back to article Webcast quango: One-third of UK teachers are creationists

In a recent survey, barely half of a self-selecting sample of UK teachers who use the webcast service Teachers' TV disagreed with the idea that "creationism or intelligent design should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom". Some 87.9 per cent of respondents thought that it was appropriate to discuss religious …

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  1. Hollerith

    surely a wilful misrepresentation?

    The teachers themselves, those who favour discussing it, are saying just that: if the topic ocmes up, they would /discuss/ it, not offer it as another, equally valid view, but simply discuss it. So a pupil who raised it could spark off a discussion about 'what is evidence' or 'how belief and faith differs from rationality'. To present what thoughtful teachers consider a good way to deal with the topic as if these people were eager to present creationism and science side by side is a misrepresentation.

  2. Dr Stephen Jones
    Alert

    They still teach science??

    I'm surprised there's any time left after teaching the core curriculum of "Climate Change" for anything else.

    Commenters who (justifably) start venting about myths and pseudo-science being taught as "fact" in schools should check their own shoes are clean first.

  3. N1AK

    What about Science Teachers specifically

    I'm not to worried if a bunch of bible bashers who took timeout from a busy schedule of arts and crafts or sociology (let alone RE!) think religion should be taught in Science class.

    The important questions would be:

    1/ How many Science teachers do?

    2/ How many Head Teachers do?

  4. Jamie
    Linux

    Purpose of education

    The purpose of education is not to teach you facts but to teach you how to think and make decisions.

    Also in regards to creationism how can anyone state whether this is possible or not. The universe was created in 7 days. I don't think anyone out there is God so how do you know how long it took. Time is relative and something which we have designed. If you are an omnipotent, omnipresent being would you judge the passage of time by 24 hour clock. I we lived on a different planet in this solar system alone we would not use a 24 hour clock as it would not work for the rotation of the planet. We also would not use a 365 days for a year as it takes either longer or shorter for the planet to circumnavigate the sun.

    Just something to think about before you start the flaming.

  5. Warren
    Paris Hilton

    Ready, aim, fire

    Cue lots of anger from people who can't bear the idea that aspects of current scientific theory may not be 100% right, and that creationists may have something to add to science. It's always a bonus if you can call your detractors religious nuts, you don't have to look at what they're saying. Here's a clue: creation almost always gets an "ism" added to the end to make it look like something stupid people believe. Evolution is left without an "ism" as if it's fact.

    Most teachers being pragmatic and talking about their subject in a way pupils want to talk about? Shock horror. Guess what, you can't actually separate out subjects and talk about them only when you want to, even if you do believe the current theory of evolution without mentioning its shortcomings, and detest all versions of creation with an irrational fear that makes you more religious than the people you disagree with!

    Where's the Paris Hilton angle, anyway? She's clearly either an evolutionary step forward from her father or a creation to amuse us all!

  6. Neil Hoskins
    Unhappy

    I'm scared, even if it is thin

    I was shocked to find that morality and citizenship are taught within the RE framework, as if belief in an imaginary being is a prerequisite for morality.

  7. Mathew White
    Alien

    Statistics Creationism

    I think that its more likely that teachers would like the option of talking about it when brought up because thats part of the job - you know; making people know what things are.

    The fact that most science teachers in the uk would try hard not to break down in hysterical laughter if the person implied that it was true (or should be taught as an equal theory/fact/theory), however, isn't shown by the way this study has been interpreted.

    I think 1/3 is higher than the number of hardcore christians that believe in creationism in this country, so maybe the crazzies are congealing in the teaching industry.

    <Have you been touched by his noodley appendage?>

  8. Dave Oakes Silver badge
    Happy

    The place for creationism in school

    Of course there's a place for Creationism in science lessons, it could go like this:

    Student: Teach, my mommy told me that living things are too complicated to develop by chance and evolution is only a theory.

    Teacher: Well Johnny some people do have that opinion and class do we know what we call people who think that

    Class (except Johnny): MORONS!

    Teacher: That's right class.

  9. Richard
    Boffin

    Funny though...

    That this is filed under Science rather than Odds & Sods or Public Sector.

    Just as there's a semantic issue with the word "theory" as in Darwinian Evolution is "only a theory" / "the best scientific model we have on the subject at the moment", there's a problem with the word Creationism.

    Admittedly neither old Earth (comprehensible synthesis of religious belief into scientific understanding) nor young Earth (Noah kicked the dinosaurs off the ark or God is using fossils to mess with our heads) Creationism belong in science lessons - especially not the latter or Intelligent Design (pseudo-scientific gloss on young Earth creationism) - but this is just the kind of tar baby that the 4004BC club love to wind rationalists up with.

    Also, I bet Teachers TV would never dare to do a "should we bring back corporal punishment?" survey or, if they did, wouldn't give it quite as much prominence.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Philosophy not RE

    RE should be scraped from the general curriculum, and philosophy mad a compulsory part.

    Unfortunately too many teachers are religious whackos, the profession seems to attract the fringe element.

    To be honest, I would scrap all of the current set up of education, just make it 100% exam, and publish the exam criteria, job done. If they want to learn they can, if not so what. Far more economical an approach, teachers can join all us adults in the real world, and actually make a contribution to the economy, rather than leech of it.

  11. tim

    @ Hollerith

    i don't think it's misrepresenting anyone, it clearly states “....almost 9 out of 10 (87.9%) teachers take the pragmatic view that they should be allowed to discuss creationism or intelligent design in science, if pupils raise the question.”, it's also saying/showing that about 3% of teachers think it should be given the "...same status as evolution in the classroom..." , the title to the story is misleading ut thats mee-ja folk for you (I'm just hoping none of those 3% end up teaching my children).

  12. The BigYin
    Thumb Up

    Fair enough

    If the kid brings it up by all means discuss it. And discuss it in the way is should be discussed.

    There is science (theory, test, disprove, revise theory, test, disprove and repeat until you think you've got it (right up until some smart arse has a better idea)) and then there are fables (untestable).

    Err...I think that covers it.

  13. davefb

    perhaps they should

    teach statistics in English lessons..

    We discussed evolution in RE lessons, because this was 30 years ago though, there was a clear faith vs science split as lets face it , the discussion about evolution was done and dusted 100 years ago.

    This doesn't mean that ID shouldn't be mentioned it should just be discounted as faith, the same way that miracles are discounted. You can't discuss it in the same way as flogiston or the michelson morley experiments (picking classic examples of theory debunking), because both those issues can and are disproved via experiments. ID/creationism cannot be disproved by experiment, in the same way that god cannot be.

    Still , I wonder when the religious americans will finally get round to reading about plate-techtonics. Wonder what great phrase they'll invent to contradict that...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Save religious nonsense for religious education lessons.

    If someone wants to discuss religious matters, save them for religious education lessons. Science lessons are for presenting concepts with actual proof to back them up, of which there is none for creationism, other than the usual bullcrap line of, 'God made it that way.'

  15. Simon Painter

    It's a metaphor...

    7 days... it's not seven actual earth days... it's a metaphor for the order by which they came about. As for if ID is viable as a theory... there is not one shred of evidence whereas there is plenty of evidence to support evolution. The idea of creation is a hangover from a time when people had not figured out evolution and needed a story to explain things and the big guy in the sky seemed pretty plausible.

    It used to be thought that thunder was god getting angry and the sun was driven across the sky in a chariot but science has explained these in incontravertable ways and at some point in the future it would be nice to see proof of the origin of species.

    They key difference between science and belief is that science is not blind and it's pretty fickle. As soon as a better theory comes along the open minds of science will embrace it. Religion is marred by the concept that a book written a few thousand years ago is the truth and is not subject to revision and updating when better information becomes available.

  16. blackworx

    @Jamie

    Orbit. The word you are looking for is orbit.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Warren

    Evolution is not fact, is that far more important thing, a scientific theory. Science should be about scientific theory. Science should not be about arbitrarily making crap up and then killing people who disagree with you. The teaching of religion (as opposed to religious education) impedes scientific learning and indeed any logic based learning.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proof?

    What sort of proof can science provide for a God who almost certainly exists outside of time?

  19. Vaughan Silver badge
    Go

    Adam & Eve...

    ...were forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    But they did anyway and took the evolutionary step from Ape to Man.

    Metaphorically hoist by their own metaphorical petard methinks.

  20. Steven Jones

    @Jamie

    Of course you can come up with an explanation you like to interpret the Bibilical creationist story in whatever you like. It's very easy to come up with allegorical interpretations or redefine the words as you see fit and, of course it's impossible to prove it is wrong.

    But that utterly and totally misses the point - it's not science; any explanation that is not, in principle, falsifiable immediately identifies itself as unscientific. What might be the point is if the nature of science as a methodology was properly taught in classrooms then truly people might learn to think for themselves. They might then understand the difference between different methods of understanding.

    It would be a jolly good idea if some of the more rigorous branches of philosophy were taught in schools (and to schoolteachers) and then we might not get this sort of nonsense of mixing up creationist theories and evolution as being equally valid interpretations of the same phenomena when, in fact, the former is based on an axiomatic faith system.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget creationism

    I've come through the entire public school system with absolutely no idea how our government or legal system works.

    How is MP formed?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call bullshit...

    I know a lot of teachers, including most of my family and hangers-on, many of them are Christians and I don't know a single one who thinks that creationism is anything more than a creation myth. I also don't know any of them who give a shit about TeachersTV.

    If, in science class, someone brings up creationism/ID what is a teacher supposed to do? Send them out of the room? Tell them to shut up? or discuss it as part of scientific reasoning, why it may be true, why it may not.

    Even Dawkins discussed creationism with a science class on his Darwin program.

  23. Steve
    Boffin

    @ Jamie

    "Also in regards to creationism how can anyone state whether this is possible or not. The universe was created in 7 days. I don't think anyone out there is God so how do you know how long it took. Time is relative and something which we have designed. If you are an omnipotent, omnipresent being would you judge the passage of time by 24 hour clock. I we lived on a different planet in this solar system alone we would not use a 24 hour clock as it would not work for the rotation of the planet. We also would not use a 365 days for a year as it takes either longer or shorter for the planet to circumnavigate the sun.

    Just something to think about before you start the flaming."

    1. Time does not "pass".

    2. Whether you're measuring time in seconds, days, galactic years etc is irrelevant. It's just a different conversion factor in the equations.

    3. If we lived on a planet with a 26hr day, it wouldn't change the rate at which processes happen, it would just mean that we were using different units. I don't get any taller by measuring my height in centimetres instead of feet and inches.

    4. A being that created the universe would, by definition, exist outside of time and would not be subject to the illusion that time is a progression. What we see as present, past and future would all have an equal existence as part of a 4-dimensional object.

    5. None of the above matters because the reason that Creationism is not taught in science classes is that it is NOT A SCIENTIFIC THEORY.

    Seconds are to time what metres are to space.

  24. Watashi

    Who votes wins

    But how many were Biologists? "Teacher" doesn't mean "polymath" or "intellectual", and there's no reason to expect a History or Technology teacher to know any more about evolutionary theory than any random punter off the street.

    Also, I worry about the methodology of this study. "Self-selecting" equates to "meaningless sample group" - those who are strongly motivated to have Creationism taught in schools are much more likely than any other type of person to take part in this study. Most Creationists are in religious organisations that are likely to treat this kind of survey as a means of promoting their particular viewpoint.

    I wouldn't be surprised if this is exactly what happened here; by ambushing the vote a handful of well organised Creationists could easily skew the results.

  25. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    @Jamie

    "Time is relative and something which we have designed"

    I do agree with the first part of your statement. Einstein himself has proven that Time is relative, so I doubt anyone can actually put those words in doubt.

    However, any pretense of credibility you might have had falls flat on its face with the last part of your statement.

    Nobody in the Human race has "designed" Time. If that were the case, we would have included methods to "wind back" Time and otherwise exert full control over it.

    What the Human race has designed is its own understanding of time, yes. But Time will go on whether there is a human being to measure it or not.

    I accept the idea that the Universe originated in the Big Bang - until a better scientific theory comes along. I accept the idea that immense and numerous stellar explosions were required to create the various kinds of matter that exist beyond the humble hydrogen atom. I accept that it probably took billions of years and untold trillions upon trillions of events to create the conditions that made life on this planet Earth possible.

    And I also accept, and welcome, the idea that there is a God who, in His godly wisdom and intelligence, set the whole thing in motion and made sure to provide all the tools we needed to understand it.

    The two items are not mutually exclusive, and I see no reason to consider that Science is diminishing God in any respect. On the contrary, I believe that Science simply demonstrates that God does indeed have a vastly superior intelligence to our own, and we should be in awe of what God has created and thankful to have the ability to take tiny steps in understanding it.

    Because if we had designed the Universe, the specs would still be stuck in a committee and the beta version would have blue screened right after the first black hole.

  26. JEAN

    INTELLIGENT DESIGN

    At one time, there was nothing. Then there was a Big Bang, and a universe, complete with everything needed for everything that is, came into existence. How?

    To deny there could be an intelligence responsible for this, is very unscientific.. To say in a classroom, "There are those who think there is an intelligence in the universe who created it." will not cause any harm to anyone. Except those who do not want students to believe there is moral order. To whose advantage do you suppose that is?

  27. Darran Clements

    Creationism in science classes

    I noted some cynicism in this report. Good! How many of the teachers identified themselves as science teachers? Why waste time talking about superstitions in a class on biology? Would it then be OK to discuss French grammar in English or vice versa? I think the answer to that is probably no.

    I have no problem with debating religion/science/philospohy/ethics with anyone, especially as zealots of all flavours end up car crashing their rather feeble arguments in relatively few steps, but this onward march of "teachers" who aren't qualified to comment on what is or isn't on the science curriculum, piping up and adding their unwanted voices to this debate is a complete joke.

  28. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    @ JEAN

    So where does your intelligence come from, then?

    And why would whoever or whatever created the Intelligent Designer bother with that middle step rather than just create the Universe?

    That isn't even a circular argument -- it's an outward spiral, getting less and less plausible with every turn.

  29. Mark

    re: Ready, aim, fire

    Well it's only fair: the religious nuts (such as yourself) keep sniping about things they don't understand and use that lack of understanding as PROOF that science is bogus.

    Or is it only Christians who are allowed to say "you're wrong"?

  30. Mark

    re: INTELLIGENT DESIGN

    You seem to be saying that the universe is set for intelligent life and this is so mindbogglingly unlikely that there MUST be an intelligence behind it.

    However, that intelligence must have come about in a system that is set for intelligent life and this is so mindbogglingly unlikely that this intelligence MUST have an intelligence behind it.

    But THAT intelligence must have come about in a system that is set for intelligent life and this is so mindbogglingly unlikely that this intelligence MUST have an intelligence behind IT.

    ...

  31. Liam

    hmmmm

    @ "Because if we had designed the Universe, the specs would still be stuck in a committee and the beta version would have blue screened right after the first black hole" - yes, if humans had designed it we wouldnt have made humans with evidence of evolution (coxix {spelling??} - the little bit of your spine where a frikkin TAIL used to be. or the fact that we have things like the appendix, which serves no purpose and is a left over from our pre-human days...

    @"At one time, there was nothing. Then there was a Big Bang, and a universe, complete with everything needed for everything that is, came into existence. How?" - who MADE god then? touche! always wins that one... was it mr and mrs god? is it god jr playing?

    i dont mind religous fanatics but my kids will be withdrawn from any classes spouting religous nonsense - ive been an athiest since i was 5! (yes, i remember telling a teacher it was all rubbish back in 1st year infant school)

    religion dumbs and numbs the mind - it stops us thinking as we are all told 'god made everythingstop dont worry your pretty little head'

    i split up with my ex (who was a god botherer) after too many dumb conversations about how evolution cant be proved... ffs lol

  32. Mark

    re: Adam & Eve...

    Vaughn, are you calling Adam a monkey!!!

    We are not descended from apes. Apes and us descended from a common ancestor (which, to the ape would be a manlike ancestor if he were as stupid about it as some creationists). That ancestor was not an ape. Neither were they human. They were another species.

    All dogs are descended from a wolf. Even Chihuahuas. And they're about as far as looking like a wolf as you can get. But we don't seem to say that the Chihuahua is descended from a Great Dane, do we, just because they have the same (different) ancestor species.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Creation or evolution.

    It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists. All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists. They are so positive that evolution is correct they are frightened to debate creationism in the classroom. The truth is evolution cannot stand up to scrutiny.

  34. Mark

    re: Proof?

    "What sort of proof can science provide for a God who almost certainly exists outside of time?"

    None.

    Which is why God and discussions about such belong in a religious discussion, not a science one.

    Why then do the christian activists seem to want to insist? you don't see scientists demanding that general relativity is taught in RE classes, or that home economics should be taught from the pulpit.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ac - Proof?

    What sort of proof can science provide for a God who almost certainly exists outside of time?

    Rather, you should be asking: What sort of proof can religion provide for a god who almost certainly doesn't exist at all; ever; anywhere but on a page.

    Keep religion of all sort out of public school and where it belongs: in your church, mosque, synagogue, temple or whatever you prefer and infect your own children with it.

    @Jean - believe there is moral order Since when do I have to believe like you do in order to have morals? Silly mortal.

  36. Pierre Silver badge

    Intelligent design

    There is one, and only one, supernatural entity in this universe. All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for He and His allmighty meatballs are the origin and the end of all and any physical or pataphysical entity. He created the universe, and He created man to serve and adore Him. Anything else is bullshit. Burn your idols, muslims, jews, christians, for they are leading you to an afterlife of endless pain and suffering in salted boiling water (and tabasco in the eyes).

    That's what I demand be taught in science class. My religious freedom is not less important than yours, biatch!

    The FSM bless you all.

    More seriously, do we really want to turn science classes into endless discussion on which religion has the best cosmogony? If yes, I'm sorry christian nutters, but your fairytale is much, much less appealing that the Hindu one. You loose. Now can we get back to rational thinking based on facts and the understanding of causes and consequences? You kids can go play make-believe in the playground.

  37. Mark

    re: It's a metaphor...

    And God is not real. It's just a metaphor.

    The Universe itself is a thing beyond our knowledge but within our grasp to understand. It isn't an intelligence, it is merely the process of the universe acting under its own nature toward an end that it neither knows, cares or drives for. It just exists because that is what it is for. To exist.

    Why not? If bits in the bible are metaphor or allegory, then why must the central character be real?

  38. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Happy

    Re: Forget creationism

    AC: "I've come through the entire public school system with absolutely no idea how our government or legal system works."

    But you presumably learned enough in science classes to analyse the available evidence and are now perfectly aware that they don't. It's all made up as they go along, by the kind of idiot who couldn't even parse "evidence-based policy making".

    (By the way, saw the phrase "policy-based evidence making" elsewhere on this site this morning. Fabulous!)

  39. druck Silver badge

    Scepticism classes

    RE: should be removed from the curriculum, and replaced with scepticism classes. Children would be taught to think for themselves and question the fallacy of religious beliefs of all flavours. There would then be no need for nonsense such as creationism or ID to come up in science lessons.

  40. Simon Greenwood

    re: Creation or evolution

    Let's just have a look at the creationist's belief here: until a few years ago it was based entirely on Genesis in the Bible. As there is absolutely no scientific proof whatsoever for what was originally written down several thousand years ago, where there is evidence of evolution everywhere, intelligent design was invented to fill the bus sized holes in the creation myth, with the basic line being 'oh, well, perhaps we weren't created by a supreme being whose existence cannot ever be proved but the complexity and variety of life on Earth means that something must have done it.'

    Gene Roddenberry used to say that the alien species on Star Trek all looked human because of some star-seeding race who had travelled the galaxy in prehistory. It certainly saved on expensive makeup, and indeed predates the concept of intelligent design by 20 years or so. Intelligent design is basically the same argument, except that there isn't a successful TV franchise behind it. Is that ridicule?

  41. Filippo

    @Jamie&JEAN

    Your point seems to be that creationism isn't impossible, so it deserves mention in a science class. That's a gross misunderstanding of the nature of science. Science does not deal with the unknowable - and, more specifically, it does not deal with theories that are logically impossible to disprove.

    The point that creationists love to make, "you can't prove that God/aliens/someone didn't create the universe/world/species", is exactly the reason for which creationism isn't science. It might be true, it might be false, it doesn't matter; it belongs to a philosophy class, not to a science class.

    Evolution can, in principle, be disproven - for example, by observing the sudden appearance of a new species, sharing relatively little genes with any previously existing species. Creationism can't be disproven, as any conceivable observation can be explained as "God did it". This makes it not-science. True or false doesn't even factor in the discussion.

    If a science teacher got asked this by a student, I think he should explain that science deals with testable knowledge only, and that the student should pose that question to the philosophy teacher.

  42. IM Phartain
    Pirate

    Lucky number Seven?

    What's all this about the universe being created in seven days - don't you read the Bible (well I did in Sunday School, once upon a time). The Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Six days, because six is a perfect number - it equals the sum of its factors. This shows that mathematics, like God, is timeless, and exists outside of creation. Of course, if you believe in miracles, you'll believe in anything, even ID.

  43. Mark

    re: Creation or evolution.

    "It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists."

    Why then do creationists keep trying to get their dogma introduced into science classes? How is that fear?

    If you can, then please tell me where I can get A.J.Crowley's work introduced in the Sunday Service...

  44. Mike

    Re: Creation or evolution.

    >It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists.

    Yes, because they are scary people that cause people to die, quite often creationists are deluded religious fanatics, 5000 american women will die each year from preventable cervical cancer, but they will not recieve the HPV vaxine becuase of religious fanatics who refuse to issue the vaxine in schools (thankfully the UK is saving our daughters lives), 50% of americans are infected with HPV, think of that before you shag one.

    >All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists.

    That's because they are stupid (or at least hold stipid beliefs, sod it! nahhh, they are stupid)

    >They are so positive that evolution is correct they are frightened to debate creationism in the classroom.

    There is no debate, creationism is just wrong, the earth is millions of years old not 6000, FACT.

    >The truth is evolution cannot stand up to scrutiny.

    Oh yes it does, and it has done, time and time again, go to http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-evolution.html probably the best detailed scritiny, go there and read, the answers to every question is there.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @AC

    "It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists. All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists. They are so positive that evolution is correct they are frightened to debate creationism in the classroom. The truth is evolution cannot stand up to scrutiny."

    Troll alert....

    There are plenty of posts in here using the same statement..."evolution is correct". No one has said that, and the only ones to use that sentence are detractors. What has been pointed out, repeatedly, is that most well adjusted people understand that evolution is a working, functionting and usefull hypothesis for the state of our universe. And, as many posters above have pointed out, we're comfortable with the fact that it might change, or indeed 'evolve' in the future.

    God is the name traditionally given to things we don't understand. As our understanding evolves over time, so god is replaced by that understanding. There's no harm in that, and there should be no fear of it either.

    Creationists are those who weren't on Darwin's mailing list....

    <Paris, coz she's on my mailing list>

  46. bobxxxx

    Creationists are retards

    29% disagreed with this statement: "Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science national curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science."

    That's disgraceful. I don't care if these teachers teach science or not. They all should be fired immediately and they should not be allowed to teach anything anywhere ever again. It's not fair to students to be stuck with an idiot teacher and only idiots still believe in magical creation or magical intelligent design in the 21st century.

  47. John Savard Silver badge

    Religious Education?

    I am quite shocked to hear that schools are required to teach religious education. I would expect that to happen in special religious schools that certain minority groups of parents - such as Roman Catholics - send their children to, not the normal public school system.

    Of course, in the United Kingdom, the Church of England continues to enjoy the status of an "established church", in flagrant violation of the Eternal Law of God, as revealed in the First Commandment:

    Thou shalt make no law which concerns itself with creating an establisment of religion, nor shalt thou restrict freedom of speech, nor of the press.

    Oh, no; that's the First Amendment.

    But then the United States violates this principle, by requiring Catholic parents to pay out of their own pocket for Catholic schools while paying taxes for public schools. We Canadians, at least, have got it right, at least in Alberta and Quebec.

  48. Mike
    Joke

    Happy Friday

    I'm an agnostic, dyslexic insomniac.....

    .....I lay awake at night wondering if there is a dog.

  49. The Badger
    Boffin

    re: Ready, aim, fire

    "Or is it only Christians who are allowed to say "you're wrong"?"

    The most vocal being those who have no understanding of the social and cultural processes that went into producing their favourite literature, or (as has been demonstrated elsewhere) even any understanding of the *notion* that their favourite literature didn't just drop from the sky in ready-to-read modern English.

    I agree with the person who suggested that RE should be replaced by philosophy: it's a broader subject, covers ground that the Genesis-botherers stumble across occasionally with their "have you ever thought about..." trinkets of supposed wisdom that yes, some bloke in some past century probably did think about and then go on to write several volumes about. Philosophy classes could quite easily entertain the distinctions between science and non-science so that little creationists have someone to pester about their delusions, leaving science classes for actual science, of course.

  50. Jon Kale
    Stop

    @ all the "well it's so complex there must be a designer" and similar apologists

    To quote William of Ockham (a Franciscan friar, no less, so probably a reasonably Godly man):

    "numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate"

    If your Latin's not up to it, ask a grown-up to translate.

  51. RichyS
    Paris Hilton

    @Creation or Evolution

    "It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists. All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists."

    We aren't frightened of you, and the only reason we ridicule you is that your idea is ridiculous.

    Paris, 'cos she's not intelligent or designed.

  52. Mark

    @John savard

    And they also forced non-christians to chant "one country, under god" in the oath of allegience, despite that being a recent invention and the ORIGINAL oath didn't say that.

    And all the dollar bills have "in god we trust".

    Oh, and they get charity status.

    So they do get a lot of help from the government as it is. Don't be stingy about having to pay for it.

  53. Vaughan Silver badge

    @Mark

    Marc, did you mean to use question marks???

    No, I wasn't calling Adam a monkey. I was calling him an ape, though that's splitting hairs as much as you did. I well understand how evolution/natural selection/adaptive radiation works. My point was simply how the story could be interpreted in support of these scientific ideas just as much as against them. The assertion that Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil (concepts readily understood by humans) suggests they were something other than human prior to eating the fruit. The act of eating stands as a metaphor for whatever mutations made the difference between humanity and its immediate predecessor. As a hardworking atheist I find this sort of observation pretty useful.

  54. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  55. Mad Dave

    In this thread

    One group of people show their support for an attempt to force their opinions on another group.

    The modern trend of hatred (and that is the correct word) of Christians is no different to the prevalent racist attitudes of times past.

    Strange also how people are arguing for the case of being 'open minded' while simultaneously denying the right to be taught differing values in schools.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @Dave Oakes

    Yes, because shouting, "I'm right and you are a moron" is clearly the correct scientific response to be teaching kids.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Creationism is not on equal footing with evolution

    There's no point in debating creationists. it's gives equal footing to a one sided argument.

    It's better to bring these challenges up in court. The creationists are then forced to address specific questions directly without being able to bring in their fire and brimstone wishy wash.

    In court creationism doesn't stand up anywhere. In a debate you can have fast talking con men who can spew out whatever garbage they can come up with and the debator is forced to rebut in too short of a time period.

    There's no debate as to whether or not evolution is a fact. the debate is in the details and mechanisms. if you don't believe in evolution because it's a theory, then you must not believe in other scientific theories like gravity or electricity or magetism or germs or ......

    Creationists are dumb.

  58. Mark

    OK, V. It was mostly a PS TK.

    Although if we're going to go all allegorical, as I said before, why should the main character be the only one that gets to be real rather than allegory?

  59. RW
    Boffin

    @ AC 13:41 GMT

    AC: "Evolution is not fact, is that far more important thing, a scientific theory. Science should be about scientific theory"

    Some theories and hypotheses eventually are agreed to be facts. Evolution is such a theory.

    The evidence supporting evolution is so voluminous, and there is such a paucity (i.e. none at all!) of competing theories that explain the evidence, that no thinking person can any longer disagree with the concept. In particular, scientists now agree that Darwin's theory is true, not merely speculation.

    You might argue that no one has seen evolution in action, but every so often these days new species are seen to arise. Example: sudden oak death is a new species of /Phytophthera/ evidently formed by natural hybridisation of a North American species with an Asiatic species imported by accident into California. There are other examples as well.

    I'm hot on this topic because the creationists will chirp "but evolution is just a theory" as though "theory" means "stab-in-the-dark guess made by some Joe-the-Plumber." Not at all; the Sarah Palins of the world are not the intellectual equals of Charles Darwin and their ill-informed opinions do not merit comparison to Darwin's immortal insight.

    Darwin was a wise enough man to see the holes in his theory, and his theory of evolutionary mechanisms (gradual, progressive change) is merely one competing theory. Perhaps the most prominent other theory of evolutionary mechanism is the "punctuated equilibrium". But that theory in no way goes against the fundamental understanding that species can, and do, and have, changed into other species via natural mechanisms.

    As for the concept of "scientific theory", there's the Popperian definition that a scientific theory is one subject (in principle) to disproof. So far no one has discovered a fossil that could not be slotted into a grand family tree of all life. Creationism, on the other hand, by its dependence on the arbitrary involvement of a Flying Spaghetti Monster or other such supernatural entity with creative urges, is simply undisprovable. It does not lead to the exclusion of a wide range of possible phenomena, unlike a strong scientific theory. Creationism, via its fundamental arbitrariness is simply not scientific.

  60. Greg Trocchia

    @John Savard

    So, do non-parents get to avoid paying school taxes in Alberta and Quebec then? It is not an establishment of religion to insist that everyone's taxes should go to pay for the public schools, whether or not one uses them. It is also not an establishment of religion (nor a prohibition of the free exercise of religion) for the government to pass on picking up the tab for someone wishing to send their children to a religious school.

  61. Mick
    Alien

    All humans are athiests....

    Some of us just go one god further ;-)

    (With apologies to Richard Dawkins for the blatant plagarism)

  62. Vaughan Silver badge

    @Mark

    I completely agree with you. God seems to stand simply for everything not understood. If humans are around long enough to understand everything then perhaps religious types might admit defeat. However the prospect seems unlikely as the sun and, by extension, the earth has a limited shelf life. And so to bed.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well,

    There are those here who are demanding the right to their own opinions and beliefs. And if you do not agree with their beliefs for any reason then you are obviously a moron. Rational thinking here. :)

    There are those in here who hold up the torch of scientifiy theory as the be-all and end-all of rational thought. Now PLEASE explain the Big Bang to me rationally. I get a bit confused about the idea that everything suddenly appeared out of nothing, no-when and for no reason. Silly of me of course.

    There are those in here who are demanding the segregation of taught subjects as if science / english / maths / philosiphy were totally seperate. Perhaps you should look a little closer at these subjects and then you might discover the overlaps. Or perhaps I am imagining the amount of maths in science / engineering / social studies, and the effect of the language on the world view and personal paridigms etc etc. As has been said in here, education is about teaching the student to think. Partitioning these subjects will not teach people to think and cross connect ideas. Of course that is fine if you just want a heard instead of a thinking populace.

    I am quite frankly saddened with the predictable howls of rage and contempt from the commentators on this site whenever this type of subject matter arises. Evolution has a number of _glaring_ holes in it. Holes that Darwin himself admitted. One example is the Peacock. Its huge, bright & colourfull tail feather display does nothing to assist its survival. Should you mention that this display is used to attract a mate and thus assist _species_ survival will only show that you do not understand the difference between an _excuse_ and a _reason_. Tell me the _reason_ for hampering all of the males in a species from surviving.

    Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living. If there is no God then there _cannot_ be a reason for living. I would rather not be just an irrelevant accident.

  64. Mark

    @AC

    "You're wrong and I'm right" is the only explanation you CAN give to children. You have to teach them a SHITLOAD of stuff before they can meaningfully negotiate their own way to the truth. For evolution, you have to learn biology, chemistry, phylogeny, geology, radio carbon dating, physics and a whole lot of debating techniques (and really good english skills) before they can look at the evidence of evolution and see where people are arguing from ignorance and where there are genuine unknowns or uncertainties.

    But to get there, you have to teach them.

    But without "I'm right, you're wrong", you have to teach them biology, chemistry....

    Evolution comes up in a science class for Junior School or first year Secondary.

    Do 12-14 year olds have to learn nuclear physics (so they can understand the dating techniques that give the ages of geological strata etc) JUST so we can say "The Human evolved from the Ape" without having to say "I'm right"?

  65. Mark

    @Mad Dave

    "Hatred"? Isn't "You're all going to roast in HELL!!!!" hatred too? Isn't "only those with a belief in God can be moral, since God is the source of moral thought" hatred too?

    Isn't "You're lying" hatred? Well, that's what christians do each and every day to people who don't believe and try and explain it.

    Isn't it hatred to say that if someone says you're wrong (in that your actions are not deserved, such as "ID should be a science so taught in class 'to show the controversy'") then turn about and accuse them of racist bigotry? Isn't it also arrogant in the extreme to believe that? Because you're saying it is IMPOSSIBLE for someone to tell you you're a frigging idiot without doing so just because they hate you and not, for example, because you're a FRIGGING IDIOT?

    Stop trying to play the "poor me, you're all picking on me. You're mean" card. It doesn't wash with your arrogance.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Macleod

    " There are those here who are demanding the right to their own opinions and beliefs. And if you do not agree with their beliefs for any reason then you are obviously a moron. "

    No, there are those here who *accept* evolution (which doesn't require you to be a member of any religion to find it plausible), and find it laughable that other people would rather believe what a 2000 year old book on the beliefs of a middle Eastern desert tribe tells them.

    "PLEASE explain the Big Bang to me rationally. I get a bit confused about the idea that everything suddenly appeared out of nothing, no-when and for no reason. "

    Leaving aside exactly what the Big Bang has to do with evolution, why don't you take 30 seconds to Google the Big Bang instead? I'm sure it's very easy to find informative stuff about it, which is done far better than I could ever hope to do.

    "Evolution has a number of _glaring_ holes in it. Holes that Darwin himself admitted. "

    Can we have some actual examples of these alleged *glaring" holes?

    "One example is the Peacock. Its huge, bright & colourfull tail feather display does nothing to assist its survival. Should you mention that this display is used to attract a mate and thus assist _species_ survival will only show that you do not understand the difference between an _excuse_ and a _reason_. Tell me the _reason_ for hampering all of the males in a species from surviving."

    Clearly the peacock's tail doesn't hamper it from surviving, or rather being able to pass on it's genes. If it did prevent it from breeding, then you'd see a progression towards peacocks with ordinary tails at best, and peacocks going extinct at worst. Whatever the exact reason, the tails don't stop peacocks from sufficient reproductive success!

    " Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living. If there is no God then there _cannot_ be a reason for living. I would rather not be just an irrelevant accident."

    And here we have the real reason for your finding fault with evolution!

    You can't deal with the fact that actually you're not a special flower made by a sky fairy, and so you dismiss evolution out of hand.

  67. Andrew Fairhead

    thinking straight!

    Well, its really interesting to read some of the comments here! How come we are so ready to dismiss that God created the world?

    None of us were there at the beginning,yet we seem so eager to have concluded that everything came about by any means other than acknowledging God did it. Why is that?

    Lets look at things from another angle.

    Having seen that The Bible and the existence of God has been all but banished from our schools (especially State), where does that leave us as a society today?

    Can we honestly say that our society is healthier?

    Sadly the rot has been going on for 3 or more generations.

    Breakdown in society and Families is greater now.........

    Indeed, not only has The Bible and acknowledgement of God been almost banished from opur schools, but certainly from the media, and most of those who carry any authority in society, including Teacher Training Colleges.

    Some may conclude that The Bible is a restraining influence on life and thought. Well, may be it is, but in a good way...to keep us from harming ourselves and others.

    However, it is also a very liberating book, as any serious reader of it would tell you.

    And from one comment I saw, the person thought that morality is still possible without God.

    That is true as far as conscience allows it, and of course conscience is put there by God.

    Apart from God, there is no possibility of morality.

    Who would set the standards....? Who has any right to administer whatever forms of morality were deemed to be suitable?

    As soon as you apply man's rationale to our human condition, it falls down, and that is what is happening.

    Far better to accept God's verdict and solution. Its the only safe way........ satisfying to us and honouring to God.

    We leave God out of our thinking at our peril.

    Andrew Fairhead

  68. Peter Nickson

    Science teachers?

    Does anyone know how many of these teachers were science teachers? I think a huge problem is that evolution is not understood by many people. This leads me to conclude that there might actually be place to teach creationism in science and scrutinise it under the scientific method. Perhaps the fact that RE teachers teach evolution and creationism as equally valid ideas is part of the problem. We create science skeptics. Teach them in science lessons and we will have a different outcome.

  69. Adrian Brown

    Teachers & Creationists in UK Schools

    Who are these idiots who think Creationisim is an intelligent design, I bet they think School is spelt Skool as well, the prats!

  70. Andrew Fairhead

    WHY?

    I read yesterday all the comments made here about the matter of creation in schools.

    It is a sad reflection on our country that there should be such venom against the Teaching of Creation. After all, it is the record of The Bible.

    It must be said that since we have all but managed to eliminate the Bible and Teaching of Christianity (NOT RE), from our schools as well as the media, we have not improved as a society.

    Weigh up the crime and general behaviour of some children and young people (not always their fault, but their partents and teachers)....and its clear that somethinmg is badly missing.

    Its not religion we need, but the genuine basis of Christian teaching and behaviour.

    This may be why there is such vehement oposition to some 'faith' schools (of the Christian kind) from some people including sadly the Sec of State for schools.

    If there is failure at the top, it will be repeated all the way down. Hence the standards of achievement, behaviour and general morality are so low, and we are debased as a country.

    This is linked to the teaching of Creation (some variableness in this is accepted), because if we dirtch it, we are basically ditching the Bible and the God of The Bible.

    Unfortunately, although those who espouse the ditching of Creation/God/The Bible think they are gaining freedom from being in subjugation, in actual fact the opposite is true. We are and have been sucked into a vortex of slavery to self and what we want or think is right. Thus no one has any 'right or authority' to say us nay.

    Creation gets us started at the beginning of The Bible (Genesis=beginnings), and if we begin to follow things through, we'll see it makes a lot more sense than, the speculation of evolution or guessing about what may or may not have occured.

    Surely its better to believe Someone who was there, and all the 100's of 'speculators' who were not!

    In any event, true science will never duck true enquiry or be afraid to accept what is found, nor is true science against how The Bible describes things. The Bible is not a scientific text book, but nor is it UN scientific. Anyway, who created science..etc?

    Andrew Fairhead

  71. Mark
    Flame

    Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living

    What if the reson is "God was bored so made up idiots to laugh his arse off at"?

    Why must there be a reason and why must we be part of it just because there's a "god"?

    You are saying nothing that has any basis in anything other than your personal faith. And so calling it any form of truth is bollocks.

    Now, what if there's a reason and WE OURSELVES MAKE IT? Hmm? Is that not any different from a sky fairy making one up for us?

    How about poor old god. Up there in the sky with no reason for existence. Unlike you lucky humans. Maybe that's why he's so pissed off at us, smug bastards that we are.

    My approach which is far more human than yours is that just because there's no God doesn't mean we're an irrelevant accident. We can make our own reason for existence. After all, in your "mind" God doesn't need one, but you don't call HIM an irrelevant accident.

    You have no faith in yourself.

    If you had that, you would not be so malleable to evil works.

    PS: you're going there, because the likelihood you have the wrong god is a whole lot bigger than there being no god.

  72. Andy
    Boffin

    On the flip-side...

    ... should we therefore discuss evolution in R.E lessons also? No, of course not.

    Science is not about people's opinions, politically correctness or superstition; it is about cold hard facts based on evidence, however discomforting they may be to some people.

    It's so important to the future of our society that our children grow up with a firm understanding of basic science. Giving credence to superstitious nonsense will only hinder that.

    It may sound harsh, but hard science is the only way we are going to eradicate diseases, solve energy problems, improve living conditions, provide transport, improve world-wide communications and stop climate change.

  73. Jim
    IT Angle

    God=Infinity, Infinity=God

    God exists in since and even has its own symbol, 8 rolled on its side and squished a bit.

    As has been pointed out already God is an allegory, something to explain that which cannot readily be explained.

    Human knowledge is finite but potential knowledge is infinite so the human race will never know everything and will always require a contruct to explain that beyond our sphere of knowledge. Scientists use infinity to describe this, religion uses God.

    @AC - Well

    Apologies but this runs on a bit but I like to know why - "Because God must have done it" just doesn't cut it for me. Sorry.

    "There are those here who are demanding the right to their own opinions and beliefs. And if you do not agree with their beliefs for any reason then you are obviously a moron. Rational thinking here. :)"

    Science is not an "opinion" or a "belief" though many scientists often miss the point at which their personal opinions/beliefs impinge on their otherwise good works, eg Richard Dawkins.

    If you prefer simple answers then "It wuz God wot dunnit" may be adequate. Personnally, I see this as the simpleton (child-like) answer much like it is Santa Claus who brings the presents at the winter solstice and the Tooth Fairy takes away old teeth. I never believed this rubbish as a child and am not about to start any time soon.

    "There are those in here who are demanding the segregation of taught subjects as if science / english / maths / philosiphy were totally seperate."

    Straw man alert! Language and maths (just another language) are general tools which need to be taught first (the 3 Rs). No-one is claiming that science should, or even could, be segregated from these subjects. But religion and science share no commonality, one encourages the questioning of inherited ideas and the other admonishes them (not respectively).

    "Evolution has a number of _glaring_ holes in it... One example is the Peacock."

    Bollocks! The primary imperitive of all species is reproduction and so I will start by describing the 'observed' reproductive strategy of the the peahen.

    When searching for a mate, the peahen will search out the peacock with the largest number of 'eyes' (the large blue/black dots found at the tip of the tail feathers) and will shag the lucky bugger. She will shun any further andvances UNLESS the new beefcake has a higher 'eye' count.

    Now, if you had studied a course on sexual strategy then you would often hear the lecturer ask you very same question "Why would a peahen search out a mate that is so obviously badly suited to ongoing survival needs?" and the simple answer is that you are starting from the wrong logical postion. Think how the peacock got to become the peahen's choice.

    1. A peacock has to survive to be an available suitor.

    2. To survive he must avoid predators.

    3. A large tail is a hinderance so a peacock with an enourmous tail has to work harder to survive than a less well endowed rival.

    In the peahen's mind this translates into "the well endowed guy has worked harder so is physically better so can provide better genes to my chicks". Or put more simply

    more 'eyes' = better genes.

    Your interpretation is flawed because you have allowed you thought process to become clouded by a preconception. It is this kind of closed-minded creationist thinking that leads to scientists describing them as morons.

    "Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living. If there is no God then there _cannot_ be a reason for living. I would rather not be just an irrelevant accident."

    Two issues with this.

    Firstly, the existence of God does not provide a reason for living. Our minds can create any reason for remaining alive, eg production of baby often reduces an individuals natural tendancy towards risky behaviour "for the sake of the baby".

    Secondly, the fact you would rather not be an "irrelevant accident" is purely an expression of your ego. You are under the impression that you have to be special, an idea that is fed to you thoughout your life because it actually makes you more controllable (both as a consumer and a citizen). People are much more content if they feel that they are somehow special. But...

    There are close to 7 billion people just like you so really, in a global context, you are irrelevant - sorry. There is a term called 'sphere of influence' and outside of your's you become irrelevant to the rest of the planet - again, sorry.

    Finally, as a scientist I have to point out that evolution is NOT A FACT, it is a theory. It may be a very good theory that has stood up to intense scrutiny but it is still only a theory. Any 'scientist' who believes evolution is a fact is no better than a creationist.

  74. Andy
    Boffin

    Science is hard

    Science is not about people's opinions, politically correctness or superstition; it is about cold hard facts based on evidence, however discomforting they may be to some people.

    It's so important to the future of our society that our children grow up with a firm understanding of basic science. Giving credence to superstitious nonsense will only hinder that.

    It may sound harsh, but hard science is the only way we are going to eradicate diseases, solve energy problems, improve living conditions, provide transport, improve world-wide communications and stop climate change.

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  76. Geoff Mackenzie

    Re: AC, 18:14

    "PLEASE explain the Big Bang to me rationally."

    A theory's validity does not, thank science, depend on my ability (or anyone else's ability) to explain it to you. I'd love to have someone concisely explain a large chunk of theoretical physics to me just because I ask with a smirk on my face, but the fact is that's unlikely to happen here. I suggest you get one of Hawking's popularising books (e.g. A Brief History of Time) and start with that, and see if it helps.

    "education is about teaching the student to think"

    I've seen this phrase squirt out of a few religion sufferers. The fact is that science education is about teaching the student to think scientifically. Granted, there are areas of overlap between science, maths, engineering, philosophy, etc.; and where these are relevant I do believe they should be covered. Just because there are arguments between scientists and raving schizotypals, though, doesn't mean science lessons should be polluted with supernatural garbage. Some ideas shouldn't be 'cross connected' - it doesn't really teapot.

    "Peacock. Its huge, bright & colourfull tail feather display does nothing to assist its survival"

    Bull, the tail is used by the hen to select a mate. Practically useless or not, a bird's tail is a pretty good proxy for health (like human hair or the antlers of an elk). As soon as potential mates begin to use a characteristic that way it will tend to become exaggerated by successive generations simply because it is being used in that way and has become, in itself, a reproductive advantage. It's not all about survival, species or individual; with such a large, heavy tail, a peacock doubtless lives a shorter life by at least a few years than he otherwise might, but without it he wouldn't stand a chance of becoming an ancestor to a new peacock variety.

    Seriously, Darwin covered a lot of these ropey old arguments in the Origin of Species (I have a relatively late edition but I think at least some of these were covered even in the first edition).

    "Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living. If there is no God then there _cannot_ be a reason for living. I would rather not be just an irrelevant accident."

    It's nice how we finally get to your real reason for attacking science. Well, unfortunately for you, just because you would prefer it was true, doesn't make it so. What you're doing is not a far cry from sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "la la la la, not listening, la, la, la" while someone tries to tell you there's no Santa Claus.

    What is the reason for living if there is a God? Why can't there be a reason for living if there isn't one? I would suggest that evolution itself provides a simple, if slightly unsatisfying reason for living: all living things are replicators, therefore the ultimate purpose of a replicator is to replicate and produce offspring who produce offspring and so on ad infinitum. The vast majority of us will not succeed in the long run; most families die out, which is why modern species are usually quite distinct from even their closest cousins.

    As a human being, though, I (like you) prefer to believe that there is more to this. Personally I believe that the aim of life is to progressively improve its survival changes as a phenomenon. I think human beings are well placed to further this goal, maybe colonising other planets at some point, or facilitating a new genetic takeover (see Cairns-Smith) by something that can carry my favourite human trait (conscious experience) into habitats into which evolution can't, with its incremental modifications, carry our species. I realise that these are flights of fancy, but these are the things I like to believe. I do, however, like to remain conscious of the difference between those and the truth. The truth is far less grand and intoxicating, but it is realistic.

    Religions are replicators too. They are mind-viruses, infecting a mind with a superficially convincing argument, threats of dire consequences of disbelief and promises of protection and freedom from death. And all we need to do is commit ourselves to them, believe them without questioning them, and (crucially) act in the interest of fellow sufferers (or hosts if you prefer) and against the interests of non-believers. Where possible, we should attempt to repeat the superficially convincing argument to other minds, in the hope of infecting those too. Religious 'teachers' make a living out of spattering the credulous with their mind-snot.

    Religions survive and spread, surviving the death of each host by infecting more hosts. Like us, they evolve to improve their survival advantages over time, developing new and more subtle claws to sink into our brains. Like us, too, they are incredibly resilient.

    Like us, too, they are irrelevant accidents, whether or not they would prefer to believe otherwise.

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  78. Mark O

    @Well,

    You list one supposedly "glaring hole" in evolution and fail to mention that it is one of the most successful theories in science, supported by vast bodies of evidence. I would suggest that the Peacock does use it's tail feather to attract a mate (it's not the only example of such an evolved trait.) But please tell us what you think the difference is between an excuse and a reason - it might help me to understand your last paragraph, where you seem to make an _excuse_ for believing in God.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    The topics one should never discuss at dinner ... remember?

    Let's see..... as my mother said, that would have been sex, politics and religion.... I sympathize with quite a few of the posters, not because they are creationists or evolutionists...but because they are simply jumping in and trying to discuss the issue. You can beat up on anyone for their point of view, because it is the world's oldest sport. But, if you take the posters who speak their minds intelligently and politely (without the arguments ad-hominum) you will get a debate, but take the rest and you will get diatribes.

    So what to do ? I am a big fan of science and learning, believe it or not so is the clergy of the Catholic Church (and many other religious types). Popes, monks and priests wrote, did experiments, postulated mathematical proofs, etc. They did not do their work in some kind of intellectual hinterland, vacuum or darkness. Many were learned men, and I won't argue against the fact that they were mostly men because of prejudice, etc. however many such people also helped lay the foundations of our current civilization and our current scientific understanding. To be fair, entering the priesthood was one way to get an education too. Organized religion didn't always stop such people from thinking, even though many of its representatives attacked the thinkers (burning at the stake was popular, at times) and were thus the equivalent of our modern-day political-correctness retards.

    Unfortunately, bigots and sh*th*ds can still be found aplenty in the 21st century and they aren't all creationists. Why should religious education be removed from the curriculum? Why should self-proclaimed atheists and other self-proclaimed religionists (surely if you are the only one who knows the truth, you must be a religionist) insist that they must always be right and someone with another (theological, perhaps) perspective be automatically wrong ? Perhaps, some are just mis-informed ? I do thank a previous poster for raising Occam's razor from the Latin. Although, I don't believe William was burnt as a heretic, and he was probably praised by his peers (admittedly, I didn't check that out first, so please don't stoke up the bonfire) he made a pretty compelling case about thinking for yourself which can still apply today with added value.

    The point is: if you can't think for yourself, you will become a pretty piss-poor example of humanity (nevermind your spiritual orientation) and therefore: a) you should be trained to think at an early age and continue to do so until you die (my bias), b) you should always be able to entertain other points of view (even if you think they are absurd, see a) above ) and c) you should always respect other human beings (i.e. love your fellow man) even if that is hard to do sometimes d) if you can't fulfill a), b) and c) then do your best but expect some grief from organized society. If God is omniscient he would surely agree.

    To complete the rant, now how many of us can honestly say we apply these principles in our everyday lives ? Didn't most of the great religions (unless hijacked by politicians) preach good things at the start? I'll get my coat now, coz it says (and means) hate the sin, not the sinner on the back.

  80. M Neligan

    @Bload

    Thanks, Bload. As an agnostic, I admit I have occasionally wondered where all this stuff came from - and why. So that was it! It came from two fundamentalist fermions having a split-up. Whew, that's that then. Still, can't help wondering why they bothered. I guess they couldn't have stayed together for the sake of the kids. Just thinking of the whole affair drains me of all my dark energy.

  81. Grant
    Stop

    Answers to anon

    "There are those here who are demanding the right to their own opinions and beliefs. And if you do not agree with their beliefs for any reason then you are obviously a moron. Rational thinking here."

    I have no problems with you believing in whatever invisible supernatural beings you want; but anyone trying to promote a great leap backwards to the dark ages where belief is more important than facts and pushing it to school kids deserves to be called on it.

    "Now PLEASE explain the Big Bang to me rationally. I get a bit confused about the idea that everything suddenly appeared out of nothing, no-when and for no reason. Silly of me of course"

    First answer me this; If you believe in a god, where did they come from? Rather silly if you assume it appeared out of nothing. If you believe it always existed (and only got around to creating Earth after teatime), then why not accept the simpler proposition that the universe always was; after all, we have known for nearly 100 years that space & time are linked, so time started with the big bang. Secondly, the big bang has nothing to do with evolution. Thirdly, why do you assume that the big bang appeared from nothing? Have you even bothered to read a Wikipedia article on the big-bang? It's not just another creation myth; there is real evidence such as the expansion of the universe; or did your god just forget to mention that in genesis?

    "There are those in here who are demanding the segregation of taught subjects"

    Really? At junior levels these are often taught combined by one teacher. Seems to have worked out pretty well over the last few hundred years of education policy to divide timetables into core subject areas so that specialist teachers can give deeper understanding. You expect a P.E teacher to be an expert on the works of Shakespeare, Calculus, Music, Physics, Chemistry and History? Personally, find that would lead to say teachers not understanding a shred of biology trying to comment on evolution & getting it wrong.

    "I am quite frankly saddened with the predictable howls of rage and contempt from the commentators on this site whenever this type of subject matter arises. Evolution has a number of _glaring_ holes in it. Holes that Darwin himself admitted"

    Its 2008 - Darwin wrote over 100 years ago so you might want to catch up if you think Darwin was the last word in evolution. DNA has been discovered & shown beautifully the links between species; including the linkage between apes and humans that Darwin could only have guessed at. Also huge numbers of fossils & live species that show transitional forms. Everything over the last 150 years has proven evolution & nothing disproved; the only real scientific arguments are subtle such as group selection vs individual.

    "One example is the Peacock. Its huge, bright & colourfull tail feather display does nothing to assist its survival"

    This is a logical fallacy called "argument from incredulity". Just because you find one example of a species morphology hard to understand, you throw out vast amounts of detailed evidence for evolution? Do you like women with long hair and large breasts? What is the survival advantage of a human women having these features? In fact 2 seconds search on google would answer your question (which was raised over a century ago), but you don't really want that do you? See: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/6/l_016_09.html

    "Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living. If there is no God then there _cannot_ be a reason for living. I would rather not be just an irrelevant accident"

    Fine, you believe that, but every animal seems to struggle for survival regardless of a believe in god. I want to live & I don't believe your god. Regardless of your particular reason for living (better reason to die surely, if you think you are going to heaven?) , it says nothing about the world around you or the plentiful evidence for evolution; including my children that share my genes. Not wanting to be "an irrelevant accident" is wishful thinking, about as rational as wanting the Earth to be the centre of the universe.

  82. jake Silver badge

    God or not ... and addressing fears.

    I have no idea if there is a God/ess or not. S/he hasn't spoken to me.

    I *do* know that there is all kinds of evidence that evolution exists.

    I also *do* know there are errors and contradictions in the Bible. Examples:

    Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 have completely different versions of Creation (which kind of makes the whole creation vs evolution argument pointless, until the Bible thumpers can agree which variation of Creation they believe in).

    Pi is NOT equal to 3, contrary to I Kings 7:23-26

    No man has seen God John 1:18; Jacob looked upon the face of God in Genesis 32:30; God and Abraham had a meal together in Genesis 18; Moses saw the back of God in Exodus 33:23

    The last words of Jesus are recorded differently in Matthew 27:46, Luke 23:46 and John 19:30

    I could go on. My point is that it's obvious that the Bible is a flawed (group of) document(s). Why so many people base their lives on it without realizing this would be beyond me ... if it weren't for the fact that social engineering works as well as it does. It's called "indoctrination from childhood" ... Or as I prefer to call it "brainwashing".

    Before you flame me for this, do some reading for yourself. Don't take the word of somebody who makes a living at perpetrating the "bible inerrant" myth. Don't take my word for it, either. Try reading the book for comprehension YOURSELF. I know I have! Can you HONESTLY say the same?

    What are YOU afraid of, Christians?

  83. Mark

    Explanation? Why?

    "Now PLEASE explain the Big Bang to me rationally. I get a bit confused about the idea that everything suddenly appeared out of nothing, no-when and for no reason."

    Why? You don't seem to need one to believe that God suddenly appeared out of nothing, no-when and for no reason.

    Time started. The universe was there when it started. What happened "before" time started is a silly question.

    However, if you MUST have a rationale for this (please supply one for your sky pixie), what about before the BB there was a previous universe undergoing it's big crunch?

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Well AC

    > If there is no God then there _cannot_ be a reason for living.

    Wrong. Its to pass on your DNA (Please don't though).

  85. DutchOven
    Flame

    RE:Finally, if there is a God then there _must_ be a reason for living

    Andrew Fairhead. I dispute your assertion that god created morality and is the basis for it.

    I'll start with the assertion that I'm an aetheist and I'm still a moral person. If you can somehow prove that all non-christians are immoral then I'll eat my hat. In fact, I won't stop there. I'll eat any and every hat you can find.

    Does your morality involve dictating to other people how they should act, what they should believe or what their own moralities should be? Freedom of action seems the only way to develop morals. Being told what to do all the time does not allow you to develop your own concepts of cause and effect. If you can't see the effect your actions have caused then you can't develop your own morality and you're nothing more than a mindless zombie, blankly following orders.

    Morality exists independently of christianity. Unless you think that prior to 2000 years ago there was no kindness or morality outside of Judea and that the Roman Empire brought morality to the world? If so then I laugh at you.

    The bible says I am allowed to keep slaves (as long as they're from a neighbouring nation). What's moral about that? Morality is not the same as religion as any fule kno.

    Not that morality is connected in any way to the article about teachers and creationism.

    "In any event, true science will never duck true enquiry or be afraid to accept what is found, nor is true science against how The Bible describes things. The Bible is not a scientific text book, but nor is it UN scientific. Anyway, who created science..etc?"

    The Bible can describe things any way it wants. It doesn't make them correct. You're right, it isn't a scientific text book. The scientific method implies that when new information comes along that the old theories cannot explain, we develop new theories. Christians are obviously not amenable to modifying the book even where it is obviously in error. Therefore your argument boils down to "this is the way the book says it was and no-one can make us believe otherwise or change our theories". Which, correct me if I am wrong, is exactly the opposite of the scientific method.

    If on the other hand you yourself believe in some parts of the bible and not in others (which I suspect is the case) then I can only call you a coward for not promoting an immediate rewrite.

  86. Mark
    Alien

    @DutchOven

    Actually, since he would have proven an atheist immoral, I'll eat HIM!

    Bwahahahahahahahaaa!

  87. jake Silver badge

    It's been two days, cowards.

    What am I talking about?

    Re-read 10th November 2008 04:38 GMT

    What ARE you afraid of, Christians?

  88. Mark
    Joke

    @jake

    They're afraid in case I've bought a nice case of Chianti.

    Fff ff ff ffff.

    ;-)

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    There are so many problems with this topic...

    ...that i will invariable step on one toe too many and be consigned to the electronic dusty-bin. So why bother replying? why bother complaining about the stupidity that is rampant within the narrow minded bigotry of people who wish to see creationism spoon-fed to the innocent under the guise of being scientific? why not just let these arseholes destroy the few weak threads of proper educated thinking that still cling desperately to the school system? religions of all form are the complete absence of science, creationism is an unsubstantiated paranoid delusion based on one version of it. science requires proof. So I post, and await the proof. I may well be proven wrong.

    Jake - you won't get an answer mate, there is no way for these insane zealots to form any coherent argument that doesn't involve burning us both at the stake.

    Science requires proof and abhors faith, religion relies entirely on faith, and faith requires an absence of proof - "for without faith i am nothing"... QED.

    God is great ... yeh, and the earth is flat... religion belongs in that retarded committee concept called RE where for 40 minutes a week each and every child the nation over can get some well earned shut-eye and still get a "B" in the final exam. Religions are like a string of pearls... no single one is perfect but the thread of truth runs through them all. Anyone wishing to discuss this truth might do well to read The Golden Bough, or, if that's a bit heavy going and controversial - go with The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There is more Universal Truth and Spiritual Enlightenment in the words of the late Douglas Adams than you will find in all of the pathetic leftovers of carefully selected gnostic texts that made it into the multiple rewrites of doctrine that were finally edited down into the 15th century manipulative debasement that is the modern bible. And anyone who believes that that sort of shite belongs in the science classroom really shouldn't be allowed to have access to anything sharp.

  90. jake Silver badge

    As I said, cowards.

    "Jake - you won't get an answer mate, there is no way for these insane zealots to form any coherent argument that doesn't involve burning us both at the stake."

    I know. See subject line.

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