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Friday, October 20, 2006

We don't need no edukashun (no really, we do)

A poll earlier this year showed that 39% of people believe in creationism or ‘Intelligent Design by God’. Nothing new or particularly shocking in that, if you live in Arkansas.
This poll, unfortunately, was conducted in the UK. Let me repeat that: well over a third of the population of this country believes that the earth was created by a Christian ‘god’.
Sigh.
I don’t really care what people believe, because if I did, I’d have trouble sleeping at night. After all, 40% of the viewing public are of the opinion that Eastenders is entertainment. Approximately 60% of females believe that Robbie Williams is talented, and there are even a small number (as I understand it, 12.7%) who think that Carol Vorderman is good at maths.
(N.B: figures may not be 100% accurate. Or even 20%. You get the idea).

Good luck to them. Frankly the creationist argument, in itself, deserves little more of anyone's attention than any of the above.
However, given that we’re teaching this stuff to our children, it is a problem. After all, children in publicly-funded education have a right to be taught information that is based in fact, in science, and in research, not a preposterous form of Noddy-science that is formed entirely from faith and from ‘belief’. Religious Education has a very important place in the classroom, but that’d be the RE classroom, not the science lab. The clear suggestion that creationism is an 'alternative' to sound scientific theory is utter madness.

The creationist argument?
Darwinism is a religion. The debate between evolution and intelligent design is not a debate between science and religion, it’s between religion and religion”.
Nick Cowan – a former teacher, do you mind – and now head the Christian Institute.
Someone give Nick his medicine back, for crying out loud…

This comes at the same time that the government has announced its intention to open up GCSE science teaching to include ‘debate’ about scientific ‘issues’ such as the MMR vaccination controversy. This is, frankly, wrong. The reason why people learn science is to become informed about…well, scientific fact. Sure, they’re entitled to have a debate about key issues alongside their core learning if they choose, but this is a little bit like asking art students to comment on the perennial “Is the Turner Prize crap?” question instead of teaching them how to draw. Except worse, obviously - if every artist on the face of the earth suddenly disappeared, we wouldn’t find ourselves any further away from solving global warming or discovering a cure for cancer.

Not teaching people science properly means that we will not produce talented and effectual scientists. End of story. So it matters. Britain was once one of the world’s best breeding grounds for promising young scientists (granted, they generally ran off to the US to get paid properly, but that’s a different issue). Now all we’re producing is overweight, underqualified youths whose ambition is to work in PR and who are taught to believe that womankind was cobbled together one Wednesday afternoon out a spare rib.

Unfortunately, the entire country is being governed by a man who rules according to his own belief system (a Christian belief system he shares with his good mate George W). Given that Tony has consistently put his personal views ahead of both logic and the views of the nation that elected him as their representative (“What matters about the invasion of Iraq is that I BELIEVED I was doing the right thing. The fact that I was proved wrong is entirely irrelevant” - remember that?) what chance do our schoolkids have?

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