I really think kids today, and probably for the past twenty to thirty years, have been sadly deprived in the public education they have been receiving. I'm not blaming the teachers for the most part. I do think that most of them are doing the best they can within the boundaries they have been confined. I am placing blame on the shoulders of misguided school boards, education departments at the state level, the judicial system, parents, and society as a whole. There is a lot of foolishness that is inflicted upon our children by special interests and liberal buffoons that takes the place of quality and relevant education. The most important textbook and literary resource is rarely used in our classrooms.
Here is my debate question for today:
Should the Bible be mandatory course study throughout the entire K - 12 public school curriculum?
The book commonly referred to as THE HOLY BIBLE is indisputedly the most influential book of Western Culture. I'm sure somebody will dispute this statement and if that's you then I'll be interested in your evidence as to which book has greater influence. THE BIBLE is the best selling book of all time, a fact which is documented by a number of sources. Having possibly sold more than all of the other required or recommended reading books combined is, in my opinion, enough to make it a book that should be not only acknowledged but also studied. The fact that THE BIBLE was the first book to be printed in mass production and prior to the printing press was widely distributed through copies transcribed by hand also gives this book extraordinary significance. However the main reason for all students in the U.S. to have regular study of THE BIBLE as a requirement is the sheer influence this book has had and continues to have on our culture.
1. Literature: THE BIBLE should be taught as literature and literary influence. The book contains poetry and prose which has been read and appreciated for centuries. And not only has it been read, it has been allluded to with great frequency in literature and literary works have been even based on stories and passages from THE BIBLE. Shakespeare alludes to THE BIBLE over 1600 times in his plays. It would be absurd to relegate biblical allusions such as these to obscure footnotes in literary works when a solid education based on the source would make far more sense. Even from the standpoint of words and idioms, many of these are based on biblical allusions. When someone says they've met their goliath, what does that mean? If you are versed in a Bible background you know the answer to that.
2) History: THE BIBLE is history. In some cases there may be some dispute as to its accuracy, but there are many things studied in school that are disputed. A part of education is looking at opposing viewpoints and coming to rational conclusions as to what is correct. Much of the history presented in THE BIBLE is absolutely accurate and new discoveries continue to be made that authenticate what is presented in biblical historical accounts. As far as presentation, their are interesting approaches taken in THE BIBLE that deserve attention, such the geneologies.
Perhaps more important is THE BIBLE's influence on history and how the book directly influenced societal mores, political decisions, legal directives, and other ways that made our society go in some of the directions it went. There are so many biblical references used by our Founding Fathers, as well as numerous historically important speeches by great Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others. Without a strong biblical background students have no reference point to understand these allusions other than assuming that another person's footnoted explanations are correct, which is sometimes shaky scholarship to rely upon.
3). Culture: Some of Western Civilization's greatest works of music and visual art, as well as the art mediums of popular culture, depict or reference things taken from THE BIBLE. Granted though much of the U.S. educational system is sadly lackly in exposing students to the great fine arts, it would still be a good thing to be able to arm them with enough knowledge to recognize what they are seeing when they encounter a work that has something to do with THE BIBLE--it's called being informed, or educated. Even pop culture such as movies and music frequently incorporates biblical themes and ideas. There are too many to even begin to list, but one that immediately comes to mind the THE DAVINCI CODE. Solid biblical knowledge can give a modern audience greater critical discernment and more understanding to appreciate works that have these types of references.
4) Philosophy and critical thinking: Rather than focusing on teaching what to think it might be more useful to teach them how to think. Frequently students are indoctrinated or programmed rather than encouraged to examine many facets of a subject matter and make logical deductions. THE BIBLE offers some unique philosophical ideas that are worth studying which opens up many opportunities to develop strong critical thinking skills.
5) Ethics: Students in the U.S. are becoming sadly lacking in good ethical behavior. Our educational system does not seem to be doing much to change that. THE BIBLE is about ethics to a great extent, and the ethics portrayed therein are fairly universal. Many of our nation's laws are based on biblical laws. These biblical laws make good common sense and are worth study and evaluation. I see nothing but value in teaching students things like stealing and lying are wrong. There is a real upside to studying ethics in school in every grade.
Using THE BIBLE as a text and a book of study is important to our students because it has been a touchstone for our nation, our culture, and our society. It should be presented as objectively as possible with no bias in either direction. We have other requirements such as American History and Foreign Language. One could question the value of these moreso than an ongoing Bible study. Students are given certain novels and other literary works as standard required and recommended fare in English classes. Why those and not THE BIBLE? I am of a strong opinion that in order to preserve our nation's values, heritage, and culture we should promote THE BIBLE over any other text. This book represents who we have been and who we are. I want to keep it that way.
What about you? Would you be disturbed if the U.S. education system required a course of study of THE BIBLE throughout the entire educational career of public school students and if so, why? As long as no particular religious agenda is being pushed, what is the real downside to studying THE BIBLE? Have I realistically stated the influence of THE BIBLE upon our society and if not, why does this book seem to be so important? Try to be rational in your argument and please don't pander to anti-Christian stereotyping or religion bashing. Try to convince me that I'm way off base in my thinking on this or help me prove why I am correct.
So are you up to a game of catch? Let's have a good time. I've tossed it out to you, now it's your turn to toss it back.