All around the nation educationists are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of children and teenagers to illicit information and conspiracy theories, especially on the internet and social media. Already we have seen the disruption conspiracy theory can cause in grown adults especially when leaders like a recent President and extreme left and right organizations play professional dodgeball with the truth.
There are many websites and educational journals covering this subject. One that has a good synopsis is the article in Feb. 2022 Scientific American, ‘Schooled in Lies’. The article reflects the lack of experience and direction in education which would provide for children a defense against illicit information.
Mariner thinks the missing defense mechanism ‘against the Devil’s work’ – just to greatly simplify it – is the disappearance of Sunday School. Public education systems are not the source that teaches ‘goodness’ and ‘ethics’ and faith through a graceful life. On the other hand, all religions deliver what mariner calls a spiritual/moral spine with which to interpret life’s road.
Classical religion is caught in a bind where modern society cannot relate to the myths recorded as far back as 6000 BC – myths that compensated for the limitations of primitive language and unknown science. On the other hand, it is the strength of religion that a universal value system, founded in a series of unchangeable truths, promotes a positive existentialism that protects against whimsical and immoral behavior.
Is this a new mission for religion? How would churches reverse the drain away from structured ideology? Mariner is of the opinion that founders like Jesus and Buddha may not have been successful if everyone had had smartphones and the Internet. The United States has spent centuries avoiding a theocracy; the battle between church and state is all about unchanging doctrine versus free will of the citizens.
So, let’s add yet another conundrum to the list of massive shifts occurring at this moment. How will capitalism, socialism, free will, artificial intelligence and now religion, come together?