A fellow blogger posted today about so called ‘Intelligent Design’, a concept that I only heard about in the past couple of years through listening to such podcasts as ‘The Skeptics Guide to the Universe‘ and ‘Logically Critical‘ (now dead, but was probably one of the best podcasts out there) and various opinions being voiced. Perhaps before then I was living under a rock as I looked up the theory only to find that it wasn’t new.
Anyone who knows me knows how I feel towards organised religion and other related things. I’ve always been pretty tolerant of what people believe but in the last couple of years I’ve become less tolerant, not to the point where I’m deliberatly going around and forcing my opinions on people but to the point where I’m more inclined to voice my thoughts… I also no longer mind if people feel offended by my thoughts as I get pretty offended when people call me close minded or evil for not believing.
I was raised in what you could call a non-religious household, I don’t actually know how my parents feel towards religion but I think you could describe them both as agnostic. I wasn’t exposed to religion at home, but I did read a lot of Greek myths and Norse myths – I’m particularly fond of their creation myths as they’re both well… creative. I had two really cool what you could call graphic novels that laid out some of the more famous Greek myths and another volume of Norse myths, I read them obsessively but I don’t think I ever believed any of them. I don’t actually think that I thought the order of the universe, I thought about what I do if I was on the Enterprise and discovering amazing alien worlds but what child doesn’t?
My only exposure to religion came at the local Church of England primary school (4 – 11yrs old) when we had weekly religious lessons and daily assemblies. I always thought the stories from the Bible read during these lessons and assemblies were just that, stories… after all, we also read stories in class (such as ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’) and I had absolutely no reason to think that these were things that people actually believed. Compared to my Greek and Norse myths I thought they were fairly dull, particularly the story of how the world was created in seven days… how can that compare to the Norse creation myths (full of amazing words like Muspell, Ginnungagap and Niflheim) and Greek creation myths?
I did go to Brownies for a time but it was boring and I think the only badges I got were the ones that everyone got for going to camp. At the time I was there the oath you swore had something in it about doing your best to love god, I remember being a bit confused about why you had to love someone in a story and a real person (the Queen, my dad is in the Navy so I was quite aware of who the Queen was and had seen on her on TV) but I don’t think I ever asked about it.
I remember my dad washing his hands one day and saying to my brother that if we were Muslim we’d wash ourselves five times a day before praying, my brother asked my dad “is that what we are?” I don’t remember what my dad said to him besides telling him we weren’t. I know at primary school I only ever heard about Christianity but I knew off other faiths even if I didn’t know what they believed. My brother later went to a different primary school to me and learned a lot about different faiths as many members of his class had different beliefs.
I think the headteacher was aware of my boredom and since I was also a complete pain I would often find myself singled out to do things such as in my final year I was selected to take part in the Easter play to be performed at the church service on the Sunday… he didn’t actually ask if I was able to make that Sunday (I wasn’t, I was going to visit my grandmother in Liverpool) it was just assumed that I was free (incidentally, I don’t think anyone selected to take part actually showed up on the day).
At secondary school (11 – 16yrs) I learned something that made complete sense; I learned about evolution and the theory of natural selection (I don’t think evolution is a theory I think only the natural selection part of it is… something that I don’t think creationists have caught on to). I used to watch a lot of nature documentaries and the sick or weak animals would always be picked off first as they weren’t able to get away or fight back so this whole thing about how those creatures that have advantageous adaptations are able to survive better than those without made perfect sense. I never thought to question it as it made sense, I knew that things didn’t magically appear out of nowhere – everything has to come from somewhere.
We studied different faiths in religious studies class but I don’t recall ever discussing the creation myth (any) or this thing called ‘intelligent design’ – it wasn’t a school with a religious attachment and since we had so many people of different faiths maybe they decided it was better not to teach any creation myth. One the first day the RS teacher asked everyone who believed, who wasn’t sure and who didn’t believe (I put my hand up for ‘didn’t believe’)… a few years later I won the Religious Studies prize after getting 90% in an exam (an exam which I’m sure I made up all the answers to).
I left secondary school in 2002, so it’s been seven years since I was in formal education; a lot of it I’ve blanked from my memory as I absolutely hated the entire experience. It came as a shock to some of my teachers when I admitted that I’d always hated school, I worked out fairly early on in secondary school that the best thing to do was to put my head down and just get on with it – I’d been a terror in primary school and the experience never seemed to end… by just getting on with it I made sure it went quicker.
I do not believe that things like ‘intelligent design’ and creationism have any place in science classroom, they are not scientific theories, they are faith based beliefs and should therefore be discussed in religious studies or perhaps philosophy. From what I understand the levels of scientific understanding has fallen in the past couple of years which has led to a rise in pseudo-scientific beliefs, the level of science reporting is appalling and I don’t like the way we’re all headed.