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We must not lose faith in religious education

A C Grayling, an outspoken critic of religious belief, asserts that the study of religion should have no place in education (" `Worship in schools is insidious' ", Feature, 19 September).

Professor Grayling (pictured) is correct that religion has its roots in ancient world views, which have in some regards been superseded by science. He is also correct that religion can be a malevolent force. However, it would not take an open-minded reader long to think of examples of not-so-benign secular philosophies and the not-so-benign results of scientific enquiry, as well as the good stemming from religious world views. All human endeavour is channelled through fallible institutions by flawed human beings.

Religions weave a mythological framework that engages the imagination and awakens the mind to a transcendent foundation for the world. It is no more necessary to dismiss religion because it does not operate according to the scientific method than it is to dismiss poetry as without merit in pointing towards truths about the human condition. It seems to me that educating people in religion is of great value in helping us to understand ourselves and how we might respond to the world.

A critical understanding of religious and philosophical world views is the basis of religious, moral and philosophical studies, which I have recently retired from teaching. In Scotland, and elsewhere in the UK, religious world views are taught alongside scientific and secular humanist world views in relation to various existential and moral questions, without value judgements about which provides more meaning.

Professor Grayling is one of a group of erudite people from various disciplines who have a secular agenda. They attack religion but they too have a faith stance. Theirs is to preclude the possibility of the transcendent and assert, without evidence, that only science or philosophical enquiry proceeding on that basis can lead to the truth. Anyone who stands in the way of their secular agenda is subjected to attack and often ridicule.

Keith Wilson

Retired teacher, Edinburgh

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