Another radical atheist comes out in favor of evolution.

| 35 Comments

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stepped into the controversy between religious fundamentalists and scientists by saying that he does not believe that creationism - the Bible-based account of the origins of the world - should be taught in schools.

Giving his first, wide-ranging, interview at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop was emphatic in his criticism of creationism being taught in the classroom, as is happening in two city academies founded by the evangelical Christian businessman Sir Peter Vardy and several other schools.

“I think creationism is … a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories … if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there’s just been a jarring of categories … My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it,” he said.

The debate over creationism or its slightly more sophisticated offshoot, so-called “intelligent design” (ID) which argues that creation is so complex that an intelligent - religious - force must have directed it, has provoked divisions in Britain but nothing like the vehemence or politicisation of the debate in the US. There, under pressure from the religious right, some states are considering giving ID equal prominence to Darwinism, the generally scientifically accepted account of the evolution of species. Most scientists believe that ID is little more than an attempt to smuggle fundamentalist Christianity into science teaching.

States from Ohio to California are considering placing ID it on the curriculum, with President George Bush telling reporters last August that “both sides ought to be properly taught … so people can understand what the debate is about.” The archbishop’s remarks place him firmly on the side of science.

The ABC is head of the Anglican Church which is the world’s 3rd largest Christian denomination. The cre/ID response, if there is one, is guaranteed to be fun. They will claim either that he lacks faith, that he doesn’t understand science like they do (as apparently over 90% of the world’s scientists don’t understand it like they do), or perhaps they’ll go full throttle and declare him non-Christian. For the Discovery Institute folks, I’m putting my money on option two. For Answers in Genesis and other YEC outfits, I’m going with three.

35 Comments

He’s got more sense than the Prime Minister at any rate. Tony Blair seems quite happy for faith-based schools to spring up everywhere and teach whatever alternative to evolution they feel like teaching.

“He’s got more sense than the Prime Minister at any rate.”

Not too difficult, when you consider that Tony Blair believes in the curative properties of distilled water (read: he’s a homeopathic). If he swallows one pseudoscience, why not more?

What I *really* look forward to is the answer of Heddle. He likes to claim that the pro-evolution statements of bishops of Catholic Church are “personal” opinions because they’re not the head of the church (although they are - just like a board of directors). Well, unless he calls for the Queen’s opinion, you don’t get any higher in the CoE than the ABC.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

“Well, unless he calls for the Queen’s opinion, you don’t get any higher in the CoE than the ABC.”

The Queen, of course, being the head of the C of E. Dei Gratia (by the Grace of God) Fid. Def. (Defender of the Faith).

Alan

Who cares what this religious figure thinks about science?

Not me…

It’s interesting to compare this with the article over on Uncommon Descent about students petitioning to have ID taught in schools in Northern Ireland.

It’s revealing that the move is supported by the DUP, whose head is the Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley, also head of the Free Presbyterian Church. He makes political speeches like fire and brimstone sermons. He even calls Catholics Papists. In the 19th century, a lot of mostly Protestant Ulster Scots emigrated to Appalachia. Now their descendents are largely staunch creationists. And now the ideas from the new world are returning home again to Europe. Nice symmetry, no?

And I have to say that I really enjoyed watching Ireland beat England in Twickenham again.

Who cares what this religious figure thinks about science?

Not me…

Because he ‘gave the wrong answer’, right?

At least it’s a Protestant religious figure saying this rather than a Catholic, so it may have greater impact in America.

I will now attempt to predict the DI’s spin on this:

The statements of the Pope, the ABC, and the Lutherans are irrelevant, since ID is science, and not in any way religious, or motivated by religion, and these religious leaders don’t understand how truly scientific ID is.

There, I’ve just offered a testable hypothesis…

Who cares what this religious figure thinks about science?

Um…religious people whose votes we need to defeat the extremists?

George - YES! My daughter just saw Ireland beat up England in rugby too!

And if Northern Ireland okays ID - More power to them! Who cares what the other side does? Let them all rot in the hell of their own making.

Up The Republic!

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good old Rowan. I always thought it was a good idea to get an archbisop who looks like a druid/folk singer

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(Long time reader, first time poster…)

Ben Wrote:

At least it’s a Protestant religious figure saying this rather than a Catholic, so it may have greater impact in America.

Well, except I can see one way this will go. The American branch fo the Anglican Church is the Episcopalians. Those groups who tend to perpetuate the teaching of Creationism/ID are often the same groups who have already dismissed the Episcopalians a few years ago when we allowed (gasp) a gay man to serve as bishop. We’re protestant, but we’re well removed from the groups that tend to produce the vocal fundamentalists.

And this is above and beyond the fact that the hardcore Creationists aren’t going to care who says “don’t teach Creationism”, and why should they? People get on them for Appeals to Authority when they pull out the DI list, wouldn’t invoking the ABC be just the same thing? With science on the side of evolution, logical fallacies are unnecessary.

Though…it is nice to see that the head of my church (well…semi head, it’s a rather complicated relationship) is on the side of sanity.

Peter Wrote:

I think there are a lot of young Earth creationists in this part of the UK (my own minister included) and a many of them would not only welcome ID but YECism as well !

I think there are a lot of YECs in the south of Ireland, but not so many in Dublin. Actually, I knew a botany postdoc in Trinity College who was a creationist. Probably an OEC. He wasn’t a systematist anyway! But Irish creationists seem to be a quiet lot, not really fussed about whether or not creationism is taught in schools.

I vote for option one. They’ll be patronising, too.

It’s kinda interesting that this breath of fresh air comes from a place where church and state are firmly united, rather than strictly separated. Maybe American fundies are just insecure?

I think this is significant for those of us in the UK.

I wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that IDCreo is an exaggerated problem in the the UK. We are all far too sensible to fall for the stuff served up by the likes of Pat Robinson et al - there isn’t much money to be gained by dyno-evangelism here.

Still, our sense of fair play means that we don’t like anyone being deceived, and even the kids in the handful of experimental schools that are now run by Creationist sympathists deserve a decent education (I remember that line from Ken Millar where he said that E.O.Wilson came from Ketucky or Kansas or somewhere).

Following your lead some UK PT readers rallied under the banner of ‘Science, Just Science’ to fight off the potential infection of ID/Creo nonsense form our UK Science classes.

This could be our ‘Judge Jones moment’ - and from the most unlikely of quarters. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Chief Exec of our established (i.e.official) religion. He actually commands a dozen our so Bishops who sit in our equivalent of the US Senate. He is also well educated and very smart (if worryingly post-modernist).

Tony Blair will no longer be able to duck questions about the ‘academic freedom’ given to new experimental schools led by evangelical industrialists - and this is compounded by the fact that Scotland Yard are investigating the clear link between loans to the Labour Party organisation, ‘sponsorship’ of such schools and ‘elveation’ to the House of Lords (or a Knighthood or two.

Don’t get me started about ‘the original ‘Dr Rev’ - Ian Paisley in Northern Ireland. He bought those degrees from one of your Bible Colleges - and has been an active party in the strife in these islands for years

Tony Blair was a nice guy before he met Pres Bush. What Happened? - did Cheney put a spell on him or something???

- As for options for your IDiots/Creos - I don’t care much - but I’d put money that it doesn’t appear on ‘Uncommonly Dumb’ too soon.

- Oh! and I forgot to plug our UK Science Just Science forum:

http://justscience.1.forumer.com

We have an old English expression to mean: - ‘deleriously happy’ :

“I’m as happy as Larry!”

:D

P.S. as for the Rugby - I loved seeing Scotland get one over on the English (and the French) although when it comes to (proper) football I’m 100% English.

How come the US is rubbish at team sports that anyone else wants to play? - and I hear that the ‘World Series’ of baseball is currently being played out between Cuba and Japan?

A Baseball Lesson

- we call it ‘rounders’ here at its a game we played at school with girls.

Glad to be part of the International Unversity of Edicaria though - and on that thought what sports teams do we have and what do the cheerleaders loo like?

Lamuella Wrote:

good old Rowan. I always thought it was a good idea to get an archbisop who looks like a druid/folk singer

Rowan Williams is a druid!

- he’s also Welsh-speaking so may have been a bit dissapointed by the boyos in the Rugby recently.

- any chance of a Chick tract on our Druidic Archbishop anytime soon.

(I think Douglas Adams would have enjoyed this!)

Dean Morrison;

No one from ‘Scotland Yard’ is investigating the cash-for-peerages row. It’s just an internal parliamentary review into party funding, led by Sir Hayden Phillips. Sadly, party donors have been receiving honours and favours for a long, long time (remember Bernie Ecclestone?) The difference this time is that because they were loaning money rather than donating it it wasn’t publically declared, so the Lords appointments committee knew nothing of it. Loaning people money in exchange for political favours sadly isn’t illegal, but hopefully the loophole will be plugged now and it won’t happen again.

I wasn’t aware that any of the creationist school-buying types were involved in the loans row specifically (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were Labour Party donors). Care to name names?

Lucy:

I’m afraid you’re not up to date with the latest on the ‘Loans for Lordships’ situation - now the Police are involved:

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labo[…]6488,00.html

as for gongs for ‘Academy Schools’ ( the ‘Wedge’ as far as Creationism in UK schools is concerned) check the links from here:

http://justscience.1.forumer.com/in[…]howtopic=205

Wow, I am behind. Thanks! Though I would (forgive my cynicism) be surprised if the police investigations progressed very far…

The page you linked implied that Vardy hadn’t donated to the Labour Party, just to his creationist schools, which - ridiculous as they may be may be - isn’t exactly the same issue, I don’t think. It stinks, but not quite as bad as the other business, because that’s about propping up party political coffers to no public benefit.

Radical Atheists rule.

Dean: At least Rowen Williams would have been able to sing the Welsh national anthem (the TV footage of John Redwood is hilarious and I always laugh every time I see it !).

I think your Jack Chick track is destined to become another classic. I can almost hear the Arab accents ! For some strange reason I used to receive Jack Chick tracts regularly in the post (I’m still at a loss as to how they got hold of my address) so I’ve read quite a few like “Big Daddy” for instance. When I moved they mysteriously stopped. The new occupants of my old house probably get them now !

Let’s be honest though, the ArchBish might be mouthing some of the right words but there are key phrases to look out for.

This one for example:

“So it [creationism] shouldn’t be taught?

AC: I don’t think it should, actually. No, no. And that’s different from saying - different from discussing, teaching about what creation means. For that matter, it’s not even the same as saying that Darwinism is - is the only thing that ought to be taught. My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it.”

Full marks for not advocating the teaching of creationism. However, although he is “one our side” in one sense, he certainly isn’t in another. He is very much a “teach the controversy” chap, precisely because he is a woolly theologian rather than a fire and brimstone one. The sense I get from the above paragraph is that creationism shouldn’t be taught but “darwinism! shouldn’t be the only thing taught. The one get out he has is that they are not talking about only science classes.

The UK is particularly susceptible to the “teach the controversy”/”equal time” rhetoric of the YEC/IDCists. We are a relatively polite nation and string debate/opinion is still actually discouraged in many spheres especially the anything religious. If anyone heard today’s “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4 they will know what I mean.

Full transcript here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/[…]5404,00.html

And now to the really controversial matter: Rugby.

I see some of our Celtic brethren our getting all uppity because they have won a match or two. Oh well done. Bravo. Now can we get over it please? Your schadenfreude is beneath you. We’re still world champions you know, some proper respect should be accorded. You call me “sir” for starters! Honestly, you conquer a few nations and they get all pissy for the next century or six. ;-) We’ll get you back next year.…maybe!

And now to the really controversial matter: Rugby.

Speaking of sport, did you guys enjoy our (SA) victory in the ODI cricket match against the Aussies?

Still nothing much up at AiG or UD.

Louis Wrote:

Let’s be honest though, the ArchBish might be mouthing some of the right words but there are key phrases to look out for.

This one for example:

“So it [creationism] shouldn’t be taught?

AC: I don’t think it should, actually. No, no. And that’s different from saying - different from discussing, teaching about what creation means. For that matter, it’s not even the same as saying that Darwinism is - is the only thing that ought to be taught. My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it.”

I wouldn’t be too worried about phrases like that. In fairness, he almost certainly doesn’t understand much about evolutionary theory and the (lack of) alternatives. Even given the tendency to fair-mindedness, it would be much more difficult to introduce “teach-the-controversy” into the curriculum in Britain or Ireland. The curriculum is organised at a national (or higher) level and is much less susceptible to local political pressure. I don’t forsee a strong nation-wide push to introduce creationism into schools ever coming about. However, it would be a good idea to keep an eye out for attempts to sneak TTC past politicians who don’t know any better.

I see some of our Celtic brethren our getting all uppity because they have won a match or two.

Ahem. That’s three times in a row that Ireland have beaten England, starting with the very first match after the World Cup.

Your schadenfreude is beneath you.

The proper term is saxonfreude, meaning joy at the defeats of English sport.

But if you’re very nice to me, I might support England during the soccer/football World Cup this summer (Ireland failed to qualify). Or maybe I’ll back Cameroon…

Now even the right-wing Daily Telegraph (ehich recently allowed Stephen Meyer to publish an op-ed piece is on-side:

Daily Telegraph on the Archbishop of Canterbury

as is our ‘Home Secretary’ - who can also calmly announce he is an Atheist without any fuss - can’t imagine a senior politician in the USA doing the same:

Charles Clarke against creationism

I think your being a bit unfair to the Archdruid Louis. He clearly said that creationism shouldn’t be taught in science class. Asking him to outlaw the teaching of the Bible in Religious Education is probably expecting him to take rather too radical a position. He has also said that putting creation and evolution in opposition creates a ‘false controversy’ - hardly suggesting there is a controversy to teach.

Back to more serious matters - Liverpool won 7-0 last night in the FA cup! For the benefit of our American buddies this is a huge score.

George/Dean: Last time Northern Ireland played England in football (soccer to those in the US) they won one nil. Actually the US also has quite a good football team at the moment and I reckon they’ll do well at the next world cup should they qualify (not sure what the situation is regarding that)

Back to Rowen Williams, they (AIG) did say they would be posting something more substantial over the next few days. AIG’s Paul Taylor is on Revelation TV (Sky Digital 765)tomorrow evening at 9PM so you may hear something there. Why not phone in and ask him ?

If only the archbishop could claim that category without special pleading!

If only the archbishop could claim that category without special pleading!NO GIBBERISH. JUST PASS EIGHT GRADE READING COMPREHENSION, LENNY!I APPRECIATE HONEST COMMENTARY,NOT UNFOUNDED NONSENSE.READ ‘SENSE AND NONSENSE WITHOUT GOD. FOR PELLUCID COMMENTARY ON WHY THEISTIC EVOLUTIONISTS ARE WRONG.

YEaH LENNIEY! ,YOR’E RiTiNG AND WREADING IS ALL DUM&,!!!! >QUOTE

Crap.

The 12-year old bloggers have found our website.

Head for the hills, people. I’ll be right behind steve steve.

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