Government department rejects creationist infiltration of science teaching

Government department rejects creationist infiltration of science teaching

By staff writers
20 Nov 2006

Government department rejects creationist infiltration of science teaching

-20/11/06

The Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association (BHA) have welcomed a statement from the British governmentís Department for Education and Skills (DfES) clarifying that ëcreationismí ñ an ideology which uses discredited readings of scriptural texts to deny fundamental scientific discoveries ñ can have no legitimate place in UK school science classrooms.

The issue arose after a creationist group calling itself Truth in Science, the majority of whose key supporters believe that the world is only 8-10,000 years old, sent out a pack to secondary science heads encouraging them to include creationism and its cousin ëintelligent designí in their teaching.

Ekklesia and the BHA teamed up to emphasise that this is not an issue which should divide religious and non-religious people. They wrote together to the Department for Education and Skills on 29 September 2006, asking for clear guidelines.

In answer to the two organisationsí call that the DfES publicly repudiate these TiS materials, the Department has said that officials are ìcurrently working with the QCA [Qualifications and Curriculum Authority] to find a suitable way of communicating to schools [that] it is not part of the Science National Curriculum.î

In addition, the DfES made it categorically clear that ì[n]either the DfES nor the QCA have been involved in the development or distribution of the Truth in Science resource packî ñ rejecting suggestions from some quarters that the ideas in the pack were somehow acceptable or compatible with their position.

Andrew Copson, BHA education officer, said: ìTruth in Science claimed the support of the National Curriculum and then they claimed the acquiescence of the DfES - itís now clear they were wrong on both counts.î

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow added: ìTeaching creationism in science classes is no more appropriate than teaching astrology or flat-earthism. It is, quite simply, non-science.î

He continued: ìFrom our point of view it is also non-theology ñ an anachronistic attempt to force ancient figurative texts into denying modern scientific method. It sets up a false and damaging clash between religion and science which specialists in these fields do not accept.î

In June 2006 Vatican astronomer Guy J. Consolmagno, a Jesuit priest who in his scientific work has pioneered the field of gravitoelectrodynamics, described creationism as ìsuperstitionî harking back to past beliefs in ìnature godsî.

Ekklesia points to the work of bodies such as the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (University of Cambridge) and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (California) as among the major places where scientists, theologians and philosophers enjoy positive interaction.

The think-tank says that the churches need to take responsibility for much more thorough education on these issues, since creationism is what Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has rightly called ìa category mistakeî within Christian thinking.

[Also on Ekklesia: Blair accused of complacency on classroom creationism; Christians and humanists call on government to rule out 'creationism' in science classes; Creationism distorts truth in science, says vicar; UK anti-evolutionists seek to lure parents with new website; US churches celebrate 'Evolution Sunday'; Churches urged to challenge Intelligent Design; Theologians and scientists welcome Intelligent Design ban; Schools minister says creationism has no place in classroom science; Exam Board rules out creationism in UK classrooms; Vatican astronomer says creationism is superstition; Archbishop of Canterbury criticises teaching of creationism; Creationists target schools and universities in Britain; Dawkins attacks creationist plans; Faith schools may allow extremists in, say critics; Creationists plan six more schools; Christians to explore values in science and technology; New Christian academy rejects creationism as 'rubbish']

Government department rejects creationist infiltration of science teaching

-20/11/06

The Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association (BHA) have welcomed a statement from the British governmentís Department for Education and Skills (DfES) clarifying that ëcreationismí ñ an ideology which uses discredited readings of scriptural texts to deny fundamental scientific discoveries ñ can have no legitimate place in UK school science classrooms.

The issue arose after a creationist group calling itself Truth in Science, the majority of whose key supporters believe that the world is only 8-10,000 years old, sent out a pack to secondary science heads encouraging them to include creationism and its cousin ëintelligent designí in their teaching.

Ekklesia and the BHA teamed up to emphasise that this is not an issue which should divide religious and non-religious people. They wrote together to the Department for Education and Skills on 29 September 2006, asking for clear guidelines.

In answer to the two organisationsí call that the DfES publicly repudiate these TiS materials, the Department has said that officials are ìcurrently working with the QCA [Qualifications and Curriculum Authority] to find a suitable way of communicating to schools [that] it is not part of the Science National Curriculum.î

In addition, the DfES made it categorically clear that ì[n]either the DfES nor the QCA have been involved in the development or distribution of the Truth in Science resource packî ñ rejecting suggestions from some quarters that the ideas in the pack were somehow acceptable or compatible with their position.

Andrew Copson, BHA education officer, said: ìTruth in Science claimed the support of the National Curriculum and then they claimed the acquiescence of the DfES - itís now clear they were wrong on both counts.î

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow added: ìTeaching creationism in science classes is no more appropriate than teaching astrology or flat-earthism. It is, quite simply, non-science.î

He continued: ìFrom our point of view it is also non-theology ñ an anachronistic attempt to force ancient figurative texts into denying modern scientific method. It sets up a false and damaging clash between religion and science which specialists in these fields do not accept.î

In June 2006 Vatican astronomer Guy J. Consolmagno, a Jesuit priest who in his scientific work has pioneered the field of gravitoelectrodynamics, described creationism as ìsuperstitionî harking back to past beliefs in ìnature godsî.

Ekklesia points to the work of bodies such as the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (University of Cambridge) and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (California) as among the major places where scientists, theologians and philosophers enjoy positive interaction.

The think-tank says that the churches need to take responsibility for much more thorough education on these issues, since creationism is what Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has rightly called ìa category mistakeî within Christian thinking.

[Also on Ekklesia: Blair accused of complacency on classroom creationism; Christians and humanists call on government to rule out 'creationism' in science classes; Creationism distorts truth in science, says vicar; UK anti-evolutionists seek to lure parents with new website; US churches celebrate 'Evolution Sunday'; Churches urged to challenge Intelligent Design; Theologians and scientists welcome Intelligent Design ban; Schools minister says creationism has no place in classroom science; Exam Board rules out creationism in UK classrooms; Vatican astronomer says creationism is superstition; Archbishop of Canterbury criticises teaching of creationism; Creationists target schools and universities in Britain; Dawkins attacks creationist plans; Faith schools may allow extremists in, say critics; Creationists plan six more schools; Christians to explore values in science and technology; New Christian academy rejects creationism as 'rubbish']

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.