Sunday, 27 February 2011

Creation Watch - Phil Bell in Scotland


Phil Bell from CMI will be touring Scotland from 1st to 6th March 2011.


See the Creation watch page for more details.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Creation Watch - Gordon Wilson in Coventry March 12th

See our creation-watch page for details.

Free goodies from the C4ID

The Centre 4 Intelligent Design in Glasgow recently sent out an email newsletter.  Here are a couple of extracts with some suggestions for anyone who doesn't feel the need to reject most of known science;

If anyone would like to be added to our mailing list for our periodic e-Bulletin please send your name and email address to e-bulletin@c4id.org.uk . We will respond with a confirmation email and, for the first 200 requests giving a postal address, we will post to you a free copy of the full-length DVD 'Unlocking the Mystery of Life'.     We are now planning for 2011:  
Why not send for this?  Better than it going to a creationist who might use it confuse more people!  This material also speaks volumes about the origin of ID in the UK.  It was first sent to every UK school and college by the group Truth in Science who we already know are a group of Young Earth Creationists.  Yes they think people rode on dinosaurs.  Yes we mean it.

A summer school from July 18-22, probably in rural England, at which Intelligent Design Theory and its implications will be explored in some detail.  This event will be particularly suitable for undergraduates and postgraduates in any discipline, but will also have a wider appeal. We anticipate that the tutors will include leading advocates of Intelligent Design from the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. We shall be sending out further information shortly. If you are interested then send an email to ss2011@c4id.org.uk and we will keep you posted.

We are looking for volunteers for this special undercover operation.  Anyone fancy going along to see just what they will make up next?

Or if a week is too much how about a couple of days?
A two day conference in the Autumn in the UK to provide an update on progress and to consider current challenges.  Updates request to conf2011@c4id.org.uk
Please get in touch at committee at bcseweb.org.uk

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What do creationists tell kids about scientists?

The whole tottering pile of argumentative waffle that is creationism survives partly because it's proponents have convinced themselves that a grand multidisciplinary, multigenerational, international conspiracy of both scientists and other theists exists and they are all either incompetent or lying.

So how do they describe their children's own science teachers to their kids?

I teach Sunday school for first through third grade, and over the next few weeks we’ll be discussing dinosaurs, radiometric dating methods, natural selection, and mutations. I teach them that what they learn in public school in regard to historical science concerning these ideas is not the truth.

Should folks like this be trusted with public money to run schools in the UK?

If you have an application to run a free school near you from creationists please get in touch.

We can help.

[h/t Panda's Thumb]

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Creationism and Science Education in the UK - time to stop laughing and to start worrying

I recently presented a talk to North East Humanists on Creationism in the UK.  They asked me to write a short piece for their newsletter.  Here it is;


Creationism and Science Education in the UK - time to stop laughing and to start worrying
At the British Centre for Science Education [BCSE] we value the fact that we live in a free country.  We don’t want to live in a place where people are not free to hold their own religious or non religious views and are free to talk about them.  We simply want to keep creationism out of science classes.  Well, obviously, you might think.  But do we really need to worry about this?
Creationism is viewed by most folks as baffling, amusing and ultimately probably harmless and this attitude is perfectly understandable.  Creationism in the UK has, until recent years, largely consisted of preachers standing on street corners shouting at the sinners as they pass by.  Such creationists point out the dangers of learning about evolution like this, “Young people are encouraged into a way of thinking that leads to atheism, hedonism, despair and moral bankruptcy. . .”
Let’s call this kind of activity “popularising”.  Arguably we don’t need to do much about it.   In fact this sort of nonsense does our job for us as most folks tend to laugh at pictures of Jesus cuddling baby dinosaurs or at the suggestion that the earth is only 6,000 years old.  Each to their own people say.  Everyone can have their own opinion people say.  It’s part of being British people say.  I agree.  
The problem is that creationists no longer restrict themselves to this kind of behaviour. In recent years a new type of activity has arisen that involves trying to knock holes in biology and science in general.  Remember that they think that modern biology leads to evils, so if they can even just manage to sow the seeds of doubt or confusion in children’s minds that’s great, and never mind the exam results.  The aim is to make the general public mistrust scientists and leave a door open for the creationists to exploit.   
This kind of covert activity has been greatly boosted by materials (we know) and funding (we surmise) from the USA where pictures of people riding dinosaurs are much more common and apparently don’t have the same immunising effects against creationism as they do over here.  Faced with a constitution banning any promotion of religion in state funded schools, and a whole parade of court rulings specificially ruling that creationism in it’s various disguises is religious, the American creationist organisations have now resorted to removing from their arguments all reference to god, religion and creationism.  Instead they produce materials claiming that biological science is on the brink of collapse and that Darwin was wrong after all.  
This “framing” of the attempt to get “religiously generated nonsense” into science classes  as “actual science supported by increasing numbers of scientists worldwide” neatly avoids all the US laws and coincidently stops British people laughing at the pictures of Jesus cuddling dinosaurs.  This also appeals to the British sense of fair play and at long last the British creationists finally seem to have picked up on this.
This kind of activity can be described as “infiltration” and here are some examples of it from here in the UK.  
A beautifully produced biology “text book” called Explore Evolution is so well disguised as science that even science graduates can miss the fact that it is full of distortions and downright lies. This book was sent to every UK school librarian early last year with a letter from a professor at a leading UK university recommending it as a resource that fits in with the curriculum (it doesn’t).  Find out more here.
Another recent example is a web site doing much the same thing that got mentioned as a similar resource in the Times Educational Supplement.
The tactic of framing their religious propaganda as a scientific controversy is working.  The School Librarians Association refused to alert it’s members to the fact that this book is a creationist tract and should therefore be shelved as such (if at all), because they tell us that they don’t take sides in matters of scientific dispute. This book could well be sitting on your own child’s school library now - in the science section.  The TES offered us a similar defence when challenged about their publicising of creationist material without making it plain it was just creationism which is specifically ruled out of use in science classes by way of government guidelines.  As yet they have ignored our requests to link to our own expose of the material.
With such a track record of dishonesty and subterfuge can creationists be trusted to run state funded schools without pumping children’s heads full of such nonsense in science classes?
We don’t think they can.  
Join us (it’s free) and help us to keep creationism out of UK science classes.

Mark Edon
BCSE Secretary

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Announcing our Inaugural Creationist Numpty

Pastor Gareth Morgan who wants to run a school in the UK with taxpayer money gets the first award.  He said this;
“If evolution is true, there is no purpose to life."
“Creationism will be embodied as a belief at Everyday Champions Academy, but will not be taught in the sciences,” 
“Similarly, evolution will be taught as a theory. We believe children should have a broad knowledge of all theories in order that they can make informed choice.”
Is someone going to tell him?  Will he hire a science teacher that has the guts to tell him why this makes him a numpty?

Numpty;

Scottish usage:
a) Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others. 

b) A good humoured admonition, a term of endearment 

In this case;

"That isnae wit theory means, ya big numpty"

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Creationism and Intelligent Design in the US

Creationism and Intelligent Design pose a far greater threat to education in the US than they do in most parts of the UK. For fuller discussion see the [US] National Center for Science Education website.

The current Creationist/Intelligent Design movement in the UK draws much of its materials and inspiration from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, whose stated goal is to replace naturalistic with theistic understanding.

For this reason, much Creationist material in the UK is best understood by reference to the very different legal and constitutional situation in the US. We cannot attempt to cover this vast topic, but would draw attention to an Open Access article by Nick Matzke in Evolution Education and Outreach, for a full analysis.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

More on the way creationists think from Stephen Law

From here:


As Dave illustrates, any belief, no matter how ludicrous, can be made consistent with the available evidence, given a little patience and ingenuity. Believe that the earth is flat, that the moon is made of cheese, that the World Trade Center was brought down by the US government, or that George W. Bush is really Elvis Presley in disguise? All these theories can be endlessly adjusted and developed so that they remain consistent with the available evidence. Yet they are obviously not well confirmed. The claim that Young Earth Creationism is at least as well confirmed as its scientific rivals relies crucially on what we might call the “fit” model of confirmation. According to the “fit”model, confirmation is all about “fitting” the evidence. But more is required for genuine confirmation than mere “fit,” which any theory, no matter how absurd, can in principle achieve.

Monday, 7 February 2011

View from the Pulpit - Stephen Law - Atheist

From here;
Young Earth Creationism has been, and continues to be, taught in schools. Often this is done covertly (I know of two British schools where Young Earth Creationism has been taught by a science teacher without the knowledge or permission of the school or other members of staff—and one was one of Britain’s leading independent schools). Obviously I object to Young Earth Creationism being taught in schools as a rival to orthodox scientific theories. People often object to the teaching of Young Earth Creationism on the grounds that children should not be taught ludicrous, obvious falsehoods. That’s not my main objection. My central criticism is this: teaching children that Young Earth Creationism is scientifically respectable involves teaching children to think like Dave. It involves getting them to think in ways that, under other circumstances, might justifiably lead us to suspect the thinker is suffering from some sort of mental illness. By allowing Young Earth Creationism into the classroom, we run not only the risk that children will end up believing ridiculous falsehoods, which is bad enough, but, worse still, that that they’ll end up supposing that the kind of warped and convoluted mental gymnastics in which Young Earth Creationists engage is actually cogent scientific thinking. We may end up corrupting not just what they think, but more importantly, how they think.

Science leaves Creationists cold again

Science leaves creationists / Intelligent Design Proponents cold once again;


Now, given these vast opportunities now available to scientists interested in protein evolution, wouldn't you think that design theorists who write on the topic will be eager to get involved in such studies? I sure would, especially since the lab that did this work is within a short drive of the epicenter of intelligent design research, a research insitute headed by a scientist whose professional expertise and interest lies in the analysis of protein sequence-function relationships. As I've repeated throughout this series, there's something strange about a bunch of scientists who want to change the world but who can't be bothered to interact with the rest of the scientific community, a community that in this case is well-represented in active laboratories right down the road. (I'm eager to be proven wrong on this point, by learning that ID scientists have interacted with the Loeb lab or the Fields lab.)
More to the point, there's something tragically ironic about the fact that the ID movement is headquartered in Seattle, inveighing against "Darwinism" while obliviously amidst a world-class gathering of scientists who are busy tackling the very questions that ID claims to value.
From the excellent Panda's Thumb

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Creationism and Politics

Creationism is much more prominent in the US where it goes hand in hand with the religious right.  Here is an example followed by some insight into why this should be the case.

You might know of Sarah Palin because of her inflammatory talk and the reaction against it following the recent Gifford shooting.  But she is also a creationist.

So you might not be surprised to hear that if you disagree with her you are doing the work of Satan apparently.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Bad teacher defended by creationists

You can't make this up;
Answers in Genesis has weighed in on last week’s firing of John Freshwater, the Ohio middle-school science teacher who taught students in public school that homosexuality is a sin, evolution is a lie and science can’t be trusted and then burned a cross into a kid’s arm with a Tesla coil.
But then you can't really expect judgement from ideologues can you?

Friday, 4 February 2011

Just In - Giant's Causeway and Noah's Ark

Here we have an engineer glibly pronouncing the whole of geology wrong.  Must be creationism.  Yes Noah's flood made the Giant's Causeway - explained with "sciencey=language", "those little reference number things" and "factoids" - so it must be true.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

View From the Pulpit - Rachel Held Evans - YEC - a Story of Escape

This is a fascinating story of one persons journey.  Rachel was brought up to believe that the world is 6,000 years old.  Read how she found out about the facts and what Creationists now say about her.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Key Creationist Tools - conspiracy thinking & a persecution complex

Here is the headline;

Media Grossly Distorts to Sell Anti-Christian Agenda

Engendering a sense of persecution and claiming a multinational, multifaith, intergenterational multidisciplinary conspiracy to hide the "truth" i.e. by most of the worlds scientists is just a normal day's work for creationists.

Ken Ham is a past master but this kind of attitude goes with the territory here in the UK as well;

Bullying and Intimidation at the hands of other Christians

But did you note the subtle mistake?  Ken simply assumes that anything anti-creationist is anti-christian and vice versa even though this is simply untrue.  Our UK creationists instead complain about other Christians not agreeing with them.

Diddums.

More seriously though, such conspiracy thinking and a hair-trigger persecution complex is a tool that can effectively bring in new members to a group and then isolate them from evidence from the outside (real) world and so keep them in the group.

A tactic as old as the hills.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Worse than we thought in the USA?

In the UK the biggest problem is creationists infiltrating cleverly disguised pretend-science materials into schools or talking to kids without parents or sometimes even the school management being aware of it.

The legal and religious situation here in the UK is very different to that in the USA.  Panda's Thumb discusses recent findings about just how poor science education in the US is as a direct result of creationist activities.