August 2010

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Wales Online features a story on the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm furore (’Creationist’ zoo in row over school visits), in which a creationist zoo was awarded an imprimature of educational quality – apparently it’s a hot destination for Welsh schoolkids. The article quotes principally from the Zoo’s website, which clearly indicate the creationist bias of the establishment. One quotation is “After looking at the current explanations for origins and evolution, it is our view that the evidence available points to widespread evolution after an initial creation by God”.  But what evidence actually points to any creation by a supernatural being (and what actual evidence is there for any god?).  The article also quotes an NSS spokesperson:

“Parents should be clearly told what kind of place this is before signing their children up. Not only is it a creationist zoo, it’s a Christian one so children from other faiths or none are effectively being told their beliefs – or lack of them – are wrong.

“Noah’s Ark may be suitable for a Sunday school trip but not for a school trip to teach children about science and nature, especially if teachers are not qualified or able to separate fact from propaganda and explain to children that creationism is a minority view based on faith, not facts.”

I read the WalesOnline report shortly after watching Richard Dawkins’ TV programme on the issue of faith schools (Faith School Menace, More 4).  There was a very interestign segment towards the end in which a child psychologist was demonstrating that when young kids are presented with two explanations for something, theyb will tend to choose the one that has a “purpose”.  The inference of course is that when exposed to religious explanations (for example to of the diversity of life), they will be receptive, not just because the explanation is from an “authority figure”, but because religious explanations feature a cause and a reason.  It seems to me that creationist zoos such as this one should not receive educational plaudits from dubious quangos, for this very reason.

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More grumblings from Christian Concern for Our Nation (More registrars under pressure due to homosexual civil partnerships – CCFON.org – Christian Concern For Our Nation), who seem to suffer from the delusion that their religious beliefs entitle them to discriminate against specific sectors of our population (thereby breaking the law).  Unfortunately the CCfON website doesn’t have a commenting facility.  CCfON write (my emphasis):

The investigation follows the case of Lillian Ladele, a registrar working for Islington Council who refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies because they were against her Christian beliefs. She had also tried to change her rotas but homosexual colleagues complained and she later had to resign. She lost her claim for discrimination last December when the Court of Appeal ruled that her refusal to conduct civil partnership ceremonies breached equality laws

Of course this is taken as a “religious bar to office” by the Christian Legal Centre.  I say being Christian doesn’t bring with it the right to discriminate. I guess it’s all part of the “victim culture” that seems to be UK christians’ main plank in the argument that they should continue to receive favoured status in society.

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A quick update on a story I posted several months back concerning a council housing officer’s sacking following an incident where he pushed dubious religious advice on an incurably ill member of the public (Delusional housing officer given the boot) – the BBC reports that the legal appeal mounted by the Christian Legal Centre has been rejected (BBC News – Christian Wandsworth Council worker loses sacking claim).  It turns out this isn’t just about the religious aspects of the case:

Wandsworth Council said Ms X complained that she faced a “30 minute barrage” from the advisor during which she was also told not to bother with doctors.
The council said it was “inappropriate and unacceptable” that Mr Amachree also revealed details about Ms X to the media which could have led to her identification.
The London South employment tribunal, which heard the case in June and July, ruled the dismissal was “fair” and there was no discrimination on the grounds of his religion.

Of course the Christian Legal Centre regard this as a “shock outcome” (Shock decision against Council worker sacked for mentioning God), while being somewhat economical with the truth.  One supposes this is one more plank in The slow, whiny death of British Christianity).

h/t The Freethinker

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Just a quick update on the Noah’s Ark Farm zo fiasco, in which a creationist zoo received an educational award. The excellent New Humanist blog carries an article responding to a piece by Widdecombe in the Daily Express supporting the “zoo” (Ann Widdecombe is a fan of Noah’s Ark Zoo).

The New Humanist writer has, of course visited the “educational award holder” zoo, and has several revealing photographs, and suspects that Widdecombe hasn’t herself been there.  Perhaps this is a continuation of the “Christians are discriminated against” line that the established church (and the Catholics of course) have been pushing of late – see also Johann Hari’s recent article (The slow, whiny death of British Christianity).

I wonder exactly what “evidence” for creation Widdecombe is thinking of when she says:

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

Presumably some dusty old tome?  And what makes the Christian account of creation different and more “evidence”-based than any other religious account of creation?

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