Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A nice proper rant.

Thankyou Ann Widdecombe. I've not had chance for a proper rant recently, so your article was a great help.


Ok I wont.

Has anyone noticed that what the opponents of religion really want is that Christianity should be silent?

I would have thought opponents of religion would want far more than that, namely that all religions stop existing, not much point be an opponent of something if you're quite happy with it. But I'm sure you're going somewhere with this, carry on.

Last week it was reported that the British Humanist association has condemned an award given to Noah’s ark Zoo, a creationist centre near Bristol.

Quite accurate, I got a link to the article myself via their email newsletter.

The zoo has put on such an imaginative and educational display that the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom has issued it with a mark of recognition.

It is doubtless a fun place to go and one can learn a lot about modern animals, just as with any zoo. However:

Those who run the zoo have established workshops which cover the national science curriculum but do not include discussion of religion and do not promote the extreme creationist view that the world was created 6,000 years ago.

Here is a first problem. This is not an organisation which can be regarded as anything other than extreme. The clue is in the name. The Noah's Ark Zoo contends that Noah's Ark literally existed, all life is descended from a boat full of animals fully formed in their modern species. See several pages from their website. Admittedly they dont openly claim that the Earth is 6000 years old. An age for the earth is conspicuous by its absence. However their "sister website" does claim that the Cretaceous period lasted "around 4,000 years", this is like claiming the Empire state building is "around 2cm" tall, ok so you've not claimed the earth is 6000 years old, equivalent to it being half a millimetre tall, but it's still really very wrong.

In other words it is a moderate, education-focused organisation that challenges children’s minds and produces evidence from fossils.

Umm. No, not really. It's an organisation that promotes false science by pointing at misleading evidence including gaps in the fossil record that simply do not exist. Challenging children's mind on issues that are unclear or controversial is a great idea, it's important to make kids think about evolution in a critical way. But doing this with things that are simply empirically false is not critical thinking, it's just lies.

The British Humanist association says the award is inappropriate merely because the zoo concentrates on creation.

Yes. It's inappropriate for an award for education to be awarded to a religious organisation pushing a religious (and false) view of the world. Schools shouldn't go here anyway. If you want to go there yourself that's fine, if you want to take your kids that's fine, but you do not send school kids to a religious institution to be taught a false religious theory about the world using government money. That's not an extreme view, it's called church state separation and it's one of the most important ideas the enlightenment brought us.

In short the British Humanist association does not believe that children should be allowed even to discuss creation or to be exposed to any evidence that might support it.

Yeh. Creationism is a religion. It is not a fact. It is a purely empirical question and on a purely experimental observational basis it is false.

Also, academics carry out a study of the effects of prayer on the blind and deaf and finds evidence people’s sight and hearing have improved as a result of faith healing. Immediately the National secular society brands the findings “religious propaganda”.

Yeh, because if you're thinking of the study I am it's a load of crap. It's been Phyrangualted pretty well, but in short, the study shows that a small group of people who believed in the power of prayer and wanted to prove as much to others said that they felt better after being prayed for in a very dramatic and obvious way. In short this study proves only the stupidity of the people who designed it.

Its president Terry sanderson says faith healing groups “exploit the desperation of people living in extreme poverty who are unable to access proper medical care”.

For example those selling magic medicine to cure AIDs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Really, Mr sanderson? My mother lived comfortably and had available to her all the medical care the NHs could provide and her private insurance could buy and she still experienced miraculous healing.

Non sequitur. There is no contradiction between faith healing groups exploiting poor people and your rich mother experiencing a miracle. (One could argue there is a contradiction between receiving "all the medical care the NHs could provide and her private insurance could buy" and still calling the healing she got miraculous, but I digress).

Forbidding children to examine both sides of an argument is to substitute propaganda for education and dismissing as propaganda properly conducted surveys is a mark of intolerance.

I totally agree. So when there is a situation with two sides and valid arguments on both then children should be shown both sides. But that's not the case with evolution is it? It's not intolerant to say that when every sane intelligent person who examines something (including the majority of religious people in this country) concludes one thing, and people with an anti-scientific world view who deliberately falsify evidence and peddle lies to kids conclude another, that maybe there's no controversy. Teach the controversy, but not if it doesn't exist.

We can expect the British Humanists and the National secular association to be pretty vocal during the Papal visit.

Damn right people are going to be vocal when the head of an anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-medicine, anti-choice, anti-freedom, anti-everything-that's-bright-and-happy-in-the-world organisation comes to the UK at taxpayer's expense. Damn right there's going to be protests against the head of an organisation that has covered up rape on an industrial scale. Damn right there's going to be protests against a bigot who speaks against the equalities bill not, as many (myself included) did, because its approach was heavy handed and unworkable, but because he is genuinely opposed to equality. Damn right we're going to protest, the man is a bigot.

It is as well therefore to understand their bigoted approach from the outset.

Umm, no. Intolerance and bigotry means an irrational rejection of an idea and a demand that it shut up. Seeing that demonstrably evil groups (the Catholic Church) are attempting to spend taxpayers money and campaigning against that is not bigotry. Seeing that organisations that wish to lie to children about empirical facts (Noah's Ark Zoo) are recommended as a place for school trips and campaigning against that isn't bigotry. Seeing that academics wish to present the kind of stuff that would be thrown out of a year 9 science fair as novel research and telling them they need to seriously consider a new career isn't bigotry. And writing this article for the Daily Express isn't bigotry either, it's just stupidity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feedback always welcome.