Richard Dawkins exposed a major flaw in our education system, here and in the US. If you don't know him, he's the author of 'The God Delusion; the evidence for evolution', a book that I have read and fully appreciate. This post isn't intended to upset those of you with firm religious beliefs because, at the end of the day, science can always be attributed to 'God's' devine plan, or at least that's how it was moulded around the arguments when they began in the great scientific revolution of an earlier age. No, I'm writing this piece because his delivery of the recent Channel 4 programme 'The Genius of Charles Darwin' revealed a shocking truth about our so-called sensitivity to other people's beliefs, even if they fly in the face of scientific facts - in many schools our children are not being taught about evolution and the mere possibility that it could be true is being swept under the carpet in favour of not upsetting anyone.
If you believe in God, that's fine and is entirely your right but there is no measurable evidence for His existence (I've capitalised the His because that is how its done, right?). There is, however, lots and lots of evidence (despite that so-called missing link), even down to DNA, that life progresses through survival and adaptability - if you have to fly to make it as a species, then you will grow wings - that sort of thing. Pedants refuse to acknowledge this and that, as I said, is fine but when school science teachers - men and women of scientific understanding, whose sole reason for becoming teachers in the first place was to impart their knowledge and share the truth that they know - avoid the subject of evolution because some of their pupils come from religious backgrounds where such science is disowned because it clashes with the God theory, then I respectfully suggest that we are heading into an abyss of medieval ignorance. Our kids are learning a lot about the bias and oppression of religion and political correctness and nothing about the process of natural selection.
In the programme Dawkins interviews a number of individuals who deliberately sieve out the truths known about evolution in favour of a vague and almost totally unbelievable biblical view of how life on earth originated. This is being taught to children with no room whatsoever for another possibility. The woman being interviewed remained on her elevated soapbox as Dawkins attempted, again and again, to reason with her but she simply would not compromise, stating 'you people', meaning scientists, 'won't accept any other truth'. Dawkins pointed out that the only reason she would accept that the world was round and not flat was because there was just too much obvious evidence to support it.
More shocking was the interview with The Archbishop of Caterbury in which Dr Williams found it impossible to answer a simple question about the correlation of science and religion - he came out with a long-winded and totally indecipherable diatribe ending with 'of course it could sound like I'm trying to avoid a tricky question'. Yes, you are.
This blog isn't about religion and it isn't about television but, from the point of view of a British parent, I was shocked to see science teachers running for cover with lame excuses about the sensitivities of others when their job is to teach facts. I already have lots of experience with schools in which common sense and factual reality have been replaced with this 'duck and cover' mentality. We are being ruled over by pigeons and our kids are being taught (in some schools) by avoidance.
Not good enough.