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Aug 21 2012

You have disappointed me, New Zealand

John Banks is a Bible-believing Christian in New Zealand who accepts the literal truth of the book of Genesis.

John Banks told Radio Rhema that he has no doubts the first chapters of Genesis are true.

"That’s what I believe, but I’m not going to impose my beliefs on other people, especially in this post-Christian society that we live in, especially in these lamentable times.”

"There are reactionaries out there, humanists in particular, that overrun the bureaucracies in Wellington and state education.”

How nice that he’s not going to impose his views on others. Unfortunately, John Banks is the Associate Education Minister. Don’t ask me, I have no idea how these kooks get positions of responsibility like that.

I’m also disappointed in the NZ Herald, that chose to end the article with this dull clunk.

Bible scholars are divided over whether this is a literal description or an allegory to help people understand how the world came into being.

Really? Doesn’t this rather suggest that if “bible scholars” can’t agree on this issue of consistency with reality, we should just ignore “bible scholars” instead of citing them as vague authorities in news articles?

49 comments

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  1. 1
    IslandBrewer

    See, I would have written, “Scholars are divided as to whether this is an allegory designed to actually teach the readers a lesson, or just a bunch of dumb shit the writers pulled out of their asses.”

    I am not a professional journalist, in case you were wondering.

  2. 2
    anteprepro

    “…I’m not gonna impose my beliefs on other people because EVIL SECULARISM

    Gotta love when their only excuse for not being slimeballs is that everything is terrible and everyone is out to get them. Delusions holding delusions in check.

  3. 3
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges
    Bible scholars are divided over whether this is a literal description or an allegory to help people understand how the world came into being.

    Really? Doesn’t this rather suggest that if “bible scholars” can’t agree on this issue of consistency with reality, we should just ignore “bible scholars” instead of citing them as vague authorities in news articles?

    Also, it’s confusing real scholars with people who just call themselves that. It’s like saying ‘scientists are divided over whether there’s a mechanism that prevents macroevolution’ when the only ‘scientists’ that would make such a claim are not scientists at all. Scholars know that the myths related in Genesis are myths with antecedents in Mesopotamian and Near Eastern mythologies. Theologians are the ones divided over whether to treat Genesis as history or allegory.

  4. 4
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    And now, I’m going to wash some dirty laundry in public. As bad as this is, I think Canada can do you one worse.

    Gary Goodyear is
    * a creationist
    * does not accept evolution
    * is a chiropractor

    and…is our Minister of State for Science and Technology.

  5. 5
    franko

    “Doesn’t this rather suggest that if “bible scholars” can’t agree on this issue of consistency with reality, we should just ignore “bible scholars” instead of citing them as vague authorities in news articles?”

    Right on, PZ. And while we’re at it we should stop hauling them in as vague authorities on female and gay rights, euthanasia and the many other areas of human behavior/existence where they’re forever consulted as if their crap means something.

    And while we’re at it let’s stop leaping to religious “authorities” for comment every time there’s a diasaster. If their God is really a benign interventionist then it should have intervened sooner: no use at all once people are killed and injured.

  6. 6
    DaveL

    Bible scholars are divided over whether this is a literal description or an allegory to help people understand how the world came into being.

    Just imagine:

    Electrical engineers are divided over whether electrical current is a net movement of charge-carrying microscopic particles or a kind of spear thrown by the thunder-god Zeus.

    Obstetricians are divided over whether human babies are gestated inside their mothers’ uteruses or whether they are delivered, fully formed, by storks.

    Astrophysicists are divided over whether the sun is a giant incandescent ball of gas powered by nuclear fusion, or a golden chariot driven across the sky by a god.

    Geographers are divided over whether the earth is an oblate spheroid or a flat plate carried on the backs of four turtles.

  7. 7
    busterggi

    “There are reactionaries out there, humanists in particular”

    Yes, those damnable reactionaries that moved Europe out of the Dark Ages are still around.

  8. 8
    jamessweet

    Notice also that he relates his unwillingness/inability to impose his views on other people to “these lamentable times” — the subtext being that if he was living in a more glorious era, he WOULD impose his views on other people.

  9. 9
    coyotenose

    “That’s what I believe, but I’m not going to impose my beliefs on other people, especially in this post-Christian society that we live in…”

    There’s the giveaway, and the real reason he needs to be removed from public office. A Creationist could theoretically do his job correctly. But this slimebag just said that the reason he won’t force other people to abide by his religion is that he can’t get away with it.

  10. 10
    raven

    Bible scholars are divided over whether this is a literal description or an allegory to help people understand how the world came into being.

    The war to settle the issue is scheduled as soon as they get their hands on tanks, fighter planes, and advanced artillery.

  11. 11
    otis

    Did you hear about the “reactionary humanists” who threw a party and nobody came? That’s because they don’t freaking exist!

  12. 12
    raven

    “There are reactionaries out there, humanists in particular, that overrun the bureaucracies in Wellington and state education.”

    And fuck you too, death cultist fundie xian moron.

    I’d say let him believe whatever Oogedy Boogedy nonsense he wants, as long as he keeps it to himself. It’s a free country (NZ) after all.

    I don’t think this insulting a large portion of the population is right though. It’s routine fundie hate and bigotry.

    Translating from fundiespeak to English, “there are demon possessed heretics, pagans, the antichrist, Fake Xians, and nonbelievers overrunning state education and Wellington. Well so what, move to Missouri, Kentucky, or Alabama if you don’t like it. Maybe Ken Ham will hire you.

  13. 13
    Amphiox

    Future historians examining 20th century creationism will be divided as to whether or not the surviving accounts are literal descriptions, or scripts for a vast extended piece of reality theater, for the comedy network.

  14. 14
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Smite Florida with hurricanes for New Zealand’s transgressions! That’ll show ‘em!

  15. 15
    Glen Davidson

    Yes, John, but what can you do about the mental deficits that mean that you as an adult believe in the near-equivalent of Santa Claus?

    No wait, you don’t know…

    Glen Davidson

  16. 16
    a3kr0n

    Those reactionary humanists! Grrrrr!
    Huh?

  17. 17
    proudmra

    Bizarre…. but at least he acknowledges he can’t do anything to promote his beliefs despite his government position. That’s a step up from many U.S. officials.

  18. 18
    JohnnieCanuck

    He may not be allowed to ‘adjust’ the public school curriculum because of all the humanists, but you missed the part where he is responsible for the expected introduction of Charter schools. Most of the trusts that will run these schools will be religious and will be teaching Creationism alongside Evolution.

    reposting from The Friendly Atheist

    from stuff.co.nz :

    The Manukau Charitable Christian Trust is one of a number of faith-based groups planning to be, as the Government now calls them, a partnership school. It plans to team up with Manukau Christian School and teach the In God’s World philosophy, marked against the Cambridge curriculum.The philosophy, used at other Christian schools, encourages every subject to be taught so students discover how God made the world, and upholds and governs it.

    What he has done is leverage the NZ multiparty system to force the larger National Party into signing a coalition agreement with his one elected member (him) ACT party. They had to agree to legislate Charter schools and gave him this position so he could make it happen. There are allegations that the National Party was okay with this as it gave them a scapegoat.

    The lucky taxpayers get to fund Creationism in religious schools.

  19. 19
    angelina

    Most theologians I know are not confused as to whether Genesis is an allegory or history (Hint: its the former)
    But then, I am in Denmark, and the theologians I know would not be accepted as “religious enough” by most evangelical christians

  20. 20
    davem

    Bible scholars People who read bibles.

    FIFY

    One thing that constantly puzzles me – how do people like this rise to the top in the first place? Our own (UK) govt is full of them at the top, but I can’t think of a single person I personally know who doesn’t think it’s all bullshit.

  21. 21
    grumpyoldfart

    The people love him:

    I have had 14 elections and 11 victories at the polls.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10827771

  22. 22
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Most theologians I know are not confused as to whether Genesis is an allegory or history (Hint: its the former)
    But then, I am in Denmark, and the theologians I know would not be accepted as “religious enough” by most evangelical christians

    The thing is, this is what NZ ers were saying about their country only last week – and Canada the week before and the USA just last month…

    When are people going to wake up to the fact that this fundamentalism is a global threat? Yes, it IS a serious threat in NZ and it IS a serious threat in Australia and it is a serious threat in all those northern European countries which somehow think they are immune to it while chuckling about those stupid murikans.

    Fundamentalists want you to go on believing that this is a USian problem or a Middle Eastern problem, but not a problem in all those enlightened cool countries….

    We can all cry in our beer together in a couple of years if these countries keep the blinders on. :-( Oh, that is, unless the eventually victorious cult which rises to the top of the heap is a no alcohol, no dancing, no fun kind of sect, in which case, we are all SOL.

    What I always wonder is what will the moderate religionists who continue to enable the right wing going to do when the drive for ideological purity spreads from the political to the social and religious?

  23. 23
    RustD

    DaveL at #6

    I think its four elephants on the back of one flying space turtle.

    If you think otherwise, you must be a heretic.

  24. 24
    auntbenjy

    Ahhh…most of us do *not* love John Banks. He is a skeevy little pitbull politician, who gets almost all his influence from the way our proportional representation voting system works.

    He did a backdoor deal with the leading National party, so that he essentially ran uncontested for his seat, and brought several ACT party MPs (about as far right as it gets in NZ, if you don’t include Destiny Church) into parliament on his coat-tails. They are now part of the ruling coalition, and he has more influence than he has any right to.

    We don’t seem to be able to get rid of him. This should have brought him down, but didn’t:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7358692/Labour-not-satisfied-as-police-close-Banks-case

    Hopefully his own hubris will be his downfall. It can’t come too soon.

  25. 25
    angelina

    “When are people going to wake up to the fact that this fundamentalism is a global threat? Yes, it IS a serious threat in NZ and it IS a serious threat in Australia and it is a serious threat in all those northern European countries which somehow think they are immune to it while chuckling about those stupid murikans.”

    Yes, I know it is an issue in all countries, I used to be an evangelical Christian.

    My point was relating to theologians….not the population at large who would not know Hebrew if it was written in front of them.

    But hey, why let the actual words get in the way of a good rant?

  26. 26
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    angelina, my post quoted you but was not directed at you. Sorry about that.

    Yes, I guess it is a rant, though. I am worried to death about what seems like willful blindness I see everywhere as these monsters take over the whole effing world. Always, “Oh this is one crazy fringe character, not what our country is REALLY like.” and then the mystification over how the crazy dude ever got elected and keeps getting elected. Populations are being radicalized in every country on the planet. Yet, people continue to deny its happening.

    Sorry for the rant, horde. Nothing personal but damn!

  27. 27
    jamesstephenson

    “He did a backdoor deal with the leading National party, so that he essentially ran uncontested for his seat, and brought several ACT party MPs (about as far right as it gets in NZ, if you don’t include Destiny Church) into parliament on his coat-tails.”

    You’re getting your parliaments muddled up, John Banks is a one-man-band party, last time around Rodney Hide (who at least is a classical liberal, but PZ wouldn’t like his climate views) brought several list MPs with him.

    The function of the ACT party is, as someone above said, to provide a place for the National Party to place blame for policies they want to implement themselves but fear will annoy centrist voters.

    “They are now part of the ruling coalition, and he has more influence than he has any right to.”

    That’s what you get with MMP…

  28. 28
    antipodeanatheist

    Disappointed is an understatement PZ. I live in NZ and I’m downright appalled and embarrassed!!!!!

  29. 29
    Rasmus

    It’s actually sillier than that since Genesis is way to off to reasonably be interpreted as an allegory. The most an honest Bible scholar could claim is that Genesis is a mystical tale and/or poetry on the theme of creation.

    The science equivalent of that statement would be more like…

    Obstetricians are divided over whether human babies go through a larva-pupa development inside their mothers’ uteruses or whether they are delivered, fully formed, by storks.

  30. 30
    jackcowie

    John Banks is a laughing stock nationwide. He only won his seat because of a stitch-up with the ruling National Party that caused a massive voter backlash; and it left the ACT Party politically dead, especially considering Banks barely fitted with them anyway — they are libertarian while Banks is an old-school conservative. I wonder if his party will force him to vote for gay marriage, that’d be funny.

  31. 31
    CJO

    It’s actually sillier than that since Genesis is way to off to reasonably be interpreted as an allegory. The most an honest Bible scholar could claim is that Genesis is a mystical tale and/or poetry on the theme of creation.

    Yeah, the meaning of “allegory” in common usage has been broadened to “any myth or legend of primarily symbolic import”. Though Genesis 2-3 can be reasonably interpreted as an allegory, for even on the stricter meaning there is room for “loose” allegory that needn’t follow the pattern of one-for-one correspondence between narrative, symbolic element and the concept, object, person or event represented by it. So Eden is the locus of primal, pristine human existence in the distant (mythical) past, Adam is humanity, the serpent is temptation, the fruit of the tree of knowledge is, uh, knowledge, etc. Genesis 1 is, as you say, poetry, more evocative than allegorical in any sense, and crafted to counteract or exclude rival Mesopotamian myths on the same theme.

  32. 32
    Amblebury

    John Banks is a standing joke, albeit a very poor one. Kooks like him get into positions of responsilbilty A/ because they’re loud- mouthed, lying bullies and B/ because left-leaning members of the populace are too apathetic to get off their backsides and vote.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/election-2011/6044562/Turnout-abysmal-for-this-years-vote

    Let that be a lesson to you, Democrats – get out and vote!

    There are proposed changes to the MMP system that will make this scenario less likely in the future -i.e. the “coat tails” clause. Surprise, surprise the right-wingers are agin the change.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7464967/Proposed-changes-to-MMP-released

    It also needs to be said, that this bible-bashing idiocy is becoming a populist trend, much in the same way Coca-Cola and Mickey Mouse did. Sigh. I miss Elvis.

  33. 33
    rupertmorrish

    ACT have been pushing charter schools for a while. Banks may be in it for the proselytising, but the rest of them recognise an excuse to funnel taxpayer money to well-connected private businesses as well as anyone. And Heather Roy never misses an opportunity to stick it to the teachers union, so there’s a bonus in it for her, too.

    The sad part about the decline of ACT is that next election, National are likely to do the same deal with the Conservatives, who will probably bring in 4 or 5 MPs if they win Epsom or Orewa, or if the threshold is lowered below 5%. John Banks may be an odious little toad of a man (and a lousy politician – the mayor of Auckland super city was a position created specifically for him, and he lost it to Len Brown), but I’d take a dozen of him over Colin Craig.

    How weird is John Banks? He’s seen 6 movies in his life, and one of them was Spice World.

    Oh, and it occurs to me that East Coast Bays (where I live) would be a pretty good target for the Conservatives (I think Colin Craig lives here too), so I find myself in the unlikely position of wishing Murray McCully good health and a long career in Parliament.

    Now I need a shower.

  34. 34
    gordona

    The NZ election system usually requires a party to gain 5% of the overall vote to get seats in Parliament (120 MPs so you would 6) The 5% is made up first of the party’s MPs who win an electorate seat and the rest from a party list. The exception to this is that if a party wins an electorate seat it is able to get extra list MPS even if the party falls short of the 5% threshold (“coat tailing”). The governing National Party gifted Banks a seat in the hope he might bring in 3 or 4 extra MPs through this system. In fact he and his party are so disliked and the party vote so low they couldn’t even get 1 extra MP.

    The electoral system is currently being reviewed and it is recommended that coat tailing be abolished-there is very strong popular support to end this rort.

    While religion is not strong in NZ there are enough lunatic christian groups around to push this creation bullshit and a press so totally useless they are unable to report with anything approaching accuracy on scientific matters. The main Sunday paper last week rated creationism and evolution pretty much as equally valid “beliefs” in one prominent part of a report.

    Readers may also care to look at reporting issues around a young woman’s death and the attempt to blame it on Gardasil – the papers largely headline, the mother’s conviction of the linkage and ignore all other evidence: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/08/09/a-sad-premature-death-cynically-used-by-antivaccinationists-to-attack-gardasil/

  35. 35
    Stella

    Banks is well known as a far right fuckwit over here, so I can’t say I’m overly surprised. What really disturbs me is that he’s involved in establishing charter schools. Just let that sink in for a minute. Yes, this guy is pushing to get creation lies taught to schoolchildren. I am afraid. I am very afraid. So far we’ve had a good track record in keeping that horseshit out of our classrooms, but now the religious vultures are circling and it doesn’t look like there’s much that can stop them.

  36. 36
    Rasmus

    CJO: Sure, an allegory doesn’t have to have a 1:1 mapping between metaphors and reality, but you can’t call it an allegory if the story has almost nothing in common with the actual course of events. A story about the making of a salad might be thought of as an allegory about the settlement of the Americas even if each ingredient in the salad didn’t exactly correspond to any particular type of settler, but the same story could never be an allegory about, say, WW1.

    I suppose the bit about the garden of Eden and the fall could be interpreted as an allegory about the transition from a sparsely populated world with little human friction to a densely populated one with trade, war and disease. There are short bursts of seemingly meaningful signals in random noise too…

  37. 37
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Yes, same song, different verse. Reasonable people everywhere need to become more active and energetic. The religionists are highly motivated and have at least a 20 year head start all over the world. They’ve broken through more quickly in the USA for two reasons: 1. most of the money and planning originated here and 2. USA has always had higher rates of religiosity than the rest of the west anyway, with a long history of evangelical and fundamentalist waves.

  38. 38
    kantalope

    More like: Tolkien scholars (not real ones just ones for this example) are divided over whether the first chapter of the Silmarillion is a literal description or an allegory to help people understand how the world came into being.

    Frodo Lives!

    And I’m sorry that NZ and Canada have people as stupid as the people in Texas, Tenne…oh heck the whole US. You have killed some of the hope I had deep inside.

  39. 39
    auntbenjy

    @ jamesstephenson #26

    You’re getting your parliaments muddled up, John Banks is a one-man-band party, last time around Rodney Hide (who at least is a classical liberal, but PZ wouldn’t like his climate views) brought several list MPs with him.

    Bugger. You’re right. Next time I’ll get some sleep before posting. :)

  40. 40
    mtcf

    John Banks is a …(insert any word you like here). There’s only two politicians that really piss me off – Banks and Winnie the Poo Peters. Both are idiots. Of the 1st degree. And Banks can’t decide what he wants to be – first a local politician, then national, repeat.

    Is it just me but have you noticed how he (a) only talks in sound bites and (b) that billions is now, always, pronounced with a capital B?

    But I’ve got to agree with rupertmorrish – I’ld rather have Banks over Craig. Better the devil you know…

  41. 41
    Mark Hanna

    As someone living in New Zealand, thanks for bringing this to my attention. It’s probably worth also mentioning that John Banks has shown himself to be fairly homophobic in the past, so I can’t say I’m entirely surprised by this news.

    I’m also not at all surprised about the Herald being a bit useless on this issue. It could be worse though – they’re not uncommonly full of shit.

  42. 42
    Stephen Minhinnick

    The Secular Education Network has a facebook page “Keep Religion Out of School (NZ)” here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_211000182273935&ap=1#!/KeepReligionOutOfSchoolNZ

    “Like” the page if you support a secular public school system in NZ.

  43. 43
    luleelurah

    As a New Zealander, I’d just like to say sorry about him on behalf of pretty much all of us. He only ever gets into office because he runs in the richest electorate in the country and he is just awful, as almost everyone agrees.

    A nice example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFGoyAHhm9I

  44. 44
    tomforest

    “I believe we were all glad to leave New Zealand. It is not a pleasant place”
    — Charles Darwin (Voyage of the Beagle)
    :)

  45. 45
    buffybot

    Banks is an epic fuckwit and hypocrite. EPIC. But unfortunately he has this power, thanks to the braindead zombies of Epsom who would vote for a chimp if it was wearing an ACT rosette. Charter schools are the reward ACT gets for giving the government a reach-around.

  46. 46
    danwolf

    Yeah, I’m disappointed that John Banks is once again holding the reins of power in New Zealand, but I’m even more disappointed to see people (implicitly) blaming MMP for this situation – and also advocating/hoping for the continued exclusion of minor parties, such as the conservatives, from parliament.

    Yes, there are minority viewpoints in New Zealand that I disagree with, some of which I find offensive and downright hateful. But legislating to keep these voices out of the national discussion is no solution

  47. 47
    randay

    “John Banks told Radio Rhema that he has no doubts the first chapters of Genesis are true.”

    That must be a pretty hard juggling act since the books 1 and 2 contradict each other on their creation myths.

  48. 48
    blf

    Electrical engineers are divided over whether electrical current is a net movement of charge-carrying microscopic particles or a kind of spear thrown by the thunder-god Zeus.

    Then there is the reality-based theory based on observation: It’s refilling the magic blue smoke tanks:†

    Smoke is frequently observed to come out of electronic components … through exposure to an extreme electrical current

    When the tank overflows it leaks out all over the place, and is seem to be blue smoke. Therefore, electrical current is the magic blue smoke flowing.

     † Apologies to the Pffft! of All Knowledge for the quote-mining.

  49. 49
    Mahoe

    I know – info long after the discussion has petered out but the following is a quote from Q&A guidelines from the NZ Human Rights Commission regarding religious instruction in schools. Banks may be associate minister of education but law changes need a lot of support.

    “Q10. Isn’t education in New Zealand meant to be secular?

    Yes, the Education Act 1964 (Section 77) affirms that teaching in primary schools is to be secular. However, education about religion is compatible with this requirement.

    A secular education should not favour any one particular religious belief. It should be possible to attend the school quite happily even if you don’t hold those particular religious beliefs. This does not have to mean that religious teaching is banned completely. Schools need to be sensitive about how their actions are likely to impact on students holding different beliefs. This means ensuring that everyone’s beliefs are treated with respect and all views are valued.

    Example 1:

    Teaching creationism as science would be a breach of the need to be secular. “

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