40% of Democratic Unionist Party activists, and a good chunk of their leadership believe that the earth is a little less than 5,000 years old and that creationism should be taught as science in our schools.
There’s already evidence that the rules on teaching radical religious beliefs as science are being ignored, and with the DUP now propping up our government, the risk is that this could be about to get worse.
There’s a school of thought that says this doesn’t matter much – that people can believe what they like about how life came about, and that in our day to day life, it’s not really that important. Dinosaurs are like dragons. If you want to believe in them, fine. If you don’t, that’s OK too.
As a writer of children’s books, I spend a fair amount of time around dinosaurs, and dragons, and I can tell you, they are not the same. Dragons are great – they teach us lessons about greed and heroism and power, but dinosaurs are something more. Dinosaurs are our history. They teach us what really happened, and why we are the way we are.
To deny evolution (whichever set of religious or nonreligious beliefs you hold) is to misunderstand the nature of the entire universe and our relationship with it, and with each other. The unbroken line of ancestry that connects us to each other, and to everything else, back through time to the first dividing cell 4.2 billion years ago is the key to understanding who we are, the world we live in, and why we do the things we do.
But more than that. By replacing dinosaurs with some other explanation of our creation just because it fits better with our beliefs, we send out the signal that evidence based study, rational thought and scientific rigor can be simply swept away if you don’t like its consequences. And the fight against that notion is a fight worth having in any classroom, or anywhere else on any day of the week.
Regardless of who it offends, evolution is real, and we can prove it. What’s more, we have the children on our side – because in a fair fight for children’s attention between dinosaurs and angels, the dinosaurs will always win.
If you feel that the rules are being compromised in your children’s school or if you are coming under pressure to teach creationism as science yourself, knowing who to talk to can be difficult. As a first step, Humanists UK have a full time advisor who should be able to point you in the right direction https://humanism.org.uk/contact-us/
If you’d like me to come along to your school and talk about the role of evolution in my work, just drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org