Teaching Philosophy of Religion to Junior High Kids


Yesterday I spoke in two classes, a 7th-grade class and an 8th-grade class, at Vineyard Christian School in Anaheim. Our topic? The Existence of God. I had a 2-page handout for them, and in 45 minutes we examined the value of evidence for what we believe, what it means to have evidence, and what sort of evidence there might be for the existence of God. This is not my usual audience and my biggest concern was that it would all seem boring and over their heads. I was mistaken. Here are three lessons I learned:

  1. Our kids care about these questions. They want to know what to believe.
  2. Our kids want evidence for the things they’re asked to believe.
  3. Our kids have natural strengths in assessing evidence about things that matter, but these strength need to be cultivated and tutored.

It was with some trepidation that I handed my outline to the office assistant for duplicating. I worried that she would take one look at the detail and sophistication and be hard-pressed not to snicker. She was more confident than I that it would work. The kids proved me wrong. We need to expect more from our young people, urge them to keep the questions coming, and invite them into a vigorous life of the mind. Let us not underestimate their interest and capacity. They are the next generation. And we are responsible for their nurture.

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The Campus Crusaders – NYTimes.com


For some much-needed moral clarity about activist crusaders at colleges and universities today, here’s an article I recommend:

The Campus Crusaders – NYTimes.com

One goal here at my website is to cultivate the kind of “worldly philosophers” David Brooks alludes to at the end of his post.

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Kirsten Power’s book The Siliencing is now on my reading list. It has been for a week or so as I’ve heard her speak to this issue in interviews. It’s refreshing to hear an advocate on the liberal end of the political spectrum offer sanity in a victimization culture fueled by youthful idealism and encuraged by an intellectual class that exploits students for their own purposes.

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