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.
Monday, 7 February 2011
View from the Pulpit - Stephen Law - Atheist