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Friday, April 27, 2007

On the seventh day...

It is the story that they are all talking about, Tory candidate, Darren Millar's unbelievable assertion that homosexuality is a sin and that creationism should be taught in schools.

It was first broken by Arsembly and then picked up on the blogosphere and in the media. I only heard about it at 1pm when Ciaran Jenkins interviewed me for ITV Wales on the subject. Alun Pugh, who was there remembers it clearly.The Tories have been denying that the remarks attributed to Mr Millar were in fact said by him. Their version of events is that he had merely pointed out that some religious texts called homosexuality a sin, like other things, such as gossip. (So that is the blogsphere damned to hell for eternity then.)

On the creationist issue, however,
their officials said he had told the meeting that faith schools should have the flexibility to include creationism in the curriculum.

Mr Millar said: "I made it clear last night that I do not believe that anybody should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, and it would be untrue to suggest that I said anything to the contrary.

"I did not say that creationism should be taught in all Welsh schools.

"However, I do fully support the rights of school governors, parents, and teachers, to have flexibility in their curriculum. This should be a matter for them and not for politicians.

This amounts to much the same thing however and is still utter nonsense. Faith schools, many of which will be non-Christian, still have to teach the national curriculum. The idea that parents or school governors should be able to determine what is scientific fact and what is not in terms of what is taught to children is dangerous and irresponsible. Even when we look at the Tories version of events it is clear that they are fielding a candidate who is out of step with the vast majority of voters and even his own party. The Tory leadership should disown this man.

Update: A comment correctly identifies Vaughan Roderick as first with the news.

Thae hat-tip should be to Vaughan Roderick who posted the story early on Friday morning

Fair enough. Unfortunately I do not read Welsh.
Labour press release broke the news? Who cares who published it first?
Yes Peter. As usual you are completely wrong. Vaughan broke it first then came Blamerbell and then finally it was Arsembly.
I doubt most teachers would understand the modern synthesis, or Hamilton, or more up-to-date stuff. I know for a fact that RE teachers are teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design because they're clutching at straws and are mostly dim.

What's the policy principle here? You wouldn't, I suppose, try to stop a parent teaching Creationism to a child. So if this were private education, would it be ok to teach Creationism?
We are talking about science lessons here not religious education. The suggestion is that creationism be either taught alongside or instead of the theory of evolution as if it were scientific fact. The policy point is that this is not science, it is religious belief and belongs in an RE or philosophy lesson and should be taught in context.

By the way just because a school is private or a faith school does not mean that they can teach what they like. They have to deliver the national curriculum the same as any other school and they are subject to the same inspections as other schools.
Religious claims about supernatural interventions in the world are either falsifiable hypotheses andmay be subject to scientific investigation or they are strictly meaningless.

Suggesting that kids can be taught evolution in Biology and creationism in RE accepts Stephwn Jay Gould's rather pompous 'non-overlapping magesteria' and it's nonsense.

On the point of private education - I know the current facts but what is the rationale?
The rationale is that we have a national curriculum so as to deliver education to a certain standard and uniformity and that you cannot and should not be able to buy your way out of that. Nor should you want to if you wish to progress into higher education.
We have a National Curriculum; and you seem unaware that independent, private and public schools don't have to adhere to it. So as a matter of fact you can buy your way out of it right now.

And we all know that school inspections are worth next to nothing. Take the King Fahd Academy, using textbooks which describe Jews as "apes" and Christians as "pigs". Inspected by Ofsted? Oh yes indeed.

And describing what is the case isn't an argument for what ought to be the case.

What's the principle?
Though I do not have time for Darren Millar’s view (or for that matter the fundamentalist opinion) on creationism or Homosexuality. I defend his right to express them. I don’t believe that creationism or ID will be taught in British schools at anytime. I don’t see the reason for bringing up the philosophical differences between Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins in this particular situation. And I find it amusing to see that people will copy and paste from “God delusion”.
Mike - did you mean me? I don't have 'The God Delusion' and haven't read it. But Dawkins is correct when he observes that many religious claims are claims about the world and may be subject to investigation. Hence the difference with Stephen Jay Gould.

Creationism is already taught is several UK schools. You're wrong.

Hope that clears things up for you.
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