indoctrination

So I was doing a little early-morning reading and came across this article from the BBC. Essentially, first they outlawed teaching creationism in state-funded schools, then they made sure their purposes couldn’t be circumvented by also putting it into law that one has to teach evolutionary theory as well-supported fact. I have to say I was rather surprised at the number of positive responses this legislation was receiving. The majority of comments, blog posts & the like regarding this are applauding the success of these laws… but frankly I think they’re a little nuts for saying so.

I mean, think about it. Education systems are supposed to teach kids fundamental knowledge and life skills. One of those skills is critical thinking. Richard Dawkins has said that teaching kids religion is like child abuse, and it’s been likened to indoctrination on more than one account. Considering this, aren’t these new laws more than a little ironic? They intentionally limit a child’s access to ideas that contradict the established wisdom- and how can a child think critically if they’re not allowed to learn about alternative ideas & theories? Technically, even if a child were to ask about any contradictory evidence or perspectives, they would only be able to receive an answer constricted by these laws. It would seem they want kids to think outside the box only if they get right back in it at the end of the day.

It reminds me of an experience I had in university a few years ago. I was taking an introductory course in biological anthropology, which focused heavily on human evolution. The text my class was using had a section on creationism in it. Basically it was a 4-page rant about how creationists don’t understand science, deny tons of evidence (like “DNA” and “fossils”!), and how they’re all religious fundamentalists with a political agenda. But of course, they wouldn’t dream of even outlining a creationist’s view of creationism in such a piece, cos that’d be poor education and they wouldn’t want to indoctrinate anyone. But providing, as objective fact,  a one-sided, sensationalist, and alarmist view of creationism – that’s good quality education, alright.

I’m well aware that there’s a lot of disdain for creationists just in general… especially in the media. But why? Isn’t this getting more than a little ridiculous? To me, it seems really rather odd that evolutionary theory is the ONLY scientific theory to be given this kind of legal protection under state law. Even thinking about the possibility evolution could be untrue will garner you little but skewed looks and insults. What exactly are people so afraid of, anyway, that they’re reduced to this kind of thing?

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