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November 18, 2009

Science Versus Dogma

What do abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, evolution and climate change all have in common? 

On the surface, they may seem totally unrelated, but if a person were to offer their viewpoint on any one of these topics, you could almost certainly predict their viewpoint on the rest.
When it comes to political and cultural opinions, most people have them, but these opinions do not simply evolve out of thin air. 
Instead, they are influenced and shaped according to our value system; a system comprising of core values, and both moral and ethical beliefs. 
Like so many of us, my value system has been influenced by factors such as family, environment, education, and life experience, where as the value systems of my mother and my mother's mother were more closely aligned with the value system of the Catholic Church. 
Many people, who subscribe to the teachings of organised religion will find that their opinions have been strongly influenced by the value system of that particular faith. 
In other words, when it comes to determining an individuals value system, religion usually trumps all other factors, including critical thought.

Christianity for example, still considers both homosexuality and abortion to be 'morally offensive' and because the value system of the church dictates political and social opinion, Christians all over the world adhere to this prejudice teaching. 
But when you have a large organisation such as Christianity with 2-3 billion members worldwide - all following a prescribed value system - it kind of makes you want to hold those values up to the light. 
Lets leave the issues of homosexuality and abortion behind for a moment and think about the controversial debate between creationism and evolution.

The study of evolutionary biology began in the mid-nineteenth century, but it was Darwin's landmark work 'On the Origin of Species' in 1859 that brought the theory of natural selection to a wider audience. 
The Church of England rejected Darwin's findings, calling them 'controversial' because they conflicted with the churches belief that 'species are unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans are unique, and unrelated to animals'
Science has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that all life forms are  continually evolving, yet despite the evidence, creationism is still the main focus of modern Christian teachings.

According to this disturbing American religious website, regarding the teaching of evolution in American Christian schools, "There is little conflict over evolution within most christian home schooling programs and Christian religious schools. Creation Science and Intelligent Design are taught there as the only valid belief systems concerning the history of the world, its life forms and the rest of the universe". 
As recently as four months ago, (Despite a 2005 court ruling, banning the teaching of Creation Science or Intelligent Design in American public schools), the state of Texas issued warning stickers on their text books stating that evolutionary theory is still a matter of scientific dispute. 
And according to a report this month in U.S News, 'the state of Louisiana has enacted a law that encourages teachers and students to debate the  "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution, with a clear implication that evolution is shaky science'. 

If anything should be debated here, it must be the strengths and weaknesses of Creation Science because until something has been proven beyond reasonable doubt, I don't think you can pass it up as scientific fact.

If you think about it, the denial of evolution is kind of like saying that despite all evidence that the world is round, we will continue to tell people it is flat. 
But surely in this day and age- where falsifying information is a criminal offence- even the church has a moral and ethical obligation to tell the truth, particularly when it comes to education? 
Apparently not.  Like fellow atheist Richard Dawkins, I agree that the teaching of Intelligent Design in any school is akin to child abuse.

Is it a coincidence then, that most climate change deniers are from the religious right? I
n a previous blog post I mentioned the link between climate change deniers and creationism in relation to certain Liberal Party MP's, but now I am even more convinced that the two go hand in hand.  

In Australia, the Catholic Church has a climate change denier in its most senior Catholic figure, Cardinal George Pell. 
 In this article from The Age in 2007, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney urged caution on the issue and stated that climate change was 'much less important than tackling poverty, marriage breakdown or abortion rates'. 
Cardinal Pell did not provide any factual evidence to support his theory, but that does not matter because the Catholic Church has said many more outrageous things, like um…

  • ·      Condoms cause aids
  • ·      Homosexuality is a sin
  • ·      Contraception is a sin 
  • .      Abortion is a sin
  • ·      If a baby is not baptised when it dies, its soul will languish in purgatory for eternity  
              ... and countless Christians have taken them at their word.


4 comments:

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ash said...

the unbaptised babies in purgatory for eternity bit,man thats a doozey......if only these people could realeyes theyv already been sentenced to purgatory here on earth as the less evolved under inteligent jokes of god

Misha Sim said...

So true ash. Best comment award goes to you!