Tax-funded creationism and sexism

So the British Humanist Association has declared war on publicly-funded creationist nurseries in the UK. They’ve identified 67 nurseries of concern, of which nine are using the ACE curriculum. Of course, I first told you this was happening a year ago, so it’s nice to see something happening at last.

In a stupendous feat of good timing, two weeks ago a friend purchased the entire ACE kindergarten curriculum for me, so I can show you where your tax money is going if you live near one of these august institutions. Of course, we knew about the creationism already. What has shocked me (and angered me, since I went to an ACE nursery and I’d forgotten most of this) is the sexism. It turns out the rigid gender roles and wives-submit-to-your-husbands indoctrination that characterises ACE in later years begins when the pupils are aged three.

And in Britain, public funds are being used to pay for this.

Like everything in ACE, the school day is completely micro-managed, so supervisors don’t have to make many decisions. There are lesson plans for every day which detail what the children and supervisors do, and supervisors follow this by the book. Every day, the children begin by pledging allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Bible. And for those of you who think that British schools wouldn’t go in for such chest-beating nonsense, here’s a video of the Branch Chistian School, Dewsbury, doing just that:

You’ll notice they pledge allegiance to “the kingdom of Jesus Christ” rather than the Christian flag, because pledging allegiance to a flag is an alien concept in Britain, but otherwise the wording is exactly as it appears in the ACE manual:

I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and the Saviour for whose Kingdom it stands. One saviour, crucified, risen, and coming again as King, with life and liberty for all.

I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I will hide its words in my heart, that I might not sin against God.

At Victory (my school), the pre-schoolers said simplified versions of these (“I love the Bible…”). The Christian flag, for those who are unfamiliar with it, looks like this:

Christian flag

Even at pre-school level, the children spend their mornings in little ACE offices, and the supervisor reads stories to them while they complete individual activities.

Creationism

In science, for example, students have to draw a line from the number to the thing God created on that day:

ACE preschool scienceSee more of the children’s workbooks here, courtesy of the BHA.

While the children are doing this, the supervisor is reading to them from a script. Here’s part of that script:

We have learned that God created everything with nothing in His hands! On day one, God created day and night. On day two, God created the sky. On day three, God created dry land and plants. On day four, God created the sun, moon, and stars. On day five, God created birds and fish. On day six, God created animals. Then God created the best of all—man!

Some people have tried to argue that three and four year olds are too young for it to matter what they are taught about science. After all, most of them believe in Santa! It’s OK for children to believe harmless fairy tales, right?

Well, if you seriously think that, lets scrap Early Years education altogether and save a fortune by employing babysitters instead of teachers. The books students complete at this time are called Science. They have the same covers as the science PACEs for older children, and they are shaping the children’s conception of what science is. Misconceptions, once planted in the mind, are the very devil to remove. Especially when you combine them with ACE’s propaganda about the evils of unbelievers and their theory of evolution. Speaking of which…

Walk not with unbelievers

ACE preschool students also have to memorise Psalm 1 before the end of the year (“Blessed is he that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”). Of course, in ACE’s world, “the ungodly” is anyone who is not a True Christian™. So this is an early, concerted effort to stop children from being friendly with outsiders, a major theme of later ACE education.

Scripture

Gender roles

Here’s the bit that annoyed me most. There’s a dressing up game for the children to play. Hooray! A physical activity! Something potentially almost creative! And then the instructions to the supervisor say this:

Lay clothing items out on the table in random arrangement, not according to season groups.

Ask individual children to follow instructions.

1. Make a pile of the clothes used more during spring, (raincoat, rain boots, rain hat, umbrella)

2. Make a pile of the clothes used more during summer, (light-weight shirt, light- weight blouse, baseball cap, sunglasses, sun hat)

3. Make a pile of the clothes used more during fall, (sweaters, headscarf)

4. Make a pile of the clothes used more during winter, (snowsuit, heavy coat, snow boots, mittens, knit cap)
5. Allow the children to take turns playing “dress up” for each specific season.(Be certain to reinforce the masculine and feminine roles by asking the individual children to dress up only in items appropriate for a boy or a girl.) 

The italics are in the original. In the pages I’ve examined so far, it’s rare for italics to be used for emphasis. ACE really cares about this.

Gender

Later, the children learn about “Mama and Daddy’s roles” in the home. And there’s more gender bias joy:

Discuss Daddy’s roles, such as: protector, provider, leader, hero.
Discuss Daddy’s “tools,” such as: screwdriver, hammer, Bible. (Daddy needs his Bible most of all.)

Discuss Mama’s roles, such as: helper, cook, cleans house, washes and irons clothes.

Discuss Mama’s “tools,” such as: mixing bowl, spoon, Bible. (Mama needs her Bible most of all.)

I am not happy about this. I am not happy for public funds to go to telling little girls that they must grow up to be helpmeets for their husbands, and that their highest calling is as an obedient wife and mother.

I am not happy for children who don’t fit into traditional neat gender categories to be told they are bad and wrong, and I definitely don’t want to pay for it.

I am not happy for girls who want to wear boys’ clothes and boys who want to wear girls’ clothes to be told they can’t, even for a dressing up game.

This is not OK.

Do something

Please, if you live in the UK, write to your MP about this. The BHA has created a form letter to make it extra easy if you’re pushed for time, but you can use the same form to edit their letter as much as you like (or scrap it and write your own— the BHA’s doesn’t say much about ACE). You can find out if there’s a school in your area from this list (Microsoft Excel file), but even if you don’t live near a nursery of concern, you can still write. This is a Department for Education policy, so everyone in Britain has an interest in this.

Edit: The link to the form letter seems to be down. You can find out more information from the BHA here, and write your own letter at Write To Them.

Edit edit: It’s back up! But I’ll leave the Write To Them link up just in case it goes down again.

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About jonnyscaramanga

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 March 24, 2014, in Accelerated Christian Education, Atheism, Christianity, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. I’m not thrilled with this either. But when we look at what it actually says, I am willing to say people have a right to these views and the state shouldn’t prevent it.

    The fact that tax dollars are spent is a consequence of democracy. I would rather people have choices in education than learn only what the state wants.

    • People do indeed have a right to these views. This is not about the right to hold the view. It’s about the right to teach misleading information to children (even if creationism were true, ACE still presents misleading information about what science is and what scientists say).

      I am happy for people to be creationists. I am not happy for creationists to lie to children.

      In this instance, it’s also about whether it’s appropriate for tax funds to go to giving children schooling that goes against everything we know about effective education.

      In order to become adults who are capable of exercising the right to freedom of religion, they need to be informed citizens. Teaching children that they must hold one particular view and that anything else is false and evil deprives them of their right to freedom of religion.

      • “In order to become adults who are capable of exercising the right to freedom of religion, they need to be informed citizens. Teaching children that they must hold one particular view and that anything else is false and evil deprives them of their right to freedom of religion.”

        I think this is a really important point and one that is very often missed in any debate. Whenever there is talk of freedom of religion it seems that only the parents’ freedom really matters and the rights of the child are ignored.

      • Thanks Clair. Will you be writing? Your comments here are always good, so I think you would write a kickass letter of complaint.

      • I don’t think they are lying. I think they really believe what they say. If someone believes what they say they are not lying.

        That’s sort of the crux of it. They have a different view then you do. And you want their view to be unsupported but you want your view to be supported. If we called everything we disagree with lies, and had laws to effectively suppress it by only funding state sponsored views, we wouldn’t develop intellectually. That’s really what Stalin and Hitler did anyone who disagreed was just a liar.

        That said I do think this is a gray area. I have limits to what I think should be taught and paid for as well.

        I just want to err on the side of allowing people freedom to teach their children what they want as opposed to the state making that decision. Do you also think this principle should guide legislatures to some extent?

      • I made this very clear with my original comment: I am not calling teaching creationism lying. I agree with you. I think they believe it. But they distort and misrepresent what mainstream science is, what it does, and what scientists say in such fundamental ways that it can only be called lying. Whether the science are wrong or right, they still lie about the scientists.

        Second, the sexism. We haven’t even addressed that. You’re saying that it’s OK for children who don’t fit into the boxes we call “boy” or “girl” to be made to feel bad and sinful just for being who they are. Yes I damn well do think there should be legislation against that.

        Even if parents should have the right to pass on beliefs to their children, so that those children are stuck in the same mental straitjacket as their parents, there’s no reason why the state should pay for it. The state has an interest in those children becoming productive citizens, and teaching them bigotry and terrible science is not conducive to that.

        And here we are not just talking about teaching those views. We are also talking about refusing to teach them about the existence alternative views. No, I don’t think parents should have that right.

      • I’m intending to Jonny (and we all know where good intentions lead), the problem is that my local MP is as Tory as they come and tends to vote the exact opposite to the way I would prefer. Also, I checked the spreadsheet and there are no religious nurseries in my area but there is a Steiner one and some of their teachings are just as anti-science. This means that I will need to actually write the letter and put some thought into it, rather than just use the form one from the BHA. I will need to make sure that I can cover the relevance to his constituency as well as the wider issues. I will probably do this, but it’s not a Monday type task, it’s more a Friday afternoon and I don’t want to start any real work thing.

      • Oh yeah, I understand.
        The Steiner argument is a harder one because there are Steiner Free Schools, so the government has a record of supporting them. But a good point is that Steiner Schools opted out of teaching Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), so why the hell should they get funding for an education they don’t actually provide?

      • I think they disagree with you about their view not being science. I think they believe it is and so are not lying.

        “Second, the sexism. We haven’t even addressed that. You’re saying that it’s OK for children who don’t fit into the boxes we call “boy” or “girl” to be made to feel bad and sinful just for being who they are. Yes I damn well do think there should be legislation against that.”

        I didn’t read that in the materials. I read that boys should wear boys clothes and girls should wear girls clothes. I teach my girls that too. I don’t mean to be offensive.

        “Even if parents should have the right to pass on beliefs to their children, so that those children are stuck in the same mental straitjacket as their parents, there’s no reason why the state should pay for it. The state has an interest in those children becoming productive citizens, and teaching them bigotry and terrible science is not conducive to that.

        And here we are not just talking about teaching those views. We are also talking about refusing to teach them about the existence alternative views. No, I don’t think parents should have that right.”

        Interestingly enough alternative views were ruled out in the US. Creationism is an alternative view to Darwinian evolution. It was ruled out by the state here in the US. Do you think that was wrong?

        If you agree with that decision then it seems you are not interested in alternatives any more than ACE. You see what this comes down to is really my views are right and should be supported, because my views are true. And any “alternatives” are just lies to deceive the people.

        And believe me I say this while agreeing with you that creationism is not something good to teach children. I send my kids to a school that borders on this and I am careful to redirect them. But having the state decide what is right and true and effectively force feed that is not the answer either.

      • .You are conflating faith and science. The two are not necessarily opposed, but you cannot “believe” in science like you can believe in faith.

        I disagree with this. I don’t think you misunderstand what it means to believe something.

        But again that is really what this is all about. You are fine with tax dollars going to the things you believe. But if the tax dollars go to something you disagree with you cry foul. Claim its just lies that don’t deserve tax dollars etc. Its this sort of inability to simply live with people who disagree with you that I am against. Living with people who disagree with you means you may have to give their views the same sort of respect in a public forum that you want your views to get.

        Don’t be so afraid of opposing views. Have some faith in reason.

        If anything these sorts of schools do more damage to Christianity than they do to the atheist world view. Many of these kids will no doubt end up rejecting Christ because they will think Christianity is somehow dependent on these odd views. But there is a practical side that says if we want to live with people who think different we can’t just yell “your views are like believing in the flying spaghetti monster.”

      • It’s not just a disagreement with a view. It is about a system that does not educate children in the sciences correctly. It is a tax funded system that will produce children who cannot compete in the world alongside nonsectarian schools. Teaching lies is what it is about, not teaching a mere disagreement.

      • Sheila you say it does not educate children in the sciences “correctly.” I agree. But then anyone who teaches something I disagree with is doing it “incorrectly” right? You and I think science should be taught without reference to the bible. Others disagree. Saying they are simply incorrect and therefore forfeit their right to teach their views is not getting us anywhere good. IMO.

        Just calling everyone who disagrees with you a liar is not good either. That’s Stalin’s, Hitler’s and the inquisitor’s argument.

      • Sheila
        One other thing. I am not sure what you mean by “compete.” I think the people who teach at these schools think the kids will compete just fine for what matters to them. They may not have the same goals you have but that’s a whole other issue.

      • Living with people who disagree with you means you may have to give their views the same sort of respect in a public forum that you want your views to get.

        Sorry to be blunt but this is terrible reasoning with adverse consequences if used to justify actions that undermine our equality rights.

        Look, I don’t want my views respected based on the authority that I believe them. This is the path to some version of authoritarian tyranny because it presumes respect and offers no means to weigh its merit in truth value. It is held by fiat, by declaration, by assertion that requires no demonstrable merit. This is anti-rational.

        My views are subject to change based on better reasons, more effective explanations, new information and for that to happen requires me to be open and able to change my mind. My views are worthy of respect only on the basis of the quality of their justifications assessed by reasonable people (who respect reality’s role to arbitrate claims made about it)…. be it a claim by me or someone else. In addition, how I arrive at a view matters a very great deal on the quality and likelihood of its truth value as determined by reality’s adjudication of it. This method must be open to accepting any and all in relevant input. After all, I recognize that I can be fooled, that I am biased and prejudiced and tend to favour myself over others – including viewpoints I favour for self-satisfying reasons – and that my views can be wrong, and I respect the role others can play in helping me to clarify how much bias and discrimination and self-serving means I employ to arrive at a view, as well as the effort offered to teach me where my line of reasoning (for these poor reasons) may have gone astray.

        The respect we have for one another is not based on shared views (unless we think learning happens best in an echo chamber) but on equality of rights each of us shares. If I do not respect your rights as I do my own, then I am undermining my own in order to suppress yours (for poor reasons). Views and rights are neither synonyms nor related. You seem confused on this matter.

        Just because I respect the same rights we share does not mean I am obligated to respect your views that I don’t… especially when they undermine respect for our equality rights (see the gender bias inherent in most religious practices that do exactly this). In fact, to support respect for our shared equality rights means I cannot respect a view that undermines them. That’s why we exchange opinions, to reveal where and how certain contrary opinions like yours are in desperate need of criticism and correction (assuming you value using good reasoning and wish to exercise your respect of others).

      • Tildeb

        You talk of weights of truth values. I am not sure what this means. A claim either accords with reality or it does not.

        Of course you think your beliefs are true. They believe their views are true.

        You are right in one respect though. We don’t need to respect “the views” we disagree with. But we should respect the people we disagree with. That means giving them the same rights to teach their children what they believe even if they disagree with the majority. If Christians, Communists, and Nazis throughout history would have accepted that principle allot of problems would have been avoided.

      • trueandreasonable writes, I think you are failing to see the other side of the coin. For these people the state is not just teaching children something faith neutral. The state is teaching something (Darwinian evolution) that is against their religion. They are forced to fund that.

        Yes, much teaching about how reality seems to work is contrary to religious belief. That doesn’t make this teaching another kind of religious belief (faith) anymore than calling a fish a non bicycle means a fish is therefore another kind of bicycle.

        Darwinian evolution is a fundamental plank in understanding how biology works in reality. This is not a faith position; this is a model of understanding supported by every avenue of inquiry we make into reality that produces technologies, therapies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time independent of what people choose to believe about it. Denying that evolution is a powerful explanatory model of how reality works based on the view that it conflicts with a religious tenet and is therefore an equivalent faith-based belief is either to misunderstand to a remarkable degree in this information age what science is or have only regard for the authority of the religion one favours to dictate to reality what is and isn’t true about it. Either way, a good public education must include evolutionary theory to bring the student’s understanding of modern biology at least into the 19th century. That so many religious folk think this subject is a matter of faith is an admission of scientific illiteracy desperately in need of educational remediation rather than propagation in the name of piousness.

      • You seem to miss the point. The point is not who is right or wrong. The point is people will disagree. We can either take the approach of “I’m right they are wrong, therefore who cares what they think, lets force our view down their throats.”.
        That is the method of the Stalin, Hitler, and the inquisitors. I learn from history so I don’t want to repeat the problems that arise from that view.

        That is not to say we shouldn’t engage them and challenge their views. But when the state gets into that business problems happen.

      • You’re presenting a false dichotomy, as if either we grant equivalency to astrology for astronomy, alchemy for chemistry, creationism for biology, or we ‘force our view (read: adduced science) down throats of those who believe they are and become like Hitler.’ That argument is really dishonest.

        These pairings are equivalent not by merit, nor from equivalent models demonstrated to produce stuff in reality that works for everyone everywhere all the time regardless of contrary beliefs, but only by the infusion of faith-based assumptions immune from reality’s arbitration of them. In other words, reality does not support these alternative explanations. That’s not a trivial concern. That’s why these alternative are rejected as models that work… because they don’t produce stuff that works for everyone everywhere all the time. And that’s not my belief, not a different view, not a subjective opinion; it’s a fact that is demonstrable even to you!

        That’s why I wrote earlier of Stork Theory for human reproduction to show the extent of fraud necessary to pretend these are legitimate yet equivalent alternate beliefs, points of view, opinions. They’re not, and someone reminding you of this is not equivalent to supporting totalitarianism to point out the false dichotomy you’ve introduced here.

        You are not entitled to make up your own facts and pretend reality supports them when it doesn’t. That’s why pretending these alternate and ludicrous faith-based beliefs are equivalent ‘science’ in order to teach religious indoctrination that is contrary to scientific consensus – and have the public pay for it out a sense of ‘respect’ – is so dishonest: it’s fraudulent.

      • tildeb, well said. Because his reply to you implied that, if you disagree with him, you are akin to Hitler, I find his/her name “trueandreasonable” to be truly ironic.

      • Thank you, but you mostly said the same thing (I found out later) in far fewer words (an ability others have for which I’m always envious). To paraphrase Star Wars, ‘The irony meter in this one is weak.’

      • I’m not afraid of opposing views. I am merely against yours as stated in this forum. Big difference.

        There’s also a big difference between teaching awareness and teaching fact. A public school teaching about Diwali, Ramadan, and Christmas is all good, as it increases the awareness of other faiths and makes students less ignorant. The OP is talking about schools using public money to inculcate one particular faith. That’s what I’m objecting to.

        For example, my faith is Catholic. I would hate to send my son to one of the schools listed above, because we believe in evolution and that the Genesis creation is mythology, not fact. As an American, I firmly believe in the separation of church and state to protect both.

        And you cannot reframe my distaste for government-supported religion as me being picky. I can live with people who disagree with me. But I don’t want their beliefs being taught as fact by the government. It can be taught as fact in any church, temple, or private school. But gov’t has no place picking one faith over another.

        Lastly, you cannot compare believing in a faith with accepting science. 2+2=4 is not on par with God created woman from man’s rib. Chemistry, biology, even cosmology are not in the same class as theology. So don’t reduce my desire to see a religiously neutral government school system as something as trite as, “… this sort of inability to simply live with people who disagree with you.”

        1) Just because you have a different viewpoint does not mean I have to accept it, and I’m not automatically wrong because I think you’re wrong.
        2) Science and religion are not equal. Neither is better or worse because they are too different to even compare.

      • WJ

        I fear you have been indoctrinated with certain views and I will not be able to shake them 🙂

        “But I don’t want their beliefs being taught as fact by the government.”

        I’m not sure what you mean. Either we in fact evolved or in fact we were created in a day. Christ either in fact rose from the dead or in fact he did not. Believing something happened a certain way is to believe a fact.

        Separation of church and state easier said than understood in practice. People in the united states are forced to pay for teaching children something they not only think is wrong but violates their religion. Poor people are basically without recourse other than to send their children to schools where they are taught as “fact” beliefs which violate their religion. That is not a good thing for human rights.

        Other countries know better and they are better off. You can get upset that there are religious schools in other countries but I think its great. Government being insensitive to religion just leads to abuse and problems.

      • trueandreasonable, I fear you are coming across as an arrogant SOB. My views are mutable, but so far you have done zero to change them. That’s not because my opinions are rigid; it’s because your logic is sad. Oh, and adding a smiley face just after calling me indoctrinated doesn’t make it polite.

        Look, this is simple. Science is not a belief system because it’s based on recordable, observable fact. You don’t chose to be carbon based life. You don’t make a choice about whether to breathe oxygen or chlorine. Science is not a choice! No one has a right to their own observable reality.

        Religion is based on faith and does not need recordable, observable facts. Everyone has a right to choose a faith because no one knows with certainty. That’s why we can enforce the teaching of science and we should NOT enforce any particular faith.

        Answer me this, Mr. I Know You’re Indoctrinated But What Am I. Would you agree to a school in your community, where your children would learn, that taught the Earth is really a giant flat disk balanced on the backs of four giant elephants, who in turn stand upon the back of a giant turtle swimming through space?

        What about a strict Wahabian Islamic school where your daughter(s) is taught that science shows women injure their ovaries if they drive and thusly should be dependent on men for travel?

        Again, I am religious and think religion, as a whole, has done a world of good more than it has done wrong. I have taught at Catholic schools. I believe in religious education. But from what I’ve learned about the ACE curriculum, it is wrong because it is against science, creativity, and independence. Likewise, I am against religious public schools as described above because it is incorrect and teaches sexism. Besides, and this has been my point all along, religion is a profoundly personal choice. Parents have the right to shape their children, so parents can push students into a particular faith. The government does not have that right.

      • Sorry, I forgot this little nugget:

        “I’m not sure what you mean. Either we in fact evolved or in fact we were created in a day. Christ either in fact rose from the dead or in fact he did not. Believing something happened a certain way is to believe a fact.”

        You want fact? We evolved. There’s evidence to support that, and little in the way of facts refuting it.

        Christ rose from the dead? Nope. There’s no evidence to support that.

        Evolution yes, divine Christ no. That is, if you solely base it on facts. Many people live their lives that way, and good for them. But note that this is not a belief. Accepting facts is not the same as believing in them.

        Believing something happened a certain way is to believe something is a fact for YOU. However, you can either belief something happened a certain way with or without evidence to back that up. With evidence? That’s science. Without evidence? That’s faith. You cannot independently verify the efficacy of confession of sins–faith. You can verify the efficacy of oxidation–fact.

        You really need to get away from false equivalence. Science and faith are NOT the same thing. Accepting biology is NOT the same as accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That’s why you can do both as I have and not have any internal conflict.

      • “You want fact? We evolved. There’s evidence to support that, and little in the way of facts refuting it.

        Christ rose from the dead? Nope. There’s no evidence to support that.”

        I disagree with the way you define words like fact, belief and faith. A fact is a state of affairs or event that actually happened now or in the past. Something being a fact is in no way dependent on whether we have evidence for it.

        Was it a fact that Neptune had at least 13 moons before we had evidence of these moons. Sure the moons were there. They didn’t just pop into reality when we finally had evidence of them.

        “Evolution yes, divine Christ no. That is, if you solely base it on facts. Many people live their lives that way, and good for them. But note that this is not a belief. Accepting facts is not the same as believing in them.”

        I think this is a bit tortured. If I accept that Neptune has at least 13 moons that pretty much means I believe Neptune has 13 moons.

      • “Something being a fact is in no way dependent on whether we have evidence for it.” HAHAHAHAHAhahahaha!!!

        See, what you talk about is the exact difference between science and faith. When there was no evidence to support Neptune having planets, the fact was that there were none. Then we got new evidence, and science says you have to re-evaluate facts. Now we know better. Hell, there could be more moons. We could change our definition of “moon”. None of that is based on belief–it’s based on observable evidence at hand.

        But when new evidence comes that challenges faith, that evidence can be ignored in favor of whatever is believed. Religions can be factually wrong. They can have views that can be proven wrong, i.e. evolution vs. creation.

        I get it. You’re taking a post-modern view of science that says facts are all culturally or socially constructed and there is no one true reality. This allows you to say an unproved, unsupported opinion (religious belief) is just as valid as proved, supported fact (science). And that’s bullshit. Fact is ALWAYS based on evidence. The evidence in question may be proven wrong some day in the future, but until that day comes, it’s fact.

        Take your Neptunian moon example. 13 moons, right? What happens when some crackpot Christian sect says, “Nope! Those aren’t moons. They’re angels!” Are they right? No. Is their point of view valid? No. It’s incorrect. Therefore, we shouldn’t teach it.

        Last point. I’d be fine with the crap in the original post if it were taught under the label “Religion”. But it’s not. It’s being taught as “Science” even though science disagrees with what’s being taught. It’s like going to “English” and being taught, “Guten Tag! Vie gehts?” There’s nothing wrong with German, but Pete’s sake, it’s not English!

      • WJ
        Its clear we do not understand some terms in the same way. And we do not agree on the importance of letting people teach their religious views to their children. But I do think we agree on some things.

        I said:
        “Something being a fact is in no way dependent on whether we have evidence for it.”
        WJ responded with:

        HAHAHAHAHAhahahaha!!!

        See, what you talk about is the exact difference between science and faith. When there was no evidence to support Neptune having planets, the fact was that there were none. .

        I think I said Neptune had moons not planets. And they in fact existed before we had evidence for them. They did not pop into existence once we had the evidence.

        .

        Then we got new evidence, and science says you have to re-evaluate facts. Now we know better. Hell, there could be more moons. We could change our definition of “moon”. None of that is based on belief–it’s based on observable evidence at hand. .

        We change our beliefs if the evidence changes. I “believe” Neptune has at least 13 moons. If you do not “believe” it then what is it you do in relation to the 13 moons discovered around Neptune?

        .

        But when new evidence comes that challenges faith, that evidence can be ignored in favor of whatever is believed. Religions can be factually wrong. They can have views that can be proven wrong, i.e. evolution vs. creation. .

        Of course religious views can be wrong. I don’t think rational people ignore evidence. This is true regardless of whether it involves religious or any other belief.

        I get it. You’re taking a post-modern view of science that says facts are all culturally or socially constructed and there is no one true reality. This allows you to say an unproved, unsupported opinion (religious belief) is just as valid as proved, supported fact (science). And that’s bullshit. Fact is ALWAYS based on evidence. The evidence in question may be proven wrong some day in the future, but until that day comes, it’s fact.

        You seem to think facts are somehow dependent on us getting evidence, not me. I think facts are true regardless of what we may think of them. You seem to think facts being factual is dependent on our interpretation of evidence. And yes scientists do interpret data as being evidence for a theory. But theories accord with reality (or not) long before we get around to interpreting the evidence.

        Take your Neptunian moon example. 13 moons, right? What happens when some crackpot Christian sect says, “Nope! Those aren’t moons. They’re angels!” Are they right? No. Is their point of view valid? No. It’s incorrect. Therefore, we shouldn’t teach it.

        I am not saying we should teach false information. I am not saying it’s valid to reject evolution. I am saying we should respect people’s rights to teach their children their religious views – even if we think they are wrong. This why we had so much violence and hatred over the last 500 years regarding religion. People thought exactly like you. If this religion is false why should we care if parents can’t teach it? The priniciple at issue is a practical one. It’s based on the fact that people often care about their religion much more than they care about the laws. So you are asking for violence and unrest when you impinge on their religion.

        .

        Last point. I’d be fine with the crap in the original post if it were taught under the label “Religion”. But it’s not. It’s being taught as “Science” even though science disagrees with what’s being taught. It’s like going to “English” and being taught, “Guten Tag! Vie gehts?” There’s nothing wrong with German, but Pete’s sake, it’s not English! .

         I agree with you. I too do not like it when people claim their philosophy or religion is science. There are lots of people like Dawkins who claim their philosophical views are really scientific views. There are people like Bart Ehrman who claims his philosophical views are really historical views. He teaches at a public school. And yes there are people who claim their religious views are scientific views. These are all really part of the problem.

        But I do not think the answer is to censor any of them even though they are misrepresenting science or history. I think we just need to stop with the whole censorship for others and propaganda for my own view game. We need to relax a bit and let people tell their story and encourage an open dialogue. I really think the societies that do that will be better informed.

      • “Its clear we do not understand some terms in the same way.” You’re correct. I say facts need support to be facts. You say facts do not need support. Let’s check Wikipedia for the definition of the term “fact”, shall we?

        “A fact (derived from the Latin factum, see below) is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact

        In the future, if you want to refer to something that has not been verified or proven, please don’t use the term “fact”. Call it reality or something. Call it the Platonic form. Call it belief. But facts are verifiable–such as the fact that you are wrong in this case.

        “And we do not agree on the importance of letting people teach their religious views to their children.” I never said that. Not once. I said the government should not take sides and teach one religious POV, especially under the guise of “science”.

        “If you do not “believe” it then what is it you do in relation to the 13 moons discovered around Neptune?” I don’t do anything! It is proven whether I choose to accept it or not.

        “I am not saying we should teach false information. I am not saying it’s valid to reject evolution. I am saying we should respect people’s rights to teach their children their religious views – even if we think they are wrong.” If you agree with the curriculum as described above, then you DO want schools to teach false information. Once again, the OP and I and others are talking about GOVERNMENT SUPPORT for teaching religion to students. This has never touched whether people have the right to teach religion to their kids. As I said, I’m Catholic and I’m raising my son to be Catholic. That’s my right, and I have never said anything against that right.

        Let me say it again because I think it’s gotten lost: this is about tax dollars being spent to teach students one particular version of Christianity. That’s my problem with it. Not that religion is being taught somewhere in the UK, but that the UK government is funding one religion being taught.

        “This why we had so much violence and hatred over the last 500 years regarding religion. People thought exactly like you …. So you are asking for violence and unrest when you impinge on their religion. ” Wait, so I’m supporting violence and hatred because I think the government shouldn’t teach one religion? What the fuck is wrong with you?

        “But I do not think the answer is to censor any of them even though they are misrepresenting science or history.” Yes it is, actually. But it’s not called censorship when you stop the government from favoring one faith over others, as well as over science. It’s called being scientifically accurate and religiously neutral. David Icke believes lizardmen are secretly running the world. Is is censorship to say we shouldn’t teach that in public schools? Am I “asking for violence” by saying that’s a load of crap?

      • WJ
        Let’s think this through a bit.

        You said:

        You want fact? We evolved.

        Now by saying “we evolved” I assume you mean that at least you and I came to exist and likely the other bloggers reading this like Jonny Scaramanga, Tildeb etc. came to exist from a common ancestor. (or maybe even a single life form)

        And you say we are to take this as a fact. But then you give this quote from Wikipedia:

        “A fact (derived from the Latin factum, see below) is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact

        Now then let me ask you how many times have you and I and the other bloggers here been created by evolutionary processes? That is how many times has your claimed fact “we evolved” (which btw I agree is a fact) been “verified by repeatable experiments”?

        Here is the thing. The model of natural selection has been shown to be a valid model through repeated experiments. But that you or I in particular came to exist from a single life form has not been so repeatedly verified. Therefore by your definition this could not be a fact. Or at least not a “scientific fact.”

        Now lets look at this definition and its requirement of “verifiability, that is it can be proven to correspond to experience.” Do you learn any facts from history class? If so it seems we have to really stretch what it means to correspond to experience. Several of those facts I have no real basis for other than I read them in a book. For example I believe Tertullian was an early Christian author. But I have not seen him or experienced him in any way except to take his writings and the writings of others as true.

        The thing with Wikipedia is it is a great source for sources. But if something is written in Wikipedia and it has no citation to other peer reviewed articles or sources – well its pretty much just speculation. Do you even have any clue who wrote what you quoted? Did you notice that what you quoted has no reference to any source at all?

        Did you notice that the definition I go by shows up in droves and does provide references to things like the Stanford online encyclopedia of philosophy and other published encyclopedias and works of philosophy?
        “In philosophy, the concept fact is considered in epistemology and ontology. Questions of objectivity and truth are closely associated with questions of fact. A “fact” can be defined as something which is the case, that is, a state of affairs.[12][13]”
        “Facts may also be understood as those things to which a true sentence refers. The statement “Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system” is about the fact Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.[15]” Alex Oliver, Fact, in Craig, Edward (2005). Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge, Oxford.

        So you see although certain people have motivation to redefine facts as being something which might not apply to history or religion or evolution. These understandings are pretty tortured. Not only does it seem odd to say it was not a fact that there were at least 13 moons orbiting Neptune until we discovered them, its also odd to say we learn no facts in history and that it’s not a fact that we evolved. The people who write dictionaries and philosophical encyclopedias are generally a bit more thoughtful than the unknown people who might post something on Wikipedia.

        Here is Merriam websters definition:

        “fact noun \ˈfakt\
        : something that truly exists or happens : something that has actual existence

        : a true piece of information”

        I think the Wikipedia article makes it clear that my definition is much better supported in the published references, but so long as we understand how you are using the term you can define things how you want. And I do admit there are published works offering something like your definition. It’s just IMO not as well thought out as the one given by the various encyclopedias and dictionaries. As long as we understand what you mean though you and I can define terms how we want. It just makes discussions awkward.
        Finally if you want to try to define fact narrowly to exclude many things which actually happened in history and truly exist as the real state of affairs that’s fine. But then whether something is or is not a fact just lost significance. Because I am interested in the real and actual state of affairs not what you want to by some odd definition call a “fact.”

      • “If you agree with the curriculum as described above, then you DO want schools to teach false information.”

        I think I made it clear I do not agree with the curriculum described above. I appreciate the blogger allowing me to express my views about this issue to anyone who wants to consider them. I think I have done that. If someone is really unclear what I am getting at or if I missed an important question, then ask. But I think you and I are beating a dead horse at this point.

    • While I get what you’re saying–you cannot be in a democracy and control everything the gov’t spends on–I think spending tax dollars to support one religious viewpoint is always wrong. We’re not talking about grey areas where religion and culture meet, i.e. the 10 Commandments are religious and are also mostly encoded in our laws.

      Religion should always be a personal choice. If parents want religion for their children (as I do), then it’s their responsibility to provide that, not the state’s. Otherwise, you end up with an unofficial state religion, which impinges upon that same personal choice for those who choose otherwise, be it another faith or atheism.

      Would it be good if a publicly-funded school required preschoolers to complete a worksheet identifying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva and their roles in creating. preserving, and destroying the universe? What is these children had to memorize Surah 5:51: “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies”?

      There’s a HUGE difference between people having a right to these views (they certainly do) and the state teaching these values to children.

      • I agree with what you are saying, although I feel that in the interest of fairness there are also two Muslim and five Charedi Jewish schools, who receive state funding, listed on the concern list.

      • Should read

        I feel that in the interest of fairness it should be pointed out that there are also two Muslim and five Charedi Jewish schools, who receive state funding, listed on the concern list.

        See what I mean about Mondays!

      • I think you are failing to see the other side of the coin. For these people the state is not just teaching children something faith neutral. The state is teaching something (Darwinian evolution) that is against their religion. They are forced to fund that.

        It seems to me that if the state is going to be in the indoctrination business (ie teaching our children) then it should provide alternatives that recognize the rights of its citizens. If enough people in an area want to vote for a school that teaches this stuff I think they should be allowed to do it.

        I’m more interested in giving people options than force feeding anything.

      • Clair I think that is wonderful that those schools exist in your country. Sadly in the US the supreme court perverted the first amendment to mean parents really don’t have that option. Of course wealthy people have that option. But poor people are asked to pay the taxes for the public schools and then wholly fund the schooling that teaches what they think is true as well. In practice this means any view other than the supreme courts view, is rubbed out.

      • You are conflating faith and science. The two are not necessarily opposed, but you cannot “believe” in science like you can believe in faith. Yes, you choose to make either paramount in your life, but science is (for the most part) observable and faith is not. Teaching evolution is not indoctrination anymore than teaching mathematics or grammar. (Unless you water down the definition of “indoctrination” to the point where it means “education”. Then, all schooling is indoctrination.)

        Just because someone takes umbrage with science doesn’t mean they have a right to tax-funded alternatives. You can believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but that does not give you the right to force all of the children in your son’s/daughter’s classroom to learn about it.

    • Dear T and R,
      It’s your right to keep acting like a penis. Is that why you insist on being one?
      It wasn’t too long ago my dear penis, that many Christians also believed slavery was supported by their beloved book. They weren’t lying. They really meant it.
      Does this mean we should teach that slavery is just grand to our wee ones in government-funded schools?
      Seriously sweet penis, I really want to know.
      Do you condone slavery because they are/were people who honestly thought it was valid (for over 400 hundred years no less)?
      Or is it just that your mind is so open your brains were splattered all over the sidewalk a long time ago?
      Sincerely yours,
      *insert my real name here

    • Ok this is going to be a long one sorry.

      Poor people are basically without recourse other than to send their children to schools where they are taught as “fact” beliefs which violate their religion. That is not a good thing for human rights.

      Teaching accepted science to a child in no way impacts on the human rights of the parents. The parent still has the right to freedom of religion; they may believe and practice as their conscience dictates, they still have the freedom to pass this on to their children. What they should not have the right to do though is violate the human rights of the child. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child every child has the right to an education. Now I know that the US has refused to ratify the convention and so does not believe that children should have rights, but these schools are in the UK. In the UK every child has the right to an education and this cannot be over ridden by the parent’s right to freedom of religion, which is not even being threatened.

      As Jonny has already said this kind of “education” violates the child’s right to freedom of religion because it prevents them from seeing all the options and deciding for themselves which, if any, religion they wish to follow. These schools violate the UNCRC in a multitude of ways:

      Article 2 (Non-discrimination) “the convention applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities” – because these children’s parents follow a specific religion they are being denied the right to education.

      Article 3 (Best interests of the child) “The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them” – the primary concern in sending a child to this type of school is the parent’s views on religion not the needs of the child.

      Article 4 (Protection of rights): “Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.” – the government is enabling the denying of the child’s rights by paying for these schools.

      Article 12(Respect for the views of the child): “When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.” – only the parent’s views on religion are taken into account.

      Article 14(Freedom of thought, conscience and religion): “Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion,” – the children are denied the right to choose their own faith.
      Article 15(Freedom of association): “Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations,” – these schools attempt to prevent children from being friends with non-Christians; from the blog:

      “ACE preschool students also have to memorise Psalm 1 before the end of the year (“Blessed is he that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”). Of course, in ACE’s world, “the ungodly” is anyone who is not a True Christian™. So this is an early, concerted effort to stop children from being friendly with outsiders, a major theme of later ACE education.”

      Article 17(Access to information; mass media): “Children have the right to get information that is important to their health and well-being.” – Jonny has posted in the past about the appalling sexual health education in ACE, the PACEs call AIDS a punishment from God.

      Article 28: (Right to education) ”All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. […]The Convention places a high value on education. Young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.” – not giving children a robust science foundation prevents them from reaching their potential.

      Article 29(Goals of education):”Children’s education should develop each child’s personality, talents and abilities to the fullest. It should encourage children to respect others, human rights and their own and other cultures. It should also help them learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people.” – ACE does not respect the beliefs of others, atheists and followers of other religions are painted as wicked and immoral people who are not to be trusted and encourages pupils to believe the same.

      • Claire
        Thank you for taking the time to share that thoughtful post.

        “Teaching accepted science to a child in no way impacts on the human rights of the parents. The parent still has the right to freedom of religion; they may believe and practice as their conscience dictates,…”
        Well not if their conscience dictates that they should not send their kids to a school that teaches things contrary to their religion. The problem with no public funding for religious schools means that this might be the only practical option.

        “ …they still have the freedom to pass this on to their children. “
        That’s true. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic about this issue. However I would rather live in a society were the schools accommodate peoples religious views whether that is my religion or others, rather than just saying all schools must teach what the majority across the country thinks or no public funds can be used.
        I do not mean to say that people who disagree with me are equally as evil as Stalin Hitler or those who got carried away with the inquisition. I’m not saying they are evil at all. But I am saying I think there are lessons from those histories which do apply here.

        “What they should not have the right to do though is violate the human rights of the child. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child every child has the right to an education. Now I know that the US has refused to ratify the convention and so does not believe that children should have rights, but these schools are in the UK. In the UK every child has the right to an education and this cannot be over ridden by the parent’s right to freedom of religion, which is not even being threatened.”

        Well the un is just another law giver. I don’t think there is much difference between a discussions of what they should do as opposed to what a national or local government should do. But I am generally agreeable with the view that children should receive an education.

        “As Jonny has already said this kind of “education” violates the child’s right to freedom of religion because it prevents them from seeing all the options and deciding for themselves which, if any, religion they wish to follow.”
        In the US we don’t offer any options in public schools. Intelligent design was banned from the classroom. Not that I like intelligent design. I just think that if a local community wants the school to at least mention that option then they should be able to.

        “These schools violate the UNCRC in a multitude of ways:

        Article 2 (Non-discrimination) “the convention applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities” – because these children’s parents follow a specific religion they are being denied the right to education.”

        I’m not sure I follow this. If this is going to be interpreted to mean that there can never be a public funded religious school then I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think governments should be able to accommodate people who want religious education as well as those who want education that is religion free.

        “Article 3 (Best interests of the child) “The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them” – the primary concern in sending a child to this type of school is the parent’s views on religion not the needs of the child.”

        The problem here is you think the state is the best agent to decide the best interest of the child. I think it is the parent. When states try to trump a parent’s view on what education is in the child’s best interest we end up with unrest. I live in Illinois and do not think our governors are better arbiters of my daughters’ best interest than my wife and I. Do you think your legislature are better arbiters of your child’s best interest than you are?

        “Article 4 (Protection of rights): “Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.” – the government is enabling the denying of the child’s rights by paying for these schools.”

        I am not so sure of this. All available measures? Who decides if a child’s right to education is fulfilled? I do not think the responsibility to educate children is fulfilled when religion is left out. Of course, as a Christian I think a Christian education is most important to having a fulfilled education. Who decides this stuff?

        “Article 12(Respect for the views of the child): “When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.” – only the parent’s views on religion are taken into account.”

        How do you know this? If the kids want ACE schooling would that mean the state should have an obligation to take “all available measures” to provide ACE?

        “Article 14(Freedom of thought, conscience and religion): “Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion,” – the children are denied the right to choose their own faith.”
        Why do you think these children are denied the right to choose their own faith? Certainly though it would seem that if a child thought believing in (or expressing agreement) with Darwinian evolution violated his religion then public schools in America violate their right to practice their religion.

        “Article 15(Freedom of association): “Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations,” – these schools attempt to prevent children from being friends with non-Christians; from the blog:

        “ACE preschool students also have to memorise Psalm 1 before the end of the year (“Blessed is he that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”). Of course, in ACE’s world, “the ungodly” is anyone who is not a True Christian™. So this is an early, concerted effort to stop children from being friendly with outsiders, a major theme of later ACE education.”

        Ok I think the law is a bit of a stretch. If my child wants to join a hockey organization is that his right? Does the state need to enforce that right? If my child wants to hang around the people who are manufacturing meth do I need to allow that? I think this law generally is treating children as if they were adults. I think that is a mistake.

        “Article 17(Access to information; mass media): “Children have the right to get information that is important to their health and well-being.” – Jonny has posted in the past about the appalling sexual health education in ACE, the PACEs call AIDS a punishment from God.”

        I’m not familiar with that blog. But I think this one requires some balancing. Especially when we talk about sexual health. People have very different views on what sex education is important for a childs health and well-being.

        “Article 28: (Right to education) ”All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. […]The Convention places a high value on education. Young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.” – not giving children a robust science foundation prevents them from reaching their potential.”

        The same could be said of not giving a robust religious education.

        “Article 29(Goals of education):”Children’s education should develop each child’s personality, talents and abilities to the fullest. It should encourage children to respect others, human rights and their own and other cultures. It should also help them learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people.” – ACE does not respect the beliefs of others, atheists and followers of other religions are painted as wicked and immoral people who are not to be trusted and encourages pupils to believe the same.”

        Well the law says we should respect other people not their beliefs. I think a Christian education generally does that. I am not sure people need to respect other cultures. Some cultures are/were bad.

        In sum I think this UN convention has a nice gloss but as far as literally interpreting what it means is more of a headache than its worth.

    • Great arguement and bonus points for the Discworld reference.

      The turtle moves!

      • GGrrr for some reason my posts are coming out in thw wrong places!

        The Small Gods quote was aimed at WJ MacGuffin.

      • I still saw it! Thanks for catching the reference, and because you’re obviously a Pratchett fan, you have impeccable taste. 🙂

    • ACE isn’t about “choices in education.” ACE is about teaching children that they have no choice and that ACE’s way is the only good and right way. All of the lessons here are presented, not as societal norms, but as the only right things to think and believe. This isn’t as clear to an outsider, but when you’ve been raised learning from such curricula as ACE and A Beka, the idea that “what you hear in our class is right, and what everyone else is learning is wrong” is hammered into your head ALL THE TIME.

      That’s the problem with tax dollars going to fund this. It isn’t just the sexism, or the religious indoctrination, or the blatant dominionism (though these are all problems in their own right). By funding ACE schools and/or preschools with tax dollars, the governments in question are saying, “It is OK for your children to believe that they are right and that everybody else is going to hell. It is OK for your children to be told that societal biases and bizarre theological views, are not only mainstream, but are ordained by God.

      I’m not happy about people choosing, on an individual level, to use ACE, but I consider it to be their right to make that choice (just as it is my right to tell them that I think their choice is a bad one). But for the government (any government, really) to sponsor that level of indoctrination is the antithesis of freedom and democracy.

    • Re: “teach them lots of viewpoints,” not all opinions are equal.

      If one person prefers vanilla and another prefers chocolate, those opinions are morally-neutral, and thus equal.

      If one person believes the solution to a territorial dispute is diplomacy, and the other believes the solution is war, those opinions are equal until something is done, because we can’t always know for sure which will work better in that given situation until one solution or the other is tried.

      But if one person believes the earth to be round, while the other believes it to be a flat structure on the back of a giant turtle, those beliefs are not equal. The latter is demonstrably untrue, whereas the former is based in scientific facts, proven through repeated experiment.

      ACE isn’t just teaching something that is a different opinion. The idea that science is “what the authorities tell you is the truth” is demonstrably false. It is trivial to disprove, but more importantly, it makes students unable to determine truth from falsehood. That’s 1984 levels of double-plus ungood. That kind of ignorance has led to parents letting their children die of diabetes and other treatable illnesses because their pastor told them that science and doctors are bad. In the US and UK today, we have people contracting–and sometimes dying from–diseases that nobody caught 30 years ago, because somebody told people that vaccines, contrary to all evidence, are harmful.

      Critical thinking is, well, critical. Young people need to be able to look at the things they are being told, and decide whom they can and can’t trust. Unscrupulous people can, and have, set up organizations designed to teach the victims of authoritarian brainwashing whom to hate so that they can prey, sexually and financially, on these innocents. The results are often tragic. (If you don’t believe that some of these people are Christian, Google the names “Ted Haggard,” “Bill Gothard,” and “Jim Jones.”)

    • In re: faith and facts:

      Saying “I believe in evolution” is exactly comparable to saying “I believe in the existence of chairs.” Saying “I don’t believe in evolution” is exactly comparable to saying, “I don’t believe in Missouri.”

      “Jesus rose from the dead” is a statement of faith because it is neither provable, nor falsifiable.

      “God exists” is a statement of faith because it is neither provable nor falsifiable.

      “Seven is the square root of 49” is a statement of fact, because it can be clearly proven. The square root of a number is the amount you multiply times itself to get that number. 7 * 7 = 49; therefore the sentence is true.

      “The moon is made of green cheese,” while it was widely believed for many years, is a false statement, because it has been disproven. We’ve been to the moon. We know for a fact that it’s made of rock.

      “The earth is 6,000 years old” is also a false statement. Not only is it based on faulty methodology*, but there are living trees older than that.

      If you believe that tax dollars should be used to fund ACE, do you also believe that it’s OK for a tax-funded school to teach that Odin All-Father created the earth from the bones of Ymir the Frost Giant, and that all evidence to the contrary should be ignored because Loki could have made that evidence? What is the difference? (Note: There are people who worship Odin and Loki, to this very day, so you can’t use “nobody believes in the Norse gods” as your explanation.)

      ——————————————————-

      * Specifically, a 17th-century bishop counted up the genealogies in the Bible (which don’t match up perfectly, and probably have a lot of missing generations to begin with), and came up with that age. It doesn’t match the traditional Jewish “age of the earth,” nor does it match with mainstream Christian belief at any point since at least da Vinci’s time. Young-earth Creationism, as a doctrine, dates back only to Darwin, because some people found the idea of being made of dirt easier to swallow than being distant cousins to a chimp.

      • The L says:
        ““Jesus rose from the dead” is a statement of faith because it is neither provable, nor falsifiable.

        “God exists” is a statement of faith because it is neither provable nor falsifiable.”

        I think we just disagree about basic terminology. I already went through this with WJ you can see those posts for my view.

        Do you believe any history is factual? For example Is it a fact that Tertullian wrote about Christianity? How would you know this other than believing writing that supposedly were written over a thousand years ago? Is that proof?

        The L says:
        ““The moon is made of green cheese,” while it was widely believed for many years, is a false statement, because it has been disproven. We’ve been to the moon. We know for a fact that it’s made of rock.”

        I do find this interesting coming from someone who is supposedly outraged that people are teaching false information.

  2. Jonny, are you beginning to understand why when I first started to comment here I made the assertion that no qualified professional teacher worthy of the name could justify on these professional grounds submitting children to this kind of religious indoctrination and defend it as ‘education’?

    It gets worse, by the way; even the senior level science blocks (as I’m sure you’re aware) are still full of this kind of religious assertion diametrically opposed to fundamental scientific methodology, which leads to the absurd notion (being taught to children) that facts and empirical evidence are merely ‘the flip side’ and equivalent to contrary religious beliefs.

    We see the effect of just this kind this gross distortion about what education is in play here with the comments by trueandreasonable who assumes that pious beliefs held in esteem that are contrary to how we understand reality to operate for everyone everywhere all the time are still equivalent (not for a moment considering why this is such a poor line of reasoning, that teaching the Earth is flat, that babies are deliver by storks, that the sun revolves around the Earth, may not be scientific ‘controversies’ worth teaching… for obvious reasons suspended when it comes to teaching favoured pious equivalencies to these). On this wrong-headed assumption comes the argument that we can teach children whatever we want on the basis that we believe something to be so.. without any equivalent justification for it demanded by current best practices in the profession of teaching. And the absurdity deepens when we consider the extension of this principle trueandreasonable wants to have respected, namely, that if enough people vote to teach pious fiction as equivalent to scientific fact that this is an equivalent ‘education’ and therefore should be equivalently funded to that which must meet best practices in public curriculum! Furthermore (it’s hard to stop the pious gravy train once in motion) to not fund private religious facilities and the institutions they represent to indoctrinate children with whatever demonstrable anti-scientific falsehoods they choose is a form of public discrimination that creates victims… like those poor victimized yet innocent flat-earthers and stork-believers and Ptolemites who have had their freedom so demonically curtailed.

    • Tildeb
      Its quite clear that think its very important that children learn science. But this belief of yours is itself not based on science. It is based on your values. Other people have other values. You seem unable or unwilling to respect that.

      Although I like science and really think its wonderful, I can not say that learning science is the most important thing my children need to learn. That is why I think we should give deference to parents in teaching their children even if it means the kids suffer some bad pseudo-science. Maybe you think learning science is the begin all and end all to life. The opinions you express will therefore naturally follow from that value claim.

      • What? Would you think the same thing if children learned bad pseudo math or bad pseudo reading or bad pseudo spelling? If science is no big deal, then I suppose you don’t take your kids to the zoo, or to a planetarium, or spend time in nature, or go fishing or in any way interact with nature. Can’t you see that facts are very different than values? The science behind why some trees are deciduous and some are not is factual. The science behind why some antibiotics still work and others don’t is factual. The science of biology keeps us from eating poisonous plants or handling poison ivy. The science of the earth’s rotation is what gives us our seasons. Just what is it about science that makes it subjective? If this is what you are teaching your children, I am very sorry for them.

      • I don’t think I said science is subjective. (Although I do think scientists interpret data and there is some subjectivity to that.)

        I said I don’t think the claim “science is important to learn” is itself a scientific claim. Its a philosophical, or moral, or value claim.

        I agree that science helps us live longer and gives us gadgets and medicines etc., to make life easier. However, I do not think science is the right place to look for what we should be doing with our life. To say life is all about living longer really doesn’t answer the question – at least not in a way I am satisfied with.

      • I almost don’t want to jump in here but this is quite close to my heart.

        A little bit of pseudo-science goes a long long way. And I really don’t think you (T&R) understand exactly how much pseudo-science these little ones are being fed, and for what purpose.

        These little ones are being taught this stuff from a young age for a reason. Things people say to a little one go down deep, way deep. Pathways are being trodden in the fresh snow of their brains.

        I know that as a parent and as a Christian you are probably concerned where this argument might be heading, so you end up defending the teaching of something that you don’t even believe to be true. But the point is that the teaching or creationism/sexism/whatever isn’t the real issue here. The real thing is to nurture a belief that the brain is evil and is not to be trusted, and at best is secondary to the Ultimate Will of God as described to you by People You Love.

        Later on, when one of these little ones grows older and begins to question, she will find it very difficult. Firstly, the skills to question will not have been allowed to grow. Secondly, she will not be able to put her finger on it but her heart’s memory will have a distant recollection of the dressing up and the pledging allegiance and the creation colouring sheet, given to her by people she (most probably) knows well and loves. Her head will be shouting “You lied to me over and over and over” while her heart cries “Did you lie to me? Why did you lie to me? I’m not sure you did lie to me! But you did! Or did you? I don’t know what was true and what was a lie! But I thought you loved me!” (See Personal Experience).

        I am not saying that faith schools should not be given public funding. I am certainly not saying that faith schools should not be allowed at all. But I do think that ACE schools should NOT be given public funding of any kind. I am not in a position to discuss any of the other schools on the BHA list. I think there should be a much more rigorous way of examining the actual curriculum that publicly funded schools can teach than is currently available. And I do not believe that you have to defend something you think is wrong in case of a slippery-slope-down-the-thin-end-of-the-wedge-to-the-Stasi.

      • I think it is vitally important that children learn that “fact,” “opinion,” and “belief” are not interchangeable words for the same thing. I also think it is vitally important that children are not taught that anything an authority figure tells them is true, because that kind of belief is clearly harmful.

        As for your question about where the experiments are proving evolution, try here, where there are TONS of examples. Remember, “evolution is repeatable” doesn’t mean that humans have to re-evolve from archaebacteria all over again. It just means “we can observe some life form evolving, and can also observe other life forms evolving at another time.” And we have, over and over again. Some bacteria have recently evolved in such a way that they can now digest nylon–which didn’t exist until the 1930’s, and was indigestible to all life forms until those bacteria evolved nylonase enzymes in 2007 or thereabouts. Humans of European descent evolved an ability to comfortably digest milk well into adulthood, an ability which other people tend not to have after age 5 or so. We evolved this ability because our ancestors have been raising dairy cows for thousands of years, whereas humans in other parts of the world haven’t.

      • Ruth said:
        “I know that as a parent and as a Christian you are probably concerned where this argument might be heading, so you end up defending the teaching of something that you don’t even believe to be true.”

        Although I could be wrong, based on what you said I do not think you understand my concerns.

        Lots of people teach things I do not believe to be true. Sometimes atheists in their zeal to attack Christians have taught false teachings. And of course even every Christian that is of a different church than my own will teach things I do not believe are true. Yes being tolerant of others beliefs means you defend their right to teach things you believe are false.

        Here is my problem with ACE:

        “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.” ,

        I quote Saint Augustine who lived from 354-430 AD.

        The problem I have is that most of the children attending these schools will lose faith in Christ due to these people misrepresenting Christianity. Just look at how many atheist bloggers come from fundamentalist backgrounds. Am I the only one surprised at how such a small percentage of Christians seems to create so many outspoken atheists?

        What they teach is wrong and very harmful to Christianity. Probably worse than any anti-theistic ranting. I am not defending what they teach because I have any sort of sympathy with it. I am defending their right to teach their views because I think letting views compete in the open (without the state supporting propaganda for only certain views) is the best approach to government.

      • Trueand reasonable, when religious belief is the justification for making a claim about reality, it is a clear case of religion infringement, a religious incursion crossing its border and speaking (as if with authority that is reasonable and tolerant) about that which it knows nothing (and no means, no method, to find out if it knows what it claims to know, if its claims are supported by anything more than faith-based and not evidence-adduced beliefs). Such claims are unjustified and should be treated that way.

        To assert again and again and again that such religious claims about reality are equivalent to those justified by science (especially when in conflict with them) is factually incorrect. They are NOT equivalent. What you are doing – and continue to do – is presenting a false equivalency and then portraying that false equivalency as if this is reasonable and tolerant. It is neither; such unjustified claims about reality are religious indoctrination. These religious claims are based solely and wholly on beliefs not arbitrated by reality but are being dishonestly sold to a gullible audience as if it were an equivalent ‘education’ to knowledge adduced from reality. It’s not, and selling it as such is to be blunt dishonest.

        Our children deserve better from us. And we can do better simply by assigning such religious claims to be aired honestly and openly and admittedly as religious claims different in quality than evidence-adduced beliefs. This would be honest. What isn’t honest is pretending all claims about reality are equivalently justified if they are believed without taking into consideration reality’s arbitration of them. Religious claims are exempt from reality’s arbitration of them, which is why they faith-based claims. I think it is telling that you seem determined to pretend religious claims about reality are something else, something equivalent to knowledge, something that can take the place of a reality-arbitrated education. The data from this site alone demonstrates from those who have gone through ACE that you are factually wrong.

      • Tildeb

        You are just making a bunch of philosophical assertions. They are not scientific assertions and IMO they blend allot of truth and falsehood. I don’t have time to go through everything you said but let me ask a few things.

        When you say this:

        “Religious claims are exempt from reality’s arbitration of them, which is why they faith-based claims. ”

        What do you mean?

        I subscribe to the traditional view that something is true if it accords with reality. It is false if it does not. Most claims either accord with reality (in which case they are true) or they do not. (in which case they are false.)

        Do you not agree that in reality Mohamed either is a prophet of God or he is not? Isn’t it either true or false that the Quran is the word of God.

        You seem to think reality’s arbitration of claims is somehow dependent on what evidence we subjectively have.

        It seems to me that certain atheists are trying to insulate themselves from reasonable dialogue by literally changing the meaning of what “truth” and “facts” are.

      • You are just making a bunch of philosophical assertions.

        No, I’m not. And you keep using this excuse to dismiss legitimate criticism of your false equivalencies.

        Claims made about reality by religion are not adduced from reality. For example, the resurrection where dead cells apparently reanimate. Nothing in reality indicates this is possible. A belief that it IS possible (by some agency like a god) doesn’t come from this reality; it comes from somewhere else. That ‘somewhere else’ is from a hope that it did happen because of selected second and third hand accounts are given power. And that power doesn’t come from reality; it comes from whomever want to hope it did happen. THAT is faith in action, faith that a claim might be, could be, hopefully is, true. What is arbitrating this claim is subjectively dependent on the person. This is not equivalent to compelling evidence adduced from reality, the kind of evidence any reasonable person would grant confidence in. For example, in medical science, we understand how cellular death occurs and understand the chemistry of why the damage is irreversible because the degraded material is no longer able to function as it did. We base therapies, applications and technologies on this UNDERSTANDING. Notre that the understanding is not imposed by the belief of someone on these dead cells but adduced from the reality that this material is degraded to the point where it cannot function as it once did. Reality has arbitrated the claim for reanimation to be unjustified and we have all kinds of stuff based on this understanding that now seems to work for everyone everywhere all the time. This is NOT a philosophical assertion but an arbitration by reality for a claim made about it.

        Now here’s the point: this reality plays no part in your current understanding of reanimation to affect – even one iota – your belief that Jesus was resurrected. Be honest and admit it. Your belief and not reality empowers your continued confidence in the possibility that Jesus underwent a resurrection. That is faith and it is qualitatively different in methodology than the method of science and reaches a conclusion contrary to our understanding of how reality operates. In your world, reanimation is possible and reasonable in spite of zero evidence from reality that it is. That’s not knowledge. That’s faith-based belief. That is not a philosophical difference but and epistemological difference whereby you allow your beliefs to define probabilities and likelihood of what is and isn’t true about it. I allow reality alone to dictate to me what defines probabilities and likelihood of what is and isn’t true about it. Night and day; faith-based beliefs and evidence-adduced beliefs. Your produces zero knowledge, zero applications, zero therapies, and zero technologies yet you infuse such claims as equivalent to ones that produce knowledge that informs therapies, technologies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time and argue that these two approaches are equivalent and should be taught to children as if – magically – they are equivalent knowledge.

        They’re not, and this is not a philosophical difference but one that can be demonstrated to great effect… negatively in the case of religion producing knowledge and positively in the case of science producing knowledge. And that difference matters even if you don’t believe it does..

      • I said:
        “You are just making a bunch of philosophical assertions.”

        Tildeb said:

        “No, I’m not. And you keep using this excuse to dismiss legitimate criticism of your false equivalencies.

        Claims made about reality by religion are not adduced from reality.”

        You are simply begging the question. Of course, true religious claims are adduced from reality. Whether you are atheist Muslim christian or whatever you think your religious views are adduced from reality.

        Tildeb said:
        ” For example, the resurrection where dead cells apparently reanimate. Nothing in reality indicates this is possible. ”

        Well there are the accounts of it happening. Do you think these accounts do not exist in reality? Do you not think that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that accounts often in fact reflect reality?

        “A belief that it IS possible (by some agency like a god) doesn’t come from this reality; it comes from somewhere else.”

        How many realities do you believe in that you refer to “this” reality?

        The belief stems from the claims that ultimately found their way in written accounts. Now you might think that evidence is not very good. We can argue about it but the accounts actually exist in this reality. Its not a different reality that we need to travel to in order to see the accounts.

        You might not believe in miracles due to philosophical beliefs you hold. But that is scientism not science. Scientism is a philosophical belief system it is not itself the conclusion of any science.

        You seem unaware of this distinction. If you want to defend scientism that’s fine and acceptable. But don’t claim scientism itself is biology or physics or chemistry. It is not. It is a philosophical view.

        And as I said in other blogs where you posted. There is more to life than just living longer.

      • The L said:

        “I think it is vitally important that children learn that “fact,” “opinion,” and “belief” are not interchangeable words for the same thing. I also think it is vitally important that children are not taught that anything an authority figure tells them is true, because that kind of belief is clearly harmful.”

        I think allot of atheists are trying to reinvent what these words mean. Its unfortunate because it makes learning what great thinkers from Socrates on more difficult to understand. That is it makes it harder to learn critical reasoning.

        The L said:

        “As for your question about where the experiments are proving evolution, try here, where there are TONS of examples. Remember, “evolution is repeatable” doesn’t mean that humans have to re-evolve from archaebacteria all over again. It just means “we can observe some life form evolving, and can also observe other life forms evolving at another time.” And we have, over and over again. Some bacteria have recently evolved in such a way that they can now digest nylon–which didn’t exist until the 1930′s, and was indigestible to all life forms until those bacteria evolved nylonase enzymes in 2007 or thereabouts. Humans of European descent evolved an ability to comfortably digest milk well into adulthood, an ability which other people tend not to have after age 5 or so. We evolved this ability because our ancestors have been raising dairy cows for thousands of years, whereas humans in other parts of the world haven’t.”

        I understand the basis of evolution I think it has a good basis. That is beside the point.

        I was responding to WJ. WJ said that “we evolved” is a fact. WJ did not just say that evolution is a fact. WJ also said that if something is a fact then it must be verified by repeatable experiments. I simply asked WJ if he thought such a thing happened. As I said the theory of natural selection has had numerous experiments which justify it. However no one has verified we evolved by repeatedly creating us from a common ancestor such as an ape or single celled life form Our inability to do this doesn’t mean it’s not a fact that “we evolved.” That is why using that new-fangled definition of “fact” is ill conceived.

        I do not think our inability to recreate something by repeated experiments is required for something to be a fact. It was a fact that Neptune had at least 13 moons before we could verify that. In reality the moon was there. It was the state of affairs despite our ability to prove it. The same is true of most historical facts.

      • BTW
        I think allot of posters here are confusing “facts” with “Data.” I do agree that Neptunes 13th moon was not “data” until it was discovered or we had evidence of it. And I do agree that data is generally widely available. This is true of historical data where we examine old texts/records and archaeology etc., and scientific data where examine things in nature.

  3. We had to recite these pledges in my fundamentalist church’s Sunday school. Adults and children. This activity should NOT be in any public school, or a tax funded school. I love the little boy in front wiping at and then picking his nose. Kind of says it all.

    • There’s a superb video from my old school of the preschoolers learning and reciting Psalm 1. Halfway through one of the boys puts both hands down his pants and starts playing with himself.

    • The pledge to the Dominionist flag is the worst part, for me. I don’t believe that religions should have flags, as a matter of principle. Symbols, yes, of course. Flags, no. Flags imply that you will rally behind the colors to war with other folks who don’t believe the same thing you do.

  4. This is very disturbing Jonny.

  5. I was under the impression that Foundation units have to provide access to several different areas to play with (including outside play) for the whole session, and the kids are supposed to choose what they want to do. Anyway, sitting at an office all morning surely contravenes all this? I know you said that was your memory of pre-schoolers in your own school so maybe they aren’t allowed to make the little ones do that anymore.

    But that’s just for starters. Don’t get me going on the dressing up masculine/feminine. I mean it’s kind of funny but properly horrible at the same time. My point is, how is this stuff being hidden from Ofsted? Surely that would not be allowed on the basis of gender equality?

    Childminders are finding their role increasingly regulated by Ofsted to the point where many are leaving childminding altogether. So how is Ofsted being so nitty gritty with childminders but leaving entire nurseries to pledge their allegiance to the blah blah blah…

    There was this whole discussion kicking off when I was growing up about our school applying for state funding, and it was abandoned because there was going to be too much state regulation over the curriculum and the disciplinary procedures. If these ACE pre-schools are given state funding does that mean that Ofsted requirements have grown less stringent over time?

    Please someone help me understand…

    • I wish I could Ruth. People tell me Ofsted’s job is to inspect lessons, not curriculums, which explains some of it but not all. I think Ofsted is negligent when it comes to ACE, and I’m very unhappy about it.

      • Ok I have done some reading. I hesitate to call it research, but here goes.

        Apparently a school does not have to teach EYFS (the curriculum for 3-5 year olds) in order to get funding for 15 hrs a week per child. It used to. But now it doesn’t.

        A large part of Ofsted’s assessment is based on the measurement of pupil progress from one stage of the curriculum to the next. Once a setting is described as “good” in Pupil Attainment it is more likely to be judged as “good” in Quality of Teaching and Leadership and Management. In fact, if the setting is not “good” in Pupil Attainment the other two areas are not allowed to be described as “good”.

        (The fourth and final category that Ofsted inspects is Behaviour and Safety of Pupils. Safety means A Piece of Paper with an Anti-bullying Policy and a Safeguarding Policy. Behaviour, as anyone who has been to an ACE school knows, is unlikely to pose a problem.)

        The affect of all of this is as follows:

        As long as pupils make fast enough progress through the curriculum, a setting can be described as “good”.

        As long as the 5 year olds know more about the difference between men’s clothes and women’s clothes than the 3 year olds, the setting is “good”.

        As long as children learn whatever you teach them quickly enough that’s fine by Ofsted.

      • *effect. I think. But I did cheat my way through English PACEs so what do you expect.

  6. “Some people have tried to argue that three and four year olds are too young for it to matter what they are taught about science.”

    I think evangelists, like those behind ACE, know exactly what they are doing by indoctrinating young children with anti-science dogma. Whether they realize it or not they are following the Jesuit motto: “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” It is their biblical mission to narrow the minds of children, not to broaden them.

    p.s. I realize the Jesuits are more credible when it comes to science than most evangelicals. I cited that motto for its relevance to child indoctrination in general, not just about science.

  7. I can’t get the links to the form letter to work. Is there an issue here?

  8. Essentially they are deliberately reducing the potential for Rational thinking for all their children, regardless of the child’s IQ, in fact it has been found that the higher the IQ, the quicker the child will absorb and likely believe these false answers for everything. Deliberately reducing a child’s future potential for Rational thinking is grounds for considering this as Child Abuse. Thus I believe that these centers should all be charged with Child Abuse. Now that would send shockwaves through the Creationist camps.
    Aye!

  9. Trueandreasonable is if the opinion that

    … when we look at what it actually says (tildeb: publicly-funded creationist nurseries), I am willing to say people have a right to these views and the state shouldn’t prevent it.

    The fact that tax dollars are spent is a consequence of democracy. I would rather people have choices in education than learn only what the state wants.

    Where trueandreasonable’s opinion goes off the rails is to substitute parental views in place of education as if the two are flip sides of the same coin. They’re not. Parental views are simply opinions. You shouldn’t have to pay for me to teach my children that demons are real, that starts are sparkly bits hanging from the sky, that Baal is a causal agency who controls you. Education is a curriculum demonstrated to successfully provide the imparting or acquiring of general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. This is not the thing as imparting or acquiring the parent’s opinions but something entirely different. By substituting one for the other, trueandreasonable is advocating that we should DENY children access to general knowledge, DENY children ways to develop the powers of reasoning, DENY children any intellectual preparation for mature life. In place of these social goals, he advocates that we substitute religious indoctrination or be supporters of totalitarianism.

    Trueandreasonable assumes that religious indoctrination is the flip side of state sponsored indoctrination. The example he uses is evolution as if this is a faith-based rather than evidence-adduced belief. To help him accomplish this bait-and-switch argument, he abuses the word ‘belief’ as if the religious sense of the word (belief justified by religious authority) means the same thing for the scientific sense of the word (belief justified by reality’s arbitration of it). He presumes another equivalency that simply isn’t accurate. And on these foundations of his imagination, he proposes that the public has an obligation – if they support democratic principles – to not just pay for his religious privilege to teach his children his religious beliefs and call it education but that to not support his privilege is making him a victim of totalitarianism.

    How does one approach such tortured reasoning that really does create victims of children denied a good education because of warped parental views such and correct it without appearing to be intolerant?

    Well, I think the same kind of reasoning trueandreasonable uses to vilify children’s advocates is the same used to protect those who teach children how to vilify others on the basis of the parent’s bigotry, misogyny, and intolerance. Once again, we see the scope of irrational relativity at play when the very principles upon which our secular liberal democratic have been built (to produce and sustain public education) are used to protect people who wish the public to pay for the teaching of anti-secular, anti-liberal, anti-democratic values under the disguise we call religion. And we see this in action all around us – especially in England where public funding promotes cultural, racial, and religious intolerance in the name of respect for ‘multiculturalism’. (I happen to be a big supporter of multiculturalism within a secular liberal democratic framework and am aghast at how easily people are fooled into thinking such support means compromising these principles in the name of these principles!).

    Specifically, we see muslim children subjected to Koranic teachings that are demonstrably antithetical to secular liberal democratic principles. These teachings are protected and promoted by those who hide behind the claim to be offended when challenged by the evidence of harm such teachings produce. The same tactic is used in promoting Catholicism in education. The same tactic is used promoting evangelical christianity in education. To put these or any biased religious teachings into the education system only pollutes the very goals a good public education is intended to achieve. And what we end up compromising (in the name of not offending anyone’s religious sensibilities) are the very principles that grant every individual the right to believe what each of us chooses to believe. In other words, including religious indoctrination of any kind in state-sponsored education is a guaranteed way to undermine freedom of religion. Why more religious people don’t grasp the point and insist on separation of Church and State to protect their freedom of religion is a great mystery to me and evidence of the pernicious effect religious teachings so often have on otherwise intelligent people.

  10. I don’t see what the problem is with teaching regular classes in school and going to Sunday school at church. In Greece, the state and the church are not separated, so in schools students have a religion class (which is not mandatory) and science classes (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology) are taught at a very good level. And nobody complains, even if Greeks consider the country to be rather religious and traditional.

    • The problem, to these people, is twofold:

      1. Jesus isn’t being mentioned every other minute in schools, therefore schools must be anti-Christian.

      2. Evolution is taught as a fact (because it is) with no mention of God creating anything, therefore science teachers at public schools can’t possibly believe in God and want all our kids to be atheists.

      It’s because of the horrible doctrine of “inerrancy,” i.e., every narrative in the Bible happened in exactly that manner as a matter of historical fact. Thus, the world is 6,000 years old, Noah’s flood actually happened, and every creature ever named in the Bible (Leviathan, for instance) must be a real creature that actually existed. (Leviathan is a particular favorite for creationists–they insist that it was a plesiosaur.)

      They believe that either the entire Bible can be treated as a matter of historical record, or else nothing in the entire book could possibly be true. They’ve basically painted themselves into an ideological corner.

  11. “Later on, when one of these little ones grows older and begins to question, she will find it very difficult. Firstly, the skills to question will not have been allowed to grow. Secondly, she will not be able to put her finger on it but her heart’s memory will have a distant recollection of the dressing up and the pledging allegiance and the creation colouring sheet, given to her by people she (most probably) knows well and loves. Her head will be shouting “You lied to me over and over and over” while her heart cries “Did you lie to me? Why did you lie to me? I’m not sure you did lie to me! But you did! Or did you? I don’t know what was true and what was a lie! But I thought you loved me!” (See Personal Experience).”

    Ruth, you hit the nail on the head. This was exactly my experience too, and it was even harder because when I tried to explain my pain to my mother, she said she’d given me the experiences I had growing up “to expose you to different viewpoints.”

    In their naivete, my parents didn’t realize just how hard it is when your home life consists of good, solid science and history resources (lots of books from PBS, and kids’ books about dinosaurs, and watching Bill Nye on television), but your school life not only consists of creationist dogma, but also teaches you not to trust science that is opposed to YEC one iota. When you’re surrounded by right-wing Christians all the time, and the ones you see during school hours are all YECs, it’s easy to reach the conclusion that everyone else you know must be a YEC too. Especially when none of the books or TV shows you have to the contrary ever make mention of the authors being Christian.

    The omission made it worse. My parents assumed that if I was confused about human origins, I would ask them questions about which people were right: the truth I was hearing at home, or the lies I was hearing at school. But I honestly believed that the people who wrote my dinosaur books and stuff were all atheists (other religions didn’t really exist yet in my mindset). I had no reason to doubt that all Christians believed that the earth was 6,000 years old, and about the vapor canopy and all that nonsense.

    I honestly believed, in my heart of hearts, that A Beka and ACE were right about human origins, and that everybody else (including my own parents) was wrong. When you grow up and realize, not only that your deeply-held belief was dead wrong, but that your own parents knew it was wrong and didn’t tell you, the feeling of betrayal is deep and heart-wrenching.

  12. With so many comments perhaps this has been said already, but an important question underlying this discussion is “in a democracy who should decide what is the best education for a child, and what should that child be taught?” Should a few people, a few “experts” decide on our behalf? If there about 8 million children of school age in England, and there are, say, 2 children in a family then we have 8 million parents. So do we permit a bureaucracy of 10,000 or even 100,000 make decisions versus 8 million decisions by all the parents combined? Some will make bad or even deplorable choices but overall we have many more eyes and many more minds weighing circumstances and making choices for their children, the vast majority of whom want the very best for their children. 8 million decisions versus 100,000 decisions is a better way to go.If some make what others consider bad decisions that is the risk of giving people freedom. Out of the millions of school children there are 9 ACE schools? Let parents have their choice.

    As an American I’m not familiar with the English educational system. Tax payer funding is always the complicating factor. I say if someone is unhappy with the state school system, then give them a refund on their money. Where does tax money come from? It comes the parents, and it comes from these Christians as well. The tax money being spent on behalf of these particular Christians comes from them, originally! Give them their money back. It was theirs to begin with, after all.

  13. This is for truenandreasonable:

    I am sorry if I assumed something about you that isn’t true. I was just trying to figure out why you might think that it’s ok for ACE schools to be given public funding. That is after all the point of the original post.

    I have said that I don’t think that lying to children is ok.

    I have said that the ACE curriculum lies to children.

    I have implied that ACE goes further than telling lies to children, that it also seeks to disable or restrict the child’s ability to discover the truth.

    For these reasons alone I am not happy for ACE schools to receive public funding. (We have not even touched on what Jonny’s mum calls The Crapness!)

    I am assuming, perhaps rashly, that you agree that ACE does lie to children?

    Your main objection to ACE, you say, is the damage it does to the face of Christianity. That’s not my main problem with ACE (although I agree it’s pretty annoying). So you defend the right of ACE adults’ views to “compete in the open”, and to do that you argue that they should be given public funding. But you are defending their right to compete in the open, as you call it, USING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN! That is my main objection to ACE.

    I am a bit too poorly educated to shove enormous quotes from ancient philosophers in my comments so I will stick to a mini-quote from the ancient philosopher Yoda:

    “You must unlearn what you have learned”

    21 years later, I’m still trying.

  14. The BHA’s letter refers to English state-funded schools. I live in Wales. Do you know of any evidence that this is occurring in the rest of the UK?

  15. trueandreasonable: I am not, nor have I ever been, an atheist. You, however, are in dire need of a dictionary.

  16. The government does not fund religious schools in the US, but I would not mind it. But there should be high standards of education, and ACE is just too easy. I think that’s the biggest problem. I don’t know how people who do ACE do well in college. There is little writing and little critical thinking. Math is crappy although I haven’t seen the upper level maths.

  17. oops, I’m tired. I havea typo in the above comment. I meant science is crappy. I don’t have any big problem with their math other than not enough word problems. The math is okay to me.

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