In a story that sounds like it came straight from the Bible belt of the USA, a newly formed group, the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought, has announced that the Kamloops Christian School is teaching Biblical creationism in their science class, on equal footing with evolution.On the matter of private school, I mostly believe that schools can teach whatever they want. While I disagree with indoctrinating children in one’s personal religious beliefs, people are generally free to raise their children responsibly. My support for this right, however, ends when public funding is extended to such indoctrination, as is the case with Kamloops Christian School.
Don’t get me wrong, pluralism is a commendable goal. Greater school choice sounds great on paper, and increased knowledge of the various religions and beliefs of the world can only help serve to ease many of the religious tensions across the world.
However, this narrow-minded propaganda serves to reinforce an us-versus-them mentality and closes minds. There is a reason Richard Dawkins considers indoctrinating children with religion to be a form of child abuse.
Even worse is the conflation between religion and science that occurs when students are taught pseudo- and anti-scientific beliefs as fact alongside the well-established laws of nature. Science class is the place to develop the tools to view the world methodically and skeptically. Science asserts that evidence is required before we can decide whether an idea has any merit to it.
Meanwhile, creationism starts with the premise that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and then argues that the facts of the world are wrong if they conflict with a narrow interpretation of scripture. Declaring that evolution and creationism are on equal scientific footing is akin to considering astrology to be as accurate as astronomy.
Even if we could accept the Bible is as credible a source of knowledge as the systematic accumulation of evidence to confirm hypotheses, then there are countless other beliefs we ought to be including in science classes across the province. These include the various aboriginal stories of creation, the Hindu story, those of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and even the tale of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Each of these stories has its believers who see it as divinely inspired, and each story has as much evidence for its validity as the Christian Bible.
But mainly, I object to a secular, democratic government, which is supposed to represent all people, religions, creeds, and races, to not push any one religion, belief, or non-belief over any other. Were Christians in the minority and atheists in the majority, Christians would equally be crying foul were publicly funded teachers declaring in science class that science has disproven God, or at the very least, that students ought to take a “critical look” at the evidence of the Bible.
There are countless Christians and theists who have no difficulty with evolution. In fact, they are likely in the majority. A small minority, however, remains committed that the only way they can reconcile their belief in a vengeful Old Testament God is to deny the fundamental basis of all modern biology. Yet the fact that many of them hold influential positions of power, like Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear, or Treasury Board President Stockwell Day, is something that ought to scare all secularists, religious or otherwise.
Religious beliefs and discussions have their place. However, when the state sponsors one religious belief to the exclusion of others, we enter a case of discrimination and forced indoctrination. As the anti-religious adage goes, don’t pray in my school and I won’t think in your church.