“Magic” is not appropriate for a science class

On the left, Ken Ham a young earth creationist from Answers in Genesis, who debated Bill Nye the science guy on the right. When asked, this is how they both responded.

The Rev David Robertson, the moderator-designate of the Free Church of Scotland, appears to be terribly upset that secular humanists have an objection to “magic” being taught in schools.

The context here is that “Christian Today” is running an article in which he claims that Scottish Christianity (is that a specific sect?) is under threat from militant atheists. The article spins it like this

The moderator-designate of the Free Church of Scotland has warned of a “sustained attack” on Christianity by militant atheists under the cover of promoting a ‘neutral’ secularism.

Two separate initiatives have been launched by Scottish humanists, one to fund the University of Glasgow to set up a study to investigate the “privileged status” of religion in Scotland and the other, by the Scottish Secular Society (SSS), to petition the Scottish Parliament to ban the teaching of creationism in schools in line with Westminster policy.

And that’s it, it is just those two specific initiatives that apparently have him all rilled up and motivated to claim …

  • secular humanists = “militant” atheists.
  • these two initiatives = a “sustained attack” on Christianity

I quite honestly have no idea what a “militant” atheist is expect perhaps to consider it to be an attempt to slur the idea of “I do not believe” by prefixing it with a word that describes something aggressive and combative. The use of such prefixes without any justification tends to point towards a considerable degree of insecurity regarding the specific beliefs of those that deploy them.

He then goes on to claim something that broke my industrial strength irony meter ..

“It is disturbing that hundreds of years of Christian influence and tolerance are being eroded by these secular fundamentalists.”

I’m not sure that “tolerance” would be my go-to word of choice when describing Christian history, especially when you consider the thought that even today anybody who does not believe exactly what they believe is going to burn in hell (Yep, that claim is really “tolerant” of anything that is not an exact clone).

So what are these initiatives that he is upset about?

There has been a £40,000 donation from the Humanist Society Scotland to fund a study led by Callum Brown, professor of history at the university, and Jane Mair, a law professor. According to Prof Brown, the research will be based on a search of legal databases to find instances where the privilege of the Church in law has been in contravention of equality legislation. Prof Brown has explained it like this:

We will scour the records for examples where church privilege has led to discriminating laws, for example laws that prohibit what you can do on a Sunday.

What comes out from such a study may indeed be quite embarrassing for religion, so it is perhaps understandable that Mr Robertson would rather not have such a study conducted, and also feels threatened by it, but as for how such a university study of the legal facts can be deemed to be a “sustained attack”, well I confess to being truly mystified by that stance.

The other is simply a petition to the Scottish parliament to keep religious myths decoupled from education, and there I once again struggle to grasp why such a wholly rational proposal is deemed to be a threat.

If indeed Mr Robertson truly does believe that a man in the sky created the earth and the entire universe in just seven days by magic, then I am quite happy for him to do so, but I am not at all happy that such religious myths should be promoted as facts within an educational context.

I am also quite willing to change my mind about that. All he needs to do is to present some evidence for this claim, but both you and I do know that this is simply not going to happen because there is none at all, not one jot. (No the bible is not “evidence”, it is simply a collection of claims).

It is rather sad that a proposal to not teach fiction as fact is still being objected to, but perhaps it is also understandable because humans who have invested rather a lot of themselves in a specific idea really do find it hard to come to terms with the realisation that they have wasted their entire lives for the sake of a cultural delusion.

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