Government responds to requests for action on 'creationism' (updated)

UPDATE

(1) Council of Europe condemns attempts to teach creationism - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5861

(2) After a number of requests from teaching unions and civic bodies, including the Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association, the UK Department of Children, Schools, and Families has issued guidance for teachers uncertain whether and how to discuss creationism – which is rejected by both scientists and theologians as lacking factual and theoretical value.

A statement on Teachernet, a government website, states that "Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the National Curriculum for science" and describes "intelligent design" as "a creationist belief" that "is sometimes erroneously advanced as scientific theory but has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations supporting it and it is not accepted by the international scientific community."

It adds that "there is scope for schools to discuss creationism as part of Religious Education - a component of the basic school curriculum - in developing pupils' knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other religions."

See full story: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5787 and Ekklesia's response summarised: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5788 .

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Original release - 2007-07-16 19:13:21 +0000

Government asked to do more to combat 'creationism'

The Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association have written to the new UK Schools, Children and Families minister, Ed Balls MP, urging him to make progress on combating creationism in British schools.

The two organisations are working together on the issue to make it clear, contrary to assertions from some creationists, that the question of what it is appropriate to teach in science classrooms is not one which needs to divide people of religious and non-religious opinion.

It has been almost a year since the stepped-up attempts of creationist organisations such as ‘Truth in Science’ to have ‘intelligent design’ taught in schools. At that time the two organisations brought the issue to the attention of the DfES and shortly afterwards the government announced that they would be issuing guidance to schools to make it clear that creationism and intelligent design should not be taught as examples of scientific theories.

Many members of the public added their own voices to this call by writing to their own MPs and to the DfES.

In spite of this fact, the guidance has still not been issued, and the two organisations today called on Mr Balls to ‘ensure that this guidance is published as soon as possible, that it gives no loopholes in its wording that well-funded creationist organisations might exploit, and that it is as widely disseminated as possible and certainly to all schools and academies.’

Ekklesia stresses that creationism and ID are not just devoid of any scientific content that would make them valid theories of origins, but their proponents also trade upon poor theology and confused ideas about how to read religious texts.

The letter to Ed Balls MP runs as follows:

Dear Mr Balls,

We wrote to your predecessor on 29 September 2006 expressing our concerns about the sending of free ‘teaching resources’ to all schools by the inaptly named ‘Truth in Science’, a creationist organisation. We were reassured by the Government response at that time, that intelligent design and creationism should not be taught as science or as examples of scientific theories and that officials were ‘currently working with the QCA to find a suitable way of communicating to schools it is not part of the Science National Curriculum.’

More recently, we were pleased last week to see the Government response to a petition against creationism on the Number 10 website saying, ‘We will be publishing guidance for schools, on the way creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching.’

We are writing now in the hope that you will take action to ensure that this guidance is published as soon as possible, that it gives no loopholes in its wording that well-funded creationist organisations might exploit, and that it is as widely disseminated as possible and certainly to all schools and academies.

Best wishes in your new responsibilities,

Simon Barrow
Co-director
Ekklesia
www.ekklesia.co.uk

Andrew Copson
Education officer
British Humanist Association
www.humanism.org.uk