Monday, August 18, 2008

Dawkins and the teachers

Richard Dawkins's three-part Channel 4 series on The Genius of Charles Darwin concluded on Monday evening, and by far the most entertaining segment, I thought, was that in which Dawkins read out the profanity-laden vitriol hurled at him by theists over the internet ("I hope a church van runs you over on the way home and kills you," wrote one of the-meek-who-shall-inherit-the-Earth). More salutary, however, was the reaction Dawkins received when he met some of the school teachers who found it difficult to contradict the religious beliefs of their pupils in science lessons. The teachers tacitly endorsed the notion of the relativity of the truth, the idea that things are not absolutely true or false, it's just that some things are true to some people, and other, often contradictory things, are true to other people.

"Well, as a scientist, I can see that evolution is true," said one.

"No, not just as a scientist," interjected Dawkins, "it's just true, full-stop, isn't it?"

The teachers appeared stunned and bemused by this argument. You could almost see them thinking:

What is this person saying? This is not what we were told at Teacher-Training College! There is nothing about this in the policies of our Local Education Authority or school Parent-Teacher Association! These are not the beliefs we have mutually reinforced in each other as a professional community for many years. This has not been passed as a resolution at one of our Teacher Trade Union Conferences!

A delightful moment.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I would have thought that when Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth that he meant this; and not that the unmeek theists of the World would inherit it.

Throughout the Bible in the Prophets and in Jesus, I believe, it's expressed that 'belief in God' or the Worship of God, per se, is not enough and not the point. That it is the type of belief and the ethical behaviour associated with and flowing from that belief which counts.

Personally I myself don't understand how a justified ridiculing of the deplorable behaviour of some theists can legitimately be extended to embrace, or even be relevant to, a rejection of the existence of God. Are not the issues separate - the behaviour of certain theists evidently frightened of Dawkins for their own reasons and the essential reality of the cosmos?