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Creationists coming to UWA?

Creation Ministries International (the Australian arm of ‘Answers in Genesis’) is coming to Perth this very weekend. They’ve got their sights set on UWA and Curtin, two universities in Perth. Why would they target universities? Two possible reasons: they’re trying to convert uni students, and they’re trying to borrow the credibility of institutions that do scientific research.

I’m writing a letter to ask UWA to consider whether they really want to be hosting this thing. Not because I want CMI’s views suppressed — I’m happy for them to spread their religious misinformation in church where it belongs. But universities are busy teaching according to the best evidence we have available, and they do not have an obligation to promote anti-science views that undermine their work.

Here’s my letter:

I am writing to raise some concerns about an event by Creation Ministries International, slated for the UWA Crawley campus on Sunday, 9 April. The event is called “Solid Answers for the Real World.”

Creation Ministries International are Young Earth Creationists who teach that the Earth is a few thousand years old, contrary to geological evidence. They attempt to undermine the theory of evolution, which is the basis of the biological sciences. These are fringe views, not supported by evidence, and not generally held by the hard-working and knowledgable members of the UWA faculty who teach in these disciplines.

I would like to ask that the University of Western Australia consider whether hosting this event is appropriate. CMI are, of course, free to espouse their views, but the university is not an appropriate venue for them to do so. By having this event on its campus, UWA could be seen as giving implicit endorsement of the views of CMI. It would allow CMI to trade on UWA’s credibility.

The University exists for the purpose of education and research. It has no compelling interest in hosting an event designed to promote disinformation. And on a personal note, as a lecturer, I find it particularly galling that lecturers at UWA work throughout the week to teach the facts about biology, geology, and science, only to have this work be undone on Sunday.

Thank you for your consideration.

Daniel Midgley
Assistant Professor, Linguistics

What happens if no one listens, and the event goes ahead? Or — gasp — what if I draw more attention to it?

That’s okay, too. In that case, I’ll be there on the day, helping to hand out information, explaining to people what evolution really is, and why the creationist clown show they’ve just seen is nonsense.

4 Comments

  1. As a lecturer in the University myself I am also surprised that the University agreed to host this. At the very least, if the University does not remove this event from the calendar, the University should demand that the event be changed to a debate to include University scholars as well.

    I have always seen the University system as a place to exchange scientific ideas as well as to debate them. I have no problems with people wanting to exchange ideas that is not based on scientific facts as long as they're willing to defend them and debate them.

  2. As a student, I completely agree with you Daniel. I am all for each person having an entitlement for their own perspective of the world, however there is a time and place.

    Universities are a place for an exchange of knowledge, and credible ideas which actually fit into the greater found evidence. It does seem very out of context to have a creationist meeting at a university, which has takes no regard what so ever for any scientific evidence or any facts beyond what they know. I wonder what the university board would think of an essay using a similar form of evidence to creationists!

  3. I have both a BS and Masters degree in Biological Sciences from AU. As a fellow educator, I would challenge you to google/research the scientific evidence for creation. You might find it surprising and thought provoking. I happened upon your comment as I was checking out links about UWA. I was doing this because a wonderful young man from our community, whom I mentored somewhat, is now a student at UWA. As someone who cares greatly about at least one of your students, I was thrilled to see that the university was open minded to all points of view and that a lecture like this was welcomed.

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