The despairing nihilism of intelligent design – please keep away from schools

Oh dear…. the creationists have returned to planet earth and appear to be fanning out from their landing site in the United States. After a week away, I see a Newsnight podcast on creationism in schools, following a Guardian report, Revealed: rise of creationism in UK schools stating that 59 schools are apparently using new materials about ‘intelligent design’ that had been circulated by a British creationist group called Truth in Science. The language of the proponents of intelligent design is infuriating: it appropriates the ideas of challenge and open-mindedness to counter-argument, testing theories by evidence and examination of paradoxes, opposition to dogma and even offers a scientific justification for intelligent design (‘irreducible complexity’). In fact it is anything but scientific and anything but a useful or valid challenge to the alleged dogma of Darwinism and the theory of evolution. Let us examine this more closely. Continue reading “The despairing nihilism of intelligent design – please keep away from schools”

Faith no more

I’m just reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (Guardian review). For those of us that spent our school days making intense, and supposedly clinching, arguments to religious friends of the type: “if God made the world, then what made God?”, Dawkins’ polemic offers an unvarnished orgy of smugness – the simple joy of having what you have long held to be certain read back to you with great erudition and scholarship. One of his best and angriest propositions relates to the indoctrination of children with religious ideas. Continue reading “Faith no more”

A-levels – gold standard or old standard?

Was something added to the water in 1988? From about then, there has been a steady rise in kids doing well in GCSE and A levels (see chart). Good for them. You would expect improvements in teaching, learning and attainment over time – because there is no reason why teaching and learning should not be subject to productivity gains just like everything else – and there has been an explosion of opportunities to learn over the lest couple of decades. But the A level pass rate has now reached 94.4%, with 22.1% bagging an A grade [official stats]. Much agonising has gone into whether the exams have just got easier, the kids smarter or the teachers better. Probably some of each. Actually there is good evidence to help… Continue reading “A-levels – gold standard or old standard?”