Teachers' guidelines on science and religion teaching

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Simon Barrow, co-director of the UK Christian think-tank Ekklesia, has welcomed the government's new guidelines which prohibit teaching creationism and 'Intelligent Design' in science classrooms, but say pupils in RE need to understand how such ideas arise, as “an important step forward”.

He commented: “Creationism and Intelligent Design are not legitimate scientific theories. They are constructs based on discredited ideas about biblical texts, a misunderstanding of the idea of creation (which is an understanding of the world process as gift, not a theory of origins in competition with evolution) and a god-of-the-gaps approach rejected by serious theologians.”

Ekklesia argues that creationism is a well-funded political movement primarily orchestrated by the religious right in the USA as a response to its wider loss of power and influence.

“Pupils seeking to acquire an understanding of religious and other life stances need to understand how and why fundamentalist world views emerge”, said Barrow. “But they also need to know why they are rejected by mainstream theologians and scientists. Likewise, as the government rightly says, creationism and ID have no place in school science classrooms.”

In order to stress that opposition to creationism and ID are not matters that need divide religious and non-religious people when it comes to the classroom, Ekklesia has made joint appeals to the government for clarification with the British Humanist Association (BHA).

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has described creationism as "a category mistake" in religious thought.

The guidance to teachers can be viewed here: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=11890