Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

Skeptical Heresies #5

March 30th, 2011 Posted in Creationism, Education, General

Presentation work is ongoing. I should have the seventh presentation up soon on the subject of Fossils. In the meantime:

5. Separation of Church & State is a poor argument against creationism

It’s always annoyed me that the fight against Creationism in Schools is so heavily focussed on the separation of Church & State in the US. I think this bugs me for two reasons, both of which are quite worrying:

Firstly, and perhaps most worryingly, most countries don’t have such a separation in their constitutions, including the UK. In fact, the UK has the opposite – an intrinsic link between Church and state: Bishops sit in the house of Lords and the Queen, as head of state, is also head of the Church. In that case, if our single argument against Creationism is based on this one US-centric argument we have a great difficulty combatting this idea in the UK.

But to me, the main complaint I have against this line of argument – which has basically been the one argument that has kept creationism out of classrooms in America – is that it totally misses the point. Sure, you shouldn’t be teaching religion in science classrooms, but Intelligent Design is blurring the line between religion and science. Of course, it’s a religious inspired idea that was specifically crafted by religious fanatics to get their own narrow-minded religious viewpoints into the public sphere. But the reason why it shouldn’t be taught in science classes is far more simple than that – we shouldn’t teach it because it’s just plain wrong. Laughably so.

As long as our argument is based on Creationism being a religious doctrine, and hence it shouldn’t be taught, we’re missing the point. And we’re sending a message that the only reason why we’re opposed to this is because it’s religious. But it isn’t – the reason why we’re opposed to this is that it’s completely wrong – it’s a nonsense theory. Whether or not it’s religious in basis is irrelevant. We really need to send the correct message here. This was done well at the (2005) Dover trial in Pennsylvania, where not only was the separation of Chruch & State argument used, but also the science was presented and the case for Intelligent Design was shown to be based on absurdly failed science. This is how we ought to proceed in theory. The question is: should we proceed that way, given that the separation of Church & State idea has been so successful in the past? Or, if we give up on that, will we start losing battles?

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