Australian Creationism: Two News Items

YOUR Curmudgeon believes that it’s important to keep up with events on the Underside of the Earth, so we have two separate news items from Australia about The Controversy between evolution and creationism. We’ll give you some excerpts from both articles, with bold added by us:

In the Australian, the biggest-selling national newspaper in the country, we read Dreamtime ‘spiritual’, so off science courses. They say:

Professor McGaw, chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, said he had not realised the Dreamtime had been included in the science course until it was reported by The Weekend Australian last Saturday.

“I’m a science graduate and a former science teacher,” he said. “I think Dreamtime is a religious or spiritual interpretation of the beginnings of life.

“For the same reason, we wouldn’t let intelligent design or creationism be included.
It shouldn’t be in the science curriculum, and we’re going to take it out.”

Splendid. In case you’re wondering, here’s a bit of information about Dreamtime — the animist framework of Australian Aboriginal mythology. Let’s read on:

The Weekend Australian revealed the national science curriculum — released on Monday with national courses in English, history and maths — included a topic called “science and culture” examining different cultural groups and their perspectives on science. The curriculum directs students be taught the scientific knowledge of different cultures from primary school to Year 10.

The elaborations to the curriculum, which provide examples of content teachers could use in lessons, include primarily indigenous examples such as traditional technologies like weapons and tools, and indigenous approaches to sustainable land use and water management.

What? The schools shouldn’t prepare students for life in today’s world by teaching them loin-cloth technology in science class? How judgmental! We continue:

The reference to the Dreamtime stories was contained in the elaborations for Year 4 students, which suggest students research “historical examples of different cultures, knowledge about the national environment and living things (for example, Aboriginal peoples’ Dreamtime stories that explain significant characteristics of the Earth’s surface and interactions between living things)”.

And from there, of course, it’s a short hop to creationism. Here’s one more excerpt:

Professor McGaw said schools were still free to teach the Dreamtime stories and belief systems such as intelligent design in other classes, such as religion.

Fair enough. Now here’s today’s second news story. It appears in Christian Today Australia, an affiliate of the Christian Today network based in the U.K. Their article is titled Attack on faith-based schools’ science teaching set to become an SA election issue, and it says:

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today called on all South Australian political parties to affirm their commitment to supporting the freedom of faith-based schools to reflect their faith with minimum interference, while maintaining high educational standards.

Is there interference with private church schools? Let’s read some more:

ACL SA/Victorian Director Rob Ward said that a new science teaching policy recently published by the SA [South Australian] Non Government Schools Registration Board appears to be trying to prevent intelligent design or creationism from being taught alongside the mandatory requirement to study evolution in non-government schools.

Gasp! They’re “trying to prevent intelligent design or creationism from being taught alongside” evolution? Moving along:

“This new policy – which appears to be far more restrictive than that of other states – has been brought in without any genuine consultation with affected school organisations, and disappointingly seems to have the support of the SA Government. It is set to become a key issue for many Christians in the upcoming election,” Mr Ward said.

He said that the Board’s move stands to defeat the intention of parents in sending their children to schools in South Australia that are faith-based.

Why shouldn’t a private school — if it’s privately funded — be free to teach the “science” of Noah’s Ark? It’s every parent’s right to raise his kids in blissful ignorance. Seriously, we believe that. Another excerpt:

[Mr Ward said:] “The recently published policy of the Board that seems to deny even a reference to sacred texts in the science classroom has been applied in a roughshod manner, with one school even being told to remove a poster that displayed the Bible account of creation.”

So there you are, dear reader. Our upside-down brethren are in a dither. We’ll be looking for further developments.

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2 responses to “Australian Creationism: Two News Items

  1. Gabriel Hanna

    Teaching Dreamtime in science class would be an example of what I call “leftist creationism”. After all, we shouldn’t denigrate indigenous cultures by saying their creation myths aren’t true, should we? Western science is just a tool of the patriarchy anyway.

  2. This cropped up about a week ago in the local papers. It was nice to see that the Labor Party (lefties) minister for Education, Julia Gillard acted quickly and got rid of the Dreamtime stuff out of the science curriculum nearly as soon as the story broke. More than a few conservatives are developing a bit of a crush on Julia, she seems to be pretty well switched on.

    As for the Australian style “Controversy”, most mainstream churches down here accept evolution and don’t try to pull any swift ones.

    We Aussies tend to be quite untrusting of anyone that bangs on bibles too much, hence the “Controversy” doesn’t get much headway. Gabriel is pretty right about the left wing creationism thing though, the need to “respect all origin tales”…. bleh