School education and freethinkers’ beliefs
Free thinkers have a naturalistic faith with which they want to replace the Christian faith as well as faith in God in schools and society
Decades ago, Christian faith played an important role in Finland and in the Nordic countries. During that time, it was completely normal to hold morning service, read the Bible, and pray in schools. Teaching of religion, especially the Christian faith, took place for several hours a week, which gave children a basic understanding of the gospel and what faith in God means.
The positive attitude of the time towards Christian faith is well reflected on the 1922 election program of the Finnish Coalition Party. Christian values and teaching were considered important in the school system.
Valuable is the inheritance that our nation’s current generation has inherited from their predecessors. Christian beliefs and ethical world view have been planted onto a generation after another. The past generations have searched for satisfaction for their hearts’ deepest longings, guidance in the most imperal questions of life, direction and strength for an ethical journey.
The important task for the current generation is to fully own and for the good of the future generations to accumulate this goodness, which was laid upon them. Our nation’s family life has developed into a strong basis for our societal structure under the wings of Christianity and ethical world view.
When it comes to the teaching of religion in schools, the National Coalition Party believes that the students of primary school as well as secondary school must be provided with religious teaching that correlates with the religious beliefs the majority of the students share. The government must find religious teaching for larger student groups that is compatible with the group’s religion. For smaller student groups the respective religions will take care of their religious teaching and if it is necessary, the government can provide them with aid. Ethical teaching of those children that do not belong to any religion, must be taken care of. Religious teaching must be provided in public institutions of learning.
What about the modern day? There has been a change with relation to the Christian faith and schooling. Modern society demands neutrality. It means that the state should remain neutral in terms of religious education. This social reform has been insisted particularly by freethinkers and non-religious representatives. They believe Christianity should no longer be recognized, taught, or mentioned to children, nor brought up in other contexts, because for them this is religious freedom and a right. Other things should be treated with acceptance and approval, but not God and Jesus Christ. A short newspaper article sheds light on the matter:
School hymn competition angered freethinkers
The Union of Freethinkers of Finland criticizes the hymn competition, Virsivisa, that is held in primary school.
The Union believes that bringing hymns to lessons, other than religion, runs counter to religious freedom and religious non-conformity in teaching.
The Virsivisa is a competition for third and fourth graders in primary school, and its aim is to introduce students to hymns through a competition between schools.
The competition will be held in autumn for the seventh time…
In their statement, the Union of Freethinkers of Finland criticized the competition for jeopardizing voluntary participation if the students take part in the competition during other lessons outside of religious lessons. (Etelä- Suomen sanomat on 28 May 2014)
Are freethinkers religious non-conformists and neutral, or do they have a religious worldview based on atheism? The above news talked about religious freedom and the freethinkers’ demand for religious non-conformity in schools.
However, are the actions of freethinkers consistent? They push for a non-religious society and think they have a scientific mindset, but at the same time, they forget other religious views. That is, when textbooks teach about the spontaneous generation of life and that species stem from one original cell, these notions also belong to a religious view. That is the case, because people have not been able to prove these things. It is a naturalistic belief on what may have occurred in the past. It is not a matter of science.
If freethinkers were to be logical, they should also demand that the evolution belief and the notion of spontaneous generation of the universe and life be removed from schools, because they, too, are a matter of faith. However, they have not done so. Why is that? Why have they not come forth and spoken against these belief-based views based on a naturalistic worldview? Why do they accept these faith-based beliefs that cannot be proven in the laboratory? Personally, I think their views are fiction and imaginary.
The following concepts serve as examples of views based on faith and the naturalistic worldview. Their spontaneous coming about on their own has never been proven:
• The birth of the universe by itself is based on faith and the naturalistic worldview. All birth theories based on naturalism are unsolvable.
• The birth of galaxies and stars by themselves is also an unproven theory.
• The formation of the Solar System and earth on their own is based on naturalistic faith.
• The birth of life by itself is another naturalistic theory like the above examples. It has never been proven.
• Species stemming from a single original cell has never been proven. Fossil records go against this notion. It is a faith-based unproven theory.
The following quote is closely related to the subject (boldface in the text has been added later). It is an indication of the naturalistic faith. The author is certain that life emerged on its own, as well as the earth, though he cannot prove either, and thus openly admits the mysteriousness of how life came to be. Such storytelling can often be found, for example, in nature programs and schoolbooks, but interestingly, freethinkers do not address these programs or schoolbooks. They only react to faith in God, but not to faith in naturalistic theories. Why are they biased in their statements? If they acted logically, they would also oppose the teaching of these naturalistic and unproven theories in textbooks and TV programs. However, they do not do so because they themselves have a naturalistic atheist-based believing worldview.
Once you get rolling, the story of life becomes a logical, absolutely unavoidable chain of causes and consequences. Science can find out its links along with all the fascinating details, but how life started is still a huge mystery. There is no convincing explanation for it. The chemical components of living organisms and biochemical reactions that sustain life are known very accurately, but the final spark of life still remains unclear. Life: such a self-evident and simple phenomenon, yet so difficult to explain...
There is no question that life came into existence from earthly material, and from the stars and universe. From the same materials that have circulated in timeless space over and over again. We are all basically stardust. Just as life evolved from one cell and became more and more complicated and endlessly varied, so there has also been evolution on earth. It has become denser from the dust cloud that was between the stars and cooled down almost four billion years ago into a compact ball, but to this day is subject to what its own internal heat has created. (2)
What should freethinkers do? They should acknowledge the fact that they are neither neutral nor non-religious because they pursue a naturalistic, atheist-based worldview and oppose the teaching of the Christian faith to children. In regard, it is impossible to be neutral. We are either for or against; there is no neutral area. It is impossible. That is, if one does not want God and the Christian faith in schools, it will be replaced by some other, opposite ideology. And it is usually replaced by a non-religious and atheistic mindset, which has no place for God. Thus, in the name of neutrality, freethinkers are pursuing a non-religious society that operates on atheistic terms. This is a model similar to what existed in the communist countries back in the day.
Where does the model of freethinkers lead? As is well known, freethinkers and non-believers seek to remove Bible reading, prayer, and the teaching of creation from the school curriculum. They think that removing religion from schools and society will make the situation neutral, but that is not the case, as has already been said. Freethinkers are only replacing it with their own belief system, which they claim is based on science, although that is not true. They act according to their faith like other people. Moreover, their faith is based on absurd assumptions, such as spontaneous generation of life from dead matter. It is an impossibility, although atheist scientists may try to argue otherwise.
But where does the model of freethinkers lead? We know what happened during the last century in communist countries where the Bible was a forbidden book and schools were not allowed to teach about God. Is this the kind of model and society that freethinkers want? We are swiftly moving towards that direction because of the efforts of freethinkers. Moreover, the same negativity was dominant in the last century Germany, just before the Nazis came to power. Descriptive of its development at the time was that in Germany, a considerable amount of people left the church, as the following quote shows (It is well known that freethinkers strive for a similar trend in modern times). The quote also shows how people did not want God to be a part of school even then. Atheistic worldview and morality took over people’s minds. The book was published in 1934, five years before World War II:
From time to time in many countries there have been masses of people leaving the church after a war. And so 305 000 people left the Evangelic church in Germany in 1920. This fleeing from churches has continued. In 1930, 59 225 people left a Lutheran church in Berlin alone, not to mention those Catholics and Jews, who abandoned their fathers’ belief… We do not need to get too much into the spreading of atheistic ideologies during the 20th century. It is enough said that the number of those, who publicly recognize or silently accept the absolute nonexistence of God, has tremendously increased. Some men, who are considered educated, claim that the modern science makes believing in God impossible. They either completely stop believing in God or state that “science requires new a new concept of God”. This denial of God begins in schools among children. In a few cities thousands of children of the age of 6 to 14 have, all the way from the lowest classes, walked the streets carrying the following stickers: “God out of schools”, “Take down God-superstitions”, Religion is a narcotic” etc. (3)
The opposite model to communism, and the model of freethinkers, is people acknowledging God in schools, society, and other areas. This was the case in the Nordic countries, as well as in England, where the 18th and the 19th centuries experienced strong spiritual revivals, as people turned to God. As a result, many good things followed, like literacy, the abolition of slavery, and improvements to the position of workers. The following quotations are good reflections of the spirituality of England. The first quote relates to Sunday schools, which about a quarter of English children attended.
Sunday school movement began in July of 1780, when a lady called Meredith started to host a school in her home down Souty Alley. Older boys acted as guides for the younger boys. Raikes wrote four school books based on the Bible. Slowly, the schools were also welcoming girls. Raikes was singlehandedly responsible for almost all of the expenses. More Sunday schools were founded in Gloucester and in its surroundings. In 1831, when it had been 20 years from Raikes death, approximately fourth of England’s 1,25 million children attended Sunday school. England was becoming a literate society due to the teaching of God’s words; the government had nothing to do with it. (4)
Darwin’s ”bulldog”, Thomas H. Huxley, also provides a good picture of the influence of Christian faith in England. He too supported the teaching of Christian beliefs, like many Englishmen, although, he himself was a strong advocate for Darwin. He wrote in one of his essays in 1870 the following:
I believe that no person or community has ever achieved anything, nor will they ever, if their actions are not controlled by love for some sort of ethical ideal. - - And if I was forced to choose a school for my children, where they will receive real religious guidance, or a school without such guidance, I would choose the former, although my child would consequently receive a lot of theology.
Thus, when the majority from the public of England declared wanting that the Bible be taught for their children in primary schools, - I see no reason to oppose this wish. Surely, I as an individual cannot retain my coherence and oppose other children being taught, what my children have been taught to do. (Thomas H. Huxley: Science and Education Essays, No. 15, The School Boards: What They Can Do, and What They May Do, Macmillan, London, 1893, pp. 396-402. First published in the Contemporary Review, Dec. 1870)
A good question is, would England, Finland and the Nordic countries have been better countries in the past without the influence of the Christian faith? They hardly would have been. That is if we use atheist communist countries as our point of reference, it will come apparent that millions of people were killed in those countries, and any opposition was repressed. In those countries, living conditions were worse for people than, for example, in England, where the Christian faith was respected. In modern times, however, the trend seems to favor a similar atheistic way of thinking, which was popular among the first communists. Freethinkers are at the forefront of pushing these models forward.
This topic has also been discussed in newspaper columns. Esa Ylikoski, General Secretary of the Union of Freethinkers of Finland, brought up the demands of freethinkers in a newspaper: “Religious events held outside school hours” (Etelä-Suomen sanomat, 7 August 2018). I responded to this writing by Esa and presented how the Christian faith has actually influenced the emergence of both, literacy and schools. Similarly, health care and numerous charities (Red Cross, Save the Children…) have their origins in Christian activism. Atheists and humanists have often been bystanders in this regard. The English journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), who himself was a secular humanist but still honest, also noticed this. He drew attention to how the world affects the culture: "I have spent many years in India and Africa, and in both, I have met righteous activities maintained by Christians from various denominations; but I have never come across a hospital or an orphanage run by a socialist organization or a leper sanatorium based on humanism.” (5) I’ll take another quote from Stanley Jones ’biography. He said in this book:
a revival for his tribe, one chief said:
In any case, my newspaper article can be found below. It was published in the following format. My own headline was a little different, but the magazine changed it to the following format, which also describes the matter well:
Literacy in many countries can be accredited to Christianity
Schools: If religious events are canceled, neutrality might not be what takes their place
When schools started, Ylikoski, a freethinker, raised the idea of religious non-conformity in schools. He wanted religious occasions to be left out of schools. Freethinkers don’t want God in schools.
However, one cannot be neutral in this regard. If one does not want God in schools, it will be filled by another, opposite ideology. It is usually replaced by an atheistic mindset, similar to that in communist countries. Is this what freethinkers essentially want?
It is worth remembering how the Christian faith has affected the growth of societies.
First, literacy. Everyone understands that if people do not have their own literary language and literacy, science will not develop, new inventions will not emerge, and knowledge will not spread. In such a case, there will be no passing down of books and knowledge. Society remains stagnant.
How has the Christian faith influenced the emergence of literary languages and literacy? Many are unaware of these facts. People do not know that almost all literary languages were created because of recognized Christians.
For example, in Finland, Mikael Agricola, a Finnish Reformer and father of literature, printed the first ABC book and parts of the Bible. The people learned to read through them.
In numerous other Western countries, similar developments have taken place, as well. Without the Christian faith, their development could have been delayed by centuries.
The same development has occurred later in Africa and India. Even languages such as Hindi, Urdu and Bengali of Pakistan have gained their grammar and linguistic basis through Christian missionary work.
Professor Lamin Sanneh of Yale University has also acknowledged that in Africa, missionaries have done the greatest service to local cultures by creating a literary foundation.
What about schools and universities? The first universities in Europe and America (Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard…) were not founded by secularists and states, as Christian faith was behind their foundation. Hundreds of thousands of students studied science and other subjects. This enabled a scientific revolution in the 16th and the 17th century Europe.
In Africa, too, basic -and vocational education (such as health care) is largely built on Christian missionary work. Indeed, Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography: "It seemed that almost everything that Africans accomplished originated from the missionary work of the Church."
A good question is, why do freethinkers oppose Christian faith when it has so greatly affected schools and literacy? (Etelä-Suomen sanomat, August 10, 2018)
Is Jesus evil or are freethinkers evil?
- (Luke 6:22) Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
As noted, freethinkers and non-religious organizations oppose the display of Jesus and Christian faith in schools. They do not want children to hear about Jesus and God.
A good question is: is Jesus so evil that he must be strongly opposed, or are freethinkers and representatives of non-religious organizations themselves evil when trying to prevent children from hearing about Him? Which of these sounds more accurate?
That is if Jesus was, and is, good, why resist the good and the perfect? Why be against good? Or is it not the case that only evil people oppose good? Isn’t that what the freethinkers do when they try to stop children from hearing about Jesus, who is considered good around the world? Their actions reveal the true state of their heart in the matter. The following words of Jesus fit well:
- (Luke 18:16): 16 But Jesus called them to him, and said, Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
- (Matt 18:5-7) And whoever shall receive one such little child in my name receives me.
6 But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe to the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
1. Veikko Pöyhönen: Uskonnonopetus uhattuna, p. 38,39
2. John Reader: Alkumerestä maalle, p. 9,25,26
3. L.H. Christian: Kylvöä ja satoa, p. 114,115
4. Vishal Mangalwadi: Kirja, joka muutti maailmasi (The Book that Made Your World), p. 236,237
5. Malcolm Muggeridge: Jesus Rediscovered. Pyramid 1969.
6. E. Stanley Jones: Pyhiinvaeltajan laulu (A Song of Ascents)
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!