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A very quick post to start this Blog off.

When a baby is born in the world it is utterly reliant on other people. Its mind is completely devoid of knowledge except the propensity to perform certain actions (feeding, crying) which have been baked into us over several hundred million years of natural selection.

This void starts to be filled as the baby grows throughout its childhood. It’s filled by what the child experiences and, most of all, by what it’s taught.

Here lies the issue….

As I write this (in the UK), ‘faith’ has almost entirely disappeared from political discourse (save a few anachronisms), but is widepsread (~30% of schools) in state education.  It’s a testament to the power of human scepticism and the deeply watered down nature of Anglicanism that one can be followed by the other.

“Teach them how to think, and not what to think” is a view that’s rightly espoused regularly and by all walks of life. But can this be reconciled with an educational system underpinned by ‘faith’? I’d argue that the very thing revealed religion can’t do is encourage a ‘how to think’ approach. You are being told, by God, ‘what to think’. What’s good and bad, and, furthermore, being told it in absolute terms. This is the very essence of anti-‘how to think’.

Children have an inbuilt scepticism, and they each have it to varying degrees. They are constantly striving to find out what ‘really exists’ and what doesn’t. Here’s where epistemology (‘how to think’) becomes particularly important…..

Once a child has been taught to assess the evidence and embrace their scepticism, there is no discernible difference between fairies, ghosts, Bigfoot and god. What is the evidence for the aforementioned? Should you believe without evidence?

With all the evidenced based knowledge in our world that there is to try to understand and appreciate, I feel it’s a retarding factor to confuse children in the UK state school system with this epistemology of revelation.

If parents want to pass on this worldview at home, that’s fine. After all, some sincerely believe that eternal damnation awaits those who don’t embrace their message, but let’s keep on working to remove ‘faith’ from the school system.

In the UK, schools really are the last point of leverage for (Anglicanism, mainly) religions to start the influencing process in young minds. Anglicanism, as mentioned, is easier to wriggle free from. Less so with other faith schools as we’ve seen recently. Let’s not get started on the Creationist schools……

The National Secular Society (NSS) and British Humanist Association (BHA) are doing great work in the area. Please join me in supporting them.