Grandmother Demands Resignation of Elementary School Teacher Who (Supposedly) Told Her Grandson That There’s No God

In Anderson County, Tennessee, the grandmother of an elementary school student is furious because she claims a teacher told her grandson’s class that there’s no God:

Grandmother Lois Sanders

The incident happened at North Clinton Elementary School last week.

6 News is not identifying the teacher because she is not being reprimanded for what she said.

Lois Sanders says her grandson came home last Wednesday upset about what a teacher had said at school.

“There wasn’t a God,” said Sanders. “They shouldn’t believe in him. It’s just a Greek myth.”

“Whether you believe in, or you don’t believe in it, you know, that’s your own personal belief, but don’t go and try to teach other parents’ children, grandchildren your beliefs,” said Sanders. “That’s no place in school for doing that.”

Let’s get a few things straight.

No one knows what the teacher said. The teacher hasn’t said publicly what she said. Is it possible this happened as stated? Sure. But keep in mind there was no recording. We’re going off of a child’s interpretation of what she said. It’s entirely plausible, based off of that last quotation, that the teacher was referring to Greek myths and how those stories don’t mesh with reality (as opposed to modern Christian myths, which also don’t mesh with reality, but that’s besides the point).

We even have more context:

“We did have a situation where a teacher was explaining about the solar system and a question came up of how it was created,” said [director of Clinton City Schools] Dr. [Vicki] Violette. “She did share that we have the Big Bang theory. We have the God theory. I think in that conversation that there were some things that were miscommunicated and the students went home and shared that with the parents.”

If I were the principal of the school, here’s what I’d do: Speak with the teacher and find out what she said, in her own words. If it’s warranted, offer her a better way to answer that sort of question in the future so that there’s less of a chance anyone would take it the wrong way. Maybe bring both sides together and chat about what happened and how to fix things in the future. Problem solved.

If she actually told the students there’s no God, we have a much more serious issue. I have no sympathy for any teacher who pushes a religious agenda of any kind in the classroom, even if it’s an atheist one. But if this was just a misunderstanding, then there’s no reason to make too big a deal about it. The parents and teacher need to have a good working relationship for the sake of their child and beginning the school year like this won’t help anybody, so it’s best to make amends quickly.

How does that sound, Ms. Sanders?

I would like for her resignation,” said Sanders. “She stepped way over the line.”

Sanders says her son, the child’s father, is thinking about filing a lawsuit against the school system about what the teacher said.

A lawsuit against the school based off of a child’s interpretation of what a teacher may or may not have said. That’ll go over real well…

Reader Richard says that he would resign if he were the teacher and he told a kid, accidentally or not, that God doesn’t exist… but only on one condition: All teachers and administrators (including football coaches) who tell their students that God does exist also have to resign.

I would agree to that compromise in a second.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • TrickQuestion

    Quite possible that the child got upset when the teacher was speaking about how the greek gods didn’t exist. It would be a reall egg-face moment if she was taken to court over a god the grandmother doesn’t even believe in.

    • Jacqui H

      Exactly. Maybe we’ve just got a Percy Jackson fan on our hands.

    • onamission5

      Also possible that the child completely misunderstood what the teacher was saying because ze was hearing it through the filter of a conservative religious upbringing. Or that the grandmother did.

      • LutherW

        What kind of a good would let a child misunderstand such a thing?

        • Baby_Raptor

          The teacher probably didn’t know. There’s no way they would have unless the kid voiced their confusion to them as well as the grandmother.

    • UWIR

      I don’t see how there can be different rule for different religions. If teachers can’t tell students that the Christian God doesn’t exist, then they shouldn’t be allowed to tell students that the Greek gods don’t exist. If teachers are allowed to tell students that the earth will not, in fact, be swallowed by the gods if we don’t constantly give them human sacrifices, then they should be allowed to tell students that the universe didn’t pop into existence at Yahweh’s command.

    • VCP

      They’re considering prosecution based upon a game of ‘telephone’.

      • Karen Mitchell

        Don’t forget the get-rich-quick aspect for the “injured” party.

  • C Peterson

    I tell kids in the classroom that I don’t believe in any gods. I explain how it is possible to understand the Universe without invoking any supernatural explanations. I ask them to think about the difference between modern religious beliefs and the ancient mythologies. But, while I don’t believe that freedom of religion should extend to minors, I’m sure as heck not going to make any overt claims about the existence or non-existence of any gods, or the truth of any religions, while I’m in the classroom!

    • Steve Kenefic

      I agree with you. I am also betting you teach a grade higher than 3rd.

      • C Peterson

        Sometimes, 1-8. But in discussions where things like this come up, it’s the 6-8 science classroom.

    • Joi Owen

      You don’t believe that freedom of religion should extend to minors?

      What other basic rights of United States citizenship do you deny to minors?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I agree with you, but if we have to call for resignations, then any teacher who makes an affirmative statement about the existence or nonexistence of any deities would also need to resign.

    Where I agree most are these two things. 1) We don’t actually know what the teacher said. I have a friend who teaches second grade and she often has stories about students misunderstanding the simplest and most innocent things she says to them. The stories are cute but the children are quite often (needlessly) alarmed. It’s quite possible that the teacher said nothing like what the student said and then the family overreacted. 2) If this is what the teacher said then teachers need better guidelines. Even in areas with a majority religious make-up there are minority religions, or at least minority denominations within those religions. Favoring one religion over another, religion over no religion or even advocating for no religion is inappropriate. Religion does come up in history, social studies and literature classes and it’s important to understand what people in different cultures and at different times believe(d). It is not necessary to advocate in favor of that belief in order to explain it in the proper context. I don’t need to, nor should I, advocate for either side in the Protestant reformation, for example, in order to explain to a class what happened, why and how it affected the history of Europe. Good teachers should know this but given the touchiness of religious issues, it’s probably a good idea to remind them regularly.

  • Travis Myers

    I agree that teachers shouldn’t be allowed to push a religious agenda in school. However, I can’t think of a logical reason why saying “Ancient Greek myths don’t mesh with reality” is okay, but saying “Christianity doesn’t mesh with reality” isn’t okay. It seems to me that either both should be allowed, or neither. Is it simply a matter of numbers: there are more Christians than Zeus-worshippers? If that’s the case, then it seems that the majority is being favored over the minority.

    • C Peterson

      Legally, there is a difference between saying that there is biblical content, and Christian dogma, that don’t mesh with reality, and saying that there is no God. I do the first in the classroom, but never the second.

      • Travis Myers

        Right, I guess I’m just wondering what the rationale is behind determining which things do and don’t count as religion. If, for some strange reason, thousands of people in the U.S. converted to an ancient Greek religion, would it then become illegal to say in the classroom that Zeus is not real?

        • corps_suk

          I agree, maybe atheists should take up the cause and convert, stop teaching Greek religions are myths or start teaching any religion can be a myth.

        • C Peterson

          If, for some strange reason, thousands of people in the U.S. converted to an ancient Greek religion, would it then become illegal to say in the classroom that Zeus is not real?

          I would say so. But you’re right, there is a fair degree of ambiguity involved. Just look at the absurd case in Oklahoma over that license plate that people are trying to interpret as a religious statement.

          • Karen Mitchell

            What does the plate read?

        • Michael

          I am sure that there are quite a few pagans watching this unfold for that very reason.

      • john

        why is it illegal to say ‘there is no God?”

        • skwerl

          Teachers should not be presenting beliefs as fact.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Except that it IS a fact — the Christian God, as portrayed in the Bible and as commonly “understood” by believers, does not exist.

            • skwerl

              I’m a militant agnostic, and also an atheist. I do not “know,” and neither do you. All we have is belief, because there is no evidence to support either position.

              • C Peterson

                All we have is belief, because there is no evidence to support either position.

                You are wrong about that. There is no proof for either position. There is strong evidence in support of the atheist position, and no evidence at all in support of the theistic one. Being an atheist is the only possible position if you formulate your beliefs by weighing evidence.

                • skwerl

                  Proof is simply stronger evidence. Semantics. It’s still true that nobody can know whether “god” exists or not. We cannot say it is a fact that god does not exist, and therefore the matter should be largely left out of public schools.

                • C Peterson

                  It is not semantics at all. Proof is not stronger evidence. It is completely different. Proof is what you get when a chain of logic leads to an inescapable conclusion.

                  I know of nothing in nature that is proven. There appears to be nothing about nature we can know with absolute certainty. But we have powerful evidence that leads us to believe that many of our ideas about nature are true, or at least close to truth.

                  We can’t say that gravity works the way we think it does, but that doesn’t stop us from teaching the theory. We can’t say evolution works the way we think it does, but that doesn’t stop us from teaching the theory. And in a similar way, the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supports the absence of a god- or in terms of science, the absence of a god that interferes in the slightest with the Universe. And that can be taught, and should be. I make it clear in the classroom that regardless of people’s religious beliefs, everything we know about the Universe is best explained without recourse to the supernatural.

                • skwerl

                  The discussion is concerning whether a teacher’s theological viewpoint should be taught in public classrooms.

              • Karen Mitchell

                How can you be both an agnostic and an atheist?

                • skwerl

                  Agnostic = does not know. Atheist = does not believe. Believing and knowing are two different things. There is no way for us to know whether higher beings exist, however, I don’t believe that they do.

          • UWIR

            But “there is no God” is a fact.

            • Jasper

              … it can only be in the sense that it’s not within our set of demonstrably true things… like unicorns or fairies.

              But you can’t prove a negative… so it can’t technically be a “fact”.

        • DavidMHart

          1st Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Government employees, in their capacity as such, can neither promote religion or non-religion (no matter how obviously likely to be true that particular quote is).

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Non-religion is backed up by scientific fact, and therefore ought to be exempt.

        • C Peterson

          why is it illegal to say ‘there is no God?”

          For the same reason it is illegal to say “there is a god”. Neither statement is a fact (although the first is certainly true beyond reasonable doubt), and both endorse what is essentially a religious position. Until our society becomes more mature, simply blocking all statements of religious viewpoint in a governmental setting seems the most practical solution.

          • Travis Myers

            It is impossible for neither statement to be a fact. One of them must be a fact, even if we don’t know which one.

            • C Peterson

              Semantics. I’d say that one must be true, but neither is a fact.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      How is she going to feel when he fines out there is no Santa Claus either.

  • sparks

    ” I have no sympathy for any teacher who pushes a religious agenda of any kind in the classroom, even if it’s an atheist one.”

    Whoa there. A religious agenda, even if it’s an atheist one? WTF?? Religious agendas usually involve unprovable claims to knowledge regarding the unprovable existence of Sky Daddy. Atheist agendas generally rally around known, proven, facts. I’d say that qualifies them for a place in the classroom.

    • C Peterson

      I agree, it should. In a perfect world we would explicitly teach atheism in schools. But it’s not a perfect world, and I don’t know how to re-write the First Amendment without risking some serious unintended consequences. Do you?

      What actual facts can’t be taught in a classroom without actively advocating atheism?

      • UWIR

        “What actual facts can’t be taught in a classroom without actively advocating atheism?”

        According to fundies, teaching evolution, etc. is advocating atheism. And for quite a few people, learning about science is a major influence on their deconversion.

        • C Peterson

          I don’t care what fundies think. In my book they are subhumans whose opinions carry no weight. If they want batshit opinions, fine. But legally, I can’t think of any facts that can’t be taught without endorsing atheism.

          Plenty of facts can be taught that contradict religious viewpoints, and that is completely legal.

    • robert chacon

      Sorry, but atheistic claims are not provable either. There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God, but you just choose to either not discover them or believe them. Thats fine. But its not self evident! Otherwise man from all cultures and time would not believe in some form of God. Scientific inquiry , which developed from major contributions from Christianity, by the way, despite your need to deny this fact, cannot answer every question in life. Furthermore, it is a religion in itself to believe it can. Where is your book of “truth” can you point to that proves that ONLY that which can be seen through a microscope is real? That in itself is a religion, a god of your making. You think its easy to explain away the creation of the universe, the development of the human species, miracles of immediate physical and mental healing, but in reality it is NOT. The usual response is that science simply has not yet been able to explain some of these miracles. Thats no different than the Christian arguing that the proof of the existence of God will be here in Christs second coming. There are just as many top scientists who are just as convinced of the hand of God in through their study and knowledge of the physical world as there are Stephen Hawkings. My point is not that it is clearly evident that there is a God, but to simply deny it as a pixie dust and the Easter Bunny is just as closed and simple minded, intolerant and backward as you want to think believers are.

      • corps_suk

        “There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God,”

        Really…lets hear a few?

        • flyb

          Dual post!

          • corps_suk

            You know what they say about great minds…

        • lmeridian

          I’ve heard a number of them myself repeatedly from my brother.
          ‘Logical’ arguments for God is a fallacy – there is no logic behind what my brother would say, for example:

          “When you feel overwhelming compassion for those in need, this is the Lord Jesus acting within you and that is proof of his existence.”

          Arguing that my compassion comes from my own natural sense of morality, he would state that those feelings were given to us by the Lord, as it states in the Bible… or some such.

          The problem with these people is they don’t really WANT to admit that they don’t really understand what logic is. At least, thats how I feel after years of being bombarded by dumb crap like what I provided above.

          • Jasper

            Unfalsifiable statements are a great example of how logic alone is insufficient to demonstrate that something is true.

            • lmeridian

              This is true. A theists idea of logic, as my brother has proven, is different than mine.

              I once went to a lecture on my university campus. One of the Christian Student Clubs was hosting a God debate, and I attended with my copy of ‘The God Delusion’ clutched tightly under one arm with highlights and dog ears, waiting for the Q&A section. I didn’t last 20 minutes. The speaker they had arguing for the existence of God spent the entire time spewing these hideously confusing mathematical equations that made no sense. “If x equals y, then God exists.” I was so disgusted I walked out. Maybe I should have waited for my chance to pose an argument, but his evidence was nonsensical. I guess this could be seen as a form of logic, but any laymen in the audience, such as myself, was totally unable to follow his train of thought, making it almost impossible to argue against. I donno.

          • robert chacon

            Im sorry sir, those are not any arguments of any consequence. Far more brilliant philosophers, uh Plato, for one, have made compelling arguments for God. It is really seems rather arrogant to dismiss ancient, medieval , classical and modern philosophers and theologians throughout history as “dumb crap” simply because you have been bombarded with only dumb crap. Again , Im not suggesting a lack of logic on your side, only being too dismissive based solely on argumentation like your brothers is not good logic.

            • UWIR

              Plato made arguments for Yahweh’s existence? Or are you playing games with the word “God”?

        • robert chacon

          Do your own research but Plato, Aquinas, Augustine, Descartes, to name a few of the philosophers who made such arguments. This is NOT to say that makes it so, I am simply saying that there are far greater minds that have pondered this question than any of us in this room.
          To believe that we know for certain and these people have nothing valid to say is foolish and arrogant and that defies logic.

          • Jasper

            No, it adheres to the burden of proof.

            It’s not like these are new authors. Their ideas have made the rounds, and failed rudimentary scrutiny.

          • GCBill

            If there are *sound* arguments (in the technical sense), then there’s nothing arrogant about saying “we know for certain.”

            It’s odd that you appeal to the intelligence of the people making the arguments, because if they’re sound that’s strictly not necessary.

            • robert chacon

              Sorry GC, yes, I apologize for using a general term for a technical logical term. But you know I meant there are reasonable strong arguments that while you may not fall on the same side you would have to argue that it is reasonable but perhaps just to completely convincing.

              • Jasper

                Whether the arguments are “convincing” isn’t terribly relevant. This planet is full of people who found convincing arguments for their respective positions, most of which contradict one another… so clearly simply having something “convincing” is insufficient.

                The trick is to use a process that has been shown to actually work in demonstrating reality… and in that respect, those great thinkers failed.

          • corps_suk

            So, those arguments have all been refuted…quite easily of late.
            You have no idea how “great” the minds in this room are…so much like asserting there is a god, don’t make assertions you cant support.
            What defies logic, is that you believe what people who lived 2000 years ago have anything relevant to say about our understanding of the universe and our place in it today.
            Arrogance is thinking a god made this universe for you…

          • baal

            ” far greater minds that have pondered this question than any of us in this room.”
            fuck you.
            You have no idea and cannot know who is in ‘this room’. Worse, you’re making an appeal to authority and i’m not sure philosophers are experts in godhoods.

          • baal

            also, wasn’ t plato pre-christian?

          • Anathema

            I’ve read Plato, Aquinas, and Descartes. (I’ve also read excerpts of Augustine, but I don’t think that any of those set forward arguments in favor of the existence of God.) I’m still not convinced that God exists.

            This is not to say that none of them had anything valid to say. They did obviously did say a lot of things that were worthwhile. Just because their arguments for the existence of God were unsound doesn’t mean that everything else that they wrote suddenly becomes invalid.

      • flyb

        “There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God”

        Could you please share those with us?

        • pRinzler

          I’m gonna get my popcorn, this should be good.

      • C Peterson

        Nothing is provable. It’s a matter of evidence, and drawing reasonable logical conclusions. By those standards, atheism is overwhelmingly favored over theism, there being absolutely no logical arguments in support of the latter, and a vast amount of observational evidence for the former. Ideally, teachers would be able (and indeed, would be required) to teach in schools that we should not believe in gods.

        In practice, of course, given today’s society and laws, that isn’t feasible. So the best course (for now) of handling things is to simply avoid making any strong assertions on the matter at all. Which doesn’t mean, of course, that the subject isn’t open to exploration in a public school, if done carefully and in the proper context.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        There are just as many top scientists who are just as convinced of the hand of God

        Depends on how you define ‘scientist’ but no, not really.

        A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2111174/Intelligent-people-less-likely-to-believe-in-God.html

        • sara

          “There are just as many top scientists who are just as convinced of the hand of God in through their study and knowledge of the physical world as there are Stephen Hawkings.”

          There’s only one of those.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            There are sound, logical arguments for the existence of multiple Stephen Hawkings, I’m sure.

            • John

              Well, if you’re a proponent of any of the various multiverse hypotheses…

            • robert chacon

              LOL!

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        And

        Otherwise man from all cultures and time would not believe in some form of God.

        If God were all that self evident, then various cultures would have more agreement on the issue, would they not? So why is it that all the Hindus in the world believe in multiple gods? Shouldn’t that aspect be ‘self evident’?

        • robert chacon

          Yes, it seems that way. But not necessarily so. Look at us human beings. We see each other every day, and yet we fail to understand the truth of who one another is. The fact that cultures world wide have ANY notion of the divine suggest there is something there, or at least a very human need to believe so, I would concede.

          • baal

            games with standards much?
            We’re supposed to knee before your appeal to 10,000 years of great mind authority (evidence? nope) while you set the thiestic bar at “any notion divine”. Total bs.

          • Kodie

            Is that all it takes for you to believe in a god? Here is how it is – you are not unique. You are gullible and susceptible to persuasive bandwagon logic. It’s a very popular technique – obviously!

          • Jasper

            We have a notion about fairies. Therefore, that suggests that there is something there.

      • Chris Clements

        //Sorry, but atheistic claims are not provable either.//Atheists only have 1 claim and its that they don’t believe in any god. I can prove I do not believe. //There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God, but you just choose to either not discover them or believe them.// But zero evidence to support, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. //Scientific inquiry , which developed from major contributions from Christianity, by the way, despite your need to deny this fact, cannot answer every question in life.// First off christanity fought scientific discovery at every turn often imprisoning scientists for blasphemy, yet science still prevailed. and your right it can’t answer all the questions, but saying AH HA then it must be god is a logical fallacy. //You think its easy to explain away the creation of the universe, the development of the human species, miracles of immediate physical and mental healing, but in reality it is NOT. // Most of us understand it has taken many lifetimes to get to the scientific understanding we have today, no one I know says it was an easy journey or that we are at the end of it. //There are just as many top scientists who are just as convinced of the hand of God in through there study and knowledge of the physical world as there are Stephen Hawkings.// while that may or may not be true, most of them that believe in a god believe in Spinoza’s god and not a personal god that interacts and interferes in our daily lives.//My point is not that it is clearly evident that there is a God, but to simply deny it as a pixie dust and the Easter Bunny is just as closed and simple minded, intolerant and backward as you want to think believers are.//Its called logical fallacies. Its not that they are simple minded, the mind is very complex and has ways of making you unable to see yourself in the mirror. I do not think my religious friends are stupid, they have just been lied to and brainwashed.

        • robert chacon

          Well it is a fallacy that Christianity fought science every step of the way. Im sure you are referring to Galileo for one. It is simply not historical that the Church objected to Galileos conclusion. The objection was that he did not have sufficient evidence to claim to KNOW the truth and thus render the literal interpretation of the bible incorrect. There were contemporaries of his who were coming to the same conclusion as he who did not run afoul of the Inquisition because they held their conclusions for the more rigorous methodology that the Church expected from scientific method. From the beginning , the Church supported Galileo’s work! It has supported scientific discovery throughout the ages by either clerical scientific investigation or financial support. Just do a Google search. The notion that the Church fought scientific exploration is simply not true. You can find list after list of names of clerics who founded major areas of scientific study and were not restricted by the Church in any way. Roger Bacon who proposed the scientific method was a Franciscan. As for not listing classical or other philosophical arguments for the existence of God, I dont need to. Do your own research, but as I wrote earlier, the names of those who have proposed such arguments , I believe had a little more brilliance that you or I. Thats not say they make it so, but that such arguments do not come from the minds of the brainwashed or easily fooled and to think so is foolish and not very logical.

          • Baby_Raptor

            If it’s “simply not historical” that the church condemned Galileo, then why the Fuck did they apologize for doing exactly that?

            You’re the one claiming these arguments exist. It is therefore your responsibility to list them when asked. Not doing so shows that you’re just talking out your ass.

            • RobMcCune

              Apparently the Pope didn’t really understand the Catholic Church.

          • busterggi

            Tell that to Giordono Bruno.

          • RobMcCune

            Im sure you are referring to Galileo for one. It is simply not historical that the Church objected to Galileos conclusion. The objection was that he did not have sufficient evidence to claim to KNOW the truth and thus render the literal interpretation of the bible incorrect.

            And this warrants arrest, life imprisonment, and forced recantation under the treat of torture and death? This completely ignores that Galileo was charged with heresy. Threatening someone for making the case for their hypothesis is spectacularly unscientific, as well as outlawing a competing theory.

            There were contemporaries of his… who did not run afoul of the Inquisition because they held their conclusions for the more rigorous methodology that the Church expected from scientific method.

            This is a lie since the scientific method had not been articulated at this point. Furthermore, the citation of authority was considered better evidence than empirical data by scholars of that period.

            From the beginning , the Church supported Galileo’s work!

            Until the whole arrest, imprisonment, and threats of murder and torture incident that erupted from the church not liking Galileos conclusions.

            Roger Bacon who proposed the scientific method was a Franciscan.

            Wrong Bacon.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            It is simply not historical that the Church objected to Galileos conclusion.

            Um

            Following the Inquisition’s injunction against Galileo, the papal Master of the Sacred Palace ordered that Foscarini’s Letter be banned, and Copernicus’ De revolutionibus suspended until corrected. The papal Congregation of the Index preferred a stricter prohibition, and so with the Pope’s approval, on March 5 the Congregation banned all books advocating the Copernican system, which it called “the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to Holy Scripture.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair#Copernican_books_banned

            and

            Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and Galileo’s Dialoguewere then subsequently omitted from the next edition of the Index when it appeared in 1835.

            So, 1835 and still the RC is uncomfortable with heliocentrism.

            The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune.

            – Ratzinger quoting Paul Feyerabend in 1990

            So maybe Galileo was right, but the verdict was rational and justified? I guess people couldn’t handle the truth and the RCC knew it was better to perpetuate a lie.

            Many of the world’s first true scientists were religious, and today the RCC generally supports evolution.

            But you’re just not going to win any points for theism’s support of science by bringing up the Galileo affair.

          • UWIR

            ” The objection was that he did not have sufficient evidence to claim to KNOW the truth and thus render the literal interpretation of the bible incorrect. ”
            That’s simply false. The Church’s objection was that he thought that science should take precedence over the Bible. They didn’t have a problem with science per se, but they had a problem with it contradicting the Bible.

          • Anathema

            Well it is a fallacy that Christianity fought science every step of the way.

            That’s a good point.

            Im sure you are referring to Galileo for one. It is simply not historical that the Church objected to Galileos conclusion. The objection was that he did not have sufficient evidence to claim to KNOW the truth and thus render the literal interpretation of the bible incorrect.

            Oh dear. And this comment had started off so well.

            I’ll agree that the Galileo affair was more complicated than both people realize. But the idea that the Church did not object to Galileo’s conclusions is simply wrong.

            You might want to take a look at the Papal Condemnation of Galileo. It says the following:

            The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.

            The proposition that the Earth is not the center of the world and immovable but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith.

            If that doesn’t count as objecting to Galileo’s conclusions, I’m not sure what does.

            Sure, the Church also objected to Galileo’s interpretation of scriptures to fit with his conclusions. But that does not negate the fact that they also objected to his conclusions.

            There were contemporaries of his who were coming to the same conclusion as he who did not run afoul of the Inquisition because they held their conclusions for the more rigorous methodology that the Church expected from scientific method.

            Let’s look at the Papal Condemnation of Galileo again:

            We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters adduced in trial, and by you confessed as above, have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine—which is false and contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures—that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the Earth moves and is not the center of the world; and that an opinion may be held and defended as probably after it has been declared and defined to be contrary to the Holy Scripture; and that consequently you have incurred all the censures and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents.

            Hmm . . . that doesn’t sound like an objection to Galileo using a shoddy methodology to support heliocentricism so much as an objection to Galileo supporting heliocentricism at all. The Church itself outright says that the problem with Galileo was that he believed and taught something which they thought contradicted the Scriptures.

            It has supported scientific discovery throughout the ages by either clerical scientific investigation or financial support. Just do a Google search. The notion that the Church fought scientific exploration is simply not true.

            The Church has a long and complex history. The Church’s relationship with science is complicated. At times the Church has supported and even funded scientific investigation. But it has also fought scientific exploration.

            You can find list after list of names of clerics who founded major areas of scientific study and were not restricted by the Church in any way. Roger Bacon who proposed the scientific method was a Franciscan.

            It’s typically Francis Bacon, an Anglican, who is credited with creating the modern scientific method.

            As for not listing classical or other philosophical arguments for the existence of God, I dont need to.

            And we know that many of the classical arguments for the existence of God are unsound. You said that there were many sound arguments for the existence of God. We would like to know which arguments for the existence of God you consider sound. If you are going to claim that there are plenty of sound arguments for the existence of God, you need to tell us which arguments you are talking about.

            Do your own research, but as I wrote earlier, the names of those who have proposed such arguments , I believe had a little more brilliance that you or I. Thats not say they make it so, but that such arguments do not come from the minds of the brainwashed or easily fooled and to think so is foolish and not very logical.

            Everyone is shaped by the culture they grew up in, whether or not they are particularly susceptible to brainwashing. Even the most brilliant and individualistic of thinkers is shaped by the beliefs of the society that they grew up in.

            Even incredibly intelligent people sometimes make stupid arguments. Even people who are difficult to fool are still sometimes fooled. Even people who are generally logical are not logical about everything.

            An argument stands or falls on its own. The quality of an argument matters more than the character of the person making the argument.

          • Oedipus Wrecked

            the Catholic Church condemned Giordano Bruno in a very long document–even longer than that which it used to condemn Galileo–but Galileo abjured, and recanted his Heliocentric theory and was allowed to live… Bruno refused to recant the truth and subject his free will and spirit of inquiry to the domination of the Church, despite a trial lasting seven years and so–since the Church had no authority and was doctrinally banned from executing anyone–Bruno was turned over to the secular authorities (the technical term is “relaxing the prisoner”) and burnt at the stake…

            the Catholic Church has managed to apologize to Galileo, the recanter of truth who was allowed to die of natural causes… John Paul II formally apologized for the Church’s prosecution of Galileo and withdrew the Church’s rulings against and condemnation of Galileo–but they still have not even brought Bruno’s case up for review…

            in fact, on the 400th anniversary of Bruno’s execution in 2000, the Vatican officially announced through a letter from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the then Vatican Secretary of State and the Dean of the Faculty of Papal Theology for Southern Italy, that Bruno’s execution was a “sad episode in Christian history” (Ce triste épisode de l’histoire chrétienne)… [note] the Cardinal’s statement also defended Bruno’s persecutors, claiming:

            Il ne nous appartient pas de porter des jugements sur la conscience de tous ceux qui furent impliqués dans cette affaire. Ce qui ressort historiquement nous permet de penser qu’ils furent animés par le désir de servir la vérité et de promouvoir le bien commun, et qu’ils firent aussi ce qui était en leur pouvoir pour lui sauver la vie.
            It is not for us to pass judgment on the conscience of all those who were involved in this case. What emerges
            from the historical record makes it possible for us to believe that they were motivated by the desire to serve the truth and promote the common good, and that they also did what was in their power to save [Bruno's] life.

            and what was the core reason why the Catholic Church–or any church of the age, and many of this age–had to burn Bruno and will never exonerate him? Bruno declared that the evidence of our senses–and the work of Galileo and Copernicus among others–proved that the Earth was just one of an infinite number of worlds, each possibly inhabited by creatures entirely foreign to us–and to the church… if the Triune God of Christianity is the Creator of all things, Bruno argued, then Christian doctrine and the Abrahamic tradition demand that each of those worlds must have had a separate Creation, meaning each world which is inhabited must have had a distinct Adam and an Eve and a Tree of Forbidden Fruit… if Christ is the Savior of All Beings Made in God’s Image and Likeness, therefore, Christ would have to be incarnated, suffer and die for the sins of the inhabitants of each individual world, on each of a possible infinite number of worlds where Free Will led to Original Sin and the Wages of Sin, in order for the Triune God to be that which it revealed itself to Abraham to be: individual, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and the creator of the universe…

            note: for some reason Sodano’s statement is not available in English on the Vatican website, so the translation is mine from the French version of the statement: an Italian version of Sodano’s statement on the 400th anniversary of Bruno’s death is also available

        • UWIR

          I think you should learn how to use the

          blockquote

          feature.

          • RobMcCune

            He doesn’t even need to know the black magic that is HTML tags, he just needs to use shift+’ and enter a few times to make his post readable.

      • RobMcCune

        There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God,

        Really? When did that happen? So far every argument I have heard revolves around faulty premises or flawed reasoning. Which ones did I miss?

        but you just choose to either not discover them or believe them.

        So it’s my fault your arguments are flawed? Here’s a hint, taking it on faith defeats the purpose of a logical argument.

        Scientific inquiry , which developed from major contributions from Christianity, by the way, despite your need to deny this fact,

        It’s not a fact, its a simplistic revision of history, and a run on sentence, with too many nested clauses. Might not want continue doing that, just sayin’, it’s a bad habit, and seems really defensive, on your part, also just sayin’.

        You think its easy to explain away the creation of the universe, the development of the human species, … but in reality it is NOT.

        Exactly, for 10s of thousands of years of humanity and thousands of years of civilization, real progress on these issues was only made by the most brilliant minds of the past century and a half. Anyone who thinks explaining things with science is easy is an idiot.

        There are just as many top scientists who are just as convinced of the hand of God in through their study and knowledge of the physical world as there are Stephen Hawkings.

        Nope, it’s only about a third. The more educated person is in science, the more likely they are to be an atheist. The other important point in all this is that many of these scientists believe God did his work through the material workings of the universe, not supernatural or miraculous means. Meaning they acknowledge it’s a matter of faith, not evidence.

        • robert chacon

          Look, there is no reason to get haughty and resort to name calling such as idiot. Sorry if I sounded defensive, Im not; just anticipating your comments. And youre correct, i dont edit carefully. But , I am not coming here as some Fundamentalist , 6,ooo year old earth creationist. I just refuting the point that only idiots and those unable to think logically come on the side of religion. I think its arrogant to believe. You really believe that simply because you failed to come up on one reasonable argument , they dont exist? How do I know which ones you missed? But , to dismiss the whole idea so nonchalantly suggests you are far wiser than 10000 years of human thought by those with greater minds that anyone here on this site. Furthermore, I did not mean to suggest that it was your failing to reject any argument , I simply meant even if you had weighed in against a decent argument, it seems to me that you would have to agree that there were at least some reasonable points. Perhaps I am not realizing I am communicating with the most intelligent mind ever and that ALL arguments are simple matters for you to make easy decision about. But for most of us there are usually decent arguments on all sides of any issue and given that most people are not philosophers and we cannot all be above normal intelligence, it just seems reasonable that there are some compelling arguments by some great minds that you just might have missed and may fine worthy of consideration. That is all I am suggesting regarding that. Lastly, I appreciate your description of the development of the universe. Im am not saying it is easy to dismiss the complicated workings of that, but rather an atheists tendency is to simply explain anything miraculous as science yet-undiscovered. To me that is not necessarily a conclusive argument either. Regarding the Church and science , I really have to beg to differ. Everything I have read, suggests it is in fact revisionist history that suggest the Church is anti Science. I made an earlier post that talked about this, but I will look more carefully at that issue. But sincerely, thanks for your input!

          • Kodie

            Why is it really so hard for you to understand that what you believe is fiction? How much thought have you really put into choosing your religion and rejecting atheism, and on what basis?

            I have never heard the answer to that sound like it wasn’t just gullibility and wishful thinking, no matter how eruditely it was expressed. Theology is the study of a fictional work to try to make all the loose ends make sense that it never will.

          • Anathema

            Regarding the Church and science , I really have to beg to differ. Everything I have read, suggests it is in fact revisionist history that suggest the Church is anti Science.

            The history of the relationship between the Church and science is complicated. There have been times when the Church has backed scientific endeavors and times when the Church has stifled them.

            Arguing that the Church has always been anti-science is inaccurate revisionist history. But I don’t think that Rob McCune ever made that argument. What Rob said was that the idea that Christianity had made major contributions to scientific inquiry was historical revisionism.

            Arguing that Christianity (a system of beliefs) probably did not make significant contributions to scientific inquiry is different from arguing that the Church (an organization) has always been anti-science.

      • William Gilson

        Logical and God do not belong in the same sentence I would love to hear a logical argument for the existence of any god, Why do you think there have been so many in human history? A new generation and we get a new set of gods…..

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

        Just another atheist here. I wanted to go on record to say that I acknowledge the contributions to science made by Christians, as well as people of other religious perspectives. I have no need to deny this. In fact, it would be a bias in opposition to my goal to pursue truth.

        If you think it matters that Christians have done science, you should closely examine what they did, and how they did it. I think you’ll find their religiosity to be as pertinent to their science as their favorite flavor of ice cream.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Science came from Christianity?

        Thank you, I needed that laugh. What other things do you just hold down and bloodily rip off in the name of reinforcing your delusions?

        • Jasper

          Christianity had the money/power, because they were the ones in totalitarian control… so they had the resources to throw into such things…. but there’s nothing intrinsically scientific about Christianity. It’s an Association Fallacy.

        • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

          Science is the study of God’s creation, and Christians were the first scientists!

          • Baby_Raptor

            I hope this is unmarked sarcasm?

      • smrnda

        God is totally outside the possibility of real, systematic knowledge since claims made about god are unfalsifiable; at best the businesses is pure speculation, and normally, claims made about gods can be shown to be false.

        On the idea that a belief in a materialistic universe is an unfalsifiable hypothesis or an assumption, it seems like a pretty reasonable assumption to me. It’s best not to believe things like gods till some evidence aside from ‘well, it COULD be possible’ comes up.

      • baal

        ” There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God”
        We’ve seen Kalam, Ontological, fine tuning, pascal’s wagers, etc and gone over them over and over and yet over again. They aren’t sound. They aren’t logical. If you fail at google, I can point you to the easy to understand explainations.

      • sparks

        So many logical errors and so little time……………………

        Which “atheistic claim” is unprovable?
        Produce the very sound logical arguments for the existence of your God.
        I choose to ‘discover’ the truth backed by facts, not myths backed by emotion.
        “Otherwise man from all cultures……” Just because a lot of people believe it does NOT make it true.
        Scientific inquiry DID NOT develop from Christianity. (Who wrote the history of science texts you’ve been force fed?
        “Science cannot answer every question in life”. And you know this how?
        One more time: Atheism is NOT a religion. (If atheism is a religion, then fasting is a food group.)
        “Book of truth and microscopes…….et. al.” Non sequitur and nonsense.
        We do not think it’s easy to explain away the creation of the Universe, the developement of the human species, YOU do by resorting to the ubiquitous “Goddidit” answer. As for immediate physical and mental healing–well, where’s your proof of that?
        Regarding the scientists who buy into the God nonsense: Being smart is no guarantee of being dead wrong. This is also a really bad argument for you to be using for your point.
        Your final point regarding the pixie dust and Easter Bunny denial being closed minded and intolerant is also a non sequitur: I’m not being closed minded when I add 2 and 2 and come up with 4 and then declare that the sum of 2 and 2 couldn’t possibly be anything other than 4.

        But nice try, and thanks for playing!

    • kaydenpat

      Shouldn’t public schools be neutral when it comes to religion — whether the religion is Christianity or atheism? If the teacher said “There is no god” or words to that effect, like Hemant I’d agree that there is a problem. She’s not there to push religious dogma or to push atheism.

      • Anathema

        I generally agree with what you are saying, but I’d quibble with your description of atheism as a religion. Atheism is not a religion; it’s a position on a religious issue. (The same is true of theism, by the way. There are plenty of theistic religions, but the simple belief in god(s) is not a religion in and of itself.) Because it’s a position on a religious issue, atheism is still subject to the Establishment Clause.

    • Skubacb

      This is all baloney. Teachers should be allowed to teach facts.
      Period. We have factual evidence that shows the bible is not correct in
      many areas and may be correct in some. God is not a theory. God is a
      belief. So NO we should not teach beliefs in school. But never, never
      stop anyone from teaching facts. Now that you have the facts you can
      teach them that there are various theories based on those facts but a
      theory is based on facts while beliefs are NOT.

      BTW I agree with most statements above. The only real problem here is the grandmother.

  • Jasper

    “She did share that we have the Big Bang theory. We have the God theory. ”

    *grits teeth* – a theory isn’t just some idea that you have about something… it’s the overarching model/data that explains as much about an observed phenomenon with as few assumptions as possible. It contains all the facts, observations and validated/falsified hypotheses testing about the phenomenon.

    It literally cannot be a theory if it’s not significantly supported by empirical evidence.

    The existence of the theory implies that the original phenomenon the theory is based on is real.

    • Lorinda Pike

      “God theory” is an Inigo Montoya moment…

      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    • flyb

      Thanks for saving me the typing.

    • Torc

      As much as I hate it when people say “It’s only a theory!!!” words can have two meanings, especially a scientific and a casual meaning.

      • Jasper

        While that’s true, bringing up “God Theory” side-by-side with “Big Bang Theory” thrusts it into the scientific definition… otherwise, the person has randomly brought up two almost-opposite categorical things as alternatives to one another.

      • Jaded

        Tell them to go and jump out of a plane without a parachute.
        After all, gravity is only a theory. Surely if they exclaim that while falling then gravity will cease to work on them and they’ll float gently down to earth.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          For the sake of accuracy- that you fall when you jump out of a plane is the law of gravity. Why is theory.

          There are plenty of other better examples, such as the germ theory of disease.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Aside from which, the empirical evidence stands alone. Whether God made the sun and earth and moon, the fact remains that the simplest orbit model is moon orbits earth orbits sun, not “everything orbits earth”.

      Whether or not God snapped his fingers, the fact* remains that the universe as we know it ‘started’ 14.3 billion years ago.

      (*pending further scientific discovery, but the general ‘age’ extremely unlikely to change by any significant amount. Have I covered enough bases yet?)

    • Eliot Parulidae

      What I think happened is the teacher said “Some people think it was the Big Bang, some people think it was God, and the Greeks thought all sorts of entertaining stuff…”

      A misunderstanding of scientific concepts? Of course. BUT VERY PROGRESSIVE FOR ANDERSON COUNTY, TN. Trust me.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    As I’m fond of saying (and I’m certainly not alone) science is steadily filling knowledge gaps that used to contain ‘God’ as an explanation. Biology and cosmology being the big ones. As human knowledge advances, it’s going to get harder and harder to teach while ignoring the giant grey God in the room.

  • robert chacon

    Sounds fair, but for one thing. Atheism just doesnt mesh with reality. It takes far more faith to believe in no God than to accept the reality all around us that there is a God. Im just saying! The proofs for no God can just as easily be countered by proofs for the existence. I understand you point of view, but given your relativistic view of the world, you seem completely inconsistent in not granting the plausibility of a God, or at least admitting that in my reality that there is God, and in yours there is none. But, no, you insist on an absolute truth of the non existence of God, while at the same time denying any absolutes in the area of values or morals. You cant have it both ways. Having read you now for a while, you have no absolute moral code, just whatever works for you is good and whatever works for me is good, except for probably some basic universal ideas such as no murder or rape , and probably something along the lines of anything goes as long as it doesnt hurt anyone else. But even that doesnt work because advanced societies can never agree on entirely on where my rights end and yours begin. The courts are jammed with such decisions. My point is that its still still all relative. Only in this case its simply majority rule that determines such boundaries. Thats still relativistic thinking, and inconsistent with your absolute claim of no God. But I appreciate you balanced approach on your related story.

    • http://www.secularview.com/ Dirty_Nerdy

      You clearly do not understand what a “moral code” even entails, so I’m reticent to give a shit about what you think of Hemant’s moral code. Furthermore, this article is not about any moral codes or whether or not you agree with Hemant about the existence of deities.

      Why is it that when theists want to try to leave a “nice” comment, they always have to get in the “atheists still aren’t moral tho” dig? Why did you even have to go there? It’s unnecessary and highly offensive.

      • Bdole

        Because the “nice” part is just to hide their intentions. The crap they spew is what they really came to say.

      • katiehippie

        Because they want to appear nice while shoving their beliefs down your throat. They are doing it for your own good, of course.
        /snark

      • Artor

        Just like the idea that you can be a shitty person all week, but as long as you ask Jebus to forgive you it’s okay. They can spout ignorance & bigotry all day, as long as they use a veneer of politeness. If there’s a response in this thread, I guarantee you much of it will be complaints of how we’re being mean and vulgar, because we hate god.

    • James Stevenson

      Can’t comment on the authors views on an ‘absolute moral code’ so I only speak for myself here. I kind of get why Christian’s obsess about an ultimate objective truth that cannot be denied. The idea that there’s just somethings we both must and must not do is attractive. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, this ‘objective’ truth is grounded solely in the bible. God is Good. Good is God etc. The only thing to take away from that is morality = the authority of that which wields the most power which is something I cannot agree with. Also because religions of all colours, not just christians, differ on the view of objective truth, presupposing an objective truth is intrinsically flawed.

      In my view, all these harping on about objective truth is pointless, as the ultimate test of morals is grounded in a sense of empathy, not authority. Recognising existences beyond our own. Finding value in the wills of others that are not wholey tied into our own self interest. This may not be objective, in fact it is an incredibly subjective approach to morals. But I’d argue that morals are something that we develop, and are MUCH more than bowing to that which has more coercive power over you (be it man or god).

      Am I less moral if, over time, I reevaluate events? If, for instance, I held a position that it was completely acceptable to end the life of a baby accidently delivered instead of aborted. Then changed my mind down the line to say theres another way (probably shoudl have chosen a different example considering the complexities of the abortion issue but hope people will see my point here) am I less moral because I changed my mind? Or are morals something we can evaluate the costs and benefits of. and discuss reasonably? Therin lies the difference I think. People who claim that truth comes from a consistent god, view morals in a vaccuum where regardless of how positive or negative the outcome was, the action was pure and thus right. I cannot honestly ever agree with that kind of viewpoint.

      Murder isn’t wrong because god ordered it and, if god didn’t exist, it immediately becomes ok. Murder is wrong because I recognise there are other existences outside of my own weaving their own complex tapestries of joy and suffering through life. I need no ‘absolute’ truth to evaluate morals and values. Just as I do not need an ‘objective’ truth to follow if it flows from a fundamentally corrupt source (thats more of a general point but I’m not exactly kosher with a lot of what the bibe advocates, or what various christians claim it advocates).

      • Jasper

        That’s what gets me about their position… THEY haven’t even solved the “moral problem”. They can’t get past the Euthyphro Dilemma…. at least our moral system is based on actual real things.. not because some guy said so (which makes it subjective, not objective).

        • James Stevenson

          This is the pesimistic side of me talking, but most of ‘them’ (pretty much every religious blowhard who has more hot air than sense) HAVE got past the euthyphro dilemma… its just they have landed firmly on the side of authority as morality. Which is where you get all the childrens advice books that advocate ‘training’ your child rather than teaching them. Its a thought process that, as I said, values the purity of the act, and not the purity of the result. Though I wouldn’t be so hardcore about purity of result as to advocate ‘killing X person saves Y lives and thus is better’… if you had to boil it down to generalities as I said above I’m pretty much for the latter.

          It’s kind of like the old atheist canard about ‘I just go one god further in my disbelief’. Objective truth is ONLY feasible if you discard all other religious systems. If you accept divinity and its coercive force as the essence of morality, this viewpoint is just impossible without a serious amout of disbelief, if not outright rejection, in the objective truth of other religious traditions whose idea of objective truth mostly likely clashes with the Christian tradition.

    • Spuddie

      Leaving moral decisions to “god’s word” is not a moral code. It’s an abdication of personal responsibility and decision making to arbitrary and capricious standards

      . Advanced societies debate moral concepts beyond “do not intentionally and maliciously harm others”. If such concepts are crystal clear, you are mt considering them in a thoughtful or adequate manner. Even religious based law is open to debate (google Midrash).

      Atheism is not proving god does not exist. It is saying you can’t prove he does, so there is no need to assume so. If you can’t see hw atesm can mesh with reality, you have spent far too little time thinking in a rational fashion and far too much time pretending a priori assumptions is the same as thinking.

      • lmeridian

        Oooooo I really like that. “…abdication of personal responsibility and decision making to arbitrary and capricious standards.”

        Shall write that down for use later! How eloquent.

    • Roy Gamsgrø

      Atheism doesn’t mesh with reality? What?

      Okay, let’s do this slowly.

      “The proofs for no God can just as easily be countered by proofs for the existence.”
      There are a few problems with this. There are no proofs for the non-existence of God, god, goddess or Goddess (add esses as appropriate to pluralise). There are, however, a copious amount of evidence that explains the universe without the need of a god hypothesis, and from that we infer the non-existence of any deities. Of course, there are also no proofs for the -existence- of any deities. In the absence of any evidence for existence, a presumption of non-existence must be the rational choice.

      About Hemant insisting on the absolute truth about the non-existence of God: Source, please.

      Atheists have no absolute moral code? I would counter by stating that no-one has an absolute moral code, -least- of all those that claim to follow the biblical God. There we have a deity that considered it a good idea to order genocides and execute people for wearing clothes woven by different materials; a God that said that rape victims should be executed and that committed mass infanticide. Also, he changed his mind about his moral code, so not exactly absolute,

    • Bdole

      “I’m just saying!”
      No shit? I thought you were just typing.

    • RobMcCune

      It takes far more faith to believe in no God than to accept the reality all around us that there is a God.

      You don’t really seem to have grasp of what faith means. This is particularly odd since you are religious. What about not believe in magic requires so much faith?

      I understand you point of view, but given your relativistic view of the world, you seem completely inconsistent in not granting the plausibility of a God, or at least admitting that in my reality that there is God,

      It’s pretty bad when you contradicted yourself in less sentence. Infact everything I just quoted you saying is wrong. I, and most people here, aren’t relativists, because of that not believing in the existence of God is not inconsistent. Since you are wrong on both these points the first part claiming to understand us is spectacularly wrong.

      You cant have it both ways.

      Some things are absolutes, some things aren’t, what is so hard to understand about that? A thing either exists or it doesn’t, that’s absolute. External reality is not a matter of opinion.

      But even that doesnt work because advanced societies can never agree on entirely on where my rights end and yours begin. The courts are jammed with such decisions. … Thats still relativistic thinking, and inconsistent with your absolute claim of no God.

      Now your just making things up, if you think that people disagreeing makes something relative then christianity and it’s 41,000 denominations are about as relative as you can get. Again is reality is absolute, and no one is saying otherwise.

      My point is that its still still all relative.

      That rambling mess can not be said to have a point.

      Having read you now for a while,

      That is clearly a lie given that you have to get everything wrong in order to try to prove your right. If anything you’re the real relativist since you have no commitment to truth in your attempt to prove your beliefs true.

    • Jasper

      . But, no, you insist on an absolute truth of the non existence of God,

      … who has been saying this?

      • Jasper

        Hell, even Dawkins has said he wouldn’t go that far.

      • pRinzler

        This is a common form of the straw man fallacy, which makes extreme the usual or minimal necessary form of an position.

      • Artor

        God as defined by Xians? I’ll say that. It’s got too many logical contradictions; it cannot exist in this universe. Maybe something, that by some stretch of language and a hard squint, you could call “God,” but not what the Xians call God.

    • DavidMHart

      “The proofs for no God can just as easily be countered by proofs for the existence.”

      If so, then the opposite is also true – i.e. the ‘proofs’ for gods’ existence can be just as easily countered by ‘proofs’ for their non-existence. But actually there are no proofs, provided you are able to keep on making excuses for why test after test fails to produce good evidence that your gods exist.

      In the real world, you cannot disprove a thing which is continually redefined by its supporters in such a way as to be immune to disproof (which is what religious apologists almost always end up doing). But what you can do is point out that when you are defining your god or gods in such a way, then they are indistinguishable from the imaginary, and in any other are of life, you would happily proceed on the basis that they are imaginary, until some good evidence comes along.

      you seem completely inconsistent in not granting the plausibility of a God, or at least admitting that in my reality that there is God, and in yours there is none.

      Gods simply aren’t plausible – there’s no mechanism ever been described that explains how they could come to exist, there’s no test that has ever been carried out that has ever shown one to exist. But when you start to talk about ‘your reality’ and ‘my reality’, you are pulling a bait-and-switch. Sure, your god or gods exist as figments of your imagination. But they do not, so far as we can tell, exist in the real universe independently of whether you believe in them. Your god only ‘exists’ in the same way that Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster, or Huitzilopochtli, Zeus, vampires, Santa Claus, chupacabras, witches, fairies, jinns and all other manner of mythological creatures ‘exist’ – as myths that seem real enough to the people who believe in them, but when you go looking for them without pre-supposing their existence, it inevitably turns out that there is no good evidence for them.

    • Baby_Raptor

      1) Please refrain from projecting your limitations on everyone. You do not speak for the entire world. It does NOT take more faith to not believe in god than it does to do so.

      2) “I’m just saying” is a loaded phrase. It admits a lot of guilt on behalf of the user. You should avoid it.

      3) Your statement about proofs is again you projecting your limits onto everyone.

      4) Our word view is just as “relativistic” as yours.

      5) Things either exist or they don’t. God either exists or he doesn’t. It is not possible for god to exist in your world and not exist in ours. WTF did you even mean by this, unless you’re admitting that you created god in your head?

      6) Why is it wrong for us to insist that god doesn’t exist, but it’s not wrong for religion to insist that he does? Hypocritical, much?

      7) Not agreeing with your personal morals does not equal not having morals. Please get this through your head. Atheists have morals; they have better morals than society at large. That’s why there are so few of us in jail.

      8) Hey, at least we understand rape is wrong. Your god encouraged it.

      9) You know why there are so many lawsuits over various rights? Because religious people cannot accept where their rights end. Your rights end when what you do starts affecting other people. Notice how all the various lawsuits we have directly violate this: 99% of them revolve around whether or not someone has the “right” to force their beliefs on other people.

      10) If you’re perfectly content to live under majority rule, that’s all well and good. Just remember that you advocated for this one day when the majority turns against you and suddenly it’s your rights they’re taking away.

      11) Your inconsistency claim makes no sense.

      Yeah, you’ve got a nice pile of fail here. Might want to clean that up. I’ll give you a hint on where to start: Stop projecting your limitations on the entire population of the planet. You’ll go a long way there. Another good idea would be to stop setting up strawmen and actually listen to the people you’re so readily insulting.

    • smrnda

      If I tell you that there are two headed eagles in Albania because *obviously* how else did they think up that flag? – Would you take that seriously as evidence for two headed eagles being in Albania? The burden of proof rests on me to show you they exist with evidence.

      And yes, there is an ongoing discussion of morals. What’s the big deal?

    • Kodie

      I don’t think you’re intellectually capable of this conversation. I don’t think there are a lot of Christians who don’t list most or all of these arguments when they come by, and they are all easily defeated by actual logic, not your “makes sense to me” bad, gullible logic.

      If this is the best logic you have to support your god, then there must be no god. There aren’t better arguments? There isn’t more evidence to support this assertion? This is what you all came up with, and you believe it yourselves, but you don’t know how poorly it argues your position, since we’ve all found out that your sources will pretty much guide you into what an atheist will say, then what your answer will be, and no, you don’t make any more sense than the last Christian through here, and we know you’re not listening or intending to really figure out what atheism is or why people reject your god.

      You are just following a Christian manual of trolling atheists with this fucking utterly superstitious nonsense. No paragraphs, just run on and on and on, off-topic – “Sounds fair, but for one thing. Atheism just doesn’t mesh with reality….” What does that have to do with a child’s grandmother wanting a teacher fired for possibly saying something she otherwise shouldn’t have and/or possibly being grossly misunderstood by the child and reported back to the grandmother telephone-game-style?

      What do any of your “thoughtful” interjections have to do with the threads you post them in?

  • fmfalcao

    Greek gods are now seen to have been myths and one day we can say without retribution that this no christian, Muslim or Jewish gawd. Till that time we need to challenge individuals who claim there is a gawd. I believe the burden of proof exist with those who make outlandish claims.

    Fmf

  • Andrew

    You can’t really be an atheist if you think atheism is a religious agenda. Sorry. You just exposed yourself. Perhaps even to yourself.

    • Jasper

      It’d be better to say I have a “rational agenda”. Atheism isn’t the goal – coming to true conclusions is the goal… it’s just that theism is being swept away, alongside demons, Loch Ness monsters, homeopathy, spirits and fairies, as “failed to validate”.

    • Guest

      Definitely taking what he said out of context.

    • TnkAgn

      I won’t “unlike” your statement, because I think your first sentence is true. Atheism has a non-religious agenda, not a religious one. The semantics are difficult, however, as I think Hemant meant not to attach the impression of an “anti-religious” agenda to the teacher. When teaching science, this is an important line of demarcation, keeping separate the physical from the metaphysical.

      • kgbla

        Atheism is not an agenda. We were all born atheist.

    • Anat

      Atheism is a position about all theistic religions.

  • Eliot Parulidae

    I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. I’ve been to Anderson County, Tennessee. If this had happened in Portland or San Francisco, I might have believed the grandmother. However, no teacher in Tennessee would ever be so street-stupid as to attack religion directly in the classroom. I think that the child misunderstood what was said and the grandmother, drunk on delusions of persecution, called the media.

    • Nancy Shrew

      I live near Portland and I guaran-damn-tee you no teacher would say God didn’t exist in a classroom either.

      • ShoeUnited

        Portland teachers don’t get paid enough to do anything but shuffle kids along.

  • Jennifer

    “If she actually told the students there’s no God, we have a much more
    serious issue.”

    Yes, that’s quite a slippery slope. If you allow teachers to tell students there’s no God, pretty soon they’ll be demanding the right to tell students there’s no griffins, hobbits, phlogiston or caloric. And where would American education be then?

    • M Huler

      I watched a very good documentary about a hobbit actually- based on a real book. Stupid atheists.

    • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

      No griffins? How can you SAY such a thing!
      *commences pearl clutching* ;-)

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    And she is going to sue for what?

  • busterggi

    I wonder how granny would feel if the teacher had said something along the lines of ” there is a god some people call Jesus and others call Allah.”
    Probably no better.

    • kaydenpat

      Wouldn’t be challenging God’s existence so I don’t think she’d be as upset.

  • ByTor

    I would doubt a “grandmother” has standing to sue in the first place.

    • rhodent

      According to the article, it is the child’s father who is considering suing the school.

      • Jasper

        It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the FFRF did their thing.

        [Edit] Functionally speaking, the allegations aren’t really different than the theistic ones we get, even if this case is very weakly supported – all they’d need to do is send a letter.

      • Leiningen’s Ants

        I don’t throw the term “momma-whipped” around often, but that dad…

  • guest

    Tennezsee again? What is that, the 5th or 6th time that state has been in the news this week because of the godlodytes and their stupidity? Can’t we just divide this country up and stick all the ignoramouses in the Bible belt/South and let everyone else with a 6th gradeeducation or jigger live along the cost and in the major metropolitan areas? They’re dragging us down with them!

    • guest

      Damn phone!

  • charvakan

    “She did share that we have the Big Bang theory. We have the God theory.”

    I don’t think a teacher should talk about “God Theory” in a public class room. Just teach the scientific theory and keep your opinions on the God theory whatever it may be out of the class room.

  • primenumbers

    The obvious comeback is for the teacher to state that the greek gods are real…..

  • http://gadlaw.com gadlaw

    We don’t have a god theory, we have a god claim by those with no science, no sense and no desire to educate themselves. Having said that any teacher asked by a student should point out that a school is a place for education and that questions about religion should be addressed to their parents since people have many different views about religion and whether or not there is a god. Tell the student that people get angry when questioned about their particular belief which is why beliefs in deities or gods is best addressed at home.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Fucking hypocrite. I bet she wouldn’t be saying a word if her grandkid came home telling her how the next teacher he had gave a giant sermon about Jesus.

  • katiehippie

    If they sue and somehow win, then they’ve guaranteed that teachers can’t talk about God either.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      There’s no chance of winning if this was only allegedly witnessed by elementary school students, though. A court won’t put a kid that age through the rigamarole of a lawsuit for something so trivial to the child, and courts assume that all children are too easily influenced into telling stories.

      For context, my family couldn’t get a court to listen to a nine year-old who said that his father and stepmother tried to give him marijuana. There was no debate; it just wasn’t going to happen. And these same people were documented by Child Welfare in their own posts on their own Facebook pages as having given pot and alcohol to their 13yo daughter, with pictures.

      Of course, I do kind of like the ramifications of your scenario…

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Something tells me that the grandmother would be more than happy if the teacher had said there was a god and that the god was the christian god. I seriously doubt the teacher came out and said that there is no god.

  • Frank Emfbo

    Wouldn’t they need to prove in court that god actually exists in order to successfully sue the teacher/school?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      No. The basis of any lawsuit wouldn’t be that the teacher said something untrue, it would be that the teacher was using her role as an agent of the government to push a religious position. In this case, I think atheism counts as a ‘religious position’.

      Telling kids to not collect things isn’t any different from telling them they should collect stamps, and that collecting coins, or not collecting is wrong.

  • LesterBallard

    ““Whether you believe in, or you don’t believe in it, you know, that’s your own personal belief, but don’t go and try to teach other parents’ children, grandchildren your beliefs,” said Sanders. “That’s no place in school for doing that.”

    Do we have any surgeons in the audience? My fucking head just exploded.

  • johnlev

    So now a christian understands what atheists are mad about.

    • Brian

      Doubtful.

  • smrnda

    Yeah, and teachers explicitly promoting Christianity is totally fine. It’s only ‘indoctrination’ when someone ELSE does it.

  • cyndi

    How is she pushing her religion? Atheism isn’t a religion, it’s a singular belief and maybe she shouldn’t have said it, but hey grandma, why don’t you use this as a way to explain that SOME people don’t believe in your god? It is absolutely ridiculous to expect a teacher to be fired for something so insignificant. Then again it’s Tennessee and we’re known for getting all het up when people try to take the good lord out of the schools. Apparently it turns all the children into gun-grabbing lunatics. . . which you’d THINK they would appreciate more,being so gun-happy.

  • David Trueman

    You wonder why we outside of the USA think you are all members of an insane asylum. The things you get your pristine nickers in a twist over. Do you sort nothing out in private with a one on one conversation and a quiet chat ? Does everything become a media hype and battling lawyers ? Its a amazing you get anything done.

    • Brian

      Right…because a few anecdotal stories on the internet is obviously representative of a country of 300+ Million people.

    • Jasper

      Sorting things out in private in a one-on-one conversation and a quiet chat is a great way for problems to fester, grow, and become malignant. Systemic issues hide below the surface, and little gets done.

      • Roy Gamsgrø

        You might want to look into what ‘sorting things out’ means?

        If the problems ‘fester, grow and become malignant’, they are not sorted out.

    • Nancy Shrew

      Sometimes we battle it out on the backs of bald eagles.

      • Itarion

        With ‘MURICA flagpole lances.

    • Itarion

      15 minutes of fame for everyone. Most of ‘em use the spotlight to push religion. Hell, most of ‘em get into the spotlight BECAUSE they push religion.

    • scroogleu

      “members of an insane asylum” – LOL! You only wish you had the freedom which these third-grade-educated, toothless, self-declared Tennesse princes and princesses have to make complete jackasses of themselves and not be jailed for it ;- )

  • rg57

    “If she actually told the students there’s no God, we have a much more serious issue.”

    Speak for yourself. There’s no issue at all, any more than saying there’s no pizza shop orbiting Mars. It’s a school, not a home, not a church, not a comedy club.

    • Itarion

      Well, until we can come up with a whole pile of scientific evidence for there not being a god, it’s not something that should be taught. Young children are impressionable, and should not be taught religion or the absence thereof in governmental school.

      (Un)fortunately, most serious scientists prefer not to waste their lives chasing after pipedreams.

  • kgbla

    I think that what she meant to say was that the Higgs boson has often been called the “God particle”, but that a god particle does not actually exist.

  • Bruce Long

    “Whether you believe in, or you don’t believe in it, you know, that’s your own personal belief, but don’t go and try to teach other parents’ children, grandchildren your beliefs,” said Sanders. “That’s no place in school for doing that.”

    Awesome, so no more school chaplains, christian youth groups, evangelicals, evangelizing, faithist proselytising. Fantastic. No more theist dominionist imperatives – or whatever they decide to call it next. About bloody time. No more school prayers, one nation under dog nonsense, and no more moron parents teaching their poor kids to tell atheist kids they are going to hell for not believing a load of wanton bullshit. No more wanton propagation of theist and deist conservative stoopid. The woman is a visionary. Imagine no faithism. It’s easy if you try.

    • Itarion

      Imagine all the people living life in peace.

      • katiehippie

        Someone ought to write a song…..

  • Leiningen’s Ants

    MY TEACHER SAID THAT THE SUPREME GOD THAT THROWS DOWN LIGHTNING BOLTS FROM MOUNT OLYMPUS IS MYTHOLOGICAL!!!

    WAAAH!!! HOW CAN A GOD LIKE THAT BE MAKE BELIEVE?! GRAN MA MA HEEEELP~~!!!

    (and it’s like “Wow, he’s learned Appeal to Irrelevant Authority this young? Yeah, you’re raising a darling little shit-clone~<3")

  • Paul LaClair

    People have a mistaken notion that they can just file lawsuits whenever they want to. In a sense they can but without a valid cause of action, it will be dismissed. Having been in a situation where a public school teacher trampled all over students’ religious freedom from the opposite side of this coin, I wish there were more remedies. However, this woman and her child have no basis for action. The most they can do, if they can prove that the teacher said this – which I doubt – is get an injunction from her doing it again. And if she does it again, they can get another injunction. Big deal. We’re not serious about preventing teachers from doing this but the Christians seem to think that on the rare occasions when the shoe is on the other foot, the courts can step in for them.

  • brianmacker

    What’s the problem? The Christian god doesn’t exist. Some people believe the truth and the kids are going to have to come up against this at some point.

  • imjustasteph

    Assuming she did tell the kids God doesn’t exist, they should do to her exactly what they do to all the teachers who tell kids (such as mine) that God is real and that they [the kids] are wrong to disbelieve. Which, in my experience, is that they send the parent an email assuring them that it’s been handled but that the parent isn’t allowed to know how, due to confidentiality, and then the teacher/staff member goes on as normal.

    Or else, alternately, they could handle it as though she did something inappropriate (which she did, again, assuming the story is accurate from grandma’s side), and also start doing the same to the proselytizing Christian teachers.

  • Gus

    I understand that saying “there is no God” to a classroom is inappropriate, but I also think the right answer to how the solar system was created is to give a scientific explanation and not mention god(s) at all, but instead to say that this is the best explanation we have based on the available evidence and how the laws of physics operate.

    I expect many religious parents would see that as the exact same as saying “there is no God”.

    And if a student insisted on bringing up god(s) in reference to the question, I would feel the need to (mis)quote LaPlace: while different people believe different gods were involved, science “has no need of that hypothesis”.

    I’m sure many religious parents would also see that as the exact same as saying “there is no God”, and I wonder how that statement stacks up as a separation of church and state issue. I think it should be fine, but I’m not sure how many would agree with me…

  • Gus

    Did I miss it, or did they never mention the age or grade of the student involved? Maybe they’re not mentioning it for privacy reasons, but it’s kind of important to the story. I have a seven year old, and I have to be very careful about how I respond to things he says occurred or were said at school because he’s not particularly accurate. Young children can get things really mixed up, particularly things that were said to them that they don’t have the background to really understand. Since Greek myths were mentioned, it seems like the teacher might have brought those up and said people no longer believed in them, but not actually said there’s no god.

    Of course, the right thing to do would have been not to mention god at all. The grandmother is right that personal beliefs have no place in the school. I just wonder if she’d be so fired up and demanding a resignation if the personal beliefs matched her own. I for one don’t think there’s any cause for resignation until there’s a pattern of behavior indicating a complete disregard for the rules. I’ll even give Christian teachers a second chance.

  • Jake David MacLennan

    And we have the Marduk and Tiamat theory.

  • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

    Jesus said, “”I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”


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