Friday, September 26, 2014

Why Atheists Love the Common Core

“Why Atheists Love the Common Core”
and why we all must keep church and state separated

Atheists don’t have faith in a higher power that they cannot see. This lack of faith marks them as historical relics from three hundred years ago, when handfuls of Europeans began to want proof, proof of everything from how the planets move to how snails find mates. These renaissance people weren’t going to believe things that they couldn’t test. They risked their faith for a plunge into reason.

The Common Core is one more step along the road to a loss of faith, along the road to atheism. The Common Core urges students to read a steady diet of non-fiction texts, for the sole purpose of tearing them apart. Common Core advocates say this trains students to question the wisdom in texts that are handed to them. Common Core advocates say students should question what they read--no matter the power and glory of the authority. This questioning, and searching for proof, is advertised as a worthwhile improvement in how we teach students to think.

There is no reason to believe the Bible won’t be subjected to this level of scrutiny. When the Bible finds its way into the Common Core classroom, it will be questioned for its lack of evidence. Students will be asking for scientific and verifiable proof from reliable sources that the unbelievable, mythological, and completely unscientifically verifiable things in the Bible actually happened. How are you going to convince a student who wants direct observation and attestation that all those animals got into an ark? That the sun stood still in the sky during the Battle of Jericho? That burning bushes don’t consume the material that is burning, and that the bush can talk? That wine can turn into blood?

To believe any of that you have to have faith. You can’t come up with citations or reliable research studies about the Bible; it has no reference pages in the back. Some say, “Well, if it’s written in the Bible, that’s good enough.” That doesn’t cut it in the Common Core. Students will be trained to wonder how quoting the Bible can reliably prove anything in the Bible. They’ll compare such thinking to doing an entire research paper using only Wikipedia or one encyclopedia.  The Common Core demands the type of well-developed ideas—what is sometimes called “rational thinking”--that is not found in the scriptures. The irrational thinking that has held our religions together for centuries is now not good enough; events are supposed to make sense.

This is one of the most important reasons we must keep religion out of the public schools, why we must have a strict boundary between church and state. It is a critical way to preserve religion. Right now advocates of the Common Core are not including religious texts among their assigned readings—and if you care about faith and religion and believing things that cannot ever be rationally explained, you will want to keep it that way. Keep your bible out of the hands of school children if you cherish magical thinking. The atheists have faith that it can’t survive a close reading.


  1. Thank you for this witty and provocative article. Is it your position, however, that religious children will have so little faith that their beliefs will be threatened by a spirited classroom discussion? And do you also suppose that English teachers (even if we are all atheists) will be so clumsy as to attack religious conviction in our students because of the logistics of loading animals in the ark? Wouldn't it be infinitely more interesting to consider the bible as a historical text, a vehicle of cultural truths (or Truth) transmitted across millennia and still alive today? And, finally, while I oppose the idea that reason and faith need be opposed, let's say they were ... and so what? In 2014, a diverse American classroom may be populated by intelligent and rational Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as sensitive and sympathetic atheists: let them enjoy a lively discussion on the central texts of our Western (now global) canon -- a "common core" if ever there was -- in a thoughtful and respectful classroom. After all, that is how learning happens.

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