Friday, February 12, 2016

Creationists & the news

I see there's been somewhat of a flurry of interest and various hurled insults around the recent appointment of Dan Walker as the new presenter of the BBC breakfast show. Dan is (apparently) a "young earth" creationist, if that's true, then he believes the the Earth was created according to the literal account in Genesis, which implies that it's only a few thousand years old. Rupert Myers (another Christian) wrote a piece in the Telegraph that slammed Walker to the point of suggesting that he shouldn't get the job. Since then, there have been several radio and TV segments that have discussed the pros and cons of this point of view and how much religious views (or any contentious views) like this should impact public figures.

Several of the commentators have pointed their fingers at so called "militant atheists" and some have imagined secret conspiracies to "banish" Christianity, they don't seem to realise that the main spat here appears to be between two different flavours of Christian! In actual fact the NSS (National Secular Society) has come down firmly on the side of Walker, saying that he should be free to believe anything he likes and that his ability to do the job well should be the only consideration with regard to this appointment. I agree, true secularism means a fair playing field for all, regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.

Where I would differ with some of the religiously oriented commentators though is that if people, particularly those in the public eye hold particular beliefs and aren't shy about sharing them, then those ideas (or any idea) should be open to challenge. This includes ridicule if the beliefs are demonstrably silly, as young Earth creationism is. In fact many of us feel that Myers own mainstream beliefs are no less silly than young Earth creationism, for example virgin births, miracles, resurrections etc. and just as the atheistic point of view is continually ridiculed and challenged by religious people (atheists are even murdered in Bangladesh for it) then the mainstream religious view should not be immune from criticism or debate either. When it comes to the marketplace of ideas we need an open and honest approach and not an protectionist one.

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