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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Reiss guilty of religious naivety - NSS reaction to resignation

NSS spokesman Alistair McBay has commented on the resignation of the Reverend Professor Michael Reiss from the role of Director of Education at the Royal Society.

McBay said both religious and non-religious members of the scientific community alike were appalled at Reiss’s suggestion because, as an ordained vicar as well as a biologist, he should have been more aware of the nature of the religious fundamentalism at work in the Creationist and ID lobby.

“The creationists are people who approach scientific enquiry claiming they already have the answer to the mysteries of the universe, an inviolate religious one, and who are not open to having their minds changed. They are the cuckoo in the nest of scientific endeavour, but the Reverend Professor naively sees them as people who can be welcomed in, reasoned with and dissuaded from their dogmatic religious certainty. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

McBay added however that Reiss should be thanked for alerting the authorities to a serious issue, namely that some children are being so heavily indoctrinated at home with fundamentalist religious beliefs that when they turn up at school to learn about the wider 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. We do not believe the way to deal with this is to give creationism a platform in science classes, or go soft on religious sensibilities, just to accommodate dogmatic religious certainty.

"This merely gives creationist views a cloak of respectability they do not merit", he said.

September 17 2008


Published Wed, 17 Sep 2008