Very occasionally, when I write about my atheistic/humanistic approach to life on this blog, I am asked why expressing my bordering-on-antitheistic position is so important to me. I mean, if I don’t believe, I don’t believe. What more really needs to be said on the subject? It’s not as if I’m being forced at gunpoint to attend church, now, is it?
And this is a valid point. Or it would be if we lived in a world where the actions and attitudes of others did not impact upon the world and people around them.
Frankly, I’ve never really hidden my atheism. I’ve never had to. But my decision to be more vocal about it, to encourage debate and to look at the issues that concern me as a human being was, it has to be said, partially prompted… substantially prompted by the overwhelming assault from Christianity I started to see online. On my MySpace page, for example, I’d selected “atheist” not as some kind of statement but merely in the same way that I had selected “male”. When I started receiving friend requests from Christians intent on showing me the error of my ways, however, I dashed along as quickly as was humanly possible to Richard Dawkins’s website and found one of those nice red “A”s to stick on my then blog over at MySpace.
There seemed a lack of balance in cyberspace. In a virtual sense, I felt as if I were at times living in the American Bible Belt.
And when I started to see similar religious attitudes creeping more forcefully into the UK, I didn’t believe that I had any choice other than to continue to openly and unapologetically express my views. The things I held dear were being gradually undermined.
And it would seem that they still are:
“Doctor Adam Rutherford has told Teachers TV News he has serious concerns over the findings of a survey on creationism in the classroom.
“Nearly a third of teachers, who responded to an email poll for Teachers TV, think creationism or intelligent design should be given the same status as evolution.
“Of the 248 science teachers who responded, 18% agreed that the two should have equal status.
“Dr Rutherford says that science teachers with those views need retraining or should be taken out of the classroom if they refuse to change their opinion.”
18%. It quite possibly doesn’t sound a whole lot to many people — and I know that some of my readers would argue (wrongly) that the 18% are quite correct. But given the number of teachers in the UK, this is a significant body of people. A body of people that does not understand scientific principles, or is perhaps taking the politically correct stance — afraid for whatever reason to challenge religious belief in the science classroom. A body of people that, as Dr Rutherford says, should be removed from their posts unless they teach the syllabus as it’s meant to be taught.
The insidiousness of creationism, it would seem, continues to make its mark in British schools, presenting a distorted view of science and attributing an utterly ridiculous equality to mythological mumbo-jumbo.
If we are to protect and nurture scientific development in the UK — continue to build a future founded on fact, logic, science and rationalism so that we all might enjoy the benefits — it’s vital that such opinions be relegated to their deserved position.
Religious Studies lessons or, even better, History.
© 2008 Gary William Murning