Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Are you a secular supremacist?

According to Peter Franklin you are if you think state-sponsored religious education in general, and the quackery of selling creationism in particular, is a bit off. In his juxta-position, kindly find yourself on the polar extreme to "pluralism" - which everyone agrees is a Good Thing.

Desist from your supremacist contortions, he exhorts us. He understands all and can assure us that it's ok. One of the key reasons for his confidence is that he Knows A Lot Of Stuff:
"As it happens, I'm a biological sciences graduate, and in gaining my degree I specialised in, er, evolutionary biology. This included a well-received dissertation, which went under the snappy title of The Adaptive Significance of Sexual Reproduction to Females in Polygynous Species of Low Fecundity. My great work weighed in at 35,000 words, not one of which deviated from neo-Darwinian orthodoxy."
Sounds a real page-turner; I must get round to reading that. Perhaps I could get a signed copy? In the meantime, I have to inform Mr Franklin that while I don't doubt his qualification in science, he knows sweet fuck all about education, which is slightly more than he understands about secularism and religion. Take this, for example:
"Supremacism, in the context of education system, means a belief that, whatever the diversity of world-views held by the citizens of a state, the resources of that state should only promote one of those world-views to the deliberate exclusion of all of the others."
Very well. The world-view in question is that the world was created in six days. Where should this world-view be accommodated? In a science curriculum? But unless you want to turn your science lab into a theology department, at some point you're going to have to acknowledge that there's no empirical evidence for this particular world-view. Wouldn't describing such a world-view as science, therefore, fall foul of the Trades Description Act or something? Schools should be aware of this shit - they are to be businesses, after all. Mr Franklin's obvious non-acquaintance with any education system that operates in this country leads him to be altogether too sanguine about all this:
"I also tentatively ventured the opinion that literate, numerate students are perfectly capable of weighing up the evidence for themselves."
And why did you do this? Did you hallucinate a surplus of these "literate, numerate students", or something? But more seriously, Mr Franklin has confused segregation with pluralism. Diversity in religion and world-view exists already in society; how does it make for a greater "plurality" if these are institutionalised by the education system? What's wrong with having this plurality in the same school? Done this - it's cool. White people, brown people, black people, Christians (both West of Scotland varieties), Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, atheists and agnostics all turning up to the same place learning stuff without losing their identity, believe it or not.

Done the religious school thing too. Not so cool. Way too white. I mean, white's ok - I'm a whitey myself. But wall-to-wall white Christians, and exclusively of one particular confessional division? Scotland's working with a small gene pool as it is. Bad national strategy - ask anyone. Visit North Lanarkshire - it's an argument-silencing sort of place.

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