The word education is derived from the Latin term ‘Educatum’, which means the act of teaching or training or to lead out. In a wider context, however, it penetrates and influences almost every aspect of our lives, from birth onwards. a course in miracles affects what kind of people we and our families will become.
Education is everywhere and it is supposed to be available for everybody. We can read, hear and see education and its diverse multi-cultural and multi-media implications and implementations in books, theatres, films and advertisements, as well as in kindergarten, schools, and universities, at work, all over the Internet and in all aspects of daily life. Across the world media are saturated with a variety of educational information, research reports and teaching methods.
Our need for education is increasing rapidly. The basic need is significantly enhanced by the advancement of science and technology. In other words, advances in science and technology mean that the workforce needs to be better educated. Educational systems worldwide are changing in an attempt to meet this demand, supported by governments and private providers. Meeting the increasing demand for education requires novel methods and sometimes unorthodox approaches to transferring knowledge to the next generation. The most significant changes in educational systems occurred during the last century although change has been continuous from the very earliest times.
Education, religion and morality are the most significant components of human society. In this work the terms religion refers to all religions, as we will not discuss the differences between Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any other religions; neither will we discuss the influence of specific religions and their associations with particular ethnic groups.
The discussion here focuses on the impact of religion and morality on education and on the relationships among them. Throughout human history religion has had considerable impact on our way of life and societies throughout the world have benefited from education and knowledge. Religious leaders are concerned about the increase in secular scientific education as they believe it may have a negative impact on religious faith. This concern is corroborated by social scientists who argue that educational and scientific advancement can lead to reduction or even loss of religious faith.
My observations indicate that there is a clear asymmetry between biblical literalism and secular education. A biblically literate qualified person will not be as open to carrying out or accepting the findings of secular scientific research as his or her counterpart. In other words, a scientifically literate individual will be more open to, and accepting of biblical studies than a biblically literate person would be with respect to scientific knowledge and research. This asymmetry is obvious in many mixed societies, such as Israel. This observation also suggests that a person who has had a secular education is more inclined to absorb biblical influences than the biblically literate person to absorb secular influences.
We face several problems when we investigate religion and morality, especially when dealing with the claim that there is a conflict between the two. It is sometimes claimed that morality is embedded in religion, or that religion is moral, but a moral education does not have to be a religious one. There are, of course, obvious differences between religion and morality, especially with respect to their objectives and aims. The purpose of moral education in schools is to nurture virtue and to start a cultural conversation about certain moral issues, which are part of our traditions.
In modern times education has become dependent on economic and technological developments. However the essence and the meaning of life come from morality and religion rather than materialism. Religious leaders argue that without a religious component to education we might lose our ability to discuss virtue, love, self-sacrifice, community duties and justice. The absence of religion from educational curricula is generating hostility amongst religious groups and may come to divide communities and start unnecessary cultural wars.
Atheism asserts that there is no link between morality and religious behaviour and that we should therefore teach about morality without reference to religion. Religious groups demonstrate by their practices the falseness of the claim that morality is independent of religion and therefore there is no need to distinguish between them. By practicing the religious beliefs, there are many psychological influences in the morality arena. In other words, endorsement of religious beliefs entails a specific perspective on morality.