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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A simple booklet on world religions was enough to help me in my psychological development

D'Souza vs. Dennett: The Aftermath from Zaadz: ~C4Chaos' Blog (Crossposted from www.c4chaos.com) I just finished watching the 15-part video of the D'Souza vs. Dennett debate held at Tufts University...
D'Souza agreed with Dennett (see Part 4) as long as Atheism is also included in the curriculum. Sounds fair enough to me. Why?

Allow me to answer this from personal experience. I was raised in the only Christian country in Asia. By virtue of birth, my religion is Roman Catholic. We had religion classes in elementary and high school but the curriculum is all Christian (Roman Catholic to be exact). No religious comparison. No religious evaluation. We're required to memorize the Creed. We're required to make confessions and participate in Holy Communion. No reasoning was offered. It's basic dogmatic indoctrination. I reached college without being exposed to other religious beliefs (aside from Protestants which are essentially also Christians). The only time I got exposed to other religions was when I went out of my way and self-educated myself by reading a small booklet about world religions. That booklet was enough to stretch my understanding beyond the psychological fence of my own religion. I can't remember the exact title of that book and the name of the authors but I'm still grateful for it after all these years. It has been my stepping stone that guided my psychological development, enabling me to hold different perspectives at the same time and form value judgments based on a combination of those perspectives.

If a simple booklet on world religions was enough to help me in my psychological development, I think that teaching children about different religions (and their pros and cons; including Atheism) from a very young age will speed up their psychological development and minimize religious fundamentalism in the future, not to mention that children will be more alert with the pitfalls of some New Age hubris and cultish thinking. This would pave way for more secularization as well as "healthy" versions of religions. This is the truest sense of religious freedom.

In this sense, by making D'Souza agree to teaching different religions to children, Daniel Dennett had advanced his agenda a little further. So I think Dennett has some small victory to celebrate for, even if he was out-debated by D'Souza.

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