Friday, 30 September 2011

Letter to the East Alien Dangly Times in response to some religious nuts

Reproduced from Flashmaggie's Posterous.

Dear Sir,

The responses that you’ve published to P J Davison’s assertion (26 September) that we should greet the decline of religious broadcasting with “Good riddance!” were predictable, but full of inaccuracies, particularly on science and evolution.

A R Wainwright of Halstead wrote, “You can’t always see electricity, nor touch, taste, hear or smell it – yet it can be powerful enough to kill you. What makes the spiritual world so different?” Evidence, Mr/Ms Wainwright, that’s the difference. There’s no evidence for any spiritual world, but try telling your energy supplier that there isn’t any for electricity; that’s what meters are for. And just try touching it if you dare!

Richard Martin asserts that “more and more scientists are abandoning belief in evolution.” More and more? In 2006, the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian “think tank”, published an anti-evolution letter signed by 514 “doctoral scientists”. However, a majority of those “scientists” were evangelical Christians without any expertise in the biological sciences, hence no more expert than any lay creationist, such as Mr Martin. The institute letter was published in response to another letter published the day before by the Alliance for Science, which was signed by over 10,000 clergy, scientists and educators who oppose the teaching of creationism in schools. A 1991 Gallup poll found that only 5% of US scientists identified themselves as creationists. Earlier this month in the UK, top scientists and educationalists, including Sir David Attenborough and a leading science educator who’s an Anglican priest, together with the Association for Science Education, the British Humanist Association, the British Science Association, the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and Christian beliefs and values think tank Ekklesia, have put their names to a statement calling for the teaching of evolutionary science, not creationism, in school science classrooms. Far from “more and more”, it’s fewer and fewer, Mr M.

Your correspondents who wrote to defend religious broadcasting are in a small minority. 5 years ago, media watchdog Ofcom asked viewers what types of programming they most valued on the terrestrial channels. Of the 17 genres identified, religious broadcasting came 16th. Considering that we all pay a licence fee yet very few people watch or listen to the religious output, I’d argue that we should have far less.

Margaret Nelson

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