Thursday, June 18, 2009

School Field Trips

As many of us know, there is a creationism museum in Kentucky. According to some schools in the area take all-day field trips to that museum. When the students visit they see things like saddles on dinosaurs.

I live in Minnesota. It’s unlikely that anyone from my state would go all the way to Kentucky for a field trip, but I would be upset if I found out that students were visiting such a shrine to pseudoscience.

What rules should be put in place to prevent such clearly inappropriate field trips?

I don’t think that you could make the rule that visiting a place of religion shouldn’t be done. If the school was in Rome a visit to Vatican City would make lots of sense. In Paris I would have no problem with students visiting Notre Dame. In London a visit to Westminster Cathedral makes perfect sense. (Charles Darwin is even buried there.)

I live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The capital city, St. Paul, has a large church named, appropriately, the Cathedral of St. Paul. While its historical importance doesn’t approach that of Notre Dame, Westminster Cathedral or Vatican City it’s still significant enough that I wouldn’t mind having the students take a day off from school to visit.

So what rules should there be that would prevent trips to worthless places like the creation museum but still allow trips to legitimate sites that merely happened to be associated with religion?

As sort of a side issue, the web page that I reference above has some interesting comments about creationists that are worth emphasizing. Here’s a sample:

"I understand that many creationists are intelligent and sane — they share a lot of values with me, like wanting to be able to think as they please, to raise happy, healthy families, and they are very concerned about their children: they are sure that if their kids aren't Christian, they'll be miserable, wretched, and damned to hell for all eternity. I do sympathize with them. I feel great sympathy and sorrow for the fact that they've been lied to by deluded con men like Ken Ham, and that they're living lives driven by an irrational fear…a fear that is reinforced every day by evangelists and fundamentalists and the whole petty shuck-and-jive of religious belief.

"I sympathize with their kids, too. These are blameless innocents who are going to be brought up in ignorance, reassured constantly that their foolishness is a virtue, and that learning about this wonderful, beautiful, dangerous, and uncaring universe we live in will lead them to hell. No child should be brought up in fear and darkness.

"I sympathize with their fate, because they're going to grow up just like their parents and spread the fear and ignorance even further. They will want the best for their kids, too, and instead, under the guidance of pious liars, they will wreck those kids' minds, too. And the cycle will go on and on.

"I sympathize with all their secular neighbors most of all. What will happen? They will live in a country where their schools are third-rate, because the creationists will suppress education not just for their own kids, but for everyone else's, too. They will see their school boards populated with the products of such fare as the Creation "Museum", and they will get to vote in elections where their options are Insane-Fundie-Wackjob vs. Slightly-Less-Crazy-God-Botherer. And the lesser-of-two-evils won't always win, because their neighbors all think the fundier, the better."

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