Not even trying to pretend any more...
(First published on my blog in May 2007).
When the BCSE first launched, it presented itself to the world as a body of scientific educators, taking pains to tell us all that its interest was all to do with science, and not religious at all.
However, I had been tracking the BCSE before its launch, and this was about as convincing as a man with no legs announcing that he was going to be next the Olympic high-jump champion.
We have already many times displayed the evidence that, far from being a religiously neutral bunch of science educators, the BCSE:
Any remaining pretence of being unmotivated by religion was blown away when "BCSE Revealed" exposed a hidden page on the BCSE's website, in which BCSE leader Roger Stanyard laid bare his ignorance and prejudice in all its none-too-attractive glory:
Well, nowadays the BCSE hardly bother with the pretence any more. Maybe this is because of what I've documented a couple of times already: the statistics show that nowadays the BCSE are just a subset of their original founders who talking to themselves, having failed in their attempt to gain a larger membership by covering up their true nature: one, two. So, might as well stop pretending.
Here's Ian Lowe, BCSE committee member and membership secretary (note too the "Forum Admin" under his name). He'd like to hire a graphic designer, to help him with some atheist activism. Ian doesn't even try to pretend that this is separate from his interest and involvement in the BCSE (which would be hard for him to do, as Ian has never been involved in scientific research), and so asks you to e-mail him at his BCSE e-mail address, [email protected], if you're interested. Possibly Ian wants some help with the "Scottish Atheist Council" (http://www.scottishatheistcouncil.org.uk), another organisation with a grand sounding name, but for which Lowe himself appears to be the only active member.
The BCSE's "More about the BCSE" page (http://bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/MoreAboutTheBCSE) page contains various bits of blurb about how the BCSE are a single-issue organisation, with no interest beyond defending Darwinism within schools. e.g.:
"Our strategy is to raise public awareness of the fraudulent science (and lack of science) behind both creationism and intelligent design and the attempts to get both taught as science or in science lessons in publicly funded schools.
BSCE has no other agenda that the single issue stated above. ... We are not here to back any one political movement or any one view on religion. ... We do not object to or support religion or atheism. We do not object to the teaching of creationism or intelligent design outside of the science lesson or as non-scientific subjects.
We do not promote any religious or atheistic viewpoint."
Well, anyone who's been following the "BCSE Revealed" blog for any length of time will know just how much that assurance is worth!
Roger Stanyard himself wrote those words; but even he doesn't even try to pretend that he believes them any more. One long-time poster on the BCSE forums opined that too many in his denomination doubted the Darwinian story, and that he would like to do something to combat it:
"A friend who's an elder in a neighbouring Presbyterian church (not a YEC one), has told me that I should raise the issue for debate at the general assembly. Apparently I need only two signatures to do this (1) the clerk of session and (2) another elder."
If you care to contact me off-site I can give you a senior name in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland who should be able to help you.
That's a bit off-message, isn't it, for someone who pretends that his organisation has no interest in what goes on outside of schools? What is this atheist doing seeking to have an influence upon the doctrines taught within Christian churches anyway?
Unfortunately for the inquirer, though, as "BCSE Revealed" has been reading his posts over the months, we've noticed that Stanyard has rather uncritically swallowed Stanyard's alternative version of Christian history. He has a habit of taking American atheist/Buddhist activist Lenny Flank's words as if they were unimpeachable truth, and as a result spreads a rather bizarre version of Christian history, according to which the historic doctrines taught by Christ and the apostles, recorded in the Bible, affirmed in the historic church creeds and confessions and so on, in fact only sprung somewhere out of a particularly darkened corner of America in the 19th century. Stanyard refers to all Biblical and apostolic Christianity as "fundamentalism", and tells his followers that a kind of easy-going theological liberalism was the norm.
I've chuckled at this many times, but as the intention of "BCSE Revealed" is simply to document the BCSE's incompetence as science educators rather than to correct their bizarre views on theology and history, I haven't said much about this. But if Mr. Henderson wants to ask his church to affirm the infallibility of evolutionary teaching, he's going to have a bit of an obstacle. The official doctrinal standards of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland say this:
"It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good." (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 4, Paragraph 1).
"Question 15: What is the work of creation?
Answer: The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein, for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good." (Westminster Longer Catechism, question 15)
SECTION III - THE STANDARDS OF THE CHURCH
10. The Word of God as set forth in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and the supreme standard of the Church.
12. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, as a witness for Christ, has adopted subordinate standards in which is set forth what she understands the Word of God to teach on certain important points of doctrine and worship. These subordinate standards are a testimony for truth and against error, and serve as a bond of union for members of the Church.
13. The Confession of Faith (as approved by the Church of Scotland in her Act of 1647), and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, prepared by the Westminster Assembly of Divines, are the subordinate standards of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
These quotations highlight something significant. Christians in past ages were not unfamiliar with the teaching that the universe and life within it was a result of purely natural, unguided processes which took place over vast periods of time. Before Darwin attempted a biological explanation of how such a thing could be, atheists had spent plenty of time trying to explain away the order, design and magnificence of the universe. And before Darwin, Christians had asserted that the origin of the world and life were supernatural (not natural), the result of divine activity, through definite and distinct divine acts spread over a short period of time. And so, the historic Christian confessions which mention the beginning, all do it in supernatural terms, often mentioning six days, as the doctrinal standards of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, above, do.
The lesson from this is that anyone lurking in the BCSE forums ought to take Stanyard's words with a large barrel-full of salt.
The BCSE's claim to be only interested in what goes on in schools, and to have no interest in what goes on elsewhere, and especially not to be interested in campaigning against Christian churches... not very convincing, is it?