More moves to teach creationism in UK schools?

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.

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  1. barriejohn’s avatar

    I used to be an Evangelical Christian, as I was brainwashed by the Plymouth Brethren from an early age. Their belief in "Creationism" was one of the things which opened my eyes to the complete idiocy of their views, as I used to teach Maths and Science. I swear that I read in a book aimed at students this ridiculous argument by some American biologist: "When we look at creatures in the depths of the ocean we find that some of them have the most beautiful colours, even though they exist in total darkness. Why is this? It`s because God knew that we would one day see this evidence of His handiwork and marvel at it"!! Talk about taking the anthropic principle to extremes – can you believe thatmorons like this are being allowed to influence the way that future generations think – it`s beyond belief!!!

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    1. GrumpyBob’s avatar

      That's interesting! I have a considerably different background – while I was baptised in the Church of Scotland, my family was never particularly religious, and my father and two brothers are all scientists. As far as I can remember, my school very effectively separated religious education from the rest, so I came through the system with a very questioning and open mind. I guess that colours my opinion on the teaching of religion in inappropriate classes, and in particular creationism/ID.

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    2. barriejohn’s avatar

      The Jesuits are supposed to have said: "Give me a child to the age of seven and I will give you the man", or words to that effect (there`s some contoversy as to who first said it). Unless you have been ensnared by religious fundamentalism you can have no idea of the hold it has over you, or of how it constantly draws you back like a magnetic force, or a yearning for that comfort blanket which once surrounded and protected you. I wonder whether this resonates with other readers of this blog. I receive continual requests (especially at Christmas time) to "return to the Lord" and so on, but if I am ever tempted in that regard I always say to myself "Adam and Eve" – they really DO believe it you know!!!

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