Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Should Descartes be taught in biology?

The news today is that creationism, sorry, Intelligent Design, no wait, the ideas of the father of modern philosophy and mathematics, Rene Descartes, are being taught in Biology lessons.

Personally, I don't have a problem with students discussing the ideas of a 17th century rationalist scientist in Biology lessons. The clockwork argument, and consequentially the watchmaker analogy deserves to be heard, and then it deserves to be discredited with some good old fashioned posteriori based empiricism.

What is slightly more worrying about this development is that it is the second time in almost as many weeks that a classic wedge argument from the US has reared it's head in the UK. As with abortion we must, at all costs, avoid letting ourselves be distracted by such things.

There is a reason Descartes and Biology causes such a stir in the US. It is because in state schools over there the US Consititution restricts them from teaching religion in any form. As a result there is no place for creationism to be taught in any place other than biology as a juxtaposition to Darwin.

In comparison, the UK has, thankfully, not separated the Church and State consitituionally. This means we can, and do, have Religious Education lessons in schools. Let's keep creationism where it belongs and let the students use their faculties to assess the arguments themselves.


Buenaventura Durruti said...

As my better-known namesake said:
'The Only Church That Illuminates Is A Burning Church.'

Buenaventura Durruti

Thomas B said...

Personally I find the whole thing irritating and stupid - there's no requirement that Christians believe in "Creationism" as opposed to "Evolution" - indeed leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the last six Popes at least have all said as much.

The morons in the US who are trying to pass off philosophy as science are giving more sensible Christians a bad name.