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19
39
It's okay It's not okay
Debate Score:58
Arguments:58
Total Votes:61
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 It's okay (18)
 
 It's not okay (25)

Debate Creator

Mack(119) pic



Is it okay for a public school to put up pro-atheism posters?

At my public high-school in New Zealand the science department has some posters up which support atheism.  One such example is a poster which quotes Richard Dawkins saying *"How thoughtful of God to arrange matters so that, wherever you happen to be born, the local religion always turns out to be the true one."*  There are other atheist and anti-theist posters up around our science department.  

My question is: Is this okay?

I thought this would be interesting, as the usual conversation about this sort of thing is centered on public schools condoning religion, especially in the U.S.  I definitely believe that to put up posters supporting a religion in a public school is wrong, and I'll post my argument concerning atheist posters (and similar things that condone atheism) below.  

NOTE: I am not looking for an argument as to whether or not it *is* legal, but as to whether or not it *should be* legal.  Also, anybody who says that atheism is a religion, will be banned immediately.  As per usual, keep things civil in this debate.  I also don't want this debate to get into whether or not a god exists, let's try and remain neutral here.

It's okay

Side Score: 19
VS.

It's not okay

Side Score: 39
1 point

Hello M:

Of course it's ok... Schools are there to TEACH, not PROPAGANDIZE..

excon

Side: It's okay
excon(2116) Disputed
3 points

Hello again:

I'm an atheist.. I believe in NOTHING.. I've said repeatedly on these pages, that you can't promote NOTHING.. If you're TRYING to promote something, it ISN'T atheism..

Upon further reflection, I thought these posters were pro science, rather than pro atheism.. But they certainly might be trying to convert people.. And proselytizing ISN'T something a REAL atheist does.. So, I changed my mind. Public schools should not teach science by promoting atheism.

excon

Side: It's not okay
Mint_tea(1741) Clarified
2 points

If it's worth anything, I appreciate you taking the time to further reflect on this. If it had been a poster about science or about evolution, it wouldn't matter to me but the saying in that poster isn't meant to further science; it's a mocking commentary with no educational value. Personally I like his "By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out." quote.

Side: It's okay
1 point

If it is the school itself putting up the posters, then it is acceptable only if it also puts up pro-theism posters. If it is teachers or students putting up the pro-atheism posters, it is acceptable only if teachers and students are also allowed to put of pro-theism posters.

I don't believe that avoiding the expression of positions is desirable, or even possible, in an educational institution. Avoiding exposing students to controversial ideas doesn't equip them to navigate controversial ideas. It leaves them unexposed to different ideas, and inexperienced in navigating disagreement. So long as there is equal opportunity for expression, I don't see an issue.

Side: It's okay
4 points

Schools should not be used as market places to promote any form of ideology or dogma, beliefs or disbeliefs.

Side: It's not okay
3 points

I don't agree with it as we had enough of this from the religious and now some atheists use a tactic they condem the religious for using .

You're absolutely correct to ban anyone that says Atheism is a religion an argument that a lot of the more idiotic type of believer insist is valid

Side: It's not okay
2 points

My sentiments, exactly. NO religious posters, NO Atheistic posters, at least in public schools (and public places). Believe what you wish but keep it from being propagandized! If I still wanted to believe in Zeus or Neptune, etc. I should have that right. Putting that belief out in public would make me look a little crazy, wouldn't it?? (O.K. Outhouse60, I gave you an opening no 7th grader would pass up ... waiting for your 7th grade response). ;-) We shouldn't have to be showered with anyone's crazy beliefs, if everyone kept them to themselves, we might finally achieve world peace ..., nice!

Side: It's not okay
2 points

Don't worry Outhouse won't disappoint 😊

Why do people have to keep publicising their beliefs ?

Over here no one ever really talks about their religious beliefs and it's seen as rude to do so , that's from a country that's steeped in the Catholic tradition

You're correct if people just kept to themselves that would have the desired result

Side: It's not okay
Jace(4422) Clarified
1 point

Why should you have that right to belief? Why shouldn't you have to be showered with others' beliefs? Is it strictly predicated upon the social outcome you predict? I'm just curious.

Side: It's okay
outlaw60(8369) Clarified
0 points

"At my public high-school in New Zealand the science department has some posters up which support atheism."

Crazy AL the poster is talking about New Zealand public high school did you pay attention to the subline of the heading ? Or is it you just wanted to rant as you normally do ?

Side: It's okay
2 points

Thank you, I agree completely. If one wants to suggest they are better for their belief (or non belief) then they should act better and not fall back on the same actions they mock others for doing. That's for both/all sides. If you hate how one side presents itself, don't go about doing the SAME thing to prove your own point. Ya know?

Side: It's not okay
Jace(4422) Disputed
1 point

Did we have enough of it from the religious because it was indoctrination or because it was indoctrination disagreeable with our own values and beliefs? It seems to me that "indoctrination" is just the word that gets used to refer to instruction one disagrees with whereas "education" is used to refer to sort of instruction one agrees with. I'm dubious that it's even possible to not indoctrinate so long as we're committed to instruction in some form. It's just down to a matter of opinion what is agreeable and what isn't.

Further, if condemning others for using indoctrination is useful to advancing one's values and using indoctrination is also useful for the same end... then why shouldn't one do both? I don't see that consistency necessarily has any value in its own right.

Very much as an aside... Atheism isn't a religion by most definitions of the word, but it can be a belief system if it goes beyond the singular claim that god does not exist. And just as with theism, there are various ways to be an atheist. If it's Dawkinsian or Harrisian atheism, then the only remarkable difference is that the truth valence for the proposition god is reversed. While that's not religion per say it's nevertheless fairly indistinguishable (and a significant part of why some theists claim atheism is a religion).

Side: It's okay
Dermot(2572) Clarified
1 point

We had enough of it because we were never given any choice in the matter ; education could hardly be called 'indoctrination ' as one is learning mostly factual agreed upon information as in Geography, language , Math etc,etc, non of theses subjects are down to a matter of opinion.

I first started hearing Atheism is a religion from American believers and it was always used in a sneering way as if to imply ' well you're down on religion but you guys are a religion also '

For me like most Atheists, Atheism is a position on one question and that's it , nothing else .

Side: It's okay
2 points

Although I myself am an atheist, and don't mind the posters, I still think that it is not okay. One might say that it is different, as atheism is not a belief system, but I don't think that's enough to make it okay. I think it's pushing some sort of view which is not directly related to what is being taught at school, and that the students should be left to make up their own mind. It's not that I worry anybody will be offended, just that it's not the schools job. The school should not be making any comments about the validity of religion, especially since the younger students may be easily influenced by things like this, and won't then make up their own minds. I want atheism to become more popular, but not through underhand methods such as this. If the school's science department thinks that skeptical scientific thinking leads to atheism, then they should teach skeptical scientific thinking, not atheism. I'll leave it at that though, as I don't want to get into a debate about whether or not a god exists here.

I am open to a good reason as to why it is okay to put up these posters though.

Side: It's not okay
Jace(4422) Disputed
1 point

Thanks for another interesting debate topic.

What I question in your analysis here is whether students are really so impressionable that the mere exposure to a few posters is going to give them fixed ideas about anything. The idea that we need to shelter them to this extent suggests to me a level of disbelief in students' critical thinking capacity which is inconsistent with trying to develop critical thinking (after all, the capacity has to exist to be nurtured). As long as students, faculty, and staff are allowed to put up pro-theism posters as well then this seems to engage students in an active, real life process of applying critical thought and navigating disagreement.

More radically, maybe we don't want schools to be egalitarian and maybe we do want them to indoctrinate students into a certain way of thinking. If we really believe that theism is a harm, for instance, then we should want to prevent them from being theists. Ideology being about affecting circumstances to the conclusion one desires, I think this is defensible.

Side: It's okay
Mack(119) Disputed
1 point

Hi Jace,

The youngest students at the school are 12 to 13, so I would argue that they are impressionable, I was probably a bit impressionable at that age, although I never noticed the posters until I was about 16 (I don't know if they were up then), and already an atheist, so maybe the younger kids just don't care about it?

I think that they already try to develop critical thinking at the school, I remember one lesson where we were learning about the age of the earth, and the teacher gave us an article written by creationist Ken Ham, and asked us to evaluate its reliability. (Everyone seemed to agree it was rubbish) I have no problem with this, as science is directly opposed to creationism. (For that reason I'm okay with the poster(s) that are anti-creationism, and anti-conspiracy theory, etc) I think that they make students evaluate the reliability of sources enough in science, history, etc, that the atheism posters are entirely unnecessary in the development of critical thinking skills.

Also, probably the biggest problem, is that I don't think the staff are allowed to put up pro-theism posters, at least I've never seen any (I'm pretty sure it's just one teacher in particular putting the posters everywhere, not the school). The school has had some (entirely optional) Christian prayers at assemblies though, so you could say that they have endorsed Christianity as well as atheism?. I think the only reason the atheism posters are permitted is that they are under the guise of science (whether or not atheism is a scientific view).

Interestingly, I can't find anything in NZ law addressing things like the putting up of posters that support either theism or atheism.

As to your last point, I understand you, but I think a theist could make an equivalent argument that religion should be encouraged, even if we disagree with their reasoning. For that reason, even if it would be beneficial to endorse atheism, I doubt it would ever happen overtly.

Side: It's not okay
2 points

I don't think any publicly funded school should be allowed to enforce any type of worldview.

This includes political parties and religions. While atheism is not a religion it is still a worldview. You can be a quiet atheist just as you can be a quiet Republican or a quiet Christian, but it remains something that shouldn't be forced on anyone.

Having a secular school is fine as it doesn't favour any one religion. Having a multi-faith school is something I'm OK with.

Having a school promoting atheism (rather than simply free-thinking) makes me uncomfortable as much as a school promoting Christianity, Marxism or anything else would make me uncomfortable.

I think it's dangerous to put up pro-atheism posters in a science department because it encourages the belief that science is directly opposed to theism when this is not the case.

Something like, "Question Everything" would be more appropriate as it's not pushing atheism but still encouraging young people to be independent thinkers -- something which a pro-atheism poster is actually not doing.

Side: It's not okay
outlaw60(8369) Clarified
1 point

"I don't think any publicly funded school should be allowed to enforce any type of worldview."

Well then why should transgendered bathrooms be pushed on publicly funded schools. Come on Progressive what you got to say now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Side: It's okay
Jace(4422) Disputed
1 point

I don't think any publicly funded school should be allowed to enforce any type of worldview.

Then what is it supposed to teach, exactly?

Side: It's okay
1 point

Then what is it supposed to teach, exactly?

What is supposed to be.

Something that'll help humanity irrespective of an individual's personal opinions, something that actually can give them jobs to earn money, something that you and me have learnt till date, only that it probably might be better in the future.

Side: It's not okay

In my opinion, schools should be neutral on this, it is not their right to tell others to pick on religion or atheism, however I wouldn't mind debates, as that'll get the kids thinking, when we talk about schools, we are talking about people getting education and knowledge, what they(students) want to believe in should be none of their business. People from different religious beliefs come to study and we expect a school to be just as secular as egalitarian.

Side: It's not okay
Jace(4422) Disputed
1 point

Why isn't it the school's right? Why is the expectation that schools be egalitarian reasonable?

Side: It's okay
1 point

Why is the expectation that schools be egalitarian reasonable?

Egalitarian:

believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

I think that should make it clear, it is reasonable.

Why isn't it the school's right?

A school is where people get education, on particular subjects, if religion was a subject, I have no problems with atheism and and religion posters being put up everywhere in the school.

Side: It's not okay
1 point

I would not support allowing putting up pro atheism posters unless the school allows pro religion posters. They should have the same rules as religious posters.

Side: It's not okay
1 point

Nope, it's not okay.

I completely agree with the sentiment of the posters; but school is not there to try and promote one religion over another, or promote lack of religion over religion, it's there to teach.

They don't need posters to promote one thing over another, just a focus on teaching Critical thinking and logical analysis and everything will come out in the wash.

Side: It's not okay
Jace(4422) Disputed
1 point

Teaching is the promotion of one thing over another (well, really of many things over many other things). Why is it okay for things like critical thinking and logic to be preferenced, but not a religious or areligious view? Or, for that matter, why isn't it okay for illogicality and unreasonableness to be preferenced themselves?

Side: It's okay
1 point

I usually defend non-believers but I see no valid basis whatsoever to display pro-atheist propaganda in a publicly funded school.

By the way though, I notice that was in New Zealand. I don't know what laws or legal precedent or constitutional principles dominate in that country. I'm speaking from my own experience and opinion based on the USA.

Side: It's not okay

No

Because school is a neutral playing field. Schools should not postulate one way or the other whether or not a God exists. Teachers should only present the evidence and let the chips fall where they may. I don't believe schools should allow biblical teaching but I also don't think they should openly state that there is no God

Side: It's not okay