Our regular readers are aware of the problem they’re having in Scotland about an outbreak of creationism in their schools. If not, see Creationism in Scotland — Update. Our last post on the situation was A “New Enlightenment” in Scotland?
We strive to be fair and balanced, so today we’ll present the creationists’ side, which we found being advocated in The Scotsman, published Edinburgh. Their article is: There is room for religious tolerance. It’s an opinion piece by Rev. David Robertson, a trustee of Solas. In their “About Us” page we found this … ah, peculiar view of history:
Our belief is that Europe was founded upon and largely owes its culture and existence to Christianity but that there is a retreat from Christianity going on today. We believe that the rejection of Christianity into an ill-defined and untried secular humanism is at best a plunge into dangerous waters, and at worst, a return to the Dark Ages. Therefore we aim to enable people to reclaim their Christian heritage, embrace the renewing grace of God and exemplify Christ in all things.
Perhaps your Curmudgeon is over-reacting, but we read that to mean that the Enlightenment is leading us not out of, but back into the Dark Ages. Rev Robertson is described as “the minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland.” Here’s their website.
Okay, that’s what we’re working with. Here are some excerpts from the rev’s column, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
THERE is a clear and present danger to Scotland’s children. It is something that is so serious that it requires new laws, press campaigns and parental vigilantes to ensure that our children are not infected with this epidemic.
A bit over-dramatic. What’s the rev talking about? Let’s read on:
We are not talking here about child poverty, sexual abuse, family breakdown, bullying or a lack of educational resources. No, the big issue facing parents, teachers and the education system today is apparently the teaching of creationism.
Ah, the rev is being clever. He’s subtly suggesting that although Scotland has bigger problems than creationism in the schools, for reasons he can’t quite grasp, the problem of creationism is being overblown by those who oppose it. What does he suggest? Should we ignore creationism until every child is being otherwise perfectly raised? He gives us an example of what he considers over-reaction to creationism:
The Scottish Secular Society were so concerned about this that they wrote in an open letter to the education secretary, Mike Russell, “As you will no doubt be aware, creationism and the denial of evolution has been found in three separate Scottish schools in a very short period of time. This confirms our belief that such views and excesses may be endemic in the system.” They warned of a vociferous parental backlash, intense media scrutiny and that: “If this is left unchecked there is a very real potential that such views can continue to affect this nation’s most precious resource – our children.”
The rev doesn’t approve of this action by the Scottish Secular Society, and he tells us why:
The trouble is that like many such campaigns there is a great deal of hot air and emotion and very little reason and calm thinking. I have a suspicion that if Wee Johnny came home from school and announced that his teacher was a practicing witch, the school would be congratulated on its equality and diversity policy, but if he announced that she was a creationist the demands for interrogation, protection and resignation would be immediate.
That was a penetrating analysis. Here’s more, and you’ll observe a complete absence of “hot air and emotion” in the rev’s words. In what follows, nothing but “reason and calm thinking” can be found. Here it comes:
By using the word creationism but not defining it, by playing on people’s fears and prejudices, and suggesting that Scotland’s schools are being infiltrated by American fundamentalists who are the Christian equivalent of the Taleban, the Secular Societies are using the issue to further their cause of privatizing religion and driving Christianity out of the Scottish education system.
Ah, the light dawns. We are beginning to see the rev’s motivation. Moving along:
The more militant secularists have a witch-hunt mentality and all the fervour of religious fundamentalists as they seek to root out the heretics. Earlier, SS [the rev’s own way of lovingly referring to the Scottish Secular Society] had issued a general appeal to their supporters to become whistleblowers, reporting whether various Christian groups were active in any schools they knew with the promise that details would be “of great interest to a journalist contact”. This results in a climate of fear, frustration and intimidation with someone going so far as to suggest a creationist teacher “should be drummed out of town”.
Let’s see …”militant secularists have a witch-hunt mentality and all the fervour of religious fundamentalists” which is creating a “climate of fear, frustration and intimidation.” The rev, on the other hand, is all sweetness and brotherly love. We’ll jump to his last paragraph, and break into two parts so you can more easily savor the rev’s wisdom:
Do we really want to exchange our traditional Christian-based education system for one where fundamentalist atheists using an ill-defined secularism and an even poorer defined threat of “creationism”, create a moral hysteria that results in anything that deviates from their absolutist truths, being outlawed and banned?
Do we really want to create that kind of “moral hysteria”? Here’s the end:
Do we really want to silence the majority of Scots who still actually believe that the universe did not self-create out of nothing, but was created in some way by an Almighty Creator? Do we really want a creationist witch-hunt?
What can we say? The rev not only refers to his opponents as the SS, he also uses other emotional phrases — climate of fear, hysteria, witch-hunts, etc. But he’s overlooking something. Except for “SS” — a uniquely sleazy aspersion — those other phrases describe the worst moments from the history of the rev’s culture, not the rational, non-authoritarian, scientific oriented Enlightenment.
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