Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How to Recognize and Counteract Anti-Religious Indoctrination

Special to JCE CatholicNewsWorld by Scott Ventureya:
 On Anti-Religious Indoctrination
How to know Recognize Anti-Religious Indoctrination
First, whenever an educator is adamant of pushing an ideology on their students as if it were commonsensical and widely established (despite it obviously not being so, such as the inexistence of God).  Students should be alarmed when an educator makes such claims without substantiating it with good arguments and evidence.
Second, whenever an educator denies truth, as was previously discussed, this should suggest an anti-religious agenda may be at work. This includes denial of well-established laws of logic which are necessary for any scientific endeavour let alone communication.  The laws of logic cannot be proved but must be presupposed, without this communication would be literally impossible. 
Third, the expounding of moral relativism, related to the second reason, it is a form of truth denial, namely, moral truth. An important distinction between subjective and objective truths must be made. Subjective truth is based on internal preferences whereas objective truths are based on the outside world and cannot be altered based on our desires, regardless of how much we wish.[1]  Moral relativists deny objective truths and reduce everything to the subjective level of internal preferences then proceed by rationalizing them. For obvious reasons such a view put into practice will have devastating consequences.
Fourth, the advocating of scientism – a belief that science can account for all types of knowledge. It is commonplace particularly in the university setting for professors to pin science against religious belief and even sometimes philosophical reflection, as if it were a scientific claim.  Scientists who do this unwittingly are expounding philosophical or even a-theological positions of their own. As the philosopher Peter van Inwagen explicates: “When it comes to classifying arguments, philosophy trumps science: if an argument has a single “philosophical” premise (a single premise that requires a philosophical defense), it is a philosophical argument.”[2] 
Fifth, the relentless exposition of naturalistic (the view that all that exists are natural phenomena; no God(s), souls or spiritual beings) ideologies while mocking religious and supernatural concepts. 
Sixth, the presentation and defense of liberal ethical ideas such as abortion, homosexual marriage and euthanasia.  If your child is being exposed to this at a young age, approach the educators and the school administration. 
How to Counteract Such Indoctrination
There exists a wealth of resources to counteract each of these methods of anti-religious indoctrination.[3]  It is important to read as widely as possible from differing viewpoints on issues pertaining to truth, relativism, the existence of God, religion, evolution, creation, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and science in general in order to gain a nuanced and balanced perspective.  It is vital to understand what you stand for and what you stand against.  This is a proper first step in countering attacks against what you believe.
Students can challenge indoctrination by asking their professors simple but logical questions. Greg Koukl refers to this as the Colombo tactic: “[going] on the offensive in an inoffensive way by using carefully selected questions to productively advance the conversation. Simply put, never make a statement, at least at first, when a question will do the job.”[4]  By doing this one can gather more information from them, reveal inconsistencies and leaps in logic through solely asking appropriate questions.  However, just one or two questions might suffice to get the instructor and the students thinking.  For example, if educators are speaking about evolution, ask them to define what they mean by such a term since it has several different meanings which are more often than not conflated with one another.
Parents and older students should be vigilant of educators who deny truth (alongside other forms of anti-religious indoctrination) if consistent, they will not be able to discern the difference between the grade of A and F. I believe it is absolutely important for students to question educators (in a respectful manner) when they present unwarranted conclusions.  The implications are great if such conclusions remain unchallenged. Why should a democratic society remain silent about the anti-religious indoctrination of students in the schools we fund through our tax dollars? Equipping young minds to ask the right questions is essential.  The retired law professor Phillip Johnson pointedly stated in his book The Right Questions: Truth Meaning & Public Debate: “the questions I am asking are the ones they should be asking, and that their education to this point has prepared them to ask the wrong questions [instead of] the right ones.”[5]
Typically, any dissent from these ideas are stifled and met with vitriol.  There have been attempts to silence dissenters with fear tactics. This does not create greater understanding and is poor pedagogy. Parents and older students should be vigilant of educators who push such ideologies on their students. It is the first step forward to overcome anti-religious indoctrination.
This is Part 2 - for part 1 see
Scott Ventureyra
by: Scott Ventureyra is a doctoral candidate in theology at Dominican University College in Ottawa, Canada.


[1] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), p. 28.
[2] Peter van Inwagen, “Can Science Disprove the Existence of God?” Philosophic Exchange 34 (2004): p. 41.
[3] For literature on philosophical arguments for God`s existence I would recommend authors such as W.L. Craig, Norman Geisler, J.P. Moreland, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga and Stuart Hackett. For literature on Intelligent Design I would suggest looking at the writings of William A. Dembski, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Denton and Michael Behe.  In the camp of theistic evolution one could read Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller and Simon Conway Morris.  In order to understand Neo-Darwinism, one should look at books by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse.  An interesting appraisal of competing theories over evolution is that of Thomas Folower and Daniel Kuebler’s “The Evolution Controversy.”  For apologetic type books have a look at Phillip E. Johnson, Michael L. Brown and Gregory Koukl.
[4] Gregory Koukl, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2009), p. 47.
[5] Phillip E. Johnson, The Right Questions: Truth Meaning & Public Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 28.

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