Joint call on DfES to rule out 'creationist' teaching

London, UK - Sep 29, 2006 The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association have today written to Education Minister Alan Johnson asking him to ensure that their guidelines are explicit in requiring teachers to maintain a wholly scientific perspective on the matter of the origin of species by evolution.

The move comes after a new group calling itself ‘Truth in Science’ sent a letter and free teaching resources to all secondary heads of science seeking space for creationist ideas, and appealed to parents through a new website to challenge the current science teaching agenda. BHA and Ekklesia are calling on the Government to ensure that teachers know this material is not appropriate for school science.

BHA and Ekklesia say that they are making a joint statement ‘to make it absolutely clear that the issue of the integrity of evolutionary theory as a cornerstone for teaching modern biology is not one of religious or non-religious conviction, but a matter of straightforward scientific truthfulness.’

‘Truth in Science’ last week (20 September 2006) established a web page which suggests that parents should complain about alleged ‘bias’ in science teaching – by which they mean the exclusion of anti- Darwinian ideas and so-called Intelligent Design, which proposes that life on earth may have been produced by an unidentifiable extra-terrestrial cause.

The new organisation, established by fundamentalist Christians, also proposes teaching plans and curriculum ideas to introduce these notions into the classroom, claiming that this will be acceptable to OFSTED.

But Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association point out that there is ‘no scientific basis’ to creationism and ID, as the landmark judgment in the Dover School Board case in the USA last year made clear, on the advice of expert witnesses.

Declared Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow: ‘Reputable scientists and reputable theologians are clear that the anti-evolutionary ideas propagated by groups like this are in no way comparable to scientific theories of origins. The government and its inspectorate should have no truck with superstition in the modern science classroom.’

Andrew Copson, Education and Public Affairs Officer for the British Humanist Association added: ‘Thoughtful people of all persuasions reject the use of religion to undermine truthfulness in education. It is vital that the government assure parents that our children will be taught proper science and proper investigative methods, not these wild ideas.’

In April 2006, after a representation by the BHA, the UK schools minister declared categorically that the government is against the teaching of creationism and so-called ‘Intelligent Design’ in science lessons in British schools and the examinations board OCR gave assurances that they would revise their Science specification to make it clear that creationism and ID should not be taught.

But both the British Humanist Association and Ekklesia say that science teaching may be threatened by publicly-funded schools coming into the hands of extreme religious groups. They say there is evidence that creationism is already on the agenda in some schools, and that anti-evolution activists are trying to confuse parents by claiming there is a ‘controversy to be taught’.

‘A clear line from the government, through Oftsted or the QCA will help settle this matter once and for all’, the two bodies stress.