Double Standards and “Education”

Sometime ago I was watching an atheist’s video on YouTube describing how one can come to morality sans religious beliefs. One statement made was that we could improve a person’s view on the world through education. As I was pondering on this over the past few weeks, I suddenly came to a realization: there is a double standard for many when it comes to acts of evil and what they call “education.”

Whenever some evil is committed in the name of a religion, it is almost always attributed to religion as a vague idea in the most prime example of a broad brush sense (which I’ve shown before as completely fallacious). However, if people are doing wrong in secular circles, we are told that they just need a better education. I do not consider either viewpoint to be entirely wrong, but I believe that the application of both is inconsistent. Permit me to explain.
Let us take a horrible situation, such as a group of people physically attacking a homosexual. Obviously, this is wrong – even Christians believe so. If you know a homosexual, you witness to them – you don’t kill or harm them. Let us say these people even do it because they “think homosexuality is wrong in the eyes of God.” Most people would write this off as simply being another example of how religion is evil and move on. However, here is where the “apply more education” argument can likewise be made, for those individuals are acting contrary to what their religion teaches, not in accordance to it (again, refer to my previously linked post). They could be taught the biblical way to approach homosexuality in general and homosexuals in general. Placed in a proper church, they could receive discipleship in this regard. If they refuse this discipleship and education – or continue to act contrary to it – then the fault is on them as individuals, and it is they alone who are in the wrong, not the group to which they claim to belong.

Some might move that this distortion of religious belief is still sourced to religious belief in general, and hence religious beliefs in toto should be banned. However, such a position is not consistent when held up with more secular or scientific understandings. For example, the distortions of evolution have led to evils such as social Darwinism, while concepts such as genetics or the “human gene pool” has led to programs such as eugenics, and greater evils such as the Holocaust. It is certain that those who staunchly support evolution as a theory or genetics as a science would ever agree that, since some have distorted evolution or genetics for evil, we should throw both out the window, let alone that we should throw science in toto out the window; yet many of these same people will, people some have done evil in the name of a religious faith, we should throw religion in toto out the window.

Education is, of course, a wonderful and important part of our society. There is a great danger, however, in either setting it to too low a standard or raising it to too high a pedestal. We should not belittle the idea that being more educated in anything is counterproductive, just as we cannot think that “throwing education at the problem” will automatically solve a social dilemma. Some of the cruelest men in history were also the most educated, and often used their education either to perform great evil or to come to evil ideologies. Evil can be used from either a religious or secular foundation because evil is, first and foremost, an equal opportunity employer.

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