Intelligently designed; the creationist assault on science; Conway Hall talk draft flier

I will be giving the Sunday Lecture to the Conway Hall Ethical Society at 11:00 on 16th March 2014. Attached is my draft publicity material. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Creation science” is a 20th century heresy, albeit with far older roots. Its central claim is that beliefs compatible with biblically inspired creationism are in fact scientifically superior to mainstream views on evolution and an old earth. Its arguments for supernatural intervention range from the ludicrous to the highly sophisticated; from “Flood geology” to the origin of biological information; from Jehovah’s Witnesses pamphlets to seemingly scholarly works invoking cellular complexity or the so-called Cambrian Explosion. The creationists themselves are not necessarily stupid, nor ill-informed, nor (in other matters) deluded. In all cases, their deep motivation is the wish to preserve the supernatural role of God the Creator, and a particular view of the man-God relationship.

There are several interlocking organisations active in the UK to promote creationism. These include Glasgow’s own Centre for Intelligent Design (closely linked to the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and its notorious Wedge Strategy), Truth in Science, and The World Around Us/The Genesis Agendum, who between them have links to Brethren churches, the Christian Schools Trust, Answers in Genesis, and Creation Ministries International.

I will be discussing the attempts by such organizations to infiltrate the educational system, the inadequacies of official attempts to prevent this, and possible countermeasures. I will also be giving my own views on why creationist arguments are appealing to those without detailed background knowledge, and how we should respond.

Paul Braterman is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at GlasgowUniversity, and former Regents Professor at the University of North Texas, where his research related to the origins of life was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA’s Astrobiology program. He is a committee member of the British Centre for Science Education, and of the Scottish Secular Society, and has been following creationist infiltration into education in the UK for some years. He is a regular contributor to 3 Quarks Daily, and his most recent book, From Stars to Stalagmites, discusses aspects of chemistry in their historical and everyday contexts.  @paulbraterman

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on December 15, 2013, in Creationism, Education, From Stars to Stalagmites, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. ” In all cases, their deep motivation is the wish to preserve the supernatural role of God the Creator, and a particular view of the man-God relationship.”

    Am somewhat uneasy about that statement. Why should well-informed and well educated apologists for creationism interpretation of Genesis resort to unscientific arguments in its support and that of a Deity? No, Paul, try other possible motives. But don’t expect an honest response from religionists! Perhaps you might like to put yourself into the following scenario.

    PB discovers irrefutable proof that there is no Deity. He therefore visits the Pope to appraise him of the discovery. Question is, what does the Pope intend doing about this new discovery?


    • I have a brisk disagreement with colleagues in BCSE about the extent to which creationism advocates are dishonest. I tend to think that with some grisly exceptions, they do take the trouble to deceive themselves before deceiving the rest of us. Of more concern to me, however, is the audience. If you have a simple faith based on the idea of salvation as made necessary by a historic Fall, and then take on board the overwhelming evidence that it wasn’t really like that, you have some tough thinking to do.


      • What does the Pope do if confronted with irrefutable evidence of the non-existence of a Deity?


      • Easy. Refute it. Somehow. And convince himself that he was right to do so. Just like a biblical literalist confronted with irrefutable evidence of the age of the Earth. And then do his very best to make sure that HIS side of the story gets equal time; it’s called “Teach the controversy”.

        The rubber ducks are unsinkable.


      • Many moons ago the messenger might have been sent to join the Inquisition! But you have to admit that the scenario invites many options and would keep Dan Brown fully occupied until he had to give up through RSI!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: