Blogs

Teaching creationism: Indoctrination is a form of child abuse

Susan Elkin

51241116 300x230 Teaching creationism: Indoctrination is a form of child abuseAnyone who tells children that God – literally – created the world in seven days 6,000 years ago is guilty of perverting education.

The truth – and education should be above all else a search for truth – is that the world, and the flora and fauna in it, including homo sapiens, evolved over millions of years.

But of course, whatever the founders of the Exemplar Academy in Newark soon to open as a state-authorised school might think, the divisions between the two points of view are not quite as cut and dried as that.

There is, for example, more than one sort of truth. There is factual, scientific truth and there are deeper, metaphysical truths.

For example, I don’t for a moment believe that Adam and Eve were ever a physically living people and neither, for the record, do any of the committed Christians I know. But there is a great deal of ‘truth’ in their human fallibility and curiosity. In a sense the Adam and Eve story is a novel, and like all the best novels it is full of insights and truths.

Intelligent, responsible adults working with children teach them the science and then, if they wish, explain that the creation stories – and every religion has one – originated as man’s way of explaining truths he ( or she) didn’t fully understand. It actually makes quite an interesting education project to explore and compare those stories and see what a lot they have in common.

And as for God. Well, he was man’s name for the almost unimaginable force which drove (drives) the process of evolution and change – a personification. So, if you want a religious approach, the science and the creation myth complement each other. You don’t have to argue the literal and pretty absurd case for an old man in the sky striding about making decisions for and about human beings.

Good educators – parents, teachers and others – ensure that children learn to think and reason for themselves. They don’t thrust propaganda and bigotry at them or withhold facts and information.

A friend of mine taught for a while in a tiny school run by Plymouth Brethren. She had to teach Shakespeare’s play Henry V so that the students could take GCSE English Literature. She was not allowed to mention sex in any context and the word ‘god’ had been blanked out of the text every time it appeared which wrought havoc with both sense and verse.

One student, a girl aged 15 (yes,15), was very puzzled about why the women were in danger at Harfleur. ‘I can see that the soldiers would want to kill the men’ she said. ‘But what on earth did they want with the women and girls?’ It seems little short of scandalous to me that anyone in 21st century Britain is raising children in such dangerous ignorance. Bigotry has a great deal to answer for.

I am not a religious believer or church goer. But I am a great admirer of much of what is in The Bible and other religious texts. They contain fine poetry, a great deal of human truth in many of the stories and an encapsulation of the cultures they sprang from and influenced – all of which I want children and young people to be led to think about. We can all learn a lot from them.

But we must never indoctrinate or permit our institutions to use indoctrination techniques. The Department for Education, as my colleague Richard Garner reported in the Independent last week is trying to make a slippery and unconvincing distinction between a school  which has a ‘faith ethos’ and a ‘faith school’ .

Call it what you like but the school in question is founded by blinkered creationists who don’t see education as a free unending journey.  Does anyone really believe that it will restrict itself to pedalling its distorted truths (lies?) in RE lessons?

Real Education is about open-ended questioning and challenging the mind. It also involves encouraging the learners eventually to move way beyond their teachers so that each generation explores new ground. Blinkered, limited, propagandist, religious thinking attempts to hold back or stop that process.

Brainwashing is a form of child abuse. It should have no place in any place of learning.

Tagged in: , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • http://www.facebook.com/margaretannehill Margaret Piper

    Bravo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/margaretannehill Margaret Piper

    Mike : “Many transitional fossils, or “missing links” have been found in the fossil record since Darwin’s time, and more turn up every year. ”
    Me ; Perhaps this will help, Mike. When all living creatures die, only three things can happen: 1. it decays, 2. It disintegrates, or 3. It is devoured by preditors. Road kill. Stuff in the back of your refrigerator. Nothing sticks around long enough to become fossilized. So your concept of fossils is wrong.
    Since fossils do exist, how might they have been formed? It had to take place while the creature was still alive. Flash floods could do that. Creatures encapsulated by mud would preserve them. The world-wide fossil record infers a world-wide flood such as Noah’s Deluge.
    The geological column results the same way. Evolution theory presumes life evolved from small to large, from simple to complex, from worse to better. Thus, the evidence would produce life forms laid down in that progression. However, that never takes place in any samples around the world. Instead, there is an intermixing of species and complexities such as a hydraulic effect a flood would cause. The geologic column and fossil record are proofs of Creation and Genesis.
    Since the laws of thermodynamics say nothing is being created nor destroyed, missing links cannot be continually manufactured. There has to be another explanation for what links, if any are discovered.
    Mike: “Asking for a single, defined point at which one species diverges into two, is akin to asking someone to identify the precise day on which any particular child becomes physiologically adult,”
    That is a fair analogy, but also is it possible to detect points of origin, such as where a fire took place, what caused death, and other puzzles for forensic scientists. The gaps between inorganic to organic, vegetable to animal, invertebrates to vertebrates, and brutes to man are insurmountable. There would have to be transitional discards up to our armpits for one such leap.
    Mike : “Evolution absolutely does not go against any physical laws, or genetics. To say that it does is to misunderstand either those laws, or evolutionary theory itself.”
    Me : Then I suggest LAWS you haven’t considered: Redi’s Law of Biogenesis (Life comes only from other life). Pasteur’s Law that Microscopic Life comes only from Microscopic life. !st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics which say energy tends to become unavailable (rather than evolve into something better.) Incidentally, Scripture anticipates all this, saying the life is in the blood, nothing is being created nor destroyed, and “kinds” do not cross the line of demarkation.
    Lastly, do not hang your trust upon “concensus” for science. Creationists do not control the print media, and therefore their findings don’t get published. There is astounding, massive evidence for the creation model such as the polonium haloes in granite, the salt concentration of the ocean, the minimal dust upon the moon and its rate of recention from the earth, the electromagnic fields of the earth.
    All you have been alowed to see are the photo shopped images of those in power, the clever vocabulary that disguises exceptions that falsify the theory, and the lofty mutual support of the exclusive clan that controls dissemination of information. They own the museuma of natural history, the laboratories, the universities, the politicians that fund the grants producing the propaganda furthering the theory of evolution.
    If there was one scintilla of a scrap of true evidence for molecules to man, they cannot produce it. Instead, they have to trick you into thinking it exists.

  • julianzzz

    Margaret with respect, your answer to a person coming from the UK seems very, very odd. There are so many illogical and untrue constructions within it, it leaves me wondering what American’s are fed on TV and where they get their information! Even I know that the founding fathers separated church from state, they knew from European history what happens when the two are entwined! The

  • peter taylor

    being without God is the result of inexperience. It does not prove nor mean He doesn’t exist.
    Not it is not, it is the absence of evidence, what experience do you have? And debating class 101 teaches that you can not prove a negative, the onus is on you to “prove” not me to disprove.

    Bear in mind, a whole lot of people seek God in many ways, whereas not so many people disbelieve. Moreover, even atheists admit miracles occur,

    The argument of numbers is a poor one, even if 6 billion people believed it still does not make it true…..and I have never met an Atheist who believes in miracles, I don’t believe you have either.

    Even Marx couldn’t run from saying “The goal of Communism is to de-throne God and destroy Capitalism.”

    Yes he did but he meant it in peoples minds not a real deity…..but once again it matters not if he did believe.

    I was stunned to hear Karl Popper say that all science takes place in a metaphysical framework. And other scientists confess you cannot tell what religion produces what science advancement, so it is not a religious matter. (Either a young or ancient earth life, sudden or gradual appearance, fully formed or developmental, etc.) Would you suppose Aristotle was a Bible – drugged fool for using the Creation model in his “Spontaneous Generation”?

    I’m not actually quite sure what point you’re trying to make here…But I must tell you that Aristotle died in 322 BC so he was never Bible-drugged. He was most certainly a Deist as were most of the ancients.

    Margaret……You argument that I need a god just in case my wife was dying is rather infantile. I don’t mock god, I don’t mock things that I do not believe to exist. If there is a god and he only helps those who pray, then where is you evidence for this? You have non Margaret

    You are quite arrogant to presume that you know what my reading habits are, you have no idea but because my world view clashes with yours therefore it’s because I haven’t read what you have. I could say the same of you equally.
    My world view is evidence based, yours is quite obviously dogma based. My mind can and will change according to the available data, yours, no matter what, will not change because you believe in belief.

    If I would exclaim “I am doomed. Only a miracle can save me,” and a miracle did occur to save me, I vowed I would not chalk it up to happenstance, fluke, quirk and coincidence, after the fact. For you see, I often got into tough situations that I couldn’t get myself out of.

    You say “if” so I assume this is a fantasy…If you can’t get out of situations and need a god, fine but this still does not prove it is nothing more than a delusion. Just about every sentence of what you have written is assertion after assertion…..This is NOT good enough Margaret, it doesn’t even come close. Please come back with some empirical evidence, please do not come back to me with more assertions, they are to say the least rather boring.

  • peter taylor

    It’s funny how you know what is and what is not. The whole Catholic identity is a merge of Judaism and Roman mythology.

  • http://www.facebook.com/margaretannehill Margaret Piper

    Rabbitlug: “From where do ideas originate? Where did you get your idea of a table, for example? Were you born with this idea already fully formed in your brain, before you even opened your eyes? Did you have this idea pre-birth, whilst still in the womb, or even before that, before you were even conceived? Answer yes and you aree arguing for “a priori” knowledge, that we are born already knowing stuff (or everything) and then a gazzilion questions follow.”
    Me : a priori concepts are established for us. For example, a dictionary picture and definition is settled by authorites, and if you and I disagreed upon what a table is, any dictionary would solve that problem. Other ideas such as inventions, arise from a need, or matching materials to usefulness. But, ideas do not come at our birth. We do not lay in the nursery planning what we shall become. We are programmed by our parents, siblings, teachers and culture.

    Rabbitlug : “More importantly, why read the bible? Under an a priori stance, surely there is nothing you can learn from studying anything outside your own mind, you should just sit and meditate and all of the answers to every question will instantly become apparent.
    Why send your kids to school?”
    Me: We know from Hinduism and Buddhism that sitting and meditating does not make one wise. It only makes one comatose. The Bible, on the otherhand, teaches reasoning skills while giving absolutes for yardsticks. It is quite telling that progressives who wish to dumb-down American character, insisted upon taking the Bible out of education.

    Rabbitlug : “Is it possible to have an idea about something of which you have never experienced any element? Take for example the Bhaghavad Gita, the Upanishads or the Tao te Ching, what do you know of these? Who is the central character in the former? ”
    Me : I wrote a chapter about these faiths and what they say about themselves. Then, I made comparisons to Scripture where there were similarities. The objective view is how fanciful the myths sound, lacking the indicators of real events and people. Even the Book of Mormon clearly plagerizes Scripture. But you have to develop skills of discernment.
    Rabbitlug : “Hopefully (for the purposes of this thought experiment) you have no clue, have never experienced this work. If not, then tell me who the main character is and, if you don’t know, then how will you learn? If you believe in a priori knowledge, then why do you not speak all languages? How do you learn a language?”
    Me : I am having trouble following your reasoning. This rambles and makes assumptions that are untrue.

    Rabbitlug “Why should I believe what you say over that of a Buddhist monk? You quote your book, he quotes his. You say you know he is wrong, he says he knows you are wrong. ”
    Me : The solution is to use outside reference points having absolutes by which to measure both. A dictionary, rules of grammar, encylopedia, tuning fork, mathematics, compas, Many things can be proved using absolutes in other fields. Where conflicting testimonies are judged, you look for where they controvert themselves, for a false witness will convict himself, and a true witness will be verified from every quarter.
    Rabbitlug : “He is a Spirit, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, having infinite knowledge and power” Is he? How do you know?
    Me: Evidence and logic.

  • ExRSM

    There are an estimated number of Muslims globally of 2.2 billion, including 100 million in China

  • rabbitlug

    “Logically, the idea must come first.
    [snip]
    a priori concepts are established for us.”

    Your logic / argument is invalid.

    “First comes the idea (mental image), then comes the name (verbal image), and lastly, the physical image.”

    This is the purest definition of a-priori knowledge which you then refute by saying that these concepts are defined for us by man.

  • rabbitlug

    “Believing in no God, is faith, too. It is easier to prove the existence of God,”

    Depends upon your criteria for “proof”.

  • rabbitlug

    Ta.

    Useful stat.


Most viewed

Read

N/A

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter