Tag Archives: Education

Flourish with change

Newshub decided to do an “AI” piece today. Expect much more of this kind of “filler” piece. They will go thus… “X says AI will take all our jobs, Y says AI will save us.” These pieces are about as well informed and informing as a lump of 4×2 – good for propping up a slow news day, but not much else. The “more compassionate and moral than NZers” message (which comes from Y) type statement that was made is utter nonsense. AI is just a name we give to the software of machines – AI don’t have compassion or morals. If they appear too, that is simply because they are reflecting the data we feed them… human data with all its flaws.
 
Yes, there is change coming because of this technology. In the past we have been particularly poor at predicting what the future will look like & I think this time the possibilities are far too numerous and complex for us to predict what will be.  Statements like “30-50% of people will lose their jobs” (said X) are simply guesses because there is no precedent on which to base the numbers. All the reports talk about truck drivers and accountants loosing jobs and not a lot else. They are shallow – and probably necessarily so – because we just can’t anticipate what creative people may come up with for this technology.  Having said that, I must admit I just am not sure what to advise my children (as if they’d take it).  Should they all learn to code? Maybe not, as most interaction with machines may not be via coding languages. Should they become artisans for niche markets where the technology doesn’t penetrate?  Maybe for some, but not for all.  I think that perhaps the best we can do is to encourage what enhances creativity and resilience to, or even better a flourishing with, change. It is my hope that flourish with change will become the mantra not just the next generation, but for all current generations, for how we determine to approach the coming changes is likely as important to the well being of our society as the changes themselves.
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Teach creationism; undermine theology

My fellow science blogger Alison Campbell recently wrote a blog post entitled “teach creationism, undermine science”  in which she highlighted some of the concerns shared by many scientists.  As a Christian and as a scientist I believe the issue is far worse than the undermining of science.  Because so many teaching creationism are so well meaning it saddens me to say this, but the teaching of creationism is anathema to the Christian gospel.  Three reasons:

1. Creationism misrepresents the Bible.  When the Hebrews were standing on the banks of the Jordan wondering what would befall them should they cross, they were not asking “How did God create the world?” Rather, they were wondering if Yahweh who had led their parents generation out of Egypt, and seemed to be in charge in the desert, actually knew anything about farming across the Jordan.  It seemed to them that the local fertility gods must know something – after all it was a rich land.  The two stories of creation we now find in the book of Genesis speak to the fears of the Hebrews then, and in later generations to fears held when they were in exile.  The message is clear – Yahweh is in charge, and the so called gods (eg the sun and moon) are mere creations of his.  Those stories are definitely not scientific accounts – indeed science writing was not to be invented for thousands of more years. They answer “whose in charge” and “what’s my purpose” questions, not “How” questions.

2. Creationism rejects truth about the workings of creation which science has revealed. Science is a gracious gift which is to be cherished and put to good use.  It is under God’s sovereignty and requires the participation of his people. Indeed, creationism opts out of kingdom building, the task of the Church.  Our destination is not some super-spiritual, non-material eternal existence in heaven (indeed no where does the Bible explicitly say we will “go to heaven”), rather it is a new earth (material) where God dwells amongst us and God’s rule applies (heaven).  How this will come about, no-one can be certain, but our pursuit of knowledge through science and our applying that knowledge as good stewards of the Earth is part of the process of building the kingdom.

3. Creationism puts a stumbling block to faith. Sadly, propagating creationism results in an easy, and sometimes convenient, target for scientists who may otherwise be willing to listen to what Christianity has to say.  To use Paul’s terminology, it is a stumbling block. Many pupils taught creationism as a science will later learn the falsehood when they are exposed to all of science in its full glory. Sadly, many will react against Christianity and throw the baby out with the bathwater.  When this happens, those who taught those pupils creationism as if it were science will become accountable.