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November 23, 2011


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First time poster but I've been reading the blog a lot the past few weeks.

An educator should challenge one's students but I think he/she should also be respectful of their different points of view. Where religion is concerned, challenging one's belief system is a big scary thing for the student. The educator should always allow the student to have their beliefs and be aware of their cognitive bias against those beliefs. It's a tough balancing act. If you're going to lecture and give assignments on religion and are lacking in religious belief, you need to design your assignments and tests in a way that helps minimize your bias and clearly define expectations. Tough call.

Bias hits us all the time. At the same time though, challenging one's beliefs, I think, is a very healthy thing. It forces us to re-examine who we are, what we're about, what we believe in. It can lead to a lot of growth.

Mike, your attitude on this issue is nicely balanced.

I agree that we have to be careful about challenging people about their religious beliefs. My basic stance is that so long as a belief is basically personal, not edging into the "political" (broadly speaking), there's no problem.

But if someone has an unfounded belief that interferes with other people's ability to live effectively in demonstrable reality, then we have a problem. Embryonic stem cell research is an example. Fine, someone wants to believe that life is holy and begins at conception. However, that belief isn't a justifiable reason to deny funding for stem cell research.

Reasonable reasons have to be given when a belief affects other people. I think this is the position of the professor I blogged about. I doubt that he challenges students who believe that such-and-such style of music, or way of dressing, is the best/most desirable. Often no reasons need be given for a belief, because it rests in the realm of the subjective.

I've also enjoyed your other comments. Welcome to this blog. Hope you return and take part in other comment conversations.

"...challenging one's beliefs, I think, is a very healthy thing. It forces us to re-examine who we are, what we're about, what we believe in. It can lead to a lot of growth."

I don't believe in "growth". Beliefs are growths - tumors - that need to be removed by seeing the fearful, wishful thinking that nurtures and sustains them.

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