Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Tayside » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:20 pm

As a Catholic schoolboy from way back and today a secular humanist with an interest in what's going on in UK schools (well, Scottish schools actually) and sectarianism (come to Scotland if it's sectarianism and violence your after!), then Cathy's postings are spot on. What I take from your postings Cathy is that CID is not all that big an effect in state schooling and in Catholic schools, like the Bible, somewhat of an oddity. All the components you point to as to why parents choose their schools, within the usual restrictions, as well as the change in Catholic schools from when, as in my childhood north London ghetto, you sent your kids to the Catholic school because you were of Irish descent, are instantly recognizable to me. As a teacher in state schools (retired) I caught the Christian Union comment immediately as accurate.

Naturally the BCSE is a focus on education. I wonder to what extent sectarianism, relatively unpractised south of the border, drags children into its desperate world, in which its appearance in schools is a form of collateral damage, without reference to what is or is not in the curriculum and ought to be/not to be. Anyway, well said Cathy. :D
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby jon_12091 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:18 pm

Tayside wrote:Naturally the BCSE is a focus on education. I wonder to what extent sectarianism, relatively unpractised south of the border, drags children into its desperate world, in which its appearance in schools is a form of collateral damage, without reference to what is or is not in the curriculum and ought to be/not to be. Anyway, well said Cathy. :D

Welcome along, I'm not sure what impact sectarianism has if any on the issue in Scotland I personally I have never heard of any evidence of it, Northern Ireland might be different, creationism is fairly strongly rooted in a range of evangelical denominations including some that have very little truck with sectarianism (though unguarded most will express some level of disquiet about such things as the veneration of saints etc). CU's in schools are something I can't really comment on, but they do represent potential gateway, though how effective an a conduit they would be in reality is probably debatable.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Roger Stanyard » Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:08 pm

Tayside wrote:As a Catholic schoolboy from way back and today a secular humanist with an interest in what's going on in UK schools (well, Scottish schools actually) and sectarianism (come to Scotland if it's sectarianism and violence your after!), then Cathy's postings are spot on. What I take from your postings Cathy is that CID is not all that big an effect in state schooling and in Catholic schools, like the Bible, somewhat of an oddity. All the components you point to as to why parents choose their schools, within the usual restrictions, as well as the change in Catholic schools from when, as in my childhood north London ghetto, you sent your kids to the Catholic school because you were of Irish descent, are instantly recognizable to me. As a teacher in state schools (retired) I caught the Christian Union comment immediately as accurate.

Naturally the BCSE is a focus on education. I wonder to what extent sectarianism, relatively unpractised south of the border, drags children into its desperate world, in which its appearance in schools is a form of collateral damage, without reference to what is or is not in the curriculum and ought to be/not to be. Anyway, well said Cathy. :D



Sectarianism does appear to tbe problem in Northern Ireland where there have been concerted attempts by Protestants to get creationism into "secular" schools (which, in practice are dominated by Protestant children). Acceptance of creationism is rampant amongst NI's practising Protestants. Probably another method of getting at the "taigs".

Christian Unions are a problem but it is almost impossible to pin down what is going on. The creationists have "gone underground" in their attempts to influence education in state schools in England and Wales. All too often we only hear of their attempts "after the event".
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby cathy » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:39 pm

Hi Tayside and thanks. Like you I suspect being sent to RC schools was as much to do with Irish heritage. Lots of Irish there anyway. That sort of culture has disappeared in England, along with anti irish sentiment, I don't know about parts of Scotland tho. Here schools compete on academic grounds but up there I'm not sure whether it is still, like Northern Ireland, an attempt to segregate (or protect) the various sectors.

Roger wrote: Christian Unions are a problem but it is almost impossible to pin down what is going on.
I think, along with youth clubs and youth outreach they will be a huge problem but impossible to police and impossible to know what is going on.

I wouldn't underestimate the effect of the creationist churches youth outreach programmes, particularly with kids who are struggling to fit in. And in return for that protection you get told to push the word of god. And what better way to do that than to join, get involved in or set up a christian union. I've yet to come across a secular school that doesn't have one. We do-I think it's our only religious soc and my childs secualrschool does (along with islamic soc, hindu soc and Dr who soc on the religions board). They are unknowns. I really don't know enough about them

A friend is catholic, so is her daughter. She joined her CU to mix with 'like minded folk' at uni and was given a hell of a time by the members for being catholic. Unfortunately they virtually bullied her off her course and she ended up missing a year. That is irrelevant but suggested to me they were of a more fundamentalist than simple CofE sect.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Tayside » Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:09 pm

I would say that the link between the Protestant/Ulster/Scotland reflected chiefly in the West of Scotland and centred around the Glasgow Rangers/Celtic rivalries, is less about the topic of this thread than concerned with the over spill from the history of the Scots Irish Settlement or Plantation in Ulster during the Seventeenth Century.With the influx of poor Irish Catholics post the potato famine and spread of Catholic schools and priests, so came the inter-communal friction stirred up for whatever reasons by successive governments and employers in deliberate tactics of divide and rule. The Scottish Government at this very moment is trying to get a Bill pushed through the Scottish Parliament to tackle sectarianism due to the recent violence at soccer matches of which I am sure you have followed with a mixture of fascination and despair. I must admit that evolution doesn't enter into the equation here in the way I think is intended here, except for the knuckle dragging and regression to Neolithic man, nor I guess to any debate in the streets about the pros and cons of CID (unless the polis are knocking your door down).

What does interest me about the CID in schools - incidentally I think Cathy referred to Scripture Union, which is what I meant to write - comes from my own observations in the state schools I taught in in the East of Scotland, and that is the surprisingly frequent involvement of Christian teachers of science in those lunchtime and after school clubs, as well as Cathy's acute observation about such clubs being a refuge for children easily bullied and/or seeking esteem.

Can anyone here explain to me what on earth is going on, or not, inside the head of a science teacher, usually physics and biology, who is a believer in something that goes against all that science stands for? :?
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby jon_12091 » Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:45 pm

cathy wrote:A friend is catholic, so is her daughter. She joined her CU to mix with 'like minded folk' at uni and was given a hell of a time by the members for being catholic. Unfortunately they virtually bullied her off her course and she ended up missing a year. That is irrelevant but suggested to me they were of a more fundamentalist than simple CofE sect.

Cliques - something I've observed at work - basically a group can be hijacked by a small group with its own agenda. I think SU may have a little more central organisation and may provide materials to leaders - its definitely pretty middle of the road. Its something that makes it really difficult to predict whether a CU group would be even open to creationism - in schools groups sympathetic leaders must play a part.
Tayside wrote:Can anyone here explain to me what on earth is going on, or not, inside the head of a science teacher, usually physics and biology, who is a believer in something that goes against all that science stands for?

That I can't understand - there is probably a sound psychological explanation and it probably requires a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Made of Stars » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:01 pm

Roger Stanyard wrote:Look, the BCSE is not in the business of science v religion or whether science can be reconciled with religion...

I'm new here, so perhaps you could elaborate on this: What if the RCC were to teach it's kids that AIDS isn't caused by HIV? Or that homosexuality is 'unnatural'? Or that people 'exist' before they're conceived? Would fighting that fall within the remit of the BCSE? I'm not sure that the BCSE shouldn't take a more catholic perspective* on defending science education as being properly restricted to science, or on challenging unevidenced claims about reality made in other classrooms.

*Apologies.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby jon_12091 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:39 pm

Made of Stars wrote:I'm new here, so perhaps you could elaborate on this: What if the RCC were to teach it's kids that AIDS isn't caused by HIV?

Not a core concern and fairly unlikely, but we'd tackle the issue if a science teacher was sufficiently loony to bring it up and we'd probably tip off other interested parties. Outside of science class not our problem (we have enough trouble with the conundrum of creationism inside RE), but we'd tip off interested parties - and their are plenty of special interest groups with higher profile than the BCSE to pick up the cudgels on that score. We would probably do much the same if we came someone pushing climate change denial or homeopathy in the science.
Or that homosexuality is 'unnatural'?

Outside our remit - and a potentially charged issue - but not in the situation you are thinking.
Or that people 'exist' before they're conceived?

I'm assuming your talking about birth control. Again not our remit - though ironically on this subject give me catholic dogmatism over the rather insidious, though sometimes hilariously inept, abstinence movement - which in line with a lot social issues picked up by the religiously conservative is subject to some serious of abuse of the evidence or at least the interpretation of it.
I'm not sure that the BCSE shouldn't take a more catholic perspective* on defending science education as being properly restricted to science, or on challenging unevidenced claims about reality made in other classrooms.

We're single issue organisation and probably with good reason - most of the other issues you cite are extremely muddy, fraught with conflicting opinions, and would spread a small group like BCSE so thin as to render us virtually useless.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Made of Stars » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:38 pm

jon_12091 wrote:
Made of Stars wrote:I'm new here, so perhaps you could elaborate on this: What if the RCC were to teach it's kids that AIDS isn't caused by HIV?

Not a core concern and fairly unlikely, but we'd tackle the issue if a science teacher was sufficiently loony to bring it up and we'd probably tip off other interested parties. Outside of science class not our problem (we have enough trouble with the conundrum of creationism inside RE), but we'd tip off interested parties - and their are plenty of special interest groups with higher profile than the BCSE to pick up the cudgels on that score. We would probably do much the same if we came someone pushing climate change denial or homeopathy in the science.
Or that homosexuality is 'unnatural'?

Outside our remit - and a potentially charged issue - but not in the situation you are thinking.
Or that people 'exist' before they're conceived?

I'm assuming your talking about birth control. Again not our remit - though ironically on this subject give me catholic dogmatism over the rather insidious, though sometimes hilariously inept, abstinence movement - which in line with a lot social issues picked up by the religiously conservative is subject to some serious of abuse of the evidence or at least the interpretation of it.
I'm not sure that the BCSE shouldn't take a more catholic perspective* on defending science education as being properly restricted to science, or on challenging unevidenced claims about reality made in other classrooms.

We're single issue organisation and probably with good reason - most of the other issues you cite are extremely muddy, fraught with conflicting opinions, and would spread a small group like BCSE so thin as to render us virtually useless.

Perhaps a name change is in order then? British Centre for Evolutionary Biology Education? British Centre for Combating Creationist Bullshit (hmmm, that one works quite well, I think...).
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby jon_12091 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:47 am

Made of Stars wrote:Perhaps a name change is in order then? British Centre for Evolutionary Biology Education?

Sorry, but that ignores by far and away the most important subject - geology. In all seriousness I think geology gets mangled far more than evolution ever has by creationists
British Centre for Combating Creationist Bullshit (hmmm, that one works quite well, I think...).

Accurate perhaps, but not media friendly.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Michael » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:55 am

Jon

From Man of Stars' offensvie posts I think he has a wider agenda which would go against the aims of BCSE
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Made of Stars » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:37 am

jon_12091 wrote:
Made of Stars wrote:Perhaps a name change is in order then? British Centre for Evolutionary Biology Education?

Sorry, but that ignores by far and away the most important subject - geology. In all seriousness I think geology gets mangled far more than evolution ever has by creationists.

Granted, although a lot of the geology mangling is in an attempt to justify YECism, which is really only there to justify humanity being something other than an uppity ape, which is really only there, as AIG points out on their website, to justify the immoral act of an innocent man being executed. So really YECism (and geology mangling) comes back to the need to prop up the existence of God.

Without creation, there's no Adam and Eve, no Fall, no Flood, no 'need' for the crucifixion, and no Christianity. That's what drives the hard-core creotards. I too used to be a non-creationist evangelical - in fact I was a leader in Evangelical Union while doing my Bachelors in Biology at Uni. A pick-n-mix Christian, choosing the bits of the Bible to treat as metaphors. But the YECs are right in one thing: An old earth, with evolved life, brings the whole thing down, and so creationism is intertwined with and fundamental to Christianity's narrative.

But I digress... I still think the label of BCSE is too broad if combating creationism as 'not science' is the single issue. But whatever.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby jon_12091 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:33 pm

Made of Stars wrote:But the YECs are right in one thing: An old earth, with evolved life, brings the whole thing down, and so creationism is intertwined with and fundamental to Christianity's narrative.

Ahh' the adoption of the most suspect position of those you are ideologically opposed to as a means of attacking them. Given your insistence on picking an interpretation of the Bible that has little historical or theological basis I suspect you might be happier here.
But I digress... I still think the label of BCSE is too broad if combating creationism as 'not science' is the single issue. But whatever.

Quite frankly as far as being a 'stakeholder' in UK science education you're on a par with Byers and I suggest you might want to look up "pluralism" as well.
Out of curiosity do you believe that 'God' is scientifically testable?
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby cathy » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:48 pm

I'm new here, so perhaps you could elaborate on this: What if the RCC were to teach it's kids that AIDS isn't caused by HIV? Or that homosexuality is 'unnatural'? Or that people 'exist' before they're conceived? Would fighting that fall within the remit of the BCSE? I'm not sure that the BCSE shouldn't take a more catholic perspective* on defending science education as being properly restricted to science, or on challenging unevidenced claims about reality made in other classrooms.

Not quite sure where you've got your ideas about british state schools from Made of Stars. Firstly the RCC is an, unfortunately huge, international organisation. How it operates is different in each country. Hence what it overtly and widely pushes to its followers depends on how much it can get away with and still retain customers. So in England it tends to keep as low a profile as possible on the above if it can-though sometimes it can't as in the recent adoption legislation. Also I don't think, for all it's many wrongs, the RCC has ever suggested AIDs isn't caused by HIV has it?

Secondly you seem to be confusing the RCC in general with RC schoolsand what they actually teach in England. No sane science or RE teacher would teach your AIDs assertion-if they did they'd rightly be investigated-it doesn't really require something like bcse to deal with that rather minimal threat. It shouldn't exist and if it does it should be dealt with by the mental health services. You can't really set up a body to guard against the threat of the occassionaly insane teacher.

I don't know what your experience of catholic schools is but they used to be largely 'dire' and very catholic relying, I suspect, on massive immigration from ultra catholic Ireland to fill them. Second and third generation Irish like myself were not brought up in an ultra catholic country. Hence were less indoctrinated and with less of a perceived need to send our own kids to catholic schools. Catholics, whether practising or lapsed, started to choose schools for educational rather than religious reasons. RC schools had to adapt very quickly to survive. Most did so by becoming less 'catholic' and more academic. The more they focused on education and exam results the less they focused on the extremes of RCism. Also they and their teachers exist/have been brought up in this culture not some catholic, backward one. So neither the parents nor the teachers will be taking the blindest bit of notice of all/any of the RCCs teachings on things like morals, divorce or contraception. The schools therefore would be rather foolish to do so when they compete for pupils in the market place. They tend to push the more benign aspects of catholicism (charity etc), rightly or wrongly, rather than its more evil side.

I suspect teaching that homosexuality is 'unnatural' is a breach of equality laws but would have to check. The unfortunate opt out for SRE given to faith schools allowed them to avoid mention if they chose, but I'm not sure it would have made homophobic bullying by schools acceptable. In addition I don't know a single parent, catholic or otherwise who would be happy in this day and age for their child to be told that. There are religious extremists unfortunately but they come from all sects. I suspect the more extreme, fundamentalist sects like independent baptists would be more likely to be overly homophobic and concerned with it due to their obsessions with the old testament.

And at the end of the day it is not a specifically scientific claim either, therefore wouldn't really be an issue for science education. Nor could it realistically be presented as scientific even if a lunatic homophobe managed to sneak in to schools, so I'm not sure why you think bcse should deal with it?

Organised homophobia is not yet an obvious threat to education in the way creationism is. There are no organisations trying to sneak it into schools in the way that we have creationist ones like TiS.

I've never heard the notion of people existing before they are conceived? What do you mean by this? As it is a bizarre claim I doubt it would crop up in any sane science or RE teachers class. Hence not sure how it is a science issue. If it is, as Jon suggests, to do with contraception, The RC schools I know of teach kids about the various methods of contraception both in science and SRE. As an issue I doubt it would be discussed in RE as wrong either without a fair few parents getting upset.

Again it isn't really a scientific issue, so not sure how it would in any way come under the remit of bcse?

creationism is clearly unscientific nonsense, proven incorrect again and again. Unlike personal beliefs its not a matter of opinion. It is also becoming real threat. Hence the existence of bcse. Whatever your personal issues with RCC or religion are, nothing you have cited really has anything to do with fact or science education.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby jon_12091 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:27 am

cathy wrote:I suspect teaching that homosexuality is 'unnatural' is a breach of equality laws but would have to check. The unfortunate opt out for SRE given to faith schools allowed them to avoid mention if they chose, but I'm not sure it would have made homophobic bullying by schools acceptable. In addition I don't know a single parent, catholic or otherwise who would be happy in this day and age for their child to be told that. There are religious extremists unfortunately but they come from all sects. I suspect the more extreme, fundamentalist sects like independent baptists would be more likely to be overly homophobic and concerned with it due to their obsessions with the old testament.

I agree with that synopsis - though I would further add that homophobia is found equally well rooted in secular society (i.e. the far right has a bit of an obsession with it as well).

I've never heard the notion of people existing before they are conceived? What do you mean by this? As it is a bizarre claim I doubt it would crop up in any sane science or RE teachers class. Hence not sure how it is a science issue. If it is, as Jon suggests, to do with contraception, The RC schools I know of teach kids about the various methods of contraception both in science and SRE. As an issue I doubt it would be discussed in RE as wrong either without a fair few parents getting upset.

At least in the West contraception seems to be pretty much the most widely ignored edict of the RCC. The abstinence movement is known to play fast and loose with the evidence about rates of failure etc, but that seems to be more of a State-side issue, and AFAIK they don't directly challenge science in the same way as creationism does.
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