In a disappointingly titled article in New Statesman (Make space for creationists to have their say), Sophie Elmhirst reports that English schools are facing pressure to include creationism in science classes. This, of course, follows similar moves in Hampshire which I blogged about recently. The article does present both sides of the argument, but does I feel come over a bit sympathetic to the cause of the creationists. However, Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society gets his oar in
The secularists, not surprisingly, are furious. “Talk about a misnomer,” says Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, of Truth in Science. “I get very angry about this organisation, which is introducing into people’s minds that there is some equivalence between creationism and evolution as scientific topics. There isn’t an equivalence – one is religion and one is science. They’re not the same thing.” He believes the problem goes back to the core of religious teaching in Britain. RE is the only subject that, despite being compulsory, is controlled by local authorities, not by the National Curriculum. What students are taught, and how those lessons might overlap with science teaching, is down to the local education authority under the guidance of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education, made up of local faith leaders and councillors. It is such councils that worry Sanderson: “They are often taken over by very enthusiastic religious people – they’re almost all clerics. It’s inevitable that they will try to push the boundaries of religious education into proselytising.”
The issue should be clear to any responsible educator. Creationism is a religious doctrine, for which there is absolutely no evidence. Evolution is science, and is supported by huge quantities of evidence. There is no place for creationism in science classes.
Unfortunately, and in contrast to the USA, the UK has an established church so in my mind there’s not such a clear separation of church and state here. Educators in the UK need to be very vigilant against the intrusion of religion into science classes.