The march of the creationists into our kids' schools must be getting bad when even other Christians are complaining about it to the Government.
Their concerns were provoked by a campaign inaccurately called 'Truth In Science', which last week launched a website dedicated to challenging Darwinism and promoting 'intelligent design' and creationism. TiS has sent a free resource kits to schools, no doubt hoping that teachers who are either (a) evangelical Christians or (b) desperate for teaching resources, will push their propaganda for them.
My kids go to school to get an education - to develop as human beings and learn about the world. They are not fodder for fringe religious fundamentalists to spread their ludicrous, superstitious ideas. Let's hope Johnson responds positively to the letter from Ekklesia and the BHA, but given this government's track record of inviting Bible-bashers to run schools, I wouldn't bank on it.
'Truth In Science' is encouraging parents to lobby schools to teach its anti-scientific views. This blog urges parents, students and trade unionists to shut the door in their face and insist on secular, scientific education.
Today's Times reports this development alongside an outrageous story of a 13-year-old asthmatic boy refused a free place on a school bus because he is not a Christian.
The organisation ‘Truth In Science’ has a Board of Directors on which sit various worthies, including two Professors: Andy McIntosh of Leeds University and Stuart Burgess of Bristol University. Both are creationists. Their names occur on a number of prominent evangelical Christian websites which, amongst other activities, sell books written by either academic purveying the creationist view of science. They have co-authored a brief text which attempts to set out the foundations for such a view. You can read it, along with a series of devastating point-by-point refutations, here.
Now it seems to me people can believe whatever they choose about the origins of life. I’d prefer academics working in scientific fields (such as McIntosh and Burgess) to be inclined to put their trust in data provided by things like carbon-dating, the fossil-record (however patchy) and results from the Hubble telescope. But if an individual (and even a scientist) prefers to think for example that the Earth was created before any of the rest of the universe, or that our planet is only a few millennia old, or that average life-expectancy way back when could be reckoned in centuries, and all because that’s what is written early on in a collection of texts set down some thousands of years ago which have arrived in English via a series of translations and re-copyings, I’ll raise my eyebrows and politely demur. For me the real problem comes with the next step, the move out of an individual set of beliefs and into social practice. And this is a step creationists find themselves compelled to take. But if you hold, as creationists must, that the first dozen or so books of the Bible are word by word the literal truth, unchangingly and incontrovertibly correct, valid and veritable across all time, it is not only your approach to scientific evidence and to those big epistemological questions which is going to cause a stir.
Whatever about the origins of the Earth or of species, creationists also hold that Original Sin was a historical event and that everyone is born already sinful, ‘fallen’. While clouding somewhat their view of humankind, this serves to legitimise their own proselytizing. The fallen must be ‘saved’, and the only way to salvation lies in accepting the literal truth of the Bible and the status of Jesus as Christ the redeemer. Not to accept these things when given the opportunity is to deserve God’s just and inevitable (and eternal) punishment. So, among other things, to be gay in spite of what the Bible says is to deserve punishment. To have or condone an abortion, likewise. To live with a partner unmarried, likewise. To be a wife and not to submit to your husband, likewise; for although men and women were created equal and in the image of God, marriage for life has been appointed as the only right adult relationship, and in marriage the husband is the head. And so on and on, at tedious length, notably in the Books of Leviticus and Numbers (where, among many other atrocities, someone is stoned holily to death for picking up sticks on the day of rest.)
Arguments about Intelligent Design as against the Theory of Evolution are not entered into honestly by creationists. The creationist agenda is conversion. And conversion to a brand of Christianity whose hallmarks are not loving your neighbour as yourself, doing good to those who despitefully use you, or understanding that god is love.