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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Intolerant religious dogma has no place in science class

12 September 2008

The National Secular Society has condemned the speech made at the British Association Festival of Science by Reverend Professor Michael Reiss on 11 September, to the effect that the bogus science of creationism and Intelligent Design (creationism in a lab coat) should be debated in science classes alongside legitimate science.

NSS spokesman Alistair McBay said the Reverend Professor’s comments were yet another example of how society was being constantly pressurised into accepting intolerant religious dogma into the mainstream, in the name of respecting religion or culture.

“The Reverend Professor argues that some pupils are coming to science classes utterly disinterested in scientific method because, thanks to their indoctrination by pious parents, they already have the answer to the mystery of the universe - "God did it"! However, his approach to prising open these closed, brainwashed minds is to indulge such beliefs in science classes, although in fact they are the very antithesis of the subject. It is astounding that such an eminent scientist should be willing to elevate primitive myth and legend to the status of being accorded respect in a science setting. He clearly has no concept of how religious fundamentalism works.”

The NSS believes however that the Reverend Professor has drawn attention to a very real problem, namely that some children are being so heavily indoctrinated with fundamentalist religious beliefs that when they turn up at school to learn about the world in which they live, they are apparently so convinced they are right, and so dismissive and intolerant of alternative views, that considering any other point of view is a turn-off. As ever, it is other views that must be softened to accommodate this religious certainty.

“Allowing this bogus science to get the foothold in science classes it so desperately craves is the first step in dragging legitimate scientific method down to the level of creationist dogma, and would be yet another assault on rationalism, reason and common sense. The Reverend Professor is apparently unaware that evolution is taught as a theory, supported by a huge and ever-growing volume of evidence, while it is non-evidenced creationism that is being taught as inviolate dogma, and apparently rather too well,” said McBay.

12 September 2008

Published Fri, 12 Sep 2008