Creationism: Still Crazy After All These Years

Eugenie-ScottEugenie C Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education and indefatigable defender of the teaching of evolution in US public schools delivers an update on the fight against creationism in the USA at this years AAI Convention.

Despite her tendency for accommodationalism, something we here at Atheism do not accept, she is an excellent speaker and is definitely one of the ‘good guys’ in this fight.

See her talk here.


1 thought on “Creationism: Still Crazy After All These Years”

  1. I am a fan of Eugenie Scott! I don’t believe she is an accommodationist in the usual sense, which is typically based on a general assumption that being accommodating will have benefits. That approach doesn’t come out in her talks.

    But she has to work with parents who are concerned with their children’s education. They are the ones who have to pursue the case, not NCSE. She has to keep religious parents on-side so that they will continue to demand good science education. Diverting attention to religion instead of education may be a gesture that some atheists favour, but it is likely to lose the case. That is treating the children like cannon-fodder for the sake of a gesture. (And as a non-profit organisation I believe NCSE has to stick to its scope, which is science education).

    I summarised my own position on my website.

    “This is a “war” of enlightenment being fought across generations, with several different “battles”: “god versus no god”; “religion – good or bad”; “science – right or wrong”; “where should we find our ethics/morals”? For each battle, we need to advance where we can, and at least hold ground where we can’t advance.”

    Imagine the Commander-in-Chief assigning tasks to his/her generals one by one:

    – “Your mission is to propogate the meme “God is a Delusion”; try to ensure that the enemy actively aids this task by being unable to resist giving extra publicity to the concept”.

    – “Your mission is to secure high quality science education in schools; remember that those children are potentially the freethinkers of the future, who will continue this war”.

    – “Your mission is to ensure that freethinkers and non-believers know they are not alone; perhaps spend a bit on advertising, and let the enemy spread the message further by attacking the advertising”.

    – “Your mission is to show how silly the Old Testament is; how you do it is your business, but I suggest you simply stand up on stage and recite from Genesis”.

    – “Your mission is to reinforce the concept that the Catholic Church is not a force for good; this is only a warm-up mission, so you are only taking on a crackpot African Bishop and a shrill MP who is a relatively new convert to Catholicism”.

    – “Your mission is the achieve the disestablishment of the Church of England; this is a probably a long-term mission, so ignore anything else going on”.

    There are creationists alive today who will still be alive, and still be creationists, at the end of the Century. This really is a long-term war. And like all wars, sometimes the weapons and tactics needed in one battle will be different from those in another. (In a real war, the front-line troops may be trying to kill the enemy, while the medics coming after may be trying to save the lives of wounded enemy! At the detailed level, there may be apparent contradictions).

    What is the objective of this war? Atheism? (No). An end to religion? (No). Secularism? (Getting there, but it is only part of the story).

    As I said above: “This is a war of enlightenment”, or rather a war to establish enlightment. I try to judge activities by whether I think they are contributing to enlightenment. I have defined what I mean by enlightenment here.

    I believe we should be using whatever weapons and tactics are needed at the time. (There are limits – I believe we violate the UN Declaration of Human Rights at our peril). And we shouldn’t judge the weapons and tactics being used in one battle according to criteria more appropriate in a different battle.

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