Monday, January 01, 2007

Theocracy: Introduction

Back in November, I ran three posts looking at the BCSE's outlook on the world (one, two, three)

In these articles, I looked at what the BCSE's core members were saying about what they hoped to achieve - and what they hoped to counteract. In a number of these quotes, BCSE leaders explained that their goals were not scientific, but political and/or religious. Apparently, Christians opposing Darwinism in the UK are working to replace the present system of government with a theocracy. The BCSE sees itself as a front in a war to prevent this.

Here's Lenny Flank:

It is a political fight. The fundies want a theocracy, and are trying very hard to get it. So this is a fight between "everyone who wants a fundamentalist theocracy" and "everyone who doesn't." [1024]

Timothy Chase, at a time when the BCSE was not yet named, putting forward a suggestion:

Science Education Coalition United Regarding Evolution


... because we are defending education against the threat posed by creationism and creationist ideology, and both the UK and democracy against the threat of theocracy. The name would draw attention to the threat posed by what it is we are against. [1506]

Now, there are religious activists in the UK who want to have a different system of law and to replace our system with a theocracy. The threat from those people is real, and dangerous - they have already carried out major military attacks against the West, including bombings in our own capital city.

If the BCSE lived in the real world, then they ought to be carrying out campaigning against such radical Islamist groups. However, the BCSE's campaign is instead directed against Biblical Christians. In order to justify this obvious anomaly, the BCSE take a hint from Richard Dawkins' handbook of campaigning atheism, take the label "fundamentalist" and merrily apply it to anyone who takes religion more seriously than they do.

In those previous articles, I more than once pointed out that if any of the Christian non-Darwinists featured on the BCSE's website do have any theocratic goals, it ought to be easy to prove. There is a good number of books, leaflets, booklets, sermons, DVDs, and so on readily available. The source material is all there - so, please, why can't the BCSE document and prove some of its allegations? On the front page of the BCSE website, Roger Stanyard wrote this:

Moreover, the movement includes extreme political objectives, one of which is the replacement of democracy with a theocracy based on its extreme religious opinions.

But if this is so, why does the evidence not say so? Which political parties have these fundamentalists infiltrated, or set up alternatives to? Where are the pamphlets or sermons in which they set out these political goals? What steps have they taken to get rid of democracy?

This all left the BCSE looking pretty silly - exposed again as using obvious untruths and scare-stories in order to forward its agenda. Again, readers of "BCSE Revealed" were left wondering: if Darwinism is so irrefutably true, then why do its defenders have to resort to this kind of thing? Why, if arguments for design or intelligence behind the universe are so bogus, do they not just refute them instead of coming up with this kind of clap-trap?

Well, not too many days after I had put up the third and final post on that theme, the BCSE put up a new page on its website. Its title is promising: "Theocracy Watch".


And in fact, in the BCSE's forum, Dr. Brian Jordan (ironically the BCSE's scientific advisor) stated that he had authored the page in response to my articles. (I say "ironic", because of the lack of scientific content on the BCSE's website or in its discussions of its motivations or aims. You might think that Dr. Jordan would have his work cut out rectifying this situation, rather than finding some spare time to tell tales about theocracies!).

You may remember that Brian Jordan was the last person quoted in the previous article on the BCSE's views. In this quotation, we found that Jordan took a simple and reasonable statement to do with social science, and jumped to untenable conclusions - conclusions that could only be reached by reading the statement with a considerable anti-Christian prejudice. That observation is one that will prove relevant to our look now at the BCSE's "Theocracy" page.

A Little More Of Dr. Jordan - Where Is He Coming From?

In July 2006, as the BCSE prepared for launch, one participant in the mailing list mentioned that it was important in their strategy that they weren't identifiable as being anti-religious.

Here are some more of Dr. Jordan's words in reply:

Bugger strategy. Theists are the deluded victims of centuries of conspiracy. There is no evidence, whatsoever, of the existence of any kind of supernatural creature and so no reason to debate the putative origin or nature of such. [1766]

Dr. Jordan refers to creationists as “cretinists” and believers as “god-botherers” [2266].

And here he is describing the BCSE in one of their internal discussions about approaching a particular foundation to support its cause (emphasis mine):

Why on earth do you think that a bunch of Christian academics, funded by a wealthy Christian non-academic, will give a toss about a bunch of nit-pickers like us? [2128]

Let us now have a look at the "Theocracy" page on the BCSE's website. Remember: their claims are about the plotting of non-Darwinists to replace the system of government. Democracy must go - theocracy must take its place. Let's look at the evidence...


Before examining the content, I am going to take a little overview of the page. As such, I'm not going to really start answering the question until next time.

The page contains:
  • 26 quotations

  • From 7 different authors (though one of those only appears as the author of a "joint" quote, which isn't explained).

  • 6 of those authors have taken part in the origins debate in some way in Britain.

  • 3 of those authors provide more than one quote; 2 of them more than two.

  • The sources of those quotations include a church magazine, various Christian newspapers and magazines, lectures, and a booklet.

Now, for the BCSE, that's not a bad start. Almost all of the authors chosen are relevant people; and most of their sources are ones that can be independently verified. Two of the authors even have multiple quotations just in case a single one might represent them!

Nevertheless, I was soon able to spot a number of factual errors or other problems:

1) Richard Porter (who has one quotation), is listed as being on the Truth in Science "council of reference". However, the relevant Truth in Science web page which lists its council of reference does not mention him (

2) A number of organisations are listed as being "creationist organisations" though they have either taken a different position or no position. This seems to be a case of the BCSE mixing up their own propaganda (i.e. that all non-Darwinism is creationism) with their presentation of the facts. Organisations with which they have done this include: the Vardy Academies, Truth in Science, the (American) Discovery Institute and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

3) Two organisations listed have no known UK presence or activities, but are purely American bodies: the Discovery Institute and the Chalcedon Foundation. As such, they are hardly relevant to any attempt to prove what UK religionists are working towards.

4) I was unable to discover on what grounds Stephen Layfield was called a "member" of the Christian Institute. He is not one of its directors or employees; Google turned up nothing other than a lecture he had once given under its auspices. Still, I'm not saying categorically this is wrong.

All this is preliminary. It is just a little more data about the general reliability of pages on the BCSE website.

As yet, we have not examined any of the actual quotations. The key question, of course, is "do any of them actually espouse the end of democracy? Regardless of on whose behalf they were spoken, what do they actually say?".

That's the question we'll turn to next time.

David Anderson

(Numbers attached to quotes in this post refer to the BlackShadow Yahoo group message with the same number. The BCSE have since removed this group from the Internet; nevertheless, if you want to verify the accuracy of the quotes, you may contact me for a copy).

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