The BCSE's wider membership
(Published: March 2007)
In this article I first provide an index to my other articles on the topic:
The previous parts of this investigation:
(Also the series on the BCSE's de facto leader, who turns out to have no credentials or experience either in science or education: Roger Stanyard).
So far, I have provided evidence in four key areas:
Today I will continue to document details of the BCSE's membership. We have seen that the BCSE does now have a defined membership - even if nothing definite is actually required of its members. Don't expect anything earth-shattering in this article - just the "grunt work" of researching and documenting.
So who cared enough to join? What kind of membership would the BCSE attract? Who will feel drawn to it? Will the country's science educators be forming a queue? Or will it just attract the "usual crowd" of Internet atheists? These are questions which will give us more data - as we seek to document what kind of organisation the BCSE really is.
Gathering The Data
When someone joins the BCSE, they are then marked as a BCSE member in its forums. I think that this is so that forum participants can tell who is who - which is a good thing. Here, for example, is what you see when BCSE website proof-reader John Flemming posts in that forum:
So, for this analysis I decided to count the number of posts made by each and every person marked as a "BCSE Member" - and analyse the results.
Once the BCSE members already listed in previous articles are dropped out, the following names are, in order, the ten members who post most in the BCSE forums. As you can see, some of them are not willing to be publicly identified with the BCSE using their full names - I can understand that!
Anybody not on this list of ten has averaged less than one message per week to the forum over the past few months.
Here We Go Again...
So. You know where this is going. How many of these individuals will be Bible-believing Christians? None, of course. How many will be atheists? The far greater part.
Remember what the point is here. I'm not saying that no atheist has anything to say about science or education. Neither am I saying that they can't be charming or talented people. I don't believe that for a moment. What I am doing is pointing out that the make-up BCSE's membership is too skewed to be anything like a co-incedence. Like attracts like - and the kind of membership attracted by the BCSE tells us what we need to know. Here, then, they are:
1. George Jelliss: A prominent member of Leicester Secular Society. Mr. Jelliss maintains the LSS's website. In April 2006 the LSS organised a special outing to demonstrate in support of "Jerry Springer The Opera", a spiteful and gratuitous mockery of everything connected with Christianity. So I think I can tell where they're coming from...
2. Paula Thomas, a political campaigner.
"As I think is well known I am an atheist."
Responding to a comment from another BCSE member: "... but that arises out of Christianity's complete lack of ability to view women as anything more than baby factories."
3. James Rocks: Mr. Rocks is the founder of a similar group to the BCSE, "Science Just Science", and (like many of the BCSE's leadership) works in the world of IT. (Which I point out because you might expect that those who write to the press in the name of organisations with "Science" in their titles might, well, be from the world of science!).
"I consider myself to be a militant atheist (I have been referred to as a fundamentalist atheist ...)"
4. Chris Sergeant: Another atheist, describes Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" a piece of "rational science" !
5. Steve Denton: Another atheist.
6. "Gwynne": An atheist, explains that his reason for joining the BCSE is so that his children aren't influenced by religion.
7. Mark Edon: Another atheist. Like BCSE committee members Brian Jordan and Ian Lowe, Mr. Edon signed the infamous petition demanding that the Prime Minister legislate to make any kind of non-atheistic child-rearing illegal:
8. Mark Whitten ("molecanthro")
Mark is the first BCSE member I have come across who actually has a graduate qualification in a biological discipline. I salute him! (He's only been in Britain a few years and so never attended a British state school... but still!).
Having seen Rod Liddle's recent Channel 4 program "The Trouble With Atheism", Mark labelled it as a "anti-science nonsense". Mark also supports the "brights", a secular humanist group - "A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview... A bright's worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements... The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview" (http://www.the-brights.net/).
The British Centre for Slandering Evangelicals
One more. Dave Oldridge is a Catholic (not Roman). So he is not an atheist. But the Internet appears to contain gazillions of quotes demonstrating a very deep dislike for evangelical Christianity. So he's very much at home in the BCSE. I won't go into that, as this article is long enough - you can turn up plenty in the BCSE forum along those lines if you want. Oldridge's acceptance by the BCSE does show up the BCSE's hypocrisy: Catholic doctrine is explicitly theocratic - it claims that the church has a head on earth, and that he is the rightful political and temporal ruler of the world. That is of course why the Vatican is a state and has political ambassadors. To those who've followed my series on "Theocracy" and the BCSE's vacuous claims that evangelical Christians are planning to replace democracy, this utter silence on actual theocratic doctrine is another clue. It tells us who and what the BCSE are really opposing.
OK, so that's 8 out of 10 who I was able to identify as being atheists. And generally of the militant variety. Let's throw that into the pot. Of the top ten leaders at launch-time, all the website editors, and the top ten most active members in the forum, there are 20 out of 23 whom I have identified as atheists - and generally of the militant, campaigning variety.
Let's run a similar calculation to one we've run before. The number of atheists in Britian is sometimes estimated at around 10%. Let's be generous, and say 15%. Let's be very generous, and ignore the "militant" factor. Let's do some maths. If you choose 23 people at random, the probability that it just happens that 20 or more would be atheists, is approximately equal to... just under 1 chance in 27 trillion. Or, just under 2 million times less likely than winning the UK's national lottery.
So - is the BCSE's make-up a co-incedence? Is their science really independent of their religion? The answer's not hard to work out...