Comments more than welcome.
The naturalist joined three Nobel laureates, the atheist Richard Dawkins and other leading scientists in calling on the government to tackle the “threat” of creationism.
Gordon Brown’s government issued guidance to all schools that the subject should not be taught to pupils, but neither they nor the coalition government enshrined the recommendation in law.
In a statement on a new campaign website, the 30 scientists and campaign groups including the British Science Association demanded creationism and “intelligent design” be banned outright.
Prof Colin Blakemore, the neurobiologist, Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society, and former Royal Society director of education Rev Prof Michael Reiss were among the signatories.
I couldn’t agree more. Creationism is a load of religious, pseudo-scientific crap, which has been completely discredited. It shouldn’t just have no place in schools, the state should indeed prevent it by law. America is being corrupted by the growing trend of fact denial; in school children in this country should only be taught to critically evaluate the world around them. There’s no other rational position to take.
As many of you know, Joe Cienkowski is quite possibly the stupidest of all the stupid creationists on the Internet. For reasons known only to him (and them) he seems desperate to prove that evolutionary biologist Prof Richard Dawkins actually supports their outrageous, baseless philosophy. Of course that’s nonsense. Let’s start a rebuttal by showing what Dawkins thinks of creationists:
Of creationists he says: ‘a mind like that…it seems to me is…well…a disgrace to the human species’. Hmm. That doesn’t sound very supportive of intelligent design or creationism. For that matter, have a watch of Jim (@movingtomontana) Gardner’s video (at about 2:47), showing Dawkins himself utterly and completely refuting any vague hint of belief in intelligent design in any way:
Given Dawkins’ own comments it would be pointless to attack Joe’s petulant footstamping line by line. Instead I’m going to offer you a smattering of viewpoints utterly breaking the preposterous notion of design. First we have Neil deGrasse Tyson, reflecting on the stupidity of ‘design’:
Then there’s Randolph Nesse (with Dawkins) showing yet again how the eye could not possibly have been ‘intelligently’ designed, and how evolution is instead at work:
And lastly for now, Dawkins himself explains how the illusion of deliberate design seems to happen (but doesn’t). It starts at about 4:15:
More creationist nonsense, easily dismissed by the…evidence! Your move, Joe (and creationism in general really).
I’ve spoken to Joe Cienkowski (@JoeCienkowski) for some months on Twitter. Most recently he blocked me for warning him that releasing a video claiming to prove evolution definitively false, the earth no more than 6,000 years old and God conclusively real would see him mocked across the Internet. And as he himself points out in his video ‘Grand Reality’ he considers himself the ultimate spokesman for creationism, and professes to have the proof in this video that the world can’t be more than 6,000 years old, and that his God definitely exists. I’ll leave you to watch (and guffaw), and then I’ll comment below:
I’m going to keep this relatively short, because I think Joe (@Joe4Jesus now?) might just want to read it, so if it’s too intricate a deconstruction he’ll stop reading; too academic an approach and he’ll never understand it. With that in mind I’ll address the issues (as he’s nagged me to do) right here, right now:
Joe and people like him haven’t the slightest idea of what science is, what evidence means or how to try to prove their case honestly. Firstly here’s a video to show you what creationism is up to. It’s pretty long, but well worth a watch:
Then enjoy this cartoon, which simplifies the creationist perspective on the world, showing how problematic arguing with them is:
So let’s look at the conclusions that Joe starts with and tries to retrofit reality around:
Joe says evolution isn’t possible, that humans and apes don’t have a common ancestor
We know this isn’t true. Here’s a quick introduction:
Joe says that the human body is an incredibly crafted machine
We know evolution is responsible for it. Here’s a good starting point for understanding the eye:
And here’s another video (albeit a little lengthy) explaining the complete flaw in creationism’s design argument:
Joe says that humans will always produce humans
What he means is the Creationist meme that ‘kind only produces kind’. Check this out:
Joe says that the theory of evolution is religious in nature
It would mean no intermediate fossils (as he says), but here’s Dawkins with yet another lesson:
Let’s not forget the ‘religious’ element. Let’s look at the definition:
Religion is the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or a set of beliefs concerning the origin and purpose of the universe. It is commonly regarded as consisting of a person’s relation to God, gods, or spirits. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditionsand sacred histories associated with their deity or deities, that are intended to give meaning to life. They tend to derive morality, ethics,religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviors, including congregations for prayer, priestly hierarchies, holy places, and/or scriptures.
Calling evolution a ‘religion’ is just plain stupid. There’s no other way of looking at it. Why? Because it simply isn’t connected to the definition in any way. Creationists think evolution needs to be believed in order to be true. They on the other hand choose to ignore the evidence because with their wonky worldview it would debunk God ‘Him’self. How amusing.
Joe I’ll be delighted to take your appallingly ignorant arguments apart on YouTube in the next few days too, you’re that deserving. In the meantime watch what I’ve put up here because you could learn from it. History says that you (as other creationists) will just stick your fingers in your ears, say ‘lalala the atheist’s making it all up’. But wouldn’t that just make you look even more stupid than you already do?
Creationism has been running rampant in America for decades, with its literal interpretation of the Bible, insistence that the earth is no more than 6,000 years old and insistence that science is somehow on their side. Now it’s being exported to Scotland:
A new creationist group that preaches the “scientific” theory of intelligent design has set up in Glasgow with the stated aim of promoting its beliefs to schools and colleges.
The Centre for Intelligent Design, headed by a Northern Irish professor of genetics, a vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians and a former school inspector, has already prepared the ground for a clash with authorities.
The group’s director, Dr Alastair Noble, told the Sunday Herald it was “inevitable” the debate would make its way into schools – even though the Scottish Government says teachers should not regard intelligent design as science.
“We are definitely not targeting schools, but that doesn’t mean to say we may not produce resources that go to schools,” Dr Noble said, adding that he had already been asked to speak in Scottish schools, and agreed to do so.
The C4ID, as it calls itself online, insists its views are purely scientific, but critics have pointed to the leaders’ fundamentalist Christian backgrounds and the leaps of faith inherent in their logic.
Now Noble is basically implying that he intends to target schools, and considering creationism and ‘intelligent’ design represent wilful renunciations of reason and an evidence based approach, I think the philosophy behind his centre needs to be exposed. So…
The terms used in design theory are not defined. “Design”, in design theory, has nothing to do with “design” as it is normally understood. Design is defined in terms of an agent purposely arranging something, but such a concept appears nowhere in the process of distinguishing design in the sense of “intelligent design.” Dembski defined design in terms of what it is not (known regularity and chance), making intelligent design an argument from incredulity; he never said what design is.
A solution to a problem must address the parameters of the problem, or it is just irrelevant hand waving. Any theory about design must somehow address the agent and purpose, or it is not really about design. No intelligent design theorist has ever included agent or purpose in any attempt at a scientific theory of design, and some explicitly say they cannot be included (Dembski 2002, 313). Thus, even if intelligent design theory were able to prove design, it would mean practically nothing; it would certainly say nothing whatsoever about design in the usual sense.
‘Critics’ have mountains of 100% conclusive evidence on their side to disprove creationism & ‘intelligent’ design in a heartbeat. No more than 6,000 years old? Erm radiometric dating proves that’s bogus. Adam and Eve were real? Erm we have an entire fossil record that proves that bogus and demonstrates evolution beyond any doubt whatsoever. Humanity was designed by an intelligent hand? We know that’s a complete load of garbage too:
Richard Dawkins, never a man inclined to say nice things about creationism or ‘intelligent’ design, doesn’t just break creationism apart with hard science, he does so by framing the way in which creationists approach the very idea of evidence (also in the cartoon below):
Its [president, Professor Norman Nevin OBE – a geneticist at Queen’s University in Belfast – told a meeting in the city earlier this year he believed Adam was “a real historical person”. He also said: “Genesis chapter 1-11, which indeed many Darwinists and evolutionists say is myth or legend, I believe is historical, and it is cited 107 times in the New Testament, and Jesus refers himself to the early chapters of Genesis at least 25 times.” In these books of the Bible, the universe is created in six days, God makes Eve out of Adam’s rib, and Noah saves the Earth by building an ark.
Folks this is a geneticist saying God makes a woman out of a man's rib. Cloning? In Bronze Age times? By a supernatural 'creator' for whose existence there has never been one iota's evidence? It's utterly appalling, but look at his MO:
Professor Norman Nevin, [who was part of our panel on last week's Sunday Sequence,] is one of twelve academics to have written to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary in support of Truth in Science’s controversial schools initiative. Truth in Science believe that children and youth people should be exposed to alternatives to Darwinism and evolutionary theory, and, particularly, to Intelligent Design Theory, and have sent teaching packs to every school in the country.
Take a look at Nevin’s hinted ‘evidence’ – circular logic, insisting that one event referred to in the Bible did happen because it was prophesied elsewhere in the same book. It’s kind of telling that he says he’s not ‘targeting’ schools, yet his history has been to target schools. But he’s not the only scientist coming out with this:
Dr Alastair Noble is a Glasgow University graduate who became a teacher and later HM inspector of schools. He is currently education officer for CARE, a Christian charity which campaigns for more faith teaching in schools.
Dr David Galloway, C4ID’s vice- president, is also vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a member of the Lennox Evangelical Church in Dumbarton.
C4ID has now set up a base in Glasgow and runs a website. The group is financially based in Guernsey, and apparently funded solely by backers in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.
Dr Noble denied the theory of intelligent design – that a universal engineer, or god, created the initial spark of life then used physical laws and natural selection to develop it – was religious.
How can a front for creationism not be religious? Preposterous nonsense – these people are the vanguard of those who try to recast science to prove anything they like, when that’s not what science (in this reality at least) does. Talk Origins goes further in proving creationists’ religious agenda, by letting the words of ‘intelligent’ design’s founders and leaders speak for themselves:
The ID movement is motivated by and inseparable from a narrow religious viewpoint. In the words of its founders and leaders:
There’s a difference of opinion about how important this debate [advocating intelligent design] is. What I always say is that it’s not just scientific theory. The question is best understood as: Is God real or imaginary? (Phillip Johnson, “The Search for Intelligent Design in the Universe”,
“We are taking an intuition most people have [the belief in God] and making it a scientific and academic enterprise. We are removing the most important cultural roadblock to accepting the role of God as creator. (Phillip Johnson, “Enlisting Science to Find the Fingerprints of a Creator”,
Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools (P. Johnson 2003).
If Noble is right and ID/creationism does make it into schools then we have a problem. It would be teaching superstition as science, legitimising the misrepresentation of all sorts of fields such as geology and biology and championing ignorance over knowledge. And it’s another example of creationists using ‘established’ scientists to legitimise their fundamentalist nonsense.
“I think people are afraid of this debate because they sense it’s religion from the back door. They see it as an invasion of science with religion, but it most certainly is not that,” he said.
However, critics dismissed intelligent design as “a front for creationism”.
Paul Braterman, an emeritus professor of chemistry, now at Glasgow University, and a founder of the British Centre for Science Education, a campaign to keep religion out of science classes, said intelligent design was simply using God to plug the gaps that science has yet to answer.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called on the Government to “keep a close eye on this organisation to ensure it doesn’t manage to wheedle its way into schools”.
James Gray, of the British Humanist Association, said the C4ID had a right to say what it liked, but guidelines were needed to “ensure this pseudoscience never finds its way into science classes”.
They should indeed be allowed to say what they like. But observe the resulting problem of what happens when literalist nonsense makes it into schools:
[Teacher] Erfana Bora [disagrees]. In her view, after learning both science and religion “Pupils then do, literally, make their own minds up as to what they believe”. She says pupils in her science class ask her all kinds of questions, such as “Do humans really share a common ancestor with apes?”. But, interestingly, she doesn’t say how she answers such questions. Does she tell them that, yes, humans almost certainly share a common ancestor with apes, or does she say that while scientists argue that this is so, the Qur’an says that it is not? This is important, because if it’s the latter then it’s a classic case of “teach the controversy”, even where there isn’t one. The implication that education is about allowing children to make their own minds up may sound honourable, but it is misleading.
Sure it is, and it’s an extension of the literalist crap littering the American public sphere too. FOX News for example will transmit the most outrageous lies under the auspices of ‘being fair and balanced’, yet what they do is act in a ‘fair and balanced’ way with arguments with no merit (often with no truth). As I’ve said on this blog many times, just because there are two sides to an argument, it doesn’t make them of equal validity. The same is very much true with Biblical literalism – teaching the controversy legitimises superstitious nonsense by equating it with scientific fact.
In 2007 the BHA successfully lobbied the UK Government to publish guidance on how teachers should deal with creationism south of the Border, but no such policy exists in Scotland.
Ann Ballinger, of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, urged ministers here to clarify the situation, while the EIS union said authorities should ensure teachers knew their position regarding intelligent design in the classroom.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said ministers would be against any moves to teach intelligent design in science classes, stating “we do not recognise the teaching of intelligent design in a scientific context”.
However, teaching unions and councils said they were aware of no formal guidance on the subject.
It should indeed be prevented, but considering it’s already de-facto taking place in schools which are quite happily afforded the freedom to do so, I don’t exactly know how. It seems unlikely that a creationist centre will find itself hindered in any way when successive governments are so keen to promote the idea of faith schools. We’re on a slippery slope here, kids. Faith is being given weight in society disproportionate to its weight. By all means we should be concerned by C4ID, but we should see it in context too.
Tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, have begun to dismantle the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They are creating a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and shutting out all those they define as the enemy. This movement, veering closer and closer to traditional fascism, seeks to force a recalcitrant world to submit before an imperial America. It champions the eradication of social deviants, beginning with homosexuals, and moving on to immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims and those they dismiss as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace their perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Those who defy the mass movement are condemned as posing a threat to the health and hygiene of the country and the family. All will be purged.
The followers of deviant faiths, from Judaism to Islam, must be converted or repressed. The deviant media, the deviant public schools, the deviant entertainment industry, the deviant secular humanist government and judiciary and the deviant churches will be reformed or closed. There will be a relentless promotion of Christian “values,” already under way on Christian radio and television and in Christian schools, as information and facts are replaced with overt forms of indoctrination. The march toward this terrifying dystopia has begun. It is taking place on the streets of Arizona, on cable news channels, at tea party rallies, in the Texas public schools, among militia members and within a Republican Party that is being hijacked by this lunatic fringe.
Elizabeth Dilling, who wrote “The Red Network” and was a Nazi sympathizer, is touted as required reading by trash-talk television hosts like Glenn Beck. Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, is ignored in Christian schools and soon will be ignored in Texas public school textbooks. The Christian right hails the “significant contributions” of the Confederacy. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, has been rehabilitated, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is defined as part of the worldwide battle against Islamic terror. Legislation like the new Jim Crow laws of Arizona is being considered by 17 other states.
The rise of this Christian fascism, a rise we ignore at our peril, is being fueled by an ineffectual and bankrupt liberal class that has proved to be unable to roll back surging unemployment, protect us from speculators on Wall Street, or save our dispossessed working class from foreclosures, bankruptcies and misery. The liberal class has proved useless in combating the largest environmental disaster in our history, ending costly and futile imperial wars or stopping the corporate plundering of the nation. And the gutlessness of the liberal class has left it, and the values it represents, reviled and hated.
The Democrats have refused to repeal the gross violations of international and domestic law codified by the Bush administration. This means that Christian fascists who achieve power will have the “legal” tools to spy on, arrest, deny habeas corpus to, and torture or assassinate American citizens—as does the Obama administration.
Those who remain in a reality-based world often dismiss these malcontents as buffoons and simpletons. They do not take seriously those, like Beck, who pander to the primitive yearnings for vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. Critics of the movement continue to employ the tools of reason, research and fact to challenge the absurdities propagated by creationists who think they will float naked into the heavens when Jesus returns to Earth. The magical thinking, the flagrant distortion in interpreting the Bible, the contradictions that abound within the movement’s belief system and the laughable pseudoscience, however, are impervious to reason. We cannot convince those in the movement to wake up. It is we who are asleep.
Those who embrace this movement see life as an epic battle against forces of evil and Satanism. The world is black and white. They need to feel, even if they are not, that they are victims surrounded by dark and sinister groups bent on their destruction. They need to believe they know the will of God and can fulfill it, especially through violence. They need to sanctify their rage, a rage that lies at the core of the ideology. They seek total cultural and political domination. They are using the space within the open society to destroy it. These movements work within the confining rules of the secular state because they have no choice. The intolerance they promote is muted in the public assurances of their slickest operators. Given enough power, and they are working hard to get it, any such cooperation will vanish. The demand for total control and for a Christian nation and the refusal to permit any dissent are on display within their inner sanctums. These pastors have established within their churches tiny, despotic fiefdoms, and they seek to replicate these little tyrannies on a larger scale.
Many of the tens of millions within the Christian right live on the edge of poverty. The Bible, interpreted for them by pastors whose connection with God means they cannot be questioned, is their handbook for daily life. The rigidity and simplicity of their belief are potent weapons in the fight against their own demons and the struggle to keep their lives on track. The reality-based world, one where Satan, miracles, destiny, angels and magic did not exist, battered them like driftwood. It took their jobs and destroyed their future. It rotted their communities. It flooded their lives with alcohol, drugs, physical violence, deprivation and despair. And then they discovered that God has a plan for them. God will save them. God intervenes in their lives to promote and protect them. The emotional distance they have traveled from the real world to the world of Christian fantasy is immense. And the rational, secular forces, those that speak in the language of fact and evidence, are hated and ultimately feared, for they seek to pull believers back into “the culture of death” that nearly destroyed them.
There are wild contradictions within this belief system. Personal independence is celebrated alongside an abject subservience to leaders who claim to speak for God. The movement says it defends the sanctity of life and advocates the death penalty, militarism, war and righteous genocide. It speaks of love and promotes fear of damnation and hate. There is a terrifying cognitive dissonance in every word they utter.
The movement is, for many, an emotional life raft. It is all that holds them together. But the ideology, while it regiments and orders lives, is merciless. Those who deviate from the ideology, including “backsliders” who leave these church organizations, are branded as heretics and subjected to little inquisitions, which are the natural outgrowth of messianic movements. If the Christian right seizes the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, these little inquisitions will become big inquisitions.
The cult of masculinity pervades the movement. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a muscular man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is deeply appealing to those who feel disempowered and humiliated. It vents the rage that drove many people into the arms of the movement. It encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is stoked through bizarre conspiracy theories, many championed in books such as Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order,”a xenophobic rant that includes attacks on liberals and democratic institutions.
The obsession with violence pervades the popular novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their apocalyptic novel, “Glorious Appearing,”based on LaHaye’s interpretation of biblical prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ returns and eviscerates the flesh of millions of nonbelievers with the sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror and blood, of how “the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.” Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The Left Behind series, of which this novel is a part, contains the best-selling adult novels in the country.
Violence must be used to cleanse the world. These Christian fascists are called to a perpetual state of war. “Any teaching of peace prior to [Christ’s] return is heresy…” says televangelist James Robinson.
Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, instability in Israel and even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as glorious signposts. The war in Iraq is predicted, believers insist, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelations, where four angels “which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men.” The march is inevitable and irreversible and requires everyone to be ready to fight, kill and perhaps die. Global war, even nuclear war, is not to be feared, but welcomed as the harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms hundreds of millions of apostates to a horrible and gruesome death.
The Christian right, while embracing a form of primitivism, seeks the imprint of law and science to legitimate its absurd mythologies. Its members seek this imprint because, despite their protestations to the contrary, they are a distinctly modern, totalitarian movement. They seek to co-opt the pillars of the Enlightenment in order to abolish the Enlightenment. Creationism, or “intelligent design,” like eugenics for the Nazis or “Soviet” science for Stalin, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline—hence the rewriting of textbooks. The Christian right defends itself in the legal and scientific jargon of modernity. Facts and opinions, once they are used “scientifically” to support the irrational, become interchangeable. Reality is no longer based on the gathering of facts and evidence. It is based on ideology. Facts are altered. Lies become true. Hannah Arendtcalled it “nihilistic relativism,” although a better phrase might be collective insanity.
The Christian right has, for this reason, its own creationist “scientists” who use the language of science to promote anti-science. It has fought successfully to have creationist books sold in national park bookstores at the Grand Canyon and taught in public schools in states such as Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Creationism shapes the worldview of hundreds of thousands of students in Christian schools and colleges. This pseudoscience claims to have proved that all animal species, or at least their progenitors, fit on Noah’s ark. It challenges research in AIDS and pregnancy prevention. It corrupts and discredits the disciplines of biology, astronomy, geology, paleontology and physics.
Once creationists can argue on the same platform as geologists, asserting that the Grand Canyon was not created 6 billion years ago but 6,000 years ago by the great flood that lifted up Noah’s ark, we have lost. The acceptance of mythology as a legitimate alternative to reality is a body blow to the rational, secular state. The destruction of rational and empirically based belief systems is fundamental to the creation of all totalitarian ideologies. Certitude, for those who could not cope with the uncertainty of life, is one of the most powerful appeals of the movement. Dispassionate intellectual inquiry, with its constant readjustments and demand for evidence, threatens certitude. For this reason incertitude must be abolished.
“What convinces masses are not facts,” Arendt wrote in “Origins of Totalitarianism,” “and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the masses’ inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time.”
Augustine defined the grace of love as Volo ut sis—I want you to be. There is, he wrote, an affirmation of the mystery of the other in relationships based on love, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. Relationships based on love recognize that others have a right to be. These relationships accept the sacredness of difference. This acceptance means that no one individual or belief system captures or espouses an absolute truth. All struggle, in their own way, some outside of religious systems and some within them, to interpret mystery and transcendence.
The sacredness of the other is anathema for the Christian right, which cannot acknowledge the legitimacy of other ways of being and believing. If other belief systems, including atheism, have moral validity, the infallibility of the movement’s doctrine, which constitutes its chief appeal, is shattered. There can be no alternative ways to think or to be. All alternatives must be crushed.
Ideological, theological and political debates are useless with the Christian right. It does not respond to a dialogue. It is impervious to rational thought and discussion. The naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthens its legitimacy and weakness our own. If we do not have a right to be, if our very existence is not legitimate in the eyes of God, there can be no dialogue. At this point it is a fight for survival.
Those gathered into the arms of this Christian fascist movement are desperately struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. We failed them; we owe them more: This is their response. The financial dislocations, the struggles with domestic and sexual abuse, the battle against addictions, the poverty and the despair that many in the movement endure are tragic, painful and real. They have a right to their rage and alienation. But they are also being used and manipulated by forces that seek to dismantle what is left of our democracy and abolish the pluralism that was once the hallmark of our society.
The spark that could set this conflagration ablaze could be lying in the hands of a small Islamic terrorist cell. It could be in the hands of greedy Wall Street speculators who gamble with taxpayer money in the elaborate global system of casino capitalism. The next catastrophic attack, or the next economic meltdown, could be our Reichstag fire. It could be the excuse used by these totalitarian forces, this Christian fascism, to extinguish what remains of our open society.
Let us not stand meekly at the open gates of the city waiting passively for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching toward Bethlehem. Let us shake off our complacency and cynicism. Let us openly defy the liberal establishment, which will not save us, to demand and fight for economic reparations for our working class. Let us reincorporate these dispossessed into our economy. Let us give them a reality-based hope for the future. Time is running out. If we do not act, American fascists, clutching Christian crosses, waving American flags and orchestrating mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, will use this rage to snuff us out.
Chris Hedges, who writes a column every Monday for Truthdig and who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” He was a reporter for many years with The New York Times. His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”
I love Doonesbury so much:
Dawkins’ documentary last night was damned entertaining, and occasionally painfully revealing. And the science teacher at the Islamic faith school who so totally dropped herself in it has responded:
Science is essentially mankind’s best effort at understanding the workings of the known universe, given our limited resources and intelligence. Learning about science is fun, fantastic and thought-provoking, especially discussions arising around ethical grey areas. However, it is important that children are made aware of the limitations of scientific endeavour lest they be corralled into a realm wherein nothing is worth knowing unless it has been determined by empirical scientific discovery.
If they were encouraged towards that worldview alone, I believe they would be receiving an education devoid of further enrichment from a faith-based narrative. I’m not in the business of wanting young people bereft of the entire canon of human belief systems. That religions have stood the test of time is testament to the human need for something other than that which we can prove or disprove.
As a teacher, I’d be doing my pupils a grave disservice if I insisted that the answers that science can give us should be the limit of our understanding of the world. Kids are bright and don’t need liberating from religion, especially if the alternative is limited to giving credence to atheistic secularism alone. Rather, equip them with all the alternatives and let them work it out for themselves.
I’m aghast at this. She’s debating her confrontation with Dawkins about evolution, which she as a science teacher disputed. I’ll accept (to a point) that history has shown at the very least a predilection for something other than what we can prove or disprove, but that has almost entirely been due to historical ignorance – we haven’t been able to figure out the answers about who we are and how we came to be. Now we can, and for her to say that metaphysics should or could in any way answer how humanity, the earth or the universe came to be is objectively wrong. By all means discuss the issues and run through the debates in a religious education class, but science alone does have the answers to these questions – to suggest there are religious/metaphysical/transcendental alternatives is in small or large measure an attempt to indoctrinate children (as Dawkins says) into believing ‘God’ has answers science doesn’t, thereby contributing to robbing them of the freedom to engage with the world critically.
I personally agree with Dawkins that children do need liberating from religion, at least from their parents’. But my bottom line from Erfana Bora’s argument is this: she is doing her pupils a horrible disservice by suggesting as a science teacher that science doesn’t provide all the answers to our understanding of the world – it does. If she disagrees with the theory of evolution, and suggests for a heartbeat that a religious text has any role in any way in explaining how life on earth has come to be, she shouldn’t be teaching science in a school funded by the British taxpayer. Very simple.
Well of course this is what creationist nutcases seem to think. Watch this video, which proves just how wrong their position on the science is. The world is not 6,000 years old.
I see so much garbage on the web and Twitter about how evolution is the ‘creation story’ to atheism’s ‘religion’ these days, and it really gets my back up. There’s little more infuriating to me than modern human beings denying reason, science or the proven natural order of things. How anyone can get away with being a religious literalist in this day and age in any society, given the wealth of evidence to back up the science, is completely beyond me. Just today I’ve spoken to a fool who insisted neanderthal man looked just like us, and without any sense of irony.
This video is just one attempt by evolutionary scientists to refute creationism and Biblical literalism, but it’s a good one. Enjoy.
“A society that turns its back on reason and prefers ideology is headed towards some kind of theocracy.” – James L Powell, Ph.D.