Abergavenny Left

“Mountains, Markets and Marxists…”

Let’s party (and educate our children) like it’s 1859!

In last week’s Leeds Student, Jono Hall argued that creationism should form part of the curriculum for both religion and science (Creationism in a School Near You, November 21st). I would like to follow his argument to it’s logical conclusion and propose that another religious doctrine based on faith rather than evidence should be taught in schools. I call it Earth-Flatism.

I am of the belief – contrary to every piece of relevant, empirical fact – that the earth is flat. What’s that? There’s overwhelming evidence to suggest otherwise, you say? No, you see, anything you may have heard from these troublesome fellows called ‘scientists’ who have an annoying desire to look at something called ‘evidence’ (basic trigonometry etc) is merely a product of a grand illusion. A trick conjured – just as the Christian God is cleverly duping us about all that believable carbon dated stuff – by the great Earth-Flatist God. The creationist line (pandered to perfectly in the article) is that people believe in both evolution and creationism and thus, both must be reflected in the education system. I believe that the Earth is flat, so should my views not also be represented?

According to Jono, creationism and evolution ‘evidently overlap’ the school subjects of religious education and science. Like creationism, Earth-Flatism is not concerned with the trivialities of scientific testing. It cherry-picks its way through mythology and wild inferences in a very similar way. I, like Jono, see no reason why theories such as mine and creationism should be taught only in religious education. Why are the ideas presented by Witchcraft or The Jedi similarly left out of scientific discussion? In doing so we, as Jono states, risk alienating people who “hold different points of view”.

The principle that we must not offend people who do not subscribe to Darwinism leads inevitably to these preposterous conclusions. I am not saying that children should not learn about world religions. Without religious education, they would not be able to decide what to believe. However, matters of faith have no place in the science classroom. The idea that we must assess ‘perceived truths in a critical manner’ is all well and good. However, it would be negligent to present children with creationism as a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. The former is unproven. The latter is supported by mountains of evidence and has withstood 146 years of critical bombardment,.

Perhaps Jono’s article shows how the ideologies of the Christian-right are now bleeding from the US into the UK? Some readers might argue that gaps in evolutionary fossil data invalidate Darwinism. But people who believe in creationism select their facts carefully. Given carefully selected facts, I could construct an argument stating that the Earth is not round. Although evolutionary theorists cannot explain every detail, they are working to fill the ever smaller cracks in their knowledge. For example, the recent COBE experiment (mapping the cosmic microwave radiation left over from the creation of the universe) has all but proved the big bang theory. It seems strange that the return to archaic ideas gathers momentum despite all the evidence.

Darwin’s theory of evolution argues that we are not divine creations, but inconsequential and accidental. Complex life is just arrangements of DNA, mutated by chance and prolonged through a process of competitive survival. This may sound bleak, but most of the world’s scientific minds accept it.

Creationists are worried about the implications of these ideas for our view of life and death. However, any cult based on faith and not facts has no right to criticise the origin of species. To teach a religious view as part of the scientific curriculum would be as sinister a crime as indoctrination carried out by an authoritarian regime. If we do not actively oppose this erosion of empirical thought and critical thinking, our children may soon read about fantastical deities in their science books, including (if I have my way) the Earth-flatist God.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment