One of the “fringe” benefits of teaching these online college classes is that you really get to know where people are at these days with regards to religion and philosophy. It’s a great “compass” if you will. For example, there are four characteristics of the students that I am teaching that I have observed very frequently:
- Parents who force their kids to go to church are bad.
- All religions are equally valid and are basically the same.
- We should be tolerant of everyone’s beliefs (Thou Shalt Not Judge).
- The only thing that is true is what a person feels to be true.
The first one about parents forcing their kids to go to church has come up very often when discussing just about anything on religion. There seems to be this overwhelming sense (even on the part of those who have a Christian upbringing) that it is fundamentally wrong to make your kids do anything, especially make them go to church. They view this as “forcing” religion on them. I find this very odd, of course, and explain to them, “What conscientious parent would say to a sick child: Son, you can take this medicine if you want, but I’m not going to force you”? Obviously we cannot force anyone to believe but we can and should expect our children to obey us, to come to church with us at least until they are out of the house (and I would say any time they desire to visit on a weekend after they are grown). It’s “house rules!”
The second characteristic comes up ad nauseum! All religions are equally valid. There is none that is better or worse than any other. It is all “in the eye of the beholder.” This is related to the third characteristic, namely, we should be tolerant of everyone’s beliefs. I make the point that if you are going to insist on absolute tolerance, then you also must be tolerant of people who are intolerant of other religions or beliefs. This “tolerance” thing is a plague on our society. I am literally amazed at the % of students (both old and young) who are brainwashed by our culture to think this way. Tolerance could very well be the god of this age.
Oh, and the fourth one: “The only thing that is true is what you feel to be true,” this is so prevalent. Relativism is another plague. These students, for the most part, do not seem to believe in any objective standard of truth. If anyone claims to have “truth” at the expense of another person or religious viewpoint, this is “taboo.” One good thing about it is that I’m really learning how to answer some of these questions and comments that people have in a way that hopefully gets them to think.