Sunday, 6 October 2013

Does Evolution Support Atheism?

Does the scientific fact of evolution support an atheistic view of the universe?

According to fundamentalist Christians in Kansas, USA, it does, as does the fact of the Big Bang. But rather than accepting these scientific facts and adjusting their beliefs, like intellectually honest people do, not only do these swivel-eyed wackos cling to their superstition but they are doing what religious people often do when nasty facts get in the way of their hidden agenda. They try to ban them.

Fearful that Kansas school children might turn out to have the honesty and integrity to base their views on facts rather than sticking to what they were brainwashed with as the unfortunate children of Christian fundamentalist parents, they have even gone running to court again to try to prevent children in public schools in Kansas being taught these troublesome scientific truths.

Although they lost a vote in the Kansas state board of education by 8-2 to prevent schools adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) on the grounds that they teach the science of evolution and the Big Bang and not creationism, they have files a complaint with the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al.) which contends that the NGSS and the Framework for K-12 Science Education (on which the NGSS are based) "will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview ... in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment".

Yes, you read that right - "non-theistic religious..."!

It seems they believe that if you link the word 'religion' or 'religious' to something, that makes it a religion.

The complaint alleges that the NGSS:
... seek to cause students to embrace a non-theistic Worldview ... by leading very young children to ask ultimate questions about the cause and nature of life and the universe ... and then using a variety of deceptive devices and methods that will lead them to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic explanations. ... The effect ... is to cause the students to ultimately 'know' and 'understand' that the student is not a design or a creation made for a purpose, but rather is just a 'natural object' that has emerged from the random interactions of matter, energy and the physical forces via unguided evolutionary processes which are the core tenets of Religious ('secular') Humanism.
So there we are. You have it on the authority of a bunch of Kansas Christian loons, who need to pad out their complaint to the court by including the names of all their unfortunate children in the list of litigants, that the scientific facts of evolution and the Big Bang support atheism and that learning about them will give their children a non-superstitious, rational and hence Humanistic view of themselves and the Universe.

At least we agree on something.

The main thrust of the litigants' case (now don't laugh!) is that atheism and evolution are "non-theistic religions" and therefore by teaching facts instead of mythology and superstition, schools are promoting a religion, in contravention of the Establishment Clause. Presumably they are hoping the judge and the defense counsel will be unaware of relevant previous case history. For example:

  • Crowley v. Smithsonian Institution (1980). Ruled that the Smithsonian's evolutionary displays do not "create a religion of secularism."
  • McLean v. Arkansas (1982). Judge commented, "it is clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause."
  • Peloza v. Capistrano School District (1994). Citing Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), "unequivocally that while the belief in a divine creator of the universe is a religious belief, the scientific theory that higher forms of life evolved from lower forms is not."
Is this the reason Twitter and other social media are spammed daily by religiots who insist, despite common sense, that atheism, evolution and science are religions? Is this the new slogan of the anti-science fundamentalist lobby, or have the Kansas loons simply swallowed the daft notion with their usual credulous naivety? If they can just get it established in US law that these subjects are religions, they can get teaching them banned under the Establishment Clause. The next thing to go for would be history, then geography - anything which might cause children to question the superstitions their unfortunate parents acquired from their parents as children. In fact, why not go the whole hog and ban education altogether on the basis that believing children should not be superstitious is a religious view.

I wonder how long it will be before people in these culturally backward parts of the world realise that you can't ban facts and accept that people who base their opinions on them don't need put their heads in the sand and pretend they aren't there. Nor do we need to abuse our children by preventing them learning facts about the Universe they live in incase they make up their own minds about how to live their lives.

Reference:
National Center for Science Education. Anti-NGSS lawsuit filed in Kansas
New Scientist. Texan creationism showdown may 'contaminate' textbook.


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