One of the first things I came across was a quote from Nicholas Humphrey,
“If it is ever the case that teaching this system to children will mean that later in life they come to hold beliefs that, were they in fact to have had access to alternatives, they would most likely not have chosen for themselves, then it is morally wrong of whoever presumes to impose this system.”This really narrowed down what I could do. I found some history, some ethics and I was allowed to say that the Noah story was mythology, so I got by. Some days I put the Bible aside and talked about Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. One thing I could not get around was the story of how Jesus died for us. No matter how you word it, it involves some sort of miracle. If you change it to a story of a guy who stood for peace and justice, then it is no longer a Christian story.
What I saw when I got down to that one story, is that we don’t need the separate discipline. You can call it religion or theology, we just don’t need it. The discipline of history has informed us who wrote the scriptures and who decided which are included in the Bible. We have archaeology to tell us what was happening in the Levant while the scriptures were being written. We have science to explain rainbows and tell us what food is healthy and understand homosexuality.
A truce was made between religion and science some 700 years ago. William of Ockham said any man can recognize patterns and try to understand nature, but only the church can comment on the miracles of God. This allowed science to continue to be taught in a religious world. But now we live in a scientific world. In most of the world, the church has been tamed. The church is now fighting to maintain sway over what science can or cannot comment on rather than science fighting to make any comment at all.
The final question was the question of morality. I knew science was not informing me on that but religion was failing too. What I found were many ideologies and political processes that have been in play for centuries to inform us of how best to live harmoniously. None of them has proven perfectly successful. A few have done better than religions. Religion only plays a supportive role in this process and often it has backed the wrong horse.
All religion has left for me is community. It is a club. I suspect that this too shall pass. Every purpose that it once served or currently claims to serve is better served by another discipline. No matter how much it cleans itself up, dresses itself up with modern trappings, acknowledges its crimes and invites in new data, it is just not necessary.