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Scottish school has a seven-person chaplaincy team – including a crazy creationist

SCOTLAND has a Jam Club. But it has nothing to do with making sticky, sweet stuff that rots your gnashers. Nor is there a musical connection. Oh no. This jam … groan … is Jesus and Me – a daft  concept dreamed up by Egyptian-born Christian fundie Dr Nagy Iskander, who has links to Westwoodhill Evangelical Church.

Dr Nagy Iskander

Dr Nagy Iskander

This is all good and well if Jesus spins your wheels. But it’s his links with Calderglen High School, a publicly funded non-denominational school in East Kilbride near Glasgow, that’s cause for considerable  concern.

The school, which presumably exists to educate, rather than indoctrinate, has more biblical advisers than you can shake a crucifix at.

According to the Old Earth – Young Earth blog, established by Professor Paul Braterman – its chaplaincy team numbers SEVEN. The team includes three representatives of Baptist churches and three from the Church of Scotland. The seventh – Iskander, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in London and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians in Glasgow – is the evangelical representative.

On the school website, Iskander says:

I am interested in Science and the Bible and always happy to tackle questions in this area, so please feel free to contact me about any questions regarding Science and the Christian faith.

What he does not reveal, says Braterman:

Is that he is an out and out supporter of biblical literalism, singled out for praise by Answers in Genesis, and a welcome visitor and occasional speaker at Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky, where you will learn that the fossil record is a result of Noah’s Flood, and that ‘Biblical history is the key to understanding dinosaurs’.

You will also find on the AiG web site recorded lectures by Iskander, in which he states that belief in the literal truth of Genesis is foundational to Christianity.

As for the relationship between Science and the Bible, Iskander had this to say to his local newspaper, on the occasion of Answers in Genesis’ Scottish Conference this month:

Both the creationists and evolutionists have the same facts – we have the same earth, the same geological layers, the same fossils – but when we examine the facts we might come to different conclusions, depending on our starting point.

Iskander added:

Creation according to the Christian faith is a supernatural act of God, so it will not be repeated and we can’t test creation in the lab. Evolution needs to take place over millions of years and we cannot test that either. My view on this is we should mention everything – we should examine all the evidence and all the facts and have an open and civilised discussion about all of this without excluding one or the other.

On reading this, the steam that came out of Roger Downie’s ears was enough to melt a glacier. Downie, Professor of Zoological Education at Glasgow University, blasted off a letter to the Sunday Herald in which he wrote:

Your quotation from Dr Nagy Iskander illustrates why creationists should not be let near science classes. He said ‘Evolution needs to take place over millions of years and we cannot test that …’ On the contrary, evolution through Darwin and Wallace’s process of natural selection is happening all the time, sometimes quite quickly.

Since Dr Iskander is said to be a surgeon, I would hope that he is fully aware of the evolution of the antibiotic resistance that has made hospital procedures so risky. Science advances through the testing of hypotheses and the accumulation of evidence. Both medicine and biology have greatly benefited from this process. I presume Dr Iskander’s medical practice is based on such advances, rather than the superstitions of previous times.

Braterman commented:

It is perhaps unkind to describe pre-scientific views as ‘superstitions’ when considered in the context of their time. But to put such views forward today in the name of religion, as serious alternatives to scientific knowledge, brings religion itself into disrepute.

Who appointed Dr Iskander to his position with the school? Were they aware of his Young Earth creationist views? What do the school’s own teachers, including both the science teachers and those who teach about religion, think of his role, and does he have any influence over their teaching?

How often does he address the school, and on what subjects? Are parents notified of his views and influence? Do he and his fellow members of the Chaplaincy Panel receive any payments or reimbursements from the school? And does the school obtain any materials from a company called Christian Schools Scotland, of which he is a director?I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but intend to find out by addressing a Freedom of Information request of the school. I will let you know what they say.

Hat tip: Mike Battman

31 Responses to “Scottish school has a seven-person chaplaincy team – including a crazy creationist”

  1. Marky Mark says:

    (How often does he address the school, and on what subjects? Are parents notified of his views and influence? Do he and his fellow members of the Chaplaincy Panel receive any payments or reimbursements from the school? And does the school obtain any materials from a company called Christian Schools Scotland, of which he is a director?I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but intend to find out by addressing a Freedom of Information request of the school. I will let you know what they say.)
    …Well said!

  2. Broga says:

    The arrogance of this man is amazing. Evolution is backed by so much evidence that it is beyond dispute. Against it we have the nutters who believe that Adam and Eve could be chased by dinosaurs, in talking snakes all the creatures on the planet were collected on the Ark nutters. This man is a purveyor of mental sewage which is being unloaded on to impressionable children.

    What is any school with a claim to educate children doing in allowing him near their pupils on whom they have a duty of care? How much time that might be spent on educating children is wasted listening to the other misguided proselysers with their self serving myths?

  3. Daz says:

    we should examine all the evidence and all the facts

    Indeed. Please feel free to present actual evidence of the existence of a god. Any god’ll do for starters, we can tackle questions like “does the Bible the contain an accurate depiction of that god?” in part two.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Not only in Scotland:

    http://www.countiesdorset.org/schools-youth

    Counties Evangelists belong to the Plymouth Brethren, and, despite the views of some members of that sect, would, to a man (as recognized ministers of the Gospel), believe in Genesis as an historical record of the past. They are VERY keen on school and youth club work!

  5. barriejohn says:

    I have linked to this before:

    http://countiesuk.org/resources/gsus-live.html

    How do they get away with it?

  6. barriejohn says:

    I also looked up “School Assemblies” on the Precious Seed site (Plymouth Brethren magazine). More references than you can shake a stick at – and many quite recent!

    David Raggett continues to get real encouragement from having so many opportunities to spread the good seed of the gospel in schools. There was tremendous interest in the run-up to Easter with Easter assemblies and workshops. Since last September, David has been teaching foundational, and vital, teaching on ‘Creation’ in school assemblies – up to eighteen lessons in all – and these will continue to the end of July, God willing. This has been a real opportunity especially with all that has been presented in the media and still is being propounded, regarding Darwin and evolutionism! Please pray that the teaching that has been given – the good seed of the word of God – will be remembered and blessed of the Lord in days to come. Several teachers have also been challenged; and we look to the Lord to continue to speak to them in His grace and power and to bring them to Himself, as only He can.

    In June, David ran two weeks of full days with his Bible Exhibition in various schools. Years five and six each visited the exhibition for a full day. That equalled about five hours of so of teaching on the importance, message and relevance of the Bible; it was a great opportunity. The children are always very attentive and interested and each child received a gospel booklet at the end to take home, and many do read them. Please pray that there will be a harvest for the Lord’s glory as a result of the sowing of the seed in this way. (Vol 64, Issue 3, 2009)

    http://www.preciousseed.org/article_detail.cfm?articleID=2736&keyword=school+assemblies

  7. Broga says:

    “Several teachers have also been challenged; and we look to the Lord to continue to speak to them in His grace and power and to bring them to Himself, as only He can.”

    I think the sub text there is that “several teachers” decided to say that they rejected the drivel and thought they would be better employed teaching. “Challenged” is a strong word so I suppose he was struggling to make what he would regard as progress. It seems as if he retired defeated and turned the problem over to his fictional “Lord.”

  8. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I’m not so sure about that. When Christians speak of people being “challenged” they usually mean that those people are giving serious thought to the message of the Gospel (maybe “under conviction” even!). Of course, this is often mere wishful thinking, and evangelists in particular tend to think that anyone who politely listens to them, rather than saying “Stuff it up your arse”, is falling under their spell and on the very verge of salvation. They are inveterate optimists – but then they need to be!

  9. barriejohn says:

    PS I well recall, as a teenager, listening to Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision on Radio Luxembourg (yes – I’m THAT old!). Cliff Barrows was the insufferably upbeat cheerleader and announcer, who breathlessly exclaimed week after week that those were “exciting days”; that God was doing “great things”; and that “the team” was being blessed in wonderful ways that they had never experienced before. I soon cottoned on to the fact that this was a con, and, even if he believed it all, the purpose of this enthusiasm was to encourage the faithful and keep the dollars rolling in (“Crusades” don’t come cheap!). If it WAS true, then what happened? How come after all that divine blessing, and all those thousands – even millions – “giving their lives to Christ” America is now (as Billy and his ilk constantly remind us) more evil and more in the clutches of the devil than ever before? Something doesn’t tie up!

  10. AgentCormac says:

    Shouldn’t be allowed within 100 miles of any educational institution.

  11. Robster says:

    This bloke’s a doctor? Jeez, if I was in need of a doctor and this fellow approached with that strange, pasted on smile, slightly cross-eyed, confused christian look, I’d run in the other direction. He is a real doctor yes? Not a “doctor” of theology or something equally stupid?

  12. barriejohn says:

    Robster: The article does state that he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons!

    More about him here:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v4/n3/biblical-truths

    Two Egyptian medical doctors, Nagy and Nashwa Iskander, share a burden for reaching Scotland’s younger generation with biblical truths. These two energetic Egyptian nationals have launched numerous outreaches. Their original approach to sharing the gospel was transformed, however, when they discovered the foundational importance of Genesis to the Christian faith.

    Nagy, a surgeon, serves as the religious representative in the region’s Education Resource Committee. He teaches the books of the Bible in government schools as part of the official religious education curriculum. During discussion time, Nagy regularly receives questions about creation and evolution.

    Burdened by the fact that so many young people have little knowledge of the Creator and Savior, he and his wife, Nashwa, a specialist in neonatology and pediatrics, started a community club in 2001 called “Jesus and Me” (JAM) where youth learn gospel truths in fun ways, beginning in Genesis.

  13. barriejohn says:

    More here:

    http://www.jamtrust.org/photo-gallery/dr-nagy-iskander.html

    Dr Nagy Iskander and his wife Nashwa are the founders of the Jam Trust. They are both committed Christians and respected members of the community. Nagy has won numerous awards for his work in the community. Nagy is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of London and Glasgow. Nashwa is a member of the Royal College of Paediatricians of London.

  14. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Fascinating insights from you about the religious mind. I have no direct experience as my family were what might be described as “religious indifferent.” By that I mean the children were unloaded into the Sunday School, immediately followed by a long and tedious religious service (Presbyterian), accompanied by my mum going through the expected social formula. We also had to say our prayers at night i.e. “If I should die before I wake/I pray the Lord my soul to take.” That was it and I was an atheist, and excited by that, by my mid teens.

    I had a heavy drinking uncle who had a kind of odd status in the family because of his friendship with the RC priest who was regarded with deep suspicion as a rather mystical figure to be avoided. The said uncle, of whom I was, and remained, very fond, was never known to set foot in a church but claimed to believe in God. When I said I didn’t he was stunned.

    My enlightenment came when the son of the local doctor, clearly as I now understand an atheist, began sharing books with me written by atheists. I never looked back as it were and my own family have grown into adulthood as atheists. Not through any proselitysing by myself or by wife but just by an ambience of free speech and discussion.

  15. Brian Jordan says:

    @barriejohn

    [AiG said:]Nagy, a surgeon, serves as the religious representative in the region’s Education Resource Committee.

    Does this committee actually exist? I can’t find a record of it anywhere. Could Ham mean a SACRE? (Which they don’t seem to have in Scotland anyway?} Does anyone recognise it?

  16. I think (I hope) Ham was referring to the school’s chaplaincy committee, which we know about. Scottish authorities do not have SACREs, but they do have religious representatives on their education committees, one (by law!) Church of Scotland, one Catholic, one other. I will make it my business to find out who are on the education committee of South Lanarkshire, the relevant local authority.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: I have been going round in circles on this one, as most sites are just quoting one another again, without adding anything original (as per ususal!). Maybe Old Earth – Young Earth will have more to offer as a result of his FOI request. Meanwhile, this is interesting (though quoting much of the above again):

    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/answers-in-genesis-gives-scotland-a-chance/

    Lanarkshire people have the chance this weekend to get in on the heated debate about ‘Creation versus Evolution’. A group of Christians led by Hairmyres surgeon and Christian youth leader Doctor Nagy Iskander have arranged a visit by controversial American academic Dr Terry Mortenson, a lecturer and researcher at Answers in Creation in the US, to Scotland this weekend.

    That was, of course, last weekend, and may well have been the catalyst for the investigation.

  18. the Woggler says:

    Seems Ken ‘The Lie’ Ham may have been reading this blog. If you’re reading this, Mr Lie, when are you going to accept the Houston Atheists and PZ Myers’ challenge to a debate? When are you going to stop writing nonsense about atheists? And when, oh when, are you ever going to publish something that has any element of truth?

  19. Broga says:

    Ken Ham has no alternative but lies. He cannot face facts, he cannot tell the truth and he dare not look objectively at the scientific evidence. What is so bizarre is the extreme nature of what he is attempting to instil in young minds. Why is he doing this? It is scarcely believable that an adult in 2013 accepts the off the wall nonsense he produces? Does he have another agenda? Does he prefer to opt for notoriety instead of nonentity? Or is he really so deranged that he believes what he says?

  20. Brian Jordan says:

    @me

    Does this committee actually exist? I can’t find a record of it anywhere. Could Ham mean a SACRE? (Which they don’t seem to have in Scotland anyway?} Does anyone recognise it?

    After further digging, I can only guess that it might be the education resources committee of a college of surgeons. In which case, what is it doing with a religious representative? Is there a doctor in the house who could help?

  21. Russ Hinks says:

    “but when we examine the facts we might come to different conclusions, depending on our starting point.”…..
    My starting point, evidence,logic, intelligence, reason.
    Your starting point, being a complete fuckwit.

  22. Robster says:

    Yep, thanks barriejohn, the post did state the silly christian bloke is a real doctor, it’s just hard to believe that an educated person, smart enough to train successfully as a doctor can then go and believe tripe from the bronze age as being in some way true and in someway important! Would you trust him with a medical problem?

  23. Friend says:

    “How much time that might be spent on educating children is wasted listening to the other misguided proselysers with their self serving myths?”

    Broga – perhaps if you or any of the other commenters on this page actually knew Nagy Iskander you would realise that “self serving” couldn’t be further from the truth.By all means have a rigorous debate on the issues being raised but don’t resort to hurtful personal remarks (Russ Hinks) about a man you have never met.

  24. Broga says:

    @Friend: You raise quite a problem for me as I have “never met” any of the people who are discussed and often criticised here. If I only comment on people whom I have met then its game over for me.

  25. Angela_K says:

    @Friend. We may not meet many of the people we quite rightly criticise on this forum. However, considering that these people by their own words and works are in the main enemies of science, logic, reason and Gays, we have every right to call an idiot an idiot, a bigot etc.

  26. […] • Full story at The Freethinker, ‘the voice of atheism since 1881′. […]

  27. Lisa says:

    Dr. Nagy Iskander is one of the best teachers and scientists I have come accross throughout my education (and I study a relevant subject at a world class university). His explanations and point of views are very logical and evidence based and his knowledge (in terms of it’s depth and broadness) is incredible. I have not had a single question that he was unable to answer logically and convincingly using accurate scientific/historical facts or evidence; his energy (and his wifes) is inspiring, his hard-working nature is so motivating, and his arguements simply makes sense considering all aspects of natural science! His lectures or talks are highly stimulating and interactive. Moreover, the way he delivers his ideas is very subtle,, well structed, clearly laid out, and understandable (better so if you have scientific/medical knowledge or background).