Pharyngula

It’s like they’re teasing me, begging me to squish their goofy little poll.

Should the Bible be taught in public schools?

Yes 70.2%
No 29.8%

Comments

  1. #1 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 30, 2010

    Oh good, another poll for us to fornicate.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    January 30, 2010

    Should putting up a silly poll garner thousands of hits on their site?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  3. #3 grovel
    January 30, 2010

    Tick

  4. #4 prostock69
    January 30, 2010

    Too bad they didn’t have a “HELL NO” for an option.

  5. #5 Barty
    January 30, 2010

    Of course it should. Read it once. It would be the greatest faith destroying activity one could have. Everyone should be forced to study it from an atheist point of view. Just Genesis alone makes me about sick.
    Ya’ll should check out the Blessed Atheist’s rant on young earth creationism at http://blessedatheist.com/. I like it.

  6. #6 Zeno
    January 30, 2010

    On, this isn’t going to last very long.

    Where is your God now, bitches?!

  7. #7 blf
    January 30, 2010

    The poll doesn’t say/ask in what context. As science, philosophy, morality, literature, foreign languages, et al., no—other than as an example of science is not, that genocide is not a good idea, that a few good bits does not make a load of dross worthwhile, how not to translate, ….

    For toilet training? Or fire-starting? Perhaps.

    As part of history, and in a few other subjects, possibly.

    In religious studies? Presumably, but only if not done selectively—show the genocides, rapes, slavery, et al., as well as the simply batshite insanity; and be sure to include other texts (as one example, the Qur?an).

  8. #8 Stardrake
    January 30, 2010

    40.2% Yes
    59.8% No.

    And we’ve only just begun! Mwahahahahahaha!!!

  9. #9 MrBold
    January 30, 2010

    It’s already pharyngulated. The “NO” is up to 61%.

  10. #10 Celtic_Evolution
    January 30, 2010

    Is there even a news story or article associated that would prompt putting up such a poll in the first place? I couldn’t find one (with an admittedly cursory look)…

    What a disturbingly random poll to put up for no particular reason.

    Wonder what other poll they might put up proposing obvious constitutional violations next, just for the lulz:

    “Should we jail people without due process if we just know they did it?”
    o – No
    o – Yes
    o – Yes, but only if they look foreign

  11. #11 Barty
    January 30, 2010

    68% no. We are huge. We are powerful. We contain multitudes!

  12. #12 skeptical scientist
    January 30, 2010

    Given the bible’s significant role in western history and literature, I certainly think that parts of it should be read in public school, and students should be taught about it.

    On the other hand, if the question read, “do you trust public school teachers in Blount County to teach the bible in a manner consistent with the first amendment,” my answer would be very different.

  13. #13 a.human.ape
    January 30, 2010

    I was wondering which Bible Belt state Blount County is in, so I looked it up. Blount County is in Tennessee. It’s interesting that only a Southern state would have this idiotic poll. It’s like asking “Should we throw out our constitution and make America a Christian theocracy?”

    http://darwin-killed-god.blogspot.com/

  14. #14 Caine
    January 30, 2010

    Voted. No was at 64%.

  15. #15 Sir Eccles
    January 30, 2010

    Technically the answer is “yes, as part of a course on comparative religion that provides equal time to all the other religious texts”.

    They want equal time for creationism v evolution then they must accept equal time for bible v koran v torah v teachings of buddah v etc etc etc.

    Teach the controversy!

  16. #16 David B
    January 30, 2010

    I voted ‘no’ acting on the assumption that they meant ‘should the Bible be taught as fact’.

    Had I thought they meant should it be taught as part of a comparative religion class, then my vote would have been different.

  17. #17 Steven Dunlap
    January 30, 2010

    Frist,

    David @16:
    Of course they mean taught as fact. If the people constructing that poll had any capacity for nuance or the intellectual considerations as you have, they would have worded it differently.

    Second,

    Yes 20.8%
    No 79.2%

    votes cast: 793

    Wow, that didn’t take long, did it?

  18. #18 Peter H
    January 30, 2010

    It’s tempting to assume the pollsters’ intent would run counter to most of us here, but actually the question is so broad that there is no way to give a succinct, meaningful response. Some of the above posts reflect that.

  19. #19 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 30, 2010

    It doesn’t take much to figure out that they mean: should a preacher come in and teach the bible as true. That should receive a no vote. If they meant as part of a comparative religion course, that might be different. And it wouldn’t have been that hard to phrase the question differently if that was the case.

  20. #20 steve
    January 30, 2010

    Nothing like pharyngulating a poll to get a weekend started. :) 84.4% with 1065 votes cast as of 1:46 PM EST.

  21. #21 toomanytribbles
    January 30, 2010

    it’s already a landslide :-)

  22. #22 tsg
    January 30, 2010

    Of course they mean taught as fact. If the people constructing that poll had any capacity for nuance or the intellectual considerations as you have, they would have worded it differently.

    And the fact that they’re specifying “in public schools” makes it pretty safe to assume that’s what they mean.

  23. #23 scribe999
    January 30, 2010

    Atheist group criticizes U.S. Postal Service for stamp honoring Mother Teresa

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/01/29/2010-01-29_atheist_group_criticizes_post_service_for_stamp_honoring_mother_teresa.html

    Another poll if anyone is interested:

    Do you think the Mother Teresa stamp violates the Postal Service’s no-religion regulation?

    Yes
    No
    I’m not sure.

  24. #24 blf
    January 30, 2010

    Do you think the Mother Teresa stamp violates the Postal Service’s no-religion regulation?

    I’m still annoyed that that fraud won a Nobel Prize.

  25. #25 a.human.ape
    January 30, 2010

    I can’t imagine a greater waste of a student’s time than “a comparative religion class”. How is that going to help anyone get a job? And how would that class be any different from a comparative astrology class? Religion is bullshit and it doesn’t deserve the respect a comparative religion class would give it.

  26. #26 jphands
    January 30, 2010

    Duly violated.

    In fact, severally, as it’s easy to delete individual cookies and vote many times.

  27. #27 BoxNDox
    January 30, 2010

    There’s a significant semantic gap between “reading the bible” as you would in, say, a comparative religion class, versus what Christians mean when they say “teach the bible”. The latter is essentially synonymous with “cram the thing down the student’s throats as literal truth”.

    All those hours spent in Sunday school taught me this, and not much else.

  28. #28 Sastra
    January 30, 2010

    Steven Dunlap #17 wrote:

    Of course they mean taught as fact. If the people constructing that poll had any capacity for nuance or the intellectual considerations as you have, they would have worded it differently.

    Yes, I worked under this assumption as well. But I do think that comparative religion ought to be included as part of the core curriculum in public schools — and the Bible can be specifically studied in English for the basic stories which are often referenced as themes in literature.

    What was the context for the poll? I looked around the newspaper, but couldn’t find a local connection to this issue.

  29. #29 bastion of sass
    January 30, 2010

    As I’ve posted before, it was my son’s studying the Bible as mythology as part of a World Literature high school class that led him to declare himself an atheist. “It’s all bullshit!” So, I can’t help but feel that in some classes, in some schools, teaching the Bible would only result in more atheists.

    OTOH, given only the “yes” or “no” choices in this poll, I’m going to vote under the assumption, as I’m sure most of the readers voting “yes” on this poll will do, that what is being voted on is teaching the Bible as God’s word. So I vote “no.”

  30. #30 Celtic_Evolution
    January 30, 2010

    Do you think the Mother Teresa stamp violates the Postal Service’s no-religion regulation?

    Yeah… I actually don’t agree with the FFRF on this one. I still oppose her being honored this way, but not for the religious reasons. I honestly think the motives for doing so by the Postal Service were based on her perceived humanitarian works and have nothing to do, necessarily, with her religion.

    I just happen to think those perceptions of her humanitarianism are woefully misguided.

  31. #31 steve
    January 30, 2010

    a.human.ape

    Comparative religion is good for showing people who’ve been raised in a particular religion all their lives that their brand of religion is not the only game in town. It’s also entertaining to see dyed-in-the-wool christians (not as hardcore as a young earth creationist, but I’ll get to that in a minute) squirm once other religions start getting covered.

    Of course, what I think your getting at (and I tend to agree) is that the people who would benefit from a comparative course (I.E. bible-thumping YECs) wouldn’t register for it in a million years. If they had to take it as part of their degree, a YEC would drop out and go to an unaccredited diploma mill to get a Ph.D in christian studies.

  32. #32 bintopo
    January 30, 2010

    Yes: 10.5%
    No: 89.5%

    votes cast: 1669

  33. #33 bastion of sass
    January 30, 2010

    a.human.ape

    I can’t imagine a greater waste of a student’s time than “a comparative religion class”. How is that going to help anyone get a job? And how would that class be any different from a comparative astrology class?

    I disagree. Not all education needs to specifically lead to “a job.” Does studying history, literature, music, philosophy lead to jobs for most students?

    IMO, education should be about becoming an educated person, and that includes learning about how others on this planet live and think.

    I loved my comparative religion classes, and still enjoy reading and learning about other people’s religious beliefs. I find it fascinating, helpful when someone is trying to convert me, and it has only made me more strongly godless.

  34. #34 Sastra
    January 30, 2010

    a.human.ape #25 wrote:

    I can’t imagine a greater waste of a student’s time than “a comparative religion class”. How is that going to help anyone get a job?

    Understanding what the different religions actually believe will help a person become culturally literate, and able to understand the beliefs and motivations of different segments of society better. It will give insight into history, politics, and literature. Less directly, being able to compare religions to each other will help with critical thinking skills — it will no longer become possible to think that everyone really believes the same thing — and there’s a certain amount of rational fallout from that realization.

    As for getting a job, I suppose it will depend on what the job is in. You’ll also be a bit more prepared to work with a Hindu or Muslim employer — or colleagues — because their beliefs won’t be a mysterious black box.

    If nothing else, know your enemy … ;)
    Ignorance is never a good idea.

  35. #35 Celtic_Evolution
    January 30, 2010

    How is that going to help anyone get a job?

    I haven’t heard that excuse used since high school calculus.

    I took 6 years of Latin (my old Latin teachers never die, they just decline.. ;^) ), and while I’ve never been required to speak it at any point in my professional career, I have a grasp of the English language that far exceeds most of my peers. (Frequent typos and spelling errors in these comments notwithstanding).

    As others have pointed out, knowledge is a good thing. Period. A well rounded education will expose students to knowledge of all kinds, but will also instill critical thinking skills that will encourage a student to process and evaluate that knowledge critically, if presented properly.

    And therein lies the problem with this poll… it’s pretty clear the method of presentation the poll refers to…

  36. #36 raven
    January 30, 2010

    GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – The Southern California megachurch founded by televangelist Robert H. Schuller Sr. is selling property, laying off workers and pulling its signature TV program “Hour of Power” from some markets to offset a nearly $8 million drop in revenue. Full Story

    OT but related. Looks like the Crystal Cathedral is having financial problems. Good news.

    I’d like to say that this is another good example of US xianity falling apart but it is probably more complex than that.

    They blame it on the recession. Partly true. They also mention that the members are mostly old people.

    This is a general problem for xians today. The money is down and the members are old. Who knows, current projections are that they will fall to less than 50% of the population in a few decades.

  37. #37 lordshipmayhem
    January 30, 2010

    Comparative Religions should be taught not only to help teach kids that there’s more than one religion out there, but by extension there’s more than one way of seeing the world. If taught properly, it also helps teach critical thinking – but science and history should also be about “critical thinking”, not just a bunch of meaningless dates and context-free facts.

  38. #38 tuckerch
    January 30, 2010

    On some other site, some yahoo was proclaiming that his degree in theology trumped someone else’s degree in a reality based subject.

    Frankly, a degree in theology is as useful and valid as a degree in phrenology.

  39. #39 FrankT
    January 30, 2010

    Yes: 7,3%
    No: 92,7%
    Votes Cast: 2538

    We can (and will) do better still.

  40. #40 OmiOne
    January 30, 2010

    :)

    Yes: 7.2%
    No: 92.8%

    votes cast: 2572

  41. #41 chgo_liz
    January 30, 2010

    I have a kid in middle school whose Humanities class is, in effect, a comparative religions class: they’ve studied Gilgamesh and the Greek and Roman pantheons so far this year. She has read for herself how the flood story bits in Gilgamesh got recycled into the Greek and Roman myths. I make sure she knows that this story is also recycled in the Bible and Koran as well. (Not sure if they’ll get to those two texts this year.) It’s a great springboard for talking about how those cultures were just as sincere in their belief in THEIR god(s) as our current religious cultures are. So, yeah, teaching the Bible in school isn’t *automatically* a bad thing….as long as it’s taught in true context.

  42. #42 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2010

    It’s interesting that only a Southern state would have this idiotic poll.

    bullshit

    I can’t imagine a greater waste of a student’s time than “a comparative religion class”. How is that going to help anyone get a job? And how would that class be any different from a comparative astrology class?

    Most ignorantly head-assed comment I’ve seen today. Perhaps there might be some small value in learning about what is rather than what ought to be? Perhaps there are broader goals for public education than simple job-training?

    I don’t dismiss out of hand comparative astrology as a field of study either. I’d think such a course (I’m thinking college-level now) could be fascinating from sociological, historical, philosphical, and psychological viewpoints. But, of course, useless for getting a marketing job upon graduation.

  43. #43 santa
    January 30, 2010

    Yes 6.7%
    No 93.3%

    Hah! Take THAT you superstitious morons.

  44. #44 Disturbingly Openminded
    January 30, 2010

    I’d love to teach the bible a thing or two. Public school, dark alley, I don’t much care. Heh, heh, heh.

    What?

    Oh. Never mind.

  45. #45 mothwentbad
    January 30, 2010

    Only if it’s written up to Robert Crumb’s Genesis standards of comprehensiveness, including the times (plural!) when Abram/Abraham offered his “sister” Sarai/Sarah to a monarch for sexual use only to have Yahweh punish him for nailing another man’s wife.

    Oddly enough, the second time, God warned the monarch in a dream so as not to incur his wrath without warning. Not so the first time!

    Of course, the Bible is the reason why we hold steadfast principles and never compromise our morality by “sleeping our way to the top” like a fallen woman or the mother of all nations or anything like that.

  46. #46 shiftysquid
    January 30, 2010

    I’ve done a good deal of writing in the past for this paper, and it’s basically a suburb of Knoxville. A quick correction: It’s called the Maryville Daily Times. Maryville is in Blount County, and the paper covers everything in the county.

    That is all. Carry on.

  47. #47 prostock69
    January 30, 2010

    The poll has officially been “fornicated”..:)

  48. #48 Dahan
    January 30, 2010

    I voted for “Fuck no you ignorant piece of shit! What part of the Constitution don’t you understand? Even if it were legal it would be a terrible idea.”

    Well, I assume that’s what was meant by “No”.

  49. #49 Blake Stacey
    January 30, 2010

    A few lessons on “comparative astrology” could be a good thing. Carl Sagan wrote Chapter 1 for us.

    There’s a whole lot we could fit under the “comparative astrology” heading. You could go all the way back to Sumerian times, when star-watching was just one way of telling fortunes, done in parallel with liver-watching. Then you could go into how lunar and solar calendars were developed, eclipse-watching in Bronze Age China, the origin of the zodiacal signs, Ptolemaic astronomy, on and on through Johannes Kepler to Vedic astrology in modern India and the sun-sign babble in newspapers today. It might not be quite right for a high-school class — maybe a semester-long elective — but it’s an interesting slice through human history. Knowledge of our past folly is a valuable possession.

  50. #50 Dahan
    January 30, 2010

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but religion is kind of a big deal in the world. It’s not a bad idea to have our youth know a little bit about it before we throw them out the door to the wolves.

  51. #51 Matt_
    January 30, 2010

    Hell yeah, right after Harry Potter and Pokemon lesson.

  52. #52 Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology
    January 30, 2010

    How about “yes, the bible should be taught in school as archaic mythology, just like Roman and Greek religions are”?

  53. #53 BoxNDox
    January 30, 2010

    The issue I have with teaching comparative religion at the high school level is that it’s quite difficult to do well, and done poorly it can do far more harm than good.

    I was fortunate enough to have attended a truly excellent, but very difficult, class. The text we used was highly reductive in nature, but it was accompanied by a wide variety of supplemental reading materials, averaging out to about one additional novel-length book per week. We were also expected to do a considerable amount of additional reading and research.

    But best of all were the dinners. The professor was, among other things, a pretty decent cook, and part of the class consisted of preparing meals in as close to a form that believers in a given religion would eat. You can gain a lot of understanding of a group of people by looking at what, and how, they eat.

    But this was at Groton School, which is about as far removed from a public high school as you can get. (Groton is in some ways an odd place for a religious school – the school motto is Cui Servire Est Regnare.)

    In any case, given the realities of most public high schools, I’m somewhat skeptical that such courses, despite the very real potential to educate, would actually do so.

  54. #54 Dianne
    January 30, 2010

    I voted no, but I admit to some reservations…one of my favorite English classes* was the one in which we studied the Bible as literature…taught by the Bitter Atheist ™ teacher. One of the most obnoxious bullying kids in the grade turned out to be a fundie…the take down was very amusing. So I am not wholly opposed to teaching the bible in school, if it’s done correctly.

    *Private school. We got taught the Bible and had an entire trimester devoted to evolution in biology.

  55. #55 timrowledge
    January 30, 2010

    Growing up in UK in the 60/70/80s we had compulsory RE (religious education) classes at school. I’m pretty sure the intent was to indoctrinate us as good churchgoing members of the Tory Club – err, the Church Of England – but in all the schools I attended it was much less than half-hearted. I don’t recall a lot from primary school days but in secondary school (that’s age 11-18 for you furriners) I managed to twist things so I got to study Mayan, Norse, Greek and I vaguely recall Egyptian mythologies too.

    Which is of course learning about religion as opposed to being indoctrinated into a particular one. I found it all quite fascinating. Perhaps I should get myself a Theology degree as a retirement hobby?

  56. #56 Ben
    January 30, 2010

    And we’re up to 94.6% out of 3786 votes
    It seems there is still some intelligence left on the web.

    I think it would be a good thing, if kids got lessons about the bible and other “holy” books or scripts of major religions, but not in a “religious” way.
    So they can decide for themselves what to believe or not.

  57. #57 Ashaman
    January 30, 2010

    On a vaguely related topic, I just discovered a new Facebook page:
    “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe in Evolution before June”

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/We-can-find-1000000-people-who-DO-believe-in-Evolution-before-June/252759483743?ref=sgm

    So, it’s kinda a poll via membership count. How about we boost their membership a bit as well? :)

  58. #58 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2010

    The Facebook thing seems to me sadly misguided, but I guess that’s par for the Facebook course, really.

    Get the hell off my lawn!

  59. #59 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 30, 2010

    Sastra: The first time I clicked on PZ’s link I got the search page; the second time it went straight to the poll. Weird.

    BS

  60. #60 JerryM
    January 30, 2010

    Yes: 5.1%
    No: 94.9%
    votes cast: 4101

    God must love non-believers, ’cause she sure is making a lot of them, these days.

  61. #61 applescrapple
    January 30, 2010

    Only up to 94% – damn!
    come ON P.Z. find us some other polls.

  62. #62 livingminimal
    January 30, 2010

    95%-5%

  63. #63 Mouse
    January 30, 2010

    Reminds me of one of my favorite stories about Randolph Churchill, Winston’s son, who had never read the bible until challenged to a bet to keep him quiet. “He has never read any of it before and is hideously excited; keeps reading quotations aloud `I say I bet you didn’t know this came in the Bible,’… or merely slapping his side & chortling `God, isn’t God a shit!’

  64. #64 arachnophilia
    January 30, 2010

    context is very important:

    “should the bible be taught as fact in public schools?” no.

    “should the bible be taught as ancient literature, alongside works such as gilgamesh, beowulf, the bhagavad gita, etc in public schools?” yes.

    it is an important collection of ancient literature that was particularly influential in western history. to not teach about it would be to leave a big gaping hole in students’ understanding.

  65. #65 llewelly
    January 30, 2010

    it [the bible] is an important collection of ancient literature that was particularly influential in western history. to not teach about it would be to leave a big gaping hole in students’ understanding.

    That’s ok. That big gaping hole would help them fit in with the majority of Christians.

  66. #66 Crewvy
    January 30, 2010

    L O L, 95.3%
    This will do their site traffic stats no end of good.

  67. #67 Larry
    January 30, 2010

    Squish!!

    Like stepping on an overripe banana with a pair of Doc Martins.

  68. #68 MGG
    January 30, 2010

    Those assuming the question is asking if the Bible should be taught like it would be in Sunday school are correct.

  69. #69 WowbaggerOM
    January 30, 2010

    Certainly against a ‘teach the bible as truth’ class, but I think a comparative religion course should be compulsory – it’s really as much about people’s culture as it is about what imaginary beliefs they might hold.

    In Australia we have a very low church attendance rate, yet plenty of people call themselves Christians – without even knowing what that means. Learning about what it actually is might make them realise that even ticking the box on the census form (arguably the only time their religion plays any part in their lives) isn’t a reflection of how they feel about the world.

    And fewer Christians means fewer politicians pandering to what they believe to be a majority and introducing idiotic laws.

  70. #70 Null
    January 30, 2010

    @Stardrake:

    You wouldn’t happen to post on the Keenspot forums under that name, would you?

  71. #71 Carlie
    January 30, 2010

    The professor was, among other things, a pretty decent cook, and part of the class consisted of preparing meals in as close to a form that believers in a given religion would eat.

    So… potluck with overcooked spaghetti for the Baptists, and lime jello and carrot salad for the Mormons, and fish fry for the Catholics? I don’t tend to associate food with religion, except for what’s prohibited.

  72. #72 mikeinmaine
    January 30, 2010

    The reaction here has been shockingly knee-jerk.

    You can be an atheist and still believe the bible should be taught as a key text in Western civilization.

    And I can think of no better antidote to belief in Jehovah than reading what an ass he really was.

  73. #73 four-thirteen
    January 30, 2010

    95.5% as of 4:21 pm central.

    Is 99% required for successful Pharyngulation?

  74. #74 Montanto
    January 30, 2010

    Boy it’s really gone down hill since Milo Bloom left, isn’t it? Quick question. I know they wouldn’t put this in these polls and it may be throwing in a relativistic argument, but coming from our side… is stuff like teaching Job in a western lit course okay?

  75. #75 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 30, 2010

    is stuff like teaching Job in a western lit course okay?

    Most of us would say yes. Babble as literature, fine, it is literature. Babble as inerrant word of an imaginary deity? NO! We understand context.

  76. #76 Miki Z
    January 30, 2010

    lime jello and carrot salad for the Mormons

    I don’t know what kind of apostate Mormons you’ve known, but that’s carrot and raisin salad, thank you very much!

  77. #77 Bride of Shrek OM
    January 30, 2010

    I believe the more intersting question here is why was PZ reading the “Blount County News”?

    .. or dare I ask, does he have some sort of “poll alert” system that tells him when any shitty backwater county is running some daft poll that’s begging to be attended to?

    Enquiring minds ( well mine at any rate) want to know.

  78. #78 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 30, 2010

    Enquiring minds ( well mine at any rate) want to know.

    I suspect that somebody e-mails PZ. Certain words like “poll” might get his attention amongst the hundreds per day he gets. Then some mousework, and he has a new thread. And some poor poll gets some unexpected results…

  79. #79 MadScientist
    January 30, 2010

    I think all 4 of their readers were overwhelmed.

  80. #80 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 30, 2010

    Lutherans live on tuna & string bean casserole. The Missouri synods anyway. No telling what those apostate American Lutheran eat.

    BS

  81. #81 pipkin1972
    January 30, 2010

    It should definatley be studied but only as part of another subject,for example as part of history,how events and people have been influenced by religion etc.
    Kids should also be taught rational thinking and the bible or the koran for that matter would be very good tools for this.
    I think Barty no5 has a good point too,how many christians would there be if they were actually aware of the contents of the ‘good’ book.Example-i’m an athiest my sister is a christian, we both have bibles but guess who’s actually read theirs.

  82. #82 llewelly
    January 30, 2010

    I don’t know what kind of apostate Mormons you’ve known, but that’s carrot and raisin salad, thank you very much!

    In Utah, land of the Real Mormons, the carrots are shredded, and they go in the jello.

  83. #83 http://users.livejournal.com/alloy_/
    January 30, 2010

    Sure it should be taught, only not as irrefutable truth, it should be studied as cultural influence on history in society.

    Poorly conceived poll.

  84. #84 David Marjanovi?
    January 30, 2010

    Yes 5.7%
    No 94.3%
    votes cast: 6993

  85. #85 Tony
    January 30, 2010

    The level of appreciation for countless western authors is greatly diminished if you have no understanding of biblical myth. That said, rather than teach the bible, I’d rather high school kids in the US read some damn Spencer, Milton, and Melville instead of rehashing the mythology with which they’ve probably already been contaminated.

  86. #86 pipkin1972
    January 30, 2010

    I also think its worth pointing out that i didnt become an athiest because i read the bible.I know this is how it is for some people but not in my case.I’ve been one since about 13.
    My point is that i think athiests as a whole often read stuff to get a better understanding of things and to know exactly what it is they’re criticising unlike religious people (generally speaking)who seem to see knowledge as a sin.

  87. #87 jason.benesh
    January 30, 2010

    No telling what those apostate American Lutheran eat.

    The Minnesota Lutherans I grew up with (ELCA, I think) tended toward tater-tot hotdish (ground beef, can of cream of mushroom soup, can of mixed veggies, layer of tater tots). Until I went vegetarian it was one of my favorite foods.

  88. #88 Miki Z
    January 30, 2010

    My high school literature class did a lot of comparisons between old literature and new:

    We read Paradise Lost and the Biblical account of the same. It was a shock to many of the xians in the class that much of what they thought was in the Bible wrt “The Fall” was actually taken from Milton. We studied not just the literature, but the context, reception, sources, etc.

    We also did a comparison between the Book of Job and Archibald MacLeish’s “J.B.”, between Beowulf and John Garnder’s Grendel.

    Probably still the greatest non-math course I’ve ever had.

  89. #89 tsg
    January 30, 2010

    The reaction here has been shockingly knee-jerk.

    Says the person who apparently hasn’t read the comments.

    You can be an atheist and still believe the bible should be taught as a key text in Western civilization.

    As many have noted above. Few of us think that’s what the question is asking.

    And I can think of no better antidote to belief in Jehovah than reading what an ass he really was.

    If there were any indication the people asking the question would “teach the Bible” honestly, I’d agree with you. There isn’t, though.

  90. #90 Tregarthen
    January 30, 2010

    I’m sure it’s about to be pulled now hahaha!!

  91. #91 Xenithrys
    January 30, 2010

    @ Wowbagger #69:
    That census question is very misleading. I wish they’d do it like the alcohol and tobacco questions, e.g., how many time have you been to church/mosque, synagogue etc in the past 4 weeks? or “do you pray, often, occasionally, rarely, never”. In other words, ask for evidence rather than self-labeling.

  92. #92 withreason
    January 30, 2010

    There must be more than one of these polls, the one I saw and voted on was at:
    http://www.topix.com/forum/city/jellico-tn/TCC2AL31NROKJIF4I and is still lopsided to yes

  93. #93 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 30, 2010

    The Minnesota Lutherans I grew up with (ELCA, I think) tended toward tater-tot hotdish (ground beef, can of cream of mushroom soup, can of mixed veggies, layer of tater tots). Until I went vegetarian it was one of my favorite foods.

    Until now, I,a 30+year vegetarian, had forgotten that particular attempt at food.

    BS

  94. #94 arachnophilia
    January 30, 2010

    @llewelly: (#65)

    That’s ok. That big gaping hole would help them fit in with the majority of Christians.

    i was under the impression that schools were supposed to promote the opposite of ignorance. clearly, knowing a bit about the history of judeo-christian tradition will help in the teaching of the dark ages, the crusades, the reformation, the enlightenment, etc.

    leaving them ignorance is really contrary to the goals of the enlightened atheist. actually reading the bible — in social and comparitive contexts — is about the most anti-christian thing you can do. i’ve seen fundamentalists go to college only to lose their fundamentalism, and their faith, because they were forced to actually read the bible. and other ancient literature. one told me that the bible “just didn’t look all that special” afterwards.

    @Miki Z: (#88)

    We read Paradise Lost and the Biblical account of the same. It was a shock to many of the xians in the class that much of what they thought was in the Bible wrt “The Fall” was actually taken from Milton. We studied not just the literature, but the context, reception, sources, etc.

    i’m distressed by how often people mix those two up in religious discussions. and never believe me when i tell them that the story they’ve just told isn’t in the bible; it’s in paradise lost.

  95. #95 monado
    January 30, 2010

    Rising up!

    Yes 5.4%
    No 94.6%
    votes cast: 7937

  96. #96 Steven Dunlap
    January 30, 2010

    @ Sastra #28 (and others)

    Yes, I worked under this assumption as well. But I do think that comparative religion ought to be included as part of the core curriculum in public schools — and the Bible can be specifically studied in English for the basic stories which are often referenced as themes in literature.

    Certainly a good idea, but success will depend on the school district. Places populated with individuals already inclined to think along the more open-minded and evidence-based lines will very likely raise children who can handle the bible placed in a historical and a literary context. But then there’s Texas (apologies to any Texans to whom this does not apply, think of it as figure of speech, and tell me if it does not apply to anyone you met in Texas).

    One bit of unscientific, anecdotal evidence. A friend studying in Grad school in Texas (don’t ask) related to me the experience of sitting in a poly sci classroom in a course about the Mid-east. The professor attempted to teach them about the basic tenets of Islam. No editorializing, just the facts, what the Koran actually contains, etc. The undergrad students in the class totally lost their shit over this. They accused the prof of attempting to convert them to Islam (going so far as to complain to the administration). Not kidding. In their minds, anything other than the simple, manichean, Xians good – everyone else bad (or misguided), offends them.

    Again, I’m all in favor of trying to teach the bible in a comparative religion class. But for teachers in the public schools in the bible belt, down that road lies early retirement. Or lynching.

  97. #97 crazymalc
    January 30, 2010

    I voted yes, on the proviso that the Koran and other holy texts are taught as well.

    Nothing depowers religion like actually reading the holy books.

    *nods to Daniel Dennett for his wisdom*

  98. #98 mothman
    January 30, 2010

    Complete domination.

  99. #99 Montanto
    January 30, 2010

    @88

    We also did a comparison between the Book of Job and Archibald MacLeish’s “J.B.”, between Beowulf and John Garnder’s Grendel.

    Ooh! wasn’t familiar with MacLeish, Loved Johh Gardner’s Grendel. Sounds like you had a really good english teacher.

  100. #100 Mobius
    January 30, 2010

    Poll Pharyngulated. Mission accomplished.

  101. #101 PeteJohn
    January 30, 2010

    Yeah that poll got squashed. As it should. It’s one thing to say our country is mostly filled with Christians, but we are not by birth nor by act a Christian theocracy.

  102. #102 lydi.rae
    January 30, 2010

    The Daily Times has a topic header that includes “Women’s Times” and the symbol for this is a high heeled shoe.

    I hope we made their site crash.

  103. #103 Mak
    January 30, 2010

    Does pharyngulating polls give anyone else a giddy sense of power?

    MWAHAHAHAHA! SCIENCE!

  104. #104 Stardrake
    January 30, 2010

    Null @ 70–No, I’m not on Keenspot. I use Stardrake on most fora I post on, however (obviously I won’t be able to on Keenspot, though…)

  105. #105 Tumsup
    January 30, 2010

    I want to see a poll that asks– Do you think that people who respond to online polls realize that they’re idiots?

  106. #106 Mak
    January 30, 2010

    If anyone’s incredibly bored, I found a few more random polls to mess with:

    About.com poll about God’s existence: http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/extra/bl-godpoll.htm

    A poll website asking if you believe in angels and ghosts:
    http://www.funjoint.com/polls.htm

  107. #107 John Morales
    January 30, 2010

    Tumsup, why not make your own poll?

  108. #108 Peter H
    January 30, 2010

    It’s refreshing to see that most folks here recognize that sacred literatures can be and of right ought to be considered important cultural, sociological and historical artifacts. Because a particular text, say the KJV, can be forced by a narrow few to say only what they wish to hear does not reduce its value for those who can approach it in a more open-minded manner. There’s the rub: open-mindedness is anathema to the literalists’ and fundamentalists’ little world.

  109. #109 Miki Z
    January 31, 2010

    It’s refreshing to see that most folks here recognize that sacred literatures can be and of right ought to be considered important cultural, sociological and historical artifacts. Because a particular text, say the KJV, can be forced by a narrow few to say only what they wish to hear does not reduce its value for those who can approach it in a more open-minded manner. There’s the rub: open-mindedness is anathema to the literalists’ and fundamentalists’ little world.

    If ‘sacred’ means ‘sacred to the culture of its origin’, I completely agree. The exclusion of so much sacred literature in favor of one particular piece of it is what I object to.

    Teach the Bible, the Iliad, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita.

    In the USA, teach as well the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, “Civil Disobedience”, the Gettysburg Address, the “I Have A Dream” speech.

    These are all cultural, sociological, historical. The list of important cultural texts is very long, the exact composition of the list is a matter for serious discussion, but the privileging of a very small slice of the cultural pie to the exclusion of all else is myopic or cowardly.

  110. #110 bulletproofcourier
    January 31, 2010

    Poll crashing in Schwarzeneggerese:

    “Get to the hopper!”

  111. #111 Andreas Johansson
    January 31, 2010

    Of course, the Bible is the reason why we hold steadfast principles and never compromise our morality by “sleeping our way to the top” like a fallen woman or the mother of all nations or anything like that.

    Really? I thought it was because I’m ugly.

  112. #112 shonny
    January 31, 2010

    Posted by: WowbaggerOM Author Profile Page | January 30, 2010 5:03 PM #69
    . . .
    And fewer Christians means fewer politicians pandering to what they believe to be a majority and introducing idiotic laws.

    Good news from Oz:
    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/6742772/rudd-believes-in-evolution/

  113. #113 Nemo
    January 31, 2010

    Peter H, while I recognize that the Bible is culturally important, and therefore ought to be taught (although I voted No in the poll, for reasons others have explained), that doesn’t mean that I think it has value. I think it’s mostly garbage. It’s only important because so many misguided people have valued it, wrongly, over the centuries.

  114. #114 mikeinmaine
    January 31, 2010

    It’s only important because so many misguided people have valued it, wrongly, over the centuries.

    You mean, like, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Faulkner, Twain–even Darwin?

    Some of this commenting is just plain childishness. But if “Pharyngulating” a poll is how you get your rocks off, so be it. You simply undermine your own cause with such trivia.

    (I teach textual criticism of the bible to writing students, by the way.)

  115. #115 coughlanbrianm
    January 31, 2010

    @Mikeinmaine You simply undermine your own cause with such trivia.

    Your concern is noted.

    A list of people from the 14th – 19th century expressing the occasional positive sentiment about the Bible is hardly “check and mate!” in this discussion. Newton, arguably the most intelligent man that ever lived, was a card carrying alchemist; Do you now plan to drop everything to search for the Philosophers Stone?

    People reflect the attitudes of their age. Whoop de frickin’ do.

    That the Bible contains the occasional pedestrian ethical observation is accepted; However, what is also without question is that these low grade gem stones of good sense are swamped by an avalanche of high octane moral dreck. That Mike, is the problem.

  116. #116 Michael X
    January 31, 2010

    You mean, like, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Faulkner, Twain–even Darwin?

    Next you’re going to say that everyone who followed pagan rights before the invention of Christianity is evidence that those pagan rights should be lauded or studied beyond anything other than their cultural significance.

    By the way, what you do for a living is not in any way supportive or relevant to your argument.

    You simply undermine your own cause with such trivia.

    While statistics may not be relevant in biblical text crit, they are used all too often to sway people who think online polls actually reflect reality. The constant barrage of online polls is meant to show their lack of connection to reality.

  117. #117 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 31, 2010

    I was never impressed by the King James Bible. It’s just a bunch of famous quotations all strung together. 8-)

  118. #118 coughlanbrianm
    January 31, 2010

    @Michael X

    Next you’re going to say that everyone who followed pagan rights before the invention of Christianity is evidence that those pagan rights should be lauded or studied beyond anything other than their cultural significance.

    An excellent point, which I shall now purloin.

  119. #119 Strangest brew
    January 31, 2010

    #109

    “the privileging of a very small slice of the cultural pie to the exclusion of all else is myopic or cowardly”

    But it is the traditional xian way!

  120. #120 Aquaria
    January 31, 2010

    It’s only important because so many misguided people have valued it, wrongly, over the centuries

    You mean, like, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Faulkner, Twain–even Darwin?

    You do know the difference between apples and oranges, do you not?

    Why Shakespeare is valued is not why the Babble is valued. One is for its artistic value alone. The other is less for its artistic value and more for its supposed moral/historical value. The difference becomes clear when people’s reaction to a work is considered.

    When was the last time someone said that The Sound and The Fury told them to kill?

    When was the last time someone said we needed to pass a law because The Canterbury Tales frowned upon it or condemned it (or, more likely, ridiculed it)? Although it might be funny to live in a place that forbids the hanging of boats from attic rafters.

    And take your concern and shove it. It’s about as useless as going to church or praying.

  121. #121 Transtlantic
    January 31, 2010

    http://z10.invisionfree.com/TheGreatDebate/index.php?showtopic=2

    new debate for anyone to have fun in debunking creationist claims!

  122. #122 Peter H
    January 31, 2010

    @ Miki Z

    You seem to have caught my drift quite well. So long as one stays within the “cultural, sociological, historical” framework, there is much to be found. Those who would throw out an entire barrel of apples because of some bad ones commit the same intellectual crime as those who insist all the apples really are sound.

  123. #123 Carlie
    January 31, 2010

    What some commenters seem to be missing is the cultural context surrounding questions like this. Of course teaching the Bible as comparative literature is ok, but this poll has about a 95% chance of being a dog whistle for “Bible study”. Certain questions asked in certain ways have a long, long history in the US of being used for the same purposes over and over, and this question falls right into a slot that has been used to shoehorn religion into schools so often the grooves run halfway to the earth’s mantle.

  124. #124 Miki Z
    January 31, 2010

    Yeah, I don’t miss the context at all. I voted no. “Should the Bible be taught” is not a neutral proposition.

    The implicature of the question is that the school is somehow a failure if it does not teach the Bible. I don’t think this at all — there are dozens and dozens, hundreds even, of works Canonical to American thought alone.

    The Bible is one of the nastiest, most hateful books in existence, merged with some of the most boring, trite philosophy and a lot of imprecations on the necessity of being a follower. It’s worth teaching the Bible for the same reason it’s worth vaccinating: you don’t want the illness to spread, and exposure to a weak dose can inoculate.

  125. #125 Peter H
    January 31, 2010

    If the question were, say, “Should literatures held by some to be sacred . . .” or wording to that effect? Recall the Spanish were horrified to learn the theology/mythology of the Mesoamericans had a great many elements in common with their own “revealed” religion. The only answer, of course, was to ascribe this to the devil; innumerable manuscripts were “purged.” The Spaniards’ xenophobic blindness deprived the world of much rich material. I don’t recall yet anyone’s having mentioned far-easteren, Norse, Innuit . . . . There’s an amazing variety of valuable and often inter-related material. See, for example, the surveys done by Joseph Campbell.

  126. #126 Strangest brew
    January 31, 2010

    #123

    “this poll has about a 95% chance of being a dog whistle for “Bible study”"

    Absolutely, the clue was in the question, ‘in public schools’

    Although several commentators have quite rightly admitted that as a comparative study it is not completely without merit, but the context always has to be considered when xian religious questions are posed in polls like this.

    This is a blatant and clumsy attempt to get compulsory babble lessons to be part of the public school curriculum.
    Nothing less and probably a great deal more.

    No doubt a different result, which they were probably hoping against hope for, would have given them encouragement to push the point.

    This is not an innocent poll, it is a dog whistle to xians, as stated by Carlie!..simples!

  127. #127 mlee97ibm
    January 31, 2010

    I want to personally thank all of you who voted. I live in this Xtian nut bag of an area and I need all the help I can get.

  128. #128 Skeptic Tim
    January 31, 2010

    Under the assumption that the poll referred to teaching the bible as “bible study” I voted no. However if it was included as one of a selection of the many religious texts in existence, as a part of a senior level comparative religion, or comparative culture, course I would have no objection. I suggest that the bible could be introduced by a quick summary similar to the following one offered by Lawrence B. Crowell:

    Ultimately God is what you want Him to be. The Bible is a series of narratives centered around this main character named God, Yod Hey Vod Hey, Adonai, El Ohim etc, and this character displays the range of emotions common to people in general. At times God is loving and forgiving, other times angry and wrathful, and the stories of Jesus indicate someone similarly endowed with human emotions and behavior. The stories also involve God attempting to work out a series of ?plan Bs.? God moves across the waters, a symbol of chaos or nothingness, and creates the world. Then things go awry and eventually God brings the waters (nothingness, chaos or the void) back in an existential crisis, where all but those on this little ?bubble? protected by the Shekhina, called Noah?s arc, are saved, and God starts over. Things again go awry, so God attempts a covenant with Abraham, things go bad again. There is then a birth motif, where the children escape Mitzrayim (Egypt) which is the narrow place (a birth canal, or the Nile), and the waters crash (like water breaking during a birth) in leaving the narrow place, and things go bad and ? , well ultimately up to the penultimate plan B where Jesus comes as the Son of God to offer salvation from sin, but that does not quite work and there is the ultimate plan B yet to come. There is a sort of recursive literary nature to this, and writing admitted into biblical canon were considered according to how well they referenced prior books or scriptures. Of course whole forests have been harvested for the paper devoted to the theodicy of why God has this problem with sin or ?wickedness? in his Creation. Yet nothing has ever been concluded. The problem is these are projections of our selves onto some empirium beyond the world, and the ?explanens? are really what might be called ?just so stories.? You can?t apply reasoning to this sort of thing.

    I tend to think that Paul was a clever guy, and I think he had an idea of how some system of belief and thought could be of a compelling nature and become widely accepted. Paul in many ways converted God in part into Orwell?s ?Big Brother,? and there are elements of Orwell?s double thought system in his epistles. Paul also invoked the idea of a Holy Spirit as some metaphor on how one?s psychology is ultimately conditioned into this system, and one becomes guided by this. Mohammed came up with a similar idea in his submission to the will of Allah. It is a clever idea really, and if one were to believe this in some literal framework you are in effect like those watching the ?screens? in Orwell?s ?1984? who come to love Big Brother and chant ?BB BB BB ? .?

  129. #129 chgo_liz
    January 31, 2010

    Miki Z @ #124 wrote:

    It’s worth teaching the Bible for the same reason it’s worth vaccinating: you don’t want the illness to spread, and exposure to a weak dose can inoculate.

    Brilliant summary!

  130. #130 Managing Editor
    February 2, 2010

    Thanks for participating in our poll!

  131. #131 Managing Editor
    February 2, 2010

    But I do wish you had correctly billed us as “The (Maryville, Tennessee) Daily Times.” There is no such publication as “The Blount County Daily Times.”