Atlanta Church violates schoolchildren's rights... repeatedly. After being told to stop.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- A parent’s complaint and action by Gwinnett County school officials has apparently not stopped volunteers at a church from asking students to pray before a test. A parent contacted Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh on Wednesday and said it happened to her son twice before he took an exam at a local church. Thursday a student told Kavanaugh it happened again, despite intervention by school officials.

Plagued with overcrowding problems, Parkview High School held placement testing at Mountain Park First Baptist. While there, students were repeatedly asked to pray.

"Well, it's a separation of church and state, and obviously we have a lot of students that may come from a lot of different religious backgrounds," said Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

Yes. It is definitely an issue of church and state separation, but it is also a moral issue. These children are a captive audience, and some of them belong to other religions. If you are Christian, how would you feel if your child felt compelled by an authority figure to pray to Allah? It is simple human decency to leave religion out of places where any sort of coercion can occur.

"We never thought that would be an issue. We thought being able to help anybody particularly on a testing would be helpful to them,” said church pastor Richard King. King said his church and volunteers had only good intentions offering the testing space and the prayers.

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Comment by Michael Merrell on May 15, 2011 at 6:05am
Wow, really are a pompous idiot. With all the reading you say you've done and the ridiculous conclusions you've drawn. I have a very difficult time believing that you are not a theist.
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 5:54am

I want to elucidate about the principle of locality, which I just mentioned, to explain why it's so imortant that quantum entanglement seems to contradict it. Locality is the idea that space separates things; that no two physical things can be in the same place at the same time. It is the idea that gives rise to the law of identity.


Locality, identity, and causality are the three ideas on which epistemology is founded - the study of human knowledge and its sources. So if causality and/ or locality are suspect (which they are), then all human knowledge is suspect and cannot be called fact. Like I said before, it's all belief, and no belief can be considered superior to any other. A million is not closer to infinity than 1.

Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 5:47am
Also, I want to point out that scientific theory actually has a lot of holes in it. There are quite a few scientific predictions that DO NOT hold up to observation. Wave/particle duality is one of them. According to our most rigorous logic, it is impossible for a thing to be both particle and wave, and yet we have the double-slit experiment which throws that paradox right in our faces. There's also an idea called quantum tunneling which is based on observations of physical structures passing through other physical structures without the requisite energy to do so, at least according to prediction. Tunneling continues to stump physicists. Quantum entanglement is another big thorn in the side of science, as it seems to imply that space can sometimes be ignored and objects that seem far apart can act as if they are one and the same.This contradicts the principle of locality, which is right up there with the principle of causality as being among the most fundamental ideas to all science. Lastly, although there are more, is the idea of virtual particles, which you mentioned already and Kruass did as well. It cannot yet be explained how or why quasi particles pop into and out of existence at the sub-atomic level. Apparently it is happening everywhere, constantly, yet the idea of something being created from nothing clearly contradicts causality, an idea on which science most heavily relies.
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 5:31am

Yes, Loren, being in a school means you are subject to be exposed to their beliefs - that's called the ciruculum, and it's quite carefully regulated by the agents in charge of the institution. In fact, they won't allow anything other than what's approve to be taught in schools. I've known a lot of religious institutions to be less close-minded about what they teach than the public school system.


I can't give you the example you are asking for because it doesn't exist. There is no such thing as a proven fact, either religious or scientific. The lay observers of science, and many professionals as well, have a habit of calling things facts, but a true scientist will tell you that everything is hypothesis, theory, or law. And don't confuse scientific laws with indisputable facts. There is no such thing as an indisputable fact. Any assertion can be doubted (except possibly for cogito ergo sum - "I think, therefore I am," which makes no testable predictions). I'm sure you've heard of the idea that it's impossible to prove we aren't in a virtual reality, or a dream. You and I cannot even prove that the other exists. As much as I believe I am living in the "real" world and that I am talking to a real person, it's entirely possible that I am trapped in The Matrix and that you are a figment of my imagination, so anything I observe, and anything I think about my observations, is suspect. It cannot be proven.


You mistake repeat trials for proof, but a theory is not proven until it has been confirmed under all possible conditions, and since time is still flowing, all possible conditions have not yet occured.


The comment you made about varying mileage is apt. But apply it to a theist, as well. To them, their theories work. Aside from religious theories of origin, which can be dismissed as parable, theists have theories about morals, and afterlife, and purpose. Science doesn't disprove any of that, so it's very one-sided to say that religious ideas are unreliable compared to scientific ones. I suspect most theists live their whole lives without being disappointed by their beliefs, which could be viewed as a measure of predictive success. The predictions are different from those made by scientists, but for theists they are reliable and accurate.

Comment by Loren Miller on May 15, 2011 at 4:44am

Oh, and last note, John:  I note you didn't have anything to say about scientific assumptions vs. religious ones.  I've yet to see a single instance of a fundamental religious principle such as the ones I outlined (existence of god or miracles or the efficacy of prayer) which has been reliably verified in the real world.  Indeed, there are studies regarding prayer which do quite the opposite.  If scientific principle were even a fraction as unreliable, these lumps of plastic and semiconductors which we call computers would be little more than that.


As for bosons and muons and strings (oh, my!), I'll leave that to Messr. Krauss and those of his ilk who specialize in nuclear and sub-nuclear physics.  Maybe there IS infinite regression in that domain, even as Heinlein posited an infinite regression from Yahweh and Satan (or was it Jerry Farnsworth?!?) to Mr. Kochchei and whoever HIS supervisor is in Job: A Comedy of Justice.  I just know that the world works, and the attempts by science to describe and predict its behavior are remarkable reliable, whereas those of religion fail miserably.


Your mileage may vary.

Comment by Loren Miller on May 15, 2011 at 4:33am
Ooooo, so if we had used the local Masonic Hall, the kids should all be instructed in the mysteries of Masonry, too?  Occurs to me, there was a church here a couple years back which used to use the local high school as a meeting place.  If meeting in a church by its very nature grants the holder of that space rights to promote its view, then does meeting in a school grant them similar rights?
Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 2:32am

You all keep saying these theists were forcing their ideas on these kids. THE KIDS WERE IN A CHURCH! The church allowed them to use their space. That does not mean they have to keep quiet about their beliefs while the kids are there. It was their belief that praying before the test would help those kids! Don't you do what you think will help your kids? That's what they were doing, and just because you disagree about prayer being helpful does not make them wrong and you right.


If the parents of these kids have such a problem with the church members praying with them, TAKE THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE! I wouldn't let you come into my house and tell me that I'm influencing you negatively with my behavior. I'd tell you to get the fuck out if you didn't like it, which is what this church could rightly say to these kids and their parents.

Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 2:24am

As for citing a case of an uncaused effect, I will give you one that I don't really believe in , but that the rest of you all probably do. Choice. Most people think that humans have this thing called choice - which would be a mind creating the initiative that compels a body to opt for one possibility out of multiple possibilities. You think, for instance, that you could choose to keep reading this or quit reading it, and that the decision for doing so originates somehow with YOU; that YOU have caused it. In otherwords most people think of themselves as a prime mover; a creator of causes.


Personally, I think that idea contradicts the principal of causality. To me, causality means that everything is predetermined because every effect has a prior cause. Essentially, I believe that as soon as anything came into existence, everything that would ever happen was determined. I think, for example, that I could only have typed these exact words that I typed because that is exactly what was caused, and that it wasn't possible for me to type anything else because causlity did not play out along that line. To borrow from The Watchmen - "Only what can happen, does happen."


But since you probably disagree with me and think that you have this thing called choice, choice can be an example for you of an uncaused event.

Comment by John Camilli on May 15, 2011 at 2:08am

Loren, I appreciate the video link, more for other people than myself, but it is not an in-depth discussion by today's academic standards. It's just a summary of the last century of physics that only very briefly mentions our more recent progress. I literally knew everything he said before he said it. I've read all of Krausss, Dawkins, Hawking, and a hundred other physicists, mathematicians, right on back to the ancients. I'm not saying that to be arrogant; I am simply trying to qualify for you my familiarity with this subject. Physics and math are my bailiwick, and I STILL feel ignorant of them, ultimately. Krauss says it too, that ultimately we don't know shit. We have a good bit of procedural knowledge - knowledge of how, but we literally have NO knowledge of "what" the universe is. I'll give you two examples to illustrate this:


Where are you? a city, town, or borough of some kind. Where is that? Earth. Where is that? In the Milky Way. Where is that? In the Virgo supercluster. Where is that? In the universe. Where is that? I......don't know. So ultimately, I don't know where I am.


Here's the other example: What are you made of? various molecules. What are those made of? Atoms. What are those made of? Protons, neutrons and electrons. What are those made of? Fermions and Bosons. What are those made of? Superstrings. What are those made of? Again, I don't know, and neither do you, and neither does anybody else. So ultimately, we don't know what you are.


Human "knowledge" continues to DESCRIBE our observations in smaller and smaller increments, but it has never succeeded at DEFINING them. So to say that scientific claims are more accurate than religious claims is like saying 1000 is closer to infinity than 1, which is ludicrous. We could find new information in the future that totally invalidates the way we think about reality. You get hung up on science seeming to make more accurate predictions than religion, but making accurate predictions does NOT mean you have the right model. Newtonian physics makes very accurate predictions, but we still think of it as flat out wrong today! The difference between a correct theory and a totally incorrect theory may be virtually unnoticeable to us, but the implications it has in the way we think about the universe may be enourmous.


Think about the first observation of gravitational lensing that validated Einstein's theories. At the time it was the first and ONLY evidence for his theories, but that one little piece of evidence completely revolutionized the way people thought about the universe. Likewise, out theories today might be accurate to the Nth degree, but we may still discover that in the Nth+1 degree there is a piece of information that completely changes our view.

Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on May 15, 2011 at 12:13am

It's Loren's right to raise his daughter however he pleases in regards to religion.  It's not the school's or the government's right to step in and tell him his kid has to pray, pray around her, or anything in regards to prayer and religion.  The public school does not have the right to force Baptist prayer on his kid or any other kid.  He has a right to raise his kid any way he wants.  It sounds like she turned out pretty well. 


Frankly, with all the kids being bullied into suicidal depression and death that we hear about in the news, you'd think they had more important things to do with their time. 



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