Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Creation, Darwin, and home education

Be fair to me. I start off, trying to be fair.

I try to say Well, creationists believe... then I'm stuck. I can't explain what creationists believe, except maybe some folks have eyesight issues with the exact word of the Bible, where the ink on the page is as good as the divine finger of God, and that 24 hours bloody well means 24 hours, and so you can say, with total certainty and complete confidence: God created this world Saturday afternoon about tea time.

I try and be fair. I run off to Wikipedia and print out 40,000 pages on various aspects of creationist beliefs. Standing on the amount of paper I printed out, I can now lecture the listening gritlets on how some scientists hold creationist beliefs and yet research into genetic mice and have no problem bringing those two apparently misaligned worlds together.

I half-heartedly subject the little gritlets to some of this debate, because we are all bound to be holed up in a playground somewhere, sometime, with someone. That person will guard the door of that Wendy house. And they will be on a mission to explain that dinosaurs and humans really did live together, like hand-in-terrible-lizard-claw, and the proof is there if only you would see.

But after about half an hour, I probably give up on it. I just tell them the humanity which unites us is stronger than the beliefs which divide us. And dealing with all sorts of viewpoints in life is a relatively small thing that happens.

Like someone has to deal with my views too. Even my belief that Ed Balls is really a six-foot cocker spaniel in disguise and he is leader of a cocker spaniel-humanoid conspiracy whose goal is to eat our brains and turn our bones into dog biscuits. Yes, people have to deal with us too, so be tolerant, little gritlets. Listen, change your minds or stick to your views, but express your points of view as best you can. Do not turn to swinging punches, lobbing bombs, or calling your interlocutor a fat faced wanker. Those approaches to argument will not do, although they are tempting.

As an aside to this, I should just say that I have no problem at all passing on my atheist beliefs to my children. I actively encourage them to be critical of anything that anyone says, writes, or expresses, and that includes me. On occasions, that has been like taking a double-barrelled shotgun to my own feet, but I'm trying to raise independent, thinking people here, not compliant children.

Soon enough the time comes when we join the home education group attending the screening of Creation. You won't read a film review here. For that, go here, or here.

I guess people I would really like to see this film - Hi! people in the Bible wing over there! - you aren't here. But please see it! This film attempts to show you that Darwin was a real family man who was roused from his desk by kids screaming in hallways; he loved, laughed, despaired, and cried. He was not a 2D black and white cartoon illustration in a book. He did not hide horns, tail, monkey arms, and he wasn't born playing with his own six foot long grizzled beard.

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are a little quiet after seeing that film. And this time, possibly not because they are embarrassed by mother's constant blubbing. They are accustomed to that; I never wear mascara to the cinema anymore. No, not that. The gritlets are quiet, possibly in memory of a chewed up rabbit and a cute baby chick that is eaten by natural consequence. But I think more than that, too. They may have come away from that film more aware of the way society sometimes works.

I hope they did. I hope what this film did was to show Shark, Squirrel and Tiger that an unconventional idea, and not even a new one, when put forward in a conventional, mainstreamed society, is a little like lobbing a shit ball into the aisles at Waitrose. Some of those shoppers will carry on selecting sun dried tomatoes and acting as if nothing just happened.

Our mainstream society is sometimes collectively held in a thought grip, and that suits the agenda of some people in power, and so it becomes their interest to maintain that thought grip. But what a wonderfully liberating feeling you can have by turning it round, standing up and saying this is what my guts tell me to do. And it might not suit you, and it might not suit them, and that group over there will hate me. But seriously, what's the worst that can happen? People ignore you? People don't like you? Grit wisdom is to be imaginative, then have the courage to put that imagination into action. That may account for why we hoist a home made sphinx on top of a privet hedge or keep a mermaid on the toilet.

The gritlets seem to get it. They draw for themselves the parallel of home education in a society where mainstream says school. One day, we say, school as it runs presently will look outdated. All flavours of home education, flexi schooling, part-time school, full-time school, all will be quite normal. You could choose what suits your kids, you, and your family best. No one will have horns. Maybe that is fair. That's what we hope for.

As for America, they're not likely to let us past that border, just like there is no distributor for Creation in the US. I will fail the creation test. This morning, I read the gritlets the start of Genesis, about the light, and the dark, and the creatures of the sea and earth. I hoped to set the scene of that mental landscape into which Darwin's ideas were about to explode. I arrive at the seventh day and with a sigh say this is the day when God rested because of all the hard work he had done in creation.

Squirrel looks puzzled. Round here she's clearly used to a different speed of events. She says with a frown, 'Seven days? He obviously didn't work very fast'.


mamacrow said...

:::Stands up and applauds:::

The Green Stone Woman said...

Let me add my applause to that.

sharon said...

Beliefs are just that, beliefs not facts. Some people do believe according to various faiths and others don't! It doesn't make me a bad person and I do not understand why such judgements are made. For the record I was brought up as a Catholic, convent schools and all, but had no 'faith' whatsoever from a very young age. When my sons were born I did not have them christened or baptised but to this day maintain that should they chose to belong to any denomination/religion at all then that is their choice. And, while I know I will not believe in it (the religion that is), I will respect their right to do so. Why so many within structured religions find this same tolerance so hard to extend is the thing I object to most.

mamacrow said...

yeah, I find it hard to truly understand why people get so het up about organised religion.

Take sport - we all know its better for us phsycially to be active in some way. Some people love it so much they become professional. Some people like to swim, some people like to play football, some people like to just walk the dogs and use the stairs. Some people like to belong to a club or go to proper yoga classes, some people prefer to use an exercise DVD privately at home.

And (football hoolganism aside!) noone really worries THAT much do they? we don't have big bust ups and massive wars because one group of people insist hockey is the only way to fitness and another set insist that only netball is?

Why can't people look at spirituality as fitness, and organised religion as organised sport?

Iota said...

I would love flexi-schooling. Can't quite imagine how it would work, but that's a limitation of my imagination, not the idea.