Creationist educators respond to criticism

CEE hits back! Earlier this month New Statesman published my article “Creationism and the ‘conspiracy’ of evolution: inside the UK’s evangelical schools“. Last week I received this email from Dr Greg Hibbins, general manager of Christian Education Europe (Accelerated Christian Education’s UK distributor):

Dear Mr Scaramanga

Please find attached my letter of response to your article in the New Statesman. I have sent it to the paper and also trust you will publish it in whole and unedited on your blog.

Regards,

Dr Greg Hibbins

I am only too happy to oblige. Since my own article was quite widely read, I think it’s only fair that CEE gets a fair hearing, so please share this widely. Here it is (click on each page to enlarge):

Greg Hibbins letter 1Greg Hibbins letter 2Greg Hibbins letter 3

Alright, now you’ve read it, here are my comments (and if CEE disagrees with anything I write here, they’re welcome to respond again. We can keep going until one of us gets bored).

To: The Editor- New Statesman

Re: You’re Article- Creationism/Jonny Scaramanga/05/02/2014

Off to a flying start.

Dear Sir/Ms
I am writing to correct some blatant mistruths and present a balanced view to the whole debate.

Let me begin by saying that we as an organisation were contacted by one of your staff, less than an hour before your deadline and asked to comment. I would expect any responsible journalist to give us more time to comment, we are a small staff of very dedicated but, busy people. For us to give a response that is well thought out requires at least 72 hours’ notice before your deadline. Please extend that basic journalistic integrity to us next time you wish to publish an article in which we are named. Mr Scaramanga used a similar tactic and wanted us to comment on some one line statements without giving us the context of those statements. Mr Scaramanga refused to let us see those statements within the context of his article, which shows us a lack of journalistic and academic integrity. If he is so confident in his view, allow us the courtesy of seeing the whole article and giving an honest answer- or is he scared to act with journalistic and academic integrity?

Here’s what actually happened: I emailed CEE at 16:18 the Wednesday before my article was published. There were particular claims I’d made that the Statesman‘s lawyers wanted checked, so I was running these past CEE for a confirmation or denial. I had four questions, and requested a reply by the close of business on Friday so I could finish the article for Monday morning.

Hibbins replied that they wanted 14 days to respond to any questions, and that he wanted to see the article in full. I told him that wasn’t going to happen (not least because I hadn’t finished writing it). My article was published on 5th February, just under a week after my first email to CEE. I didn’t know that the Statesman had contacted them directly, but presumably when CEE failed to reply, the editors gave them one last chance to respond to allegations. They refused, and now they’re trying to act like they we denied them a chance to have their voice heard.

Alright, get your creationist bingo cards at the ready people….

On the question of Creationism, it is a basic biblical truth that any ‘Born again’ and bible believing Christian would or should hold to. Evolution, even though taught in many spheres as ‘fact’ is still in scientific terms, a theory.

Awesome.

I refer you to this current clip that makes some very good points and highlights the current robust discussion taking place around this whole question.

http://www.mychristiandaily.com/index.php/feature/9370-bryan-fischer-defeating-darwinism-in-four-easy-steps

I would also like to point you to the following organization, here in the UK, which highlights some well-respected scientists and academics that support creation.

http://creation.com/ and

Christians, who support a biblical worldview, have the right to educate their children in the context of their own belief system, as do other people groups who have their own belief systems. Our curriculum is merely a high standard academic tool

Yes indeed.

that allows the parents and educators to do this. We do not ‘force’ parents to enrol their children into schools that use our curriculum, it is their free choice.

And the children? What about their rights? Ah, of course. ACE doesn’t believe in children’s rights, so I bet CEE doesn’t either. Donald Howard couldn’t keep the sneer off his face when he talked about them – the phrase “children’s rights” is always in scare quotes in all his books. ACE’s former VP of finance, J. Richard Fugate, went one better and wrote “There is no such thing as ‘child rights’ sanctioned by the Word of God.”

Our schools have produced many well-adjusted, responsible adults who are today impacting society for the good in many spheres. They have achieved well at institutions of higher learning around the globe and would be horrified to be labelled as ‘indoctrinated or scarred’ as Mr Scaramanga says he was.

My children, both graduates of this system and of higher educational institutions are today married, and fathers and mothers in their own right, living balanced lives. From within Mr Scaramanga ‘s peers, who were at the same school he attended, at the same time, a snapshot of two families with 6 children between them reveal 5 university degrees, 2 of them 1st Class, followed by 1 Masters Degrees and 1 PhD Degree. Not too bad for a system he claims as teacher-less and indoctrinating. If these children were indoctrinated and the system academically faulty, how on earth were they able to rise to the levels they did within some very good UK universities that pride themselves on critical thinking?

Mr Scaramanga refers to ACE schools as “Teacherless”, that is a blatant lie, designed to purposefully mislead.

Well, that word was in quotes because it was a quotation from this book (which you should read). While we’re about it, the following publications have also used “teacherless” or “no teachers” to describe ACE:

Education Week Volume II, Issue 22, February 23, 1983. pp 1, 14
Wall Street Journal 02 Nov 1984: 1.
The High School Journal Vol. 68, No. 2 (Dec., 1984 – Jan., 1985), pp. 70-74
Washington Post, 3 February 1985
Paul F. Parsons, Inside America’s Christian Schools,  1987, Mercer University Press.

Admittedly, these are not recent publications but, as I write in a forthcoming journal article, ACE has not changed in structure or pedagogy.

The ACE system is a ‘modular, competency based, self-instructional material,

So… teacherless, then.

ACE is teacherless. Staff in ACE schools are not called teachers. They are called ‘supervisors’, and this is not just a technicality. It’s because they’re not required to have any formal teaching qualifications (and frequently don’t), and because while students are working on the ACE curriculum, the supervisors are not teaching them.

designed to be used by both the qualified educator and a suitably academically qualified homeschooling parent.

To be clear, “suitably qualified” here means “has five days’ training“.

The child is able to work at their own pace, following the instruction modules which are very clear and designed to bring clarity, understanding and competency to the child. Should the child need assistance to grasp a concept, they place a flag on their desk which will bring an academically qualified Supervisor (Teacher) to their desk for 1 to 1 interaction.
The 1 to 1 interaction allows the supervisor to guide the child to understanding and competency before he/she moves on to a fresh academic concept. The idea of 1 to 1 tutorage is an established and time honoured tradition in both the UK and other parts of the world. Some of our finest minds were individually tutored.

Thanks for the brochure quotes. ACE is not individualised. All of the students complete identical curriculum. It couldn’t be less individualised. It’s true that students can summon a supervisor for help, but there’s no guarantee that supervisor will be able to do so. More importantly, all of the built-in rewards in the ACE system reward students for the quantity of work they complete, not the quality of their learning. So it’s not in a child’s interests to talk to the supervisor, because that slows them down, and the system punishes that.

The individualized approach allows the more gifted child to advance faster, while allowing the child who may have some challenges to advance at their own pace, without the peer pressure and ridicule which is often so much part of the ‘Talk and Chalk’ Methodology.

ACE: Kings of the False Dichotomy. It’s either creationism or atheism! Heaven or hell! For us or against us! Godly or evil! PACE work or “talk and chalk” teaching!

The modular based learning system ensures that the child develops no academic learning gaps. This system is not unique to ourselves but has been adopted by many educational providers, both at school level and in the realm of further education and training.

The current professional staff of CEE, although not actively teaching, are qualified educators with more than 170 years of combined experience between us, both in the state system and in the ACE system.

As to the desks with dividers, referred to by Mr Scaramanga, they are designed to maximise the child’s learning experience by minimising the distractions. We in the corporate world use the same concept in the open plan modular office concept, where each staff member is assigned their own work station, often with screens or dividers. We take academics very seriously in our schools and believe that the student needs to focus on the subject at hand, be it Maths, English or whatever subject they are currently busy with. The student has and is given ample ‘Social time’ during mini- classes, break times and afternoon activities.

Mr Scaramanga refers to the so called alienation from the outside world, due to the indoctrination he alleges he received. Many ACE students around the world are actively engaged in their communities doing good things, showing the love of Jesus, which the bible commands, to all manner of people groups. These are well balanced, engaged and critical thinking young people and adults, who happen to believe in God. The fact that so many have graduated from ACE schools unscarred would perhaps suggest that Mr Scaramanga‘s experience has more to do with his own personal circumstances, rather than the ACE system.

I’m entirely happy for readers to make up their own minds about this.

The so called ‘Scandal’ referred to by Mr Scaramanga as regards Mr Stephen Dennett shows a very poor research technique. Mr Dennett had made full disclosure to Ofsted, that his company was writing curriculum for use in our schools. Mr Dennett also did not inspect any school that he had any prior association with as per Ofsted regulations. There are always at least two inspectors per school anyway to avoid any bias.

Wait a minute… hold the phone. Ofsted knew that Dennett was writing curriculum for ACE and they still let him inspect ACE schools? I might have been exaggerating when I called this  a scandal before, but now…

The article by Mr Scaramanga seems to be calling for regulation in three key areas,

  • Freedom of Association
  • Freedom of Beliefs
  • Freedom of Free Speech

Did you even read what I said? You can keep playing the paranoia card if you want, but when someone actually tries to ban your church from meeting or you from voicing your opinions, I’ll be there to march in protest with you. Would CEE do the same for me?

The above areas, last time I checked, were still lawful and I would suggest fundamental to any free society and which also form the base of your journalistic profession.

I trust you will have the integrity to publish my full and unedited response to Mr Scaramanga‘s article.

Dr Greg Hibbins

Thanks Dr Hibbins! Any time you want to write more in defence of ACE, please feel free. My blog will always have a space for you.

Tune in again next Monday, when an ex-ACE student who is still a creationist and a fundamentalist tells us why he is opposed to ACE and has concerns about Christian schools in general. It’s a stormer.

Other times defenders of ACE have responded (here and elsewhere):

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About Jonny Scaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on February 17, 2014, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. I can’t believe that he suggests that supervisors are actually qualified teachers who actually help the students. My experience as a student getting stuck in my work was a painful one. It was better to just not do the work than call for help. In some schools and for some students ACE can work and those students can go on to succeed in higher education. But it sure didn’t work for my dyslexic self. The students who go on to do well are ones who have a lot of help that has nothing to do with ACE. I love his links though. Please click on them and see for yourself what this destroyer of children’s academic potential thinks is solid science.

    • My son is in 8th grade at a public school and is very dyslexic. He has been recommended to take honors English in high school, which he will do great in, with his accommodations. He reads at a 4th grade level but has comprehension and verbal ability at a 12th grade level.

      I just shudder to think what a system like ACE would be like for a dyslexic student. It must have been sheer torture. I hope the experience didn’t kill your motivation and self esteem.

  2. One of the problems that almost all Creationists have is with the actual definition of the word “theory”. This word means something entirely different in everyday use than what it means within the bounds of science.
    In every day parlance, a theory is synonymous with conjecture.
    Within scientific method, a theory is something that has ALREADY been tested with repeatable results, based on a “hypothesis” (which is equal to what “theory” is in everyday language).
    This is a quoted definition of “theory” within scientific method (emphasis mine):

    “A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been SUPPORTED WITH REPEATED TESTING. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step—known as a theory—in the scientific method and BECOMES ACCEPTED AS A VALID EXPLANATION OF A PHENOMENA.”

    This is far different from the quoted definition of “theory” from Merriam Webster:

    “an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true”

    The truth is, when a scientist says “theory of evolution” and a Creationist says “theory of evolution”, they are talking about two entirely different concepts because, in reality, they AREN’T EVEN SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE.
    It is my firm and solid belief that, in many cases, leaders within the Christian Creationist community KNOW this fact already. They are disingenuous about it and deliberately act obtuse to convince their followers of THEIR “theory”. They have an emotional and religious stake in their Creationist beliefs and will use any means to convince others of their viewpoint even if it means deliberately manipulating language to do so.

  3. By the way, this also means that, within the terms of science, Creationism CANNOT be a “theory” because it cannot be tested and it cannot have repeatable results based on that testing. Therefore, there quite literally is no such thing as “Creationism as an alternate theory or explanation”.

    • I’d have to disagree and say that Creationism can be tested. Any claim that has a distinguishable effect can be scientifically tested. This would include a theistic god or gods. See intercessory prayer for example as part of a theistic god theory.

      One hypothesis of Young Earth Creationism that is falsifiable is the age of the Earth (presumably the universe is also young in the YE view?) as the evidence points towards a very old Earth, an older solar system and an ancient universe.

      • I have to disagree with you, sir. I do not see “intercessory prayer” as “repeatable”. All results can also be explained by chaos theory. Using “intercessory prayer” as a repeatable result involves either having a KNOWN outcome (which is skewing the test to meet the result, a huge scientific no-no) or the test is NOT, in actuality, repeatable. e.g, the prayers of two cancer patients are met with either cure or death.

      • Intercessory prayer is actually one of the better studied aspects of the Abrahamic religions. Cochrane even found enough decent studies (10 studies with 7646 patients) to do a meta-study: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD000368/intercessory-prayer-for-the-alleviation-of-ill-health

        I’m not sure what you mean about “chaos theory” explaining all results. Are you saying all studies undertaken using the scientific method are void because of “chaos theory”?

        Intercessory prayer can most definitely be studied using the scientific method because it makes claims that can be measured. e.g. here are 2000 patients, half will be prayed for, half won’t, none will know which group they’re in.
        If the prayed for group on average performs better then there is some evidence that intercessory prayer works. There isn’t, but that’s probably because no one is listening.

      • There is no claim on intercessory prayer that you could get a consensus on.

        One huge flaw is that if there is a God, then God knows whether prayers are part of a study or not.

        Does young earth creationism make any specific claims that can be falsified? Testable hypotheses?

  4. The grammar queen in me is screaming right now. This man has a doctorate degree? If so, then why can he not use proper grammar? But all of that aside, his distortions, omissions, and innuendoes (okay, accusations), reveal a conniving and manipulative person. This is not a person who should ever be in charge of the education of children.

    Nice, Jonny!

  5. The Bryan Fischer article recommended by Hibbins is a catastrophe. But it refers to a famous creationist quotemine:

    “I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. . .I will lay it on the line, There is not one such fossil for which one might make a watertight argument.”
    – Dr. Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History.

    . Here is the truth about it: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/patterson.html

    • Firstly, the vast majority of evolutionary biology these days is *molecular* biology, and has nothing whatsoever to do with fossils. If there were no fossils, the theory would still overwhelmingly stand.
      Secondly, the reason that it is difficult to show a ‘direct progression’ of fossils is that evolution doesn’t happen like that and if you’re just using old bones (turned to stone) it is very difficult to work out what came before what.
      This is not because anyone doubts that progressions happened, just that fossils alone are like a 1000 piece jigsaw with 900 pieces missing and figuring out the correct order is tricky. Scientists don’t like to guess. Still, there are some nice progressions available. The camel is quite a nice one, as is the horse. And birds are looking pretty solid, in terms of fossil record (no pun intended).
      But with regards to ‘transitional’ fossils (given that all fossils are transitioning from one form to another, in some sense), there are literally thousands of them.

  6. The statement I just cannot leave alone is his defense of the “teachers”. There were no teachers at my school. I had hit such an advanced level in Math that they were not able to assist me with the work. The PACE only had once explanation of how to solve a problem. If you did not understand that explanation, there was not another source. My supervisor had no working knowledge of advanced algebra, or anything advanced really. I took the PACE work to the local library and asked a librarian to assist me. That was the way I really got a good understanding of Math. I was taught by a woman who did not work at my school.

  7. These people chuffing out of their heads, Jonny!

    People are concerned about old Ron Hubbard, this crowd needs to be thrown out on its bloody ear.
    I cannot believe the B.O.E in the UK allows this.

  8. First of all I’m very tired of reading and hearing again and again that for the scientific community Evolution is “just” a theory. In Science, theories are valid or not valid, what is tested is the hypothesis, and Evolution is not a hypothesis, it is a valid theory, and that’s how it is.
    Secondly, I’ve seen the “debate” between Bill Nye and Ken Ham and my conclusion was that Ken Ham has not – yet? – understood evolution, he was far from defeating Bill Nye from any point of view.
    Also, I’ve been to an “Origin of Life” international congress, and most of the explanations that concern the origin of life on earth seem logical, plausible, unfortunately, as there aren’t a lot of people working on the subject the progress made in the field is slower than other fields of biology, geology and chemistry.
    Finally, I do not belong to the anglo-saxon world, so it seems very odd, to say the least, that children should not learn how to behave as part of a classroom and socialize with their classmates.

  9. “On the question of Creationism, it is a basic biblical truth that any ‘Born again’ and bible believing Christian would or should hold to.”

    Ha.

    Seems to me that far too much time is spent defending evolution rather than attacking creationism. All creationists have done is make the unreasonable assertion that everyting in the Bible must be read as literally true, and then build a pseudoscience that attempts to fit such daftness. Neither born-again nor bible-believing Christians have any obligation to be literalists or creationists, and many, probably most, of them are not.

    • Excellent point, dadge. The whole edifice is built on the assumption that if evolution is false, Genesis 1-3 must all be literally true (including the parts which contradict each other).

      • Plus the further assumption that anything else in the Bible (which isn’t even one book, it’s dozens) being true somehow depends on Gen. 1-9 being a completely accurate historical account. Because, apparently, Paul couldn’t have written letters to early Christian churches if dinosaurs didn’t die on the Ark.

    • Definitely. We should attack creationism more. We need to explain the nature of the Bible (and of the books that constitute it), its history and its interpretation. People need to know, for example, that early Christians did not necessarilly interpret the Genesis literaly.

      However I think much of that is best done by us Christians, ideally by those closest in theology and practice to the creationists.

      I think that “bible-believing” is being used to mean “biblical literalist” so I am not sure your last point holds. Its a vey narrow definition and is a small sub-set of Christians

  10. I read the letter by Hibbins before I read your reply. I had no way of knowing when Hibbins was contacted. For the rest of the letter, Hibbins discredited himself. His “evolution is only a theory” shows that he is out of his depth. His objection to “teacherless”, followed by a clear description of how it is teacherless, was astonishing.

    • I almost posted it without comment for exactly this reason. Clearly I was right to know my audience can read between the lines without my help. Or, in this case, not much between-line-reading required.

  11. Links such as the Bryan Fischer link alone would make your blog worth following. A most wonderful distillation of creationist cheatings and errors; irrelevant objection (evolution doesn’t explian the big bang), “theory”, warped quote mining, thermodynamics, gaps in the fossil record, absence of constructive mutations – the lot! Thanks!

  12. You hear the Big bang a lot in the Creationist argument don’t you? So many don’t seem to get that they are different theories talking about different aspects of science. I have heard over and over that ‘Evolutionists (is that even a thing?) believe that something came form nothing! What a bunch of idiots!’ They don’t get that evolution is explaining the process by which life became so diverse and does not even deal with how it started,;et alone how the Universe came to exist. They also seem to hold to the view that it is an ideology or even a faith rather than a scientific concept which baffles me. I suppose if you are using different tools to come to a conclusion (reason, logic etc vs faith and holy writ) it is unsurprising that both sides will become frustrated when the argument gets nowhere.

    I do not have experience of an ACE school directly but I do know a school which teaches fundamentalist biblical scripture as fact so I have seen to some degree what some children are being taught. It horrifies me that these young people will need to function in a world where they will be at such a disadvantage and that they are being educationally crippled in order to preserve an older generations preferred myth.

  13. Off the main topic possibly, but I’ve just caught sight of this blog about the experiences of a former ACE student (I’ve only skimmed it):
    http://brucegerencser.net/2014/02/life-ace-school/

  14. Nice work Jonny. It is helpful when your critics respond to you in writing as their own words condemn them.

    The thing that fundamentalists, or anyone opposed to children’s rights, don’t get is that denying rights to children effectively denies rights to the adults those children become.
    Circumcision, for example, is an abuse of children’s rights that cannot be undone when they become an adult. Religious indoctrination is like spiritual circumcision, since it inculcates dogma in young minds that can be next to impossible for the adult minds they become to shake off.

    Children not only have inherent rights as children but also the right to have an open future, to be and think and do anything they want when they become adults without that future being cut off or decided for them. But their future rights as adults are denied when they are physically and spiritually coerced and indoctrinated as children. The best way to protect the human rights of adults is to protect the human rights of children, who last I checked are humans too.

  15. They haven’t answered any of the fundamental concerns with the ACE approach to biology. It is *impossible* to teach contemporary biological science without reference to evolution – any more than teaching literacy without mentioning the alphabet.

    Therefore, they are not teaching contemporary biological science and the children are missing out. Biological sciences represent a significant proportion of the British economy, from biotechnology to healthcare; fields of employment that ACE students are potentially denied. The ACE publishers may believe that such a deficit causes no harm to their students, but the 1996 Education Act declares that a child has a right to a ‘suitable’ education and missing out great chunks of science in the name of religious ideology is not ‘suitable’.

    IMHO it could be challenged in court, as has already happened in the case of dyslexic students, among others, who felt they were denied a suitable education as it was not appropriate to their needs. It is my contention that the ACE science curriculum is not appropriate to any students needs.

    I have to say the authors of this letter betrayed their own ignorance of science by saying that “Evolution is a theory”, using the word ‘theory’ in its lay sense (an idea) rather than its strict, scientific sense (best fit for all available data). I have to wonder about the quality of their education if they do not even teach the proper definition of such basic terminology.

    I think I would take slightly less issue with the teaching of creationism if evolutionary theory and cosmology were accurately taught. If you believe you are right and the Bible is infallible, why wouldn’t you teach the scientific consensus accurately? What could you possibly lose by telling the truth?

  16. Speechless. Just… speechless. I nearly died laughing, and yet these poor fools are so serious. He just can’t see the holes he’s shooting in his own feet. I hope the New Statesman prints that letter in full. It’s the very definition of an own-goal.

  17. Jonny, do you want this article reposted for extra coverage?

  18. If the man in charge of European distribution, who claims to be an educator can’t get his grammar correct in “Re: You’re Article- Creationism/Jonny Scaramanga/05/02/2014″ and doesn’t know why “Evolution, even though taught in many spheres as ‘fact’ is still in scientific terms, a theory” demonstrates catastrophic levels of scientific ignorance, then why are we trusting this organisation with English and Science education?

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  19. Wow. Doesn’t create learning gaps? I was in eleventh grade trying to complete Algebra (which I never completed) because I was passed on to the next grade each year since I attended all the right days of school.

    • To be fair Donald (and it’s not often I’ll defend ACE) that was your school, not the curriculum. ACE is very clear that students should only progress to the next grade when they’ve finished all the PACEs, not just move up because they got older.

      It’s still a crap system, because the tests aren’t a valid measure of learning.

  20. There are 2 problems with Creationism, Firstly modern Young Earth Creationism is a product of Ellen White’s (founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement) brain damage Hallucination. Where she had an out of body hallucination with a vision of God creating the world in six earth days. One of her followers George McCready Price produced pamphlets and a book on Flood Geology to support Ellen’s vision and the rest is history.
    Flood Geology has not advanced past George McCready Price’s work, since he only trained for 1 year in mineralogy he was no expert on Geology and all his publications were destroyed by Geologists as soon as they hit the press.
    The Seventh Day Fundamentalist Young Earth Doctrines are the root of the YEC movement.

    Yet the YECs try to deny that their concepts were a product of Ellen’s brain damage.
    But, truly they cannot deny their Creator, (lol) Ellen White.

    Second Problem is the problem with all of Christianity, it is an unsubstantiated belief system.
    There is no evidence for Moses, so he may not have existed and Genesis is completely Fabricated and the same goes for Exodus, because it never happened either.

    There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Jesus Christ saved anybody and he couldn’t even save himself, because there is no evidence for his resurrection.

    Thus belief in Moses and Jesus Christ are completely Unjustified.

    They would be far better worshiping Mahatma Gandhi, as he actually existed and changed much of how the world thinks by his passive resistance, thus accomplishing more than Jesus Christ.actually did in his lifetime, that is if he existed at all, there is a possibility that he was invented by Saul from his vision.

    • Don’t forget the camel – camel’s weren’t domesticated until 500BC, but the Bible has them being ridden and traded 2000 years before that.

      • Being off-topic, I’ll keep this as brief as I can.
        It’s not about Gandhi being perfect or not. It’s about that fact that all of his posturing actually hindered the process of independence and actually aided immensely in splitting India in two by the end. His idea that Brits should just let Hitler overrun the Isles was ludicrous. His abuse of his young niece to test his ability to ‘withstand a hard-on’ was borderline incestual pedophila. His utter racism and disregard towards the Blacks when he lived in South Africa is palatable. His arrogance was legendary and his Moi-like belief that industrialism would have utterly brought India to her knees if followed through.
        I could go on and on.
        Gandhi is wrongly saintified much like Mother Teresa is. In Teresa’s case she was an addict to suffering. Her patients were not there to get well, but to die and be with Jesus. They were refused painkillers and friends visiting. Despite millions of dollars in donations, none of her ‘clinics’ ever rose above slum status.
        Yet when Teresa herself got sick, it was nothing but the best Swiss hospitals for her.
        The hypocrisy in both of these ‘legendary’ people is mind-blowing. And yet the masses still insist they were great loving people.
        Based on everything I have read on them (as obviously I did not know them personally) I heartily disagree.
        I would further say that Jesus is also a highly-overrated beacon of morality.
        He uttered not one word against slavery, for example, as well as being a xenophobic and rather sexist man in general.
        I think we need to be careful who we idolize. That is the main thrust of my point.

      • *industrialism was India’s biggest problem and should be shunned, would have brought India to her knees if followed through with.

    • I hear what you’re saying, but I think you have vastly over-rated Gandhi.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/the-real-mahatma-gandhi/308550/

      • Newsflash: Gandhi wasn’t perfect. He was human. He got stuff wrong, he stuffed up, he was stubborn as a mule and gave everyone around him a terrible time. Still, he also did a lot of good and he stuck to his principles. His flaws do not mean that the helpful things he said were worthless.
        Actually, the same could be said of Mohamed or Jesus, regardless of whether either of them actually existed. Both said many things which are helpful or wise to many people. But if you’re looking for perfection, you won’t find it on earth.

    • I do not see how it is a problem with all of Christianity. It is not unsubstantiated: just because you personally have not seen the evidence does not mean it does not exist. WHy do you think Christians believe in the first place? We are not unthinking idiots.

      Jesus certainly existed: we have lots of references to him by historians of the time and early Christians. We have multiple biographies written shortly after his death – including one that is either an eyewitness account or is written by the most incredible literary genius who mastereted techniques of realistic writing no one could match for nearly 2000 years. We have letters written by his early followers. The idea that Paul made him up does not stand up to any serious scrutiny – it is Dan Brown style history.

      Christians do not believe Genesis to be literaly true. As St Augustine wrote 1600 years ago “No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be taken in
      a figurative sense.” http://college.holycross.edu/faculty/alaffey/other_files/Augustine-Genesis1.pdf

      • “We have multiple biographies written shortly after his death – including one that is either an eyewitness account or is written by the most incredible literary genius who mastereted techniques of realistic writing no one could match for nearly 2000 years.”

        Really? Which one?

        “Christians do not believe Genesis to be literaly true.”

        I can point you to several christian sects that would like to disagree with you.

  21. Why is the statesman article offline? I have tried two sources and both end up to a empty page.

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