Essays on Religion and Education

Essays on Religion and Education

Essays on Religion and Education

Essays on Religion and Education

Synopsis

R. M. Hare is one of the most widely discussed of today's moral philosophers. In this volume he has collected his most important essays in the related fields of religion and education, some newly published and others now inaccessible. The book starts with an exposition of his ideas on the meaning of religious language. There follow several essays, theoretical and practical, on the relations between religion and morality, which have deep implications for moral education. The central question addressed in the rest of the volume is how children can be educated to think for themselves, freely but rationally, about moral questions, and the effects on society of failure to achieve this. Professor Hare argues that those who want to dispense with morality are in effect resigning from a vital educational task. Attitudes to euthanasia and to equality of educational opportunity are taken as examples of how our thinking can go wrong.

Excerpt

This, the third of my present series of volumes of essays, is concerned with two closely related topics. For myself, I have found it impossible to discuss education for long without bringing in religion, if only to forestall claims by some religious people to a monopoly of moral education. One's attitude to religion will impinge powerfully on one's approach to education. This is because the irrational side of our nature, from which none of us can escape, needs to be educated, and religion, interpreted broadly to include humanistic beliefs, is the only way of doing this. in that sense, religion is a necessity. Some might call it a necessary evil--and it certainly can be very evil. Others will retort that it need not be an evil if we are careful to choose good kinds of religion. But we can hardly avoid having some kind. If the devil is driven out, seven devils at once take his place.

My own views have changed somewhat since I wrote 'The Simple Believer'. I am still confident that the ideas in it are a possible approach to a viable religion. But I am less confident now even than I was then that this approach will find favour. On the one hand we have the growth of fundamentalisms and fanaticisms in all or most religions, leading in some to extremes of cruelty and violence. On the other we have 'advanced' theologians who think that by minor reinterpretations of the creeds, accompanied by a lot of vagueness and evasion, they can square them with the real beliefs of most educated people. They seem not to have absorbed the lessons they should have learnt from the disputes, now quite old, which engendered the first two papers in this volume. the arguments of philosophers like Wisdom and Flew cannot just be dismissed; the failure to confront or even to understand them condemns many present-day theologians to inanity.

Moral philosophy, if intelligently pursued, can shed a flood of light on both topics, as I hope will be shown by the essays which follow. As before, it has proved impossible to avoid a great deal of repetition (though I have done my best), simply because, whatever topic one takes from these fields, the same . . .

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