South African creationists: out, proud and part of the teaching staff

A few weeks ago, I was wondering about the attitudes to the teaching of evolution here in South Africa – it’s now in the curriculum, but in a form which sounds disturbingly familiar to those of us who have encountered the weasel words of the Discovery Institute and their clones. Such fears are well-founded if this account of the opinions expressed at a recent teacher’s conference is anything to go by:

At a recent conference on teacher training, a teacher said: “I am disappointed about the fact that evolution attacks God’s creation. It also mixes Genesis with idol worshippers of Babylon, which were never there when God created planet Earth.”

Another said he thought the topic should be voluntary because he didn’t think it suitable for people who believe in God. “I am totally against evolution,” another teacher said.

I’m not sure what the mangled English in the first quote even means (Charles Darwin was a Babylonian idol worshipper? Who knew?), but the attitude expressed by all of them is fairly clear, and there’s not even a token attempt to pretend that it’s anything other than (misplaced) pious outrage. Bear in mind that these comments are coming not from parents or school board members, but from the teachers. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the race issue to deal with: evolution is not just against God, it’s a tool of dehumanising Western imperialism.

Matters came to a head after snippets of a video, Tiny Humans: Finding Hobbits in Flores, was shown. The video traces the origin of tiny prehistoric humans somewhere on an Indonesian island. They are depicted as short and dark-skinned people. This offended some black teachers. They said that evolution was a racist theory. It “terribly undermines black people, everything bad gets a black colour. It means blacks were apes,” they said.

Heartfelt thanks – of the arse-kicking or shoe-puking variety – are of course due to Jim Watson for so eloquently smoothing the path for anyone trying to debunk this perception. Anyone who thinks that ‘great scientists’ should be given the freedom to let their own prejudices masquerade as ‘facts’ in the name of ‘freedom of expression’: that’s your rebuttal, right there.
Oh, well, at least the South African government is going to stand up to the malcontents, and make it clear to them that they want actual science taught in science classes. Right? Hah. The following is brought to you by Penny Vinjevold, deputy director general for further education and training:

No child would be compelled to “adopt” or “defend the viewpoint or any way subscribe to evolution”. So there could be no reason for parents to take legal action, Vinjevold said.

The department took into account the fact that different theories offered a variety of explanations on the origin of human beings. Evolution was one of such explanations and learners were not expected to believe it, but to see it as one school of thought, she said.

Given all this, I’m starting to think that South African schoolchildren would be better off if they weren’t taught about evolution; they’re about to be caught between the clashing rocks of creationist straw-men, and the treacherous whirlpool of post-modernist bulls**t, and the chances of them actually coming out the other side with any sort of understanding of science, or evidence-based reasoning, seem rather slim.

Categories: antiscience

Comments (7)

  1. J-Dog says:

    “It means blacks were apes,” they said.”
    Ahem… Yes, we are apes. All humans are apes. And the sky is blue, and the grass is green.

  2. Watt de Fawke says:

    Here’s a clue. His shoulders abut his ass cheeks, so guess where his head is.

  3. Fnord Prefect says:

    You will spend an eternity in damnation for your blasphemous ‘sky is blue’ ideology. Genesis clearly teaches that the sky is not blue. Don’t believe the anti-chrisitan lies!

  4. Chris Rowan says:

    J-Dog: Indeed. Not realising that a shared ancestry with apes is equally true of every human being on the planet, and thinking that it is somehow a bad thing, are the mistaken perceptions I was referring to.

  5. Freya says:

    Interesting article. South Africa is a very religious country, however the problem highlighted here isn’t neccessarily one of religion but of a lack of scientific training. A lot of the good teachers took voluntary retrenchment a few years ago when the Department of Education was trying to alter teacher demographics, and in many instances these teachers have moved to teaching at private schools, leaving, in many schools, a very poor culture of teaching. A signicant number of teachers at government schools came from poor scholastic backgrounds, yet another legacy of apartheid. Many of the new teachers have been poorly trained at high school themselves, and most will have a very poor grasp of science. The country is crying out for good science and maths teachers, and unfortunately, the amount of pay is not going to entice people with scientific backrounds to become teachers; unless the salaries for teachers improves, the educational situation will continue to decline.

  6. andy.s says:

    Civilization is doomed.
    Dooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmed I tells, ya!

  7. Tim says:

    I am a young earth creationist. My biggest complaint against the claims of “scientific” evolution versus “unscientific” creation is that science has made the rules. By this I mean that science has defined creation as unscientific. Thus, science has rejected the possibility of creation and in that way cheated creationism of a fair consideration. The origin of the universe and the origin of life have not, and can not, be observed. So, perhaps neither viewpoints are actually scientific.
    Put philosophically from a non-creationist angle – even if the universe was created it could not be accepted by science.
    Ultimately it is a belief/faith choice and I have chosen creation as the more reasonable. Call me a fool.