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Succes romanesc la Washington
9 iunie 2008

Rezolutiile propuse de Romania au fost deosebit de bine primite de catre organizatiile umaniste

Asociatia "Solidaritatea pentru libertatea de constiinta" o obtinut un succes international important si a adus o contributie notabila miscarii umaniste internationale in cadrul World Humanist Congress si General Assembly of International Humanist and Ethical Union - www.iheu.org .

 

In cadrul Adunarii Generale a IHEU a fost adoptata, in data de 8 iunie 2008 cu 22 de voturi pentru si doar doua abtineri, rezolutia propusa de asociatia noastra - "Threats to the status of science and social-humanistic disciplines in education". Mai jos puteti citi forma finala a rezolutiei fiind operate doar trei modificari relativ minore fata de textul original.

 

In cadrul World Humanist Congress o a doua rezolutie propusa de asociatia noastra si care priveste religia in scoli a fost de asemenea foarte bine primita.

Procedura prevede ca o rezolutie care este pusa in dezbaterea Congresului (care a avut in acest an peste 500 de delegati din numeroase tari), daca primeste girul acestuia, sa fie apoi adoptata de catre Adunarea Generala a IHEU (in care au drept de vot doar organizatiile membre). Textul rezolutiei a fost foarte bine primit si considerat a reprezenta o foarte buna baza de discutie. Congresul a adoptat propunerea ca Adunarea Generala a IHEU sa constituie o Comisie speciala (din care va face parte si Romania) de analiza a acestei teme deosebit de importante si cu implicatii majore asupra democratiei si de a pune in acord textul propus de noi cu situatiile specifice din diferite alte tari. Aceasta Comisie va lucra in urmatoarele luni cu scopul de a prezenta o forma finala a rezolutiei cat mai bine fundamentata.

 

Puteti citi mai jos ambele texte ale rezolutiilor in limba engleza.

 

Remus Cernea

Director executiv

Solidaritatea pentru libertatea de constiinta     

www.humanism.ro

 

Resolution for General Assembly of International Humanist and Ethical Union:

 

Threats to the status of science and

social-humanistic disciplines in education

 

            The development of scientific knowledge and the evolution of social-humanistic disciplines, with which the former is strongly connected, have fundamentally changed human civilization and lifestyle, especially during the last centuries. In order to be understood, wisely used – according to the democratic principles of an open society – and further pursued by the coming generations, the extraordinary development of human knowledge must be adequately presented in schools without any ideological or dogmatic interference.

            Although in many countries modernity led to the separation of church and state, in numerous others religion is still married to politics. This frequently results in the alteration of scientific information and the privileging of religious or pseudo-scientific information in schools.

            Whether as a result of the decisions of uninformed or populist politicians lacking in vision, or of the pressures of influential religious organizations or churches on the decision-makers, the contents of school curricula sometimes stray from the principle of the superior interest of the child. Biology, philosophy, and history are among the subjects most exposed to unwarranted influences.

            In some countries there have been attempts to present in school certain scientific theories or data in an inaccurate or tendentious manner, or to replace such theories with pseudo- or non-scientific conceptions on the origin of the universe, of life, and of human beings. The International Humanist and Ethical Union salutes the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution no. 1580/2007 on the "The Dangers of Creationism in Education"[1] . It recommends states worldwide to take into account the contents of this Resolution in elaborating the curricula for the scientific disciplines as well as for other relevant school subjects. Numerous scientific academies and distinguished researchers have made public statements[2] opposing attempts to present religious points of views in education, especially creationism or intelligent design, as scientific theories.

            In some countries public education is used to catechize students during religious education classes taught on a confessional basis, while sensitive subjects in the philosophy curriculum, such as religion or the existence of God, are glossed over or presented in passing, rather than examined in a critical manner, from several perspectives, like all other similar themes.

            Education remains crucial to the prosperity and the scientific, cultural, and democratic development of humanity. Fully aware of the current dogmatic and ideological threats against education, the International Humanist and Ethical Union urges all states to take the following recommendations into account when deciding upon the contents of curricula and the general educational framework:

 

1. In education, the distinction between religious and scientific information is crucial and should be adequately explained to the students. This must be emphasized especially in the countries where religion is still being taught confessionally, since the risk of confusions is significantly higher there. If the distinction between science and religion is not explicitly formulated in school curricula, the very foundation of modern education is threatened. The students will be exposed to the high risk of becoming victims of confusions. This distinction is sometimes misunderstood by educated persons, decision-makers, or other persons responsible for school curricula. One consequence is the decision to present during biology classes a religious perspective on the origin of the universe and of human beings known as "scientific creationism" or "intelligent design". A scientific theory cannot be worked out with the purpose of confirming a religious outlook on things or a previously established result.

 

2. By virtue of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, religious conceptions on the world, on the origin of life and of human beings may be introduced and explained to students during religious education classes. But they must be introduced and explained as convictions or beliefs of one or more religious communities, not as "absolute truths" or as "superior truths" contrary to scientific knowledge. The diversity of religious opinions must be preserved and encouraged. Yet a unanimous view regarding particular dogmatic matters is not achieved even among the followers of one single faith.

 

3. Science is grounded on the critical analysis of facts and natural phenomena and leaves aside "supernatural" or "metaphysical" matters. The events and facts claimed to be supernatural are examined by scientists with the critical and methodological apparatus specific to science. Religious statements or statements representing the religious views of researchers or scientists are not statements which engage their scientific competence, but rather their private beliefs.

 

4. Teachers should explain to students that the object of science is not divinity, or gods, or their supposed actions. Furthermore, that science is not anti-religious and does not aim to attack religious faith. The fact that science is sometimes perceived in such a way represents an unfortunate misunderstanding of the essence of the scientific approach. Still, not all churches or religious groups are hostile to science. Some try to reconcile authentic scientific knowledge with religious vision without deforming scientific theories, but rather accepting the latter as "more than simple hypotheses".

 

5. Students should be told that science is not dogma, the proof of this residing in its rapid development under conditions which make possible freedom of research and investigation. The critical examination of theories and their presentation as provisional rather than absolute truths is essential and reflects scientific thinking. Scientific theories generally accepted by the scientific community must be accorded a central place in education and should be presented in a manner that is adapted to the students' power of understanding.

 

6. At the same time, education must explicitly introduce scientific theories as more than simple opinions. They may be criticized and contested at all times, and may undergo improvements and reformulations, but only on the basis of scientific criteria and arguments. A scientific theory is the result of a rational approach, of the critical examination of problems and phenomena, and of specific competences, all of which represent the foundation of creativity and progress in science and technology.

 

7. The conflict between science and religion emerges especially when certain theories or scientific data which seem to contradict beliefs or assertions grounded on religion are contested. Sometimes and in some countries, such religious beliefs or statements are represented in school curricula and textbooks.

 

8. When education is attached to political ideology or religious dogma the students' right to knowledge is directly violated. The noble purpose of education is thus perverted. Democratic states should make sure the purpose of education remains that of assisting students in developing their own capacities of understanding and critical evaluation, rather than of inculcating a certain faith or ideology.

 

9. Religion should not be taught in schools confessionally but in a neutral manner, so as to ensure that students are correctly informed with respect to the great religions and their influence on culture, traditions, history, and social life. This goal of religious education should be formulated clearly in laws on education and other documents which determine the legal framework of religious education.

 

10. Even when particular scientific data or theories seem to conflict with specific religious conceptions, such as those regarding the origin of the universe, of life and of human beings, the former must not be censored, presented inaccurately or tendentiously, or eliminated from school curricula.

 

11. The attempts by some religious groups or important churches, often supported by populist politicians, to impose creationism in school curricula or to eliminate theory of evolution and of other scientific theories or information, or to diminish the role of the latter, are unacceptable. In some of the scientifically and technologically advanced countries, such as USA or the UK, there have been partially successful attempts to teach "creation theory" or "intelligent design" as scientific theories in some schools. In other countries attemps were made (Serbia, 2004) to eliminate the theory of evolution from the biology curriculum; sometimes they were successful (Romania, 2006).

 

12. Biology classes must present scientific theories on the emergence and evolution of life in a clear and detailed manner, adapted to each educational level. Considering its importance and implications on other scientific disciplines, the theory of evolution must occupy a central role in science curricula.

 

13. Social-humanistic disciplines must also be protected from ideological or dogmatic interference leading to biased curricula. Critical debate on fundamental subjects, including religious ones, must be encouraged. The plurality of views and the confrontation of different conceptions are essential in an educational system safeguarding the higher interest of the child. The philosophy curricula and textbooks should encourage critical debate based on a objectivelly  presentation of various philosophical points of view, including viewpoints inspired by religion and viewpoints critical of religion. We deplore and consider unacceptable the elimination of such themes from the philosophy curricula ( Romania, 2000).

 

14. In some countries history curricula and textbooks explicitly or implicitly present religious narratives, often involving supernatural events, as real historical events. Sometimes students are taught that the result of military confrontations was decided or influenced by divine will. The notion that certain nations are privileged by divinity while others are disfavored has been and remains one of the grounds of intolerance and interethnic tension, as well as a cause of suspicion between different nations.

 

15. Students should be taught the difference between religious narratives and narratives which are accepted as genuinely historical. Education should not accords the same status to historical and religious information, lest it should spread confusion among students.

 

16. The type of information that may be presented as science in a legitimate and objectivelly way in schools addresses the power of reflection and understanding and may be verified by anyone through honest and disinterested investigation.



[1] http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/ERES1580.htm

[2] http://www.icsu.org/Gestion/img/ICSU_DOC_DOWNLOAD/1017_DD_FILE_IAP_Evolution.pdf

 

 

Draft resolution for The World Humanist Congress:
 

Resolution on religion in schools

 

The International Humanist and Ethical Union considers that schools should provide every child with the necessary conditions for the development of creativity, habits of critical thinking, and an autonomous personality. Democratic societies are open and pluralist, and the diversity of cultures, religions, and life perspectives in the world should be presented and understood as a value in itself.

 

Tolerance, open-mindedness towards the extraordinary cultural diversity in the world, as well as the promotion of human rights and scientific inquiry are among the crucial values of modern educational systems. Education should not set itself as an aim the adoption of particular convictions and beliefs, or, on the contrary, the rejection of specific convictions and beliefs. An educational system whose principal aim is to convert children to one faith or to force them to maintain and strengthen their existing faith is unacceptable. Religious propaganda and proselytism must not be allowed in schools and universities for the same reasons for which political propaganda is generally disallowed in such institutions. Schools should strictly maintain a special status of neutrality. Since children represent a captive audience, educational institutions have a duty to stop religious pressures exerted on children.

 

Many countries around the world include the subject of religion in school curricula. How religion is taught is directly related to the democratic development of each country. History has demonstrated the dangers involved in using educational systems as means of propaganda for political ideologies or religious dogmas. Regimes defined by their theocratic and/or totalitarian tendencies have crushed children's natural impulse to become autonomous individuals, stealing their right to choose and to achieve fulfillment through the practice of their freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

 

Therefore, the IHEU considers that:

 

1. Religious education in public and non-denominational private schools should be taught in a neutral manner and should be presented as a subject committed to investigation, focused on a comparative study of religions, approaching the different ethical characteristics of each, discussing their history and their traditions, as well as their main dogmatic characteristics and particular influence on culture. Religious education curricula are called on to promote information about the religions of the world, as well as about humanist and other non-religious perspectives on ethics or the origins of the world and of human beings. Religion classes which teach exclusively the beliefs or dogma of one religious denomination constitute a form of indoctrination and, as such, represent an infringement on children's right to knowledge and accurate information.


2. Religiously affiliated schools should include in their curricula the presentation of other religions and beliefs in the spirit of tolerance. Religious schools belonging to a particular denomination should respect children's right to be informed about other religions and their influence on history, literature, the arts, and social cohesion. Theological schools and universities have a duty to show respect for the principles of the secular state, academic and intellectual freedom, and to express tolerance towards religious and non-religious individuals.


3. Transforming formal education in public or private schools into an opportunity to teach religious doctrine or to present favorably one religion as opposed to others considered to be "straying" or "heretical", or as opposed to non-religious or atheist persons considered "immoral" or "nihilistic" etc., is unacceptable as it encourages intolerance towards and suspicion of children with different views or coming from families with different life stances and religious faiths.

 

4. The state has no legitimacy in playing the part of a missionary of a particular denomination, not even when a state religion is formally acknowledged. The status of a state religion must not imply any privileges for the denomination in question and, conversely, does not permit discrimination or denigration of other religions, denominations, or non-religious persons.


5. In public and non-denominational private schools teachers of religious education should not be ordained priests but graduates of the socio-human sciences – literature, art history, philosophy, sociology, psychology etc – or theology. Ordained priests teaching religion in schools have conflicting commitments and are prone to violate the principle of neutrality in religious education.


6. Religion classes should mention the main international documents regarding the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Students must be informed of the importance of these rights for each person, regardless of his or her private options.


7. Religious education curricula should include information regarding the dangers of religious fanaticism and intolerance, the tensions, violence and wars waged in the name of religion. The correct understanding of such historical events will assist societies in avoiding the same mistakes in the future.


8. The compulsory attendance of religion classes in educational systems where religious education is denominational in nature, as well as any procedures which might represent a pressure to attend religion classes, should be prohibited.

 
9. In public or private schools which are not affiliated to a religious denomination any display of religious symbols, with the exception of symbols displayed during religious education classes for teaching purposes, represents a form of religious pressure and constitutes an act of discrimination towards other beliefs and non-religious individuals.

 

10. Students and teachers are free to wear religious symbols and garments as long as this is not done ostentatiously. The neutrality of educational institutions suffers whenever religious propaganda is effected through the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols or garments with obvious religious significance.


11. Religious education classes should not be regarded as equivalent to science and should not constitute and opportunity for the presentation of various scientific theories, such as the theory of evolution, in a denigrating or tendentious manner. Science is a discipline entirely different from religion, with a distinct structure and subject to different educational imperatives.


12. Collective religious rituals are unacceptable in public schools or universities, as they interfere with the neutrality of educational institutions. In order to preserve pluralism and diversity, schools must be free from collective religious manifestations. Gathering children or young adults in classrooms or schoolyards and forcing them to pray is a violation of their rights and inimical to the purposes of public education.


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