Wrong Science Being Taught in Some Faith Schools

Last Updated On August 27th 2012

At the time, slightly over a week ago, when I wrote the post, “The God Delusion”. What Does it Really Mean?, I was not well informed about how some schools (some, but not all, faith schools) in the UK and USA teach *wrong* science (I had read a few reports here and there in the past but had not studied the matter carefully).

Later, I studied some of the views expressed by Prof. Dawkins & others including a correspondent who kindly spared his time to share with me how *wrong* science is being taught in some faith schools in the USA and UK. I did some browsing of my own too. Some of these findings are given below.

Prof Dawkins with a British Faith School

From around 6:57 in the video below Prof. Dawkins is with a British faith school. It shows the, in my humble opinion, very odd spectacle of children, the school science teacher and the principal all “believing” evolution to be false since it apparently conflicts with their interpretation of their holy book.

Richard Dawkins: Faith School Menace? (2 of 4), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B47pptxhgP8&feature=relmfu

I feel this is *wrong* science being taught in a science class and strongly disapprove of it.

Salt Water and Fresh Water Not Mixing In The Sea

I was quite taken aback when I saw this video where a child says that salty water and fresh water do not mix in the sea, as an aspect of science derived from a holy book, in front of Dawkins and her science teacher, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jlr1PZxFDEA&feature=relmfu. Now there seems to be some scenarios at estuaries where the body of river water (fresh water) does not easily mix with the body of sea water (salt water), http://cms.oregon.gov/dsl/ssnerr/docs/efs/efs33mix.pdf. But if the teaching was that salty water and fresh water always do not mix because there is some barrier between the two then I have to agree with one correspondent’s strong words of “misrepresentation of facts, undermining of science, …”.

I believe Prof. Dawkins is of the opinion that holy book interpretations (of various religions) should be reconciled to science. My humble opinion is that well established knowledge (“facts”) of science should be seriously considered by religious scholars and spiritual masters who interpret holy books of religions. Theories of science which still have significant room for doubt is a different matter.

Miracles of Religious Figures

Whether a religious figure performed miracles or not is a different matter. That need not be part of a science class but should be part of a Religious Education (R.E.) class, in my humble opinion. Science, as far as I understand it, has not disproved and cannot disprove that religious figures performed miracles.

One serious disagreement I have with Prof. Dawkins’ views is when he states that religious books should be treated as “fiction”, implying that the entire books should be treated as “fiction”. That is unacceptable to many believers including me. He is free to treat it as fiction but he has no scientific basis or any right to impose his opinion (that the entire content of religious books be treated as “fiction”) on the community.

Young Earth Creationism

I am given to understand that some schools in the USA teach children Young Earth Creationism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism. Given the fact that widespread scientific consensus opposes this theory I am very surprised to note that such theories may currently be taught as science in USA (and UK perhaps). I oppose teaching such theories as science unless these theories gain widespread scientific acceptance.

Recently I saw this video of Mr. Ken Ham lecturing a fairly large audience with many youngsters. “Evolution vs Creation – It is a Fact that the Dinosaurs Lived With Humans – Young Earth Creation”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5d3AaAL10U

From 1:28 in the above video, Mr. Ham provides an argument based on a holy book that dinosaurs lived with people. This, according to my understanding of science, is *wrong* science being taught, though this is not in a ‘school’ environment.

The Creation Museum, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_Museum, is also promoting *wrong* science, according to my understanding of science.

Conclusion

I greatly appreciate the efforts of Prof. Dawkins and his foundation for reason and science to ensure that science is taught properly in schools in UK and USA, including faith schools. Where I do differ with Prof. Dawkins is his view of belief in God being a “delusion”.

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4 thoughts on “Wrong Science Being Taught in Some Faith Schools

  1. You will be heartened to know that some 70 years ago when I attended a Jesuit-run Catholic school i asked about the Bible and evolution. The good priests told me that evolution was a strong theory and in no way incompatible with the Genesis story when this is properly understood. I later discovered that St Augustine (4th century) taught clearly that those who taught Christian doctrine which contradicted well established science not only looked stupid but brought scorn on Christianity.
    I have 5 children, all grown up, all educated in Catholic schools. Not one of them was taught.that Genesis should be understood literally.
    I say this because you may be making the “Dawkins error”. That is, looking at the extreme cases and presenting them as if they were typical. That is as foolish as my claiming that all atheists reject moral choice because they all reject free will. It is of course only those who reject free will who deny that they are able to make moral choices.

    • Thank you so much Mr. Quentin for sharing your valuable experiences and views. I certainly am very heartened to know that seven decades ago in a Jesuit-run Catholic school, evolution was seen and taught to be compatible with the Holy Bible, when interpreted appropriately, and that this *right* science teaching has continued across generations in Catholic schools. I have modified a sentence in this post slightly by using the phrase, “(some, but not all, faith schools)”, to avoid the wrong impression being conveyed that my brief study had led me to believe that all faith schools in UK and USA teach *wrong* science.

      I am happy to know of your view, sir, that Prof. Dawkins may be presenting extreme cases as typical. I hope that is true, in which case, the severity of the *wrong* science being taught in some, but not all, faith schools problem would be much lesser than what Prof. Dawkins and co. seem to be making it out to be (in UK and USA).

      Noted your reference to St. Augustine’s teachings. Dr. Collins, a top-notch scientist, who has publicly opposed Prof. Dawkins’ “God Delusion” views, also referred to St. Augustine’s teachings in his Caltech. 2009 lecture, https://iami1.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/francis-collins-the-language-of-god-a-scientist-presents-evidence-of-belief-transcript/.

      • You may be interested to drop in on http://www.secondsightblog.com, where regular discussions on science and faith matters take place. While most of the contributors appear to be Catholic, they welcome other denominations (or none), because it gives a wider range of views.

  2. @Quentin: I presume you mean http://secondsightblog.net/. It seems to be an exhaustive blog on the “mutual exploration into the reconciliation between science and faith”. I will certainly study it sometime later. I guess you are the author/main author of that blog. It is a privilege to have your comments on my blog, sir.

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