I’ve come to the conclusion that education is not going to do it.
By “it”, I mean the wholesale revamping of American thinking on the subject of religion. The national worldview is distorted, delusional and just plain sick on the god question. With pedophile priests and other so-called religious leaders running rampant through the underpants of our children; with the Pope doing his level best to continue stonewalling investigations until statutes of limitation have run, while at the same time sending his minions out to rationalize church hypocrisy; with our elected leaders of all stripes tripping over each other to convince their constituents that they are the holiest of holies, while steering our country into an economic mess through religiously tainted wars and greedy financial oversight; when the most pressing problems of our nation are deemed to be what goes on in the uteri of our women and the bedrooms of everyone else; when our schools are being inundated with the pressures of teaching our children that the world came into existence 6000 years ago, while certain aspects of history are deemed so liberal and un-Christian as to be banned from schoolbooks; while all of this predominates our thinking, I fear that education will be like a tear in a salted sea – totally ineffective – until this generation has passed on.
Our future hope is in our children. It’s nice to hear critical thinking coming from the mouths of our youth. When I was young, I was relatively apathetic on religious issues, but that seems to be changing. PZ Myers recently published a letter from a 14 year old student in Florida, where she said:
Creating gay rights and abolishing religious discrimination does no harm to anyone. It is only beneficial. By giving gays the rights they need, they can finally be a true part of society. And everyone’s rights are protected by the Constitution, so gays can finally be included in the category of “everyone.”
And this column from a teenager in California is the kind of thinking that will have to prevail, become dominant in our country, before we can truly become a country of rationalists. Reason was the language of our Founding Fathers, but most of this generation seems to believe that it was scripture that was primarily spoken by Jefferson, Madison and Franklin.
The American Religious Identification Survey in 2008 indicated that of those with no religious affiliation (the “Nones”) are on the rise:
Whereas Nones are presently 15% of the total adult U.S. population, 22% of Americans aged 18-29 years self-identify as Nones.
This means that as the population dies off, and the younger people age, the percentage of Nones will increase. Since the study indicates that None does not mean atheist, but more properly “skeptic”, hopefully (and this post IS about hope) that will translate into the exercise of critical thinking and reason in national affairs, with less emphasis on god and religion, as the next generation takes over.
Unfortunately, you and I will have to die first.
[EDIT] After I posted this, I stumbled on this. Literally, the next web page I read. Honest!