Who Are The BCSE? (Website Editors)
(This article was first published on my blog in February 2007, and looks at some of the "smaller fish" in the BCSE pond to investigate whether they were real science educators or whether they too, like the leadership, were overwhelmingly campaigning atheists with no standing in the field of science education).
In September 2006, a new organisation made an appearance. Mentioned in the House of Commons by Graham Stringer MP, interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester, and with letters printed in the Times and Financial Times newspapers, it sounded like a very impressive authoritative body. Its name was the "British Centre for Science Education", and it made some very dogmatic pronouncements about what should and should not be taught in science lessons in the United Kingdom. The unsuspecting member of the public, reading such pronouncements, would assume that the nation's top scientists were speaking - which was, presumably, the intention behind choosing such a name.
The truth, however, was rather different - and I set about documenting it.
In fact, the "British Centre for Science" turned out not to include a single individual within its leadership who had any experience in science education (one, two). Actually, its founder and leader were two men with no experience either in research science or in education whatsoever (one, two, three). Whilst the "BCSE" presents itself as an authority on what should be taught in state schools.... not a single member of leadership has ever taught in one. In October 2006 I documented the BCSE leaders, in their own words, confessing that they did not even know what the National Curriculum was, let alone what was in it.
Not only that, but I also proved that when the BCSE wrote to MPs, telling them that Truth in Science's material was "full of scientific mistakes" - they hadn't yet discovered what material Truth in Science were distributing. Read that story here.
Whyever, then, would such a bunch of lay people be attempting to hoodwink the British public and legislators in believing that they were the nation's leading authorities on science education? The answer to this didn't take too long to discover, as I documented how the BCSE's leadership is overwhelmingly dominated by Richard Dawkins style anti-religious activists. We have documented quote after quote in which the BCSE leaders have explained their own religious motivations, hard-line atheism, and such-like (one , two, three, four).
And it's gone on from there, as the BCSE and/or its individual leaders have been threatened with legal action by one UK university, launched various campaigns of abuse and spurious legal threats against me (one, two, three, four), taken part in their own political campaigning to make religion illegal, and so on (one, two). We've also documented the BCSE's now-hidden anti-religious rants (one, two, three), and their ineptness when it comes to research (one, two, three).
Today : Membership Update
In previous articles I have documented the lack of scientific/educational credentials of the BCSE leadership, and the BCSE's troubles with attracting members. Today I want to provide documentation on another handful of its core. Let us see - what are their credentials? What is motivating them?
If you look at the very last line of many of the articles on the BCSE website, you will see a capital P followed by further capital letters - like this:
What do they mean? Simply this: The "P" stands for "proof-read"; and the following letters are initials. If there is no such line, then it means the article hasn't been proof-read. This is the system the BCSE are using to check on which articles have been reviewed. So, the above "PRS" means "Proof read by RS = Roger Stanyard".
I ran an analysis of the whole of the BCSE public website as it stood on the 1st of February 2007 (i.e. 4 days ago at the time of writing). The results were as follows:
Number / Signature
Two of those names are familiar to us already. RS - Roger Stanyard, a management consultant and atheist, the individual responsible for the majority of the BCSE's activity. TC - Timothy Chase, a software engineer and atheist, one of the BCSE's committee (update late 2007: since resigned).
Who are the there others?
1. JAF, John Flemming
Describing his own religious position in his own words:
"I'm an atheist, and proud of it. I am atheist, hear me roar. Godless and glad of it."
"I have a t-shirt that says 'Godless, and glad of it'."
"According to the bible, god killed over two and a half million people. Satan, only ten. It makes you wonder."\\
And making quite clear his own understanding of the connection between Darwinism etc. and atheism:
"Knowing what we now know about the origins of Life, the Universe, and Everything (pace Douglas Adams), god is unnecessary. As is discussion of his/her/its existence/non-existence."
From the above sentence, it sounds as if Mr. Flemming knows the answers to the knotty problems of life arising from non-life (i.e. abiogenesis), and the origin of time and matter (cosmogenesis). That's news me - and to all the real scientists still toiling fruitlessly in those fields!
Here is the graphic which Mr. Flemming uses as his emblem in the BCSE's forums:
If I was an atheist, I don't think I'd want to say that. Because if atheism is the "default" setting ... then the overwhelming majority of human beings throughout history have abandoned it for something else - including 11 in every 12 (92%) of those alive in 2005, according to http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html.
Mr. Flemming advertises his e-mail address as "anarch at ntlworld fullstop com". I suppose that "anarch" is short for "anarchist", but I'm only guessing.
I was able to find the above information on Mr. Flemming quite easily. But could I find any data on his qualifications to be a proof-reader for such an august body as a national centre of science education? I did a search of the Internet for any reference of Mr. Flemming in a scientific context... I could not find a thing. I suppose that I may be looking in the wrong places.
My default assumption when I find a new name in the BCSE is that I might have a good chance of finding more about them by going to Richard Dawkins' website, or on the website of the National Secular Society... and Mr. Flemming didn't disappoint me.
Same old story here then. Who's next?
2. RV, Rudy Vonk
Born in the Netherlands, Mr. Vonk is in his 50s and lives in Oviedo, Spain.
I was not able to find his name in connection with any scientific research, qualifications or the like.
Mr. Vonk hasn't had a very visible profile in the BCSE (just 30 or so posts each in the BlackShadow group that preceeded the BCSE, and a similar number in the BCSE's forum). But there was enough in those few posts to find Mr. Vonk ridiculing the Bible, Christians, etcetera, and professing his own atheism.
Talking about former education secretary, Ruth Kelly, Mr. Vonk wrote: "remember these people are by definition very theist ... they are, OTOH [On The Other Hand] , generally also very intelligent."
Another quote (censorship mine): "What the f*** are 'basic religious rights'?".
And in another place:
"I agree with you, except that Dawkins doesn't actually say that science can weigh in on the existence of a god. It can't. Reason can, and in that I agree wholeheartedly with Dawkins."
Actually, Professor Dawkins wrote the following in November 2006 in Time Magazine: "The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no." (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132-1,00.html).
Vonk goes on to say, "You become an atheist not by 'not knowing', but by applying reason to the religious phenomenon [sic] that man has created for himself." It is not clear to me whether Mr. Vonk includes the universe, self-replicating life, meaning, love and morality amongst the phenomena which "man has created for himself" ...?
3. Tim Atkinson
There was very little material on Mr. Atkinson available - no posts in the BCSE forum or BlackShadow group (and only 2 articles marked as being proof-read by him).
However Mr. Atkinson is attributed as the author of one part of a page on the BCSE website - http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/CreationScienceMovement, in which Mr. Atkinson reports on his visit to the "Genesis Expo" in Portsmouth - a report that was published in the "Freethinker", "The British monthly journal for Atheists, Secularists, Freethinkers, Rationalists and Humanists" (http://www.freethinker.co.uk/). Mr. Atkinson explains that he had no previous knowledge of the creation/evolution controversy, and learnt all he did about it from the Internet. He concludes: "And, more hopefully, I have discovered the National Secular Society, TalkOrigins, and many similar organisations, learning through them of the efforts still being made to turn our supposedly free society into a theocracy."
I hope that my readers will understand the point of this article.
The point has not been to launch arguments against atheism, or against any of the statements or positions of the men mentioned above. I am happy to do that, but that is not what this website here for.
The point has been to document what kind of membership the BCSE has - whether they are credentialed scientists or educators or not; and so to gather more data for the investigation into whether or not the BCSE is a true scientific body or a grand deception.
We have documented that not one of the five listed proof-readers of the BCSE's website is a scientist or an educator - but that in fact all five are atheists, generally with form in secularist campaigning, to be found on the Richard Dawkins website, etcetera etcetera.
The effect on me of such evidence is that it confirms what I began believing - that the origins debate is about philosophy and religion as much as it is about science. Darwinism is not a neutral scientific fact, based upon empirical observation. It is a religious doctrine, underpinned by unprovable philosophical presuppositions of the atheist variety. That is why its most outspoken adherents are militant atheists. That is why those who don't share materialist assumptions are far more likely to reject it. This materialist agenda is subverting science, and it is time it was exposed.
I do not know whether the men named above are aware of to what extent Darwinism pre-supposes a materialist philosophy. I suppose it is well possible that they have swallowed the viewpoint that materialistic philosophy represents a "neutral" approach to the issues and is the only allowable paradigm within science. On the other hand, they may have a different slant.
Whether they have or not, though, it's becoming clearer and clearer as to what kind of organisation the "religiously neutral" BCSE are. Actually, I don't have a problem with not being "religiously neutral". The idea of religious neutrality is a myth - either we worship God, or we don't: no neutral territory.
What I would like to see is the BCSE becoming more honest - and let the worldviews fight it out, in open debate. It's my belief that the reason why that can't happen, is because then Darwinism can't win. Only if the decks are stacked by insisting on materialism as "neutral" or "science" can Darwinism make its case. And that's not the mark of a winning position.