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Saturday, January 23, 2016

If I was God, I'd set the record straight!

Speaking of creation, one atheist wrote: "...given that God is all powerful, he surely would not have left an obviously inaccurate account of his greatest work go to press, or was that just another sign of his fallibility?" --Logically Disproving the Christian God at www.the-atheist.com

Chet Prosser asked: "If God is real, wouldn't He want us to know it? Wouldn't He want us all to acknowledge His presence and worship Him?" --If God Exists, Why Doesn't He Throw Us, Like, A Really F-cking Sweet Party? at www.the onion.com

Marshall Brain commented that "God has never spoken to modern man, for example by taking over all the television stations and broadcasting a rational message to everyone." --50 Simple Proofs That God Is Imaginary at godisimaginary.com

Adam Lee asked: "Why, if God exists, would he make it so difficult for people to find him by allowing so many false religions to come into being? Why would he cloak himself in such a surfeit of wildly disparate and hopelessly contradictory traditions?" --The Cosmic Shell Game posted on Daylight Atheism at www.patheos.com

These folks seem to be saying that a real God would do something (or provide us with some evidence) to demonstrate "He" is really there. I've written about this phenomenon before (Those who are interested may want to check out my post "Give us a sign!"), but I wanted to explore this topic from another angle.

Given the fact that my degree is in education, I thought it might be useful for me to draw upon that experience and ask a few questions about the nature of teaching people and how folks learn. In other words, here are a few questions to consider when we are evaluating God's performance in educating "His" people:

Does everyone learn in the same way? Are there different ways/methods of teaching something? Is lecturing the only way to teach something? What about reading? What about field trips? Is one of these methods always superior to the others?

Does each person receive a message in the exact same way? If you and I watch the same movie, will our experience of it be exactly the same? If we both listen to a sermon, will we hear the same message? If we read the same book, will my interpretation of the material match yours?

Is learning a process? If you were the Teacher, would you tell your students everything at once? Or, would you present a series of lessons that built on the foundation of previous understanding?

How do children react to their parents' instruction? Do they always understand it or follow it? Do they ever feel the need to try out something for themselves before they are willing to accept it?

Is there a window of opportunity for learning, or a time and setting that is more propitious for it than others? Is there a time during each person's life when they are more susceptible to learning?

Does each generation build on the learning/experiences/accomplishments/failures of its predecessors? In other words, is learning evolutionary in nature?

If you were given the task of educating a tribe of primitives that lived deep in the jungle and had never been exposed to the outside world, how would you do it? Do we have any examples of similar situations in human history? What if your audience was predisposed to magical thinking? Would you indulge them? Or would you immediately correct their folly?

Is everything that you have to teach your students superior to what they already know? Is it more effective to do everything yourself or to work through others? Why do most schools divide learning into different subjects/disciplines (e.g. history, math, science)? Is it helpful to specialize or give special attention to a specific subject matter?

Isn't it helpful to remember that the giving and receiving of information is a very complex process with many steps/layers? Does the diversity of opinion we see around us represent failure on God's part, or evidence that "He" doesn't exist? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I would like to comment on your question: "if you were given the task of educating a tribe of primitives that lived deep in the jungle and had never been exposed to the outside world, how would you do it?"

    I read an account of an anthropologist who studied and lived with a primitive tribe in the Amazon area of South America. These were people who had never been exposed to western way of life. Although they couldn't read and did not have what we consider education, they were excellent at surviving in difficult conditions, producing food, making fires, building shelters etc., in a way that white people were entirely ignorant of. The anthropologist fell in love with a woman in the tribe and became her husband and lived with her. While he lived with the tribe, it was almost like he was disabled and she had to look after him because he was so inept and ignorant of her way of life. She was a prominent and admired member of the tribe even though she had a husband who was as useless as a child.

    Eventually he had to move back to the U.S., as his period of study was over. By this time he had a young son from his tribal wife. He persuaded her to come with him even though she didn't want to leave the jungle. They rented an apartment in a large American city near his university.

    The anthropologist was delighted to think of his opportunity to show his obviously intelligent wife all the marvels of modern life. He loved opera and art and now he could share his love with his wife. He was very disappointed when she didn't appreciate his intellectual tastes, but instead preferred to watch soap operas on TV and listen to rock and roll. His wife was very lonely and only enjoyed what he considered to be the worse parts of western life -- MacDonalds, mindless TV shows, and popular music.

    His son who was only 5 or 6 easily adapted to his new life and then became his mother's guide in an environment which was beyond her understanding. The anthropologist felt guilty that he had brought his wife away from her people, but he wrote a book about it that became part of his thesis.

    I remember hearing this story years ago, although I have never read the book.

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