People around the world like to point to the United States and laugh at how we are ruled by the far-right religious zealots. I see this every single time some school board gets the zombie-bite of young-Earth creationists packing their membership, or the Disco ‘tute gets some bug in their britches about reality.
Well, here’s my message to the world: welcome to our nightmare.
1) A survey in the UK shows that about 1/3 of the teachers in England and Wales think creationism should be taught in science. About half think it shouldn’t be (one assumes the rest have no opinion), while 2/3 of the teachers think it should at least be discussed.
70% of science teachers think creationism should not be taught, which sounds good until you realize that means 30% of science teachers think it should be. About 3/4 of science teachers think it should be discussed in the classroom (one assumes the survey distinguishes between discussing it and teaching it). In my opinion that’s a mistake, as most science teachers are probably not prepared to deal with the issue very well. It’s not simple to go over the many failings of creationism versus science, and it’s made far more treacherous in the classroom because you’re dealing with the beliefs of children.
Only about 1/4 of teachers overall understand young-Earth creationism for what it is: wrong.
A funny thing. The newspaper article linked above has this headline: “THIRD OF TEACHERS WANT CREATIONISM”. The headline for the actual survey (done by the Ipsos Mori research organization, was: “Teachers Dismiss Calls For Creationism To Be Taught In School Science Lessons”, which is more accurate, but still downplays the fact that way too many teachers think creationism should be taught.
I guess with creationism, the water glass is half empty if you’re a newspaper editor, and half full if you’re a researcher.
But neither attitude changes the cold, hard fact, that the hydrogen in that water is 13.7 billion years old.
2) The UK newspaper The Guardian has a big article in it about
convicted criminal Turkish Muslim creationist Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya. This is a wealthy man who wrote a book called The Atlas of Creation, filled with plagiarized pictures and chock full o’ lies and nonsense about evolution and fossils. I invite you to go through PZ’s site for a dissection of this guy’s overarching pogrom against reality. Here’s a fun one by PZ to give you a taste.
The Guardian article takes Oktar to task pretty well, essentially pointing out how creepy and slick he and his organization are. However, the author made one error I think is important. She points out that his creationist tome is huge and expensive, and that it “has thudded onto 10,000 doormats since its publication in 2006.” However, she never actually explicitly states that these copies were not sold. Oktar sent them unsolicited all over the place, to schools, Universities, and what-have-you. This is important because the way she wrote the article implies that it has sold a lot of copies. It hasn’t.
And, as PZ points out in the links above, it’s hugely packed with lies.
I am not happy about creationism infecting Europe at all. In many cases over there, it’s not the literal Bible kind we have here, it’s the literal Koran kind. Both are wrong. To believe the Earth and Universe are only thousands of years old is to deny many thousands of separate pieces of evidence. Oktar himself has a prize he claims he will give to anyone who can show him a single fossil that proves evolution. Of course, it takes a series of fossils to show evolution is true, but that misses the bigger point: they all show evolution to be true.
His prize is for trillions of dollars, by the way, so one can assume that even that claim Oktar makes is full of it. I guess when you lie so often and so easily, telling the truth about anything becomes nearly impossible.
So what can be done about all this? Fight. Make your voice heard. Keep talking about it. Keep pointing out where young-Earth creationists are wrong, and where their most famous mouthpieces are lying (and maybe drop in a hint about the Ninth Commandment). Point them to the Creationism FAQ at talk.origins. And wherever you are, do what you can to defend reality. In America, it means voting. The same is probably true in the UK, though in Turkey that option may be limited. When your country is ruled by religious zealotry options do tend to be restricted. That’s one reason I remain vocal in my own United States about religious control of politicians, no matter what that religion may be. For a society to remain free, it must remain secular.
The truth, it turns out, really will set you free.