Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Creationism in the Deep South (of England)

A whole year group of year 11 chidren are brought together and have a man introduced to them as a scientist. He talks to them for one and a half hours about his views on what he says is a very controversial area of science. In fact he thinks the world is just six thousand years old and that the world's scientists are biased against him and his scientific colleagues simply because they are against Christianity.  He is able to promote his web site to the kids, a web site full of more misleading nonsense claims.

This chap is actually Philip Bell, a full time Evangelical hell fire preacher from Creation Ministries International (CMI), spreading the word to anyone who will have him.

We covered one of his talks here and you can judge his probity for yourself.  He quoted Jesus on BBC radio as justification for lying (I am not making this up - go read our report).

This happened recently in a state funded Church of England school in Exeter.

One of the parents, who knew nothing about her children being proselytised by a fundamentalist until after the event, and, as a trained Geologist, was familiar with the vacuousness of the pseudoscientific claims being made, wrote to the school to complain.

She was told by the Chair of Governors that this was all part of the RE curriculum and not to worry because they also invited an "evolutionist" to speak, that both sides had equality, both "scientists" were given equal time and both talks were presented to the children as "a belief".

When the parent wrote back pointing out the huge problems with this and reluctantly withdrawing her children from worship, since she is a mainstream Anglican and totally opposed to such unscientific beliefs, the Head's reply included;
You should be aware that I, having a duty of care to both of your children, shall be monitoring your actions and their consequences for the children with regard to such matters very carefully indeed.
The school is adamant it has done nothing wrong despite presenting creationism on equal terms with modern science to sixteen year olds. CMI called the event "Ministry to schoolchildren".

The story was covered here and on local radio and another CMI member, Gavin Cox, has been demonstrating a heady mixture of ignorance, arrogance and a willingness to abuse anyone who disagrees with him in excruciating detail in the comments.  His first dollop of impressive sciencey sounding verbiage is soon pulled apart which is a cue for name calling and abuse.  He brings up charges of Nazism, repeatedly calls an Anglican vicar a RC Bishop, despite being corrected, and much, I imagine, to the entertainment of both. Could sixteen year olds be expected to see through his confident delivery of such tripe?

Mr Gove is Crystal Clear that creationism should not be taught as science. Here we have a school presenting Creationism as a valid scientific belief (whatever that actually means) on an equal basis with modern science.

Mr Gove might be keen to show that his Free Schools could not possibly succumb to this kind of thing but this incident demonstrates that mainstream state education needs more clarity and better protection from such fundamentalist wordplay being used to make a mockery of his position.

More to follow on this story soon.


  1. Your link to the "covered here on local radio" is to edit a Google Blogger doc :-) Just saying

  2. Thanks Steve,

    I have fixed the link now.



  3. Two things –
    First, I'm not clear why the parent has withdrawn her children from collective worship because of something stupid done in RE.
    Second, if what is reported here is indeed the whole picture, she should probably complain to both the LEA and the Diocese of Exeter's Board of Education. I would imagine both would be very concerned.

  4. She explains why in the comments under the second link - third to last paragraph in the post - she has worries about the way the board of governors and the Head reacted. They seem at best incompetent though lack of awareness of the issues concern or at worst complicit.

    Such comments have already been made - watch this space for more on this tory soon.

  5. I’ve been following the Exeter thing. What with Gavin Cox on one hand and (on another issue) the “Why Evolution is True” lot on the other, Roger Stanyard is really being mercilessly bombarded with flak. How does he manage?

    I would like to use something like OpenID to comment here as someone with an identity, but I can’t make head nor tail of all those options. It seems one has to pay for TypePad, while in regard to WordPress I read on Wikipedia:

    In August 2007 Adnan Oktar, a Turkish creationist, was able to get a Turkish court to block Internet access to WordPress.com by all of Turkey.

    A little help as to how to get an OpenID would be appreciated.

    (Also: re your link to the Richard Dawkins site: Marcus du Sautoy has assumed the Simonyi professorship.)

  6. For what it's worth I've been reading Scientific American and New Scientist regularly for about quarter of a century, and have been aware of general science including geology for a lot longer - back to middle childhood in fact (I'm 57). During the whole of that time I have not heard of a SINGLE paper or proposal supporting either Intelligent Design or Creationism which has been taken seriously by mainstream scientists. Not one article in SciAm or New Scientist, not one book or other source elsewhere.

    I think the only reason Creationism gains such traction is that it's part of a very unpleasantly reactionary package labelled Traditional Values, Biblical Values or some such. Without this or similar moralising baggage it would not survive six weeks.

    Oh, and by the way I am a confirmed member of the C of E very worried about the rise of Creationism and of biblical literalism generally. So are a number of my friends at church. I recently attended (just to see) a 'hand-waving' style service at a neighbouring church and came away with a 'Healing' leaflet saying that 'We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any illness'. I have written to said church pointing out that this is at best misleading and at worst, possibly legally actionable (although they DON'T charge for healing) - and await a reply.

    NOT all believers are cranks, determined to stick their fingers in their ears and shut out the modern world! And some of us at least have no inhibitions about criticising those in our flock who do take this attitude.

  7. Modern biology has destroyed the silly theory of (goo to you)evolution. The complexity of the 'simple' living cell is mind blowing!

    Sure animals adapt to their environments but there is no evidence at all that we all share a common ancestor.

    The theory of evolution belongs in Religious education at best and better it should be assigned to the rubbish bin.

    Thanks so much!