Creationism in Scottish Schools

It’s been a while since my last posting here (I blame pressure of work). That was prompted by one of the Centre for Intelligent Design’s periodic email newsletters. Sadly these newsletters tend to be issued just when I’m unable to draft a blog response! Howver, another of these newsletters plopped into my mailbox yesterday.

It’s rather hard to know where to start with the latest missive from Glasgow’s very own creationists, the Discotute wannabees the Centre for Intelligent Design. Seeing as how the C4ID tries its hardest to push a similar creationist agenda as the Discotute (and continues to try to pass off Intelligent Design creationism as science), they are of course upset at the Scottish Secular Society’s petition asking the Scottish Parliament to prohibit the teaching of creationism as science. Contradicting to some claims made by the more religiously motivated, nowhere  does the petition seek to prohibit the teaching of creationism. For more on why Intelligent Design is just another form of creationism, one can have a peek at the Wikipedia page.

In their latest email newsletter entitled “Government to impose Scientism on our children” (sadly I can’t find this on their website), Alastair Noble has penned a silly screed of creationist tosh that repeats a lot of rubbish ultimately emanating from the likes of of the Discovery Institute. In between grumping about supposed scientism being pushed out through Scottish schools, Dr Noble displays a rather neat line in ignoring evidence.

In addition, scientism flies in the face of reality.  Mind, consciousness[3: a reference to a book by Nagel] and the information carried in the DNA[4:  a reference to Meyer’s Signature in the Cell] of all living things point to immaterial realities which are not explicable by purely natural processes.  Scientism will not allow you to infer from phenomena such as these that the universe has an intelligent cause, but, creed-like, insists on the highly improbable and counter-intuitive conclusions that universes come into existence out of nothing and that life emerges by blind, purposeless forces. 

[…]

All this is done in the name of preventing religious extremism invading science lessons, which is not a problem in Scotland as far as I am aware.  It requires that any suggestion of ‘creation’ or ‘intelligent design’ be outlawed.  These two propositions are not the same of course – for example, intelligent design does not depend on religious texts but argues from scientific data – but that’s an inconvenient truth which is simply ignored by the secular zealots.  Curiously, in attempting to combat perceived religious extremism, the Government is adopting an equally extreme and quasi-religious position with regard to science education which flies in the face of the understanding of science we have inherited over five centuries of scientific endeavour. (my emphasis)

Actually, and aside from his silly claim that ID creationism argues from scientific data (rather, it abuses scientific data: see this and this), the evidence suggests that we should be concerned about creationism being presented as scientific fact (Open Letter to Mike Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning; TES: Schools are being infiltrated by cults, say secularists), and Dr Noble has been quoted as saying:

“We don’t have specific resources for schools, although there is one text available examining the case for and against neo-Darwinism that we can make available to high schools and colleges, if they wish to have it,” said Noble, an education officer with CARE, an agency that campaigns for Christian perspectives across a range of public policy issues. (my emphasis)

It’s not clear to me how anyone (other than perhaps those with a religious-creationist agenda) might consider that ensuring that non-scientific subjects not be taught in science lessons could be regarded as scientism. Indeed, the petition that’s annoyed Noble so much explicitly does not seek to ban creationism from schools. In a blog article (Creationism petition Scotland; press coverage to date; your help still needed), Paul Braterman refers to C4ID’s latest message along with recent press coverage of the petition. Of the C4ID newsletter email, he says:

21 Nov, The Centre for Intelligent design warns those on its mailing list: Government to impose Scientism on our children (no link available). So now you know. The Centre regards evolution science and the study of the age of the Earth as forms of Scientism, whatever that may be.

Here’s what Paul has to say about recent coverage in the Herald:

Herald  November 21, reports on Ken Cunningham, Secretary of School Leaders Scotland, and his submission in response to a request for comment from the Petitions Committee.  My comment: Not Head Teachers; one ex-Head [in consultation, he later claimed, with the Association’s presidential team, whoever they may be] speaking for all his members with no further apparent mandate from his Association’s membership. And Cunningham and Noble [Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design, whose plans to promulgate creationism are a major matter of concern to us] are not as reported both members of the Free Church of Scotland; they are Elders (Cunningham also Secretary) of the same small independent Church, Cartsbridge in Busby, with a total membership of around 250; a much closer association.

A rather interesting set of connections. One might also observe that C4ID’s main figures all seem to lean towards the more evangelical kinds of church. I think Paul is adding updates to his blog on the subject of the petition and the media response.

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