More Atheist Bigotry

I had a post on the teaching of Creationism in schools, entitled Creationism: Let It Be The Light which was a provocative title to be fair, but the argument I was making was that schools are banned from using Intelligent Design and Creationism resource packs in the teaching of science, and I see nothing wrong with this provided it’s done the right way.

The right way in this case would obviously be to show that creationism or Intelligent Design is a belief-based system, as opposed to a system based on a scientific method, and by so doing to illustrate the scientific method to pupils, showing why that even though it cannot be proven that Intelligent Design is incorrect, it is not suitable as a scientific theory.

Now for me, that’s perfectly sensible. It’s about giving children the tools to think for themselves, to be able to construct their own arguments and so on. It is also teaching how our understanding of science has progressed, and the nature of scientific debate. I honestly don’t see a problem with that, although I do concede — as I did in the article — that the difficulty is that some schools may want to latch onto it and teach Intelligent Design as an equivalent to Darwinism, which it clearly isn’t. Evolution is a scientific theory. Intelligent Design, Atheism, and Theism are beliefs.

Unfortunately, this seemed to spur on someone who either misunderstood my argument, or read the title and then decided that they knew what I was talking about, who came out with this:

There is absolutely no need for this debate at all. I agree with a healthy debate in science, but creationalism is not science, science is based on logic, whereas creationalism is just another way for the church to carry on trying to regain it flagging audience. The last grip onto the small amount of power it still has. Religious beliefs should be classed as a mental disorder.Ian Hill

The first bit is precisely what I was saying. The middle bit (the motives) is speculating on motives for the proponents of Intelligent Design. It seems a reasonable speculation, and it may well be the case, but I simply don’t know the motives, so I’m happy enough to let this bit go. But that last sentence…

Religious beliefs should be classed as a mental disorder.Ian Hill

Yes, that’s the one. Right, so those people who don’t agree with you should be deemed mentally ill. Can I just say that that seems to me to be one of the most intolerant, self-righteous and bigoted statements I’ve ever come across. But that’s his belief, and he is entitled to it. I am certainly entitled to disagree, though. I personally believe that everyone should be free to choose their own religion (or lack of) without prejudice.

Indeed, as the one thing that generally annoys me more than anything else is prejudice and discrimination, it is my belief that someone who is so prejudiced against religious people as a whole as to describe them as being mentally ill simply on the basis that they are religious ought to be held accountable for their crass, insulting and offensive remarks. If a different group — the Welsh, or Asians — were described as mentally ill, this would be unacceptable. It should equally be unacceptable to apply the same terms to someone simply because they are religious…

Although I am in favour of free speech too, so I’d defend Ian’s right to say things that I disagree with. But I’d ask him whether he would label everyone who shares a different political belief to himself (as I’ve yet to hear of a way of proving a political movement) as mentally ill too? And if not, then I’d suggest he should take a long hard look at his own prejudices…

2 Responses to “More Atheist Bigotry”

  1. Grant Broome responds:

    Hi Jack, great entry. I was just wondering why you choose to use the Welsh as an example of a group who may be described to have mental illness. There are so many others to choose from, like the population of Swindon for instance ;)

  2. JackP responds:

    Um… I dunno, to be honest. I had been thinking about Wales earlier that day, but I can’t remember why now. I’ve not got anything against the Welsh, honest. After all, I gave my lad a Welsh name (Bryn).

    But that’s about the limit to my Welsh Connection. (Sounds like a niche-market high-street shop…)

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