Huzzah for the Royal Society!

It warms the cockles of my heart to see this sort of thing, it does. Scientists in Britain are on the attack!

Leading scientists have launched an unprecedented attack on the teaching of creationist theories in Tony Blair’s flagship academies.

Britain’s most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, said children were being confused by the teaching of the Bible’s creation story in science lessons.

I think we need more like this. We typically sit back, we’re engaged with our own work, our own collection of smart students, and we avoid getting angry at the dirty dealings of the creationists, the lies they spread, the attention and effort and money they suck up with their fraud and ignorance. It’s long past time to be proactive and strike out at them.

In a statement issued today, the Royal Society defends Darwin’s theory of evolution as the best explanation for life on earth.

It accuses the Government of failing in its duty to ensure pupils at state schools, including the academies, learn the value of genuine science.

The Royal Society statement is very good and clear and strong. It doesn’t mince words in dismissing Intelligent Design, either.

Some proponents of an alternative explanation for the diversity of life on Earth now claim that their theories are based on scientific evidence. One such view is presented as the theory of intelligent design. This proposes that some species are too complex to have evolved through natural selection and that therefore life on Earth must be the product of a ‘designer’. Its supporters make only selective reference to the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports evolution, and treat gaps in current knowledge which, as in all areas of science, certainly exist – as if they were evidence for a ‘designer’. In this respect, intelligent design has far more in common with a religious belief in creationism than it has with science, which is based on evidence acquired through experiment and observation. The theory of evolution is supported by the weight of scientific evidence; the theory of intelligent design is not.

The closing paragraph also says something important:

Science has proved enormously successful in advancing our understanding of the world, and young people are entitled to learn about scientific knowledge, including evolution. They also have a right to learn how science advances, and that there are, of course, many things that science cannot yet explain. Some may wish to explore the compatibility, or otherwise, of science with various religious beliefs, and they should be encouraged to do so. However, young people are poorly served by deliberate attempts to withhold, distort or misrepresent scientific knowledge and understanding in order to promote particular religious beliefs.

Young people are entitled to learn about scientific knowledge. I think that’s a key part of what should be our educational philosophy. People should be free to abandon reason and believe what they want as adults, but we as a society are obligated to give our kids the best opportunity possible and to teach them the most successful, best established scientific ideas—not “controversies” or fairy tales designed for compatibility with their biases, but what works. The creationists are advocating the dumbing down of science education and are peddling ignorance instead of knowledge. I consider what they are doing to be criminal child abuse.

So, yeah, we should be on the attack.


  1. mathpants says

    you libruls are always talking about “entitlements.”

    Kids should learn science by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps
    (bootstraps shall be outlawed because they remind at least one person I know of sex. Which is kinda weird, no?)

    In a less snarky vein, terrific post, PZ.

  2. says

    Huzzah, huzzah!

    I think I still regret not calling out the State Board of Education for their idiotic stickers pasted into the biology books, when I was an Alabamian high-school student. I should find a way to go on the attack myself — I’ve too much silence to make up for.

  3. tacitus says

    The Daily Mail article has (at this point in time) 49 comments on it. It’s disappointing and more than a little disturbing that many of them, from British readers, trot out the same idiocies we see from creationists here in the States: “teach both sides”, “you need more faith to believe in evolution”, etc.

    I’m reasonably sure that the odds are still stacked heavily against creationism in UK (it helps that only about 10% of the population are active church-goers) but I’m beginning to appreciate the need for strident statements like that of the Royal Society in order to nip this nonsense in the bud.

  4. tacitus says

    You have a point :) but I would have thought that even the Daily Mail readership was more educated about the issue than that.

  5. says

    A big thumbs-up to the Royal Society for not mincing words or pulling punches; they’ve said exactly what needs to be said.

    But oh, those responses… they make me weep for the state of the average mind out there…

  6. says

    tacitus: I’m with you. America is a “leader” in so many respects, and I’m afraid that what we’re seeing is the emergence of a newly-found religiosity and popular creationist beliefs in the UK and on continental Europe, trailing their re-emergence in America. (Remember “Gauuudless Univeraiirrse” guy in Scotland?) I’ve read that the rate of literal biblical believers in the UK actually runs to 40% of the population. Does that strike people as accurate, those of you out there with some real knowledge on the subject?

  7. socinius says

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Scientists in this country need to go on the attack as well. I was raised as a literal Bible believing, Pre millennial, Dispensationalist – avidly looking for the rapture and militantly anti-evolution.

    I was very outspoken in my fundamentalism. I even organized and introduced a “Creationist” seminar in my college days. When scientists refused to participate in “debates” or said nothing about the event(s) the impression was given that the scientific community knew that evolution was wrong and were trying to hide the fact or were too afraid to debate–at least that’s how the creationists would play it.

    It wasn’t until I began to read the other side of the story, so to speak, (people like Dawkins, Mayr, Eldredge, Zimmer, E.O.Wilson, etc. themselves) that I began to see how dishonestly the creationists took their words out of context and distorted them beyond belief. It took me many years to work myself out of fundamentalism and eventually out of Christianity as well.

    I also realized that scientists did not “debate” creationists because it was a colossal waste of their time, not because they were afraid or trying to hide the truth.

    While I would agree with Richard Dawkins that debating at one of these creationist things is futile I think strong statements such as the one by the Royal Society would be a good idea. Of course, it would not convince the die-hards (yet I stand as an exception to that and I’m sure many others do too) but it might help to clarify the issues for the majority of the population taken in by the “teach the controversy” or “it’s just a theory”, or the “equal time” arguments.

    It might help to put to rest the “why won’t scientists debate?” question or “why do they ignore the ID movement if they don’t have something to hide?” stuff..

  8. says

    “Kids should learn science by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps”

    In The Netherlands this tends to mean that the teachers must become coaches who spend as little time as possible with classes. The kids must “learn to learn” is the mantrum here, a pretext for rigorous budget cutting in education.

    Plans are effectuated right now in the sub-university higher education segment to do away with almost all of the knowledgable teachers and replace them with coaches on much lower pay over the next, say, five years.

    A report is just out stating that The Netherlands spends significantly and structurally less money on education than other EU countries, which threatens its economic position in the near future. However, as education is simply not on the map in Dutch politics, the recommendations in the report will probably go unheeded.

    And we too have the both-sides-should-be-heard crap :-(. though not as bad as in the US :-).


  9. tacitus says

    40% is way too high:

    Church leaders question Creation theory

    Of the 103 church leaders who took part in the survey – including Church of England and Catholic bishops and Methodist ministers – only three said they believed in the literal, Biblical, version of the Creation in which God created the world in six days.

    Of course, the survey didn’t include fundamentalist church leaders but such churches still only represent a small minority of the church-going population in the UK (however, they are the only part that’s growing).

    I can’t pin down the numbers yet, but I would say that no more than 5% of the British population believes the Bible literally.

  10. says

    Did anyone check out the reader comments at the Daily Mail? It appears that there is nothing new under the sun, at least so far as creationist arguments are concerned:

    Evolution is a faith too. It cannot be scientifically proved, simply because no scientist was there at the beginning…. Many highly intelligent scientists accept creationism

    I notice she didn’t actually name any of these “highly intelligent scientists” who accept creationism. They’re scarcer than hen’s teeth (and more difficult to explain than hen’s teeth, too).

    The fact is nobody knows anything because theories are just thoughts or ideas and nothing more.

    It’s “just a theory” time! There is clearly a dictionary shortage in the UK. (And in the US.)

    Since when was there any proof of evolution? Evolution is a belief system as much as religion is.

    See? It’s all faith-based! What we need are facts. Here’s a really precious one, courtesy of “only a theory” lady:

    Monkeys are cute and will never be humans.

    Hard to argue with that one.

  11. poke says

    Kristine, I doubt we have 40% literalists, but American-style Christianity seems to be on the rise here. I have relatives who are “born again” and still others who have attended faith-healings and believe (to some degree) in Creationism. All of this shocked me, but it shouldn’t have really. We Brits tend to be ignorant in a unique, especially active way; any opportunity to challenge science will be seized upon, even if it comes from America. ID, I think, could take hold here. The anti-GM and animal rights crowds aren’t likely to get into straight Creationism, but ID would suit them just fine. They’d need somewhere to picket though… maybe the Natural History Museum.

  12. tacitus says

    Okay, I stand corrected:

    Britons unconvinced on evolution

    Over 2,000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

    22% chose creationism

    17% opted for intelligent design

    48% selected evolution theory

    and the rest did not know.

    This is troubling, though I’m willing to bet that most of the 40% who opted for creationism or ID are simply ignorant of the science (my 19-year old nephew visiting from the UK just yesterday asked me if the Sun was the centre of the galaxy… ugh!) rather than being driven by religious fundamentalist urges.

  13. tacitus says

    Okay, now I’m conflating belief in creation with belief in Biblical literalism–sorry about that! I still believe the number of Bible literalists in the UK is probably around 5%. But obviously you don’t necessarily have to be a Bible-believer to be confused about the facts!

  14. says

    John said:

    “I shouldn’t worry too much about what the Daily Mail reader thinks.”

    Given that Daily Mail readers represent a sizable fraction of the population and given that the Labour government (and presumably any future Tory one) spends a fair bit of time pandering to their moronic views, I think we should worry at least a little.

  15. Talapus says

    …we as a society are obligated to give our kids the best opportunity possible and to teach them the most successful, best established scientific ideas…

    Unfortunately, far too many people in the United States are likely to equate that statement with communist materialist indoctrination. (The very same people would doubtless be unlikely to take exception if the second half were replaced by “to teach them God’s revealed truth” or some such nonsense.)

    Rather than overt attack, what is needed is something more subtle. A top-down approach will perpetually vulnerable to the charge that liberal elitists are once again pushing their godless agenda and will be met with greater antagonism.

    The fundamentalists have achieved their goals with appalling success throughout the United States by getting people elected onto schoolboards in stealth mode–by deliberately hiding their true religious agendas until it is too late. As far as I can make out, the political ground of local education systems is now almost entirely ceded to the religious right. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it will take heavy involvement by scientists in their communities before the religious right’s dominance over education can be remedied.

    What is needed is a low-level counterinsurgency by scientists, and the determinedness to keep up the campaign over the long term. Like freedom, knowledge needs to be defended. People with strong scientific backgrounds need to be running for elected positions in school boards and state electoral offices. Make quality of science education a priority–it should be easy to do this on any number of grounds, including the economic benefits and, if necessary appeals to that last refuge of scoundrels, patriotism. If you happen to be an atheist, that’s none of anyone’s business and you don’t need to make a public issue of it. (Let’s be pragmatic: I’m talking about electability here.) If scientifically-informed people can achieve critical mass in the right venues, they can begin to move things in the right directions, amend and defend curricula, and–this is crucially important–work with teachers to ensure that science is well-taught.

    Bottom line, if you have an advanced degree in one of the physical or biological sciences, seriously consider running for election to your local school board. With elections coming up in November, now is the time to start working out how to do this. If you can’t run yourself, find someone with the right background who you can support and help them out with time, money and labor.

  16. paul says

    Survey results should not be taken at face value. Here in the UK, many people read the astrology columns in the newspapers, for aa bit of fun, and might say yes there’s something in it, but hardly anyone would seriously believe that their fate is governed by their date of birth and the movements of the planets. Likewise, while quite a few, if asked, would probably agree vaguely that God created life, I don’t think many people, even children, believe in Genesis and Adam & Eve. When I was a child in the 50s and we were taught this story in school religious lessons (yes they are Compulsory in the UK), none of us believed it, even at age 7. It was just a nice story.

  17. says

    Did anyone else notice the Daily Mail‘s poll accompanying the article? It asks:

    Should creationism be taught as truth or theory?
    [] It should be truth
    [] It’s all theory

    Um… where’s the button for “No, it’s neither truth nor theory, and it shouldn’t be taught at all”?

  18. says

    The Daily Mail is well known for its preference for just about *anything* over the scientific method: new age beliefs; astrology; creationism… I think it considers science an offshoot of political correctness. Terrible rag.

    Poke – “The anti-GM and animal rights crowds” are unlikely to be interested in creationism. The former is driven by political and not religious motivations: i.e. Genetic Modification is a consumer and producer versus corporations issue in their eyes, and thus tends to be run by the left, which in Britain is almost to a man secular, Islamic or liberal Christian. The animal rights crowds, where they do have a philosophical bent separate from the political, rely almost entirely on the theory of evolution for “evidence” that animals are feeling, autonomous creatures. Further, they have never made any significant inroads into churches or mosques because of teachings like “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” in Genesis. Any connection between these groups and creationists can only exist in very abstract and subjective categories like “groups I think are deluded” in your mind.

  19. Ray says

    The Daily Mail also has an online “vote” on the subject. Well, except that there are only two choices for which to vote:

    Should creationism be taught as truth or theory?

    * It should be truth
    * It’s all theory

    I find this troubling, since the implication is that it is perfectly fine to teach the c-word in schools in the first place! And there’s no “It’s all a fairy-story” category.


  20. wamba says

    Followup at The Register

    Over 400 people were turned away from the Royal Society’s pro-evolution lecture last night, while anticipated protests from creationists failed to materialise.
    The server carrying a live webcast of Professor Steve Jones lecture “Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right” crashed after it was deluged by Reg readers, according to the RS.

  21. JM says

    I think that UK – and probably US – creationists/IDists are rubbing their hands with glee at the Royal Society’s statement. It appears to me that there is nothing they like better than to stir up the ‘controversy’ or, better yet, to claim that because scientists have made such a statement that this is evidence that there is a real controversy. If creationists can doubt the fact of evolution, are ordinary people entitled to think that there is no evidence for it? I think that the creationists will portray the statement as a dogmatic one rather than as the result of the patient collection of evidence through research. Will many ordinary people here in the UK see it the creationists’ way? (Which is not to say that I think that the Royal Society were wrong to make it.)

    Getting many ordinary people interested in, and educating them about, science is such a difficult problem. We have had and have such wonderful public figures as science educators over here – David Attenborough is 80 this year, see,,1713421,00.html – but we need more like him, to cover all areas of science. I’m a scientifically-minded layman myself, and I know how hard it is to acquire any real scientific knowledge, as opposed to hearsay. Many people – I think – want quick, comforting, answers to the big questions of life, and see scientists as just another set of authority figures, alongside the woo-woos who would have us believe in horoscopes, and ‘spirits’ of the departed traipsing around old inns and country houses. (Why so many episodes of “Haunted” without a single unambiguous piece of physical evidence? Why didn’t even one event make the TV news headlines? Have I missed one?) I know people that watch Attenborough’s programmes and say, “What wonderful animals, but of course all that about evolution is only a theory” (meaning a conjecture)! That surveys show that the populace of the UK has become secularised is not evidence for an increase in rationality and scientific knowledge here.

    How does one convey both the excitement of science and the fact that science is not about dogma? The few real – work-a-day – scientists I have been privileged to meet have all been humble individuals who were quick to say “I don’t know, but I’m trying to find out” when I asked them a question about their field. This is far from the common perception of scientists that I hear much too often.

  22. BlueIndependent says

    To speak to the “creationist scientist” thing, I heard, on the Young Turks radio show no less, a liberal individual (I forget the name) say that there are a bunch of creationist scientists that believe in ID, but their voice was stifled due to the overwhelming amount of pro-evolution scientists. I couldn’t believe it.

    He of course did not name any of them. Why is that so difficult? The impression pro-ID people want to project is that they’re the persecuted minority actually doing what is considered by the larger body to be “voodoo science”. I’m sick of this crap. Tell me your hypothesis and give me your facts, otherwise shut up and stop ruining other peoples’ careers and lives over your belief.

    Evolution may be a “belief”, but it’s freakin’ backed up by hard proof. ID is completely amorphous, and can take a different shape depending on which religion you ask. That’s not science, period, end of discussion. Religion is subjective, science is objective. That’s why science bears facts, and opinions based on those facts, not opinions seasoned by one’s upbringing or skillful obfuscation of reality to lure people into a particular fold.

  23. natural cynic says

    22% chose creationism

    17% opted for intelligent design


    it helps that only about 10% of the population are active church-goers

    I’m wondering why there is such adisconnection between a belief in a heavily theistic ideas about origins and a lack of any consistant action. If so many people believe, why is church attendance so low?

    The same thing is occurring in America, where there is a much higher level of belief creationism and intelligent design than church attendance. If so many people believe that God was so involved, why aren’t they in church?

    [and you would have to subtract a small but sugnificant subset of regular churchgoers that do not subscribe to ID/creationism]

  24. says

    “If so many people believe, why is church attendance so low?”
    Well, here I go [grouch alert]: Perhaps that’s due to there not being quite the “free enterprise” religion in the UK as we have in the US. The UK and Europe have state churches, whereas in the US the do-it-yourself, paint-by-Numbers-and-Deuteronomy religious movements are robust. The mainstream churches in the U.S. have experienced a heavy emigration of their followers to the evangelical and charismatic, formerly fringe churches.

    Perhaps all those people in the UK who don’t go to church would in fact gravitate to the charismatic/evangelical wing if it presented itself (and if the British public at large could tolerate the revolting crassness of the pop-music and carnivalesque, laser light show aspect of these Christian Saturnalias).

  25. poke says

    John Angliss, The anti-GM movement spans left and right. I think the right has actually been louder on the issue (the media at least). The Animal Rights movement is leftist but cuts across ethical and anti-establishment/anti-science lines. I have no idea what you’re talking about when you say the Animal Rights crowd “rely almost entirely on the theory of evolution for “evidence” that animals are feeling, autonomous creatures.” I’ve never seen an interest in biology in the Animal Rights movement, beyond the usual quote mining for evidence that lower animals might experience pain, which is quite similar to IDs quote mining for evidence for “irreducible complexity” or holes in the fossil record or whatever.

    I said I can see these movements being interested specifically in ID, not Creationism; many people take IDs claim to be secular at face value. There’s already some hints that “postmodernists” on the left are beginning to adopt the rhetoric of ID and I think it could appeal to some in the anti-GM movement, left and right, as well as the anti-establishment/anti-science members of the Animal Rights movement. The connection between these groups is that they all contain members who act in ways that are more consistent with being anti-science than with their stated goals. The point is that there’s strong anti-science sentiment here, both left and rigth, and anything that feeds into that is likely to enjoy some popularity.

  26. thwaite says

    Nice to see that the Royal Society webcast of Steve Jones was significantly oversubscribed.

    Despite the resulting loss of quality, I heard most of the audio (but missed most of the slides) yesterday. It’s a good coherent talk for a generalist audience with some level of scientific literacy. I recognized most of it from his 2000 book DARWIN’S GHOST: The Origin of Species Updated.

    Jones is a geneticist. In the talk he developed some background on well-studied linguistic “evolution” (which is entirely ‘descent with modification’), then he elaborated on how much genetics and natural selection add to biological evolution.

    He finished by emphasizing the singularity of humans with language(s). We’ve very little genetic change compared to chimps and yet language and whatever give us so much foresight that “we’ve stepped outside the universe of Darwin” (a quote which caught my attention). He also pointed out that evolution has special challenges studying such unique species as us, given its reliance on comparative techniques.

    As noted above, the Royal Society maintains an archive of its webcasts.

  27. Sastra says

    I think poke has a good point regarding the Spiritual Left’s possible defection to Intelligent Design. I can’t speak for what goes on in England, but a lot of people I know involved in “liberal” causes like animal rights seem to be anti-establishment and anti-authority down the line — and scientists are often grouped on the side of the spectrum that has The Bad Guys with No Feelings. Scientists just aren’t “open” enough to Higher Truths. They don’t care as deeply about stuff as the folk in sandals and pony tails.

    The Spiritual Left hates the Religious Right, but it also hates “scientific materialism.” To the extent that ID successfully manages to decouple from Christianity and market itself as just being “pro-spirituality,” I figure we’ll see support coming from otherwise unexpected places.

  28. Neutral Observer says

    The education system is also different.

    The question of creationism/ID being taught in science is only in a handful of state schools that have been partially privately funded under a partnership agreement from the 90s.

    It may be raised on other schools but only as part of the Religious Education that every school student in England is required by law to have, one lesson per week.

    The curricula and exams are set nationally and administered only three or four organisations, e.g.

    The new specification for the teaching of Science to age 16 is here (loads a PDF file). Go to page 21 (27 according to Adobe Reader’s page count). There it lists the Learning Outcomes for the Environment section of the curriculum. One is

    discuss why Charles Darwin experienced difficulty in getting his theory of
    evolution through natural selection accepted by the scientific community in the
    19th century

    The only examinable part of the curricula that touches on the dispute.

    If you then look at the Religious Studies curriculum, which is an optional subject for examination at the age of 16.

    The specification is here

    On page 45 (Adobe Reader page 49), there is the optional topic Religion and Science.

    This is how it is taught in mainstream schools. Science does not teach about religion it only raises the subject of why Darwin was ridiculed. Religion from its own standpoint raises the issues between Religion and Science. Note also that Christianity is not normally the only religion studied.

    My school days in England are far behind me and the only time I have seen the inside of a church since has been for the family baptisms, weddings and funerals and the odd classical music concert.

  29. Deacon Barry says

    Forty percent?? Point four more like. In the hospital where I work, (in Scotland) out of a hundred people, only one is a born again christian. In the past five years, I have only been able to have a good argument once, with a local god-botherer, who hasn’t been seen since.
    In Britain, creationism just isn’t on the radar!
    Not that it won’t be for ever. There are evangelical churches growing here.
    Although religious education is compulsory, it’s not a high priority for schools, it tends to be about ethics and comparative religions, rather than christianity. As for an act of daily worship, all we had was a weekly assembly, completely devoid of religion.

  30. tacitus says

    There may be only a few fundamentalist Christians in the UK but I suspect there are a lot more “spritiual” people who don’t pay any heed to organized religion but when faced with questions about our origins are quite prepared to believe that we were created by some higher power.

    Added to that will be the same call for “fairness”–teach both sides–that ID supporters appeal to in the USA. Either way, I don’t think that British belief in creation implies anywhere near the same political impetus to start teaching it in schools as there is in America.

  31. chuko says

    There is an article in the Nation from a Rabbi talking about ‘scientism’ among liberals, and how this is a danger to the democratic party, etc. Bringing God Into It

    The tack seems to be that scientismists, or whatever-the-hell-you’re-supposed-to-call-em, believe that only things that can be measured are real. Then they say, “What about beauty and ethics and God?”

    It seems to me that they’re intentionally fudging here, equating things that objectively do or don’t exist, like the god that most american religious people believe in, with the experiential (like beauty) or ideas.

  32. darukaru says

    The tack seems to be that scientismists, or whatever-the-hell-you’re-supposed-to-call-em, believe that only things that can be measured are real. Then they say, “What about beauty and ethics and God?”

    Who cares? The only people proclaiming that you can’t have ethics without supernatural woo-woo are the people who already believe in supernatural woo-woo.

    It’s like a tobacco executive telling me that I can’t be cool without smoking. There’s no point refuting something so idiotic.

  33. Sunny says

    The more interesting question is why isn’t The Royal Society’s American counterarts (if they exist… maybe the NIH will do?) doing more to fight the vast amount of PR the ID crowd is generating…

    Perhaps we need our own “think tank” to un-spin the creationist crowd’s crap?

  34. G. Tingey says

    For those outside the UK.

    The Daily Mail is sometimes referred to as the Daily Nazi.
    It is by our standars, very right-wing, and is always irrational.

    Lets’ get this “State Religion” nonsense squased, shall we?
    Yes, we have an “official” church – so does Scotland (A different one, incidentally)
    There are LOTS of other churches, and mosques and synagogues and Hindu temples and Bhuddist retreats – anyone can go to any one of them (in theory)
    There are a growing, and firightening number of american-backed fundie-loonie-xtian-“churches” here.
    There is one round the corner from my house.
    They are shit, and hated by all the neighbours, and we can’t get rid of them.
    ( “Respect” for belief, you know )

    So,although I would think about between 1% – 5% of the population actually believe the deliberate lies of the cretinists and ID-iots, they are a real and present danger, and no-one has noticed – until now.

    Oerhaps we’ll see a change ??

  35. Alexander Whiteside says

    The Daily Mail famously supported the Nazi party until we actually declared war on Germany. As a result they’re about the only paper that doesn’t do WW2 “Commemorative Reprints”. They kind of want to bury it.

  36. Eric Paulsen says

    I’ll be the first to admit that I am no great thinker, but look at the whole science vs religion debate in this light: Imagine that society is a car and has been designed by engineers using any number of disciplines that the occupants of the car might have no grasp of. The driver might not understand gear ratios and one of the passengers might not understand internal combustion but they can agree that the car is operational when they turn the key and the engine roars to life. Their lack of understanding the processes involved in making those thousands of parts work seamlessly does not render the car inoperable.

    Now what if one of the people in the car had read the parable of ‘the square tire and the Chrysler’ and demanded that since there was no parable of the round tire that all of the tires must be replaced to adhere to scripture? NOW the car does not move and it is not the fault of the engineers who designed it, it is not the fault of the car itself, it is not the fault of the other passengers with the brains to see that square tires just won’t roll… it is the fault of the one person who has decided that even without any understanding of cars they were going to enforce an irrational belief over an observably provable fact (round tires roll, square tires don’t). Leave the square tires on and go nowhere, put the round tires back on and procede.

    If we let the square tire bunch have their way then our lack of progress will be all of our fault.

    Freedom of religion should be tolerated only so long as it does not interfere with reality, I mean isn’t church specifically there for the congregation of like minded people to reinforce belief? Can’t they just be satisfied in their enclaves of protected bigotry, superstition, and ignorance? Let them be the final arbiters of all that is invisible and unprovable and leave reality to those with vision.

  37. guthrie says

    Whilst we’re DAily Mail bashing:

    Thats a link to a site tht discusses bad science, and is based in the Guardian Newspaper. It is positively scary how much bad science gets into newspapers here in the UK.

    However, the gvt does not believe that cretionism is being taught in the UK, but the Royal Society does. I trust the Royal Society in this one. The question is how to use the massive prestige the RS has to crush any outcroppings of creationism.