Friday, April 21, 2006

ID/Creationism: the madness is spreading across the pond

In an earlier post I mentioned a BBC poll which revealed that four out of ten Britons believe intelligent design should be taught in science classrooms. Now, we learn that:

Pupils in England will be required to discuss creationist theories as part of a new GCSE biology course being introduced in September.

The move has alarmed scientists who fear it could open the door for the promotion of creationist ideas like "intelligent design" and give them scientific respectability at a time when they are being promoted by fundamentalist Christians and Muslims.

. . .

The new biology syllabus in England does not require the teaching of creationist views alongside Darwin's theory of evolution, but it opens the way for classroom discussions in science lessons and pupils will be assessed on work they do on this topic.
Meanwhile, yet another antipodean (following in the footsteps of Ken Ham and Ray Comfort) is heading north to spread the Good Word.
Next week, an Australian will jet into Heathrow for a lecture tour that will gladden the hearts of the small but dauntless band of British creationists, believers in the biblical account of the origins of the world.

John Mackay, a former science teacher from Queensland, whose photograph shows him looking not unlike Indiana Jones, grinning in bush hat and open necked shirt, is one of Creation Science's speaking stars. He will console believers that Genesis is true, that the Earth is not millions of years old but only a few thousand and that science proves it, rather than the Darwinian theory of evolution accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists for more than a century.He comes here most years, though his 31 engagements from Scotland to Kent are mainly in nonconformist church halls and non-mainstream chapels rather than the loftiest pulpits or highest groves of academe. There will be talks at places like the Living Waters Fellowship at Newport, Isle of Wight, the Christian Outreach Centre in Bournemouth and the Destiny Church in Edinburgh. An appearance at Bangor University turns out to be in a hall hired by local evangelicals for the occasion.

There will even be a week-long Family Creation Conference in tents at the Cefn Lea Christian Holiday Park near Newtown in mid-Wales, for which about 40 families have signed up, at which Mr Mackay will attempt to answer fundamental questions such as: Did bees sting before Adam sinned? Why would birds need to migrate in a good world? What would polar bears do in a world with no ice and what did great white sharks eat before Aussies went surfing? The answers may seem obvious, but it is proof that even believers in the inerrancy of the Bible feel the need to seek something scientific to bolster their case.

Mackay wants to debate bona fide scientists like Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough, both of whom aren't interested. For Mackay's followers, this is "censorship." However, as an anonymous reviewer of Eugenie Scott's Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction puts it:
Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon -- it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flys back to its flock to claim victory.
I'll leave you with a pearl of wisdom from Bishop Wayne Malcolm of the Christian Life City church in Hackney, East London:
There is clearly an absence in the fossil record for intermediate levels of development. If a frog turned into a monkey, shouldn't you have lots of fronkies?
Kirk Cameron, don't get too cozy with that "Dickhead of the Year" award just yet.