Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ken Ham waxing about how atheists are persecuting Christians.

A story has been floating around the blogosphere about a man who was upset to find his child was being taught nonsense science claims at a private school he was sending his child to.

Children are being taught in the classroom that brontosaurs were refereed to as a behemoth in the the book of Job and are encouraged to answer the question "The next time someone says the earth is billions (or millions) of years old, what can you say?" with the answer "Were you there?"

Picture of the offending quiz.

Of course Ken Ham could not put up with the affront to justice that this father, who expected this school to teach science in the science classroom, represented and Ham fired back with a response.  

Now mind you, nothing in the published story even states the religious beliefs of the father in this story so there is no reason to assume he is an atheist, but this doesn't stop Ham from going off into conspiratorial ramblings about how atheists are out to get Christians. He really seems to believe that Christians are all some poor belabored minority.  

He even presents some "examples" in a box to the side of the article of persecution they face:
Billboards promoting atheism and attacking Christianity have popped up across the country.
Because apparently free speech is now persecution.
The American Humanist Association has launched a special website for children to indoctrinate them in atheism.
The site he is referring to is this one kidswithoutgod.com. It isn't aimed at converting children but giving resources to children who already don't believe.  However, even if it were aimed at conversion so what? Christians spend millions if not billions of dollars a year on hundreds of thousands of programs aimed at converting children to their religion. This website is totally passive, you have to go to it to see the content, yet many of the aforementioned Christian programs actively seek out children even when doing so violates church state separation. Why is it totally fine for them to put their ideas out there for others to consider but when we do it it's "indoctrination?"
An atheist rally in Washington DC last year had a special promotion to encourage kids to attend their atheist camps.
The program his talking about is Camp Quest. It is not an "atheist" camp, it's a secular came for children that focuses on teaching kids about science and critical thinking. It's a good program and I plan on sending my kids to it once they get old enough. I have good memories of some of the camps I went to when I was younger (minus the religious teachings of course) and I want my kids to have such memories too.

In any case, this is typical damned if you do damned if you don't criticism. Christians criticize atheists for doing nothing but attacking Christianity but offering no replacements for the "helpful social programs" that churches offer such as summer camps for kids.  Now that our movement has had a chance to establish itself we start putting together such programs and now we are accused of "indoctrinating" kids.
Atheists have been increasingly using terms like “child abuse” to describe the efforts of Christians who seek to teach their children about creation, heaven, and hell.
Several prominent skeptics including Lawrence Krauss have claimed that teaching creationism or teaching them that god sends unbelievers to hell are mild forms of child abuse, in much the same way that teaching your child that the earth is flat would be a mild form of child abuse. I happen to agree with the sentiment, however no one is suggesting that this is the same as physical abuse or that the state should necessarily take a child away from a parent for this sort of thing, though clearly we hope the children will manage to learn better than their parents and try to provide the facts to make that happen.
Many atheists claim that children belong to the community, not to their parents.
I don't know any atheists who think this. However, I do think that, though a parent has quite a bit of leeway to parent as they wish, children are still individuals separate from their parents who have rights and deserve a modicum of protection by the state from certain kinds of parental actions. I don't believe, for instance, that Christan Scientists have a right to allow their children to die from lack of medical treatment because of their belief that modern medicine is immoral.
Atheists have actively opposed any effort in public schools to even question a belief of evolution or suggest there are any problems with it.
And now we get to the dead horse Ham likes to beat, evolution. It should be noted that it is not only atheists that oppose the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in classrooms. There are theistic scientists who promote evolution like Catholic Ken Miller, so Ham's claim is not even accurate, but there are good reasons to promote good science in science classrooms, and evolution is good science.  It's nothing but Ham's biases and lack of understanding of science that leads him to believe that evolution is untenable.

Christians are not being persecuted when they aren't allowed to promote odd pseudo-science in the classroom anymore than a crypto-zoologist is being persecuted when the biology class won't let him share his evidence for Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.

If Ken Ham spent as much time actually learning something about science as he did complaining about how atheists are persecuting him he would realize how silly all this actually sounds.

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