16 January, 2010


In conversation with a group of students at the local Anguillian High School recently, the subject of evolution came up.  One student asked me if I believed in the “theory of evolution”.  I answered that the evolution of new species is no longer classed as a theory: it is a recognised fact.  Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the engine that drives evolution may be described as a theory, but not the fact of evolution itself.  This response was met by a sea of disbelieving faces.  Disconcerted, I asked the youngsters how many of them believed that evolution was a false theory.  Every one of them nodded his or her head in agreement with the assertion.  Not a single student declared confidence in the science of evolution.  These were senior students, mind you, about to graduate from High School.  They were not small and untutored children from a junior school.  To say that I was shocked would not be sufficient.  I was stunned.  Could it be, I asked myself, that our education system in Anguilla is teaching the discredited theory of creationism as if it were science?
I was educated in a religious school in Trinidad in the 1950s and 1960s.  My biology teacher was a priest and minister of religion.  He taught us then that the evolution of species was an accepted fact.  We learned that the story of the creation, the Old Testament story of the Garden of Eden and God’s creation of all the known animals at the time of the beginning of the world, was meant to be taken as metaphor, not fact.  We were taught as good Catholics that God had made man in his image.  God had done this by breathing an immortal soul into him at some stage in the distant past when our physical bodies had evolved into homo sapiens.  I have long ago rejected as fantasy the whole structure of the Judeo-Christian myths.  I had not realized that anyone today still believed in the discredited Jewish creation story as science.
After the encounter, I enquired around.  I checked the CXC website for the biology syllabus.  I could not find it available on-line.  It would appear you have to buy it.  I checked two recent schools’ reports on the CXC exam results.  Neither mentioned either of the words ‘evolution’ or ‘creationism’.  I could not find out what the title of the recommended CXC biology text book was.  I would love to check it to see what version of science it teaches.  Maybe I can find out who the biology teacher is, and have a look at the recommended text-book.
I asked one educated mother who is a friend of mine whether she knew that the school was filling her daughter’s mind with superstitious nonsense instead of science.  She smiled.  She said, “No point fighting it, Don.  It is the duty of every parent to give their children a proper grounding.  All kinds of nonsense are taught in schools all around the world.  We have to learn as we grow up what to reject and what to keep.”  She probably gave me very sensible advice.  But, I was not satisfied.  What about the children of uneducated and unsophisticated parents?  Are they not hoping that their children are being properly taught in school so that they can compete in the outside world of ideas?  They know they cannot do it themselves.  I came away with the realization that in Anguilla it must be generally accepted that the creation version of the origin of species may be taught in our school system as science.
I know what I would do if I had a child who was being taught in school that the earth is flat, that the earth is the centre of the universe, that the sun goes around the world each day, and that God created the earth on 23 October 4004 BC.  These were all religious beliefs that were taught as science at one time by Christians in school.  I would be very angry indeed.


Columbus was warned by the religious leaders of his day that if he sailed westwards to the horizon, he would fall off the edge of the world.  The Church taught that the Bible said that the earth was flat.  Columbus ignored them and in 1492 sailed west to increase our knowledge. 


Copernicus demonstrated in 1540 that the sun did not orbit the earth as taught by the church.  He died before they could burn him at the stake, as he deserved for going against the Bible.


Galileo was condemned and imprisoned for life in 1616 for showing that the earth was not the centre of the universe, as taught at the time by the Christian Church. 
In the religiously conservative State of Tennessee in 1925, biology teacher John Scopes began teaching evolution to his students.  This was contrary to a law passed by the state legislature.  It was illegal to teach evolution in some States of the USWilliam Jennings Bryan, a conservative Christian fundamentalist, led the charge to ban the teaching of evolution in US schools.  He joined the team prosecuting Scopes for the offence of teaching evolution.  Clarence Darrow, a prominent freedom of speech advocate, joined the defence team.  Scopes was found guilty, and fined $100.00.  But the conviction was dismissed by the Supreme Court with the damming comment, “Nothing is to be gained by prolonging the life of this bizarre case”.  Since that time the creationist theory of the origin of human life has not been taught in public schools anywhere in the civilized world.  Except, it seems, in Anguilla.

Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan

The Book of Genesis is a religious tract written for credulous shepherds who lived three thousand years ago.  It preserves the narcotic-induced ravings of the followers of a sociopathic god.  The whole schema was discredited two thousand years ago by Jesus of Nazareth, who brought the New Testament to replace the earlier barbaric teachings of the Old Testament.  Human knowledge has gone a long way since both these works were put together.  Their teachings may be broadcast in church to terrify little children into submission, but they have no place in a science class in any school today.
What is the point of all this?  It is this: Anguilla has over the past hundred years produced hundreds of scholars of the highest distinction, including in the sciences.  We have produced neurosurgeons, engineers and technicians of every type.  They must have been taught real science, not myth, to have got where they did.  At some point between my sitting of O-level exams in 1964 and the CXC syllabus of today, the students of Anguilla appear to have begun to be indoctrinated in pseudo-religious beliefs that I thought had long ago been discredited.  It is with regret that I conclude that, due to the ignorance taught by our science teachers, Anguillian students are now blocked from advancement in careers founded on science. 
My fear is that we will no longer be able to produce a competent chemist, geologist, archaeologist, geneticist, or other hard scientist.  This sad state of affairs will persist so long as we continue to teach our students ‘creation science’ and ‘intelligent design’, two warped and inaccurate versions of biology, the science of life.
Educated religious teachers no longer instruct children in idiotic pre-science beliefs.  These have been so thoroughly discredited that I had mistakenly thought that only a nincompoop would teach them today. 


  1. Don, when I was doing CXC Biology at ALHCS, my teacher touched on evolution. He presented it as a scientific theory, exactly as it is, and gave no religous context to it - he told us that was not his place. I know many of my peers in that class who are intelligent and will make valuable contributions to our soceity who will not accept, or have not yet, accepted the idea of evolution, simply because their upbrining has taught them that religion and the church are always their sources of information. I was often mocked for my belief in evolution (with the disgusting simplification of "You think we came from monkeys?!" which is not the case at all!). However, I really could care less how my peers balance their religion and scientific facts - it's not my place. Anguilla is a very Christian-influenced society, and this is going to be a very touchy subject Don.

    Conversly, I had a physics teacher who was something of a lunatic at times. Although he was a brilliant physicist (completed with doctorate), he would occassionally rant about England, the Queen ("Make her come and clean our windows!") and especially evolution. He challenged us, who believed in evolution, to "Make this chalk evolve!" He had no idea what he was talking about, made himself look poorly as a teacher, offended those of us who did take science as fact and reinforced the feeling of smug superiority that some of my classmates had on the subject. He was also quite arrogant. He is no longer teaching at the ALHCS, perhaps to find somewhere better suited to his brilliance...

  2. Don,
    A few years ago, we took the Anguillian children who were staying with us in the US to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. We let them see the exhibits that delt with evolution. And yes, they had been taught creationism in school in Anguilla. It was not my place to challenge their beliefs but instead to offer an alternative point of view. .
    Again and again, I have been appalled by the arrogant nonsensical opinions of some teachers. A young student who was going to one of the private schools on the island, told me that her "science" teacher told her that plants grew better when Mozart was played to them. When I asked if the the teacher offered to have the class put this to a test, the student looked baffled that I would have her question her teacher's statement.

    But let us not forget that Pat Robertson, the US preacher just stated that the reason for the earthquake in Haite was the result of that country having made a pact with the devil many years ago.

  3. Religious zealots believe they will live forever but I question whether that would be a good thing.

  4. If we want a nation ruled by religion, we should move to Iran.

  5. We should always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides.

    -St. Ignatius Loyola (1500)

  6. Whoever wishes to be a Christian, let him pluck out the eyes of his reason.

    -Martin Luther (First Psalm Lectures, Luther's Works, Vol. 11, p.285)

  7. We are at fault in not slaying them [the Jews].

    -Martin Luther (On the Jews and their lies, 1543)

  8. Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?

    -John Calvin, citing Psalm 93:1 in his Commentary on Genesis]

  9. If the bible had said that Jonah swallowed the whale, I would believe it.

    -William Jennings Bryan

  10. Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..

    -Hitler (Mein Kampf, Chapter 2)

  11. I can't understand how all this can have happened, it's enough to make one lose one's faith in God!

    -Eva Braun (during the last days with Hitler)

  12. We, the Order of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, reverentially acknowledge the majesty and supremacy of Almighty God and recognise His goodness and providence through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    -Ku Klux Klan creed (from the Constitution and Laws of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan )

  13. I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!

    -Rev. Jerry Falwell (1979)

  14. Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it. ... Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory.

    -Jimmy Swaggart

  15. If you go all the way back to the days just following creation, men lived nine hundred years or more.

    -Pat Robertson (Answers to 200 of Life's most Probing Questions, Bantom Books, 1984)

  16. It's been a fabulous year for Laura and me.

    -George W. Bush, December 2001, three months after the World Trade Center attacks.

  17. To be honest Don, I went to school in Anguilla and I was taught about neither theories, evolution nor creationism. So the problem is not the wrong thing being taught but nothing being taught on the matter. That was a long time ago though so maybe things are different.

  18. I can never understand why the creation 'story' is not just that - a simple story to explain how God created the world - but it is agreed that God does things in mysterious and wonderful ways and the creation story can be viewed as a beautifully simplified version of evolution. Just as we might tell a child that their baby sister is growing in their mummy's tummy and not go into the details of DNA, coitus, blastophores, progesterone etc.

  19. Don, you have just cause to be scandalized over the benighted view prevalent in senior students at the High School. However, it seems to me a jump in logic to conclude that either creationism or intelligent design is being taught in Anguilla schools. Nowhere did I see evidence of this in your column. Isn’t it just as likely that in the face of Anguilla’s vaunted religious reputation, one promoted largely in church and home, the schools maintain a “discreet” neutrality about the subject?

  20. We also have to take into consideration the fact that the translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Aramic to English resulted in a watering down effect; where most of the original meanings were lost in the translation process. "In the beginning God said, let there be light" has a completely different literary effect when read in Aramic or Hebrew.

  21. Ah lod, here come the compassionate ones, with their hundred reasons why yes, students are coming out of our schools benighted but you see it's not really the fault of the schools blah blah...

    Welcome to Anguilla, the land of We Are Not Responsible. The schools maintain a "discreet neutrality" between truth and stupidness. Unless we can apeak Aramaic, you don't have my understanding of the underlying problem...

  22. Is scientific fact truth?
    Are all truth absoulte?
    ARe scientific facts universal?
    Are they in a state of flux?
    can they be discredited?
    What is really the scientific method?
    Is it based on scientific facts?
    Do all scientists accept evolution as a scientific fact?

    Don perhaps you can help me answer these questions.

  23. I remember being pointed as a believer in evolution, in the school library back in 1990. Everyone looked at me like I was mad. I still see some of the people I went to school with, and they still have the same stupid look on their faces. I'm not surprised!

  24. Plants do grow better with classical music such as Mozart's.I have personally done research on this topic. A simple experiment was done to find the effects of classical music on germinating seeds,and the seeds to which the classical music was played grew much, much better and faster than the other set of seeds.The only variable was that classical music was played to one set of seeds and nothing was played to the other set.Look up SONIC BLOOM and THE EFFECT of MUSIC on PLANTS for more information.

  25. Ha!
    I write once more to challenge the thinkers.
    Does science speak to or on,any subject with hypothesising a reference point.
    ie Time as an abstract method of comparison; length; heat intensity. All of these are based on comparisons devised by mankind.
    Can thouht be measured? What ruler is used to measure a thought, yet thought exists, how does science measure this.Can science determine whether a dog has thoughts or a slug or a plant?
    Thus I have shown, and it is acknowledgd in the realm of science, there are aspects of our existential environment, where science is silent.
    This now begs the question: what reference point has science developed to measure ,quantify or speak on matters relating to God?

  26. To Anonymous at 12:33.

    I have to assume you are a child, and do not know what you are writing about. It is better not to use big words if you cannot put them in a grammatical sentence. Small words are easy to understand, no matter how the grammar is butchered.

    You have missed the point of Don's essay. No one is concerned about people of faith, or the details of their beliefs. Religious and superstitious beliefs are widespread, though thankfully not universal. They are a part of the human condition in many parts of the world. The problem arises when concepts of biology, zoology, and geology (as interpreted by persons who lived long ago and who did not have the benefit of modern research and knowledge) became confused with religous dogma. Worse, when modern religious bigots continue to teach these misconceived pseudo-scientific dogmas as obligatory among followers of their particular creed, they deprive their followers of an opportunity to become educated and able to defend themselves in the modern world. That is the real crime of the creationists. If they could keep their beliefs in their churches, and not bring them into the schools and universities, all would be forgiven.

  27. My point about plants and music was about about the inability of the teacher to suggest using the scientific method, in her class, for the students to either confirm or deny what she had stated. A teacher's function is to empower, support, facilitate, independent thinking. Plants and music is a wonderful class room experiment and teaches a great deal about observation, taking of data and plant biology.

    By the way, do not believe everything you read on the internet about plants and music.

  28. I have never understood the problem that some religious people have with evolution. To me, it is a sign of God's omnipotence that He in His great wisdom could design a natural system that is so complicated and yet works so well. Those who have to have a God that zaps things into being limit their "god" and make him into a cartoon. The Bible tells us over and over to "seek knowledge."

  29. Whoa Sir,
    I see you have missed the forest because of the trees.
    In addition the usual path of denigration and 'ad hominem' attacks of the person rather than addressing the statements and arguments I have put forward.
    And yes I do admit I am a child in terms of my competencies with learning to type and utilise the computer and its several tools, as i am self taught and continue to bear the brunt if my daughter's laughter.

    The crime of the evolutionists is the refusal to tell the the truth.
    That they have put forward an arbitrary reference point, in short a hypothesis.Which is the standard scientific model and then proceeded to flesh it out. there are several inconsistencies accompanied with several forgeries in the evolutionists theories.This does not discredit evolution en masse but points to the entire story not being told.
    Darwin's Theory is precisely that, a theory which appears to answer most queries into the origins of Man: but similar to the Particle Theory of Light does not provide the answers supplied by the Wave Theory of Light.

    Bigotry is to be abhorred in any manner it presents itself, whether creationist ,racially or evolutionist, sadly bigotry is not confined to one group exclusively, I'm sure you could agree with that.
    I think hence I exist: I exist in a church, university,school and at the beach,as a result I tend to think in these locations. And where I think I usually walk with my beliefs ,stigmas, preferences and my open thirst for enlightenment and passionate but respectful debate.

    Again I ask for the reference point or system which science has designed to enable it to speak to or on the principle of God?
    I believe that it would be far more respectful of each other when we can refrain from disparaging each others beliefs and choices, irregardless of which side of the divide one sets one feet.

  30. Evolution was at work when children who believed their parents when told, "don't play by the edge of the cliff" and "don't swim with the piranha" survived more often. So children trust their parents. But then religion abused this feature of children trusting their parents. Now the evolution that is going on is people foolish enough to kill or die for their religion die sooner. Eventually humans won't be so susceptible to religion.

  31. In the Caribbean as in Anguilla the vast populace are deeply rooted in the views put forward bythe bible and crafty preachers.This belief system leaves little room for anything else.I grew up in that same system,did my sciences but still believed in creation in the biblical sense,I was able to compartmentalise my thinking to attain my academics ,however,the question of evolution was never a topic of debate.It was taught as Darwin's theory.We were not challenged to do that.Our system of teaching has been severely handicapped by such a stance and I am optimistic that by you highlighting this deficiency our school administrators can work at improving it.

  32. Where,when,and how did nothing become something?Where,when,and how did nothing ever condense and explode?Where,when,and how has an explosion ever create anything but chaos?Where,when,and how has non-life ever been observe to produce life?Where,when,and how has intelligence come fron non-intelligence?How can an event be greater than its cause?Your brain is the result of an explosion of nothing!You expect me to believe that!Keep on fooling us.We can't "think for ourseves";we will let you,the "elite thinkers", do our thinking for us!NEVER!

  33. After hiring an interpreter to dissect your rant, I ask you this - Using your logic: where, when, and how was your fairy tale god created?

  34. In the English-speaking world, one of the most well known estimates in modern times is that of Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656), who proposed a date of Sunday, October 23, 4004 BCE; he placed the beginning of this first day of creation, and hence the exact time of creation, at the previous nightfall, exactly 4,000 years before the birth of Christ. Before that, God just sat around and did nothing.

  35. I must say that even if the story of creation was true we still cannot deny the evolutionary process.If God in all his wisdom created the world and man ,how do we account for the differences in our species?Evolution is a tool to aid rather then deunk the creation story.Man like animals have all evolved over the years and Darwins was observing.If we beleive the big bang theory,whyis it not continuing?Why are there no new worlds or beings since the last Big bang?Science and evolutionshould be used as an instrument or method of explaining the changes and processes that occur in our world ,a platfrom to unravel the mysteries of creation.We have made great strides in that respect and will continue as technology expands and grows.Will we ever get full enlightenment?I dont know but this I know ,Man will keep on trying until he proves or disprove either the creation stroy or the theory of evolution.I still believe in creation but embrace science as an instrument to understanding the mysteries and complexities of this vast universe.

  36. caroleforjesus has tried to leave a new comment on my post "Biology":

    "Has anyone ever wondered... if we were to have evolved from apes, why haven't the apes continued to evolve? Or any other species for that matter. And why haven't we continued to evolve into something else? Food for thought.
    God, bless you."

    Comment by Don:

    I no longer permit “creationists” to publish their rubbish on my blog. Their concepts are below contempt. They are certainly not entitled to equal time. God alone knows where people like caroleforjesus study their science. Probably, from semi-literate bible thumpers.

    It is elementary science that all life on earth has evolved, over the nearly four billion years since the first, simple forms of life were born and died in the primeval sea.

    No educated person believes that men evolved from apes. Only misinformed persons believe that is what the fact of evolution means.

    My sister and I did not evolve from each other. Both of us are descended from a common ancestor. Men and apes separated relatively recently from a common ancestor. Men and monkeys separated much further ago. Men and dogs have an even further back common ancestor. Men and sea cucumbers are cousins, with a great deal of common, shared DNA. Men and mushrooms go back even further to find a common ancestor.

    Come, raise a toast with me to our common ancestor, the primeval sea slime!


  37. IDM,you are a coward.You talk very big on you website where you can control the comments allowed.All you have done is to fill us (Anguillan creationists teachers) with resolve to teach creation more than ever,and to expose evolution for the lie it is.ThANKS AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!


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