s. In literary history Baconians’ and champions of the Earl of Oxford press rival claims to the authorship of the plays normally attributed to Shakespeare. In my own field of evolutionary biology, neutralists argue with selectionists.
Everyone expects that, in a good school, children will be exposed to the different points
of view in matters of controversy, and in a very good school they may even be encouraged to develop their own opinions based upon the evidence and strength of the arguments. Now, just imagine that sectarian schools were set up for the promulgation of rival points of view in each of these controversial subjects. Imagine Keynesian schools playing football against monetarist schools. Keynesian schools preferentially admit the children of Keynesian parents, while reassuring the parents of the minorities (Monetarist or Adam Smithian children) that they would not seek to convert their children to Keynesian-ism.
It is one thing for parents to have views on the balance of subjects that their children ought to be taught. Some might feel that languages are more important than mathematics, and choose a school that is especially strong in languages. Or, vice-versa.
Within a subject like English, parents might prefer a rigorous grounding in grammatical principles over the literary creativity which other parents might prefer. If schools divide along such lines, nobody could reasonably object.
Some variety of choice would seem positively healthy. But religious schools are divided over what children are taught to believe as facts about the universe, life and existence. The situation exactly parallels my Keynesian/monetarist analogy, which was drawn up to be obviously absurd. Who will deny that the existence of religious schools, dispassionately seen, is just as absurd? But it is worse than absurd.
It can be deeply damaging, even lethally divisive. Why do people in Northern Ireland kill each other? It is fashionable to say that the sectarian feuds are not about religion. The deep divides in that province are not religious, they are cultural, historical, economic. Well, no doubt they are, in the sense that Protestant gunmen or Catholic pub bombers are not directly debating the Transubstantiation, the Assumption, or the Trinity. There is a them-against-us mentality burned deep into both sides of the Northern Ireland psyche, and we can all agree that it is not directly related to theological disagreements. But how does each individual know which side he is on? How does he decide whether the victim of his violence is one of them or one of us? He knows because of centuries of historical division. And the basis of that division, generation after generation, is to a large extent sectarian schooling.
If Protestant and Catholic children ceased to be segregated throughout their schooldays, the troubles in Northern Ireland would largely disappear – not overnight, but rather precisely in a generation. But I come back to my main point. The idea that primary schoolchildren could be labelled Protestant children or Catholic children is as absurd as Tory children, Labour children or Liberal children would be.
No sane person would advocate the setting up of sectarian schools for the segregated education of the children of pro-Euro parents on the one hand and anti-Euro parents on the other. How, then, can it be sane to advocate the existence of sectarian religious schools? And who can justify the spending of taxpayers’ money on them?
Richard Dawkins is Charles Simonyi Professor of Public Understanding of Science, Oxford
Backlash against church schools drive, Clare Dean.
The eminent scientist Richard Dawkins is leading a growing chorus of criticism of the Government’s plan for more religious schools. Serious doubts about the proposals among academics and even clergymen have been fuelled by the Church of England’s huge financial crisis. Critics have also pointed to dwindling congregations and the difficulties church schools are having recruiting head teachers.
Writing in today’s TES, Professor Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, who holds the chair for the public understanding of science at Oxford University, said no sane person would advocate setting up sectarian schools.
Who can justify spending taxpayers’ money on them? he asks, warning that religious schools can be deeply damaging and even lethally divisive.
His concerns were echoed by Anthony Grayling, reader in philosophy at Birkbeck College, London, who said: Given the great harm that religions do .. in the way of conflict, war, persecution and oppression and preventing the growth of science and freedom of thought. I object profoundly to my taxes being used to this end.Both Tony Blair and Education Secretary David Blunkett are keen supporters of church schools. Mr Blunkett has said that he wants to bottle the secret of their success. Nearly a quarter of England’s most successful secondaries are run by the Church, although inspectors say selection even purely on religious grounds, helps as it means they are likely to attract well-behaved children from stable backgrounds. Last week’s education Green Paper Building on Success confirmed ministers support for the Church. It came just two months after Anglicans announced plans for 100 new secondaries. The Paper paves the way for more schools provided by the churches and other major faith groups. It Announced it would give them £42 million towards capital costs and give faith groups the opportunity to manage and run schools in difficulty. Lord Dearing, who chaired the review by the Church of England of its schools, had been talking to ministers about their plans. The Green paper shows that the Government is listening and responding to what we have said.
The paper’s proposals have been widely welcomed by church leaders but criticised by the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association. Lord Dearing said: It is because it is an increasingly secular society that people are saying they want these anchors in their lives.
If the children aren’t coming to us, we must go to them and that means not only through church schools but in community schools. The move towards more religious schools comes at a time when three-quarters of Anglican dioceses are in the red, according to an investigation by the Church Times.
Earlier this year, a survey for the National Association of Head Teachers found that church schools experience the most problems recruiting heads. More than a third of Anglican secondaries have to re-advertise a head vacancy. More than half of the top posts in Catholic secondaries were re-advertised. Some clergymen have joined Professor Dawkins in attacking the plans. The Rev David Jennings, rector of Burbage and a member of the Leicester diocesan synod said:
“I am not sure we need church schools in the society we live in at the moment. Churches run the risk in a multicultural and predominately secular society of establishing something that is not entirely real and, at worst, quite divisive".