Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 21/03/2002The Beasts of Midian are prowling round and round again. Not only do we have Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead teaching its students fundamentalist Christian ideas about how evolution is wrong, but the Scientologists are actively removing their critics from the Net by any means possible.

Thursday 21/03/2002

The Beasts of Midian are prowling round and round again. Not only do we have Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead teaching its students fundamentalist Christian ideas about how evolution is wrong, but the Scientologists are actively removing their critics from the Net by any means possible.

First, the fundies. Once the story broke that this ostensibly scientific establishment was busy promoting the idea that the Earth and everything in it was created in seven days some 6000 years ago, the curious went searching online for evidence (or as creationists say, evidences) for what was actually happening. A speech by the CTC's Head of Science -- displaying a bewildering lack of understanding over what science actually is -- was soon found on the Web and publicised: it was then removed forthwith, because (and I paraphrase from an email sent out) "too many members of the media were calling us and we don't have the time to cope". As a sceptic on Cix commented, how removing the speech from the Web was supposed to help here is not clear.

A bit more Web searching reveals that there is an active campaign by people connected with the college to get fundamentalists onto school boards and into other positions of influence within the educational establishment, and much else beside. There is a certain irony in the Net -- a product of the Enlightenment par excellence -- being used to deny the very way of thought that gave it being, but if you get involved in the madness of creationism you have to get used to industrial strength irony at all levels.

Of course, that pales into insignificance compared to the activities of the Scientologists. Scientology's entire structure is based upon gradually revealing more and more of its core beliefs to its adherents, each step along the way costing many thousands of pounds. That the core beliefs are astounding, sub-Star Trek nonsense is thus kept secret until you've already invested so much that you HAVE to believe.

Some noble souls have taken it upon themselves to publicise the incredible daftnesses at the heart of Scientology -- www.xenu.net is a fine example. But now the Scientologists are using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to say that this information contains copyrighted and trademarked material and the offending pages should be removed from the Net forthwith. Because the DMCA doesn't require proof of such claims before action has to be taken, ISPs feel obliged to comply: even Google was forced this week to remove all references to pages on Xenu.net containing copyright material from its system.

Fundamentalism and cultism -- especially that disguised as science -- damage both science and religion, and there are more than enough medieval mindsets floating around the modern world already. This state of affairs demands our attention and, I fear, active participation.

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