Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tory Cabinet ministers ordered to attend Mass to appeal to Roman Catholic voters

Tory Cabinet ministers have been ordered to attend Mass on a regular basis after being warned they can’t win the next election without increasing the number of Roman Catholic voters they attract.

George Galloway’s victory in the Bradford West by-election has convinced Conservative high command that they need to do more to reach religious minority voters. Ministers and MPs are being quietly told that they need to ‘show their faces’ regularly on Holy Days of Obligation and Christian festivals over the next three years, rather than simply turning up at election time.

The Tories are set to copy a strategy, pioneered by the Conservative Party in Canada, where ministers are expected to report which Church events they have attended each month.

David Cameron’s polling guru Andrew Cooper has identified more than 30 constituencies with large Roman Catholic populations which need to be won in order to secure a Tory majority in 2015. Mr Cooper has told ministers that polling data shows that while Roman Catholic voters most closely associated themselves with Conservative values like the importance of family and law order, they still vote Labour by a majority of 70 to 30.

A senior source said: "The research found that while they shared our values we have a real brand problem with Roman Catholic voters and that was something that needed to be addressed if we are going to stand a serious chance of winning in 2015. We have taken the view in the past that we don’t need to show our faces and it’s enough to invite the Pope over for a big jolly or to go and talk to cardinals and priests and they can deliver the votes. But if you look at the 2010 election you can clearly see that didn’t work. If you analyse the result from seats like Liverpool - which we should have won on the national swing - it shows that our failure to engage with Roman Catholic voters was crucial in our failure to win."

In 2005, only 36 per cent of the population voted Labour, but that rose to 53 per cent amongst the five million Roman Catholics who decided to vote. One poll indicated that 72 per cent would vote Conservative as a result of Labour's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. But, in the event, they did not. And so the Conservative Party is obliging its MPs to make frequent appearances at Roman Catholic celebrations and events across the country, and they are expected to report which events they have attended each month.

The new strategy has the enthusiastic backing of the Conservative joint chairman Baroness Warsi who recently visited the Pope and wants the party to adopt a more proactive approach to winning Roman Catholic voters. She said last night: ‘If we want to win a majority at a General Election, we need the support of everyone who shares our values - whatever their background. But at the moment, there is often a big mismatch between the ideals and aspirations of Roman Catholic voters and the party they vote for. We need to learn from centre-right Christian Democratic parties across the EU how to attract voters who share our values but haven’t traditionally voted Conservative. And we need to go out and persuade those voters that a Conservative government is the best way of fulfilling their aspirations for themselves, their families and their communities."

O, hang on. His Grace may have got this slighlty wrong (again: it's becoming a chronic failing). 'Tokenism and ignorance', indeed. He apologises for any confusion he may have caused.

79 Comments:

Blogger graham wood said...

I thought I mistook the date - its the 10TH APRIL not the 1st.

Surely they can't be serious about this - it beggars belief.

"If we want to win a majority at a General Election, we need the support of everyone who shares our values"

I was'nt aware that the Tories had any "values" worth voting for.

I presume the 'happy families' pic of DC with Pope etc illustrates their approval of his nice new shiny "gay marriage" value?
NOT.

10 April 2012 at 10:24  
Blogger Albert said...

Happy Easter to everyone!

As I read this, I was assuming it really was referring to Catholicism - and all I could think of was that I would be put off by the insincerity of it. I guess Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs will be too.

As for Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs (as I assume), being more likely to share Conservative values than Labour ones, then I suspect Dave has blown that by being so supportive of gay marriage. The current Conservative leadership's emphasis on diversity is totally contradictory and will leave Muslims and others not wanting to change their allegiance to other parties, while driving away Dave's core base, without attracting the "liberal" fundamentalists - who rightly seem to see Dave's emphasis on gay marriage as about as sincere as cabinet ministers turning up at the Mosque.

10 April 2012 at 10:37  
Blogger Chris said...

The Archbishop lowers the tone and weakens his arguments with this type of post.

His complaint against post-modernist hyper-relativism is just and correct. He cannot then deploy the tools of such relativism when they suit his polemic. It is cheap. Sadly he is using it more and more often.

10 April 2012 at 10:40  
Blogger Nicodemus said...

A very positive development, with less opportunity for the church of God to become infatuated with the trappings of power, so it can concentrate on it's main work of preaching the gospel.

10 April 2012 at 10:46  
Blogger bluedog said...

Very comical, Your Grace.

Sadly the Conservatives under Dave's inspired leadership are heading for electoral oblivion. Dave has squandered the opportunity he was handed in 2010, and it is only a matter of time before a by-election result confirms this reality. Why? Because the Conservative Party is increasingly out of touch with British culture. Curiously the majority of the British electorate look for an empathy with British culture in their politicians. Chasing the favour of migrant minorities will simply add to the sense of alienation felt by the British.

Now if only UKIP had a bit more nous they could really connect with this forgotten demographic (the British).

And if the 1922 Committee could summon up a bit more courage they would dump Dave before annihilation. After all, a new leader will need at least two years to gain 'traction'.

10 April 2012 at 11:23  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Callous Hypocrisy.. All things unto all men!
Lady Conservative MP’s have been requested to join the Mothers Union, The WI and be party to ‘Ladies who Lunch’.
Male Conservative MP’s have been ordered to join the Masons, The Rotary Club and the RAC club along with attending all race meets to link up with the racing community!
Here is the BBC News.
The Government lost an important vote in the commons today as a result of no Conservative Members turning out for the division. A Conservative spokesman said, “Regrettably all our members were attending various organisations and race meetings and no one was available for the vote”.
Apparently the opposition would not consider pairing on this issue.

10 April 2012 at 11:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I can recommend attending the Diwali festival.

10 April 2012 at 12:05  
Blogger IanCad said...

YG,
We must excise these evil shamans, gurus, witchdoctors or whatever term fits, from the ranks of the Tory Party. They are antithetical to our representative system of government. Instead of a leadership based platform they chose to chase the voter. Policy follows principle and thus, mediocrities or less rise to the top. It is time to organize!! It will never be easier than at the present.

10 April 2012 at 12:14  
Blogger IanCad said...

Principle follows policy of course. Steaming, raging, stomping feet. Must steady myself.

10 April 2012 at 12:16  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

DanJo observed @ 10 April 2012 12:05

"I can recommend attending the Diwali festival."

The lad will do anything for a free beef madras, bombay potatoe and peshwari nan! *Chortles*

Ernst

10 April 2012 at 12:35  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Catholics in Britain have historically voted Labour mainly because so many of them are are Irish descent. The Conservative Party was a pretty cold house for Paddy, so it's no surprise he voted red.

That's starting to change a little, but it will take a lot more than turning up at Corpus Christi for Cameron to rope in Catholic votes, especially since Benedict's been quietly putting the bum's rush on post-Vatican II liberals over the last few years.

One development which has completely passed under the radar has been the papal edict allowing priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without reference to their bishops. In Vatican terms, that's a declaration of war on the liberals. The Church is beginning to strengthen again with an influx of young, conservatively minded priests who intend to be priests, not social workers. The dilettantes will be shed and the Church will renew with a much smaller number of people who actually want to be there.

None of this will be of much use to a party who wants gay marriage not in spite of being Conservative, but because it is Conservative. Since the ice will be six foot thick across the floor of hell before a gay couple is allowed to swear vows (let's not say "marry") before one of our altars, I really don't think that Call-Me-Dave is onto a winner with this one.

10 April 2012 at 12:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Absolutely right, Corrigan. And in addition to the conservative young priests, there is a massive influx of conservative young Catholics, courtesy of immigration. Looking at the people venerating the cross in my church on Good Friday, I would say two thirds seem to be of Indian origin. In addition to that, I think young Catholics just are more conservative than their ageing parents. Liberalism hasn't delivered and "progress" seems a strangely old-fashioned concept now - if not down right naive or dishonest. Poor old Dave, he's always playing catch up.

However, of course, the post isn't in fact about Catholics, but Asians. But the point still holds: Conservative policy is incoherent - you can't really chase the gay vote and the Muslim vote.

10 April 2012 at 13:43  
Blogger Roy said...

The leaders of the Conservative Party and their spin doctors obviously have a very low opinion of the common sense of voters if they think that we cannot spot a phoney when we see one. Or do they think that certain groups of voters, i.e. those who are Muslims, Hindus etc. are particularly bad at recognising insincerity?

10 April 2012 at 14:17  
Blogger Oswin said...

Your Grace, you'll have to stop doing this sort of thing outside of the seasonal allowance. Either that, or I'm going to have to start reading your blog from the bottom upwards. Life is complicated enough, thank you very much.

10 April 2012 at 14:44  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

As Hurree Singh might have said, "The cynicusm, O Bunter, is terrific".

10 April 2012 at 16:49  
Blogger Oswin said...

Ah, old 'Inky' Singh - a fine chap indeed! :o)

10 April 2012 at 17:18  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Now there’s a thing Your Grace, the Catholic vote. Traditionally sided with Labour, but that of course derived from the time Labour had genuine politicians from humble backgrounds who were, if it’s to be summed up in one word, ‘decent’. Forty years ago that was, before the university educated ‘socialists’ took over and changed the parties concern from improving the working man’s lot to implementing international socialism.

Your average mick loves tradition (qv 17th March) so has stayed with Labour although the decent working man’s values he lives by is now surely best served by Conservative values (…well, until Gay marriage arrived that is...). Thanks to that gay madness of a policy, it would be a waste of time and effort now for the Conservatives to actively court the majority of Catholics…

By the way, is there some ‘agreement’ by the 3 main parties to completely ignore the white working class ? This is the class many Catholics would associate themselves with. The only party concerned with the salt of the earth, who actually mentions them even, are the BNP. A mournful situation you might want to explore one day, Archbishop, what !

10 April 2012 at 17:30  
Blogger Anglican said...

I take it that the Conservatives (and probably the other main parties) have already written off most Christian voters.

10 April 2012 at 18:01  
Blogger David B said...

@Anglican

They are not doing too well with the atheist voters, either, I'd have thought.

Not me, for one.

David B

10 April 2012 at 18:09  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

They are not doing too well with the atheist voters, either

Interesting, because I always thought that atheists didn't wish to be thought of as constituting a distinct group - their position is a lack of belief rather than the presence of a belief, they say.

So how can a party appeal to the atheist vote? If you were an adviser to the Conservatives where would you say they are going wrong and what would you have them do differently?

10 April 2012 at 18:56  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Welcome back Albert. Next year do as the Inspector does for lent, he gives up ‘hope’ for 40 days...

10 April 2012 at 19:12  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you OIG - good to see so little has changed around here! Though the format has changed and weird things happen when you press "preview".

No, I couldn't give up hope for Lent (I'm glad to say), but I do recommend giving up blogging!

10 April 2012 at 19:36  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert, who said

'Interesting, because I always thought that atheists didn't wish to be thought of as constituting a distinct group - their position is a lack of belief rather than the presence of a belief, they say.'

There is a lot of truth to this. It is often said that organising atheists is like herding cats.

However I think it would be fair to say that most of the atheists I know on-line, who perhaps are more outspoken than many, don't like to see politicians pandering to religion, nor giving religions special privileges over other forms of human interest and/or endeavour.

'So how can a party appeal to the atheist vote?'

By not giving religions special privileges. Not using taxpayer's money to fund state schools, getting rid of the Bishops from the Lords. Not giving special privilege to religion in regard to registering as a charity. I understand that the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is refused charitable status, and that is one of my pet causes.

[quote] If you were an adviser to the Conservatives where would you say they are going wrong and what would you have them do differently?[/quote]

Particularly Conservative? It seems to me that some proportion of Conservative voters are more xenophobic than average, and there seems to be a perception among Tory voters that the government panders more to non Christian religions than it does to Christianity, bending over backwards to avoid accusations of racism.

Stamping down hard on evils like forced marriages, especially of under age girls, stamping down on FGM, and standing up for free speech when Islam, for instance, is criticised, would I think, go down very well with Tory voters.

As would not pandering to religion by allowing the sort of slaughter of animals, without the appeal to religion, would offend animal welfare law.

Actually that would all also go down well with me, as a liberal atheist.

Let's look at policing, and please look at the link below. The writer is a bit left wing politically for my taste, but spot on regarding secularism and in standing up to threats against free speech.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2012/01/17/you-can-expect-threats-if-you-discuss-sharia/

A quote from the link follows

"I ask that organisers re-arrange another meeting on the same topic and invite us back again. This time we urge them to be more prepared so that the meeting can go ahead as planned. This is an important battleground for atheist, secularist and humanists groups and must be taken seriously. We can’t – and won’t – allow the Islamists to have the final word on this.

Again, this is not about lacking cultural sensitivity or discrimination as the pathetic UCL Union thinks. It is not about racism and ‘Islamophobia’. It is not our fault for raising the issues. We are not to blame for ‘provoking’ the Islamists; they need no such provocation…

It’s about being able to criticise and speak out against that which is taboo and the barbarism of our century. Free expression is all we have at our disposal to do so."

The person who issued the threats which prevented free speech should, in my opinion, have been prosecuted. Had he been, I think it would have gone down well with most Tory voters.

David B

10 April 2012 at 20:00  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Posted on behalf of Mr Rodney Atkinson, who hath no Google account:

"A simple return to Conservative principles on sovereignty, marriage, immigration, the family and low taxes would unite all religions behind Mr Cameron. Attempts by politicians to curry favour with any minority smacks of opportunism and is counter productive."

10 April 2012 at 20:07  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

It sounds like you are an anti-theist, rather than an atheist, in that case. Having said that, there's a lot you've said that I agree with - especially with regard to freedom of speech.

I disagree strongly on faith schools though, as your position seems to imply that a non-faith position is some how neutral, which it isn't.

10 April 2012 at 20:34  
Blogger len said...

What exactly would it take to unite all religions.... indeed all peoples..in this Country at least?.

The main contention between differing religions and indeed different denominations is the divinity of The Lord Jesus Christ.

'but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1Corinthians 1:23)

Jesus Christ is also a 'stumbling block' to Atheists, Muslims and a great many more besides!

So the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ will be cited as 'the cause' of division between the religions(eventually)and be seen as 'the obstacle' to the 'multi faith' blending of all religions.Indeed those who hold out for Christian morals and Christian values are already seen as' enemies of Society' in many cases.

So those who proclaim Christ as 'the Way' and the Only Way to salvation will be seen as the enemies of the' greater good of humanity'.

So Cameron is prepared to compromise to win votes, the Catholic Church has courted many Kings and Princes past and present to win favour, power, and prestige.
Many of the American 'Super Churches' are vast money making machines so what price integrity,what price truth?.

10 April 2012 at 20:36  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert

Atheism and anti-theism do not seem to me to be mutually incompatible.

Actually I am atheist regarding all conceptions of God that involve anything supernatural or superstitious, and I am aware that some religions, or conceptions of the religions, might not fit this bill.

I am positively anti-theist regarding some conceptions of God, the literal God of the Bible (particularly the OT) and the Koran being among them.

I don't agree that not using tax-payers money to pay for religious schools is not neutral.

David

10 April 2012 at 20:45  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

Atheism and anti-theism do not seem to me to be mutually incompatible.

Indeed, not, but one does not follow from the other, and therefore to make the latter claim is to make a stronger claim. So for example, with regard to Hindu gods I am an atheists, but I am not an anti-theist, insofar as I don't object to Hindus having faith schools, for example. Thus, I need an additional reason to object to Hindu schools beyond the fact that I do not believe in Hinduism, and in offering such reasons, I show I believe more than a mere atheist.

I don't agree that not using tax-payers money to pay for religious schools is not neutral.

But the burden of proof rests on you. If you want to privilege your metaphysical beliefs in the education of the nation's children (including mine) then I think I am entitled to ask you why you think you have that privilege. I don't claim an equivalent privilege against you, even though by every measure, compared to Catholic schools, secular schools fail their children and all evidence is that religion, in general supports a happier, more generous life.

I'm going to guess that you think that your position is neutral and that schools which propagate your opinions are also neutral. It's not enough for you to just say I don't agree that not using tax-payers money to pay for religious schools is not neutral. You need to show that it is neutral, otherwise you look to be committing the formal fallacy of reasoning known as denying the antecedent.

10 April 2012 at 21:10  
Blogger David B said...

I object not to Hindu schools but to publicly funded state schools.

I am not suggesting favour for my metaphysical naturalism, just neutrality.

David B

11 April 2012 at 00:05  
Blogger The Way of Fais Dodo the Dude said...

len said ...
" ... the Catholic Church has courted many Kings and Princes past and present to win favour, power, and prestige."

Cheap shot - again! Back to your weasel ways, are we?

Do you deny the Church must influence temporal leaders in order to fulfil its spiritual responsibilities? Do you deny the Church has a role in promoting and upholding laws and behaviours consistent with the Gospel? That it should use all its influence to spread the Gospel?

You feed off the Church and organised religion and cannot see it. Without the Church you would not know about God and as a society we would probably still be pagan savages - or all good Muslims.

You bang on about unity around Christ's Divinity then pull a silly face at the largest Christian Church in the world!

And what you offer is not exactly a sound basis for a political manifesto! Sorry, but carrying a billboard outside Parliament just isn't going to hack it.

11 April 2012 at 01:35  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

David B

I am not suggesting favour for my metaphysical naturalism, just neutrality.

There is no such thing as neutrality. It is a tenet of naturalism that there are no discontinuities in the universe. Do you therefore assume in science class that there are no transcendent causes? As soon as you make that assumption, you have privileged your position. And what then of your neutrality?

carl

11 April 2012 at 05:57  
Blogger Nowhere man said...

Great idea Dave, lets be all things to all people.

Everything.....and nothing.

This latest revelation comes after we heard that Dave had instructed his ministers and MP's to attend mosques, temples etc to get the ethnic minority vote.

The Inspector summed it up well - the main parties have cast aside the white working class vote and now have to chase after, and accommodate, ethnic (and other) minorities in order to swing the vote in their favour.

Meanwhile the despised white working class is ignored by both main parties.

Bizarre.

Tommy this and Tommy that....comes to mind. They want our work and taxes, they want to send our kids to foreign wars.

But they don't think we should have a say in this so-called democracy.

Why would I vote for a man espousing gay marriage and sucking up to Islamists whilst furthering the multiculturalist agenda and selling our birthright down the river?

It would serve them right if the white working class turned, en-block, to the BNP.

Now THAT would put the cat amongst the pigeons.

11 April 2012 at 07:36  
Blogger len said...

Dodo, study YOUR Church History. The Catholic Church is drenched in the blood of the Saints.


As for 'cheap shots' I leave that to you and your cronies!.

11 April 2012 at 07:37  
Blogger Nowhere man said...

len, do shut up old boy.

You are becoming tiresome.

11 April 2012 at 07:43  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert

Whether faith schools are a good or bad idea is an interesting topic, but a bit off topic for this discussion.

I would be happy to continue with it, though, if you so request, and go further into why I think they are bad ideas.

I was asked what policies would attract atheist voters, and I suggested that stopping publicly funded faith schools would attract them.

I think I am right about this.

I see you agree with most at least of the rest of what I suggested.

@Carl

In all sorts of contexts there is neutrality in the universe. When something is neither acid or alkaline it is neutral.

Not pushing any particular faith, I suggest, is also neutral.

David B

11 April 2012 at 08:37  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Do you therefore assume in science class that there are no transcendent causes? As soon as you make that assumption, you have privileged your position."

Science classes should be teaching stuff like the philosophy of science, the physical relationships between things, the laws that seem to apply, and so on. The subject includes base assumptions which ought to be brought out in the philosophy bit. I suppose there may actually be invisible pixies in the classroom which devote their lives to making bits of wire glow when electrical current is passed through it to wow children. Perhaps the assumptions inherent in science as an academic subject also make the existence of pixies and faeryland a valid academic subject to be taught in schools at tax-payers' expense if some Gastonbury types want to set up a school. Seems a bit odd to me though.

11 April 2012 at 08:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

David B: "I was asked what policies would attract atheist voters, and I suggested that stopping publicly funded faith schools would attract them. I think I am right about this."

It would certainly attract this atheist. I was quite disturbed by T Blair's promotion of them when he was in power. Catholic and Muslim faith schools in particular are asking for future social trouble, I think.

11 April 2012 at 08:58  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

I was asked what policies would attract atheist voters, and I suggested that stopping publicly funded faith schools would attract them.

Yes, fair enough - though I think that indicates atheists are particularly unaware of what is metaphysically (and therefore claimed and therefore imposed) by denying every supernatural deity.

I object not to Hindu schools but to publicly funded state schools. I am not suggesting favour for my metaphysical naturalism, just neutrality.

Like Carl, I'm just not getting this at the conceptual level. You mean that the only thing that can be taught in schools is science?

In all sorts of contexts there is neutrality in the universe.

Certainly, the universe is neutral in some respects, but our interpretation of it is never neutral. After all, our interpretation always reflects the questions we ask (and therefore don't ask) and the assumptions that we make, that is, the wider framework into which we place our data. So we would not be able to teach science under your dogma of neutrality. Nor would we be able to teach ethics. And what about the commandment "Thou shalt not teach anything that isn't neutral." Is that neutral? Can it be so established on neutral grounds? Or is it really just a commandment to privilege one group of people while disadvantaging others?

11 April 2012 at 09:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Whoops! That first paragraph should read "metaphysically entailed (and therefore claimed...

Am I the only person who find the new blog format particularly difficult to preview?

11 April 2012 at 09:35  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

As cynical, and as stupid and self-defeating, as Pink Ken's crawling up the backside of extremist islamicists like Y. al-Quardawri.

It'll turn more peole OFF, than vote for them.
Even at this late date, the RC church is NOT loved in this country, and with good reason

11 April 2012 at 09:37  
Blogger David B said...

As a matter of fact I am in favour of religion, as well as critical thinking, being taught in schools.

My objections are to teaching in an ethos where one religion or sect is favoured above others, and particularly to espousing anti-science ideas, such as the biblical/koranic/whatever creation accounts contradict science.

I think that a bad idea on many counts - the recent history of Northern Ireland being one of them.

Also that many parents, wanting the best for the children, are faced with telling untruths about their religion to get the kids into a good school, and with attending services, subscribing to collections etc which they do, reluctantly.

It is an insidious position to be placed in.

David B

11 April 2012 at 09:43  
Blogger David B said...

Albert, at your

"Yes, fair enough - though I think that indicates atheists are particularly unaware of what is metaphysically (and therefore claimed and therefore imposed) by denying every supernatural deity."

We could talk about that for hours, but the point is that I am not suggesting that schools should take the stance of denying every supernatural deity.

I am quite, comfortable with schools teaching 'this is what some people believe, this is what other people believe' and things like that, and not taking a stance on metaphysics.

I am not comfortable with schools teaching things that deny what can by any reasonable standards we can be said to know about the science.

We live on an old earth in an older universe, life has evolved, things like that.

I wouldn't wish any school to take a stance on whether what is known about the world came about by some sort of divine fiat or not.

I think not, but I don't think schools should teach that atheism is true, any more than I would wish them to teach that the views of some religion or sect of a religion is true.

Which I interpret - and this is certainly open to discussion - as neutrality.

David B

11 April 2012 at 10:04  
Blogger bluedog said...

DanJo @ 08.58 said, 'Catholic and Muslim faith schools in particular are asking for future social trouble, I think.'

Is this an implicit conflation of Islam and Catholicsm? If so, possibly a first.

Ultimately it is the school curriculum that counts. If that is properly constructed so that British civic values are somehow included and inculcated there should be some mitigation of the social problems that concern you. In the case of Catholic schools it is hard to understand your objection. Their pupils will be British and Christian at every stage.

It does get interesting when an Islamic school is named after a foreign potentate such as a Saudi king, or some other member of the ruling gerontocracy. There is then a distinctly alien culture being propagated irrespective of the school curriculum.

And yes, Mr albert, the preview system has become impossible to use.

11 April 2012 at 10:07  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

As a matter of fact I am in favour of religion, as well as critical thinking, being taught in schools.

If there's a tacit assumption there that critical thinking does not feature in religion, it's simply false. Have you ever read any Aquinas?

My objections are to teaching in an ethos where one religion or sect is favoured above others, and particularly to espousing anti-science ideas, such as the biblical/koranic/whatever creation accounts contradict science.

Clearly the latter point would not apply against Catholic and Anglican schools (by far the majority). As to the former point, if you remove religious ethos you don't then get neutrality, you get another (non-religious) ethos.

a bad idea on many counts - the recent history of Northern Ireland being one of them

There are faith schools throughout the UK and they overwhelmingly exist in places without sectarianism. Even in N.Ireland faith schools have co-existed with the decline of sectarianism. Your correlation/cause move is therefore unreasonable. But I don't think you should be allowed to get away with such a blatant confirmation bias. We know that secular schools fail children when compared with faith schools, and that a secular ethos is less likely to nurture a stable home with both parents. We know that in the absence of such things children are more likely to go off the rails. We know that this is part of the matrix of problems in the riots last summer.

Also that many parents, wanting the best for the children, are faced with telling untruths about their religion to get the kids into a good school, and with attending services, subscribing to collections etc which they do, reluctantly. It is an insidious position to be placed in.

No one places parents in such a position. True parents want the best for their children. Some of them, noticing that secular schools fail children may lie to benefit from an ethos you are opposing. It is morally wrong and deprive properly religious parents of places at faith schools (I had a devil of a job getting my children into a Catholic school!). The logical conclusion of this argument is that there should be more faith schools to ensure the benefits of them can be more widely felt, and the harmful effects of the deficiencies of a secular ethos are mitigated.

I am quite, comfortable with schools teaching 'this is what some people believe, this is what other people believe' and things like that, and not taking a stance on metaphysics.

What about ethics? Say gay bashing? You want to be neutral: 'this is what some people believe, this is what other people believe'? But in making judgments about what can and cannot be morally taught or approved in schools you introduce a whole range of assumptions (some of which are metaphysical) and disclose that you do not, after all, think neutrality is a good idea.

More widely, the simple fact is that we each use a context in which to evaluate the positions we take. In faith schools this context is clear, in secular schools it is unclear. The indoctrination is therefore more subtle.

I am not comfortable with schools teaching things that deny what can by any reasonable standards we can be said to know about the science.

I wouldn't want my children to be taught such things either, but that position is riddled with metaphysical and epistemological assumptions. Obviously, this position is not neutral. You are simply demanding an alleged neutrality, except on the things you think of as reasonable. It's at that point that I wonder why, in the name of neutrality you think it is right to take my taxes and then use them to indoctrinate my children in a set of assumptions I think are unreasonable, superstitious and have been widely shown to lead to a less generous less full life.

11 April 2012 at 10:43  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

bluedog: "Is this an implicit conflation of Islam and Catholicsm? If so, possibly a first."

In as much as they are both very sectarian and inwards-looking, yes.

"Ultimately it is the school curriculum that counts. If that is properly constructed so that British civic values are somehow included and inculcated there should be some mitigation of the social problems that concern you."

It's not so much the civic values (do those include liberalism?) as the implicit religious, and ethnic in some case, separation of children that bothers me there. I was brought up on Merseyside in a very middle-class, almost completely white area and there was a distinct separation of Catholic from other children. In my area, Catholics were Other. They were shipped off towards Liverpool by bus every day to attend special schools run by religious people to promote their religion throughout the day alongside the academic subjects.

"It does get interesting when an Islamic school is named after a foreign potentate such as a Saudi king, or some other member of the ruling gerontocracy. There is then a distinctly alien culture being propagated irrespective of the school curriculum."

Does that actually matter if generic faith schools are state i.e. taxpayer funded? If they meet the National Curriculum then so what? Who are the rest of us to intrude, through the State, on what the parents of those children choose? Isn't this the underlying argument here?

11 April 2012 at 11:08  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Danjo, with a bitch of pure Scouse descent, Catholic from Fazackerley, this hound understands your point and consequently doesn't do sectarianism. In the finest Liverpool tradition, her father is a Communist, which neatly highlights the limits of Catholic indoctrination.

But that apart, if a generic faith school is State funded, it is hard to see a problem. Without question a fundor expects to be able to influence the fundee. Hence the State can command a great deal of influence, should it wish to do so, in any State funded faith school.

In the view of this communicant problems arise when a foreign power runs privately funded faith schools, as the Saudis are wont to do. The last time I wiki-ed this aspect of Saudi foreign policy they had spent USD 40 billion on schools globally. A staggering potential for influence which they are not inhibited to use:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/6485065/its-the-saudis-stupid.thtml

11 April 2012 at 12:21  
Blogger Albert said...

It seems then, Dan, that your objections to Catholicism are (a) that it builds community (not something one could ever accuse secularism of doing) and (b) that it is (even on Merseyside) a minority. Presumably, you think it would be wrong to have non-faith schools in primarily religious country.

Your points about ethnicity are well taken, but that is hardly an element of Catholicism, which is ethnically very diverse and inclusive - in marked contrast to secular "liberalism".

Beyond that, the comparison with Islam is just silly. You don't have to look hard at European culture to see how well Catholicism has integrated. Of course, there have been pockets and times when it has not be so integrated, but that has been because of the intolerance of others. An outstanding example of the latter would be the unprecedented mass butchery of Catholics after the French Revolution by secularists who regarded themselves as men of reason and free-thinkers. It is hard, I am sure you will agree to outward-looking when the secularist are busy butchering your community.

11 April 2012 at 12:38  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

I suppose there may actually be invisible pixies in the classroom which devote their lives to making bits of wire glow when electrical current is passed through it to wow children.

Theatrical, but hardly relevant. The Universe is comprehensible in terms of natural law. It does not therefore follow that everything in the Universe may be explained by natural law. That is a metaphysical assumption of naturalism. Can you explain how a collection of random inert matter organized itself into a self-aware being? No. Can you explain life in any terms other than as a very sophisticated chemical raction? No. Do you have even the first clue what 'life' is? No. You can see only the manifestations of life in the actions of living organisms. And yet you 'know' that life resulted from the silent execution of natural processes without transcendent interference. Yes, you do 'know' this - but not because of science. You 'know' this because your naturalistic dogma tells you so.

carl

11 April 2012 at 13:36  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

bluedog: "Mr Danjo, with a bitch of pure Scouse descent, Catholic from Fazackerley, this hound understands your point and consequently doesn't do sectarianism."

It's certainly a curious and unique culture in that area. My upbringing during my teenage years was actually stranger because my mother remarried and I acquired a Catholic stepfather and some Catholic step-siblings.

The indoctrination is necessarily imperfect. My stepfather and mother used contraception. His former Catholic wife was killed in a RTA while out on an adulterous rendezvous, and my step-siblings have turned out to be more immoral and generally unpleasant than most.

"In the view of this communicant problems arise when a foreign power runs privately funded faith schools, as the Saudis are wont to do. The last time I wiki-ed this aspect of Saudi foreign policy they had spent USD 40 billion on schools globally."

What's the problem? You don't like the particular values and religious views they pass on? They're religious and cultural values and presumably the parents of the children think they have the freedom to choose what they think is a suitable education.

Who's to argue with the people who set up those faith schools when their god owns creation and their values are their god's divine will? Afterall, it says so in a book with the very words of their god. Once one has one's metaphysics set out then that's that.

11 April 2012 at 13:37  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Theatrical, but hardly relevant."

As relevant as your objection, I think. The politics here is what role the State, acting as our collective agent, ought to be taking with respect to competing belief systems. The parameters of State-funded education follow from that. That natural science classes have an implicit assumption that all other things being equal stuff by observation behaves consistently, is not the same order of thing to whether the universe is maintained moment by moment, with bends in the rules as appropriate, by a god with a Christian flavour who is inviting people to either worship it eternally in another unknown dimension, or who will burn and be tortured eternally in another unknown dimension for not recognising the true nature of the situation.

The implication of what is taught in natural science is that people go on to be electricians, or research scientists, or perhaps just understand the reason why bath water goes cold after a while. This is the main, practical, real world purpose of State-funded education in the UK: to create members of society who work productively and can live alongside their neighbours in a community of sorts. Various and competing religious beliefs can be inculcated outside of school if required by the parents.

11 April 2012 at 13:59  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Once one has one's metaphysics set out then that's that.

You write very persuasively on this, but it's your blindness to the fact - which is so obvious to anyone who doesn't accept your atheistic world-view - that this applies just as much to you. This is why, when we look at those over the last 100 years who have undermined freedom, they are overwhelming secular or non-religious. It's as if the part of the brain that enables the rest of us to go some way to critiquing our own positions by the standards we apply to others, is missing from the secular mindset.

I'm sorry by the way to hear about your family - but this intrigued me:

The indoctrination is necessarily imperfect. My stepfather and mother used contraception. His former Catholic wife was killed in a RTA while out on an adulterous rendezvous, and my step-siblings have turned out to be more immoral and generally unpleasant than most.

Leave aside the tacit expectation that a Catholic education ought to have resulted in more pleasant siblings. Notice what you've done: you've begun with a dogma: Catholic schools indoctrinate. Then you've noticed a good deal of evidence that contradicts the dogma. Rather than allow that evidence to undermine (and perhaps falsify) the dogma, leading to the reasonable conclusion (under the circumstances) that Catholic schools do not in fact indoctrinate, you have maintained the dogma by adding "the indoctrination does not always work." Again, you seem determined to inoculate yourself against evidence which might challenge your own position.

This is the main, practical, real world purpose of State-funded education in the UK: to create members of society who work productively and can live alongside their neighbours in a community of sorts.

So say you. Though how well secular schools manage in that is of course open to question.

11 April 2012 at 14:11  
Blogger Albert said...

But what you mean of course, Dan, in your last comment, is that you wish the state to inculcate people with your own particular philosophy: Millsian utilitarianism. And it's exactly at that point that I am entitled to ask why you should take my taxes to pay for the inculcation of my children, in your philosophy - one which I regard as being in a similar moral category to Sharia Law.

11 April 2012 at 14:16  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Science can only investigate the material, and the critical assumption in play is "Everything is material." You cannot begin to explain life in purely material terms. You simply have faith that it must be explainable in material terms because there is nothing immaterial. There is no science behind that assertion. It is a manifestation of a competing belief system that you say you don't want to privilege.

carl

11 April 2012 at 18:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "You simply have faith that it must be explainable in material terms because there is nothing immaterial."

It's actually a working assumption and a much better one, I'd suggest, than that invisible pixies are responsible for some of the phenomena we think of as natural. Phenomena is nominally predictable, you see. Of course, pixies may actually be responsible nonetheless. Who really knows? Not you, I dare say.

Perhaps I need to roll out the various definitions of atheism and state my particular position yet again as it seems like I'm being moved into that area much favoured by religionists where atheists such as myself are certain that no gods or other realities exist.

"It is a manifestation of a competing belief system that you say you don't want to privilege."

I'm not advocating the teaching of children in State-funded schools that a god definitely doesn't exist, or that scientism is the only game in town, or materialism is the only possible explanation for our reality. I don't actually mind if the underlying metaphysics is highlighted once in a while in geography, or home economics, or metalwork.

Perhaps it is different in the USA and perhaps things have changed in the UK since I went to school but what I want is for (say) physics to be taught such that children know V = IR and Power = VI whether or not that is only true because Allah has decided to continue maintaining that relationship. It helps, you see, that kids can work out that putting a 5A fuse into a UK plug on a 3kW heater is not a great idea.

11 April 2012 at 20:05  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

It's actually a working assumption and a much better one, I'd suggest, than that invisible pixies are responsible for some of the phenomena we think of as natural. Phenomena is nominally predictable, you see. Of course, pixies may actually be responsible nonetheless. Who really knows? Not you, I dare say.

Materialism is less plausible than pixies for explaining the predictable regularities of nature. For on materialism, there is no explanation at all for the regularities of nature - at least, that's what Hume seems to have thought. Thus, prima facie, on materialism there shouldn't be the kind of predictability that we experience. Pixies of course can go some of the way to explaining the phenomena, but you are right, they are probably too capricious. So how about a reasonable mind - In the beginning was the Word. It seems quite widely accepted now that the reason the West advanced so much better in science than other cultures was because Christians, believing God to be reasonable, had good reason to expect the world he created to work in reasonable way. This stands in contrast to (say) Islam, in which God's freedom is held to trump expectations of reasonable or predictable behaviour, polytheism which sees competing deities governing things, or atheism that predicts no orderer and thus no order.

It helps, you see, that kids can work out that putting a 5A fuse into a UK plug on a 3kW heater is not a great idea.

Yes, and I guess that happens in faith schools as much as secular schools. But you'll still want schools to teach ethics, you'll want them to wax lyrical on the virtues of "equal marriage" for example. Isn't this the real problem you have with faith schools: they teach things you disagree with. Thus the freedom they have to so teach needs to be removed to make way for your own ideology.

Now I'm quite happy for your children to be educated in your ideology. I'm sorry for them because all the evidence is that they will not do as well, but who am I to impose my values on you as a parent? All we are asking for is equal treatment.

11 April 2012 at 21:21  
Blogger Alpha Draconis said...

Your Grace,

Will the Tory party seek the "ET" vote at the next election? The extra-terrestrial community is quite large in the UK, even in this century...

11 April 2012 at 22:08  
Blogger The Way of Fais Dodo the Dude said...

Alpha

All in hand; all in hand. Moves in mysterious ways, and all that.

12 April 2012 at 00:55  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

what I want is for (say) physics to be taught such that children know V = IR and Power = VI

That's good. So do I. That isn't the question. The fact that you can make math models to explain phenomena doesn't mean that you can explain all phenomena with math models. Science is embedded with metaphysical assumptions. You want those assumptions to be materialist because they 'work.' Well, sure, except for all the places they don't. That's the problem. You simply define all the places they don't work as 'problems that don't have answers yet.' Faith statements are transmogrified into neutral propositions. It allows you to embed your worldview in education while still claiming neutrality.

carl

12 April 2012 at 02:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "You simply define all the places they don't work as 'problems that don't have answers yet.'"

I'm a Galileo to your Pope Gregory there.

"It allows you to embed your worldview in education while still claiming neutrality."

Except I'm not really claiming complete neutrality, I'm setting out a particular role for the State. The liberal State is not neutral in the political sphere, it's an arbiter on behalf of us all and seeks to maintain a particular environment.

We have a number of competing religious worldviews with their own vast, unchallengeable assumptions, and we have the natural sciences as academic subjects in a wide range of others with all their working assumptions and the null hypothesis.

The role of the liberal State is to manage the social environment so that Society can carry on, and education is a fundamental social institution. What I'm advocating is a liberal environment in schools where competing religious worldviews, and the assumptions in various academic subjects, can readily coexist.

You know, Dawkins thinks theology is a non-subject but I don't agree even though I can see what he's getting at. I'm happy for theology to be taught in schools. All that's needed is for the assumptions to be laid out in the subject i.e. it may be a load of old bollocks but if one assumes these premises to be true then etc.

12 April 2012 at 07:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

It may be more instructive to look at this in practical terms. In the UK, especially in the inner cities, we have high concentrations of particular ethnic groups.

One of these groups has established itself in particular in some cities in the North of England and follows a very socially-conservative version of Islam.

In this group, women tend to have fairly tightly defined gender roles. Family structure is usually very patriarchal and the glue that binds this together is religious. The result is that men and women have different life chances.

Of course, god may well exist and his name may well be Allah. All creation may well exist because Allah causes it to be so. Sharia Law may well be the moral and social structure we all ought to be living by as a result. Who are we to say not?

However, we share public space and contribute tax and the State acts on our collective behalf. So, the State can act in a number of ways, one of which is to outsource, or not, the local provision of the social institution of education to the group.

Now, as a liberal, I live with the fact that the group is socialising its members in its own time according to the socially-conservative version of Islam and living as a separate society within a Society.

However, we have a clash of values here. Our liberal Society is founded on the notion of freedom. That is, we're all nominally free to act except where we are bound by the law. Yet socialisation tends to internally restrict that nominal freedom.

So, we have some early-teenage girls growing up in this environment. Most of what these girls see is Islam-oriented. Most of their interactions are Muslim. Their school may well be part of this Muslim-oriented world. Therefore, their life chances are pretty much determined for them as a result.

What ought we as a Society, acting through the State, do here? Anything?

12 April 2012 at 07:48  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

I'm a Galileo to your Pope Gregory there.

Not really. Carl is making a philosophical point, Pope Gregory was making an error of fact, albeit one which was reasonable given the evidence at the time.

Except I'm not really claiming complete neutrality, I'm setting out a particular role for the State.

Exactly. You are setting out your non-neutral account of what the state should do. I don't think anyone is getting at atheists for not being neutral - it's the pretence at being neutral as a mechanism to determine that other people's taxes should be spent to propagate your point view in the education of their children. All I asked was what would encourage atheists to vote Conservative? Answer: restricting other people's freedom.

We have a number of competing religious worldviews with their own vast, unchallengeable assumptions

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "competing metaphysical world-views"? But you don't do that, because it would put your position into the market-place whereas you wish to privilege yourself as the arbiter.

and we have the natural sciences as academic subjects in a wide range of others with all their working assumptions and the null hypothesis.

So you don't want ethics taught in schools? there should be no ethical framework? Nothing about gay rights or the evils of the holocaust? Everything must be taught scientifically - Auschwitz was measurably more efficient in the Final Solution than say Dachau? That's it, is it? If it is,then it isn't really an education at all, but if you wish to have some kind of ethical foundation then you are doing more than science and the other subjects. And it's at that point that you lose your right to determine the philosophy which should be the context in educating my children with my taxes.

All that's needed is for the assumptions to be laid out in the subject i.e. it may be a load of old bollocks but if one assumes these premises to be true then etc

Well then, there's no problem. That happens in Catholic and Anglican schools. Catholicism provides a context for things to happen, an ethos. It does not therefore prevent these things being challenged and discussed - have you ever worked in a school? But even if you concede that this point is true, you will still press on with wishing to deprive parents of the opportunity to educate their children in their own religious/philosophical ethos, for which they have paid, and impose on them your own position.

The truth is you just don't like religious schools because you do not like religion. All the argument here is just a public relations exercise.

12 April 2012 at 07:53  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

What ought we as a Society, acting through the State, do here? Anything?

I think it is appropriate to demand that the school present other views of the world. It would be an extraordinary error of logic to say however, Because some Muslims schools inculcate a particular view of Islam which is at odds with Western liberalism, we must close down those schools, and since we must be equal about it, we must close down all Muslim schools. And since we must be still more equal about it, we must close down all the other faith schools - even those that are actually rather better than the secular schools at inculcating liberal values.

12 April 2012 at 07:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12 April 2012 at 09:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Faith statements are transmogrified into neutral propositions. It allows you to embed your worldview in education while still claiming neutrality."

It's not embedding my metaphysical worldview in education at all. It's putting the education system into the liberal framework we maintain for the rest of Society. It's the position of not actually taking a position in the school as a whole as far as religious certainty is concerned. Afterall, the education system is a fundamental social institution for Society itself, which is a diverse, multi-cultural, and multi-religious entity.

Look, I know it's religiously fashionable to pretend that advocates of a secular State are blind to the values inherent and bound up in that structure. It's been claimed enough times too that atheists somehow don't realise that a metaphysical superstructure is required to hold an atheistic position. It's like a fairground shooting gallery where I can try to shoot the tin soldiers down as many times as I like and they still pop up again afterwards. It's the nature of the game, I know. It'd actually be quite nice to move on from that though.

What you're trying to do here is take a subject like one of the natural sciences, point out that there are assumptions associated the subject which tend towards a particular metaphysical view, and use that fact to show that scientism, materialism, etc is therefore a natural part of the setup of schools. You associate scientism with atheism, which is often associated with State secularism, and use the result to show that schools are not metaphysically-neutral places.

From there you're leaping, and I think leap is the correct verb here, to a position where the lack of neutrality in the subject, and perhaps the overall selection of subjects, undermines the claim that the State ought to take a neutral position with respect to various religions and ought not to allow religious governance of the whole school environment, including all the anciliary functions of a school such as after-school clubs, pastoral care, career-guidance, and so on, for particular schools. That's a bit dubious, isn't it?

12 April 2012 at 09:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

It's putting the education system into the liberal framework we maintain for the rest of Society. It's the position of not actually taking a position in the school as a whole as far as religious certainty is concerned.

You think that a school should be a microcosm of the rest of society?

It's like a fairground shooting gallery where I can try to shoot the tin soldiers down as many times as I like

You haven't shot down the soldiers once. As far as I can see, you haven't understood the point at all, as if evinced by this comment:

What you're trying to do here is take a subject like one of the natural sciences, point out that there are assumptions associated the subject which tend towards a particular metaphysical view

Isn't he actually doing the opposite: he is saying that the assumptions do not necessarily support a particular metaphysical world-view - at least, not a materialistic one. And thus, a non-religious ethos is not necessarily neutral. This is what he says:

The Universe is comprehensible in terms of natural law. It does not therefore follow that everything in the Universe may be explained by natural law.

Your misunderstanding seems evident in this comment too:

undermines the claim that the State ought to take a neutral position with respect to various religions

The issue is not whether the state "ought to take a neutral position with respect to various religions" it is whether such neutrality is actually possible. If it isn't, this idea of neutrality is just a bogus attempt to privilege some people over others - even in the education of their own children.

including all the anciliary functions of a school such as after-school clubs, pastoral care, career-guidance, and so on, for particular schools.

I am fascinated that you think that these things are all ancillary. But it's interesting to note what is missing from your list: morality. You must avoid that, because as soon as it comes up any suggestion of neutrality will be lost and so will the argument.

12 April 2012 at 10:16  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

It's not embedding my metaphysical worldview in education at all.

To presume (as you do) that the existence of life may be explained in purely immanent terms is:

1. Not science because there is zero scientific evidence that this is true.

2. Not metaphysically neutral because it constitutes an explicit denial of transcendent cause.

This denial is put into the mouth of the supposedly neutral observer of science. The atheist may be a partisan observer, but science simply follows it method to the end conclusion. But if you seed the discipline with materialist presuppositions, you are bound to follow your process to materialist answers. This allows the materialist to advocate for his worldview without explicitly admitting that he is advocating for a worldview.

carl

12 April 2012 at 12:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

I'm a Galileo to your Pope Gregory there.

You are aware that Galileo advocated for a heliocentric solar system on the basis of philosophy, aren't you? He proposed his model (which did not perfectly predict planetary location owing to his assumption of circular orbits) because it was a simpler model than that proposed by Ptolemy. To him a simpler solution was a more elegant solution, and therefore more likely to represent the underlying reality.

In any case, the relative position of planets in inertial space is a problem solvable by observation. The reason for the existence of the matter that makes up the planet is not. It is the hubris of the Priesthood of Modern Science to presume the ability to answer both.

carl

12 April 2012 at 12:29  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "But if you seed the discipline with materialist presuppositions, you are bound to follow your process to materialist answers."

What sort of seeding are you talking about? Do you have some examples?

Obviously the theory of evolution by natural selection contains the assumption that a god didn't just put fossils in the ground a few thousand years ago to test the faith of its believers. It's a theory though, as its title says.

I suppose, like History as an academic subject, it also assumes the past actually existed, that there's an 'arrow of time', and that we exist in some sort of continuum. It might be a bit tricky to get some kids to go to school if we didn't assume those.

In as much as these assumptions underpin aspects of our education system, there is no possible neutrality in setting the whole lot up. Is that the extent of it?

Does that mean that handing whole schools over to religious organisations to run according to their own religious metaphysical construction, but subject to the National Curriculum, is fine in our diverse, multi-cultural, multi-religious society?

"This allows the materialist to advocate for his worldview without explicitly admitting that he is advocating for a worldview."

We're still talking about faith schools vs State-run schools here, right?

12 April 2012 at 12:59  
Blogger Albert said...

What sort of seeding are you talking about? Do you have some examples?

Carl has given at least one example.

Obviously the theory of evolution by natural selection contains the assumption that a god didn't just put fossils in the ground a few thousand years ago to test the faith of its believers.

You are confusing methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. Of course, it is reasonable to infer that natural effects have natural causes - it's almost tautological. But that is not the same as saying "all effects have natural causes" - that is an assumption.

Does that mean that handing whole schools over to religious organisations to run according to their own religious metaphysical construction

You just can't avoid privileging and assuming the neutrality of naturalism can you. The point is, all metaphysical systems are up for grabs - not just religious ones, and that is why you are unjust to impose yours on our children.

We're still talking about faith schools vs State-run schools here, right?

No it's about faith schools vs secular schools. But most importantly, you are evading the question of moral ethos.

12 April 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

*sigh*

It's a feckin pity Lent isn't 365 days long.

12 April 2012 at 13:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Sorry Dan, I'd quite forgotten that you'd tried to ban me from replying to your attacks on my position. Still closing down faith schools will be more successful at ensuring your position becomes unchallengeable, and that's the reason why you want them closed down.

12 April 2012 at 13:52  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

What sort of seeding are you talking about? Do you have some examples?

One of the principle assumptions would be the assertion of continuity. Assume I place a scientist in a room with a clock. The clock has a (very large) counter that increments once per second (so roll-overs are excluded for simplicity). I ask him to determine how long the clock has been operating. Can he give an accurate answer? No, he cannot. He cannot determine:

1. The initial state of the clock.

2. Whether someone tripped over the power cord and reset the clock before you came in the room.

He could give an answer of undetermined accuracy simply by reporting the value of the counter. But this apparent time interval is not necessarily the true time interval. To give an answer, he would have to resort to assertions of continuity. So our hypothetical scientist might say:

"The clock must start at zero because that is the only possible staring point, and there is no one to pull out the power cord. Therefore I can say with precise accuracy how long the clock has been operating."

A more realistic example. Stars are visible from the Earth. Therefore the age of the Universe is bounded by the amount of time it takes a photon to travel from the star to the Earth. Seems reasonable, correct? This is also an assertion of continuity. It assumes that a photon must be emitted by the star and traverse the distance before it can be observed. In other words, it assumes an initial condition. All the photons begin at the star. Why does it assume this initial condition? Because it assumes there is no actor capable of setting any other initial condition. Natural processes must set the initial condition and there is no natural process that can instantly transport a photon from point A to point B. To allow for such an event would be to allow for discontinuities and those have already been excluded a priori.

Systems show apparent age. The assumption is that apparent age always equals true age. But it is just that - an assumption.

carl

12 April 2012 at 14:00  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

btw ...

Good to have you back, Albert. :)

carl

12 April 2012 at 14:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Natural processes must set the initial condition and there is no natural process that can instantly transport a photon from point A to point B."

There might be. We just haven't found it yet. ;)

12 April 2012 at 14:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Good to be back Carl.

There might be. We just haven't found it yet. ;)

And if so, it would show that scientific assumptions are very problematic!

12 April 2012 at 14:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "To allow for such an event would be to allow for discontinuities and those have already been excluded a priori."

So, let's jump forward a bit. If outsourcing the running of some schools in the UK to various religious organisations to put their religious stamp on them is okay in the UK then what about also opening up the National Curriculum itself? Those organisations could include those exclusions you identify and introduce some more, erm, blue sky thinking too. This guy already has a head start in tackling some of these issues. A Muslim friend of my swears by him and buys his books for her children. He's apparently very popular in Muslim circles here. What do you think?

12 April 2012 at 14:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 April 2012 at 14:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

If outsourcing the running of some schools in the UK to various religious organisations

Historically it wasn't outsourcing - they were doing it already. Thus you would be abolishing an established freedom.

what about also opening up the National Curriculum itself?

I think it is entirely reasonable for the state to require some things be taught, it is the moral and significance of such things that is at stake here.

12 April 2012 at 14:38  
Blogger Oswin said...

DanJo @ 14:20 : er, not a lot.

13 April 2012 at 19:18  

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