Creationists get on the floor, everybody Walk the Dinosaur
Another day, another attempt by Christians to push their ideologies on the general masses. Nothing new there, right? I’m surprised I’ve managed to make it almost a full week without vociferating about a religiously themed topic that’s pissed me off in the news. What makes the story different this time, however, is that Creationism is being taught in public schools, and students are being fed scientifically inaccurate, absurd explanations to justify the theory. Worse still, the information is being primarily provided to the students by volunteers with no formal teaching qualifications or experience – just an ingrained belief that Christianity has all the answers, even if the answers are about as credible as the existence of the Easter Bunny. Have you ever wondered why carbon dating puts dinosaurs on Earth so long before any form of humans? If you listen to Tim McKenzie, one of the Religious Instruction (RI) teachers interviewed for the story, it is because the great flood must have “skewed” the data. Are you fucking serious Tim?
PhD researcher Cathy Byrne found in a NSW-based survey that scripture teachers tended to discourage questioning, emphasised submission to authority and excluded different beliefs. She said 70 per cent of scripture teachers thought children should be taught the Bible as historical fact.
When looking from a scientific perspective, the Bible could hardly be classed as an historical text, given that it is open to incredible individual interpretation, and the validity of some of the information contained therein – such as the whole able-to-rise-from-the-dead concept – is somewhat dubious at best. But I will get to the feasibility of zombies shortly. A fact is something “that is known or proved to be true”, not something that is believed to be true by a specific group. That being the case, for these individuals to assert that the Bible provides historical fact and should be used in schools as an historical text is incredibly condescending and narrow-minded – is it the Christian way or the highway?
One of the facts apparently taught to the students was that Adam and Eve were not eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell, which seems about on par for Christians from a perspective of rationality, considering that their faith is based on the premise that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified. One would have to suppose that if the concept of a zombie makes sense to these people, then the notion that dinosaurs could be held at bay by some sort of Hogwarts-type incantation seems perfectly reasonable. According to the The Courier-Mail article, when one Year 5 student was told that all humans had descended from Adam and Eve, she questioned how this was possible, given the scientific acceptance of DNA. The teacher – and yes, I have used substantial creative licence with that description – responded to this by stating that “DNA wasn’t invented then” and essentially dismissed what was a genuine, very valid question. This riposte affirms the position that if you question any aspect of a religion you are automatically labelled as trouble and a non-believer. That sort of approach isn’t that conducive to encouraging individual thought or tolerance, is it? Why the hell is it being allowed in our public schools?
Is it time to forego any form of religiously themed learning in our public schools, if for no other reason but then to ensure that the inquisitive, malleable minds of these children are filled with actual scientific fact, and not the unsubstantiated, nonsensical beliefs of self-appointed (and undoubtedly intransigent) instructors? If RI is to continue, how does one decide on what is taught? All religions have differences in their beliefs – be they small or immense – and the very unyielding nature of religion ensures that any faith that differs is seen as wrong. How is the point of difference to be worked around? Why not replace the RI with learning to encourage free thinking, as well as respect for other cultures and philosophies, and leave the pontifical teachings to the home of the individual parents and to their place of worship?
Why do I get the feeling that David Barker has had a stint as a purveyor of religious instruction at some stage?