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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Creationism and Evolution


Photo of Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what mechanisms his Department has put in place to ensure that (a) schools, (b) nurseries and(c) learning establishments receiving any funds or endorsement from his Department teach evolution and do not teach that creationism is scientifically valid.


Photo of Elizabeth Truss

Elizabeth Truss (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education; South West Norfolk, Conservative)

The Government’s policy is that evolution should be taught in schools as an essential element of a rigorous scientific education; teaching creationism as science is incompatible with the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum.

The national curriculum requires all maintained schools to teach evolution as an established scientific theory. All academies and free schools are required to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. The model funding agreements for all kinds of academies and free schools are being revised. The latest published version includes a specific requirement to teach evolution, and prohibits the teaching of creationism as an evidence-based theory.

As in all areas of education, we look to Ofsted as the best and most effective lever to ensure expected standards are being achieved. All state funded schools are subject to Ofsted inspections which are required to report on the quality of education provided in the school including the quality of teaching.

Providers in receipt of early years funding must follow clear standards to make sure children are taught the key skills they need to get a good start in life. Where an Ofsted inspector identifies any concerns, they must notify Ofsted’s compliance, investigation and enforcement team, who will consider notifying the appropriate agencies.

We expect the Government’s position on creationism and evolution to be supported by any learning establishment in receipt of funding from the Department for Education to support science education.

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40 comments:

  1. Hope this is enforced.

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  2. Elizabeth Truss - Ever tried throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
    Your opinions do not reflect Christian conscience and values of millions of Christians. Do you know anything about real science based on fact, evidence and common sense?

    Creation is the most significant force behind science and the coming into being of the universe. It cannot and will not be dismissed from the curriculum.

    Evolution on the other hand, is nothing less than a deceit which will not be permitted or afflicted on our children or families.
    Evolution has been created by the departure of man from God's principles and has resulted in the general decline of our society.
    Moreover, it's absolutely incompatible with the moral framework of Christianity and Christian life.
    See here - Charles Darwin at the end of his days, expressed deep regret and doubt about his life's work. Worth checking it out folks before saying evolution is science. Far from it.

    Leonardo J Octavianus

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    1. Leonardo J Octavianus - you might like to read some books about Emma and Charles Darwin.

      J N Darby owned some of Charles Darwin's own publications, including 'On the Origin of Species', and that is still available. Also, there are many books written about Darwin. I suggest that you start by reading Charles Darwin's personal correspondence, which is online on a Cambridge site. It will give you a real flavour of the decent, courteous and honest character of the great scientist. 'Emma Darwin - A Century of Family Letters' in two volumes, edited by Emma's and Charles's daughter Henrietta Litchfield, is a good read too, as are the volumes of biography of Charles written by Janet Browne. You might like to try 'Darwin and the Barnacles' written by Rebecca Stott, who was brought up in your group of Exclusive Brethren.

      I live near the Darwins' family home, Down House at Downe in Kent and visit it often. I was there on Wednesday. You and I are going to meet for lunch next month when your business trip is over - perhaps we could visit Down House together and have lunch there? It's a quiet, peaceful house in a beautiful part of the country.

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    2. Dear Leonardo/John Handel/PBCC Ltd,

      I am surprised to find you are still commenting here, since you mentioned previously that you did not value opinions, debate or the answering of questions (I believe Adolf Hitler had a somewhat similar point of view).

      I would suggest that your figure of millions of Christians disavowing evolution is somewhat wide of the mark. There are, indeed, a small number of right wing political extremists, who won't have it any other way; but they tend to live in North American woods with guns and ammunition.

      I would politely suggest that Elizabeth Truss knows far more than you concerning evidence based on fact, evidence and common sense since you demonstrate none of these in your substantial and repetitive waffle. I think she also may have been well educated.

      Your robust view of the curriculum is somewhat peculiar since (thank goodness) you have no power in that direction, nor, it is to be hoped, in any other. You mention that the study of evolution will not be permitted on our children or families; for whom are you speaking?

      One thing is absolutely certain, you have provided clear evidence, yet again, that PBCC Ltd Focus Group schools will never be funded by the State. Thankfully, the Department of Education has been very much on the ball regarding efforts, so far, to fly under the radar on this issue. Indeed. I doubt whether such extreme or sectarian schools should receive any form of assistance as so-called charitable institutions.

      Regarding Charles Darwin, Joan has provided you with some research suggestions so that, it is to be hoped, you may come to the table better equipped another time.

      Illuminator

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  3. It is true that Leonardo J Octavianus has evolved from Bruce David Hales (or is it the other way around) or did God create them both? (If so, whatever was She thinking?)

    My mother always told me Darwin renounced everything on his deathbed. Oh if only she had lived longer Leo, you and she could have been kindred spirits.

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    1. Anonymous 2 May 08:08 - your mother was mistaken. Those who were present at Charles Darwin's death reported nothing at all about a renunciation of his work, nor did they talk about a conversion to Christianity.

      Some years later an unreliable person spread these rumours.

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    2. Must have been Leonardo Handel

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  4. It seems from the official statement above that teaching children the facts about evolution is a legal requirement for schools receiving State funding. I would argue that it is more than a legal requirement. It is a moral requirement too, and not only for State-funded schools. All schools should do it, and especially those that wish to foster a Christian ethos.

    Some Christians, especially in the USA, think that denying evolution will help to protect their faith, their churches and the Bible. It doesn’t. If anything it makes them a bit of a laughing stock. It tends to bring all three of them into disrepute. And denying evolution has other harmful effects too. Let me point out some that I have noticed.

    1. It gives their children the impression that their faith depends on a literal interpretation of the Bible. So it builds their faith on a shaky foundation. Eventually these children will discover that lots of passages in the Bible can’t be taken literally, and if they still think their faith depends on it, what will happen to their faith? Often they will ditch it, and sometimes they will ditch their moral code along with it. Faith and morals need a much better foundation than that if they are to survive and serve as a life-long guide.

    2. It plays into the hands of abusive cult leaders, almost all of whom argue that (1) the Bible is inerrant, and (2) their own teachings are based on the Bible and therefore (3) their own teachings are inerrant too, and must be obeyed. So children brought up that way are easy prey to religious confidence tricksters, scam-merchants and control-freaks.

    3. It provides an incentive to be untruthful. This is utterly against core Christian values. The Biblical literalist position is so difficult to defend against strong empirical evidence that its proponents often resort to invalid arguments, untruths and insincerity as the only way to defend their corner. A morally upright person, whether Christian or not, should not be in such a position.

    4. It deters children from studying science, and thereby deprives them of the many benefits that such study can bring. These benefits include many kinds of practical problem-solving skills, the skill of weighing and interpreting empirical evidence, the skill of assessing the credibility of claims made by vendors of various products and therapies, as well as the option to pursue a productive and fulfilling career in science. The ethos of science is another benefit: an ethos of commitment to pursue and search out truth, and the confidence to give more weight to empirical evidence than to the pronouncements of would-be authority figures.

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  5. J. B. Innes was the Vicar at Charles Darwin’s local Church, and worked with him on several charitable enterprises. Here are a few things he said about Darwin to a Bishop and some other Clergy at a house in Dundee, and repeated in a letter of 1 December 1878.

    “I have the pleasure of the intimate friendship of one of the very first Naturalists in Europe. He is a most accurate observer, and never states anything as a fact which he has not most thoroughly investigated. He is a man of the most perfect moral character, and his scrupulous regard for the strictest truth is above that of almost all men I know.”

    That last clause eloquently illustrates what I meant earlier by “the ethos of science.”

    Innes also says, “I never saw a word in his writings which was an attack on Religion.”

    Later in the letter Innes expresses the view that despite appearances, theological truth and scientific truth “can never cross, and will in the end be seen to have been parallel.”

    So even in the 19th Century there were enlightened people of goodwill and good sense who viewed science and Christianity as mutually supportive.

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  6. I have stumbled across a very interesting website recently - www.dissentfromdarwin.org - this is a statement challenging Darwin's theory and is signed by 100's of top scientists worldwide. this is their statement -"During recent decades, new scientific evidence from many scientific disciplines such as cosmology, physics, biology, "artificial intelligence" research, and others have caused scientists to begin questioning Darwinism's central tenet of natural selection and studying the evidence supporting it in greater detail.
    Yet public TV programs, educational policy statements, and science textbooks have asserted that Darwin's theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things. The public has been assured that all known evidence supports Darwinism and that virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.
    The scientists on this list dispute the first claim and stand as living testimony in contradiction to the second. Since Discovery Institute launched this list in 2001, hundreds of scientists have courageously stepped forward to sign their names.
    The list is growing and includes scientists from the US National Academy of Sciences, Russian, Hungarian and Czech National Academies, as well as from universities such as Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and others.


    A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism
    "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."



    "There is scientific dissent from Darwinism. It deserves to be heard."

    My opinion is that these are very clever people and we should give some thought to what they say, not just accept the popular opinion.

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    1. The dissentfromdarwin site you've given is a project of a group that promotes creationism and in particular intelligent design.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Science_and_Culture

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    2. That list of “dissenting scientists” gives a misleading impression if you only look at it superficially. The first thing you notice is that most of the signatories are not biologists. The second thing you notice is that the list represents only a tiny minority of today’s scientists: about 1 out of every 6000. The third thing you notice is that they are not in fact dissenting.

      The statement they subscribe to does not deny or even question that fact that living things have evolved. They are just not convinced about the mechanism. I could almost be persuaded to sign the list myself on the grounds that I think random mutation and natural selection are probably not enough to explain evolution and the diversity of species. For instance, I think genetic drift and geographical isolation may also be necessary to explain speciation.

      Among those who have studied biology in depth, including Christians, I have yet to meet anyone who doubts that evolution has occurred and is still occurring. Their working assumption is that every species on earth has evolved from the same ancestors. If you click on http://paleoartisans.tripod.com/location.html you will find a list of hundreds of major museums of science and natural history throughout the world. I guarantee that if you were to go into any one of these you would find that evolution of species is a serious science that their institution teaches and studies. I don’t believe there is a single exception on the list.

      You would find the same with every serious encyclopaedia , every major university and every mainstream school textbook of biology. Even the leaders of the “Intelligent Design” community do not seriously doubt evolution. Opponents of evolution often cite Michael Behe's book 'Darwin's Black Box' as a serious scientific challenge to evolution. However, you will find on page 5 of that book the following statement.

      “For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behaviour of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world.”

      So Michael Behe, the hero of anti-evolutionists, is not an anti-evolutionist himself.

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    3. "For instance, I think genetic drift and geographical isolation may also be necessary to explain speciation."

      Yes.And a number of evolutionary biologists directly involved in the ongoing study of evolution,now consider things like genetic drift and geographical isolation, to likely also be part of the puzzle.Its like slowly piecing a puzzle together.And they may find more pieces yet, or may even discover that some pieces don't seem to fit.And so on

      Anti-evolutionists are comparable to exclusive brethren (cults) that continually deny the harm they have caused.For too often they continually wage their battle onward against the overwhelming evidence that stands up against them.There is no hope they will ever win. But sadly they have already invested so much value within their pride.That they then feel the need to try and uphold it at any cost at all.Even if that cost might also end up making them look utterly foolish

      That's one difference between science and religious beliefs.Religion is often quite unwilling to even consider that it might be wrong.So as to then enable it to retain the freedom to also reconsider things along the way.

      While the science, adopts the freedom to reconsider, as being a very important part of its structure.Within science,there is really no great loss of pride,if a scientist may later be found to be wrong.Because scientist's go into science, already understanding that the possibility of being found wrong, is also part of their trade

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    4. Anonymous3 May 2014 00:33 said " science textbooks have asserted that Darwin's theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things."

      Its good practice not believe everything you read.Really science never takes the stance that things will have already been "fully" explained.Good teachers in science classes, wont be teaching their class pupils,that what they read today within science books is set within certainty (proof).Science involves the ongoing practice of people making conclusions from study in which they are involved, its not so much about proof.

      This is why scientist may also offer us suggestions, about areas where they feel they could possible have made some mistakes, and got things wrong.

      There is people that are busy trying to promote the idea of controversy.People suggesting that scientists have taken the stance that everything about evolution has already been fully explained.This is misleading.And it is also a disgusting deceitful practice.They are akin to exclusive brethren leaders whom also choose to mislead people.These people ought to be very ashamed. For there is human lives have been harmed by their practice

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  7. Ian, Do you always have to be such a delusional dip-stick?
    Have a reality check.

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  8. I'm not a scientist, but I've learnt a lot from reading books written by scientists, some of them devout Christians.

    Anonymous 3 May 2014 19:31 - you may like to consider reading a book by John Polkinghorne who was a particle physicist before he became an Anglican clergyman. He was formerly President of Queen's College and Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge.

    The 'New Scientist' wrote about him: 'For particle physicist John Polkinghorne - the only ordained member of the Royal Society - science and theology are not at loggerheads. They are instead attempts to formulate coherent and adequate accounts of the phenomena within their purview ... Polkinghorne's argument for the proposition that God is real is cogent and his evidence is elegant.'

    John Polkinghorne's book 'Science and Religion in Quest of Truth', published by SPCK in 2011, might interest you, Anonymous. Because he's been a parish priest, John Polkinghorne is used to communicating with lay people and all his books are very readable.

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  9. Ian's analysis and opinion is interesting as always, however I must disagree with him this time. There are many credible scientists who are not evolutionists. Many are not Christians either but are seeking the truth through the likes of intelligent design and its scientific approach. There are many difficult questions on both sides of the debate. Dogmatic statements are not helpful. An open scientific mind is.

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    1. Anonymous4 May 2014 22:17

      Very interesting.Can you please provide us the links to where we can take a look for ourselves at what these scientist say.Thanks

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    2. Maybe start with these (With the last one providing numerous links elsewhere):

      http://www.intelligentdesign.org/

      http://www.uncommondescent.com/

      http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1510

      http://www.ideacenter.org/resources/links.php

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    3. Thanks Anonymous5 May 2014 09:13

      Can you suggest some particular pages for us to closely look into, that you feel do throw real doubt on evolution.

      Otherwise we cannot begin to understand exactly what it is that you feel throws real doubt on evolution.Because the links you offer, leave our search so broad.

      As Ian already pointed out on 3 May 2014 08:33. Some of what we read "gives a misleading impression if you only look at it superficially".And almost as if to back up what Ian has said, we do see right there on the page of that third link you offer, a paragraph explaining about a growing minority of scientists who dissent from Darwin.Yet they still say nothing about whether they are biology scientists.So these scientists expertise could even be in computers or geology or optics

      It also says "Darwinian evolution relies on random mutations which are selected by natural selection,a blind and unguided process that has no goals". However we know that modern scientists today are now also considering genetic drift and geographical isolation and other things like that.This may help explain evolution

      Perhaps if you could point out what it is you find convincing.Then we can take a close look

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    4. Most of these links provided by Anonymous 5 May 2014 09:13 do not lead to any arguments about whether evolution has occurred, or whether separate species have common ancestors. What they lead to are arguments about the mechanism of evolution: i.e. to questions about the importance of processes like mutation, recombination, genetic drift, allopatric speciation, natural selection and Divine intervention.

      Some of these arguments are reasonable, such as those that draw attention to puzzling facts, and some are completely unreasonable, such as those that deny that mutation, recombination, genetic drift, natural selection or speciation occur. It is easy to demonstrate that these all occur, both in the wild and in the laboratory, and given that they occur, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that evolution is bound to occur too.

      I have never met or read or even heard of a credible present-day scientist who denies that evolution has occurred, or that separate species have common ancestors. Even the most prominent proponents of what they call “intelligent design,” such as Stephen Meyer or Michael Behe, do not deny evolution, and none of them that I have ever heard of subscribes to a 6000-year-old Earth or a literal 6-day creation.

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    5. I think we can all scientifically agree on micro evolution. From that point theories diverge, including credible Bible scholars/speakers like David Pawson who supports theistic evolution (God driving and controlling rather than the random mutation theory etc).

      The evidence for evolution on a larger scale becomes more problematic.

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    6. Anonymous5 May 2014 13:27

      You say you agree with micro evolution.But what about the theory of common ancestor that Ian describes.If organisms started from a common ancestor and have continued to evolve within the process of divergent evolution over billions of years.They will now have become very different from each over this length of time.That would be macro evolution.

      You say "The evidence for evolution on a larger scale becomes more problematic."

      What about the study of genetics and DNA.Would you disagree with aspects of the science being used to propose common ancestry.If you do.Then what aspect of this science do you question

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  10. Is David Pawson a peer reviewed scientist?

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    1. David Pawson’s autobiography does not mention ever working as a scientist or publishing any scientific work, but he does have a BSc in Agriculture and an MA in Theology. According to Wikipedia, he subscribes to pre-millennial dispensationalism, the eternal suffering of the damned and Christian Zionism. He also has a premonition that Britain will become Islamic.

      However, I think it best to assess people’s scientific ideas mainly on the merits of the ideas themselves, and on the evidence and reasoning supporting them, not on the merits or status of the person who expounds them. It is possible for a distinguished, peer reviewed scientist to write a whole load of rubbish, as in the case of Trofim Lysenko, and it is possible for a self-taught amateur to become one of the most successful scientists we have ever seen, as in the case of Michael Faraday.

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    2. It might be interesting to look at: http://www.icr.org/earth-created/ one of the early creationist organisations who seem to have pooled an impressive array of information - more than I can read right now.

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    3. Anonymous5 May 2014 20:48

      I agree its worth a look.Maybe its also worthwhile doing a little research into how Institute for Creation Research go about their form of instruction. Wikipedia is usually ok to find general information http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_for_Creation_Research

      Then perhaps also look at other opinions that are available as well.

      Wikipedia states "Its work in the field of creation science has been rejected by the scientific community, but has been significant in shaping anti-evolutionist thought in the United States by introducing creation science through churches and religious schools, and by engaging in public debates against supporters of evolution"

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    4. Anonymous5 May 2014 20:48

      I think the site you recommend,adopts the idea that the bible is a inerrant and literal documentary of scientific and historical fact.They have a young earth creationist worldview.It rejects evolutionary biology

      Does this agree with your beliefs

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    5. I try to keep an open mind, a scientific enquiring mind. Conventional science starts with the understanding there is no God and they strive hard not to find Him in case that means their lives have to change. Creation science starts with the understanding that God exists and they strive to see His handiwork in the things around them. Both are forming hypotheses, both need considering.

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    6. Thank's Anonymous6 May 2014 18:43

      Your conclusions would seem to suggest that scientist are corrupt.While theist's are honest

      To make your conclusion stick.First you may need to provide scientific evidence that God exists.This would then help back up your accusation that scientists are corrupt

      Can you please provide us with this sort of evidence?.So we can then consider if your accusation is valid.If you have indeed maintained a scientific inquiring mind as you claim you have,then perhaps you may have this kind of information

      Do you understand, that theist's really don't have such good track records in regard to corruption.And even when it comes down to some very well known large groups like the Catholic church too,whom willingly continued to cover up sexual abuses for many years.In the face of plenty of evidence suggesting that much sexual abuse had indeed happened.

      I doubt you can prove your accusation that science starts with the understanding that there is no God.Do you seriously believe there would be no profit to gain,for any scientist who became first to truly discover scientific evidence of Gods existence.Even if their beliefs were secular at the time of this discovery

      Theists scientists even have "extra financial support", of whole congregations of of church folk behind them, in which to tap into.To help them study and try to find any scientific evidence of God.While other secular scientists have need to apply to governments for grants.Even to governments in places like America,where there is still quite a large majority of believers.Are you suggesting that theists within government,are also corrupt in the decision they make, in regards to financial support of science.Secular scientists do not have the luxury of large amounts of extra support gleaned from groups of faith folk.So if they want to be allocated more finance to help support their studies,then they will also need to make sure their study provides valid reason that the financial support should indeed be continued.

      The sort of claim you make, would seem to suggest that these government also conspire to help hide evidence of God.If this is correct,why has no one ever been able to uncover any evidence of this kind of conspiracy?.

      Just check out the video Laurie posted today http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article/8840617/exclusive-brethrens-tax-free-millions-revealed re: Exclusive Brethren's tax free millions. And at about the 12:55 minute mark, you'll even hear Peter Flynn, pointing out how "governments are very wary of being accused to discriminate against religion" , in regard to their allocation of money.

      So i really don't see how you can suggest that a conspiracy exists against religion. If anything,quite the opposite applies.Indeed governments conspire with religion. Because they fear repercussion of large throngs of believers,whom can tend to act like religious gangs

      Take a look at this study someone did on discovery institutes financial support http://cenlamar.com/2013/06/07/the-discovery-institute-is-a-con-profit-scam/

      Personally i think its a poor argument too,for someone to claim that scientists are just purposely turning a blind eye to any evidence of God , Quote 'in case that means their lives have to change".

      Maybe members of the Taliban could also try to claim, that some people just simply refuse to practice the act of Jihad.By thinking that in doing this, they can then somehow escape Gods judgement.Or even, that exclusive brethren members,would choose to totally disown family,thinking this will perhaps somehow help allow them to escape God's judgement "

      If evidence of God was readily available,along with rock solid information about how humans were supposed to live and be.Then your accusation might seem more credible.If people knew God existed,they would surely also need to realize,that denying Gods existence and his demands,would then also be utterly pointless

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    7. Anonymous6 May 2014 18:43 wrote, “Conventional science starts with the understanding there is no God . . .”

      Where does this idea come from? In my time I have read many thousands of peer-reviewed scientific publications but I have never yet seen one that started with or contained the assumption that there is no God. Science starts with what you can observe and with as few assumptions as humanly possible.

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    8. Science like all human endeavours is open to human bias. That's why drug companies have double blind randomised testing, else we find exactly what we're looking to find. We are all subject to this, equally corrupt if you will. Recently watching Qi I heard how many facts were no longer considered facts as time had proved them otherwise. Stephen Fry came up with some amazing numbers which I can't recall. I'll try to keep an open mind.

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    9. Anonymous7 May 2014 13:32

      Of course some facts will change over time, if found to have been wrong.It need not be about bias.So science is ongoing and remains open to new evidence.

      But to claim that there is a conspiracy and scientist are biased against evidence of God.Is a far fetched claim.Its a misleading claim.And it makes false accusations against the scientists involved.

      Some people involved in helping promote these accusations.Believe they are doing God's work.In the same manner that exclusive brethren also do

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Before he deleted it a few minutes ago, Toothboy gave a useful description of what science is, and some of the principles and values that pervade it. Prominent among these is the commitment to pursue and search out truth without fear or favour, following the evidence wherever it may lead. Prominent too is a culture of openness, laying out all one’s evidence for scrutiny and criticism, and a willingness to abandon or modify a hypothesis if it is found to be incompatible with observations or with other well-founded scientific facts. These principles and values have proved to be phenomenally successful, contributing massively to knowledge, understanding, health, prosperity, safety, comfort, happiness, civilization and peace.

      The great flowering of scientific endeavour that led to these benefits was mostly begun by people of faith, whose Christian values were part of what motivated them to value truth and use it to solve the problems and sufferings that afflicted many of their fellow humans. Some of them found a spiritual aspect in seeking to discover the laws of nature, because these might tell them something about the Lawgiver. Most viewed the universe with wonder and awe, as the work of God’s hands.

      But there were also people of faith who were more interested in using a rather subverted form of faith as a method of controlling people, and science threatened their status in two different ways. The emphasis that the scientific method puts on evidence and reason as criteria of truth means that it puts less emphasis on authoritative opinion, so a scientific culture brings a willingness to contradict and challenge authority, not only on matters of science but also on matters of ethics, law, aesthetics, philosophy, politics, human rights and religion. That offends people who want to be in a position of authority. It still does, and that is probably why cult leaders often denounce science.

      The other way in which science has clashed with misguided forms of faith is by debunking some of the dogmas that religious leaders have invented. Prominent among these were the flat earth, the geocentric universe, the 6000-year old universe, the 6-day creation, the universal flood, supernatural accounts of weather, thunder, lightning, rainbows, earthquakes, floods, diseases and famines.

      However, some forms of faith, such as the more honest and enlightened branches of Christianity, welcome scientific discoveries with open arms and are ready to assimilate them into their worldview. The respect for truth, the material universe and the laws of nature that inspired many early scientists is still alive and well in some churches. If you look at the stained glass windows in the Chapel of Kings College London you will see that one of them depicts the Bohr model of the atom and another depicts the Franklin-Watson-Crick model of DNA.

      The clashes that occasionally occur between science and faith can be prevented by a policy of utter honesty, which in theory is one thing that everyone would subscribe to. They can also be prevented if each area of endeavour sticks mainly to what it does well. Science is largely about what is true or false. Art is mainly about what is beautiful or ugly. Religion is mainly about what is good or bad. They all have an important part to play in public and private life, and they can all be mutually supportive.

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    2. " Religion is mainly about what is good or bad."

      Can you explain why you feel religion should be an authority in this regard.And how it relates to our position

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    3. I wouldn’t want to use the word “authority” in that context. Religion has nearly always become tragically corrupt when it seized or was invested with authority. Don’t we know it! But religions and those who study them, develop them and practise them can be valuable sources of guidance and insight into how to behave and relate to our fellow humans, and how we see our place in the grand design, assuming there is one.

      I wouldn’t advise people to swallow any religious teachings unthinkingly or uncritically, but to be skeptical and eclectic, or as Paul would put it, “Do not despise prophecy but examine everything carefully and hold fast what is good.” Ultimately it is you who decides what is good: it is you who decides what values, principles, beliefs and practices to adopt, and your religion, your experience, your reasoning, your conscience and the Holy Spirit may all be involved in your decision.

      I find that the Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 13 and many other writings have a powerful influence over me. Some other Biblical passages just don’t convince me in the same way at all, so I could not tell people to do whatever their religion or their church or their holy book teaches.

      Take account of the religious teachings you have been exposed to, but do what you are convinced is right, even if your religious leaders or your holy book may sometimes say the opposite. Don’t support campaigns of genocide or sell your daughter or kill practising homosexuals or conduct rituals of human sacrifice even if some passages in your holy book seem to condone it.

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    4. Thanks Ian. I agree that religious folk should also play a part in decisions being made about right or wrong .I'm not sure that its wise that decisions be based entirely on what has been written within some ancient holy books.Or as you put it was " invested with authority" But i can still see that what has been written within these books, should also be taken into consideration

      I can totally agree with the suggestion Paul made, that you quoted.

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