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Brian Appleyard on Creationism

I turn on the Today programme this morning and there is Brian Appleyard arguing about creationism with Prof. Chris Higgins. As usual, Appleyard made my hackles rise, which I am sure is a good thing, if only because it makes me clarify my own ideas.

The reason for having this discussion was the recent resignation of Professor Riess, director of education at the Royal Society (I didn't even know they had a director of education). Anyway, what I am writing about here is not whether Riess should have resigned (I don't actually think he said anything exceptional) but what Appleyard said in the closing moments of the discussion.

Higgins said that creationism is nonsense. Appleyard didn't actually say it was true -- he's too clever for that -- but he said that it is a legitimate way of viewing the world, rather like the ancient Greek gods. (There are actually people in Greece these days who apparently take the old gods seriously.) 'Science needs to accept that there alternative ways of viewing the world.'

So presumably we should accept not just ancient Hebrew mythology but all the other mythologies that have been propounded over the millennia (all those we know about -- most have disappeared without trace) as equally valid descriptions of the world along with the scientific view. I agree with Higgins that this is nonsensical.

Scientific theories are, by definition, always provisional, but -- unlike mythologies -- they are testable and self-correcting. And I am sure there is such a thing as objective truth, an accurate description of how things are, which we can approach even though we may never reach it finally.


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