October 15, 2007

Kids in U.S. forced to deal with creationist propaganda on their own

In the article "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: No Good for Creationism" (Wired Science section, 10/12/2007), Brandon Keim reports that the head of science at the Institute of Education in London - who happens to be a priest in the Church of England - is recommending that science teachers openly confront creationist propaganda:

"The days have long gone when science teachers could ignore creationism when teaching about origins," he said.

Instead, they should tackle the issue head-on but in a way that does not alienate students, he argues in the book, Teaching About Scientific Origins: Taking Account of Creationism.

Check out the comments to the article on that page and you'll see an example of the results of ignoring creationism in public schools in the U.S. Now we have two whole generations (at least) of people who have been brought up on the pseudoscience propaganda pumped out by organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research, started by young earth creationists Henry Morris and Duane Gish, and the Creation Research Society.

I completely agree with Keim's proposed solution - indeed, in online discussion groups when this issue comes up I have suggested the same thing - that instead of ignoring the problem in public schools science teachers should confront the issue head-on and openly deal with the young earth creationism and old earth creationism in the classrooms, educating students about the scientific errors of creationism instead of just hoping that kids can deal with the sophisticated anti-science creationist propaganda machine all by themselves. We have religious fundamentalists who have dedicated themselves to fooling people - and especially children - about science for the deliberate purpose of propping up their religious dogma. We need to help the kids out.

However, while I'm not familiar with how this might or might not work in Britian, I know that this would never work in many, or even most communities in the U.S. A public science teacher who openly confronted creationist ideology in the classroom to expose the scientific fraudulence of their rhetoric would be quickly hounded out of his job by creationist parents and other creationists in the community. Make no mistake about it, these people would never tolerate open criticism of their religious doctrine in science classes in public schools. Doesn't matter that it's science we're talking about.

No comments: