The creation/evolution fight is firing up in the UK again. Should creationism be taught in schools? It's about time something was! They get precious little science education these days.
I've thought about this a lot over the years and my conclusion is... I don't care.
I don't care if this planet is six billion years old, six thousand years old, or was created as an illusion just before I was born simply to annoy me. Which it does. Every day. I don't care if dinosaurs roamed the earth. They don't now and that's good enough for me. Being stepped on by a careless brachiosaur is one risk I'm happy to lose from my daily routine. If I was a palaeontologist I would care, but I'm not, so I don't.
Was it deliberately created or was it formed through random physical accumulation of bits of stone? Doesn't matter. It's here now and it'll still be here long after I'm finished with it. Long after everyone has finished with it.
Then again, as a scientist, shouldn't I be violently and religiously opposed to teaching children creationism?
I would be opposed to teaching it in science class because science isn't taught in church. That's a matter of being fair about it. I would have no objection whatsoever to teaching it in schools, whether it was in religion class or in a new class entitled 'alternative science' where they could also learn about things like homeopathy and feng shui and make up their own minds about it all.
That 'making up their own minds' part is the reason I don't oppose it. I oppose any attempt - by anyone - to force their own view of the world on others. Especially in schools. Schools should be places of learning and should include things I don't believe are right as well as things I do. What if I'm wrong? What if I were to spend my life forcing schools to teach only those things I believe are important, and then find out I was wrong?
When you get right down to it, we have religion saying 'God made the universe' and science saying 'It just sort of happened'. Not much to choose, really. A big bang, or 'let there be light', which are the same thing in the end.
For almost everyone on the planet it simply doesn't matter. A bricklayer isn't going to be affected one jot if the big bang is right and religion is wrong, or vice versa. An accountant won't find his numbers suddenly change from base 10 to base 13 if the story of the flood is finally proven or disproven. The reality is, the entire issue matters at all to very few people. It affects a few very specific scientific disciplines and it affects a few religious doctrines which aren't going to change anyway.
Which is right, science or religion? Sometimes it matters. If I ever get cancer I'd put my trust in chemotherapy over prayer, but would I refuse to let people pray for me? No I wouldn't. I don't believe it would work but I don't have proof that it won't. It won't harm me to try. Even so, I wouldn't refuse the chemotherapy and rely entirely on prayer.
With creation, it really doesn't matter which is right. Don't we all have enough problems without arguing about where we came from? I'm more interested in where we're going because with the current state of the world, it doesn't look like it's going to be Disneyland.
In schools, children should have the opportunity to learn everything. Everything. Even stuff I personally think is complete nonsense which can't possibly be true, like Marxism and Belgium. Armed with all the information they can hold, they can then decide which to trust and which to discard. For themselves. Like people used to do in the old days before they all decided to let someone else tell them what to think.
Few of those children will become priests and few will become scientists who study evolution. For them, the argument matters.
For the others, the ones who become architects and plumbers and bankers and electricians and even those who become chemists and most other kinds of scientist, it really doesn't matter at all. There is no conflict in being a chemist who believes in God. Not even a biochemist. The two mindsets are not mutualy exclusive at all.
Although I would caution against any scientist, faced with inexplicable results, writing a paper that concludes 'God did it'. Most scientific journals need a little more detail.
Teach those kids everything. Let them decide.
Although, looking at education in the UK at the moment, perhaps that should be 'Teach them something'.