Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Royal Society Backs Creationism?

I must admit that this is probably the closest to home that the creation-evolution "debate" has been in quite a while.

Except that this is occurring in the UK.

For those that can't really be bothered reading the BBC, The Times, or The Australian then the bare minimum that you need to know is that Michael Reiss, a Church of England clergyman, biologist and Director of Education for the Royal Society decided to say that creationism should be taught in schools.

Now, according to The Times, a spokesperson for the Royal Society said the following:

A spokesman for the organisation, which counts 21 Nobel Prize winners among its Fellows, confirmed yesterday that Professor Reiss’s views did represent that of its president, Lord Rees of Ludlow, and the society.

Note that it says that Reiss' veiws did represent those of the society.

However this release from the Royal Society says that Reiss was misquoted. The BBC has already picked up on this pointing out that Reiss does not believe that creationism is scientific in any way.

I am however of two minds when it comes to this specific statement:

"I have referred to science teachers discussing creationism as a worldview'; this is not the same as lending it any scientific credibility."

I don't know if that is the best thing to do. As far as I can tell in the UK creationism isn't really a "worldview" and definitely isn't one in the scientific realm.

On top of that it still allows creationism to get that all important foot in the door. If you start teaching it in science classrooms as a "worldview" then you are still exposing children to a viewpoint that is unscientific. They might actually choose that viewpoint because it is the easier one to understand, since creationism is purely a "Goddidit" concept.

The Royal Society might not believe that creationism is science, but to consider that it should be taught as a "worldview" in science classes is pretty much saying "Lookee here at this other science-y thing. 'Tis so much easier to undestand."

And they will learn about it, and might actually adopt it.

Now, apparently the creationist viewpoint is held by about 10% of UK students. Unless the student brings up the topic we can see that even going about teaching it as a "worldview" means that 90% of the student population will be exposed to an idea that is completely harmful to our society in this day and age.

I said at the start that this was hitting rather close to home.

As I pointed out at the start The Australian has gotten their hands on it. I'm checking online as I write this, but if the local Adelaide paper (The Advertiser, like The Australian is a NewsCorp publication so there might be some story crossover), gets their hands on it the Letters to the Editor will be filled with another round of "creation-evolution".

This time though, and depending on which version they publish, the creationists will be able to claim "The Royal Society agrees with us".

It will hurt a little more in the side of Australian education and for a bit longer but probably won't get anywhere further. It never does, but any time given to the issue gives loud cries from the anti-evolution and ignorant crowd.

As a side note, this argument will undoubtedly be appearing sooner or later on creationist forums or places with a decent amount of creationists because of the appeal to authority it would bring. Darwin came from England, he was awarded a Royal Medal from the society, and now they say that "creationism should be taught in the classroom".

It won't matter what the Royal Society says, since we all know how honest creationists are.

Personally I don't think we've heard the last of this.

Oh look, it appears that the ID people have picked up on the issue as well.

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