Watching a discussion between Dawkins and Krauss (please watch the video on my Fun Media page) and in the Q and A section they talked about how to 'spread the message' so to speak (message of science and rationality as opposed to irrationality). However, there is a problem. A true believer cannot be convinced that their belief is wrong OR that science is right. They talked about a lack of scientific knowledge in schools across America, which is a great tragedy. The United States has the most citizens that DENY Evolution and Natural Selection in favor of Religion and put that in science class! If anyone else is as shocked and appalled about this as me you'll understand my feeling on the topic.
Let me be clear about one thing, personal belief is not my issue. In the US it is a constitutional right to believe in whatever you want. I would not try to take away someone's personal beliefs BUT when that belief is asserted as true instead of scientific evidence and that is taught to children we as a society are less better off. What do we do about this?

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I am kind of left scratching my head on this one regarding your general description of the remarks made by Dawkins and Krauss.  Based off what you say, they seem to ignore the fact that the child's home is the fundamental place of learning in the formative years of a child's upbringing.  Since a child's brain is like a sponge in the early years of development, all understanding concerning culture, social structures, belief systems, science, math, reading, politics - basically anything concerning human existence - takes place between the child and the child's first teacher(s) his/her parent(s) or guardian(s).  Thus by the time the public school system gets a hold of them, they are already coming into contact with a human being who's embedded in the understanding of what mommy and/or daddy have taught them.  The only thing a teacher does from there is either reinforce the parent's worldview or challenge it, and it is a dreadfully difficult process to wrangle loose what has already been imbedded in a developing mind - especially when you come against the formative authority of a parent (who at a young age sees the parent as the final authority on everything).

The real problem in American schools is not whether there is enough science being taught - there is plenty of it being taught (I having first hand knowledge of this as both a student of the educational system and later when I taught school in both a public and alternative setting) - plenty of math too.  The real problem is that the schools do not teach enough (or well enough) things like critical thinking.  Science is not the origin of understanding logic and reason.  Science is a product of logic and reason.  Critical thinking and interpretative analysis is the origin of logic and reason which gives rise to the sciences.  Anyone who has had an education in critical thinking or analysis knows this.  However, sadly, a number of schools are cutting down emphasis on their humanities courses - art, music, and literature, and it is in humanities where interpretation and critical thinking is forged - particularly in literature classes where students are forced to test philosophical, religious, political, and cultural views.  But I begin to digress here.

My point is that schools in the States only teach and reinforce the "spoon-fed" style of education, where one is expected to merely regurgitate what the teacher says with out any critical thinking involved. Add to this any number of societal institutions (church, political parties, media, corporations, banks, etc.) who prefer sheep who tow the line rather than rock the boat with critical thought and POOF you have a mindless human who only believes what he or she is told by certain authorities.  It is the very same mess that you all.

So really, I guess what I am saying is that the problem is really a pandora's box of a mess.  I hope this makes sense.  If there is any confusion to what I am trying to say, ask a question and I will try to clear the mess up a bit.

Makes perfect sense to me, Barry.   The kids need to learn how to learn, not just learn.

I just re-read my post and realized that aside from a few simple grammatical errors, I left an incomplete thought! My brain must be ready for bed.

What I meant to say in the incomplete thought was: "It is the very same mess that you all do not want to happen - become enslaved thinkers, or non-thinkers.  Robots of a manufactured society that obscures reality.  And it can be said in any number of ways: shut up and calculate, shut up and believe the Bible, shut up and obey your leaders; drink this, eat this, buy this - it will make you happier."  Get the point?

Well at a public school a kid would be getting more experience with kids and teachers who don't think the same as mommy and daddy. However, not all kids go to these schools. Many kids (especially in the south) go to schools that believe the same thing as mommy and daddy and teach those things. I agree with you, critical thinking is a huge thing that a lot of schools leave out of their curriculum. However the schools that are leaving them out the most are the same ones reinforcing mom and dad's belief system. I like your ideas, critical thinking and analysis is definitely something important that should be taught much better.

And that, my friend is do to culture!  One key player that I left out last night - which I should not have, but did in tiredness - was that of the church.  The church is a key player in shaping the cultural outlook and opinion of the child, because they are one of the key sources of institutional authorities that children are exposed to outside the family unit (as well as synagogues and mosques).  Thus, schools in cultures such as the south or midwest - or even pockets of subcultures existing within a mostly secular or multi-cultural community - are in fact third or even fourth in line in a child's exposure to the world.  I know this having worked as a pastor for almost the past four years of my life, as well as also having grown up in a "churched" family.

Furthermore, most people migrate to cultures and communities that they are most comfortable in, and in many cases this means less diversity of thought or opinion regarding the world in which we live.  Even atheists are "ethnocentric" in some shape and form of this way.

I think thats true, its really difficult to escape ethnocentrism in some way shape or form. However, I think that Atheist (in general, not always) are better educated in different schools of thought, and in general are more accepting of things (given proper evidence or proof).

Sam, I am not sure if you are aware of this but I am a theist, and in your last statment:

"However, I think that Atheist (in general, not always) are better educated in different schools of thought, and in general are more accepting of things (given proper evidence or proof)."

I agree with you.  In general, Atheists can be (I wouldn't use "are"  because it denotes active present, where as "can be" denotes potentiality).  Theists can also be, but most are overshadowed by the fundamentalist voices - and even then a number outside of the fundamentalist movement lack acceptance because of traditional and embedded theology.

That said, I have witnessed Atheists lacking acceptance towards different thought, opinion, and humanity.

Just because you are an Atheist doesn't mean you're smart or well read (I acknowledge this). However, it seems as though to be a good Atheist you should read more theistic texts (personally I have read the bible 3 times, I read Swinburne, and I have watched many of the Dr. Craig debates, I have also read quite a few atheist and science books). To be an Atheist (a good one) you should be very well read.

I really appreciate this viewpoint. We can all be trapped in closed-mindedness if we're not constantly vigilant. The stereotype is of a religious fundamentalist set in his ways, but an atheist has the capacity to be just as stubborn, to use just as many fallacies, to fail to listen just as frustratingly, etc. I'm an atheist but not an antitheist, and even on this forum (one of the best I frequent, and filled with some of the most intelligent people), I see that sometimes, and probably act that way myself every once in a while.

All we can do is keep exposing the irrationality that is religion, electronic media is a great place to get this message out. I raised my son to think for himself, to reason. Everyone who knows me, knows I'm an atheist including my very religious family. We have to be out, show politicians that we are a force that they have to account for. In the US right wing bible thumpers keep politicians nervous. Atheist buses, billboards, public appearances of people like Richard Dawkins, entertainers like Bill Maher. Keep reality in the public eye. Reality, pass it on!
Lol instead of "amen" we should say "reality". Try that one on a priest.

Or you could say "truly" or "truth" since "amen" is a koine Greek term which means just that. 

The reason why prayers end in "amen" had more to do with it being a salutation or closing at the end of a letter - a form that is commonly used in English: Sincerely, or (less common) Yours Truly (which conveys even more accurately the meaning of "amen).  In the early Greek is was just a common way of ending something like a letter or testimony - an intent on conveying truth as the individual saw it to a divine being.


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