Johann Hari warns against the dangers of religion:
Does anybody else find it depressing that as science teaching declines in our schools, we do more than ever to push the sterile fictions of religion on children? As a direct result of government policy, Physics and Chemistry are withering while the enforced study of religion – in faith schools – is swelling.
Hari is right to be concerned about this. Science has a direct effect on Britain’s prosperity. Bad science teaching, or no science teaching, will make us materially poorer than we would be otherwise. It will also make us spiritually poorer, because it’ll replace the true awe and wonder at the natural world with the trite and silly fantasies of religion.
Despite the claims of woolly-headed kum-by-ya multiculturalists, there is a fundamental conflict between science and religion. Science offers a natural explanation of the world, based on empirical observation and reason. Religion offers a supernatural explanation of the world, based on ‘divine revelation’ – in other words, hallucination.
These two roads lead in different directions. Empirically observing the world will never lead you to conclude that (say) the Archangel Gabriel inseminated a virgin and she produced a Messiah who could produce infinite amounts of fish from a basket.
The more we explore the world with science, the more we find it is not as described in the Holy Books. Their maps, their explanations, their histories – all are empirically false. So the religious can either scramble rather pitifully to deny the facts, as creationists do, or they can turn more and more of their faith into gaseous metaphor, with their ‘God’ reduced to a distant First Cause.
In terms of policy the solution to these problems of science and religion is fairly obvious:
1. science should be taught as a compulsory subject in all schools; and taught in an interesting way.
2. religion should also be a compulsory subject. The purpose of religious education should be to innoculate children against religious belief, so that future generations can grow up free from religion.
3. there would be no faith superstition schools
4. independent schools would be required to follow the same policies as state schools regarding the above
(via The Yorksher Gob)