Friday, September 12, 2008

Alot of Creationism in the Papers Today

One Michael Reiss suggested to the British Association for the Advancement of Science that teachers should take a conciliatory attitude towards creationism. If students ask about it in science classes, teachers should be able to deal with it rather than simply refuse to discuss the question.

There’s not much in Reiss’s comments to object to, although they will certainly be ripped out of context by the Dawkinistas. They have generated a lot of comment. An op-ed in the Times by Melanie McDonough and a piece in the Guardian’s comment is free by Adam Rutherford are broadly sympathetic (both writers, as far as I am aware, are atheists). Denis Alexander, an old foe of Dawkins, also chips in at the Guardian aiming his fire at Susan Blackmore. On the other hand, the Times leader, written by Oliver Kamm, takes a more extreme view.

My own view is that creationism, both Intelligent Design and literalistic interpretations of Genesis, is wrong. The former may or may not have something useful to say to science but has no place in science classes because it has not demonstrated anything to the satisfaction of the scientific mainstream. That said, teachers should not be dogmatic and should clearly explain that evolution does not imply, let alone require, atheism. To preach atheism in science classes is an unacceptable as preaching Christianity or Islam.

Of course, Dawkins and his disciples are not really interested in promoting evolution in itself. They just see it as a useful weapon in their real fight against religion. Their constant attempts to set up a false dichotomy between science and religion must be resisted wholeheartedly, not just by religious people but by everyone who believes in liberal values.

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