Paul Braterman – The Scientific method

Science does not have a separate special method for learning about the world, the “scientific method” as taught in schools is a damaging illusion, and the falsifiability criterion has itself been falsified Below, R: How not to; “The Scientific Method”, as inflicted on Science Fair participants. Click to enlarge Consider this, from a justly esteemed […]

via The “scientific method”, a needless stumbling block. With a note on falsification — Primate’s Progress

Unelected Church appointees on Council Committees; argument and counter-argument

Primate's Progress

nov24_0The story so far: Spencer Fildes and I defended our petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on November 24. The Committee (transcript here; see “New Petitions) listened most attentively, questioned us closely but not unsympathetically,  and agreed to write to a number of organisations  for their views. You will find full details, including petition text and links to the submissions received, at the Petition website. Now read on:

There may still be time for individuals and organisations to submit their own views, but the window is rapidly closing. We would suggest that any submissions  at this stage should be short and concentrate on the central issues, and that individual submissions mention any relevant personal details (e.g. parent, teacher, own schooling, professional qualifications and degrees). What follows is my own response, on behalf of  Scottish Secular Society. If you find some of this material (especially the analysis…

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I read the following comment today on Facebook “maybe he should get a bodyguard for a while” – in a group called “British Muslim’s for Secular Democracy”  The post is meant as a joke, however, as its Louis Smith we’re talking about and the religion in question is Islam, it’s no laughing matter.

Louis Smith, in a private space, mocked a religion, the religion of peace and for that he has been publicly shamed, vilified and now punished by his peers, add to this the very real horror of death threats – when we talk of death threats from Islam, most Muslim bloggers and reformers will testify, the threat is real .  This acknowledgment of validity is the where the true horror lies. It causes the writer to pause before typing, the speaker to think before talking, the blogger to stop blogging, the joker to….well, you get me.

It’s utterly heart-breaking, this slow train into the ocean.  We take the bottle off the drunk, the needle off the addict, give medicine to the ill, why on earth are we authorising Islam to write a suicide note for secularism? This is blasphemy through the back door. Slowly, but surely, piece by piece, secularism has been losing space and now that sacred universal right of freedom of speech, to Islam.

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Regression of the left

We’ve been passengers to permissiveness; we’ve allowed the regressive termites to feast on our secular foundations. Structural cracks are appearing and sooner or later, the infestation will, inevitably, topple the building. The occupants are inert, caught in speech paralysis, forever fearful of the watchful eye of the regressive left and bedfellow Islamists.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) were quick off the mark with the Islamophobia card, with MCB Deputy Secretary General Dr Omer El-Hamdoon stating “This behaviour by leading and decorated sportspeople is sadly a confirmation of how Islamophobia has become acceptable”.  As we know, Islamophobia is the primary pejorative for the victimhood of Islam, an immediate and unfortunately now effective tool in destroying personality, character, credentials and career of anyone in the public space who dares speak ill of the religion of peace. Islamophobia is now a word, of mass destruction, casually overplayed with the intention of maximizing damage with willful, malicious intent by almost every Islamic commentator when their feelings are a little hurt by a joke, a comment or even a cartoon.

The saddest thing in this whole affair is that Islam has not just “won” another small victory in its eternal quest for the populace to bend the knee, Smith has been convinced he actually did something wrong, his peers believe he did something wrong, the media believe he did something wrong.

He did nothing wrong.

He will repent, he has to, and Islam demands it. Smith will now forever be wary for his personal safety, he’ll have to watch his back at all times, because the country he so successfully represented at the highest level, has sadly turned its back on him when he needs it most.

Islam 1
Free Speech 0

Islam takes silver off the horse

Evolution, Creationism, and Christianity; what teachers need to know

For teachers

Primate's Progress

I have assembled a team to help prepare materials about evolution for the use of non-biologists, and we would welcome comments and suggestions. The topic arises in Religious Education in particular, hence the title of this post. Most of the material here is borrowed from an article by the Reverend Michael Roberts, retired Anglican Vicar, field geologist, School Governor, historian of ideas, and part of the team. But first, some background.

Recent developments increase the importance of what Michael has to say. The Society for Biology made two recommendations in its recent evidence to the Scottish Parliament. One, now incorporated into the stated Governmental position, was that creationism not be taught in a science class since it is not a scientific theory. The other was expressed as follows:

We recognise that questions regarding creationism and intelligent design may arise in the classroom, for example as a result of individual…

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Keeping creationism out of Scottish schools; the long, long paper trail

My colleague at the Scottish Secular Society, a record of his tireless work.

And our success!

Primate's Progress

Scottish Parliament: Return to homepageThe petition is closed. It has done its work, and I’m impressed by the process. Creationism may not be taught in science classes; and we already have the Minister’s  statement in Parliament that in other classes, where appropriate, it should be discussed but not promoted. It has been a long and tortuous process, so I have collected here links to the key documents, and to the more than 60 press reports I know of.

NoblePamphletAttention will now inevitably shift to Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies, where Creationism is (and should be) one of the topics selected for in-depth study.  The evidence in favour of evolution is conclusive, yet Creationists deny this, and RMPS laudably shies away from telling students what to think. How do we cut this Gordian knot? And how best do we help RMPS teachers without any formal instruction in biology, when they face the specious pseudoscience of…

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Creationist Manoeuvres in the Dark

David Andrew Robertson writes in the Scotsman (Letters 21-11-14) titled “False Accusations”

As I usually stay out of his nonsense but as on this occassion it’s about the petition, I feel compelled to respond.

To quote Robertson..

“Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, writing to the Scottish Parliament in response to the SSS petition, has also accused the society of using “inflammatory rhetoric”.They are indeed using this issue as a Trojan Horse to try to exclude Christianity from public education. “

The internet used to be known as the “information superhighway” and largely, I believe it still is. It allows you to quickly connect many dots one would may otherwise overlook, particularly if you’re a member of the Public Petitions Committee (PPC)

It is with some glee David Robertson presents his latest press release to the world, however, on this particular occasion, the SSS were ready for it (now that they arrive at one every week) we already anticipated the content along with its inevitable main reference point – Ken Cunningham’s rather curiously forthright submission to the PPC, presented to the commission in his capacity as head of “School Leaders Scotland” (I have to admit I was slightly taken aback at the speed of his reply to the PPC, one would have thought such extensive consultation with such a large and important body would take much more time and effort)

The SSS knew this would be another weapon for David Robertson to add to his armoury in his relentess assaults attempting to debunk, distort and misrepresent the core aims of the Scottish Secular Society, to remove unwarranted religious privilege from the public place, in particular, within the Scottish education system.

Let’s examine a few of the issue that arise with the SLS submission…

It would seem, according to Ken Cunningham there is no problem. What surprises me is the manner in which he responds, it’s hardly the language of a professional representing the views of an impartial body!

• “inflammatory rhetoric frequently used by the petitioners” – so here Ken infers he is familiar with our previous work. Good.

“Inflammatory” definition is “(especially of speech or writing) arousing or intended to arouse angry or violent feelings” – so we have aroused angry or violent feelings in you Ken have we? Now why ever would you feel like that about our petition in your impartial position as head of the SLS?

• “Frequently schools are also encouraged to break down subject boundaries by reflecting where different disciplines interact – NO they are not Ken, are you implying that the boundary between science and religion should be broken down? If you are then please remove yourself from any official capacity within the Scottish education system as this is exactly why we have had to raise our petition. To use your own words “there would be a dangerous precedent” if this were to be implemented.

“There are fairly detailed curricular guidelines applying to both the science and RME domains – No Ken actually there aren’t and you know it, this is why we have petitioned the government to issue such guidelines.

This would be a dangerous precedent. To link it to the situation in Birmingham as someone has suggested is a little disingenuous” – Ken the difference here is Christianity, unlike Islam, doesn’t need a Trojan horse, its already operating within the Scottish education system and indeed, owns the stables and enjoys unlimited access to graze on as much land as it likes. Heck they even have 3/5 unelected representatives on every single council in Troy!

Coincidentally, Ken Cunningham is Secretary and elder at Cartsbridge Evangelical Church, a church where, coincidentally, Mr Robertson presented a recent sermon where he made references to the congregation about the Scottish Secular Society and our activities, along with his own personal interpretation, why we as an organisation exist. Dave wasn’t too flattering about us I may add.

Notable that these comments were also made at the same time our petition was awaiting presentation to the PPC.

Cartsbridge church secretary and head of the School Leaders Scotland, Ken Cunningham coincidentally also sits on the SQA, as well as the “SCHOLAR advisory board amongst many other educational groups. He is an influencial and prominent figurehead across the education spectrum in Scotland.

We admire the fact that Mr Cunningham possess a remarkable ability to decouple his love of god from the day job  – somehwat contradicting his quote in the “Times Education Supplement” that stated.. “His faith is fundamental to who he is and how he behaves….I have never known otherwise and never wanted otherwise.”

This must be particularly difficult given that, the one and only, Alistair Noble, yes indeed – the Same Alistair Noble from the “Centre for Intelligent Design” , leader of the very group the Scottish Secular Society are most concerned about, particularly regarding the development and presentation of creationist material attempting to masquerade as science – this gentleman now has conducted no less than 15 sermons in Ken Cunningham’s church in recent months.

Yes you read that right, 15 sermons in Ken Cunningham’s church.

Noble is also a former colleague of Ken Cunningham at the SLS, holding down an SLS role as “Field Officer”

Worryingly, at the start of one of Noble’s sermons, he encourages his congregation to listen to the creationist muttering of Stephen Meyer, Meyer is with the Discovery Institute, of which C4ID is a close affiliate, Meyer is also lead author of the mendaciously named “Explore Evolution”, which the equally mendaciously titled “Truth in Science” (a Young earth creationist organisation) was sent to every school library in Scotland a few years ago.

Coincidentally (sorry I seem to be using this word a lot) two petitions from the Scottish Secular Society seeking to advance fairness and equality in Scottish Education may have now reached the eyes of senior educationalist Ken Cunningham and both have subsequentially, been refuted. All of this within his official capacities of course through consultation requested by the PPC and Education and Culture Committee.

So back to the subject of Trojan horses and David Robertson. He is  audacious enough to accuse the SSS of attempting to plant Trojan horses. This is gobsmacking hypocrisy, given the alleged murky and sinister interconnectivity of certain individuals who share components and missionary onjectives of his faith.

It is not the SSS who may hold friends in high places, especially those Mr Robertson so eagerly couldn’t wait to quote. Why doesn’t he actually read the petition and see what our “true intentions” really are? Secularists, unlike some other groups, don’t seem to have many political or influential friends across Scotland’s national institutions.

Scottish secularists, like many other campaign groups, merely seek to highlight the glaring inequalities and privilege religious groups are afforded in this country, What’s worse such religious privilge is also protected by antiquated legislation that does not reflect nor properly serve a diverse and modernising Scotland. Such legislation as acted by Falkirk council to ensure Catholic children can attend any school they so wish, unlike children of other faiths and those with none.

I also look forward to the day our government break up the 100% monopoly that Christianity enjoys with Religious observance in Scottish Non-Denominational schools. Is it not time to invite other faiths into assembly such as the Buddhists, Pagans, Sikhs and Muslims? Or Humanists, more suitable for those with no faith?

The SSS are not “militant” nor are we “aggressive”. Many of our members (including myself) have suffered from religious zealotry for far too long we make no apologies if we are perceived as an irritant or obstacle to others. Unfortunately everytime we challenge religious privilege in Scotland its like navigating through a dark room full of strangers but you’re the only ones who actually can’t see, you also can’t see them smirking at each other as you fumble your way around..

Finally, as for Mr Cunningham’s submission and his undisclosed association with Noble, I sincerely hope the PPC bear in mind this simple fact – referees in Scottish league football are not allowed to referee games where they may support one of the teams on the field of play. It removes the suspicion that they may seek to influence the outcome through their own bias.

Parody, oh sweet parody.

To focus your energy mimicking the very factions you seek to challenge makes a mockery of what you are.

If you’re in it for ego, personality politic or career then kindly remove yourself from the from the front line. You’re causing more damage to progress than you could ever see.

Your C.V. means nothing to me.

Or am I missing something here?

It’s one battle, many armies, some local, national and international. Not for any indivdual but an ideaology or a cause. Once you bring yourself into it you’ve lost, you’re out. If you can’t see it then shame on you, you’ve become an obstacle, singular, a personality…no one is bigger than the club.

Secularism is not Humanism, Humanism is not Secularism. Atheism is not Secularism, Secularism is not Atheism. Skepticism is not Humanism and Humanism is not Skepticism. Atheism is not Skepticism and Skepticism is not Atheism…..blah blah blah?

You already know this though so why blur the lines?

 

We may well be, however, on different boats but we’re all sailing on the same sea.

The sea is vast, filled with undiscovered treasures for our yearning minds –  but we’re oblivious to it’s distance and to it’s depth. We watch our newborns crawl in it, our toddlers paddle in it and when they touch adulthood, they learn to swim in it.

We do, however, have a problem.

There are those who would snare our children in a net of contradiction, entangle them with misinformation and drown them in distortion.

The flotillas of Creationism and Intelligent design have set sail Scottish waters, we secularists must not only ensure their dangerous nets are never cast, we must make sure their boats never set sail in the first place.

So we petition our government to do so…

Sign the Scottish Secular Society’s petition – keep creationism out of the Science class.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/creationismguidance