Friday, 23 November 2012

God makes World - Is that a Big deal?

America, or its punditry at least, seems very exercised by Marco Rubio's comments that no one knows if the Earth was created in “seven days or seven actual eras”, with Krugman, Erickson and Specter all weighing in on what is either enlightened tolerance of religious views or a sell-out to fanatical nut-jobs.

Full disclosure, I reckon that our planet is about four billion years old, but I can't get on board with the people who maintain that creationist beliefs and their inclusion in school science curricula are a threat to rationality itself and are ushering in a new theocratic Dark Age.

Firstly, the positive evidence for the biblical version of creation are the first 33 verses in Genesis. Reading these would take a class of fourteen year olds about five minutes. Throw in another ten for discussion of their contents and consideration of some creation myths of non-Jewish people and you're talking about a quarter of an hour's worth of curriculum time. The only other arguments for creationism or Intelligent Design are problems/queries with the theory of evolution and these should be being taught anyway.

Science is driven forward by heretics, people like Einstein who are prepared to fly in the face of accepted wisdom. And the best way to train and encourage heretics? Give them competing orthodoxies and let them fight on the field of argument. Sadly the question of creationism's place in the curriculum isn't about the best way to educate scientists, it's about who's more culturally powerful: the Liberal Elite or the Religious Right. Science lessons are a lamppost they both want to piss on.

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