I saw this post Who goes to a creationist museum on the BBC website today.
I never cease to be amazed by the (mostly American) controversy between Fundamentalist Christians and Darwin “fans”.
It all seems such a complete set of crumby arguments. On the one hand you have the Christians saying that it totally negates their religion, and claiming that there is no evidence to support evolution, whilst adhering to an alternative explanation that is evidenced only by the fact that it’s written in a book (the Book of Genesis to be more precise).
On the other hand the Darwinites proclaim his theory of evolution as categoric proof of God’s non existence, and of the power of science to explain the origins of mankind.
Well my humble opinion is that both positions are way off the mark.
First of all, science rarely proves anything. Darwin’s theories are just that – theories – as he intended them to be – they prove nothing, but suggest a plausible explanation for the origins of different species. Very plausible I would suggest, in fact I’d go so far as saying that I believe his theories to be true.
That doesn’t mean they are true though – but there’s plenty of evidence that suggests this. The most striking example to me, is the way in which doorways built into houses constructed in the Elizabethan period or earlier, are generally only slightly over 5ft (150 cm) tall. Which is a lot smaller than the average person today. Todays doorways tend to be at least 6ft (180cm) tall or more How did we grow another foot in a few hundred years ? I know what I think ! There is plenty more evidence – look it up.
Still doesn’t prove Darwin right though. Nor does it prove the creationists right either. In fact there’s very little evidence to support the creationist position unless you accept that the scriptures are God’s divine message to humanity. In other words a matter of faith. If you have faith it must be true.
I don’t though – and that’s a circular argument that disappears up it’s own backside.
What nobody ever seems to suggest though is that evolution could be the work of God.
Blasphemy ! I hear the Christians scream.
I’m an atheist/agnostic and don’t really have a lot of time for Christianity – or any other religion for that matter, but if Darwin’s theories on evolution are correct, and I believe they may well be, (and also the science of genetics stemming from the work of Gregor Mendel who gets far few mentions than Darwin), then they offer a very neat – even beautiful – explanation for the develeopment of all life on the planet.
To me this is the best argument yet for the existence of a Divine Creator.
If the Christians were saying to me “Evolution is God’s instrument by which he created Mankind, and all Life on Earth, how could such a method of natural selection occur without the intelligent design of the supreme being ?” – I’d have to admit I’d find it hard to counter that argument.
They don’t though they just say it’s not true because the Bible says so. So I have a while to think my way around that one.
If you’re wondering about the title – some years ago I submitted my dissertation for a Masters degree having worked collaboratively with two other colleagues on a research project. Part of my submission included a Summary of the research for distribution in the school where I worked, which I had drafted and which contained the expression “It seems clear that the use of Information Technology will evolve rapidly in school … ” .
One of my colleagues though was an evangelical Christian, and we spent some time arguing about the paper before finally agreeing the wording “… will be incrementally created … “
He was a good friend though whatever his religion.
When I saw this morning’s news regarding the Tory plans to change the SATs regime ( Tories propose school test reform ), in part by moving them from the end of the last term in primary to the beginning of the first term in secondary, I couldn’t help but wonder why this move of a few weeks in “working day” terms would be likely to be make much difference – but I didn’t really twig immediately what far reaching implications this would have.
Paul Cotterill, the Labour councillor for Bickerstaffe Ward, West Lancashire, England obviously did twig though and I don’t think I can do much better than point to his excellent blog Conservative education policy: steal children’s golden summer (quoting also the article on “Conor’s Commentary” which covers much the same ground)
I’ve often thought as a teacher and headteacher that so much of what we teach children only scratches the surface of what they actually learn. The really important part of learning is what they actually do, and how they actually use and make sense of, the skills and knowledge that are imparted to them in the hallowed halls of academia.
In other words they tend to learn more in the holidays than they do sat behind a desk.
My happiest times as a child were spent playing out, playing football, cricket, British Bulldogs, sailing down the beck in a tin bath, etc. , etc., whatever took our fancy.
The main and best opportunity for this was during the seemingly endless six week block in the Summer. I think I loved every second, and it’s been a key motivation for becoming a teacher as an adult.
Why on earth would we want to make our kids stay and swot for their SATS all Summer long unless we thoroughly misunderstood the nature of child development ?
Lest we forget also, our current regime of SATS was inherited from the Tories.