Spain: Scientists Slam Government’s Religion Course for Students

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A new government-sponsored religion course for high school students in Spain has convinced scientists that religious indoctrination is a problem that individuals may now have to deal with at a rather young and tender age. Reportedly, Spanish high school students will now be tested on their ability to identify the divine origin of the cosmos, wholly understand it and even believe that the cosmos did not merely originate from chaos and chance.

The latest curriculum, approved by People’s Party, was published in the country’s Official Gazette and falls into place under the existing education law, which was pushed through Congress in 2013 despite widespread criticism from the opposition. In 2007, a curriculum was introduced under the previous Socialist administration that excluded references to euthanasia, abortion and all issues alien to Christianity.

The course description, which also insists that a person is unable to achieve happiness by himself or herself, has created quite a stir and the opposition is now demanding clarifications from Congress.

El Pais asked educators, scientists and philosophers to comment on the content of the new course and share their views on the divine origin of the universe.

“Nothing, from the point of view of science, justifies talking about the divine origin of the cosmos; this is clearly a creationist attitude that could lead to conflict among students,” said José Manuel Sánchez Ron, a professor of science history in the department of theoretical physics at Madrid’s Autónoma University, who sees “partiality” in the course content.

About the course reviewing the lives of two Christian scientists, Miguel Servet and Galileo Galilei, UAM theoretical physicist Alberto Casas said, stressing on their religious faith is undermining the universal nature of science.

The religion curriculum, which has been drafted completely by bishops since Spain signed a pact with the Vatican in 1979, may be an elective subject but the marks now contribute to the final grades, thus making it more relevant to students. It must also be noted that no government has attempted to change the existing tradition of bishops drafting the religion curriculum, despite Spain having become a democracy in the 1970s.

“Faith is not a question of magic, faith and science are compatible,” said César Nombela, a professor of microbiology at the Complutense University and former president of the Scientific Research Council (CSIC). “As a scientist and as a believer, I am not afraid to know. The student of Catholic religion can be taught about the mistakes made by the

Church. Science has explained that the cosmos originated nearly 14 billion years ago with the Big Bang, and faith has nothing to say against this, but beliefs can be included to try to understand what was there before everything else.”

Jesús Losada, a religion teacher, defended the subject included in the new coursework, but criticized the need for students to believe in the divine origin of things.

“That is not respectful of the student, who may or may not admire it; [teachers] are asked to evaluate something that is not easy to evaluate,” he said.

“The problem lies in the very existence of a confessional subject that is organized by the bishops, taught by teachers who are selected by the bishops and paid for by the state,” said philosopher Fernando Savater. “A democrat should not vote for a party that insists on maintaining agreements with the Holy See.”

Photo Credits: PV Magazine

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