Education Politics

Creationism, Freedom, Education and the SSS – A Free Church Response

The Free Church is thankful that the Scottish Secular Society have in their latest press release and submission to the Scottish Parliament committee, admitted their real reasons for their ‘creationism petition”. It is an enlightening if somewhat bizarre and disturbing submission.

They begin by congratulating themselves on the amount of press coverage they have received, as though this were some kind of indicator of success and rational. But they don’t take long to move on to the bogeyman of “the entrenched position of creationists within the Scottish educational system” and then to threaten MSP’s with “the political cost for defending creationism”. It is only in the fantasy world of the atheist secularists that this entrenched position exists. No MSP has been defending creationism within science classes in any Scottish school. Still as we all know, an emotive argument depends on raising fears, not on providing rational and evidence.

The main thing though is for MSP’s to realise what SSS are demanding. Note the following points.

1) MSPs are not just being asked to tell teachers what they can and cannot teach in science classes. The position of the Scottish government and the teaching unions is that we don’t need politicians telling teachers what they should teach. This is a position we totally agree with. Politicians seeking to enforce their doctrines through the State education system is the mark of an authoritarian, not a democratic state. But that is what the SSS want. They now admit they are not just concerned about the teaching of science. They demand that no ‘presentation’ of ‘separate creation’ should ever happen in any Scottish school, in any context, by anyone. They have dropped the pretence that this is about what is taught in science classes and instead have made it an overarching concern that only the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism be taught. And that philosophy must never be questioned in any context whatsoever.

It is an incredibly authoritarian and doctrinaire approach to education, which would result in numerous people being banned from being involved in education at all. This is not a ‘modest’ request. It is an anti-educational, anti-thinking, doctrinaire approach that more resembles the Stalinist/Fascist approach to education – than it does the traditional Scottish Christian approach. The Secularists are demanding that children be told what to think. We believe that children should be taught how to think. And we believe that in a mature democracy, sceptical questioning and alternative points of view should be encouraged rather than banned.

2) The SSS give the game away when they state this is about teaching “who children are, and what kind of planet they live on”. What this means is what SSS say children are. Any other perspective is to be banned. Only their atheistic worldview is to be permitted. Teachers will need to be re-educated (perhaps we should set up special re-education camps for those who dare to question ‘what everyone knows’?). Perhaps it would be helpful for SSS to tell us what planet they think they are on!

3) There is a fundamentalist arrogance in the SSS approach – “ We merely call for the issuing of guidance against presenting to schoolchildren as true what we all know to be false.” Who are the ‘we’? Who determines what is true and false? Do ‘we’ all know that it is false that the universe was created? That is it ‘true’ that the universe just ‘happened’?

4) The argument from numbers is strange. There are only 651 signatories on the petition – which given that SSS claims over 1600 members means that not even half of their own members support it! 43 submissions in a petition with a concerted campaign by those who regard it as one of the most important issues of their faith/worldview, is pathetic and indicates the lack of genuine public interest. It is beyond irony that SSS play the numbers game when they have little more than a 1,000 supporters whilst the Evangelicals in Scotland number more than 250,000!

The SSS submission borders on the hysterical, with its exaggerated rhetoric. Apparently Scotland’s worldwide reputation for education and even our economy will be threatened if we do not accept their doomsday analysis. This hyperbole about the importance of the issue is matched only by that surrounding their sense of their own importance in the grand scheme of things. It is embarrassing that SSS actually boast about over 25 press mentions. Is that all? It seems a very small number for an issue which is of such earth shattering importance!

5) The disparaging remarks about Dr Alaister Noble and Cartsbridge Evangelical Church also indicate the real purpose behind the SSS petition. It is a not so subtle attack upon Christianity. SSS’s complain that chaplains and chaplaincy teams play a role in Religious Education although “this is supposed to be neutral between different worldviews. In a society as diverse as 21st century Scotland, this is surely unsustainable.” Astonishing. They are demanding that only those who agree with their philosophy and position should be allowed to have input on different religions. They, and they alone, are ‘neutral’. It is another incredible piece of arrogance and irrationality.

6) It is disturbing that SSS, in their desperation to introduce culture wars to Scotland that are not part of Scottish culture, have cited organisations who are outwith Scotland (one from the US) and know nothing of the Scottish education system.

7) SSS have failed to provide any evidence whatsoever of creationism being taught in Scottish science classes. SSS have offered NO evidence whatsoever of creationism being taught in Scottish schools. Instead in their desperation they have resorted to insinuation and the kind of McCarthyite guilt by association that caused so much panic and injustice in the US decades ago – except instead of ‘reds under the bed’, its ‘creationists in the classroom’. Their ‘evidence’ consists of such things as some religious education reps being guilty by association with what SSS calls ‘creationist’ churches, although we have no definition of what that means.

The one concrete example which they keep returning to is that of Kirktonholme Primary where some pupils were given books which were clearly creationist. But one incident such as this in the whole Scottish education system is not an ‘epidemic’ and cannot be justified as an excuse to pursue their anti-religious agenda. It is a sign of their increasing desperation that they attempt to use a very small closed school in Shetland as their second example! The rest of their evidence is either of the ‘gossip’ kind (‘we hear a steady steam of reports of creationist activity’) or the trivial. An example of the latter is a school in Kirkcaldy that had children paint a six days of creation mural. It is difficult to take SSS seriously when they regard this kind of triviality as some form of child abuse!

8) But that is not, as they now admit, their real concern – which is to have a witch hunt against any visitor or teacher in any school who believes in, or is affiliated with any church which SSS considers suspect. To this end they want a database set up which they can scrutinise. At a personal level I find this more than disturbing. The SSS thought police are on the job – they will ensure that Scotland’s children will not be threatened by ‘those who believe the bible is literal truth’. Therefore people like yours truly, and the tens of thousands of Christian parents and teachers, will be effectively banned from any role in the Scottish education system.

9) Astonishingly SSS declare that any distinction between science and non-science is ‘artificial’. In other words they not only want science to be determined by their philosophy – they want everything else as well. Their concern is not primarily with science. It is with everything. MSPs should be aware that this petition is not about science but rather about philosophy and worldview. SSS’s agenda is further made clear when they admit that their primary concern is not the teaching of creationism, but what they call ‘the embedded privilege of religion’. Their agenda is to get rid of chaplains, religious educational reps and religious observance. The latter shows their complete hypocrisy because they have been campaigning to have an ‘opt in’ rather than an opt out view of religious observance. These issues should all be discussed, but not on the back of an irrational scare campaign about the non-existence teaching of ‘creationism’.

10) SSS congratulate themselves as a ‘handful of amateurs’ who have ‘unearthed problems of which officialdom seems blissfully ignorant’. Whilst we are happy that SSS admit that they are small handful, and we agree that they are amateurish in their presentation, the ‘problems’ they claim to have unearthed exist only in their imagination.

In conclusion it is sad that at a time when people are rightly claiming the right to free speech, the free expression of ideas (no matter how offensive) and the right to question and think for oneself, the SSS are campaigning to exclude from the Scottish education system those who do not share their philosophy and their values. We realise that SSS’s aim in this petition has nothing to do with the welfare of Scotland’s children and everything to do with a desire to get some kind of propaganda victory so that they can continue their campaign to remove religion in general, and Christianity in particular, from public life. We hope that this attempt to indoctrinate, ban and supress will be resisted and that our MSPs will have the sense not to be taken in by this self-confessed ‘handful of amateurs’.

David Robertson
Free Church of Scotland
January 22nd 2015


  1. “The position of the Scottish government and the teaching unions is that we don’t need politicians telling teachers what they should teach.”

    Really? So teachers are free to teach holocaust denial, for example, without any interference from government?

    That’s a silly argument. Of course teachers are given guidance on what they can and cannot teach.

    Evolution, btw, is not about whether there is a creator or not. It is the explanation for biological diversity. If teachers tell there class that a god started it all, in there opinion, then that’s fine because, at the moment, anything “before” the big bang is pretty much opinion.

    However, if someone teaches that evolution didn’t happen then that is not OK since evolution, as the explanation for diversity, is true. No other explanation as any evidence and evolution has all of the evidence.

  2. Sadly this crazed minority group seems intent on finding evidence of a Creationism/Christian conspiracy within the curriculum of schools where none exists.

    Surely bodies such as HMIe would have been flagging up any evidence of this by now if such a thing existed.

    Moreover, Curriculum for Excellence positively encourages schools and teachers to expose children and young people to a broad spectrum of world views.

    It would appear that the fascists of the SSS have other ideas and would appear to be intent on imposing their warped world view on everyone.

    I hope that Christian leaders across the country will have the courage and commitment to take a public stand against the SSS.

    Remember…….dictatorship happens when good men and women do nothing!!

    1. Have you actually read the submission and seen how mild it is, or just relied on Robertson’s hysterical scaremongering. One wonders whether Robertson could manage to raise his vitriol to another level if the SSS ever requested something really radical (like Humanism being awarded equal privilege to Christianity). This submission is not only a model of restrained and intelligent thinking which Robertson would do well to learn from, but is not even a mild attack on Christianity – you don’t need to leave the Christian world for justification. Even the Conservative party, so pro-Christian that even atheist members are coerced to wear Christianity on their sleeves and willing to hand control of schools to virtually anyone, have drawn the line at American religious fundamentalists.

      Yet such is Robertson’s anti-secular hatred that he is happy to see Scottish children indoctrinated* in an ideology of “intellectual bankruptcy, both in its science and in its theology”. Not my words but the view of any intellectually reputable Christian, in this case Francis Collins. Perhaps he’s a fascist too…

      It’s telling that in all the pages of anti-secular bile Robertson has produced, he hasn’t once managed to engage with actual secular principle. At most there is a superficial analogy and then straight into the mindless ridicule. I’m sure that’s more than adequate for a self-confessed faith obsessive, but he also rules himself out of any chance of serious discussion – his claims being no more than blind assertions means there’s literally nothing to engage with.

      OK, shoot with the mindless sarcasm, let me guess: “I’ve got to admire your faith ho! ho! ho!”, “Didn’t know you were omniscient ho! ho! ho!”

      *Normal meaning, not the Robertson meaining of “anyone who dares to challenge my Magnificent Obsession”

      1. David – Yes I have read the submission. And no it is not mild. I note that you do not engage at all with any of the points I made and instead just make accusations. This is standard practice for the new fundie atheists. Not being used to logical reasoning and thinking they just abuse anyone who dares to question their fundamentalist beliefs. I realise that you hate me and what I say but if you wish to engage then can I suggest that you actually look at some of the points that are made and then deal with them – a wee clue – deal with what we ARE saying, not what your prejudice says we are saying. Back to the SSS submission – they want to exclude anyone who believes in a Creator from any involvement in any aspect of Scottish education. They are not just talking about YEC creationists teaching creationism in science classes (which is not happening anywhere in Scotland) – but they want to impose their atheism on every child in Scotland – that is the purpose and aim of their submission. Francis Collins for example would also be excluded under their guidelines – he after all does believe that God created the whole universe out of nothing.

  3. I’m always amazed at the secularist assumption that science is their baby.
    The Christian roots of modern science are well known and of course science itself fits well with a biblical worldview. Your article sees right through the real agenda of the SSS. Subtle they aint!

    1. That would be the science that Christianity forced into house arrest and death with Gallileo and Giordano Bruno. You are such a deluded fool. David Robertson’s only agenda is the promotion of David Robertson.

      Science and a biblical worldview are polar opposites.

      1. Rounding up Mark! 🙂 hello anyway ‘
        The bible at no time says pi is 3 .
        You assert that it does !
        But you fail to take into account the molten sea would have had an outer and inner diameter .
        The inner diameter ,would obviously have had a smaller circumference . A hand breadth difference , in radius – you will notice ,God us not talking in terms of several decimal points .
        You could round up -like we do, dangerously close to 3.14- but ,it is not like they were putting a man on the moon.

        It’s not rocket science ,its what kids can understand -kids stuff 🙂

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