Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response
1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?
No. "Close Encounters with the New Age", published by Kingsway, is my critical answer to unscientific treatments. I list the DOs and DON'Ts - especially don't touch alternative/complementary medicine unless it has rigorous, quality peer-reviewed support.
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
Schools should have freedom and choice to explain evolution as the theory that the vast majority of scientists support. They should also teach that the majority of faith groups also accept evolution in one form or another.
However, honesty and integrity demands that children, especially questioning ones, should be informed that a minority of scientists, both radical secularists and some from a faith background, do have reservations. Some question evolution's ability and capacity to produce the complexity we see today, while others insist that a creator is involved.
Science should have nothing to fear from honest questioning. Evolution, secularism and faiths have nought to fear so long as none are gagged and all have freedom to determine the truth. Fear arises when fundamentalism, whether in religion or science, gags dissent and debate.
I cover this in my book "Responding to the Challenge of Evolution" published in the USA, Germany and the UK (Kingsway).
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?
We should have freedom to question, probe and even poke fun at others and their beliefs, whether religious or scientific. Gagging people is wrong. Freedom of choice is always good. We should be very careful to censor only those things which are known to damage community cohesion.
4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly?
5. Should religious courts such as Shari'a and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?
No. There should be just law for all.
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
Yes. The lives of humans are of a higher value than animals, therefore limited and essential testing is permissible.
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
Scientific evidence tells me there is global warming while my winter fuel bills and other things tell me otherwise. With recent news of experts faking GW statistics, I prefer to wait for a settled scientific opinion. Science makes progress only by its mistakes and humanity has been caught out too many times to give blind trust. When science produces results that are not immediately understandable it needs to understand that education is needed, and it also needs to allow for the fact that science may not be infallible.
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
No. I think scientists have a contribution to make in this area, and so too do philosophers and people of faith and no faith. One discipline or section claiming sole right to determine ethical issues to the exclusion of other parts of society is a recipe for disaster.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
All levels of society should be represented in the Lords. Anything short of this would be undemocratic and foolish.
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?
Presumably you're referring to the Simon Singh case against the Chiropractic Association. I do believe that qualified people should be able to advance reasonable arguments against suspect practices as a matter of free speech. I welcome the April 1st Court of Appeal ruling.
If it had gone against Simon Singh, my own book entitled Paganism and the Occult (Kingsway/ Reachout 1987 and still in print), which criticises similar practises, would have been illegal. It would also have smacked of 1984 and George Orwell's Big Brother.
I think libel reform is in need of reform to cope with tourism libel.
- Parting Thoughts of Vicar Kevin - article written on his retirement as a vicar