|I have written before on the need for the Green Party to base its policies on good science and rational thinking https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/is-anti-science-dogma-damaging-the-green-party-asks-Andy-Chyba/. For the most part it does this very well. We run into trouble occasionally by allowing our utopian visions to distort our interpretation of the evidence, but the principles of rationality are embedded in our core philosophy.
This is well reflected in our robustly secular education policies, for example (ED175-178). This is profoundly important if we are ever going to achieve a saner, more peaceful world. Of course people are entitled to practice whatever faith (or, for that matter, hobby, sexual practice, political doctrine etc.) that they like, within the constraints of the law of the land which ought to be another way of saying within reason.Things that are patently without reason are clearly problematical. The state legitimately intervenes when there is overwhelming evidence that something is ridiculous, harmful or dangerous. We have constant, largely political, debate and tinkering around the edges of the debates on these things, especially I terms of appropriate responses to these issues.
This brings me to the issue of creationism, and especially creationist ideology in schools. The current Governments willing support, to a point of encouragement, of creationist teaching has ignited a debate that we have not really needed before because the notion of creationism is so patently ridiculous.
We all know that creationism is not a mainstream Christian viewpoint, and it really should not be occupying the minds of rational human beings. That fact that it has come to do so is sinister and worrying. It has become part of a well established strategy, known as the Wedge Strategy which is being used so very successfully by the religious right-wing of US politics the Republican GOP and Tea Party in particular.
The Wedge Strategy is not about winning arguments. It couldnt be. It is simply about having the argument. It was a strategy Adolf Hitler used to such good effect. He called it The Big Lie – if you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it enough, people will soon start believing it.
Creationists are using this strategy to validate their position and advance their political agenda. Simply engaging in the debate generates an illusion that erodes the robustness of the scientifically established fact of evolution. Most scientists will not waste their time on the creationist debate as there really is nothing to debate. However, Richard Dawkins and other eminent scientists have found themselves drawn into the debate as a result of moronic decisions by, arguably, the most irresponsible Education Secretary that has ever evolved Michael Gove.
The Wedge Strategy is working and we should all be very concerned by this. Its sinister impact is beginning to be seen in the public discourse now seen on issues such as abortion and rape. It can also be seen in the ever growing number of politicians, both sides of the pond, that are willing to consider the absurd and the ridiculous as acceptable. Five out of seven Republican candidates supported the acceptability of teaching creationist doctrine in schools. I heard more than one saying we should be teaching the controversy. What controversy? There has to be at least a thread of credibility for something to be controversial.
The Wedge is being driven in hard and we need to resist, and quickly, if we are not going to retreat into the Dark Ages. A line needs to be drawn in the sand NOW!
The intractable problem is that the absurd cannot be defeated by rational argument or with scientific evidence. It is Bertrand Russells Cosmic Teapot and the Flying Spaghetti Monster revisited.
We need to challenge miseducation at every turn. No, it is not acceptable to teach homophobia in voluntary aided Roman Catholic schools. No, it is not okay for big corporations to sneak money into supporting religious fundamentalist schools teaching the disgraceful ACE curriculum imported directly from the Bible Belt of the Deep South States (as with Ford and the Bridgend Christian School). No, it is not okay for Gove to sanction public money for the deliberate and demonstrable miseducation of children, as with the three creationist Free Schools he has just approved in Sunderland, Sevenoaks and Nottinghamshire.
These are all things that should be the preserve of churches – not schools. Amen.
Green Party Faith Schools policy – http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ed#Faith
Adam Rutherford “Ending the Wedge” – http://newhumanist.org.uk/2841/ending-the-wedge
Denis G. Campbell “The Vagina Wars: GOP’s War on Women (WTF Are They Doing)” – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vagina-Wars-Women-Doing-ebook/dp/B007VDQ3MS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345826225&sr=1-1 (Denis is an American journalist living in the Vale of Glamorgan – who I got to know quite well on the Vale Says No campaign. This is £2 well spent, I promise you – especially with the US Presidential Election coming up soon)
Wikipedia “Wedge Strategy” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy
Wikipedia “Big Lie” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie
Wikipedia “Flying Spaghetti Monster” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster
Jeevan Vasagar “Creationist groups win Michael Gove’s approval to open free schools” Guardian, 17 July 2012 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/17/creationist-groups-approval-free-schools
Andy Chyba “Bridgend Christian School – ACE or CRAP?” – https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/bridgend-Christian-school-ace-or-crap/