What do you know? Once again, there is an effort afoot to teach the Bible in public schools.
The Missouri House Special Committee on Student Accountability voted to advance a bill from a Republican state lawmaker pushing for Bible classes in public high schools.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Ben Baker, would require Missouri education officials to develop guidelines and standards for courses on the Old and New Testaments that could be offered as electives in public schools.
This is a more difficult issue than it might appear at first glance.
“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
Alfred North Whitehead
Christianity is a grab-bag of ancient philosophical schools — intellectually, a mongrel. Plato’s idea of ‘forms’ is the ground of Christian metaphysics since the 5th-Century, stoicism appears in its ethics — but so does a fair amount of mysticism, and the Old Testament is shot through with political skulduggery. There is a great deal of World Net Daily-like propaganda and lies in the Old and New Testaments. This should not surprise anybody who is even modestly conversant in the history of the Bible; after all, it was written over the course of more than a thousand years by dozens of different authors reared in different environments and political circumstances.
What is more, the battle over which texts ought to comprise the Bible persisted for centuries (Catholics and Protestants have different Bibles), and there are contemporary battles over which translations of the Bible are valid. And, of course, no human in the history of the world has even held in his hands the Inerrant Bible, the original autographs of the texts which comprise that troublesome compendium of ancient philosophy, history, poetry, and porn.
And yet, in spite of the acute difficulty with even defining and identifying the Bible, that ridiculous old book has exercised a tremendous influence over the development of the West — chiefly because the bulk of mankind are cowardly simpletons, and the Catholic Church was, and is, amoral and ruthless in the maintenance of its power. Auto da fe, anyone?
It isn’t difficult to make the case that a sound historical perspective, the ability to properly locate current events on a timeline of human thought, requires some understanding of Christianity and its holy text — the Bible.
The difficulty is that is never — Never — the real purpose of introducing the Bible into public schools; it is to smuggle Sunday School into public classrooms. So … No, thanks.