Thursday, December 20, 2007

In case you were wondering...

Sometimes, you have to spend several hours digging through different sources to piece things together. Sometimes, the BCSE just hand it to you on a plate.

Here is Roger Stanyard, the founder, de facto leader, and official spokesman, of the "British Centre for Science Education", posting over at RichardDawkins.Net and making a few things quite clear for us. Note that Stanyard is posting in his official capacity, beginning his post with "We at the British Centre for Science Education" and finishing with the tag-line, "Roger Stanyard, British Centre for Science Education". Read it through for yourself:

We at the British Centre for Science Education have done some estimates of the proportion of Christians in the UK who are fundamentalist (extremist if you like). A rough definition of extremism is that the accept Sola Scriptura as extended into all public domains. In English that means into science - creationism if you like.

On a head count of churches it is somewhere between 5% and 10% of all churches. In terms of individual believers it seems to be around 400,000 out of a regular church going population of 3.5-4 million.

However, it ain't no good asking people if they are fundamentalists. No matter how much they foam at the mouth about creationism and hell fire and brimstone, most of them will deny it.

Sadly, in any society there are a lot of authoritarian extremists. Seems to me that you only have to scratch a fundamentalist slightly and underneath they are all the same as hardline fascists, BNPers, white supremicists, Abu Hamza fans, Marxists, racists, homophobes, Trotskyites, Leninists, Maoists, Northern Ireland paramilitaries, KKKers - all birds of a feather.

They all have a 'worldview' that they want to impose on others without consent.

It is silly, though, to suggest all religious believers are of that ilk or that religion is the platform off of which extremism rides. It is like saying that communism is the natural outcome of the beliefs of people who are in the Labour Party or fascism of those in the Conservative Party. The overwhelming majority in both parties believe in liberal democracy, are pragmatic and not prone to authoritarian extremes. Same with religiou believers.

Roger Stanyard, British Centre for Science Education


Some pertinent questions and observations, for anyone who hasn't yet worked out what the BCSE are really about:

  1. How is it that a purported centre for "Science Education" which pretends to operate independently of religious questions, is taking surveys to work out what percentage of Christians are "extremist"? Which branch of science, exactly, is this part of?

  2. Why is the spokesman for a body which presents itself to its lobbying targets as a bona fide scientific institution with expertise in biological origins doing offering us definitions of religious extremism? What branch of biology is this from, please? Or have I missed something - maybe Mr. Stanyard has had his work published in a scientific journal somewhere? Because it looks to me like Stanyard's "science" is nothing other than his atheistic philosophy in a not-very-cunning disguise. My point is not that science and philosophy are separable fields; my point is that Mr. Stanyard's purports to have a scientific viewpoint which is free of all philosophical bias, which is clearly not the case.

  3. Notice too how extremely broad Stanyard's definition of an extremist is - it includes 100% of classical Protestants, being defined by acceptance of the defining Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura - i.e. the belief that the Bible is the highest, unrivaled, authority - the belief that God exercises his own authority through speaking to us in the Bible. The phrase "Sola Scriptura" was coined at the time of the "Protestant" Reformation, to "protest" against the teaching that church, or the Pope, had an equivalent or greater authority than the Bible. According to Stanyard, though, this doctrine is the sina qua non of religious extremism. Has it occurred to Stanyard that whether or not a viewpoint is "extreme" or not also depends on where you are viewing it from? i.e., why is Mr. Stanyard so blind to his own anti-supernatural extremism?

  4. Does not the comment "They [i.e. all classical Protestants] all have a 'worldview' that they want to impose on others without consent." indicate a severe personal antagonism against Christianity, which is the real driving force behind Mr. Stanyard's quest to pass himself off as a legitimate spokesman on science education? (Mr. Stanyard is a life long business consultant who has never been involved in science education or research at any level).

    This comment itself is self-contradictory; how can someone accept a view of the world without consenting to it? What does that mean? Or is Mr. Stanyard really saying that the Bible-based Christianity is really a brain-washing and mind-control program in a poor disguise? That Christian preachers are really would-be hypnotists? (Watch out - on this blog I'm not really trying to persuade you with rational arguments in these lines - my real aim is to reprogram your mind using pychadelic images which pop up when you're not expecting them! Wu-ha-ha!) It seems pretty clear that Mr. Stanyard has spent a long time drinking at the Dawkins fountain, because to him all efforts to persuade someone of a religious idea amount to brain-washing.

  5. The BCSE's purported objectives are to prevent any criticism of Darwinism (which they believe is irrefutable truth) in 100% of public schools - even though the percentage of the public who pay for those schools and who share their certainty is very small. How, exactly, is this campaign of theirs different from "imposing a worldview without consent"? Is not the very raison d'etre of the BCSE to ensure that their own view is unchallenged, contrary to the beliefs of the public at large? Does the word "hypocrisy" figure in Mr. Stanyard's lexicon?

  6. Does not the same comment also indicate a severe misunderstanding of Christianity? It is a "fundamental" belief with Christians that becoming a Christian is a supernatural event - the Holy Spirit applies truths to the mind and changes the heart. The method is through supernatural persuasion, as Christian truths are proclaimed. The idea of externally "imposing" on someone "without consent" is foreign to this way of thinking, and is effectively a denial of essential Christian truth claims - the claim that Christian conversion is a real, supernatural phenomena that involves all the immaterial faculties of the person - the rational mind included. That is why Christians like me blog, and author presentations - to persuade.

  7. In other words, do not Mr. Stanyard's words provide more solid evidence for the case that "BCSE Revealed" has been making - that the BCSE is really a badly-disguised atheist/anti-supernaturalist crusade, run by people not with scientific or educational standing, but driven on by their own personal grudges? Mr. Stanyard has such a deep hatred of Biblical Christianity, that his prejudice prevents him from even describing it accurately - all he knows is that he hates it and wants you to do so too!

  8. Notice, as we have continually pointed out on "BCSE Revealed", that Mr. Stanyard's chosen vocabulary is the standard vocabulary of campaigning anti-theists, such as Richard Dawkins. Stanyard poses some conspiracy or mystery as to why those who he calls "fundamentalists" do not themselves accept the label. The real reason is quite simple; the term "fundamentalist" has only two normal usages; in the religious world, it is used one to identify the sub-segment of American Baptists who hold to a number of particular beliefs who developed in the late 19th and early 20th century (distinctive beliefs which Mr. Stanyard's targets do not generally share), and the other is the usage by Dawkins et. al. to try to posit an equivalence between any consistent belief in supernaturalism and the maddest excesses of militant Islam.

  9. Notice too, that Stanyard follows that second course - the Dawkins line. The "fundamentalists" are really "hardline fascists, BNPers, white supremicists, Abu Hamza fans, Marxists, racists, homophobes, Trotskyites, Leninists, Maoists, Northern Ireland paramilitaries, KKKers" in a poor disguise. Mr. Stanyard has forgotten to index for us the scientific paper which has the proof for all this laid out... either that, or he's again confused about the difference between actual science and his own metaphysical prejudices.

  10. Mr. Stanyard is firstly apparently stumped at why someone convinced that God has spoken in the Bible would not want to accept the label "fundamentalist", and then secondly explains that a "fundamentalist" is basically the same thing as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, etcetera. Does Mr. Stanyard not possess enough grey matter to work out the answer to his own question?

  11. Is there any science at all in Mr. Stanyard's screed? Do not Mr. Stanyard's comments rather bear out the thesis of many of us on the Internet that one of the major problems in the science concerning human origins (Darwinism, origin of life, etcetera), today, is that there are just too many dogmatists like Mr. Stanyard who start with the assumption that their own philosophy is correct and then seek to drown out any other voices?

Mr. Stanyard pretends on the BCSE's website that his organisation is religiously neutral. When he's doing something other than authoring that website, he tells us what he really things - that people who believe that God has spoken are all murdering mullahs at heart, and that the goal of scientific organisations it to oppose them. That's what the BCSE's there for - and that's what I'm here to reveal.

David Anderson

Non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed by e-mail (bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk). Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.

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