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  1. #1
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    Default Teaching creationism in schools - opinions?

    I'm not posting this to be controversial (for those who are following the other thread about that topic). I am interested to see what the consensus is here.. mods - sorry if this is in the wrong section. Feel free to move it if necessary. Also if you are likely to get offended by creationism v evolution debates, this topic is probably not for you. Apologies in advance.

    I've been following Professor Lawrence Krauss on social media for a while, and have watched a lot of his videos on YouTube, my favourite being the talk he did at the Sydney opera house with Richard Dawkins. For those who have never heard of him (professor Krauss) please google him if you're interested..

    He is a scientist and a devout atheist (and anti-religion activist of sorts) and often posts on this topic on Facebook. Today I saw a link he posted to a petition which is asking our education minister Simon Birmingham, to put a ban on government funding of private schools who teach creationism in their curriculum.

    The petition included a video of L Krauss talking about this topic (although the video was not made for the petition specifically, it was actually in response to US politicians talking about creationism). You can see the video here:

    https://youtu.be/UTedvV6oZjo

    He is very outspoken and can be quite offensive IMO, when it comes to religion, so just warning in advance - if you're a religious person, you might not like watching his videos.

    Here is the wording of the petition (I won't link it but if anyone is interested, feel free to PM me).

    ------

    To: Simon Birmingham, Education Minister;
    cc: Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister;
    cc: Tanya Plibersek, Shadow Education Minister:

    Science has provided staggering advances in medicine, technology, and across every sphere of human advancement.

    But science has been undermined by fixations with pseudo-science - the anti-vaxxer lobby, denial of climate change, and fundamentalists who claim human evolution is a "hoax".

    More than 250 private schools across Australia reserve the right to teach Creationism as part of their curriculum. This practice must cease - it is intellectually damaging to children, it indoctrinates ideas that are patently false, it disables the capacity of young minds to 'think critically', and it prevents a scientific understanding of the natural world.

    A Nielsen poll in 2009, reported in The Age, showed almost 25% of Australians believe "the biblical account of human origins". Creationists claim the Earth is just 6,000 years old, that Noah's flood is historically true, and humans lived with dinosaurs. We don't need this taught in schools!

    Current funding for private schools is $12 billion - we urge you to withdraw the relevant portion of these grants from all schools which teach Creationism. Save taxpayer dollars, and stop funding pseudo-science to vulnerable and impressionable children.

    ------

    So my questions are:

    1) do you agree with the statement in the 3rd paragraph that teaching creationism is intellectually damaging? If you don't agree with that statement, do you think that it creates an intellectual dilemma of sorts when children are concurrently being taught biology and other sciences?

    2) do you think that creationism should be taught in schools? If not, do you agree with the petition to ban funding or do you think that's a step too far?

    2a) On another note, are schools actually teaching "creationism" in Australia, or is it just "scripture" which parents can choose for their kids to opt out of anyway? Is taking religious studies in private schools compulsory?

    3) if you watched the video of Lawrence Krauss, I am very interested to hear your opinion of it. Would you agree with his statement that teaching children that the world is 6000 years old is a form of child abuse?

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    I don't have a problem with it being taught so long as it is framed as something that 'some people believe' rather than fact and that actual science is also taught. Something like science tells us x, some religions believe y.

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    Quote Originally Posted by babyno1onboard View Post
    I don't have a problem with it being taught so long as it is framed as something that 'some people believe' rather than fact and that actual science is also taught. Something like science tells us x, some religions believe y.
    I agree with this.

    I'd only be okay with it being taught as a sort of 'studies of religion' class and as this is what some people believe.

    As for funding of private schools that teach creationism - if they are teaching it in place of science, yeah I think I do have an issue with it. Its a parents choice if they then chose to send their child to that school. If they are teaching it as scripture, I am more 'ok' with it I guess although I wouldnt want my child studying it

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    Quote Originally Posted by witherwings View Post

    3) if you watched the video of Lawrence Krauss, I am very interested to hear your opinion of it. Would you agree with his statement that teaching children that the world is 6000 years old is a form of child abuse?
    I haven't listened because I'm on my way to bed but I have listened to Lawrence Krauss before.
    Fascinating.
    The fact that he says everything we know and have learned about the planet and solar systems, speed of light etc, etc is all wrong is just mind blowing so yes, limiting a child's knowledge of the world to being only 6,000 yrs old is insane by comparison.
    I mean, it was always nutty but it's even more so now!
    Teach them of the concept and how some people might still hold on to that belief but that's it.
    If we know better now, what will we know in 40-50 yrs time.

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    Default Teaching creationism in schools - opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by smallpotatoes View Post
    I agree with this.

    I'd only be okay with it being taught as a sort of 'studies of religion' class and as this is what some people believe.

    As for funding of private schools that teach creationism - if they are teaching it in place of science, yeah I think I do have an issue with it. Its a parents choice if they then chose to send their child to that school. If they are teaching it as scripture, I am more 'ok' with it I guess although I wouldnt want my child studying it
    I don't mind children learning about bible stories and I don't have a problem with scripture - although we opt out. We would like our DS to take ethics classes as an alternative but they don't have anyone ATM to teach it so they just spend half an hour a week doing nothing, which I feel is a real shame.

    Study of religion is actually a really good distinction. I think learning about religions, all the religions is a good way to grow tolerance and understanding of different beliefs and cultures. Do they still have multicultural studies in schools? It would kind of be on that level.

    When it comes to bible stories, I liken them to learning about the Greek and roman gods in ancient history. I remember learning this in high school and it was interesting! Almost fun. But imagine we had been told that the ancient gods were real. And that the weather was controlled by Jupiter/Zeus, and whenever there was a thunderstorm, that was the god Zeus showing his displeasure with some other god, and therefore he was throwing thunderbolts down to earth.

    So this is my issue with creationism specifically. If you believe in creationism, you deny the theory of evolution. It isn't just about being religious and following the teachings of Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha.. its about denying scientific fact that i has an issue with.

    Here are some excepts from the Stanford discussion on Creationism:


    First published Sat Aug 30, 2003; substantive revision Fri Jun 6, 2014

    At a broad level, a Creationist is someone who believes in a god who is absolute creator of heaven and earth, out of nothing, by an act of free will. Such a deity is generally thought to be constantly involved (‘immanent’) in the creation, ready to intervene as necessary, and without whose constant concern the creation would cease or disappear.
    [...]

    Creationism in this more restricted sense entails a number of beliefs. These include a short time since the beginning of everything — ‘Young Earth Creationists’ think that Archbishop Ussher's sixteenth-century calculation of about 6000 years is a good estimate; that there are six days of creation — there is debate on the meaning of ‘day’ in this context, with some insisting on a literal twenty-four hours, and others more flexible; that there was a miraculous creation of all life including Homo sapiens — with scope for debate about whether Adam and Eve came together or if Eve came afterwards to keep Adam company;
    [..]

    Creationists (in this narrow sense) have variously been known as Fundamentalists or biblical literalists, and sometimes — especially when they are pushing the scientific grounds for their beliefs — as Scientific Creationists. Today's Creationists are often marked by enthusiasm for something that is known as Intelligent Design.
    [..]

    With signficant provisos to be noted below, Creationists are strongly opposed to to a world brought on by evolution, particularly to a world as described by Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species. Creationists (certainly traditional Creationists) oppose the fact of evolution, namely that all organisms living and dead are the end products of a natural process of development from a few forms, perhaps ultimately from inorganic materials ("common descent"). Creationists also oppose claims about the total adequacy of the Darwinian theory of evolution, namely that population pressures lead to a struggle for existence; that organisms differ in random ways brought on by errors in the material of heredity (‘mutations’ in the ‘genes’); that the struggle and variation leads to a natural form of selection, with some surviving and reproducing and others failing; and that the end consequence of all of this is evolution, in the direction of well-adapted organisms.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/creationism/
    Last edited by witherwings; 19-04-2017 at 21:55.

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    I don't believe creationism should be taught in Government funded schools, as fact. I believe in separation of religion and state.
    However, I have no issue with different religious beliefs being taught as part of education in history, politics or cultural studies as a way to understand how societies develop and are maintained.

    I do agree that teaching creationism is intellectually damaging if it's taught as fact. If it's presented as an idea to be considered, discussed, debated, challenged, that's different.
    IMO we teach children to test a range of theories. E.g basic counting is often taught with physical items. You can add more, take some away, to answer sums. To me, religion should be the same, tested and analysed, whichever way is possible.

    I'd probably draw the line at saying teaching kids that the world is 6000 years old is child abuse. We don't call it child abuse (or I don't) when we talk about Santa or the Easter Bunny. I see it the same way.

    There is a school in my area that receives some Government funding that is a Christian College and they absolutely teach creationism. They reference God creating Adam in his own image, creating sin in one man, and so on. It's in their principles on every piece of literature they produce.

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    I don't believe religious teaching belong in the Public school system at all (I'm an atheist) although I'm happy for children to learn the basic concepts of the religions of the world as a way to encourage respect and inclusivity.
    I guess I'm ok with Private schools teaching what they want, providing they are upfront with parents that that is their stance and what they teach is of no harm to anyone. I dont think its a reason to withdraw funding. In many schools religious studies is compulsory and for some a compulsory ATAR subject too! Not a chance I would allow that for my children!

    Intellectually, I'm with the Professor...I can't get my head around how anyone can truly believe in Creationism and I'm quite suprised with those Neilson Poll results. 25%!!

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    I want to clarify something before fully responding. Your title says should it be taught in schools, but the petition is about withdrawing funding from Private Schools who teach it.

    So @witherwings are you asking if it should be taught in all schools or just private schools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A-Squared View Post
    I want to clarify something before fully responding. Your title says should it be taught in schools, but the petition is about withdrawing funding from Private Schools who teach it.

    So @witherwings are you asking if it should be taught in all schools or just private schools.
    I'm not aware of public schools including creationism in their curriculum. The petition refers to private schools, so my question is, should funding be withdrawn from schools that teach creationism, on the basis that teaching creationism is in some way intellectually damaging? I guess the premise is, school is for educating and moulding young minds, and if the government is using taxpayer money to fund education in Australia (12bn for private schools according to this petition), then is this morally, ethically or socially acceptable?

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    I also want to add, I'm not entirely sure what children learn in scripture classes but I don't believe it is "creationism" in the Stanford sense (see earlier post quoting Stanford).


 

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