I have another birthday coming up.
As I have done in the past, I want to spend the week talking about what I want for my birthday. If you would like to get me a present, please consider one of the things on my list.
The first thing that I would like to have on my list is a set of atheist private schools.
We have religious schools all over the place.
We also have public schools that are supposed to be secular. Yet, a student cannot attend such a school without being surrounded by signs that say, “You can’t be one of us unless you trust in God” or being pressured into pledging allegiance to “a nation under God”.
It appears to me that this type of psychological abuse – the constant reminder told to a young child that a person who does not believe in a God is inferior to one who does not – does lasting psychological damage. The reason why atheists are so politically impotent in spite of their numbers is due, to a large degree, to this psychological abuse which tends to make those who suffer from it passive and subservient.
A school without these abuses would be a good thing.
It would be a school where science is respected would be a good thing. This would be a school that actually teaches evolution – rather than hides from it because some parents might be offended. It is a school where a geology teacher does not have to suffer a moment of hesitation before talking about events millions or billions of years ago. A school where the teacher can say, “God did not do it,” without fear of a lawsuit.
It would be a school where the teachers could teach a logic class using real-world examples of both sound and unsound reasoning. In this school, the students would take transcripts current speeches made by current politicians and analyzes them for logical consistency. Where parents may disagree with what a child is being taught, the solution will not be to censor the teacher but to provide some option for people to express why they accept one position and reject the other. One of the problems with these types of schools is that they tend to isolate and segregate students. However, the public school system is not a healthy alternative. It allows students to mix with other types of students, but prohibits any type of education on different beliefs and belief systems. Have a high school social sciences teacher give a course on Islam and watch the parents go into convulsions. We demand silence on the part of public school teachers – but silence is the antithesis of getting an education.
So, the school that you can help to create as a part of my birthday present would not be silent on matters of religion. Nor would it present a one-sided mockery of religion. Rather, it would invite or even require students to be exposed to the major religions in an environment that is not hostile to those religions. It would invite or even require students to attend church services, to interview others about their beliefs, to read religious texts, and require that they show an understanding of the belief systems of the people they are going to have to share the world with as adults.
I want there to be a school like this in every major city across the United States.
Of course, it need not start off as some huge project if somebody does not have the means to build a full-fledge school. Though, clearly, if religious institutions having significantly fewer members are able to build multitudes of schools, atheists should be able to gather the financing for one or two to start with.
While religious schools might train their students to go out and be warriors for Jesus or Allah or whatnot, this school would not seek to create a group of atheist preachers. Its purpose would be to create a student body who can go out with an understanding of science and logic and save the world. They will be the people who can design better ways to predict hurricanes, cure diseases, improve crops, create more efficient generators of renewable energy, design a more effective drug abuse treatment program, understand the mentality of terrorists so as to better prevent people from becoming terrorists in the first place and stopping them from being effective in the second place.
In short, they would be students who will make the world a better place than it would have otherwise been.
That’s the first thing on my list.