Arguing with religion teachers
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25-05-2012, 12:09 PM (This post was last modified: 25-05-2012 12:13 PM by Vosur.)
Arguing with religion teachers
Why hello there!

As I've mentioned in my introduction thread, I'm an agnostic Atheist who is currently taking his A-levels. As it turns out, I've made a big mistake by enrolling in a religion course. While it was, without a doubt, interesting to learn about the history of the Bibel and the major religions, it is currently the subject I dislike the most. It's not the subject's fault though, it is thanks to my current religion teacher. Back in 11th grade, I was taught by an evangelical reverent whose lessons I enjoyed a lot. Instead of preaching that there is only one God, he taught us about all major religions and their history. A few months later, my teacher was swapped and I was then taught by an evangelical pastor. I enjoyed her lessons for the same reasons that I enjoyed the lessons of my previous teacher.

As I'm currently in 12th grade (13th grade in one month), my religion teacher was swapped once again at the beginning of the school year. I'm surprised that someone like her can even become a teacher. Let me tell you a few things about her.

1.) She doesn't know the contents of the scripture she believes in
A few weeks ago, we were having a discussion about the morals written down in the Bible. She taught us that the 10 commandments which Moses recieved from God in the OT act as a guideline for a good life, because they have been given to us by the Lord himself.
I asked her "What about the other ones though? Such as the one teaching us that homosexuality is repulsive and that it should be punished with execution".
She replied, claiming that "There are no such laws in the Bible". I told her to give me one of the Bibles on her desk and showed her Leviticus 20.
My teacher tried denying it even further by stating that "These were different times, these laws are outdated. The society was completely different.".
I partially agreed, saying that "Of course it was a different society, but it doesn't change anything at the validity of these laws. First of all, the 10 commandments are just as outdated, yet you claim that they are to be followed. Second of all, these laws came directly from God, just like the 10 commandments. Third of all, it's preposterous to cherry pick laws that you like and disregard the laws that you dislike. The Bible also tells you not to do this".
Even though she clearly doesn't know what's written in the Bible, she still tried to convince me, replying that "these laws didn't come from God, they were a creation of a completely different society. And of course I can pick the laws that I regard as moral and not follow the ones that are immoral.".
Once again, I grabbed a Bible and showed her Deuteronomy 13,1 and Leviticus 18,5. Her answer was unbelievable. She said "Sure, God often says stuff like that in the OT. Your discussion is derailing us from our current topic too much, it's time to get back to it."

2.) She is unable to explain why she's teaching us certain things
Last week we started a new topic, "christian ethics" to be exact. She taught us that animals have the same rights as humans do, because God created them on the same day. I couldn't believe what she just said, so I raised my arm and said "This is interesting. Now I know that you've studied theology and that modern theology claims that the story of creation, Adam and Eve, etc. are just figurative stories." She replied "Yes, that's the current situation. What's your point though?". I smiled and asked her "If this story is a figurative one, then why do christian ethics rely on the pov that it's a true story? Humans and animals have not been created on the same day, they have evolved over a long period of time, meaning that the reason for the equality between the two of them that you taught us is false." My teacher answered "Good question, I don't know either."

3.) She is unable to defend her point of view
To spare you another wall of text, we argued about a conflict like the one above once more and I asked her "Why don't you counter my arguments for once? We're having a discussion and you have yet to disprove anything I've said." She replied, claiming that "I don't want to refute your arguments.".

*sigh*

Last but not least, some of the students in my current course represent the typical theist. One day I was criticizing religion again which caused one girl to turn around and ask me "Why do you criticize religion anyway?". I responded to her, saying that "critical thinking is a good thing. You shouldn't believe everything that's written in a 2000 years old book full of mystical stories without any doubts.". The girl replied "Whatever. But what are you even doing in a religion course if you do not believe in God?". Although she does have a point, everyone is allowed to participate in any subject they like. Whether she likes it or not doesn't matter.

----
Anyway, do you guys have any tips on how to deal with teachers like her? I despise going to any of her lessons and I'm fed up with her inability to argue with a student.

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25-05-2012, 12:32 PM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
Maybe she's just your teacher. Teachers don't have to have an opinion about the stuff they teach; granted, passion would be a plus but not a requisite. It is possible she is just there to make sure you get the gist of this "religion" subject and is leaving your opinion up to you.
If she were trying to drum her interpretation of this crap into your head, she would be better called a preacher than a teacher. Shy

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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26-05-2012, 12:59 AM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
It sounds like she is being patient and honest, as well as respectful. She has, like any other subject, a curriculum to follow. Like Kim says, she is teaching not preaching. I think you are handling it well with your questions, it just sounds like you are not getting the answers you want- but what can you expect?

(PS, I love your OP layout because I'm a geek like that)
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26-05-2012, 03:11 AM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
I recall hearing many raconteurs relaying similar stories... Ricky Gervais and Penn Gillette spring to mind immediately.

You are going places, my son!

This lady is not much of a challenge for you, so use this site and others to sharpen your arguments. This format allows for measured and researched responses rather than repartee so use the face-to-face opportunity with her and your peers to hone your skills in quick response / finding pain-points / manfully taking some knocks.

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26-05-2012, 12:45 PM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
You're taking your A levels, how are your exams going? I think they're going on right now.

I wouldn't get too hot and bothered about it, you'll face a lot of people like that. It doesn't matter whether they're teachers or just people. My philosophy teacher is religious but she's pretty quiet about her views, I don't say much about religion specifically (I've only just started philosophy of religion).

Don't think all believers are like that however. So if you want, keep on reviewing arguments.

Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!
Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.


Enlightenment is liberating.
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26-05-2012, 02:05 PM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
Frankly Vosur, this teacher is probably excited she has such a sharp student, but she really can't show any kind of favoritism.

It's possible she relishes providing information to someone she sees as able to use information to form opinion, and create ideas reasonably and logically.

My brother has been a teacher for 35 years and he says he loves it when he runs across a student like that. He says he might not agree with what they think, but at least they can think.

He says most of the time, many students just get information and regurgitate it for tests. Yet they have no idea how to discuss that information, get creative with it, or resolve issues with it. He says it makes teaching a bummer. When he has students who can think, he can cover more area quickly... which is fortunately or unfortunately, his job.

Let us know how your teacher ends up evaluating you. Don't be surprised by a positive outcome. Smartass

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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26-05-2012, 05:55 PM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
(26-05-2012 12:45 PM)ALovelyChickenMan Wrote:  You're taking your A levels, how are your exams going? I think they're going on right now.

I wouldn't get too hot and bothered about it, you'll face a lot of people like that. It doesn't matter whether they're teachers or just people. My philosophy teacher is religious but she's pretty quiet about her views, I don't say much about religion specifically (I've only just started philosophy of religion).

Don't think all believers are like that however. So if you want, keep on reviewing arguments.
Indeed, next week I'll write one of my last exams (maths No ). I have a good feeling about the majority of them. I'll receive the results of my German and English exams next week and I'm very excited because these subjects are my advanced courses. The rest of my teachers are very slow at correcting, it usually takes them up to 4 weeks to finish their job. I can't blame them though, because the exams of the 13th grade students have a higher priority.

If only it was this easy. It's quite frustrating if you repeatedly get shallow responses like that.

I agree that not all believers are like her. I have already met quite a few smart followers of religion, including my father. When asked about the reasoning behind their beliefs, they usually say that it all comes down to faith. I prefer this point of view over the one of ignorant believers who claim that everything written in their book of faith is true and that there are no contradictions, etc.
Quote:Let us know how your teacher ends up evaluating you. Don't be surprised by a positive outcome. Smartass
You'd be surprised. We did have an evaluating lesson three or four weeks ago. She gave me a "rating" of 13 points (A-), saying that she likes my in-depth contributions but would like me to stop derailing the lessons from the current topic that often. Surprisingly enough, I got 14 points in our first religion exam.

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28-05-2012, 02:27 AM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
Keep on fighting my man!

Just continue on your way, you are doing it great. Nothing more to add.

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I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
-Hunter S. Thompson
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28-05-2012, 02:48 AM
RE: Arguing with religion teachers
I admire your ballsiness (<- apparently that's a word). I wish I had been that outspoken and articulate when I was doing my mandatory religion course in catholic school. I was often too shy to speak up about what I believed in.

I kind of agree with Kim. It's hard to be a teacher for such a difficult subject, and from what you described it looks like she's stumped by your questions. I don't think you should stop though. That's your job as a student and her job as a teacher is to put up with it. Who knows, you might even encourage some other students to speak up about their doubts.

Besides, it's the only way to make the class fun Tongue

And if people ask you why you're taking the course, tell them you like to learn about the biggest hoax of the century and why people believe in it. It's interesting, you don't have to fall for religion to take an interest in it.

"But the point is, find somebody to love. Everything else is overrated." - HouseofCantor
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