My Son’s God Homework

Below are a few fill-in questions (with answers) from tonight’s Social Studies homework assignment for my 6th-grade son.  His class is reading about the Fertile Crescent and specifically Judaism.  He was to read his text and fill in the blanks.  As I read his work tonight, I couldn’t help commenting on the answers (my comments are in purple).  I told him he should write what they want to hear so he gets the good grade, but I wanted to supplement his learning.  Tell me what you think:

  • The early Israelites came to believe that God was taking part in their history.  (Actually, the authors of the OT retold history making up stories like the Exodus.  And other parts, where they lost wars they described it as punishment from Yahweh, and when they won they re-wrote the story to say it was Yahweh’s rewarding them.)
  • Judaism was monotheistic from it’s [sic] beginning.  (No it wasn’t, the OT has lots of signs that monotheism slowly evolved in Judaism)
  • Moses was an Israelite leader who lived sometime around 1200 BC. (Yeah, that is probably fiction.  We have no evidence of the Exodus and the Egyptians kept pretty good records.)
  • A covenant is a promise made by God.   He told the Israelites that God would lead them to Canaan “the promised land“. (Yeah, actual promise was, “Look, go kill all these other people — their women, children and men– and you can have their land.  I promise.  And you will prosper.”  And guess what, Israelites and the other people are still fighting today.)
  • All people are equal before God.  (Horseshit.  Nonbelievers are killed — how “equal” is that?)

Also,  concerning the last example, ironically I wrote about this two weeks ago in a post.  So I made a copy of the Bible verses that shows how Yahweh was not as sweet as his social study teacher was trying to teach.  Here is a word doc copy if you’d like one for your kids:  Know Your Bible

Finally, I emphasized that you should call the god of the Jews “Yahweh” and not “God” because you don’t want to imply that there is just one because lots of people have very different gods and those gods have lots of different rules for their “choosen people”.

Pic Source: here


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “My Son’s God Homework

  1. How did you manage enough restraint not to call up the teacher, or set up a meeting, and educate them? My daughter is still to young to get religion. She just learned blowing up balloons is fun. But one day, if my daughter comes home with a homework assignment which shows such levels of ignorance about a topic I am well versed in… well… whoever teacher that is will be getting memos from me with well researched and sourced evidence that shows they are teaching the wrong information.

    Part of teaching is making sure you are up to date on what you are teaching–not just repeating what the text book says.

    Although, I must compliment you on telling your son the way it is, and not the way the religious would have you believe–because as you are showing him–they tend to be ignorant of the facts about their own religion (or more accurately the history of it).

  2. Deuteronomy 20:13-14 is always a good one when discussing the transfer of hte promised land to the Israelites.

    13. And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:

    14. But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

  3. Hmm. The first three questions seem related to what they’re studying, even if they are simple, naive interpretations of Judaism. After all, I doubt the Social Studies teacher, or most people, have studied the formation of the Israelite religion enough to discuss the question of whether the Israelites were always monotheistic or not, or whether Moses was real or fictional.

    I wouldn’t worry so much about those questions if the point is only to give a brief overview of basic ideas.

    The last two questions I think are troubling. They are leaning more into affirming religious ideas and ideology.

    The last question/statement is an out and out affirmation which I have a hard time seeing how it relates to Social Studies.

    I would think phrasing things differently, eg., “The Israelites believed such and such…” would seem more appropriate.

    You gave us your commentary, but how did your son react?

  4. I side with terri on this. Your take on that fourth question is great, but I might even beef it up a little and say
    “Look, I will help you slaughter all these other people — their women, children and men– and you can have their land. I promise. And you will prosper.”

    And you’re spot-on on the last one too. Nothing about the OT would lead you to believe God thought all people were equal. Does the teacher not know what “chosen people” means? Based on the text, though, it was clearly better not to be chosen by God. 🙂

  5. @Tristan Vick
    My wife told me not to write the teacher. Smile.
    But my son brought the verses to school and the teacher told him he would “research” those verses. Hmmmm, wonder what that means.

    @Tom Rees
    Thanx, good verses abound!

    I agree, and let my son know about the “naive” issue. I wrote on depth deception which illustrates how many of us believe things we really don’t understand as much as we think we do.

    We think similarly. I told my son that they should have said, “Some Jews think this and some Christians think this” but not all by any stretch.

    My son reacted very well. He gets very upset at religion. His reaction is that he wanted a copy of the verses to take to school. He said kids laughed, but he said, “They don’t know what they are laughing at. They don’t understand the issues.”

    @ Wise Fool
    Yeah, being “Chosen” seems a curse. I wrote a short post on that entitled: God’s Chosen People – No Thanks.

  6. “I told him he should write what they want to hear so he gets the good grade, but I wanted to supplement his learning. ”
    -eeeeeeeeekkk! The last thing we need is teachers white-washing history, and specifically the Bible. I understand this comment, but I hope to stand up with my own kids and have them write truthful responses like you did.

    “They don’t know what they are laughing at. They don’t understand the issues.”
    -a wise man you have there Sabio. They don’t. Part of my call is to help them understand and develop an adult faith… or even none at all. Either way is a better stance than the “white-washed Sunday School Faith” that many carry around with them.

  7. @ Zero
    I got in trouble my whole school career for speaking up. I probably went a little overboard — or maybe not. Anyway, I want my son to know there is a choice about picking your fights.
    Best wishes on culturing a small sect of Christianity that understands that their scripture for what it is. My worry is that if they still have all the trapping of the historical Christianity that has suppressed truth, trampled nonbelievers and more, then they inadvertently support the same tendencies.

    It is almost as if you need a sect called “UnChristian” to throw off all the baggage including the comfortable jargon and labels.

  8. I have used the term “Christian, But” as in “I’m Christian, but I love other religions, speaking with ‘non-believers’, don’t have a problem with the LGBTQ crowd, etc.”

    I think I need to work on the label though. It’s often mis-heard. 😉

  9. OK, Just wanted to say how refreshing it is to find another good philosophical blog. I have not commented, because I haven’t the time. I have several comment threads going already, plus a 12 workday mostly in front of me.

    I will digest all of this and respond accordingly. I can tell already, I really like the site.

  10. @ John Myste
    Great to have you stop in. If my blog is a “philosophical blog”, it is a sloppy lay-level philosophy. But I am glad it looks hopeful to you. Looking forward to more of your comments.

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