How do you teach the absence of belief?

"ATHEISM could now be taught in schools after the High Court ruled against the Education Secretary for taking “non-religious world views” out of a brand new GCSE."

Far better to teach philosophy, rationale thinking, the scientific method etc. Discussions about the existence of god would be OK too.


  • I would temper that suggestion and say that TRUTH should be taught in schools and thus allow the pupils to form their own opinions.
  • I think "truth" might depend on who is giving the instruction. So that leaves too much room for one's version of the truth to be taught as opposed to another's decidedly different version of the truth. So perhaps just teaching critical thinking would be more appropriate. Rather to teach the skills or steps required in on "how" to determine what may be truth--or what may not. I had a wonderful course on that in university that I think would be well understood by students of many ages...certainly it could be simplified somewhat to be more age appropriate for younger children. Teaching children to question is a start, even if that questioning is simply to themselves. One could certainly teach skills on evidence-based thinking, including for example, how to approach separating fact from fiction. Skills useful not just in the classroom, but in their everyday lives with friends & family. I had one elementary school teacher who was really quite good at teaching that to me (and others)...a woman who I must say left a deep impression on me and made a dramatic difference in my subsequent studies and in how I approached 'learning.' She would say her job was not only to teach me the basics but also "how" to learn. And she did just that. So I know it is a skill that can be learned, even by younger children. They are a lot smarter than we older folks think (Just ask for their help with your computer or any new tech gadget, lol!). I don't see why it couldn't be taught in an atheism class. Isn't that what atheism is really about...separating fact from fiction? Evidence-based facts vs blind faith. Separating what is real...from wishful thinking? Given a motivated teacher, armed with an age appropriate format, it's certainly possible.
  • Pointing out the absurdities and contradiction of religions would be a place to start.
  • Here in the USA, a major stomping ground for Xtians are prisons. Where sad lonely people are ready targets. The only problem I have is that other religions as well as the 'secular world view'--as I call it--aren't allowed equal time.

    For Example:Christians are allowed to have bibles while others aren't allowed their holy books. This is on the excuse that they can't have outside material brought in. So, do they print their own Bibles?

    This is what two people I knew related to me from being in the California "Correctional" System. Schools aren't a problem is the US. Though I understand it's different in Britain. The C. of E. has some say there.

  • Wiser men than I know where TRUTH lies:

  • edited December 2016
    Yes Anthony...wouldn't it be wonderful if all children had the opportunity to learn from Professor Dawkins or someone as equally brilliant in communicating as he is?
  • edited December 2016
    Pat Simons...absolutely, that would be a very good start. There certainly is plenty of material to work with in that regard.
  • Some years ago I saw Dawkins giving/presenting one of the BBC's Royal Institution Christmas Lecture's to an audience of children. He was only a young man then but his grasp of science was most evident.
  • There is only one adequate teacher for this job Neil de Grasse Tyson.
  • Tyson is def. a good one, but there are many really good "teachers". Google any of these authors, and you will find some exceptional books: Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Bertrand Russell, and so on...If you want to start someplace quick and simple, start with "Letter to a Christian Nation", by Sam Harris. It is a short essay, presented in book form. You can get through it in one short sitting. It makes many great points, and is good place to start.
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