teaching creationism

Isn’t it funny how creationists always seem so… unevolved?
Bill Hicks

I feel quite sorry for the Royal Society’s director of education, Michael Reiss, for the heat he’s taken over the last few days, after his daft suggestion that, to appease a small minority of UK kids (still fewer than 10%) who have an in-built opposition to evolutionary theory (thanks to their upbringing), discussion of creationism should be included in science class.

He’s dead wrong of course. Strategically, morally and historically. And there’s a slight chance, I guess, that he’s deliberately stirring the pudding with Satan’s wooden spoon to cause problems for his fellow scientists. 

But let’s face it, he’s an old fella, it’s much more likely he’s just weary of the insanity, tired of allowing the subject to become the elephant in the room, and trying to plot a tidy, less stressful route through the mess.

One could almost begin to suspect that those stoking up the storm around his comments are trying to encourage creationist/unintelligent design elements to fight harder. It concerns me that the BBC and other media outlets (especially the liberal ones) gave the story such heady prominence, when Reiss’ original comments were just one bloke, and came couched in such careful terms.

Forget the inflammatory subject matter for a sec and look at this in general terms: since when did what kids believe when they show up at school have an effect on what teachers impart in class!? That’s right, they’re also adding Second Life to geography, pot-smoking to art class, emo studies to the RE curriculum and setting up a GCSE in Facebook apps.  

The subtext that really needs facing is this: kids with an inbuilt ‘disbelief’ in the overwhelming, extraordinarily compelling amount of evidence that backs up evolutionary theory have been brainwashed to a degree that comes close to child abuse by fanatically religious nutsack parents. They don’t need convincing, they need rescuing. End of.

I just discovered Poe’s Law, which relates originally to creationism but is now expanded to take in wider fundamentalism. First described by Nathan Poe in observation of debates on a religious website, the law states:

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.

Poe’s Law leads inevitably to Poe’s Paradox, which infects almost all fundamentalist organisations of any size online:

In any fundamentalist group where Poe’s Law applies, a paradox exists where any new person (or idea) sufficiently fundamentalist to be accepted by the group, is likely to be so ridiculous that they risk being rejected as a parodist (or parody).

Beautiful. You really can’t argue with fundamentalists but you can snigger like mad as you walk the fuck away.

Let’s come at it from the other end. Instead of demanding the god botherers shut the fuck up about what ludicrous inanities they think should be taught, let’s add some of our own ‘truths’ into the mix.

The Norse or Greek creation myths, for example. Let’s teach Sherlock Holmes as historical fact – lots of kids turn up at school believing in Sherlock Holmes. And of course we need to teach the Presidency of Josiah Bartlett as historical truth – there’s as much real evidence for it as there is for the 8,000 year-old planet. It was on TV, for a start.

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4 responses to “teaching creationism

  1. The Bible is not a science book and should not be treated as such. Lets remember also that children need to be taught not to swear, something a science book obviously can’t do !

  2. That’s a fascinating response Philip, I’m not sure how to take it.

    Are you suggesting the Bible is a good moral guide? Or just saying that swearing is bad? I disagree to varying degrees with both points, so it’d be interesting to know more explicitly where you’re coming from.

    OR you’re enacting Poe’s Law, in which case I fell for it because I just wrote and deleted a huge tract about how appalling the Bible is as a moral guide!

  3. in the little dreamland i live in Jed Bartlett was President for the last eight years. it’s a happy place, for sure.

  4. Nice article.

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