Sunday, 27 March 2011

Educational Confusion

One of the discussion points on BBC's The Big Questions today was 'Should Creationism be taught in schools?' This is a topic that has been brought up many times over the years but every time I hear it mentioned, I have to ask, what is the confusion?

Of course Creationism should be taught in schools, it's very important, I think, to understand religions, what they are and how their proponents think and behave.  The question they were really asking, of course, was should Creationism be taught in science lessons as an alternative to Evolution Theory? 

Why does anyone think that it's acceptable to teach a subject in the wrong class?  We wouldn't dream of studying the works of Shakespeare in History.  Hamlet was written in the past, but that doesn't mean that its text is historically accurate.  Its content brings little value to a History lesson unless you are specifically studying the way plays were written at the turn of the 17th century.

The Young Earth Creationist (YEC - that's someone who believes the Earth to be in the region of 6,000 to 10,000 years old) on the show had only one real attempt at a rational argument and that was that all the options should be explored.  He said it was unfair that Evolutionary Theory could not be challenged and teaching only evolution in science was therefore biased and restrictive.  What he fails to realise is that evolution CAN be challenged and very easily too.  Just a single piece of viable evidence that contradicts the theory would blow it out of the water (perhaps not completely, depending on what the evidence was, but the potential remains).  For over a century the theory of evolution has been tested and every single available piece of evidence strengthens rather than destroys it.

Anyone who believes that the Earth came into existence over 5,000 years AFTER the domestication of the dog clearly has little to no grasp of science, its theories or its methods.  It's not just about evolution, it's about radioactive dating, it's about geology, biology, chemistry.  Everything points to an Earth age of roughly 4.5 billion years.  Isn't that spectacular?  Every dating method returns the same result with an accuracy of plus or minus 1%.  So the YEC's are not just wrong, they are wrong by a magnitude of one million....which is like saying that the moon is 384 metres from the Earth.  "Don't treat us like idiots" they say, "just because we have a different opinion.  All we get is ridicule".  Well I'm sorry, you ARE idiots, you ARE wrong.  Science may yet be proved incorrect, deluded, mistaken.  But there are things we can say with absolute certainty and one of those is that the Earth is most definitely older than 10,000 years and not just by a little bit!!

So, should Creationism be taught in science lessons?  No. Definitely one hundred percent not.