I am noticing an worrying movement in attitudes to religion in the context of public policy which is not unconnected to the arrival of Sarah Palin on the American political stage. I have now seen a number of references to her very narrow views on based on her faith being used to challenge the idea of any faith based perspective contributing to the development of public discourse.
The reaction to the Royal Society's Professor Michael Riess comments that, "A student who believes in creationism has a non-scientific way of seeing the world, and one very rarely changes one's world view as a result of a 50-minute lesson.” and that “creationism is best seen by science teachers not as a misconception but as a world view" in other words, its a good teacher to knows where their pupils are coming from, is very revealing in this context. He did NOT say at all that creationism should be taught in schools but that teachers need to know what they are dealing with when teaching science to those who believe in creationism. Professor Reiss seems to have been pilloried for being understanding about people who he did not agree with.
I think that Sarah Palin's theology is antithesis of the Bible I read. I think creationists are serious misguided, well ok, I think that they are just wrong. I believe that the evolutionary description of how we came to be on earth is about as accurate as we could have as a human narrative. It fits with my view of our relationship with God as creator and with my view of what it is to be alive through my eyes as a person of faith. But to pillory some-one because they wanted to understand how some-one sees the world when trying to get them to see things differently is also wrong and suggests that the reaction to Prof Reiss's comments was an example of those fundamentalists who would not have any mention of religion in any public debate be that on the presidential stage or in our classrooms rather than serious, constructive debate with those they do not agree with.
I do not expect everyone to agree with my world view but I do exert my right and that of my fellow believers to offer our views as part of the public debate that continues the writing of our common narrative of self understanding which is then amongst other things, reflected in our public policy making. I do not expect it to be rejected just because it is shaped by my faith as well as my experiences and my understanding of the world. Sadly and worryingly, it would appear that some folk are using the opportunity of world scrutiny of the narrow views of Sarah Palin to make sure that rejection is what will happen and that is not good for any of us.
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