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Old 02-07-2014, 07:10 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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BBC News - Children and parents 'unaware of Bible stories'

A couple of us have made the point recently that most Christians aren't that Biblically literate; this seems to support that point. Christian parents who don't know that the story of Jesus' birth comes from the Bible?? Wow.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
BBC News - Children and parents 'unaware of Bible stories'

A couple of us have made the point recently that most Christians aren't that Biblically literate; this seems to support that point. Christian parents who don't know that the story of Jesus' birth comes from the Bible?? Wow.
This is a UK survey I believe.

On the one hand I am embarrassed on behalf of my fellow countrypeople. This a sad reflection on how the British education system is failing to provide a well rounded education and leaving people ignorant about the world around them. (Religion is taught in schools in the UK for those that don't know).

On the other hand, I was a secondary school teacher myself. When you have to fit in English Literature and Language, Math, Science, History, Geography, Technology, Home Ec, Craft, Art etc etc, Christianity kind of takes a back seat, so I had to ask myself how relevant is the bible in today's society?
I'd say still very relevant given how entrenched Christianity was in Britain in the (distant) past. More relevant perhaps than other important works of fiction such as The works of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Byron, Keats, Coleridge etc since the bible informed all of society and influenced everything from art to architecture.
Even though I am an atheist I can still appreciate Christianity from a historical perspective.
So yes, overall I am embarrassed but I can also see that people these days see it as less and less relevant in their lives.
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
This is a UK survey I believe.
My guess is that Americans are a bit more Biblically literate if only because we yammer on so much about it. However, while more of us would probably understand that the Nativity narrative is from the Bible -- big stuff like that -- some of the other items discussed might be confused with other mythologies or of uncertain origin, particularly outside the Bible Belt.

I agree with you that all children should understand what the Bible is, the major stories, and their relation to our culture. They should understand where the Bible is the origin of cultural referents and what they mean, phrases like "casting your pearls before swine" for instance. This is all good.

My wife, an American and life-long atheist, has near-zero education or experience on these matters and can't comprehend its meaning and impact for those who are raised with it. It makes me a little sad sometimes because I feel like there is a gulf between us where she can't understand my theist past and finds it incomprehensible. It's also one of the few areas that she is incurious about and where she has some stereotypes (I don't compute because I am intelligent and curious so how could I ever have been taken in by it?). While I would rather have seen that happen to her than have to pry theist ideations out of her head after the fact like I had to, I wish she had a more nuanced understanding of Christian belief than for it to be totally outside her experience. Also it bugs me that she got as far as a Master's Degree and didn't pick up more than she did in that whole educational journey.

All that said, my wife WOULD correctly identify the source of the Nativity narrative ... so I'm not sure what's up with that. Hopefully the article was calling out a few people who were particularly ignorant and it isn't something that truly stumps that many people.
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post

I agree with you that all children should understand what the Bible is, the major stories, and their relation to our culture. They should understand where the Bible is the origin of cultural referents and what they mean, phrases like "casting your pearls before swine" for instance. This is all good.
.
If every trace of the Bible was removed from our culture and we lost all of the common references and quotations which are part of our culture, they would be replaced by other points of reference and quotations from different sources.

I agree that it is good for a society to have these common reference points, but the source does not have to be the Bible. If it had never existed we would not be missing it because that vacuum would be filled by something else. There remain plenty of common cultural reference points, the Odyssey and Iliad, the heritage from the Roman Empire, King Arthur and his Round Table, Robin Hood, Shakespeare, the Canterbury Tales, Paul Bunyon, John Henry, Pecos Bill, Davey Crockett...we need culture, we just don't need any particular culture.

Last edited by Grandstander; 02-07-2014 at 01:53 PM..
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
If every trace of the Bible was removed from our culture and we lost all of the common references and quotations which are part of our culture, they would be replaced by other points of reference and quotations from different sources.

I agree that it is good for a society to have these common reference points, but the source does not have to be the Bible. If it had never existed we would not be missing it because that vacuum would be filled by something else.
Hypothetically yes. But I wouldn't want that. As Dawkins is fond of saying, like him I'm a bit of cultural Anglican. I'm an architecture freak and I love visiting Cathedrals and churches around Europe. And places like The Tower of London would lose all meaning. As kids we all loved learning about the Tudors and how Henry VIII basically told the Pope to get knotted and set up his own church. We loved all those stories. I love visiting Tudor houses in England with specially built 'priest holes' hidden down secret passageways. I remember being enthralled with it all.
You would lose most of the beautiful Renaissance Art too. I wouldn't want to lose any of that. It's part of what makes history so interesting.
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
Hypothetically yes. But I wouldn't want that. As Dawkins is fond of saying, like him I'm a bit of cultural Anglican. I'm an architecture freak and I love visiting Cathedrals and churches around Europe. And places like The Tower of London would lose all meaning. As kids we all loved learning about the Tudors and how Henry VIII basically told the Pope to get knotted and set up his own church. We loved all those stories. I love visiting Tudor houses in England with specially built 'priest holes' hidden down secret passageways. I remember being enthralled with it all.
You would lose most of the beautiful Renaissance Art too. I wouldn't want to lose any of that. It's part of what makes history so interesting.
I do not think you grasped the point being made...if none of the things you listed above existed, you would not miss them because they would be replaced by other things. You would be as fond of the replacement stuff as you are of cathedrals or crown/papacy conflicts etc, maybe fonder.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
I do not think you grasped the point being made...if none of the things you listed above existed, you would not miss them because they would be replaced by other things. You would be as fond of the replacement stuff as you are of cathedrals or crown/papacy conflicts etc, maybe fonder.
I completely grasped what you were saying, which is why I started with the words hypothetically yes...
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,084,119 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
If every trace of the Bible was removed from our culture and we lost all of the common references and quotations which are part of our culture, they would be replaced by other points of reference and quotations from different sources.

I agree that it is good for a society to have these common reference points, but the source does not have to be the Bible. If it had never existed we would not be missing it because that vacuum would be filled by something else. There remain plenty of common cultural reference points, the Odyssey and Iliad, the heritage from the Roman Empire, King Arthur and his Round Table, Robin Hood, Shakespeare, the Canterbury Tales, Paul Bunyon, John Henry, Pecos Bill, Davey Crockett...we need culture, we just don't need any particular culture.
Yes, of course. I'm not saying the Bible is irreplaceable -- it's just that it is currently referenced, so if a child encounters a saying or expression or story reference they need to be familiar with at least the common ones. At some future date, I'm sure these things will fade from the zeitgeist and be replaced by other things to an extent, although as Cruithne points out, we have 2,000 years of cultural references to exhaust.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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You'd have to cross The Canterbury Tales off the list for a start.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
I completely grasped what you were saying, which is why I started with the words hypothetically yes...
You did start that way, but then canceled that notation by writing "places like The Tower of London would lose all meaning." That wasn't my hypothetical. In my hypothetical there would be no meaning to be lost because it would never have existed in the first place. You would not wax nostalgic over something lost because it would not be lost, it would be a non concept.

For example, in sporting events or other forms of competition, if one side is a much stronger or more talented or has greater resources, we describe it as a "David and Goliath" matchup, using the familiar Biblical reference. If there had never been a Bible, we would not be losing the concept of unequal matchups, merely the familiar descriptive. Something else from historical culture would have come into common use as the descriptive, we might be saying that this is a "Wolf and a Chicken matchup" or a "Hercules vs Homer matchup, but you would not be saying "I sure miss being able to use "David vs Goliath" because you would have never used it, or heard of it.
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