Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Creationist Free School Application: Clayton Academy

Another Free school application worthy of a close inspection by Mr Goves team.  The Clayton Academy is being set up and run by the Jesmond Parish Church.

We don't need to go far to find clear evidence that the church is creationist, how about a sermon preaching classic creationist nonsense claims preached just this month?

They wouldn't be so far out of touch with reality as to do that would they?

Remember Lenny's Law:
“The ability of Creationists to keep quiet about their beliefs is usually in inverse proportion to their need to do so.”
What we actually have here are amongst the silliest and most common creationist claims:
  • mutations are deleterious and so evolution doesn't work
  • there hasn't been enough time for evolution to happen
  • there are gaps in the fossil record.  
Oh and just to hammer the nails in good and proper, how about a bit of gratuitous quote-mining, the one from the Origin of Species where Darwin says the geological record is a problem but here is the solution.  The one where the quote-miners stop after the problem bit and hope no one notices the rest of the chapter.

Here you go Mr Gove:

Sermon preached on 12/2/12, Darwin Day, by Ian Garrett who has preached regularly at the church for ove a decade.

(BTW We have a copy of the transcript and recording just in case the church realise their mistake and follow in the footsteps of other evangelical churches applying for free schools and try to remove the evidence of their beliefs.)

Here are some extracts:
"Let’s imagine that life did get going, by chance, in the soup. The story is then that one species gave rise to another, and so on, until all the species we see today evolved. And the story says it happened like this: mutations – or changes – happened to the DNA of species no.1, which kicked up a slightly different organism. And because the difference was beneficial, that slightly different organism survived and thrived. And through loads of gradual changes like that, species no.2 emerged. And so on. 
There are two holes in that bit of the story. One is that almost all the mutations we’ve observed are either harmful or lethal, whereas the story of evolution assumes there were loads of beneficial ones which survived. Which is possible, but unlikely. The other hole is that mutations take time to happen. And even allowing for the longest guess about the time from the beginning of life to now, the mutation rate would have had to be far higher than we’ve ever observed it to be. Which again is possible, but unlikely. 
Hole no.3 is the lack of intermediate organisms in the fossil record 
If one species evolved gradually into another species and that evolved gradually into another (and so on to produce all known species), then you’d expect to find loads of ‘half-way-house organisms’ – e.g., half-bird, half-reptile animals. Well, let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth. This is Charles Darwin in the Origin of Species: 
"The number of intermediate varieties which have formerly existed on earth should be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such graduated chain; and this perhaps is the gravest objection against my theory. "
And nothing has changed on that since Darwin’s day. Theories have been proposed to explain why there should be gaps in the fossil record rather than a ‘graduated chain’ (to quote Darwin), but there is no hard evidence for them."

This is blatantly creationist behaviour.  These are junk scientific claims.  This isn't a matter of a theological position, these are "creationist views presented as a potential valid alternative theory".

Where have I heard that phrase before?

Look at this recent comment made by the DfE in rejecting a previous free school application:
“He (Gove) was unable to accept that an organisation with creationist beliefs could prevent these views being reflected in the teaching in the school and in its other activities. It is his firm view that the teaching of creationist views as a potentially valid alternative theory is not acceptable in a 21st century state funded school.”
. . . and this from the DfE: 
"No school, free or otherwise, will ever be allowed to teach creationism instead of valid and thoroughly evidenced scientific theories.  
The Education Secretary has been crystal clear that teaching creationism as scientific fact is wrong. He will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum.  
All free school proposals are subject to due diligence checks by the new specialist unit within the Department for Education to ensure that people that are setting up the school are suitable.  
Valid and thoroughly evidenced scientific theories, such as evolution, will always be the foundation of science teaching in all schools in England."

The BCSE will be watching closely to see if Mr Gove is consistent in his decision making in this respect.

But wait, there is even more.  

We also have evidence that the church leadership have been espousing these views for decades.  

This admirable consistency (?) would surely make any possible future declaration that they would not promote these views in school even more difficult to believe.

The Jesmond Trust was set up to manage the property and finances of the church and according to the Charities Commission the trust is run by the following trustees;


We have no details of who sits on the body that is actually making the Clayton Academy free school application as their web site strangely doesn't tell us any of their leadership team, does that strike anyone else as a little odd?

The church also has a close relationship with the Christian Institute whose national headquarters are also in Newcastle.  David Holloway is a prominent member and a trustee of the CI and has written many of its annual Christmas messages.

Christian Institute publication on science education from 1995 and still promoted on the CI web site (my emphasis in bold)
It is important that the Science teacher constantly distinguishes science from scientism. 
Science is a humble and persistent search for appropriate models to explain reality. It proceeds by repeated careful observation, measurement and experiment. It deals with hypothesis and theory and is prepared to modify and occasionally abandon established theories and models. 
The process of science can involve creativity and imagination and gives opportunity to experience a sense of wonder and awe. 
The teacher should not shy away from talking about awe and wonder, creation and design in a natural way at appropriate times. The teacher should be equipped to demonstrate that the philosophy of scientism, with the belief in the view that questions which are not susceptible to scientific enquiry cannot be answered or are not worth asking, is a faith position. 
There are those who argue that Science and Christianity can be harmoniously reconciled and that no significant tension remains. We cannot subscribe to this view. It seems to us that attempts to reconcile evolutionary theory with the Biblical account of creation strain and distort scripture and that they introduce a symbolic reading of Genesis which cannot logically deny the symbolic reading of the Virgin Birth, physical Resurrection of Christ or the Second Coming. 
Clearly schools are required to teach evolutionary theory. We agree that they should teach evolution as a theory and faith position. Again it is important to distinguish between evolutionary theory and the faith position of evolutionism. Clearly also schools should teach the creation theory as literally depicted in Genesis. This too is a faith position of which young people should be aware. 
We believe that schools, in the interest of a true education, should help young people see the issues and the evidence base for the Creation/Evolution debate. We do not believe that Evolution is an unimportant side issue. Nor is the tension between science and religion. 
Young people must also be helped to understand that science cannot deal directly with the past. Scientists cannot go back in time to directly examine the animals and rocks of long ago. They cannot observe the past or test it and young people should be made aware that whilst the majority of the scientific community hold to evolutionary theory some atheistic scientists cast significant doubt upon it. Both Creation and Evolution provide ways of explaining the past that are beyond direct scientific examination and verification. Ultimately, both Creation and Evolution, are faith positions.
We believe that the science teacher should provide opportunities to demonstrate this.
Paul Yeulett from 1999 in CI Materials:
Evolutionists claim to be neutral students of scientific discovery, but their fundamental position is one of faith, and a faith which is blind and vain by comparison with the faith of the Christian. The evolutionist has had to adapt and reconstruct his theories and speculations, whereas the Christian may rest secure in the knowledge of God’s timeless and eternally true self-disclosure in the pages of Scripture. Christians should not consider it a waste of time, or an unspiritual exercise, to seek to persuade evolutionists of the superiority of the Christian position.
. . .
Henry Morris, the well- known American expert on creation and evolution, also writes penetratingly in the area of Christian education.
John Burn in 200 in CI Materials:
In science there is a new programme of study that is designed to give prominence to the history and philosophy of science and an understanding of how scientists work. This is to be welcomed if it encourages and helps children distinguish between true science and the evolutionary and atheistic scientism that passes for science in some quarters
David Holloway from 2002 on Radio 4:
Obviously, as I believe - I happen to disbelieve in macro-evolution, not because I'm a flat-earther, it's just that I think it's wrong. And so do many serious scientists, palaeontologists and others, who do not agree with the current position on evolution as propounded by a number of atheistic philosophers.
Again, we have copies of all this material just in case it vanishes.  Perhaps you think we are being a little dramatic?  Well the CI have tried to hides things previously.  We also have a paper copy of a previous piece that they no longer offer on their web site.  You can see a full version of it here.

Here we present a few extracts:
"Those of us who are engaged in the struggle to show the superiority of a Creationist paradigm (world-view) over and against the prevailing orthodoxy of atheistic materialism and evolutionism in science, have been viciously attacked for adopting a "Bible-first" mentality by many of our opponents." 
"Thus, when the astronomer infers the existence of metals and certain gases in distant stars he is in fact assuming the unity of nature (i.e. that we inhabit a universe, not a multi-verse): something he cannot prove.
However, if, as Jesus clearly taught, the Bible really is the Word of God - and the internal evidence is overwhelming - true Science will always agree with it. The form of knowledge to which it tends will be trustworthy and true. The ultimate absurdity of abandoning the Biblical framework of knowledge is the introduction of doubt into the universality of any scientific law." 
"Coming as it does at the very beginning of the Bible, we may legitimately assume that the doctrine of Special Creation is foundational to the establishing of both true science and real piety within our land." 
"Furthermore, if the Biblical record is to be trusted, we must acknowledge within our grand geophysical paradigm the historicity of a world-wide flood as outlined in Gen 6-10. If the Biblical narrative is secure and the listed genealogies (e.g. Gen 5; 1 Chro 1; Matt 1 & Lu 3) are substantially full, we must reckon that this global catastrophe took place in the relatively recent past. Its effects are everywhere abundantly apparent. Principal evidence is found in the fossil-laden sedimentary rocks, the extensive reserves of hydrocarbon fuels (coal, oil and gas) and the 'legendary' accounts of just such a great flood common to various population groups world-wide. The feasibility of maintaining an ark full of representative creatures for a year until the waters had sufficiently receded has been well documented by, among others, John Woodmorrappe . Much useful research has already been undertaken in recent years which confirms that speciation via 'micro-evolution' and variation within limits can happily account for the rapid re-population of the world and separation of human racial groupings such as we find today." 
"Science teachers who affirm Biblical authority must be constantly on guard. Flawed orthodoxy is fervently preached at the very highest level in colleges and universities throughout the land. The high priests of secular humanism wield a great deal of power and their influence is regrettably noticeable in the formal statements of the National Curriculum and School Examination Syllabuses. Textbooks are produced whose authors inevitably 'kow-tow' to the dictates of examining bodies and regrettably, most teachers in turn, blindly follow on unquestioningly." 
"Apart from the mercy and grace of God, as long as Christianity is preached as a 'religious optional extra', all we can hope to secure in the lives of the children under our charge is a weak, existential piety in which the historical Christ must be squeezed and trimmed to fit. We urgently need thinking Christians who understand Scientism's subtle message and mistakes to speak out with clarity, conviction and courage against it. The same classroom practitioners must, in its place, be prepared to express without compromise the integrity and infallibility of the Biblical historical narrative however loud and disagreeable the objection. Such ambassadors must strive to be 'as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves' (Matt 10:16)."

There is plenty more but perhaps that is enough for Mr Gove.

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