European History, Science, and Eternal Life

So I’m taking European history this year in school and I have this teacher whom I’m rather fond of. She’s not exactly a fundamentalist Christian, but she is at least moderately Christian. Today we mentioned the scientific revolution while studying about the witch trials and she goes on a small tangent that goes something along the lines of…

So are you going to put your faith in the scientific revolution? Tell that to a dying cancer patient! Science isn’t going to get you eternal anything.

So it’s not exactly standing up and preaching, but it is sort of clear that she’s trying to convince her audience (public school students) that they need to worry about how they’re getting eternal life and science is useless because of that.

Of course, I disagree with her argument. Epistemology does not get chucked out the window as soon as you’re uncomfortable with what it says because that would be beside the point of having an epistemology (unless you’re of the truth-is-whatever-makes-me-feel-comfortable-with-death-ists). I’m more concerned with how I live the life I know that I have than with another life which can be verified about as convincingly as Invisible Pink Unicorns.

But here’s the thing… for the most part this teacher does not talk about her personal dislike of science, but this is not an isolated incident. It’s happened once or twice before. Do I…

  1. Let it drop
  2. Just speak out in class the next time
  3. Start recording and call the ACLU (I list this in jest… sort of)
  4. Do something else?

Oh, and why the bloody hell do people like to bandy about the word “faith” to people who happen to like science and reason? The most faith involved in science is that this isn’t all some giant hallucination that we’re all sharing, or that we’re hallucinating that people are sharing the same reality. It’s a small amount of faith, yes, but I think of it more as agnostic disbelief. I can’t prove that I’m hallucinating and I can’t prove that I’m not… but if this is a hallucination, it sure is an elaborate one and no harm is done in carrying on with 99.9% certainty.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by PerpetualDissent on November 4, 2009 at 4:34 am

    For what it’s worth, my AP world teacher spent yesterday lecturing us on Eckhart Tolle, and me and a few other people in my class argued with him. The same happened when he was going on about acupuncture. So if you’re not alone in your dissent, by all means argue it. But if it’s just you it’s iffy, because it makes you seem like the jerk who just likes to argue.

  2. Elles, I’m afraid you have an ethical obligation to say something. In my experience, someone like that first teacher you mentioned, will not respond well to you confronting her. She’s knee-deep in her delusion and would not be open minded enough to see the truth if you removed the top of her skull cap and shouted. You will have to write a letter–especially since you are one of the most eloquent people I’ve known, regardless of age. ( I WISH there were more like you in school–maybe the next generation would actually have a chance). You must share this information in writing with the school authorities, and make it clear that they have a certain amount of time to address it before you take it to the media.

    This type of theocratic educational system is becoming a severe problem–not because people aren’t entitled to their own beliefs, but because this type of belief has a long history of fanatical death-dealing and discrimination, and perhaps most importantly for this particular situation–it infringes on the truth, and in an educational setting, it is inexcusable. I mean, it’s not as though we haven’t already had the Scopes Monkey Trial. For one thing, it’s a situation of enforcing Separation of Church & State, (yet we still enforce the Pledge of Allegiance “one nation under god” in our schools); and for another thing, those teachers are there in a fiduciary capacity to educate the younger people in this society. If they are being told that believing in a mythical being is more important than science, something has to be done. And it looks like you might be the only one with the stones to do it.

    Your Facebook Friend,

    Kelli Jae Baeli
    Author of “Supernatural Hypocrisy: The Cognitive Dissonance of a God Cosmology”
    Coming soon to Amazon.

  3. Posted by Nicole on November 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, that would certainly make me feel uncomfortable in a class. If you do already have a good relationship with her, say something to her. Maybe she is one of those rare good teachers who just got a little carried away. If that’s not possible, then a formal complaint as Jae mentioned may be worth it.

  4. In a typical case of “do as I say, not as I do,” (because I avoid confrontation myself!) I would suggest not letting it drop. If you feel you can do so without harm to your grades, speak out in class and try to draw her into a class discussion about it. Of if you are in really good terms with her, approach her in private if that seems the best way. I do agree with Jae – now that you are consciously aware that she is inserting her faith-based beliefs into her teaching, it is not ethical to just ignore it, because it will not go away. It might help if you have any like-minded friends in the class to provide support and make it seem less like a troublesome student just trying to derail the lesson.

  5. Posted by kayla_unkempt on November 4, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Wow I’m sorry to hear this. My AP Euro teacher is the exact opposite. During one lecture on the Scientific Revolution we also got a bit off topic and he explained a lot of the evidence for evolution quite eloquently to the student sitting next to me. I could have cried I was so happy. I doubt half the science teachers I’ve had in past years could have explained it so well.

  6. Hmm… I had a similar dilemma when my AP Euro teacher was talking about 21st century Europe and its relations with the US. At one part of the lecture, he compared Europe’s military power with the US by using Iraq war, and when talking about torture, he was pretty much dismissive of waterboarding as torture, making fun of the journalists which tried the waterboarding themselves. I disagreed and wanted to speak out, but oh well.

  7. I’ve been there many times, religion, ideology, current worldview, cultural bias and others … and spoken out. I believe, in some cases, my grades suffered, but at least I remained true to myself… and maybe stirred up a few thoughts in others.

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